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Providence Medical Malpractice Law Blog

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.

Surgeon accused of leaving open-heart surgery before it was over

Most people in Providence probably aren’t overly familiar with the healthcare provider hierarchy. Typically, their main concern is that the most qualified provider in the room at the time of their care is the one who is administering treatment. Providers, on the other hand, are well-versed in the standards of care for those areas in which they practice. Thus, they know exactly who and how many need be present at the time of a patient’s procedure in order to be able to respond to sudden changes in the patient’s condition. A failure to meet those staffing requirements could be viewed as surgical malpractice.

The family of a California man is making just such an accusation in a lawsuit they recently filed on his behalf. In their lawsuit, they allege that the doctor who was performing the man’s open-heart surgery left the operating room with the man’s chest still open and while he was still under anesthesia. This left the physician’s assistant assisting with the procedure to close up the opening in the man’s chest without supervision. The man subsequently went into cardiac arrest and was left living in a vegetative state.

Prescription error leads to patient's fatal overdose

Thanks to advances in pharmacological science, people in Providence can combat pain, illness, and infection with remarkable effectiveness. Yet prescription drugs also carry with them the potential to cause untold harm if given in wrong amounts or in combination with other medications. Patients look to their doctors to know what’s best for them when it comes to prescribing them their drugs. Doctors are required to communicate clearly with pharmacists to ensure that their patients are given the right drugs in the right doses. When that chain of communication breaks down, patients pay a high price.

A Texas woman had to pay such a price following a dosage mistake that occurred during her recovery from a routine surgical procedure. After completing her surgery, her doctor wrote out a prescription for 10 mm of potassium phosphate, yet later changed his mind and changed the dosage to 20 mm. Yet instead or writing out a new prescription, he simply wrote over the dosage amount already on the order. When it came time to administer the dosage to the woman during her recovery, the nurse read the dosage as 120 mm, an amount that could easily kill someone. Yet that’s how much the woman was given, and less than five hours later, she died.

Man claims doctors failed to recognize signs of his spinal injury

Often, the accidents that leave Providence residents with severe injuries are the result of their own negligence. Should such injuries require medical treatment, the healthcare providers who provide that treatment are still expected to do so to the best of their abilities. If that expectation is not met, both sides are often left blaming the other for the resulting consequences that accident victims are left to deal with.

A Louisiana man is currently arguing with a local hospital over claims that his delayed treatment resulted in partial paralysis in both his arms and legs. The man was discovered by his neighbors in a ditch after he had crashed his bicycle on the way home after an evening or drinking. He was taken to local hospital for treatment, where he says he complained of a feeling of numbness in his extremities. Despite his complaints, he was discharged from the hospital after the doctors treating him found no evidence of an acute post-traumatic injury. Doctors at another hospital later discovered that he had spinal fracture. In his lawsuit, he claims that the failure to diagnose his injury initially led to his paralysis. The defendants, for their part, claim that the man’s own negligence led to his condition, and furthermore that they advised him to remain at the hospital for observation, but he himself chose to leave.

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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

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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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