Medical Malpractice

4 Things To Know If You Are A Victim Of A Surgical Error

4 Things To Know If You Are A Victim Of A Surgical Error

| Health News | No Comments

Medical malpractice lawsuits can be brought about by patients, or their loved ones, under special circumstances. It is important that you have expert evidence to prove that your injury or damage would not have happened but for the negligence on the part of the doctor or hospital.

Surgical errors, also termed “never events” because they are completely avoidable, happen at a whopping rate of 4,044 every year in the US, according to a 2012 Johns Hopkins malpractice study. It also says that a surgeon performs a wrong procedure on a patient 20 times a week. The report takes note of the fact that hospitals need to voluntarily report never events, and that many hospitals may not.

If you suspect that you or a loved one is a victim of a surgical error, then you have the right to sue for malpractice. But, it is of importance that first and foremost, you know what medical malpractice is and how surgical errors happen.

4 Things To Know If You Are A Victim Of A Surgical Error

1) Surgical Procedures Are Risky

Surgical errors are not common, and the vast majority of surgeries performed in our country are uneventful. But at times, errors or mistakes happen during surgical procedures that cause injuries, long-term complications, or infections in patients. Very often, the surgical errors are discovered after a considerable period of time when the patient experiences difficulties or health problems.

All surgeries involve an element of risk in that the surgeon cannot fully guarantee the outcome of the procedure. Sometimes, unforeseen complications develop over which the surgeon does not have any control, and this cannot be counted as surgical error. It is also the duty of the surgeon to speak with the patient before surgery and help him or her understand about the potential risks. The surgeon explains to the patient the benefits of undergoing the procedure.

You are also required to sign a form known as ‘informed consent’ that states that you are aware of the risks involved in the procedure. This absolves the surgeon to a reasonable extent from being unfairly sued.

2) When Does Medical Malpractice Occur?

Medical malpractice occurs when the medical care provided to you falls below the standard of care expected from a doctor or surgeon of similar experience, training, and expertise, when performing under similar circumstances. If the error during surgery did not fall below the medical standard of care in your community, or if you were not seriously harmed by the error, there is no medical malpractice.

Surgical errors are fairly easy to prove. An X-ray is all that is required to prove that a sponge or surgical instrument was left behind inside the body of the patient. But what is more pertinent is that to prove medical malpractice, you must also prove that the error caused you considerable damage or injury.

As in all medical malpractice cases, it is important that you are able to prove that the surgical error has caused you injury or harm. Without direct cause-result relationship between surgical error and your injury, a medical malpractice case holds no water.

3) Common Causes of Errors During Surgery

However surprising and unexpected they may appear, surgical errors are not uncommon. Most doctors and surgeons are highly skilled and carry out procedures with utmost care, leaving no scope for mistakes.

But, sometimes mistakes or errors happen. Almost all errors that happen in operation rooms are avoidable and take place due to human inefficiency. They are called “never events” because they should never have happened.

If you have been injured due to an error by your surgeon, it will help to know the common reasons why errors occur. Also, consult a Connecticut Medical Malpractice Law Firm to know more.

Incompetence

Surgery requires a high level of skill and expertise, which usually come with experience. But sometimes surgeons are required to perform procedures which are not their forte, increasing the chances of mistakes.

Poor Preparation

As mentioned earlier, it is not the surgeon alone who performs a surgical procedure. He or she is supported by a medical team comprised of nurses, assistants, anesthesiologist and other specialists. If there is no coordination or there is miscommunication between the team members, surgical errors will occur.

Flawed Work Flow

Surgeons sometimes miscalculate requirements of surgery and decide to forego certain steps or opt for simpler or shorter alternatives. These decisions go against the desired outcome and cause an adverse reaction in the patient.

Fatigue

It goes without saying that experienced surgeons are much sought after and are overworked most of the time. It is not surprising that many surgeons complain of exhaustion and fatigue. But another consequence of this is that tired surgeons are much more vulnerable to making errors, resulting in medical malpractice lawsuits.

Substance Abuse

Stress, work overload, erratic hours, and high-pressure work environments drive many surgeons to resort to substance abuse. Alcoholism and drug abuse are prevalent in the surgeon community. Though this may sound surprising, the nature of work is such that depression, substance abuse, and alcoholism are problems that many surgeons are forced to deal with on a daily basis. Unfortunately, a surgeon who’s under the influence of alcohol or drugs is also prone to making mistakes. If you suspect that this is what happened in your case, you do have the right to sue for medical malpractice.

4) How Can Errors Be Prevented?

Hospitals and clinics have in place protocols and rules to avoid mistakes like leaving behind medical equipment inside patients. This includes counting the number of sponges, towels, and other surgical items before and after surgery, and timeouts in operating rooms before surgery to enable the entire medical team to co-ordinate perfectly.

Indelible ink is used to mark the site of surgery, well before the patient is given anesthesia. Anesthesiologists visit patients beforehand and check medical history to be sure about the identity and requirements of patients.

The steps being taken to avoid surgical errors have to be continually evaluated and improved to ensure 100 percent successful results.

Medical malpractice lawsuits seek to give justice to people who received medical care that fell below the standard of care administered in the community. It is important that you consult a trusted attorney and make sure that your case is genuine, and that you stand a good chance at trial. Understand your case well and rest assured: With an expert lawyer by your side, it will be possible to win a fair outcome.

Common Medication Errors Made by Medical Professionals and Ways To Avoid Them

Common Medication Errors Made by Medical Professionals and Ways To Avoid Them

| Health News | No Comments

Medicines can save lives, but they can be life threatening, as well. The wrong dose, wrong drug, or the wrong combination can do more harm than good. Medication errors affect the lives of 1.5 million people every year, according to the Institute of Medicine.

Medication errors are defined as any preventable event that may cause or result in an inappropriate medication use or harm to the patient. ADEs (adverse drug events) account for more than 700,000 emergency department visits and 100,000 hospitalizations every year.

Advancements in the medical field have undoubtedly improved the health of patients, but they have also resulted in increased risks. Clinicians have access to a plethora of prescription medication, and about one-third of the U.S adults take five or more medications. Many of them might not be aware of the fact that preventable medical errors are considered to be the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

Medication errors might sound harmless, but they can be fatal. Think of a situation where a doctor prescribes 10.0mg of Colchicine (by mistake), when he or she should have prescribed 1.0mg. It might seem that it is a mere decimal error, but the results can be disastrous.

Higher dose of Colchicine results in poisoning similar to arsenic poisoning, with a burning sensation in mouth and throat. It would be followed by extreme abdominal pain, and finally, the internal organs would melt and cause death within 24 to 72 hours. Shocking!

Common Medication Errors Made by Medical Professionals and Ways To Avoid Them

In a similar medical malpractice case, a family in Missouri was awarded nearly $3 million in a case against a Kansas doctor and pain clinic. If you have been a victim of medication error or medical malpractice, Kansas City medication error attorneys can help you get justice.

About 1.5 million people are severely injured or sickened every year in the U.S due to similar medication mistakes, and almost 100,000 people die, according to Institute of Medicine. So how will you protect yourself from medication errors and make sure that you don’t succumb to injuries caused by medication errors? The best way is to educate yourself and your loved ones with the most common types of medication errors, and know how to protect yourselves. To learn more, keep reading.

Most Common Types of Medication Errors

It is always better to be doubly sure before consuming any prescription drug. Talk to your doctor – ask him or her about the drug, the right dosage, the kind of side-effects it might have, ways to prevent them, etc. Here are some of the most common types of medication errors that you must be aware of:

1. Confusion Between Medications with Similar Names

The national Medication Error Reporting Program reveals, ‘confusion caused by similar drug names accounts for up to 25 percent of all reported errors.’ Most pharmacies shelve drugs in an alphabetical order, which means that drugs with similar names are stacked at the same place. So there are high chances that the staff can grab the wrong medicine. Oftentimes, the doctor’s handwriting is so unclear that it becomes tough to read what has been prescribed, or careless pharmacy staff might enter the wrong name into the computer.

In order to avoid confusion, you must ask your doctor about the name of the drug and the dosage. Make sure that you check the name of the drug when picking up the prescription from the pharmacy.

2. Buying the Wrong Alternative Medicines

It is always best to ask your doctor to prescribe alternative drugs. It might happen that the pharmacy runs out of stock and asks you to take alternative drugs. Instead of trusting the pharmacist, it is always best to ask the doctor. Oftentimes, drugs with almost similar compositions have different usage and dosages; so to prevent any type of adverse situation, you must always ask the doctor before taking any alternative medicine.

3. Wrong Route of Administration

A report by the FDA cited that, “16 percent of medication errors involve using the wrong route of administration.’ The doctors must explicitly mention the route of administration of the drug, and the patient must strictly follow it. Oftentimes, a drug that was supposed to be taken sub-lingually, is swallowed at once, or a liquid intended for injection is administered orally.

It is essential that you ask your doctor about the route of administration, and follow the instructions on the label. Ask questions (to the doctor and not any pharmacist) if you’re not sure. This is much more important if you are care-giving for a family member or close relative.

4. Wrong Dosage

Drugs are prescribed in various units, and a small mistake can become fatal. A mistake in a decimal point can become life-threatening (as the example mentioned toward the beginning of this article); many times, people mistake milligrams with micrograms, which means a dose becomes 1,000 times stronger.

In 2015, 32.4 deaths from drug overdose per 100,000 inhabitants were reported in state of West Virginia. The number of deaths by overdose of prescription drugs is growing at an alarming rate.

Common Medication Errors Made by Medical Professionals and Ways To Avoid Them

So you must ensure that the dosage is clearly mentioned on the original prescription. The doctor’s handwriting must also be clear enough. When you pick up the prescription from the pharmacy, ask the pharmacist to check the dosage; and you must check it for yourself to be  sure. Never hesitate to ask questions, if you think that you are being prescribed (by the doctor), or given (from the pharmacy), the wrong medicine.

Final Thought

Medication errors happen not only due to the mistakes of medical professionals, but also due to the negligence of the patients themselves. It is necessary that both the doctor and patient take enough precautions to avoid any kind of bad consequence.

So, never hesitate to ask questions or discuss potential dangers with your doctor, healthcare provider, or pharmacist. No doubt, you can take help from medication error attorneys, in case you become a victim of medication errors, but you must always remember that ‘precaution is better than cure.

Understanding The Risk Of Surgical Errors For American Patients

Understanding The Risk Of Surgical Errors For American Patients

| Health News | No Comments

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions when it comes to medical malpractice suits. The legal liability claims are credited with driving up the costs of healthcare, yet according to statistics, medical negligence and compensation claims account for only 3% of the $2.2 trillion-dollar annual healthcare cost in the United States. Conversely, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners states that medical errors (which can be prevented) account for $29 billion dollars of healthcare spending every year.

As important changes transition the American healthcare system, including digital records and electronic health information exchange, reducing the amount of medical malpractice and preventable medical errors should be an important discussion. The potential to save lives and avoid patient complications, as well as to save the financial burden of medical error on the health system warrant focus and action.

Understanding The Risk Of Surgical Errors For American Patients

What Kind of Surgical Errors Are Most Common?

In 2014, at the Patient Safety Movement, Science & Technology Summit, California Senator Barbara Boxer revealed the top nine persistent medical errors in the United States. The Senator had met with Joe Kiani, the founder of the Patient Safety Movement, and revealed that she was surprised to learn how common and frequent medical errors were. The Patient Safety Movement is a non-profit organization committed to helping the American healthcare industry achieve ‘Zero Preventable Deaths by 2020.”

The top nine most common surgical errors are:

1. Adverse drug events. This includes the dispensation of incorrect medications, or the wrong dose of medication. Adverse drug events can also be caused by drug interaction illness or death, with contraindicated prescription medications.

2. Catheter Associated urinary tract infection. A condition that involves the use of unsterile catheters, which creates a painful infection.

3. Central line-associated bloodstream infection. This condition is caused by the use of unsterile, or cross infected intravenous hardware during blood transfusions or medication administration through an IV.

4. Fall injuries, which occur when patients are improperly secured into beds with protection rails, and trip and fall injuries that result from bathing or bathroom activities.

5. Obstetrical adverse events. Since 1996, the United States has experienced an increase in maternal or infant death during pregnancy or childbirth.  In 2013, 18.5 mothers per 100,000 delivery cases resulted in morbidity.

6. Bed sores and pressure ulcers, which can become infected and painful for patients. This typically results from lack of position change, massage and skin care in hospitals and in geriatric care facilities.

7. Surgical site infections, which involve bacterial infection at the incision site during post-operative care.

8. Venous thrombosis (blood clots), a life threatening condition that can lead to a heart attack or stroke for post-operative patients. Post-Thrombotic Syndrome (PTS) can also cause swelling and painful ulcers in the legs, as clots obstruct blood flow through arteries and veins impacted by post surgical inflammation.

9. Ventilator associated pneumonia (VAP). This is particularly common for patients who have a blunt-force injury, such as a head laceration. The open airway allows for the introduction of the pneumonia virus, and symptoms such as fever and phlegm are harder to detect for individuals who are unconscious on a respirator.

The most concern medical error is classified as a “Never Event.” This describes the most upsetting and preventable medical errors that result in death, or in life threatening situations. Examples of a “Never Event” include air bubbles in IV catheters, sponges, wipes or scissors being left inside a patient’s body after surgery, operating on the wrong body part or an erroneous surgical procedure that was not required (due to patient chart mix up). They are named a “Never Event” because they should never happen, but when they do, they are traumatic, life threatening and potentially lethal.

What Kind of Surgical Error Qualifies for a Medical Malpractice Case?

There are two important factors that determine whether a patient has the ability to file suit for medical malpractice. First, that the doctor or another licensed medical professional made the error, and second, that the patient (you) were measurably harmed by that error.

Consulting with a medical malpractice attorney is usually the first step for patients who are certain that they have been the victim of a surgical error, but the process of gathering evidence can be a long and costly procedure. The conclusive evidence that a negligent error occurred in difficult in many cases, as health complications can impact any patient during a surgical or medical procedure, and those complications can, even through the due diligence of medical staff, cause additional harm, loss or discomfort.

The Myth of the Multimillion Dollar Malpractice Suit

With very few exceptions, a medical malpractice suit is not guaranteed to return a large sum award to the plaintiff. In most cases, the awarded sum is allocated based on the patient’s medical needs, or compensation for additional medical expenses incurred as a result of the surgical error. Awarded cases seek to provide compensation for the at-fault expenses, or provide income for ongoing postoperative care, therapies, medications and any loss of income as a result of the malpractice action. Damages awarded through a malpractice or medical error suit fall into categories, when determining the sum of compensation for the plaintiff. Most states in the U.S. now have a cap in place for medical error and malpractice suits of approximately $250,000.

Exact Calculation Damages refer to lost earnings, health benefits, medical bills and other financial loss. The present value of income and earning is used to create a base compensation, which may be calculated by an economic expert in your case, to predict long-term income loss and inflation.

Non-Exact Calculation Damages refer to pain and suffering, and other emotional loss considerations that are difficult to put a dollar value on. This aspect of a medical error or malpractice suit is entirely contingent on the judge and jury to deliberate on, and may include reflection on the plaintiff’s past criminal record (if any), previous malpractice claims and other criteria

The Federal Government and health administration, private insurers and medical associations have many educational initiatives geared at reducing the instances of medical or surgical error in the United States. Not only are medical errors preventable in virtually all cases, but the tremendous cost of $29 billion dollars per year to the U.S. healthcare system can be allocated elsewhere, rather than correcting errors that should not have occurred to begin with.

What You Need To Know About Medical Malpractice Now!

What You Need To Know About Medical Malpractice Now!

| Health News | No Comments

Medical malpractice is much more rampant than you thought it is. It is ironic, that though the medical rules and regulations have become more stringent in the past few years, cases of medical malpractice have risen in the same period too.

While one can’t generalize and say that all medical professionals and institutions are indulging in medical malpractice, it is definitely an issue of concern. When people go to a health profession they, or their loved ones are already in a ailing condition, and they seek solutions and care from doctors. When an action of a medical professional leads to further deterioration in the condition of the patient, or unprecedented damage to the patient, and the patient’s family, it results in medical malpractice.

In this post we discuss the various elements of a medical malpractice case and how to tackle it. We believe aware patients make the smartest patients. Continue reading and find out important facts about medical malpractice.

What You Need To Know About Medical Malpractice Now!

What is Medical Malpractice?

According to National Center for Biotechnology Information, medical malpractice is defined as ‘any act or omission by a physician during treatment of a patient that deviates from accepted norms of practice in the medical community and causes an injury to the patient. Medical malpractice is a specific subset of tort law that deals with professional negligence’

What is the difference between Medical Malpractice and Medical Negligence?

Let us begin by saying that both medical negligence and medical malpractice have grave consequences and penalties attached to them. However, legally they are different terms and you need to know the difference between the two. Medical negligence is classified as actions without intent. Incorrect diagnosis, failure to do a diagnostic revision, failure to treat a patient or incomplete information about risks associated with treatment prescribed, are all examples of medical negligence.

The ‘mal’of medical malpractice in Latin means bad intent. Medical malpractice clearly includes presence of a bad intention. Medical malpractice is to perform the medical procedure in a way that is not within the accepted standards of care and causes serious injury or death.

Not following the documented medical standards, anesthesia errors, surgical errors, errors during childbirth causing cerebral palsy in the child and other unpardonable actions that results in permanent injury or death are considered as medical malpractice.

Being on the Receiving End of Medical Negligence

It’s not always medical negligence if the results of a treatment don’t turn out how they were supposed to be. Bad outcomes are not proof of medical negligence.

It is important to establish legally that you are a victim of medical malpractice. According to the United States law, medical malpractice  must contain these four elements.

  • Legal attachment of the doctor or health care provider to provide treatment to the patient- prevalence of a legal binding
  • Failure to adhere to the standards of the medical profession- Breach of Duty
  • Actions of doctor, nurses or health care providers leading to injury or adversary condition of the patient- causal relationship between doctor’s actions and condition of patient
  • The injuries or damages inflicted by the healthcare professional are such that there are possible legal amendments available- Legally compensable injury or damages occurred

The above four legal elements must be established to prove that you have been on the receiving end of medical malpractice and your claims are justified.

Establishing Causal Relationship Between Breach of Duty and Consequent Damages

You need to understand that the crux of a medical malpractice case lies in the creation of the causal relationship. Let us understand how this works with the help of an example.

So you experience some unidentified symptoms. You go to the doctor. The doctor diagnoses you incorrectly without administering multiple tests on you and prescribes you certain drugs. Medical negligence has already occurred. The doctor was not supposed to medicate you till the tests were conducted and the results received.

The breach of duty has already taken place. The doctor’s actions were not in accordance with the medical standards prescribed, i:e diagnosis and medication only after conducting proper tests. Now, just imagine you develop a condition that causes you severe pain and trauma after taking those medications. Soon you experience a severe form of paralysis and tremors as the medicines recommended contain elements that you are allergic to.

The other possible situation is that the recommended medicines have absolutely no effect on the growing ailment in your body. As a result of this, your condition deteriorates.  Non-action keeps making the problem worse.

You go back to the doctor. Dubious about his own treatment and seeing the pain you are undergoes, he now asks you to undergo various tests. The tests reveal your actual problem which was not identified earlier due to misdiagnosis. By now your condition has worsened, and you realize that while you were just taking pain killers all this while for a piercing but uncomplicated pain, you actually have had Hernial all this while, and now your condition is severely damaged because of wrong diagnosis and medication.

Now you will need to prove and establish that the doctor’s actions cause this aggravation of your medical condition and you and your family are undergoing  physical, emotional and financial trauma because of his actions.  Remember, paperwork at every step will be required to prove medical malpractice or medical negligence.

Take Legal Help to Receive Appropriate Compensation

Medical malpractice cased are among the most difficult cases to tackle. It is very possible that your healthcare provider will completely try to deny the charges or pin your medical condition to an earlier health care provider, or your body composition and provide medical proof in black and white to completely unsubstantiate your case.  So the first thing you need to do when you suspect medical negligence or malpractice, is to approach a medical malpractice attorney, get a confirmation from him, assess the legal strength and scope of your case and then move forward to receive your due compensation.

To Conclude,

We spoke to the best attorneys in the field. While all spoke about the legal elements involved and the process of pursuing  the case, a renowned medical malpractice attorney from Washington had some interesting and important inputs to share. “More medical malpractice and negligence cases are happening now than ever before. However, a lot of patients and their families are choosing not to pursue legit medical malpractice cases for fear of extensive personal and financial costs in suing the faulty party. This should not be the case. Patients, and legal professionals need to make sure this stops, and the victim patient and his/her  family get compensated properly.”

It is it with this motive and goal, we want you to know and be aware of the prevalence of medical malpractice and steps to deal with it, if unfortunately you ever happen to face it.

Author:

Matt Conner is an associate attorney at Brett McCandlis Brown Law Firm. Matt has undergraduate degree from from Willamette University in Salem in mathematics and economics. Matt likes playing soccer, fishing, skiing and camping.