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Providence Medical Malpractice Law Blog

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: 

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of post-surgical sepsis

Every year, many clients come to us here at the offices of DeLuca and Weizenbaum, Ltd with complications stemming from surgical treatment. Patients in Providence agree to such treatment under the assumption that it will end any pain and suffering that they’re currently going through, or help to avoid problems in the future. Yet the mere act of surgery can also present a great risk. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that cases of post-surgical infection account for 31 percent of all hospital-acquired infections. Of these infections, post-surgical sepsis is among the most dangerous. In this post, we’ll examine the potential causes of this problem, as well as its signs and symptoms.

Sepsis is commonly referred to as blood poisoning. It occurs when harmful bacteria and their accompanying toxins are present in the blood stream. It typically originates in tissues, often as the result of a surgical site infection. These infections can happen for a number of reasons, such as:

How can people avoid medication errors on their own?

People on Providence and throughout the rest of the United States place a lot of faith in the ability of both the medications they take and the providers that prescribe them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 82 percent of American adults frequently take at least one medication.  Medication errors are inevitable with that size of a patient population. However, there are steps patients can take to help avoid such mishaps on their own.

The first step in safeguarding oneself against medication errors is understanding that providers themselves are prone to mistakes. That understanding can encourage one to become a more active participant in his or her own care. With that encouragement, sticking to the following steps often becomes much easier: 

The problems presented by overdiagnosing

Medical mistakes made by providers in Providence and throughout the rest of the country can have a significant financial impact on the healthcare market. Information shared from the Institute of Medicine in a report by the diagnostic management company Premerus estimates that dealing with cases of medical negligence and misdiagnosis costs between $17 to $29 billion every year. These costs can potentially be felt across the market.

Most associate misdiagnosis with a failure to detect disease or the assignment of a wrong diagnosis. Yet recently, diagnoses that exaggerate a patient’s condition or assign them an ailment that isn’t even present have begun to be viewed as a serious problem. Many healthcare industry experts refer to this as “overdiagnosing.” 

Woman alleges poor prenatal care led to child’s birth injury

Most in Providence would probably assume that cases involving a birth injury would be limited to actions or inactions that occurred during the actual birthing process. Yet many view the probability of a successful delivery as having a direct correlation to the quality of prenatal care that an expectant mother received from her obstetrician. If a woman felt as her doctor was guilty of errors, misjudgments, or simple negligence during the prenatal period, she may draw the conclusion that such issues contributed to circumstances which endangered the health and safety of both she and her baby during delivery.

That’s exactly the claim that an Illinois woman is making after her newborn daughter allegedly suffered a severe shoulder injury during the delivery process. The woman claims that the child’s large size, coupled with her own significant weight gain during her pregnancy contributed the baby becoming stuck in the birth canal. As a result of this complication, her doctor had to use excessive force to complete the delivery. She now believes that had the same doctor taken the time to offer dietary counseling during her pregnancy as well as attempted to discover the baby’s weight via ultrasound, the problems associated with her delivery could have been avoided. 

Why should you have a primary care physician?

It may seem to people in Providence as though cases regarding medical malpractice seem to dominate today’s headlines. This may lead to a loss of faith in the healthcare system as a whole. This presents an a potentially complicated dilemma: you’re of course encouraged to seek medical attention for those injuries and ailments that can’t heal without intervention, yet concerns over the quality of that care or the potential for further problems may cause you even greater stress. One way to help resolve such a dilemma is by having a primary care physician.

Data shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that of the estimated 1 billion medical office visits that occurred in 2010, just over 55 percent of those were to primary care physicians. Yet researchers have shown that people who have a primary care doctor enjoy the following health benefits: 

The facts behind hospital-acquired infections

Many of the people from Providence we speak with here at DeLuca & Weizenbaum, Ltd. fear the prospect of an extended hospital stay. Yet when the body needs time to recover, a hospital can be the ideal place to begin such a recovery. That’s not to say, however, that staying in a hospital is without any risks.

Given the many ailments that people are treated for in hospitals, these environments are ideally suited to become breeding grounds for infectious pathogens. Combine that with the presence of patients with already-compromised immune systems, and it’s easy to see why hospital-acquired infections are a major concern in both the healthcare and legal communities. 

What is Erb’s Palsy?

Thanks to advances in the field of obstetrics, many of the birth injuries that were common as recently as even 10 years ago can now be avoided in childbirth cases here in Providence and throughout the rest of the country. Unfortunately, no amount of medical improvements can completely eliminate human error from the birthing process. Even the slightest misstep by a doctor, nurse, or other clinician during birth can have disastrous results on a newborn baby. One such result is a brachial plexus injury, which can result in a condition commonly known as Erb’s palsy.

The brachial plexus is a collection of nerves found around the shoulder area. Because of the unique stresses put on a baby’s body during the delivery process, these nerves are at an increased risk for damage. Large babies or babies delivered from a breech position are at an even greater risk of sustaining damage to this area, as are those whose shoulders become stuck in the birth canal during delivery. 

The risks of rushing into LASIK surgery

Many of the cases seen here at DeLuca and Weizenbaum reaffirm the fact that no medical procedure is without risks. One such procedure that has become increasingly popular in Providence is LASIK eye surgery. Many view LASIK as a minimally-invasive path to guaranteed vision correction. Increasingly, an overzealousness by some doctors to recommend LASIK surgery, combined with the collective urgency of patients to abandon their eye glasses, has caused many to overlook its inherent risks.

During LASIK, a laser is used to cut a flap in the surface of the cornea, after which underlying tissue is excised, and the flap is folded back into place. Yet according to information shared by Dr. Bill Lloyd, a contributor to WebMD.com, the flap itself never fully heals. This can lead to higher rates of other vision problems amongst LASIK recipients, including: 

Allegedly botched post-op care causes NFL cornerback to retire

Those who are forced to undergo surgical procedures in Providence no doubt have a great deal of confidence in their surgeons’ abilities to perform their procedures correctly. Unfortunately, a lot can still go wrong with a surgery even after the procedure itself is performed. Without adequate follow-up care, surgical patients run the risk of recurrence or developing other problems related to their recovery. Yet just as patients have the responsibility to follow the instructions of their doctors following surgery, those surgeons are also expected to deliver any follow-up care needed to help avoid any complications. A perceived failure to provide that care may be viewed as doctor negligence.

Such is the claim being made by former NFL cornerback Samari Rolle. He alleges in a surgical malpractice lawsuit that the surgeon who performed his spinal fusion in 2008 released him to return to action too soon. Shortly after his return to playing, Rolle began to feel the same symptoms he had prior to the surgery. It was later discovered that the procedure had failed. A second surgery proved to be successful, but not until after Rolle had developed nerve damage in his hand and arm that prematurely ended his playing career. 

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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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