Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

An empty operating roomFollowing an eight-year review of medical death data, Johns Hopkins Medicine released a report in 2016 that there are an estimated 250,000 deaths per year in the United States due to medical error. According to the Johns Hopkins study, this would make medical errors the third highest cause of death in the country. One of the concerns noted in the study was that the CDC does not adequately classify deaths due to medical error, and so it’s difficult to identify exactly how many of these deaths occur each year. It’s even more difficult to calculate how many deaths are attributable to specific kinds of medical errors.   

It has been estimated that thousands of people die each year due to surgical errors, making it one of the most common types of medical malpractice claims. If you’re suffering following complications from surgery, this post will review some of the common issues that we’ve seen in handling surgical error cases.  

Common Surgical Errors

A woman receiving a massageGiven the rising cost of healthcare and insurance, it’s perhaps not surprising that more and more people are turning to alternative medicine for minor and even major illnesses. However, there are serious consequences to consider, and juries are starting to hold practitioners liable for the aftermath. In a case reported by the Los Angeles Times earlier this month, an alternative medicine practitioner by the name of Robert Young was held liable for advising a cancer patient to forgo traditional medical care. The plaintiff in the case was awarded $105 million, more than double what she was seeking. The woman now has stage 4 cancer, and doctors have estimated that she has only three or four years left to live.  

Negligence and Fraud

In her lawsuit, the plaintiff argued that Mr. Young’s practice was negligent and fraudulent. The jury obviously agreed after hearing a considerable amount of evidence, spending only three hours in deliberation. The plaintiff’s attorney hopes that the “cure-all cancer industry” will take notice, and stop taking advantage of desperate people overwhelmed with a life-threatening illness.  

A stethoscope hanging on the wallWe’ve written before about birth injuries, but a recent case from Columbus, Georgia serves as a reminder of how often these occur and how serious they can be. The case arose from a circumcision performed in 2013 where there were a number of failures on the part of the OB/GYN practice – (1) the nurse-midwife accidentally amputated the tip of the boy’s penis; (2) they failed to take steps for it to be reattached in a timely manner; and (3) they failed to inform the boy’s mother of the amputation or that it could be reattached. The plaintiff’s attorney argued that the boy will face a lifetime of complications as a result of the injury.  

We’ve been raised to trust our doctors, and the vast majority of those medical professionals are truly deserving of our trust. However, even good doctors can make mistakes. Some are reckless in caring for their patients, such as the “dancing doctor” that we covered earlier this summer. Sometimes a skilled physician makes a mistake, but then goes out of his way to cover it up and thereby further jeopardizes his patient’s health. The bottom line is that these cases happen more often than you think and can lead to a lifetime of health problems and even death.  

Birth Injury Statistics

Three people in scrubs and masks in an operating room performing surgeryWhen you discuss medical malpractice, most people assume that you’re talking about suing a doctor. But what if you’re injured while in the hospital as a result of malpractice, but it’s not the doctor’s fault? Who is responsible?  In many cases, the only remaining option is the hospital.

Physician vs. Hospital Negligence

Hospitals are corporate entities, and like any other corporation, they look for ways to limit their liability exposure. One way that they do this is by making it clear that most of the doctors at the hospital are not employees of the hospital – they have privileges to practice there but are not providing care on behalf of the hospital.  As a result, the hospital cannot be held liable for the negligence of the doctor. Similarly, your doctor cannot be held responsible for the hospital’s negligence, either.

For parents, grandparents, friends and extended family, there are few things in life as joyful as the birth of a child. Maybe that is why birth injuries or defects can be so upsetting – what should be a joyful time becomes fraught with fear and anxiety.  It can all be terribly overwhelming, but at a certain point, you need to ask the difficult question – who is responsible for my child’s suffering?

To be clear, not every birth injury is the result of medical malpractice. We are blessed with an excellent health care system in this country, staffed by some of the most highly-trained medical professionals in the world.  However, accidents can and do happen, and these accidents can severely affect the health of your child. In this post, we’ll be covering some common birth injuries that may be the result of medical malpractice. If your child is suffering from one of these injuries, you may want to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney.  

Birth Asphyxia

Earlier this month, the New York Times reported on an Atlanta area dermatologist who reportedly wanted to be known as the “dancing doctor.”  The doctor, Windell Davis Boutté, has been recently suspended by the Georgia Composite Medical Board after a video surfaced of her dancing to a hip-hop song while performing a procedure on a patient.  The Board stated that that allowing her to continue to practice would pose “a threat to the public health, safety, and welfare.”

A Pattern of Misconduct

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Medical Board had been investigating malpractice complaints against Dr. Davis-Boutté for two years. There have been multiple lawsuits, and the New York Times reported that over 100 people have come forward to complain. The suspension appears to have been finally sparked by a case that was reported at the end of May when one of Davis-Boutté’s patients was allegedly taken from her office to the emergency room. It was reported that the patient was having difficulty breathing and was bleeding from liposuction incisions. Upon examination, hospital staff reported that the patient had a collapsed lung and was suffering from serious blood loss.

When discussing injuries that arise from medical treatment, people typically think in terms of a standard medical malpractice case: the doctor or hospital was negligent in providing care in some way which leads to the patient’s injury. However, even when there are no issues with the treatment received, injuries can just as often arise from the medical devices that were used during treatment, or as part of the post-treatment recovery process.

People rarely want to blame their doctor, someone who has earned their deepest trust. The reality is that he or she may have given you the best care available, but the device they used was defective. Don’t ignore symptoms if you’ve received medical treatment but the recovery has not gone as planned. If you’re suffering, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you identify the potential source of your problems.  

Because medical device liability is complicated, it may be helpful to review the ways that these devices can be defective and who may be responsible.  

Medical malpractice claims may not be as common as you think but are still very serious. In addition to the potential harm to the patient’s health, these errors can lead to emotional and psychological trauma. To make matters worse, negligent medical treatment may require additional medical treatment to correct any errors.

That said, medical malpractice cases aren’t always obvious or gruesome. We’ve laid out some of the most common kinds of malpractices cases below.  

Childbirth Injuries

A Louisiana mother has filed suit against Walgreen’s after two different stores allegedly incorrectly filled her daughter’s medication. According to the claim, the plaintiff and her minor child were at the Walgreens at 4600 Westbank Expressway in Marrero Louisiana, on Sept. 26, 2016, when the first incident took place. The suit states that the plaintiff was picking up medication prescribed for her daughter’s seizures but she was given the wrong medication. The child began to show symptoms and was admitted to a hospital, where she was treated for an overdose of the incorrect medication. On May 30, the plaintiff went to a Walgreens at 2001 Carol Sue Ave. in Gretna and after returning home saw that there were two types of pills in the bottle. Her claim accuses Walgreen’s of negligence by failing to take the proper care, failing to warn of danger, and overall negligence of the employees who filled the prescription incorrectly.

How Common is this Problem?

This case raises an interesting question—how often do pharmacists incorrectly fill prescriptions, and what can you do about it if they do? While estimates vary, it’s believed that one percent to five percent of prescriptions filled in U.S. pharmacies involve some kind of error. According to Gerald Gianutsos, an associate professor of pharmacology at the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy, a prescription label with incorrect directions is the most frequent type of prescription error, but, occasionally, a patient will also receive either the wrong dosage of the correct medication or the wrong medication altogether. Many drugs have names that sound similar and that use similar spellings, and when they’re arranged alphabetically on the pharmacy shelf, “it’s very easy to grab the wrong one by mistake and look at it real quick … and think that you’re dispensing the right drug,” Gianutsos says.

Methadone and other Opioids

Methadone is an opioid medication that is commonly prescribed to heroin users to reduce withdrawal symptoms while they are detoxing from the drug. It can be very beneficial to those who are trying to fight addiction because it acts as a pain reliever but it does not cause the “high” that is associated with the user’s drug addiction. However, methadone is still an opioid and its use can cause overdose or death. Additionally, methadone is highly addictive, and patients who kick the heroin habit by taking it often merely replace one addiction with another.

Ambien

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