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Tag Archives: hospital error

New technology hopes to prevent birth injury

A healthcare instrument manufacturer has recently presented a new kind of scalpel to prevent birth injuries caused by a doctor during childbirth. The makers of this new surgical instrument say that it can prevent common accidental lacerations of the cheek, face and ear of the fetus as well as other body parts. Medical safety experts say that obstetrician doctors or residents often injure the infant while cutting through the mother’s tissues while working quickly to deliver the baby. Hospital errors can occur for various reasons. For example, unskilled physicians or fatigued staff sometimes have difficulty performing caesarean section surgeries under such time pressure. This can lead to permanent disability, wounds or even death of the baby. Patient safety can also be put at risk, leading to injury to the mother during such an intricate operation. The new medical device hopes to reduce the risk or such injuries and wrongful death. They also hope that the new safety blade design will prevent injury to the doctors and nurses involved in the surgery. Worker’s comp injuries involving hospital workers being hurt by needles, scalpels and other sharp instruments is a serious concern. Patient safety advocates explain that many medical safety devices are available to staff but some hospitals refuse to buy them due to high cost. However, they note that the high cost to a victim who suffers a medical malpractice injury must be taken into consideration. Many malpractice lawsuits, especially in cases of fetal injury, can be avoided with proper planning to avoid surgical error or a hospital mistake. Find out more about the new medical safety options here.

Photo for illustrative purposes only. Credit: M C Morgan [License]

$ 3 Million - Meningitis Medical Malpractice - Hospital's Failure to Diagnose

Meningitis is a life-threatening condition. It involves an inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis is classified as a medical emergency. When a hospital failed to diagnose a case of Meningitis for a two year old patient, the family turned to New York’s toughest personal injury attorneys. The lawyers successfully proved that the medical negligence caused by hospital error resulted in the girl suffering from hearing loss, mental deficiencies likely due to brain damage and infection. Fortunately, the family was compensated $3,000,000. Read about other failures to diagnose and medical malpractice.

Photo by 4028mdk09 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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Unspotted meningitis caused deafness, child’s mother alleged (VerdictSearch)

Settlement Amount: $3,000,000

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Court: Queens Supreme, Queens County, NY

Injury Type(s): other-meningitis; sensory/speech-hearing; loss of mental/psychological-cognition; impairment

Case Type: Medical Malpractice – Failure to Test, Failure to Diagnose

Date: June 23, 2008

Plaintiff Attorney(s):
Eric H. Morrison; Morrison & Wagner; New York, NY

Facts:

On Nov. 11, 1999, the plaintiff, a 1-year-old girl, was examined by her pediatrician, Dr. Bum Park. The baby was suffering a persistent fever, and Park determined that the fever was a product of tonsillitis. The baby’s mother was told that she could be reexamined when it became necessary.

During the ensuing hours, the girl’s fever reached 104 degrees Fahrenheit, and she began to vomit. She was transported to the emergency room of Elmhurst [N.Y.] Hospital Center. An X-ray revealed a potentially abnormal density of the little girl’s lungs, and doctors suspected that she could have been developing pneumonia. Thus, she was admitted to the hospital. Doctors also suspected that meningitis could have been developing, but they did not detect any abnormalities of the child’s meninges. She was administered an antibiotic.

During the third day of the baby’s hospitalization, a nurse observed that the child’s neck was stiffening. A test confirmed that the patient was suffering nuchal rigity — stiffness of the nape of the neck. Nuchal rigity is one of three symptoms of meningitis. The girl was also suffering a 102-degree fever. Doctors determined that a spinal tap would be performed if the fever persisted.

The child’s hospitalization ultimately lasted 14 days, and her body’s temperature always equaled or exceeded 100 degrees.

Two days after her discharge, doctors determined that the girl was suffering an acute and total loss of her ability to hear. A CT scan revealed that she was suffering damage of her ears’ cochleas. The child victim’s mother claimed that the damage was a result of untreated meningitis.

The mother, acting as parent and natural guardian, sued Park and Elmhurst Hospital Center’s operator, the New York City Health and Hospitals Corp. The mother alleged that Park and the hospital’s staff failed to diagnose the meningitis. She further alleged that the failures constituted medical malpractice.

Plaintiff’s counsel claimed that the girl’s nuchal rigity indicated that she may have been suffering meningitis. He contended that the symptom should have prompted immediate performance of a spinal tap or some other appropriate test. The plaintiff’s expert neonatologist opined that CT scans revealed that the cochlear damage was a result of ossification that was caused by a bacterial infection.

Park’s records did not clearly indicate the scope of his Nov. 11 examination of the child. He initially contended that the examination may have included performance of tests that detect meningitis, but he ultimately acknowledged that he could not recall having performed such tests. However, Park’s medical expert opined that Park’s treatment did not deviate from accepted standards of care. The expert also opined that the child’s permanent injury was not a product of Park’s actions or inactions.

Park’s counsel moved for summary judgment. The motion was denied, but the appellate division, Second Department, reversed. Thus, the matter proceeded against New York City Health and Hospitals.

New York City Health and Hospitals’ counsel contended that Elmhurst Hospital Center’s staff appropriately treated the patient. He claimed that the baby’s symptoms did not warrant additional treatment.

New York City Health and Hospitals’ also moved for summary judgment. He challenged plaintiff’s counsel’s submission of a supplemental bill of particulars, but his motion was denied.

Injury:

Plaintiff’s counsel claimed that the child victim suffered meningitis that caused damage of her ears’ cochleas. He contended that the damage led to an acute, permanent and total loss of her auditory ability. He noted that the loss occurred during the child’s early formative years, and he claimed that the resultant handicap impaired her cognitive development.

The girl’s mother sought recovery of damages for her daughter’s past and future pain and suffering.

Defense counsel contended that the child’s cochlear damage was a congenital defect.

Result:

The parties negotiated a $3 Million pretrial settlement.

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Judge: David Elliot

Editor’s Comment: This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff’s counsel. Defense counsel did not respond to the reporter’s phone calls.

Ongoing research reveals possible treatment for traumatic brain injury

A recent medical study showed that treating victims of head injury with xenon gas may minimize the degree of traumatic brain injury (TBI). The gas has been used as a medication for general anesthesia and also tired as a sedative for critical care patients. However, this early-stage study into head injuries suggests that the medicine should be further studied for accident victims and other sufferers of TBIs. Doctors explain that traumatic brain damage often occurs as a result of a car crash, slip and fall accident or assault. War time injuries and explosions can also cause severe head injuries. A mild traumatic brain injury, often referred to as a concussion, can leave the victim with memory problems, personality changes, headaches, dizziness, anxiety and depression. Medical experts say that the more severe the injury to the brain, the more severe and permanent the symptoms can be for the victim. They note that the initial accident or trauma is only the beginning of the process of brain injury. There’s a secondary injury that occurs over the next hours to days that can sometimes create more problems and disability than the initial injury. The researchers believe that the xenon gas is able to protect the health of the brain cells and prevent this further neurological injury, if given soon after a crash or other accident with head injury.

The scientists have also been studying the use of xenon gas for newborn babies who have suffered oxygen deprivation during birth. Possible causes of such lack of oxygen during delivery of an infant can include damage or problems with the health of the placenta or umbilical cord, an umbilical cord that is wrapped around the newborn’s neck, a birth injury, or prolonged labor and delivery of the infant. Experts posit that some of the causes can be due to a doctor’s mistake, missed diagnosis or hospital error while other problems can’t be prevented. The ultimate outcome of the oxygen deprivation can be devistating and leave the infant partially or even fully brain dead. The research scientists hope that their investigation into the use of xenon in these sick or injured patient will help prevent further brain damage. You can read more about the use of this gas as a medicine in brain injuries here.

Illustrative photo by Abu-Amero KK, Al-Dhalaan H, Bohlega S, Hellani A, Taylor RW. [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Study shows misdiagnosis occurs regularly in doctor’s offices

A new research article published in a well-respected medical journal shows that doctors misdiagnose about 12 million adults every year in outpatient clinics and private offices. This is in addition to the hospital patients that are misdiagnosed by doctors on a regular basis. Even more concerning, the investigators explain that approximately 50% of the identified medical mistakes have the possibility to cause serious damage or illness, including wrongful death. A medical malpractice lawyer in New York City notes that he has worked with many victims of hospital errors and doctor’s mistakes. These cases of failure to diagnose often leave patients suffering with more severe illness, disability and pain. Even small delays in diagnosis can lead to catastrophic health consequences, such as spreading of a cancer or an infectious disease. These delays or failures can be attributed to many causes, such as inattentiveness by healthcare providers, illegible handwriting, poor continuing education, or even a facility that is trying to cut corners in order to save money. Patient care activists explain that doctor and nursing carelessness is a well-known problem that needs to be addressed more aggressively by private medical offices, public health clinics and hospitals alike. They say that proper oversight, education and full practice protocols are needed to improve the quality and safety of healthcare while preventing repeated medical negligence. See this article for more about the outpatient misdiagnosis study.

Illustrative photo by DoD [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Hospital error kills patient after giving her wrong blood transfusion

New York — A Brooklyn, NY hospital reported that a patient died after a hospital mistake led to the patient receiving the wrong blood type. They believe an error in blood typing in the hospital’s laboratory led to the deadly mistake. It was unclear as to why the mistake occurred but some patient safety advocates believe it may have been preventable. They say that human error is often responsible for medical mistakes. A top medical malpractice lawyer in New York City explained that sometimes errors like this occur when a nurse, doctor or phlebotomist don’t properly label blood sample tube at the bedside, as is protocol. Other times the slip up can occur in the lab when the technician improperly handles the blood sample. Investigators in the field note that it will be necessary to determine if the lab technician was fully trained to conduct the testing and to see if all of the medical equipment being used was inspected, calibrated correctly and in full working condition. They also say that this type of critical testing should be double-checked for accuracy due to the significant nature of such a transfusion error and the possibility of a mix up. Pending further investigation into this suspected medical malpractice episode, the hospital has been directed to send all blood transfusion testing and work to outside lab facilities. The hospital is currently sending the blood testing to another hospital in Brooklyn. Doctors explain that when a patient receives the wrong blood type, the body sees the blood transfusion as an invader and therefore reacts to the dangerous situation quickly. This leaves nurses and doctors precious little time to recognize the mistake and try life saving intervention. According to activists, it will also be necessary to determine if the hospital staff missed the diagnosis when the patient’s condition started to deteriorate, compounding the medical error. See this article for more information about the fatal blood transfusion mistake at the hospital.

Photo by U.S. Navy photo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Woman dies of lung cancer after missed diagnosis

New York — A woman from Brooklyn, NY died from complications of lung cancer after doctors at the hospital delayed diagnosis of her deadly condition. Family of the victim say that the hospital’s misdiagnosis was due to not following up on a suspicious finding in an x-ray several years earlier. A small nodule or mass was spotted on a chest x-ray but her doctors failed to properly evaluate this, delaying her cancer diagnosis for over two years. Reports show that the doctors working in the New York City owned hospital were negligent by not fully reading and acting on the x-ray report from the radiologist, which pointed out the suspicious spot and recommended specific follow-up instructions. The missed diagnosis of her lung cancer allowed the disease to continue growing until it metastasized, spreading to her other lung, liver, spine and brain. The original hospital error was compounded when subsequent clinic doctors kept treating the woman’s cough and difficulty breathing as asthma. Those doctors never ordered another chest x-ray or properly reviewed the original one.

Experts have predicted that the woman’s cancer could have been treated properly and her life could have been saved had the doctors not committed medical malpractice several times over those two years. Patient activists say that doctor mistakes like this often occur when protocols and conditions created by the hospital or office don’t meet basic standards for patient safety. They warn that doctors and nurses as well as hospital administrators need to take a close look at the day-to-day running of their facilities in order to ensure the constant rush of patients doesn’t allow for overlooking things. Some note that doctors are quick to order tests but sometimes don’t leave enough time to look at the test results. A medical malpractice lawyer in New York says that when a doctor doesn’t order the proper diagnostic tests and when he or she doesn’t follow up on the tests that were ordered, both situations constitute medical malpractice. Find out more about this medical error case and the consequences here.

Read about another case of failure to diagnose, where top medical malpractice attorneys helped the injured party receive rightful compensation in the amount of $3,425,000.

Photo by Nevit Dilmen (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons