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Failure to Diagnose Compartment Syndrome

Syracuse Lawyers for Medical Malpractice Claims

If you sustain a fracture, you are at risk for additional medical conditions. Compartment syndrome is one potential complication of a fracture, though it can develop in other situations as well. Compartment syndrome occurs when too much pressure builds up within one of the enclosed spaces, known as a compartment, that houses muscle. Pressure inside that space can stop blood from flowing to and from affected tissues, leading to an emergency that necessitates surgery. If you are harmed by your healthcare provider’s failure to diagnose compartment syndrome, you might be able to bring a lawsuit to recover damages. The compassionate Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano are available to evaluate the facts of your case, and advise you regarding your possible claims.

What is Compartment Syndrome?

Your organs and muscles are organized into compartments housed within connective tissue. The connective tissue around the compartment is inelastic; it may not expand readily to respond to the pressure of fluid or blood buildup. When blood is prevented from flowing to external tissues, tissues may be severely damaged. Often compartment syndrome is the result of bleeding or swelling after an injury is sustained at a particular site on the body. For example, if you sustain fractures in your legs after a motorcycle accident, you can develop compartment syndrome. As another example, after going through abdominal surgery, you could develop compartment syndrome. Other factors that can result in compartment syndrome include crushing injuries, blood vessel surgery, burns, prolonged compression of a limb while unconscious, and very tight bandaging.

The abdomen, arms, and legs are the places on the body where compartment syndrome most often arises. Sometimes compartment syndrome is an emergency that necessitates the performance of surgery.

Failure to Diagnose Compartment Syndrome

Signs of compartment syndrome include disproportionate pain with regard to an injury such as a fracture, a sensation of pins and needles, and pale skin around the injury. You may not be able to move the area afflicted by compartment syndrome. There may be a difference in temperature between the area afflicted and an area that’s not afflicted. A doctor can measure the pressure of the compartment using a needle.

A doctor can be held accountable for failure to diagnose compartment syndrome if the failure rises to the level of medical malpractice. Not all failures to diagnose compartment syndrome will reach this level. To prove medical malpractice, you must establish the following: (1) the doctor owed you a professional duty of care, (2) the doctor deviated from the professional standard of care, (3) causation, and (4) damages. The professional standard of care in a medical malpractice lawsuit is measured according to the locality rule. Under this rule, you must look at the professional standard of care as determined by other competent doctors in the geographic area where the defendant doctor or hospital diagnosed or treated you. In medical malpractice cases in New York, you generally need to consult with an expert even before filing a lawsuit. An attorney can help you navigate this and other procedural requirements.


Damages you can recover for failure to diagnose compartment syndrome depend on the circumstances and degree of harm. Sometimes when compartment syndrome goes undiagnosed, you lose working nerves in that compartment or sustain death of tissues. In some circumstances, the byproducts of muscle death produce kidney failure. Failure to diagnose compartment syndrome can result in a delay in treatment, or a failure to treat at all. Since the condition is progressive, you can lose complete function in the area of the body where compartment syndrome occurs.

Damages you may be able to recover for a failure to diagnose include medical bills, lost wages, lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, mental anguish, replacement services, and loss of enjoyment. The nature and amount of damages may vary based on your personal characteristics. For example, if you are a factory worker who loses function in a leg due to failure to diagnose compartment syndrome, you may be able recover damages for the wages you lost, as well as your lost earning capacity. If you play basketball for fun and can no longer play due to the loss of function in your leg, you may be able to recover for lost enjoyment of life.

Consult an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney in Syracuse

If you were harmed by a failure to diagnose compartment syndrome in Syracuse, you can talk to a dedicated medical malpractice attorney about the viability of pursuing damages. DeFrancisco & Falgiatano represents patients in Rochester, Syracuse and throughout Upstate New York, including in Watertown, Canandaigua, Lowville, Herkimer, Oswego, Binghamton, Utica, Cooperstown, Ithaca, Wampsville, Oneida, Auburn, Lyons, and Elmira. Please contact us at 833-200-2000 or through our online form.

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Since the insurance company was unwilling to settle the matter my case ultimately went to trial. At trial Jeff DeFrancisco did an absolutely amazing job by obtaining a very favorable result for me." T.H., Oneida, NY
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