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Providence Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Negligent pharmaceutical companies charged with opioid issues

The effects of opioid abuse have reached epidemic proportions across the United States. City and county governments are clamoring to aid the addicted, with treatment and emergency care for abandoned and orphaned children, and staff-strained EMS departments. Some locales blame the opioid epidemic, at least partially, on negligent pharmaceutical companies, as revealed in a recent news story. Rhode Island residents may be interested to learn more about the complex issue. 

Since 2014, states, counties and cities have begun to file lawsuits. Chicago led the way in 2014 as the first city to sue. Almost 10 other cities have followed Chicago's lead and filed suit. The lawsuits usually allege that the drug providers either over-prescribed the medications or downplayed the addictive quality of the medicines. 

Erb's palsy can leave lasting disability

A parent wants to protect and nurture her child from the moment the child comes into the world. When the child suffers an injury at birth, the parent can feel distress. An injury such as Erb's palsy, also known as Brachial Plexus Palsy, can leave permanent damage and disability in its wake. In Rhode Island, physicians are duty-bound to take every known precaution to prevent this type of injury, but unfortunately, not every case is prevented. 

Brachial Plexus Palsy awareness week is observed every October. One mother whose child has been affected by the illness is attempting to do her part to raise awareness of the illness by calling for the One Arm Cartwheel Challenge. The one-armed cartwheel challenges people to experience the difficulty of trying to live a normal life using only one hand. 

Surgical malpractice risks include medication, timely referral

In December of 2016, the Food and Drug Administration released a warning on some anesthesia and sedative drugs, stating that their use in children may lead to negative neurological and behavioral effects. The FDA later released an update on the issue, stating that medically necessary surgeries should not be delayed because of anesthesia concerns, but that a delay of potentially elective surgeries should be given consideration. The announcements have some Rhode Island surgeons considering the effects of the new information on risks of surgical malpractice

The issue is complicated, but some people have taken away the concept that physicians must openly and transparently discuss the benefits and risks of surgery to pediatric patients. There is risk associated with delaying surgery, and there is also potential risk with using anesthesia. Another option is to consider regional anesthesia versus general. 

Prevention steps to stop pharmaceutical error

Medicines are powerful and potent chemicals. They have the power to reverse illness, relieve symptoms and the power to cause harm if administered incorrectly. Under-staffing, rushing and technological errors are all contributing factors to pharmaceutical errors. In Rhode Island, a pharmacist is responsible to dispense medications properly so the patient is not harmed. If a pharmaceutical error is a concern for a pharmacist, he or she may wish to utilize some prevention strategies to avoid patient injury. 

Pharmacy mistakes, including prescribing the wrong medicine, giving the wrong dosage, failing to identify drug interactions, failing to advise about harmful side effects and marketing unsafe medications, are caused by several reasons. An understaffed pharmacy that is trying to fill many prescriptions runs the risk of error, so pharmacies should ensure that they have enough staff available to give appropriate time and attention to the workload. Poor communication between pharmacists and doctors is another chance for errors, as well as over-reliance on technology. 

Advances in dental tech can reduce failure to diagnose cases

Some elements of dentistry have remained the same for decades, even though in the modern age they seem somewhat outdated. Probing, the process in which a dentist checks for deep pockets caused by gum disease, is completed with a sharp metal rod and can be inaccurate. Considering that the most frequent reason that periodontists are sued is because of failure to diagnose, dentists and patients in Rhode Island are ready for a better solution. 

One research engineer thinks he has come up with a possible solution that will spare the rod. Squid ink can be swished in the mouth and, when heated, will swell. If there are any gum pockets, the swelling ink will create a pressure difference that can be picked up by ultrasound. The engineer thinks ultrasound technology will be less invasive and more accurate. 

Birth injury affects mom, too

The arrival of a new child is meant to be a celebration. But sometimes events occur that can be difficult. A birth injury can be troublesome for both mother and child, and is sometimes known as traumatic birth syndrome. Some Rhode Island mothers may be able to relate to the experience of this syndrome, and may be looking for answers on how to handle it. 

When a person generally thinks about birth injury, he or she tends to think of how the child is affected. But a mother can also be traumatized by the process of labor and delivery due to tears, hemorraging, stillbirth, the need for NICU or prior trauma. A mother who has undergone these types of problems may experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder after the birth of the child. 

Is opioid dependence the result of medical negligence?

The opioid epidemic is getting much attention from news media and governmental agencies. Climbing numbers of addicts and overdoses have resulted in intensified scrutiny as officials think of ways to stop the negative effects of opioid overdoses. Some families consider holding physicians responsible, and lawsuits for medical negligence are on the rise. Even the tiny state of Rhode Island is seeing its fair share of problems from opioid addiction. How does drug dependency relate to medical negligence? 

Are physicians liable for addiction and overdoses? A physician is responsible for the duty of care for their patients. If the physician failed to notice the addiction, or prescribed too much or too addictive of a drug, they may be held accountable for medical malpractice. Likewise, if a person overdoses and dies from opioids, a physician could possibly be held accountable if the death or injury was a result of the doctor's breach of duty. In some instances, physicians have even been charged with murder. 

A birth injury does not always lead to lawsuit

Childbirth can be a life-changing experience. Unfortunately for some, the birth process leads to a birth injury for their beloved newborn. For interested new mothers in Rhode Island, a recent news story tells why some mothers do not sue doctors who make them victims of malpractice, and it reviews the reasons why lawsuits can help physicians remain accountable for their negligent actions.

Not all injuries that happen during birth are caused by negligence or medical error, but in many situations, that is the case. Medical error is a rising cause of death in this country, and reports indicate that it may even be the third leading cause of death. Because licensing boards do not make doctors accountable for errors, and good faith efforts on the part of the patient often do not bear results, tort law can be an important tool for a single individual to go up against large organizations. 

Many deaths caused by medical error, report says

Heart disease, cancer and respiratory disease are commonly understood as the top causes of death in the United States. Rhode Island readers may be interested in a recent report that reveals medical error accounts for an large portion of deaths, due to medication mistakes, surgical errors and missed diagnoses. Researchers feel that increased awareness, and owning up to the issue, can help ameliorate the issue.

A recent letter to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) from a group of physicians notes that over 250,000 people die every year from mistakes by medical professionals. They claim that the mistakes fall into four separate categories: diagnostic errors, preventable side effects, system defects and the providers' skills. When these deaths are taken into account, they actually exceed the numbers for the third cause of death, respiratory disease, bumping it to the number four spot. 

Rhode Island: Surgical error is preventable with precautions

Most patients go into surgery with faith in their physicians. They hope, at least, the correct site will be operated on and no surgical error will be made. In Rhode Island over a decade ago, one hospital was guilty of allowing five wrong-site surgeries to happen within a span of three years resulting in fines and policy changes. When physicians make serious errors, patients must turn to medical malpractice lawsuits to rectify the situation. 

In the case of the Rhode Island hospital, the location was fined $150,000. The hospital was also required to implement mandatory safety training, with an additional safety monitor on staff to ensure that surgical teams followed protocols. Additionally, audio and video monitoring equipment was placed in operating rooms to record the conversations and music happening during surgery. The new measures appear to have reduced surgical errors at that hospital, likely due to the increased attention being placed on safety. 

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