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Complications, circumstances and compensation

11 July 2014
As this case demonstrates, medical and social history can be of equal importance in many outcomes...

A cleaner in a teaching hospital was provided with implants and fixed prosthodontic work by the head of the maxillofacial unit. She required ridge enhancement by harvesting bone from the hip.

Unfortunately, the hip chosen had previously been weakened from an earlier operation and the harvesting operation resulted in the collapse and disintegration of the donor hip. This left the patient unable to walk without crutches. She could no longer work in her job as a cleaner and was compensated for the subsequent loss of earnings. If this patient had a different occupation, the cost of compensation might well have been even higher.

Learning point:
The implications of unforeseen complications in treatment are often specific to the circumstances of the individual patient. A good social history may not prevent them from happening, but it can prompt the clinician to assess the potential ramifications of any proposed treatment.
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