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Providence Medical Malpractice Law Blog

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. 

What care are you entitled to under EMTALA?

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act requires hospital emergency rooms in Providence and throughout the rest of the country to provide medical treatment in emergency situations, regardless of a patient’s ability to pay. This helps to avoid a failure to diagnose those conditions that could be prove to be life-threatening if left untreated. Under EMTALA, an emergency is defined as any condition manifested by symptoms severe enough to reasonably expect to result in serious injury or impairment to an individual or unborn child. Under this provision, expectant mothers are also required to be seen for conditions related to their labor.

EMTALA requires that patients receive a medical screening to determine the presence of an emergency medical condition. If such a condition exists, hospital staff is required to either stabilize the patient or arrange transfer to a facility with the capability of doing so. Care cannot be delayed to determine a patient’s insurance coverage or potential means of payment. 

Spotting the signs of a birth injury

According to the health information website www.RightDiagnosis.com, every year there are about 28,000 childbirth injury cases in the United States. These occur despite all of the recent advances in medical and, specifically, obstetrical science. Birth injuries can often end up taking a dramatic toll on a child’s life, particularly because they are often so hard to diagnose early on.

In some cases, injuries to newborns are evident immediately after birth. Yet others are not always so easy to detect. Because newborn babies are particularly docile those first few weeks after birth, it’s easy to overlook the signs and symptoms of a birth injury. Thus, parents should be on the lookout for indicators that something is amiss, which can include: 

Doctor allegedly mistakes heart attack for stomach illness

When hearing about medical malpractice cases, Providence residents probably notice the term “standard of care” being thrown around quite a bit. The standard of care represents universally-accepted protocols in place that have been proven to help doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers to accurately diagnose and treat their patients. These standards have typically been reaffirmed through clinical trials, and providers are expected to adhere to those which apply to their areas of practice. A failure to do so can open a provider up to accusations of negligence.

Such is the charge being thrown at an ER doctor at an Alabama hospital by the wife of a patient that he treated. In a lawsuit filed against the doctor, the woman claims that her husband presented to the ER complaining of chest pain. Yet rather than follow the protocols to rule out a cardiac-related event, the doctor instead diagnosed the man with a stomach illness and sent him home. Her attorneys argue that had the doctor ordered the necessary tests demanded by the standard of care, he would have discovered the man’s heart problems. Instead, his condition went undiagnosed, and he died just four days later.

The reasons behind wrong-site surgeries

Doctors and surgeons are among the most respected working professionals in America, due in large part to dedication they have in mastering their craft. Yet despite all of their education and experience, these men and women are still human, and thus subject to the same errors as anyone else in Providence. Yet that fact still makes it no less shocking to hear of the mistakes made by doctors when treating patients. Among the most difficult to comprehend are cases when doctors perform surgery on the wrong body part.

Those who think such cases are few and far between would be surprised to learn how frequently such errors happen in America’s operating rooms. According to a 2012 study done by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, cases were surgeons operate on a wrong limb or other body parts occur around 20 times a week, Medical News Today reports. That’s over 1000 events every year.

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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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