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Providence Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Lawsuit highlights little-known example of “obstetrical violence”

Labor and delivery is usually a difficult process for expectant mothers in Rhode Island, even when everything goes right. If something goes wrong in the delivery room, the results can be devastating. The frightening experience of an Alabama mother brings to light a complication in hospitals that most pregnant mothers don’t ever expect to happen. Obstetrical bullying, or birthing room violence, is a little-known occurrence that may injure mothers or infants.

In this example, the mother filed a lawsuit against the hospital where she had her baby, claiming the birthing staff abused her and left her with debilitating, lifelong damage. The woman, 32 years old at the time, changed the hospital where she wanted to have her baby after she saw brochures claiming this particular birthing center honored personalized birthing plans and offered amenities to mothers in labor. However, things did not turn out as expected in the delivery room. Instead of the warm bathtub and the wireless monitoring promised in the facility’s advertisement, she was told a tub was unavailable and was hooked up to wired monitors. When she got on her hands and knees to ease her pain during labor, a team of nurses forcibly turned her onto her back. One nurse pushed her son’s head back into the birth canal and delayed his birth for six minutes – an action that may have caused an injury to the infant. She also found out she was given the labor inducing drug Pitocin without consent. During the ordeal, her own doctor was not on call.

Lawsuit filed against birth control pill manufacturer

It is only reasonable for consumers to put a great deal of trust into a pharmaceutical product, especially one that’s supposed to be reputable. Unfortunately, sometimes Rhode Island residents are negatively affected by a drug that has been incorrectly prescribed or is defective.

This appeared to be the case regarding a generic form of birth control pills, which recently prompted a lawsuit against the drug company Qualitest Pharmaceuticals. Lawyers representing 113 women from numerous states filed the lawsuit in a Philadelphia court. The case alleges the birth control pills were defectively designed, packaged and distributed to patients, resulting in numerous unplanned pregnancies.

Infant risks increase when things go wrong with umbilical cord

There are some things that can go wrong during a pregnancy that doctors may discover early on and treat so the baby’s health is spared. However, some complications may not show up until labor and delivery, or an obstetrician may fail to notice the problem during routine scans and tests. At DeLuca & Weizenbaum, Ltd., we understand how this can be devastating for Rhode Island parents.

You will likely receive several ultrasounds during your pregnancy. During this procedure, a technician or your doctor will look for abnormalities in the placenta and umbilical cord, as well as within the fetus. According to the March of Dimes, some types of umbilical cord abnormalities pose little risk as long as they’re detected early, but others can be fatal for the unborn child. In fact, most complications involving the umbilical cord don’t present themselves until during labor.

The risks of unprofessional cosmetic surgery

Cosmetic surgery has never been more popular for residents of Providence and elsewhere in the country. With average fees ranging from $371 for Botox injections to $6,550 for a facelift, plastic surgery is becoming more affordable for those in almost every income bracket. However, states the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, it is vital – and can save lives – only to choose physicians who are officially certified in cosmetic surgery procedures.

Some complications of plastic surgery are unavoidable, while others may be the result of a doctor error or unprofessional conduct, points out TotalBeauty. For example, some people are more likely to scar after a surgical procedure than others. Factors may include genetics, skin pigmentation and the type of procedure involved. Even the most qualified cosmetic surgeons may be unable to prevent patients from developing scars.

How might you avoid post-surgical infections and complications?

Undergoing a surgical procedure may be a cause of fear for many Rhode Island residents who understandably might worry about surgical mistakes. Doctor errors include events such as leaving a sponge inside a patient’s body during surgery, but this is not the only way to suffer from a hospital error. The risk of post-surgical infection is high with about one in every 20 patients receiving an infection in the hospital, as stated by Consumer Reports. Fortunately, there is much you can do to reduce this risk. The preventive steps you could take before and after your procedure might include the following:


Know how medication errors occur in nursing homes

Moving your loved one into a nursing home can be an experience fraught with concern, especially after hearing reports of abuse and neglect. At DeLuca & Weizenbaum, Ltd., we have seen firsthand how medication errors easily occur in adult care facilities and the devastating effects these mistakes can have on an entire family.

To prevent these errors, you first have to know understand how they occur. A report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that adverse reactions to medications are not only common, but up to half of them are preventable. Types of mistakes include the following: 

  •        Giving a patient the wrong medication or the wrong dosage
  •        Administering medication to the wrong patient
  •        Giving a patient medication to which he or she has an allergy
  •        Not giving enough food or water with the medication

Fibromyalgia is a condition that is often difficult to diagnose

Fibromyalgia is a frustrating and painful condition for Rhode Island residents who have it, and they may suffer for years before an accurate diagnosis is made. A delayed diagnosis without proper treatment may lead to additional complications and unnecessary pain. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases estimates about 5 million people over age 18 in the United States currently suffer from fibromyalgia. This condition causes chronic, widespread pain and tenderness throughout the body, as well as additional symptoms.

Is it common for doctors to give fibromyalgia patients a wrong diagnosis? According to WebMD, it is not easy to correctly diagnose fibromyalgia, because the condition’s symptoms often mimic those of other medical conditions. A doctor may incorrectly diagnose a patient with lupus, Lyme disease, arthritis, hypothyroidism or numerous other conditions, when in fact he or she actually has fibromyalgia. To add to the confusion, many fibromyalgia patients also suffer from other conditions, such as sleep apnea or irritable bowel syndrome.

What are the ways that general anesthesia can be dangerous?

When you’re going in for surgery in Rhode Island, you are probably nervous enough without having to worry about having an adverse reaction to general anesthesia. The dangerous side effects of anesthesia are fortunately rare, but adverse events occur enough times to be a concern to patients and medical professionals alike.

The Mayo Clinic explains that general anesthesia is the type that puts patients completely under during surgery. Some of the complications related to anesthesia may include the following:

  • Temporary confusion or disorientation
  • Heart attack or stroke
  • Fatal reactions
  • Briefly waking up during surgery or becoming fully conscious and able to feel pain but unable to move or speak

Possible dangers surrounding treatment for breech presentation

Sometimes a pregnancy does not go as expected, even when the mother and baby are diagnosed as healthy. It is not uncommon, for example, for mothers in Providence to be told that their babies are breech in the womb. A breech baby is one who has not turned head-down, which is the normal and safest position for a natural delivery.

Of course, OB-GYNs will do what they can to prevent a breech birth, the reason being that breech deliveries are considered far more risky to the baby’s health than normal deliveries. According to the American Pregnancy Association, a mother may have difficulty delivering the head last with a breech baby. Problems with the umbilical cord may also occur, or any number of additional complications. A cesarean section is the recommended procedure with breech infants.

ER wait times streamlined, still may be too long for emergencies

A visit to the emergency room is not something most people in Providence would look forward to, even under the best circumstances. Aside from considering the fear and pain of a situation that could land a person in the ER, there is a widespread belief that emergency room waits are overly long. In recent years, many hospitals across the country have made improvements to their procedures that get patients in and out of the ER in an efficient and streamlined way – at least in comparison to the way things were run before. However, ER wait times remain a concern for many patients, especially if a mistake may lead to someone not being treated quickly enough in a life-threatening emergency.

According to U.S. News, 28 percent of 2,100 emergency room doctors who were recently polled reported that their patient volume has increased in the ER since the Affordable Care Act was enacted. Not surprisingly, more patients could increase the time one spends waiting for emergency care. A busy, understaffed emergency room might also create more opportunities for a nurse or physician error. As an example, a triage nurse may improperly evaluate one patient’s situation and send him or her to wait while other patients are seen. If the waiting patient’s condition worsens or is more severe than the nurse thought, the result can be devastating.

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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
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