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Providence Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Detailing how brain damage occurs following perinatal asphyxia

Despite the assumption that many in Providence County may have that delivering a baby has become a risk-free medical procedure, experience has taught us here at DeLuca and Weizenbaum that is often not the case. If you experienced complications during childbirth, then you are well aware that even the slightest delay in addressing an issue with your baby can produce catastrophic results. One such issue that babies may experience during birth is oxygen deprivation. If not immediately remedied, a lack of oxygen can result in serious brain damage or even death.

The clinical term for your baby suffering from a lack of oxygen during or immediately after birth is perinatal asphyxia. Most may think that the simple lack of oxygen is what causes brain damage in babies during delivery. In actuality, it happens in two stages: within minutes of your baby being deprived of oxygen, cells begin to die. Restoring blood flow is vital at this point in order to stop extensive cellular death. Yet doing so can cause further damage during reperfusion, or the reintroduction of blood flow to oxygen-deprived tissue. According to the Pediatric Research Journal, once reperfusion occurs, further organ damage can occur through the release of toxic reactive oxygen metabolites, which continue to attack organ tissues across days and even up to weeks. Thus, it may be difficult to tell the extent of your child’s injuries immediately after having restored his or her oxygen flow.

Lawsuit points blame at facility for doctor’s botched procedure

Oftentimes, people in Providence will gladly defer to the expertise of their doctors when making medical decisions. However, patients still must be given the opportunity to have the final say in what procedures and treatments that they do and do not consent to. Should a doctor make the decision for them, then that provider may be taking the accountability for the outcome of a procedure out of their hands and placing it squarely on his or her shoulders.

The ongoing legal case involving the untimely death if comedienne Joan Rivers may be an ideal example of the issues that may arise when a doctor allegedly takes over the decision making role for his or her patients. In the case of Rivers, a lawsuit filed against the medical facility where she died alleges that the star’s personal ear, nose, and throat doctor was granted unauthorized access to the surgical suite where the actress was having a routine endoscopic procedure done. She then proceeded to perform a transnasal laryngoscopy, a procedure that she had not been authorized by Rivers to do. The case recently appeared to come to a close when it was announced that Rivers’ daughter had reached a settlement with the facility.

What standards must radiologists follow to avoid a misdiagnosis?

When you visit your doctor in Providence, he or she should take the time to listen to whatever issues or symptoms you may be experiencing, and then come up with a preliminary diagnose based off of that information. However, in many cases, imaging studies may be required to either confirm or disprove his or her suspicions. An improper interpretation of your radiologic images could potentially lead your doctor to miss or misdiagnose your problem. If and when that happens, who is then responsible for the error: your doctor or the radiologist?

You would expect a licensed radiologist to be able to accurately assess your problem based upon what he or she is seeing in your scans. Even so, standards have been set forth outlining the best practices to prevent errors that could compromise care. For example, The American College of Radiology clearly states in its list of standards for General Radiography that all diagnostic imaging must obtained under the supervision of a physician with the appropriate radiologic licensing. It goes on further to outline the approved technique for obtaining images. Some of these are directly aimed at limiting the potential for misinterpretation, such as:

  •          Labeling all scans with the correct patient and facility information, the anatomical site scanned, and the date the image was taken.  
  •          Having information on hand regarding the techniques and exposure factors needed to achieve high-quality images on patients of all builds.
  •          Reviewing all images for diagnostic quality before a patient is discharged.
  •          Having adequate immobilization equipment to ensure the ability to capture quality images on combative patients.

Understanding drug allergies

As springtime is in full gear now, many Rhode Island residents may experience seasonal allergies. Runny, itchy eyes, sinus congestion and sneezing are often some of the tell-tale signs of these conditions. However, these are not the only types of allergies that people should be aware of. People can also experience allergic reactions to prescription medications. In some situations, these allergies may be very serious and even life threatening. For this reason, it is important that health care providers communicate well with patients when prescribing drugs.

The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology indicates that antibiotics such as penicillin are among the most common allergens in the prescription drug world. Anti-inflammatories, cancer drugs and anticonvulsants are also known to prompt allergic reactions in patients. When a person’s body detects what it considers to be an allergen, the body releases histamines or other chemicals to essentially fight back.

Woman left infertile after surgical error

Most people in Rhode Island have heard some stories about others who have experienced serious medical errors. The effects of these experiences can be emotionally traumatizing as well as physically debilitating or even life-threatening. Medical mistakes that involve surgeries can even make patients hesitant about ever undergoing another surgical treatment in the future.

Figuring out how to ever trust a doctor again is just one of the challenges that a Connecticut woman and her husband must face. The couple is left without the ability to naturally have their own biological children without the intervention of medical science due to a serious error made by a new physician. Upon being admitted to the hospital to investigate some pain in her pelvic region, the wife underwent a surgery to have her appendix removed.

Wearable technology may move into therapeutic use

People in Rhode Island have seen a dramatic increase in the use of wearable devices over the past few years. This trend has been experienced around the nation and is part of the country’s continued focus on how to improve people’s health while making use of technology. But, can wearables be more than they are today? If they can, what would that look like?

Current models of wearables focus primarily on reporting health. This may be in the form of tracking data like the number of steps a person has taken in a given day, the number of calories consumed or expended during exercise, and the like. Some collect other information specific to health. But, new models of wearables are in the works that may actually go one step further. These new devices could move from reporting health to facilitating health. They could become mechanisms by which treatments or medications are administered.

What is placental abruption?

Whether you are pregnant with your first, second or fifth baby, you should be able to enjoy the nine months of your pregnancy with joy and anticipation. Like other expectant parents in Rhode Island, it is also important for you to be aware of some of the complications that may develop during a pregnancy in order to keep you and your baby safe.

One problem that can occur is called a placental abruption according to WebMD. This refers to a situation in which the placenta becomes detached either in part or totally from the wall of the uterus. The connection here is the pathway via which your baby receives oxygen and nutrition so any abruption may compromise the delivery of those essential things.

Communication problems may contribute to medical errors

 Rhode Island residents naturally want to understand the scary and potentially dangerous world of medical malpractice. Nobody wants to become the victim of a medical error or to have their family member suffer from a preventable mistake made by a health care provider. A study led by Boston Children’s Hospital took a look at how communication between physicians may impact errors. The results were quite interesting.

Stanford Medicine reports that a new procedure implemented during the handoff from one physician to another was put in place at nine different hospitals. The goal was to see if a change in the transmission of information between shift changes would create any change in the number of errors made. Over the course of the duration of the study, the number of medical errors identified as preventable dropped by 30 percent. There was no change to the number of errors identified as unpreventable which further supported the impact of communication on the preventable errors.

Repeat surgery required after error

New England patients who must undergo even the most minor surgical procedure can reasonably be nervous about doing so. Fears about being put under the effects of anesthesia and the challenges associated with recovery are just some of the issues to face. Sadly, those are not the only issues that patients have to think about. Surgeons and others on surgical teams can make mistakes along the way.

A patient in Connecticut has recently brought forth a lawsuit after a surgical resident lied about an error that forced her to undergo an additional surgery. After a suspicious lesion was noted on a bone in her ribcage, it was decided that the bone should be removed. After the procedure was supposedly done, imaging showed something different. Yes, a rib bone was removed from the woman’s body. However, the bone that was taken out was not the bone that was supposed to have been taken out.

The dangers of a silent stroke

If you are like many Rhode Island residents, you are concerned about the dangers of medical errors today. When you go to the doctor, you want to be able to trust completely that you are given accurate information and receiving the best care. Sadly, this is not always the case. Sometimes problems result from diagnosis issues. This may include you being given a diagnosis which is not accurate. It may also include you being given no diagnosis at all when you do, in fact, have a serious problem. This can even happen with a stroke.

Many people may think that a stroke is always easy to identify by individuals and providers but that is not necessarily the case. As described by WebMD, sometimes a stroke can be considered a silent event. Essentially, this means that the actual event of a stroke is mild enough that it is not even detected by the person who has the stroke. In addition, the silent stroke term could also be used to describe a stroke that is not remembered by the person who has the stroke. If a stroke occurs when the person is alone, this can be a problem.

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Cases of Interest

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