Osteomyelitis or Infection of the Bone

Osteomyelitis is the infection of the bone or bone marrow or inflammation of the bone due to infection. Patients with osteomyelitis typically experience deep pain and muscle spasms in the inflammation area, as well as fever. 

Bone infections or osteomyelitis can be the result of medical malpractice by the doctor, orthopedic surgeon, or attending physician.

Osteomyelitis can occur as a complication of injury or can be caused by a complication or error in surgery. The doctor/physician must diagnose the condition correctly and in a timely manner. When correctly diagnosed, osteomyelitis can usually be effectively treated. Treatment is aggressive and required to cease the spread of infection and save the infected bone.

There are three types of osteomyelitis each with different signs and symptoms:

  • Acute osteomyelitis
  • Sub-acute osteomyelitis
  • Chronic osteomyelitis

Osteomyelitis can be caused by:

  • Injuries like a deep puncture wound, or a broken bone that broke the skin
  • Bone surgery or orthopedic surgery to repair bones or replace joints.
  • A bacterial or fungal infection. If the infection takes hold and is not treated vital blood supplies may be blocked and the bone may eventually die. 

A bacterial or fungal infection may be caused by:

  • A pre-existing blood infection may spread to a bone.
  • A bone fracture, some injury, or a complication of orthopedic surgery may result in a bone infection.

Bone infections are divided into several types, including:

  • Hematogenous osteomyelitis
  • Post-traumatic osteomyelitis
  • Vascular deficiency
  • Vertebral osteomyelitis

To diagnose osteomyelitis the general practitioner or primary care physician will carry out a physical examination of the affected body part for signs which include tenderness and swelling. A medical history should be taken to find out if there have been any recent accidents, operations, or infections. 

Tests may be ordered such as:

  • Blood tests 
  • X-rays 
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) 
  • CT (computerized tomography) scans
  • Biopsy 

Did the doctor perform a thorough examination? 

Did the doctor order any of these tests?

Treatment options

  • Acute osteomyelitis - in most cases a course of antibiotics or antifungal medicines effectively treats the osteomyelitis.
  • Sub-acute osteomyelitis - treatment depends on infection severity and whether there has been any bone damage. If there is no bone damage treatment is similar to that used in acute osteomyelitis. If there is bone damage, treatment will be similar to that used in chronic osteomyelitis. 
  • Chronic osteomyelitis - patients usually require antibiotics as well as surgery to repair any bone damage.

Did the doctor choose the appropriate treatment options?

What are the possible complications of osteomyelitis?

  • In most cases the infection that caused osteomyelitis can be effectively treated and controlled.
  • Recurring chronic osteomyelitis
  • Amputation

If you or a loved one suffered from osteomyelitis or bone infection that was not diagnosed in time, was misdiagnosed, was incorrectly treated, or was in any way mishandled, you may be eligible for damages due to medical malpractice. Let the Sweeney Law Firm’s medical experts review the facts to see if you have a case. The Sweeney Law Firm works on a contingency fee basis, meaning we don’t get paid unless there is a settlement or recovery of funds for you.