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Providence Medical Malpractice Law Blog

What if you are given the wrong medication?

If you are like most in Providence County, then it has likely been drilled into your head since you were young to be careful not to take the wrong medication. However, if you have been prescribed a medication by a doctor and secured it through a licensed pharmacy, then most may find it reasonable for you to assume that you have the correct drug. Even if you pay close attention to the drug label, your lack of familiarity with prescription drug names may not tip you off to possibly having been given the wrong medication. So what should you do if you are given the wrong drug and end up taking it?

First off, do not panic; raising your blood pressure could potentially increase the dispersal of the drug throughout your body. According to the website for the National Poison Control Center, you should call them immediately. Be prepared to provide information such as your age and weight, the name of the drug you took, as well as the amount taken and the time you took it. If you need immediate medical assistance, the poison control representative with whom you are speaking should be able to coordinate your care with emergency responders.

Taking a closer look at surgical site infections

While surgical science may have come a long way in recent years, the experiences of many of those we help here at DeLuca and Weizenbaum LTD have taught us that cutting into the human body is rarely routine. While the potential for complications should not scare you away from having necessary surgery in Providence County, you should still know that problems may occur even after your surgery is completed. One such problem is a surgical site infection.

Simply having surgery may increase your risk of infection given that your skin serves as natural barrier against harmful bacteria and microorganisms. Information shared by Johns Hopkins Medicine shows that the decision to have surgery carries with a one – three percent chance of suffering an infection at the site of your procedure. The types of surgical site infections most commonly seen can be grouped in three categories:

  •          Superficial incisional: Localized to the skin around your incision; characterized by pus secreting from the cut itself.
  •          Deep incisional: Infection in the muscles and tissues beneath your incision; also characterized by the presence of pus, as well as your incision reopening.
  •          Organ or space: Infection in the underlying organs or in the spaces between them; signs may include abscesses surrounded by inflammation.

Doctor sues his own hospital over patient misdiagnosis

For many in Providence County, the value placed on a second medical opinion may not be high due to the assumption that doctors may tend to support each other’s diagnoses no matter what. It should be remembered, however, that a doctor’s first responsibility is ensuring the well-being of his or her patients, not protecting a contemporary’s reputation. In fact, some patients may find other doctors to be among their strongest advocates in remedying any wrong done to them.

An example of this appears to be unfolding at a Kansas hospital, where a doctor employed there has taken the drastic action suing the facility itself. The driving force behind his decision was due to an error made by a colleague that resulted in a patient not only being erroneously diagnosed with cancer, but also having an organ removed unnecessarily. In his complaint, the doctor goes on to say that steps where then taken to cover up the error, even to the point that the patient still does not know about the misdiagnosis. His lawsuit goes on to say that after bringing the error to the attention of the facility’s chief medical officer, nothing was done. He ultimately chose to inform the Joint Commission of the situation, a decision which later allegedly led to the hospital president retaliating against him.

Birthing positions and potential delivery complications

When asked to envision the birthing process, most in Providence County would likely picture a woman either in a supine or partial sitting position with her legs or knees elevated. Indeed, information shared by the website EvidenceBasedBirth.com shows variations of this position to be the preferred delivery position in over 92 percent of deliveries in the U.S. However, some studies seem to suggest that delivering a baby in this position may actually increase the risk of an adverse event.

According to study data shared by Chiro4Family Wellness, 10 percent of the cases observed where mothers delivered in the popular reclined sitting position resulted in babies experiencing impaired brain function. The study architects go on to theorize that this could be due to the fact that having a woman lie on her back during labor effectively closes the pelvic opening, causing increased stress to the baby during delivery.

What can go wrong with LASIK surgery?

LASIK has become a common elective surgical procedure in Providence County and throughout the U.S. in recent years. Countless people may see it as a way to correct near-and farsightedness and astigmatism. However, like all surgical procedures, it is not without its risks. Proponents of LASIK may champion it largely due to its low error rate, which, according to WedMD, is estimated to be between 2 and 5 percent. Unfortunately, if you happen to fall into that demographic, the results of your LASIK errors can be devastating.

Just what may those results be? Some include:

  •          Halos Double vision
  •          Severe dry eye
  •          Corneal damage
  •          Loss of vision

Understanding conditions that mimic the symptoms of others

It may be difficult for many in Providence County to understand how a trained medical professional can misdiagnose a patient. Yet as we at DeLuca and Weizenbaum LTD can attest to, the potential for human error can never be completely taken out of the patient-provider equation. One problem may be that there are a number of non-life threatening conditions out there that mimic much more serious problems.

According to WorldCare International, some of the less-serious diagnoses that are often mistakenly assigned to patients include:

  •          GERD
  •          Vertigo
  •          Migraines

Defining medication omission errors

Most people in Providence County would likely associate errors involving a patient’s medication to instances where he or she was either given an incorrect dosage of a prescribed medication or administered the wrong medication altogether. While such errors certainly rank among the more common types of medication errors, another less-apparent yet potentially as damaging a mistake is a medication omission. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists defines an omission error as “the failure to administer an ordered dose to a patient before the next scheduled dose, if any.”

Medications prescribed to attack infectious agents or assist with a course of treatment may be vital in producing positive patient outcomes. Thus, the omission of a medication could very well be just as serious as too much of it being given. One may wonder how it can be possible for a clinician to overlook the administration of medication (particularly those administered intravenously) given the many delivery methods and protocols in place to account for them. A study undertaken by the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority revealed the following to be among the most common reasons why IV medications were never given:

  •          IV medications not sent with patient during transfer, or not being connected, hung, or started upon his or her arrival in a new unit.
  •          IV pumps or drug delivery systems never being activated.
  •          IV lines becoming occluded or being mistakenly clamped.
  •          IV’s being accidently discontinued or stopped.
  •          Empty or defective IV bags not being replaced.
  •          Nurses becoming distracted.

What is blood contamination?

Every year, countless people in Providence County receive life-saving blood transfusions. If you have received such treatment, then the thought of whether or not the blood being used was safe likely never crossed your mind. Yet what if it was not? Even the best sterile environments may not be able to offer complete protection against the invasion of bacteria into blood products. If you happen to receive contaminated blood, the results could be fatal.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every 1 in 1,000-3,000 units of blood platelets may be tainted with bacteria, making blood contamination the most likely source of transfusion-related infections. While sepsis due to contaminated transfusions has been proven to account for at least 1 in every 100,000 blood product recipients, many believe cases are underreported.

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.

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