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Could a job injury result in you undergoing a hemicorporectomy?

| May 17, 2021 | Workers' Compensation |

Most people aren’t familiar with a hemicorporectomy, but you might want to familiarize yourself with it. This medical procedure involves doctors amputating the lower portion of a person’s body.

If this surgical procedure sounds quite uncommon, it is. But it’s not a potential outcome that’s out of the question if you suffer a severe crush injury. One construction worker in Montana learned that the hard way in 2019.

What type of accident resulted in the construction worker’s injuries?

In 2019, a 19-year-old construction worker was directed to maneuver a forklift across a bridge that was under repair. A motorist, apparently impatient after being slowed down by the forklift driver, attempted to pass it. The construction worker pulled right to avoid being struck by the motorist, aware of the instability of the dirt underneath them. The forklift fell 50 feet, ultimately coming to rest atop the man’s pelvis, legs and one of his arms.

Emergency crews quickly arrived on-site and summoned a helicopter to fly the teen to a hospital most capable of handling his extensive injuries. Doctors ultimately agreed to perform an emergency hemicorporectomy — the only option that could potentially save his life.

Are hemicorporectomy procedures common?

A 2009 study published in the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery journal highlighted just how rare hemicorporectomies are. Medical researchers only recorded 66 of these procedures by 2009. The journal article also captured how most of the individuals who ended up undergoing this procedure did so after suffering significant trauma or as a last-ditch effort to save their lives after receiving a terminal medical diagnosis.

What prognosis do hemicorporectomy patients have?

Patients who undergo this procedure are generally perpetually confined to wheelchairs. They typically require a prosthesis to sit upright.

 

Hemicorporectomy patients tend to experience residual phantom pain in the areas nearest to their amputation sites. They also run a high risk of developing infections along bowel and kidney lines responsible for eliminating their bodies’ waste.

Your options if a workplace injury resulted in amputation

Poorly maintained or malfunctioning equipment are two preventable causes that could lead to amputation injuries on the job site. Amputation surgeries, wound management, rehabilitation, prosthetics and pain management are all costly expenses for amputees. California workers’ compensation laws may allow you to recover compensation for your job-related injury. An attorney can advise you of the best course of action to follow.