Doctors, nurses, and hospitals can make mistakes. Medical conditions and diseases are misdiagnosed. Test results are misread. Patients are neglected. Hospitals are overbooked with patients and understaffed with doctors and nurses. While not every bad outcome is the result of medical negligence also known as medical malpractice, medical errors can happen. Unfortunately, some avoidable medical errors will drastically change the life of the patient and his or her family.
Our firm is one of the few firms in our area that regularly handle medical malpractice cases. Claims for medical malpractice are very complex and time intensive. They require extensive use of medical experts. We have the resources and experience to litigate these claims, and we have a track record of success.
Medical negligence occurs when a health care provider violates the standard of medical care owed to a patient and that failure causes the patient to suffer harm. While a claim for medical malpractice can arise in many different ways and scenarios, certain types of claims are more common than others.
Hospital and Emergency Room Errors
Medical malpractice arising from inadequate care in a hospital or emergency room can take many different forms. A common instance involves a failure in the emergency room to diagnose a serious or life threatening condition, such as a heart attack or internal bleeding. When a patient presents to an emergency department with symptoms and complaints associated with a severe or life threatening condition, the doctors and hospital staff have a duty to recognize the symptoms and undertake appropriate testing to rule out the more serious and life threatening conditions before offering a less severe diagnosis and discharging the patient. If the emergency provider fails to recognize the signs of a serious illness or fails to take steps to rule out serious conditions, there may lie a case of emergency room malpractice. Medical negligence can also occur even if a patient has been properly diagnosed and admitted to the hospital. Common incidents giving rise to claims of malpractice against a hospital involve failure to implement adequate fall precautions, errors in medication administration, failure to follow orders, failure to recognize a severe change or decline in the patient’s physical or mental condition, failure to notify family and the treating physician when a patient’s condition deteriorates and hospital-acquired infections.
Failure to Diagnose Cancer
Diagnosing cancer is a multistep process that requires attention to complaints and warning signs, appropriate testing, referrals to specialists and clear communication and collaboration among providers. Fault can arise from a physician’s failure to recognize the signs and symptoms associated with a particular diagnosis, failure to ensure testing is up to date, failure to interpret test results in conjunction with other evidence, and failure to refer the patient to a specialist for further evaluation and testing. Many times a delay in diagnosing cancer can mean that the patient has lost valuable time in which treatment could’ve saved his or her life. A timely cancer diagnosis and a quick treatment plan can be the difference between life and death.
Retained Foreign Objects After Surgery
A medical malpractice claim may arise when a foreign object is left in the patient following a surgical procedure. Surgeries frequently require utilization of medical assistive equipment and tools. Typically during open surgeries, surgeons and surgical staff will establish a count for the number of tools and objects to be used in the procedure. Before the surgery is completed, they are required to perform a post-surgical count of the same objects to ensure they are all accounted for. Although not common, it is possible that objects can be left in the patient and not discovered until it’s too late. Examples of retained objects could include surgical equipment, tubing, gauze, sponges, needles, and surgical clips/clamps. Unfortunately, many times it is not discovered that a foreign object was left in the patient until it begins causing problems for the patient. By this time, permanent damage may have already occurred, such as organ perforation, internal bleeding, scar tissue, fistulas, infection and bowel obstruction.
Blood Clots and Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
Deep vein thrombosis is a life threatening condition. When a patient presents with symptoms consistent with DVT, the doctor must undertake appropriate steps and testing to rule out DVT before offering a less severe medical diagnosis. Similarly, doctors must ensure that those who are at risk for developing DVT are prescribed appropriate medication to prevent a blood clot or DVT from developing. Commonly, people who suffer injuries or undergo surgical procedures to their leg or lower extremities are at risk for developing blood clots. Thankfully, medications can be prescribed after such an injury or procedure to prevent a clot from forming. If you or a loved one developed a blood clot or DVT following an injury or procedure to a lower extremity and you were not taking a blood thinning medication, contact our office today.
Medication or Pharmacy Errors
A medical malpractice claim may arise from the improper administration or prescription of medication. This form of error can occur in various settings and by different types of medical providers, including the emergency room, primary care physicians, and pharmacy. An example of this type of error in the emergency department setting could include a situation where a physician orders a shot of epinephrine to be given subcutaneously to treat a patient's allergic reaction, but, instead, the emergency staff administer the drug intravenously (in the vein) resulting in extreme pressure on the heart and causing cardiovascular injury or death. Another example of a medication error could involve the administration of potentially dangerous pain medications, like Fentanyl, to a patient using incorrect dosage or applying duplicate Fentanyl transdermal patches to a patient.
Most often when someone is in the hospital, they are in a weakened physical and/or mental state. When a patient is admitted to the hospital, he or she should be evaluated for fall risks. Consideration should be given to the patient’s physical mobility and any conditions that may affect the patient’s mental state. Once the patient has been evaluated for risk of falls, proper fall precautions should be put in place. Oftentimes, providers fail to adequately assess patients for the risk of fall or fail to follow the fall precautions that were ordered to be in place. Injuries often associated with patient falls are head and brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and broken hips. Many of these injuries are very serious and can be life threatening. If a loved one sustained a fall while admitted to a hospital or medical facility, don’t assume that it was unavoidable. Contact an attorney with experience in hospital falls to investigate whether proper fall precautions were in place.
These are just some of the examples of medical negligence. If you feel that you or a loved one has been the victim of medical negligence, contact our firm for a full review and investigation. We will obtain medical records and investigate and no cost to the potential client.
Medical malpractice cases demand an experienced medical malpractice injury attorney. Most potential cases will require a thorough review of the patient’s medical records by an attorney and consultation with experts and medical specialists before determining whether a valid case exists. This is a time consuming process that must be done in order to perform an adequate investigation. Therefore, if you feel you may have a medical malpractice claim, don’t wait to contact an attorney. Even if there is a case, there may not be enough time to properly investigate and prepare the claim if you wait too long before consulting a lawyer.