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Providence Medical Malpractice Law Blog

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.

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.

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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
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