Litigation Involving Hip and Knee Arthroplasty in the State of California

Marla J. Goodman1, David Sheuerman1, Stuart B. Goodman2, 3, *
1 Sheuerman, Martini, Tabari, Zenere & Garvin, A Professional Corporation, San Jose, CA, USA
2 Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA
3 Department of Bioengineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA

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Creative Commons License
© 2019 Goodman et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Stanford University School of Medicine, 450 Broadway Street, Redwood City, CA, USA, 94063; Tel: 01-650-721-7662; Fax: 01-650-721-3470; E-mail:



Total hip and knee arthroplasties are generally very successful surgical procedures; however, if there is a complication or if the patient is dissatisfied with the outcome, the patient may initiate a legal suit against the surgeon.

Methods and Results:

We evaluated the reasons for instigating a legal suit after hip or knee arthroplasty surgery in the State of California between 1981 and 2018. Using a verified database and the keywords hip, knee, replacement, arthroplasty, we identified 12 legal suits filed and adjudicated on during this time period. Of the 12 cases, the major complaints were pain (seven cases), foot drop (three cases) numbness (two cases), foreign item left in the body of the patient (one case), general physical problems (one case), and wrongful death (one case). In some cases, more than one reason was listed (note: the total is greater than 12 because some cases had more than one reason listed).


In reviewing these cases and the literature on this subject, we conclude that in order to avoid legal suits, doctors should be communicative, honest, and compassionate with patients, be highly competent in their specialty, and maintain meticulous medical record documentation.

Keywords: Total knee replacement or arthroplasty, Arthroplasty, Total hip replacement or arthroplasty, Litigation, State of California, Surgical.