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Providence Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Reviewing the pros and cons of implantable drug delivery systems

If you are required to take a medication to combat a chronic condition, then you may know full well the issues that can arise from persistent prescription drug use. Many of the Providence County residents that we here at DeLuca and Weizenbaum LTD have worked with in the past have reported problems like forgetting to take their medications on a regular basis or suffering side effects such as tissue damage from repeated injections. Some might say that implantable drug delivery systems may be the answer to the challenges you may face in adhering to your medication schedule. However, these devices are not without their flaws.

Implantable drug delivery systems are devices put inside your body that are programmed to administer pre-determined amounts of medication at routine intervals. These devices are resupplied with medication through an access port, allowing for continuous use. IDDS devices may be used to treat any number of ailments, from diabetes and Parkinson’s disease to certain forms of cancer.

Lawsuit alleges doctor performed unnecessary stent placements

Many of the medical malpractice lawsuits filed in Providence County may focus on things that a doctor did not do that ended up harming his or her patients. Yet many may not realize that there are cases at the other end of the spectrum where providers may be accused of performing unnecessary treatments. Healthcare may be one of the few industries where the age-old term “better safe than sorry” truly does not apply. That is because unnecessary medical treatments can present just as a great a risk to patients as misdiagnoses and other forms of provider negligence.

A Pennsylvania man is currently trying to make a case that the excessive treatment he received endangered his life. In a lawsuit filed against the doctor who performed his heart surgery, he alleges that he received as many as five unnecessary stent implants. The man also claims that during the placement of these stents, he sustained potentially life-threatening artery damage. The doctor has countered his claims by saying that he truly believed the man had several significant blood vessel blockages that required stents.

Why should you not eat or drink before surgery?

If you have ever been scheduled for surgery in Providence County, then you likely remember being told by your surgeon to not eat or drink anything for 24 yours prior to your procedure. Some may tell you that this is unnecessary and that it is only requested in order for providers to avoid liability. Yet in reality, there are clinical reasons for not eating prior to surgery. One reason is to help decrease the chances of you feeling nauseous and vomiting after your procedure, which could cause sutures to tear. Another reason is to help avoid infections. While these may be viewed as minor complications, one major problem can arise from eating before surgery.

If you are placed under general anesthesia, then the possibility exists for you to vomit your stomach contents while you are still feelings its affects. The fact that you are also intubated while under anesthesia greatly increases the risk for you to inhale your vomit, which is known as aspiration. This results in gastric fluids and other materials going into your lungs, leading to a condition known as aspiration pneumonia. Not only can this make it extremely difficult to breathe, but it can also lead to serious infections.

Examining standalone birth centers

For decades, the process that couples in Providence County went through when having a baby likely remained the same: Head to the hospital, deliver the baby, and return home a few days later. Recent years, however, have seen the rise of alternative birthing methods aimed at limiting the number of medical interventions needed during childbirth. Many try these new concepts believing that more natural delivery methods are better for both mother and baby.

With the introduction of this revised birthing philosophy has come an increase in the number of standalone birth centers. These facilities are typically staffed with midwives and nurses and often espouse the benefits of natural childbirth. Proponents of birth centers may claim that women who deliver in hospital Labor and Delivery units receive unnecessary interventions. The National Birth Center Study shows that women in L&D departments are given intravenous fluids in 80 percent of cases, and have labor artificially accelerated or induced in 47 and 43 percent of cases, respectively. Research also shows that continuous electronic fetal monitoring occurs in 87 percent of hospital L&D deliveries. Critics contend that such interventions only drive costs up and present risks to patients.

Detailing the frequency of spinal injury misdiagnoses

When you think of spinal injuries, the first thought that comes to your mind is likely a traumatic accident that results in paralysis. Many in Providence County may share the same assumption, which may be the reason why many come to us here at DeLuca and Weizenbaum LTD surprised to have suffered spinal injuries that gradually set in over time. Your hope may rest on the ability of your doctor to recognize the symptoms of such an injury and get you treated before you suffer any neurological impairments. Unfortunately, that may not always happen.

The telltale signs of a spinal injury may include:

  •          Back spasms
  •          Neck pain
  •          Coughing or difficulty breathing
  •          Numbness
  •          Loss of bladder or bowel control
  •          Limited mobility

Overmedication cited as reason for woman’s death

Most medical experts in Providence County would agree that up-to-the-minute diagnostic testing and an observance of a patient’s current symptoms are both required in order to deliver adequate care. Any deviation from this standard could result in inappropriate therapies or interventions to be ordered, the application of which could potentially cause one’s condition to worsen even to the point of death. If such deviations are discovered, those affected by such errors may justly wonder why they ever happened.

Such is the question being posed through a medical malpractice lawsuit filed by a Pennsylvania man who recently lost his wife to a subarachnoid hemorrhage (or bleeding on the brain). He claims that the doctors who treated his wife failed her in two ways: they dismissed laboratory results showing abnormal partial thromboplastin time levels (clotting factors that indicate bleeding problems) as incorrect, and continued to administer the blood thinning medication Heparin. They then failed to heed her complaints of persistent head and neck pain, which the lawsuit claims were indicators of her being overmedicated. She subsequently become unresponsive and required intubation and admittance into intensive care. Her family later made the decision to withdraw care. She died the following day.

Dealing with a wrong site surgery

Of all of the expectations that you may have of your healthcare providers in Providence County, the most basic may be that they know which area or body part needs to be treated whenever you go in for surgery. Yet for many of the clients that we here at DeLuca and Weizenbaum have worked with, even that basic expectation is not met. Most may imagine a wrong site surgery as being a grandiose error such as a doctor amputating that wrong body part. In truth, however, these errors can go far beyond that.

A wrong site surgery is any procedure performed in the incorrect area or on the wrong part of the body. Incidents may include:

  •          Operations on paired structures that are done on the wrong side.
  •          Procedures done in the correct anatomical area but on the wrong part.
  •          An incorrect procedure being performed on the right body part.

Defining how heuristics can negatively impact healthcare

As healthcare providers in Providence County are only human, they are subject to judgment errors just like everyone else. The outcomes of their errors, however, are often tragic. Indeed, information shared by Johns Hopkins Medicine shows medical errors to be the third highest cause of death in the U.S.

One of the more common causes of medical errors may be the fact that doctors often rely heavily on “heuristics” when delivering care. Heuristics are guidelines that are commonly accepted in the medical community that doctors often use during the diagnostic process. They are often based on a number of different factors. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality lists the following four factors as being the most common for forming heuristics in healthcare:

  •          Recent experience
  •          Initial diagnostic impressions
  •          Collateral information
  •          Expert opinions

Who is as fault for your medication error?

Medications are an essential element of healthcare. At the same time, they also can pose a serious risk to patients in Providence County. If you are prescribed a medication by your doctor, you likely have full confidence that he or she understands exactly what affect it may have on you, and that your pharmacy will fill and label your prescription correctly. Most share this same assumption, yet the 100,000 hospitalizations and 700,000 emergency department visits that occur every year that the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality lists as being due to adverse drug events seems to cast doubt on such confidence.

Who is responsible if you have an adverse reaction to a prescribed medication: your doctor or your pharmacy? The answer may vary depending of the determined cause of the error. If your doctor was not clear in communicating his or her prescription to the pharmacy, then it may be hard to argue that liability should not lie with him or her. Even clinics that communicate with pharmacies through electronic media may still cause errors by using the wrong brand name or recommending an incorrect dosage.

Hospital found liable for botched patient transfer

Medical malpractice lawsuits filed in Providence County may often list multiple defendants. That may be due to those initiating such action believing that several parties failed them in their cases, from the doctors and clinicians that treated them to the facilities where they were seen. Those hearing of these cases may think that in order for an award to be granted to a malpractice victim, a jury must find every defendant listed in a case as being liable. That actually is not the case.

A recent ruling in a medical malpractice lawsuit in Massachusetts illustrates this point. The lawsuit had been filed by a family that lost an elderly member to alleged negligence back in 2008. After deliberating, the jury returned a decision finding the hospital he had been cared at negligent in arranging his transfer to a critical care unit (despite it not finding individual defendants listed in the lawsuit as also being liable). In the lawsuit, the family alleged that after the man had been admitted with cardiovascular problems, his condition worsened to the point of needing to be transferred to a critical care unit. Yet the transfer ended up being delayed for several hours, during which time the man became unresponsive. Several days later, he died.

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