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Providence Medical Malpractice Law Blog

How clean are your healthcare provider’s hands?

When you present as a patient at a hospital or healthcare facility in Providence County, you likely have (at the very least) one basic expectation: cleanliness. You anticipate that the rooms will be treated in have been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized, and that those treating you follow strict hygiene standards. Yet what if you were told that when it comes to latter, that expectation is not always being met? In fact, information shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that many healthcare providers clean their hands less than half as often as they should.

Healthcare facilities are already breeding grounds for disease-causing microbes. Every day, healthcare workers may come in contact with any of the following pathogens:

  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Rotavirus
  • Clostridium difficile
  • Adenovirus
  • Hepatitis A
  • Streptococcus pyogenes

When STDs are mistaken for UTIs

Those in Providence County who may have a sexually transmitted disease may certainly want to know that. Unfortunately, as some of our clients here at DeLuca and Weizenbaum have had the misfortunate to find out, the potential of misdiagnosing an STD may be high. Many of the symptoms indicating the presence of an STD may be similar to other ailments. In men, these are often easier to differentiate. Yet if you are a woman, the question of whether or not you may have an STD may be harder to answer.

STDs often mimic the same manifestations of another disease common in women: urinary tract infections. The telltale symptoms of a UTI are typically frequent and painful urination. However, these are also common with the following STDs:

  •          Trichomoniasis
  •          Gonorrhea
  •          Chlamydia
  •          Genital herpes

Lawsuit alleges forceps injury caused baby’s brain damage

New parents in Providence County may inherit a whole new set of responsibilities when their babies arrive. Meeting those responsibilities for a brand new healthy baby can strain a couples’ physical and emotional resources. Plus, there are plenty of new expenses that accompany a newborn, as well. Imagine how much greater the emotional stress and financial strain may be if, along with assuming all of the traditional responsibilities of parenthood, a couple were also forced to deal with the aftermath of a debilitating birth injury to their baby.

Such is the struggle facing a Nebraska couple. Their infant son currently faces a lifetime of extraordinary needs after sustaining brain damage during his delivery. In a lawsuit filed against the facility where he was born, his parents’ attorney alleges that the mismanagement of his delivery is what has left him in his current state. Details of the lawsuit claim that not only did breathing problems that the boy was suffering from go attended by staff during his delivery, but also that the provider’s decision to use forceps resulted in the injury that led to his brain damage. The family’s attorney goes on to say that the boy’s electronic medical record was tampered with following the incident, which he claims is further proof of the facility’s culpability.

Who is responsible for adverse reactions to medications?

When your doctor in Providence County prescribes you a medication, you take it likely trusting that his or her confidence in it is enough of a guarantee regarding its safety. You should remember, however, that medications are made by pharmaceutical companies whose goals may at times be focused more on profits than patient safety. If a prescription drug does cause you or a loved one harm, who should be blamed: your doctor or the drug manufacturer?

Every year, hundreds of drugs are recalled in the U.S. These recalls may be due to a number of different factors, including:

  •          Contaminated products
  •          Inherent safety issues
  •          The discovery of dangerous side effects
  •          Packaging problems
  •          Labeling issues

The risk of overreliance on standalone HPV screenings

When you choose a primary care physician in Providence County and then follow his or her recommended schedule of preventative treatments and visits, the expectation may be that you will be able to avoid certain illnesses and conditions. Perhaps nowhere is this more true than with your obstetrics and gynecology provider. Starting in your teens, you typically begin the necessary-yet-sometimes-uncomfortable process of receiving a routine pap smear. The purpose of this checkup is to help you avoid conditions such as cervical cancer. Yet as some of the women that we here at DeLuca and Weizenbaum have worked with in past may attest to, cervical cancer screenings are not infallible.

Recent years have seen the introduction of a standalone test for the human papillomavirus. HPV is the virus responsible for almost all forms of cervical cancer. Given this link, it may easy to assume that this HPV test might be a better alternative than a pap smear. However, recent research suggests that may not be the case at all.

Examining pre-operative care standards

People in Providence County may view the potential of a person having the wrong body part operated on almost jokingly. After all, few may attribute the incompetence assumed to be involved in such an error to doctors and surgeons, who for the most part are viewed by the general public as being very learned individuals. Those who claim that wrong site surgeries are few and far between seem to be supported by evidence. Information shared by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reports that such errors only occur in one of every 112,000 surgical cases. However, the AHRQ recognizes that data only reflects operating room procedures, and not surgical cases performed outside of the OR. Indeed, it is estimated that as many as half of such errors occur in these settings.

To help prevent the potential for a wrong site surgery, the Joint Commission (the chief accrediting body of hospitals and healthcare organizations in the U.S.) has developed a "Universal Protocol for Preventing Wrong Site, Wrong Procedure, and Wrong Person Surgery." This protocol (as shared by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) involves the following three components:

  • A pre-procedure verification process
  • The marking of operative site
  • Conducting a "time out" prior to commencing with the surgery

The potential for misdiagnosis of cervical spinal stenosis

Like most in Providence County, you likely accept the fact that certain aspects of your health may begin to deteriorate as you age. Yet that does not mean that you should be forced to live with daily pain and discomfort. Yet we at DeLuca and Weizenbaum LTD understand that the trouble with providers dismissing your pain as being age-related without investigating its cause lies in the potential for the underlying condition to worsen, taking an even greater toll on your quality of life.

One of the more common age-related issues that you may begin to experience (particularly after the age of 50) is cervical spinal stenosis. This is caused by a narrowing of the spinal canal at or near the neck. Eventually, the canal compresses to the point of actually pinching your spinal cord. As your reach this point, you may begin to experience initial symptoms, which according to the website Spine-Health.com may include:

  •          A heavy feeling in the outer extremities
  •          Intermittent pains in the arms and legs
  •          Impairment of your fine motor skills
  •          Difficulty enduring physical activities

Understanding assisted deliveries

Most in Providence County would likely agree that obstetrical and gynecological science has come quite a ways from the days when the delivery process often presented life-threatening complications to both mothers and babies. That may largely be due to the many tools that doctors now have to assist women with delivery. However, in many cases, the very tools that doctors use to try and avoid complications can end up being the avenues through which harm is caused.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists defines an assisted or operative vaginal delivery as one in which tools such as a vacuum extractor or forceps are used to help deliver a baby. ACOG’s data shows that such assistance occurs in nearly 3 percent of all vaginal deliveries that occur in the U.S. The use of forceps involves inserting a metal instrument into the mother’s vagina to grasp the baby’s head and help pull it out of the birth canal. A vacuum extractor is used much the same way, however it involves creating suction on the top of the baby’s head as opposed to grasping it.

What are drug administration routes?

Most in Providence County may tell you that drug errors occur when a healthcare provider gives a patient the wrong medication. While this certainly may be among the more common types of medication mistakes, the truth is that drug errors can occur any number of different ways. Almost as important as receiving the right drug is being administered the recommended dosage at the correct concentration. Beyond that, the administration route must also be considered. What are drug routes? They are the various methods through which a medication is introduced into your body.

If you are like most, then you envision a medication administration as you popping a pill into your mouth. Yet the website Healthline.com actually lists several different drug routes that providers may utilize. Listed below are the various methods through which drugs are dispensed:

  •          By mouth: Oral pills or liquids, sublingual medications, buccal drugs (held inside the cheek)
  •          By nasal passage: inhalants, nasal sprays, nebulizer treatments
  •          By injection: intramuscular or subcutaneous injections
  •          By skin: transdermal patches, topical ointments
  •          By delivery mechanism: intravenous infusions, enteral administrations via a G- or J-tube
  •          By other body openings: eye drops, ear drops, rectal suppositories

20 years later, doctor admits to lying about malpractice case

People in Providence County may place a great deal of trust in their healthcare providers. The expectation that comes with that is that their doctors and other caregivers will reciprocate that trust. However, information that has begun to emerge from within the medical industry in recent seems to cast doubt on that idea. Many healthcare practitioners today admit to feeling pressure to side with their colleagues when allegations of medical malpractice arise. Studies have even shown that providers may be reluctant to share information with patients about errors in their treatment. Some may say that these accusations and alleged admissions may only be given under the condition of anonymity, and thus are not verifiable. That is not the case anymore.

Recently, a retired surgeon admitted in an article he wrote that he lied during a malpractice case against one of his colleagues almost 20 years ago. Rather than admitting that previous incidents had called is colleague’s skills into question, the doctor instead chose to support him by not sharing any of those concerns. Today, the same doctor now works as a patient advocate, even going so far as to work with the very attorney who represented the plaintiff in the case he admits to lying in. In a recent interview, the doctor confirmed the notion that pressure exists amongst those in his profession to support their contemporaries no matter what.

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