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Providence Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Couple goes to court for son who received corrective surgery

There are a large number of potential situations that can be considered medical malpractice. While most people first thing of surgical error, some of the lesser-known categories of medical malpractice are beginning to get attention in recent years.

One landmark case involves an intersex child from South Carolina. His adopted parents have recently filed a medical malpractice lawsuit on his behalf. This is due to the fact that surgery was performed on him after his birth parents lost custody of him. While he was under the care of social service, it was decided between social service and doctors that the child would have corrective surgery. This surgery made him look like a girl. While his adopted parents initially raised him as a girl, they stopped when he continued to insist that he was a boy and began to look into the case.

Issues that fall under the medical malpractice umbrella

Medical malpractice is a large umbrella term. It is used identify anything that goes wrong in a medical setting that can cause a person temporary or permanent harm. Because it is such a large term, you will find that there are many different facets of malpractice, injury and harm that can be covered.

There are several smaller umbrella categories that are used to narrow down the area of medical malpractice that you are personally experiencing. Some of the smaller categories include:

  •          Misdiagnosis
  •          Hospital errors
  •          Cardiology malpractice
  •          Nursing home negligence
  •          Cancer errors
  •          Primary care physician malpractice
  •          Birth injuries
  •          Walk-in clinic malpractice

Are breast biopsies reliable?

Cancer is a scary word. When the possibility of the disease is brought up by a physician, most patients are anxious to initiate all necessary tests. The results of these tests, however, may not always be accurate. When a pattern of inaccuracy in medical tests is discovered, it may result in changes to the way in which diagnoses are determined.

According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the results of breast biopsies may not be as accurate as previously believed. Over 1.5 million breast biopsies are performed on women in the United States every year. Approximately 80 percent of these return results of normal tissue. The reliability of the remaining 20 percent is being called into question by medical researchers. When pathologists were tested for accuracy, they only produced the same result as experts in approximately 75 percent of cases.

Rhode Island malpractice suits must be initiated within 3 years

The National Conference of State Legislatures explains that all states have established laws under which patients may pursue medical malpractice claims. The NCSL also notes that all states have created statutes of limitations for such lawsuits. If a statute of limitations runs out on a claim, the victim cannot pursue legal action against a healthcare provider. As such, it is important for Rhode Island residents to understand how long they have to bring a malpractice lawsuit.  

According to Rhode Island state law, medical malpractice lawsuits have a statute of limitations of three years. The clock for this time limit generally begins counting down when the incident which caused the injury occurred.

What is a “never event” surgical mistake?

Not all instances of medical malpractice are the same. In some Rhode Island cases, healthcare providers may make errors that result in minor harms. On the other hand, certain types of medical interventions are at high risk for serious injuries. The invasiveness of surgical procedures, for example, increases the chance that an error will lead to a severe complication. As such, strong steps should be taken to eliminate all preventable surgical errors, which are also known as “never event” surgical mistakes.

According to a study published by Johns Hopkins Medicine, about 80,000 never event errors were committed from 1990 to 2010. The study found that in 6.6 percent of cases, these errors resulted in patient fatalities. In 32.9 percent of cases, patients were left with permanent injuries. Included in the never event category are the following types of errors:

  • Leaving foreign objects in a patient
  • Incorrect surgical procedures
  • Removing the wrong body part or organ
  • Operating on the wrong area

Surgical site infections due to doctor negligence

Today, advanced surgical technologies allow doctors and surgeons in Cranston to perform interventions that were once believed to have  been impossible. When prepping for surgical procedures, many patients may take the view that their upcoming procedures are routine and without risks. However, it should be remembered that even though today’s surgeries are typically performed by skilled professionals in sterile environments using state-of-the-art equipment, the threat of surgical complications still remains. One such threat is the risk of acquiring a surgical site infection.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, SSIs occur in about 1 to 3 percent of all surgical cases. They can range from simple inflammation around a surgical incision to infections in the muscle, fascia, and even the underlying vital organs. These types of medical events should be taken very seriously. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that roughly 75 percent of deaths associated with SSIs are related to the infections themselves as opposed to secondary complications.

Pinpointing the reasons behind medication mix-ups

For those clients that come to us here at DeLuca and Weizenbaum after having suffered from a dangerous drug reaction, their first question is often how could skilled doctors and pharmacists could make these mistakes. Often, prescription errors are chalked up to poor communication between providers. However, as we’ll discuss in this post, medication mix-ups aren’t always that simple.

There are literally thousands of prescription and over-the-counter medications available to assist with various forms of treatment. Due to this diversity of drugs on the market, pharmacists have more room for error when it comes to filling a prescription with the wrong medication. Similarities between drugs can easily lead to mistakes. Often, medications that are variants of the same drug with different dosage strengths have very similar names. An example of this, as described by the Department of Pharmacy Services from The SUNY Downstate Medical Center, is Novolin and Novolog. Both are human insulin products, yet a confusion of one for the other can lead to complications such as hypoglycemia.

Why are heart attacks misdiagnosed more in women than in men?

Many in Pawtucket may be under the same assumption regarding heart disease and heart attacks that the rest to the country is. That assumption typically is that men are more much more likely to die from a heart attack than women are. Surprisingly, that’s not the case. In fact, information collected by the American Heart Association and shared by CNN shows that 62 percent of women survive their first heart attack, as opposed to 77 percent of men.

Why then would it seem that heart disease has a gender bias? It could be due to the fact that women are also more likely than men to experience a heart attack misdiagnosis. Heart attacks already rank high on the list of conditions most likely to be misdiagnosed. The reason behind this is that the earliest symptoms of a heart attack, namely severe heartburn, chest pain, or pain in the extremities, closely resemble the symptoms of other, less harmful ailments. These can include an anxiety attack, a gallbladder infection, or a pulmonary embolism.

Tying transitions of care to doctor errors

Every year, countless people in Providence County and throughout the rest of the U.S. suffer from mistakes made by doctors, surgeons, and other health care providers. While it should be remembered that health care providers are only human, many of these errors are the result of simple inaction or negligence. A report released by the Office of the Inspector General in 2010 showed that of the adverse events included in their study, 44 percent were preventable.

So what leads to this high occurrence of preventable doctor errors? In a great deal of these cases, it’s a breakdown in communication between providers. This has been shown to happen most during the transition of care from one doctor to another. These transitions can occur when a patient is referred to another provider, during a hospital stay, or at the time a patient is discharged from one facility to another.

The most common causes of medication errors

For many of those clients with whom we work here at the offices of DeLuca and Weizenbaum, the damaged trust between themselves and their health care providers following a medication mistake is the hardest thing they have to deal with. Learning to be an active participant in one’s own care can help to avoid such accidents. If one knows the root causes of most medication errors, then he or she may be more mindful when dealing with them. We’ll examine those causes in this post.

American Nurse Today reports that every year, 1.5 million Americans suffer as the result of a medication error. Multiple case studies involving prescription drug errors have shown that the most common causes of these mistakes are:

  •          Incorrect dosages or dosage strengths
  •          Medications taken by the wrong route of administration
  •          Incorrect medications being given

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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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