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Providence Medical Malpractice Law Blog

What is involved in the informed consent process?

Medical malpractice lawsuits in Rhode Island often involve issues of informed consent. According to the University of Washington School of Medicine, the informed consent process requires that health care providers disclose to their patients any information that they may need to make a decision regarding the acceptance or refusal of a medical intervention.

Patients must have voluntarily consented to their interventions and be competent in order for their decisions to stand. These requirements are in place to counteract the powerlessness that many patients can feel in medical situations, particularly those involving serious diseases and invasive treatments.

The dangers of an allergic drug reaction

Of all of the issues that clients bring to us here at DeLuca and Weizenbaum, medication errors are often the most difficult for them to comprehend. While it may take an initial adverse reaction in order for one to know that he or she is allergic to a medication, once that incident occurs, it is typically documented in a patient’s medical record. Even if an allergy is missed provider in the medical record, its presence usually shows up in the visit notes because clinical support staff are trained to ask for it during a patient’s assessment. Yet according to data shared by AmericanNurseToday.com, nearly 1.5 million patients suffer from a drug error every year in the U.S.

When one experiences an allergic reaction to a medication, every second counts. A delay in treatment can lead to a patient experiencing any number of problems, including: 

How can cancer be misdiagnosed?

Patients in Providence may feel as though given today’s advanced diagnostic tools, the missing or misdiagnosis of a serious illness by a doctor or other healthcare professional to be an impossibility. Yet it should be remembered that healthcare providers are subject to the same errors in judgment as the rest of the general population. According to information shared by ABC News, every year 1.3 million people are diagnosed with cancer. Yet researchers at Johns Hopkins Hospital found in their own study that nearly 1 on every 71 cases studied showed a cancer misdiagnosis.

You might be wondering how an illness as serious as cancer can be missed or wrongly diagnosed. Cancer symptoms can often mimic the signs of other, less-serious ailments. Thus, should you present to the doctor with problems, there’s a possibility that he or she will immediately rule out cancer as a possible cause in favor of other, more common diseases. Without any accompanying radiological or laboratory studies that could show the presence of cancer, doctors could easily incorrectly diagnose you, leading to a delay in treatment that could potentially be life-threatening. 

Cerebral palsy resulting from birth injuries

Parents in Providence and all over the world no doubt feel that even though challenges are inherent with raising the children, the joy and love that their children bring to their lives makes enduring such challenges well worth it. Yet that’s not to say that those feelings make dealing with parental struggles any easier. Children will often demand the utmost from their parents’ emotional, physical, and financial resources. With handicapped children, that demand is often lifelong. What’s unfortunate is that many handicaps are often preventable.

Cerebral palsy is among these. This condition is the result of a brain injury or malformation that hinders muscle control and coordination, resulting in impaired oral and motor skills. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently estimates that one in every 323 children in the United States has some form of cerebral palsy. According to CerebralPalsy.org, there are four main causes of this particular type of brain injury

Surgeon sued for not removing woman’s entire appendix

Doctors in Providence and throughout the rest of the U.S. are called upon daily to exercise their expertise and judgment in making fast decisions in attempts to save the lives of their patients. While some degree of allowance may be given in such circumstances, there are still basic standards of care in place that healthcare providers are expected to follow in nearly every medical and surgical encounter. A failure to do may easily be seen as doctor negligence by the patients who surrender themselves to those judgments.

This very scenario is at the heart of a medical malpractice lawsuit currently being argued in North Carolina. A woman is suing the surgeon who performed her emergency appendectomy for not completely removing the organ during the procedure. The original procedure was done after she presented at the emergency department on Christmas Eve in 2009 for abdominal pain. Later, she was seen by another provider because of the same symptoms. It was discovered that nearly a third of her appendix hadn’t been removed. The surgeon explained his actions by saying that a portion of the woman’s appendix was hidden behind her colon. Yet another surgeon testifying on the woman’s behalf stated that the standard of care was to remove all of the appendix down to only a 5mm portion, and that general surgeons should be trained on how to do so even when it’s view is obstructed by another organ. 

What are the dangers in receiving the wrong blood type?

Every year, countless patients here in Providence and throughout the rest of the country enter hospitals and surgical centers to undergo procedures. These procedures range from simple surgeries that may take only a few minutes to highly-complex operative sessions involving multiple surgical teams working for many hours. Surgical patients place a great deal of trust on those performing and assisting with their operations. While that trust is typically warranted, it should be remembered that these people are prone to mistakes just like everyone else. It’s when these mistakes involve seemingly simple missteps that lead to potentially fatal consequences that healthcare providers come under fire.

One such error is administering an incorrect blood component. According to data shared by the Pennsylvania Safety Authority, one out of every 10,000 units of transfused blood is administered to the wrong recipient, is some cases even to those with the wrong blood type. Receiving an incompatible blood type can lead to a serious ABO incompatibility reaction, these results of which can be: 

Taking a closer look at prescription drug recalls

Most in Providence may associate problems with patient medications as stemming from doctors or other health care providers prescribing the wrong drugs. Yet in many cases, a patient’s prescription may be fine, but the medication that he or she has been prescribed may not be. Information gathered in a study done by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and shared by ABC News puts the estimated number of potentially dangerous pharmaceutical drugs recalled in the U.S. at one every month. Given that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that over 10 percent of Americans take five or more medications every month, such recall information shows how the potential for a dangerous drug reaction in patients can be so high.

Drugs can be recalled for any number of issues. Health care authorities may have received notifications that the medication could potentially cause harm based upon patient feedback. In certain cases, the problem may not be with the drug itself, but rather a sample that was either mislabeled or potentially contaminated. Recalls are typically issued by the FDA, but they may also be initiated by a drug manufacturer in an attempt to avoid possible products liability issues. 

The potential for the misdiagnosis of a TIA

Throughout our many years of experience in helping clients here at DeLuca and Weizenbaum, we’ve worked with a number of people who’ve suffered both directly and indirectly from the consequences of an inaccurate diagnosis. Strokes are among those medical events whose delay in treatment can have disastrous consequences. Yet often, people will exhibit risk factors for a stroke such as a transient ischemic attack, which, if treated properly and promptly, can greatly reduce one’s chances of actually having a stroke. In this post, we’ll examine the signs and symptoms of a TIA, as well as the potential for its misdiagnosis.

A TIA is often referred to as a “mini-stroke” in that a person suffers from a blockage of blood to the brains just as he or she would with an actual ischemic stroke. The symptoms of this condition may include the sudden onset of: 

What is a placental abruption?

Whereas childbirth once presented a number of complications that could have been disastrous to both mothers and babies in Providence, advances in obstetrics in recent years have helped to significantly lower the chances for such problems. Yet while the methods used to diagnose and treat these issues have improved dramatically, many complications in the delivery process cannot be prevented entirely. Placental abruption is one of these problems, and an early diagnosis of this condition is essential in saving the lives of those unborn babies affected by it.

A placental abruption occurs when the placenta begins to peel away from the uterine wall prematurely, depriving an unborn baby of essential oxygen and nutrients. This condition often occurs late in pregnancy or during childbirth, and is commonly triggered by sudden trauma to the abdomen or a mother’s water breaking prematurely due to fluid build-up around the uterus. According to the American Journal of Epidemiology, placental abruptions occur in 6.5 of every 1000 births in the U.S. 

The relationship between practice area and malpractice claims

Advances in medical science in recent years have made it possible for patients in Providence to receive higher levels of health care than ever before. Yet despite this potential for quality care, every year there are countless malpractice claims filed by patients who believed that they have suffered due to the negligence of their doctors. According to Becker’s Hospital Review, nearly $3.6 billion was paid out in settlement of over 12,100 malpractice claims in 2012. These numbers seem staggering, particularly given the fact that at the same time, overall patient satisfaction with health care has gone up. A review of which medical practice areas see the most malpractice claims may shed some light on reason behind these high numbers.

A 2011 study shared in the New England Journal of Medicine detailed the trends seen in medical malpractice claims filed between 1991 to 2003. The breakdown of those claims according to medical practice was as follows: 

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Cases of Interest

  • $15.7+ Million - Class Action Lawsuit Settlement
  • $10 Million Settlement - Brain Injury
  • $8.7 Million Verdict - Loss of Limb
  • $5,200,000. - Infant Brain Injury
  • $4,700,000. - Failed Spinal Surgery
  • $4.5 Million - Birth Injury Settlement
  • $4,000,000. - Wrongful Death Verdict For Failure to Diagnose Cancer
  • $3.6 Million Settlement - School Bus Negligence
  • $3,500,000. - Construction Site Injury Settlement
  • $3,000,000. - Construction Site Injury Settlement
  • $2,900,000. Settlement - Failure To Properly Treat Eye Cancer
  • $2.65 Million Settlement - Failure to Diagnose Brain Swelling
  • $1,607,000. Verdict - Negligent Prescription of Drug
  • $1,500,000. Verdict - Negligent Prescription of Drug
  • $1,250,000. Settlement - Failure To Treat Infection
  • $1,250,000. Settlement - Failure To Diagnose Fracture In Cervical Spine
  • $1.2 Million Settlement - Emergency Room Negligence/Wrongful Death
  • $900,000. - Physician Failure To Transfer Child With Life-Threatening Condition to Proper Hospital
  • $850,000. Settlement - Birth Injury
  • $700,000. Settlement - Failure to Advise Patient of Medical Finding
  • $300,000. Verdict - Slip and Fall
  • $375,000 Settlement - Auto Accident
  • $375,000 Settlement - Premises Liability
See all Cases of Interest

DeLuca & Weizenbaum, LTD.

DeLuca & Weizenbaum, Ltd. | 199 North Main Street | Providence, RI 02903 | Phone: 401-354-7233 | Toll-Free: 888-876-9415 | Providence Law Office Map

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