Articles Posted in medical malpractice

When a soon-to-be mother went to the hospital at 2 a.m., her pregnancy full-term, she knew something wasn’t right. Her baby boy wasn’t moving as he had in the days and hours before. But when she got there, student resident doctors at The University of Chicago Medical Center didn’t take immediate action, even when a fetal heart monitor immediately showed distress. For 12 hours, no action was taken. For 12 hours, that child was slowly suffocating. pregnantwoman

When doctors finally did initiate an emergency Cesarean section, the baby boy wasn’t breathing. He was revived and then rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit and placed on life support. There, he stayed for weeks. But the damage to his brain over the course of those hours was irreversible. He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. He can’t walk. He can’t bathe himself. He can’t feed himself. He requires around-the-clock care, provided almost exclusively by his single mother.

Now, a jury in Cook County, Ill. has awarded $53 million to him and his mother, which will not only ensure his health care is covered for the next 65 years of his life, but will help to compensate the family for the pain and suffering they have endured and will endure for the rest of their lives. Some will look at a damage award of this size and characterize it as excessive. But one must consider that not only will his future medical bills top $30 million over the course of his life, but mother and son will never have a normal relationship. This boy will never have a normal life of his own.  Continue reading

In Boston medical malpractice cases, sometimes the term “never events” gets thrown around. It’s a reference to the types of medical errors that health professionals agree should never happen. And yet, they do. Some examples:doctor5

  • Retained surgical instruments (surgical tools, sponges, etc. being left inside a patient after a procedure);
  • Wrong surgery site (a surgeon performs surgery on the wrong limb, body part, person, etc.);
  • Urinary tract infection from a catheter;
  • Pressure ulcers (Stage III and IV);
  • Falls and trauma;
  • Surgical site infections;
  • Medication error fatalities;
  • Administration of incompatible blood;
  • Air embolisms.

Now, a recent study by Castlight-Leapfrog reveals not only are these events occurring, they are happening with alarming frequency. Although there is always some risk a patient incurs with every type of medical treatment. And just because someone suffers a poor health outcome doesn’t necessarily mean medical malpractice is to blame. However, these “never events” are so egregious for the fact that they are deemed entirely preventable. We know what causes them. We know how to stop them. And hospitals should have procedures and policies in place that are strictly followed by staffers to ensure these kinds of things never happen. Continue reading

Sharkey Issaquena Community Hospital v. Anderson, a case from the Supreme Court of Mississippi, involved a patient who had a stroke and was seen at defendant’s emergency room. However, plaintiff contends that hospital did not properly diagnose the stroke and discharged him with instructions to see his primary care physician within three days.

medical-equipment-1342025-mAs a result of not being given immediate treatment for his stroke, he suffered permanent brain injury and nervous system damage, including loss of function, loss of enjoyment of life, medical bills, and pain and suffering. There were also special damages alleged as part of plaintiff’s action. Continue reading

Harrison v. Roitmanm involved a heavily contested divorce proceeding. As part of his case, husband hired a psychiatrist as an expert to provide a psychiatric analysis of his wife. Even though the doctor had never personally examined or even met plaintiff, the doctor submitted a written report to the judge in which plaintiff was diagnosed with a personality disorder and noted she had serious mental health issues and was not likely to improve.

stethascope1Following this report, plaintiff filed a lawsuit against doctor in which she alleged that doctor committed medical malpractice by making such a negative diagnosis without ever having met plaintiff. She claimed this diagnosis caused her to suffer emotional distress. In this case, it was both negligent infliction of emotional distress and intentional infliction of emotional distress, as well as one claim of civil conspiracy. She claimed that making such a diagnosis without have personally conducted any sort of examination or even reviewing other doctors’ records was a breach of the applicable standard of care for a medical health professional in the psychiatric field. Continue reading

In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, there are negligence-based torts and intentional torts. A negligence tort is the most common type of claim filed in a civil personal injury lawsuit. This is when a defendant is alleged to have owed a duty of care to plaintiff, breached this duty of care, and the breach actually and proximately caused damages to the plaintiff.

varioussyringesAn intentional tort can be something like assault and battery where the tortfeasor intentionally injures the plaintiff. However, there is a different kind of intentional tort in the concept of medical malpractice known as medical battery. Essentially, whenever you go into the hospital for a medical procedure, you must give your informed consent. If you do not give your consent, then the doctor has no right to treat you.   If he or she has not consented, the contact would be considered offensive or harmful, and this would constitute a medical battery. Continue reading

Davis v. S. Nassau Communities Hospital, a case from the New York Court of Appeals, involved a patient who went to defendant’s emergency room for treatment for a painful medical condition. Court records indicate that she drove herself to the hospital. When she arrived and was treated by doctors, she was given a narcotic opioid-based painkiller and Ativan. Ativan is a benzodiazepine like Valium or Xanax. She was given her medication at around 11 a.m.

921217_crashed_carThe common side effects for Ativan are dizziness, sedation, disorientation, and weakness. An expert testifying for plaintiff said the effect of Ativan was both hypnotic and sedative. The expert also testified about Dilaudid, which was the painkiller given to patient. This medication causes impairment of the ability to perform certain activities and makes it dangerous to drive a car.   The drug also contains an insert in the package, which says ambulatory patients (leaving the same day) should be cautioned about the dangers of driving. Continue reading

Brandner v. Pease, a case from the Supreme Court of Alaska, involved a plaintiff who suffered a heart attack in late 2009. He was admitted to a local hospital to undergo an emergency bypass operation. A doctor and an anesthesiologist took part in the surgery. The plaintiff also happened to be a board certified doctor in plastic surgery.

medical-equipment-1342025-mPlaintiff was in surgery for around six hours. It took two attempts for the anesthesiologist to intubate plaintiff, and the drug used to put patient under anesthesia was propofol. During the surgery, plaintiff’s blood pressure began to drop to a dangerously low level, but he did not suffer complete cardiac arrest, according to the surgeon. At this point, surgeon performed CPR, and nurses gave plaintiff medications to raise his blood pressure back to a normal level. After his blood pressure was normalized, the surgery resumed as scheduled. Continue reading

Ross v. Marion, a case heard by the Supreme Court of Alabama, involved a woman who filed a wrongful death case under a theory of medical practice and negligence in connection with the death or her husband.

photo_emerging_TBIIn 2009, victim went to defendant’s hospital to undergo a kidney removal procedure. While under general anesthesia, victim suffered a heart attack. Doctors were able to revive victim from his unconscious state, but the heart attacked caused victim to suffer a medical condition known as hypoxic encephalopathy. This is essentially meant to indicate a loss of oxygen to the brain. This results in severe brain damage, leaving victim in a nonresponsive state. Continue reading

Lassiter v. N.C. Baptist Hosps., Inc., a case from the Supreme Court of North Carolina, involved a plaintiff who alleged defendant hospital was negligent in failing to properly treat him for a very severe case of jaundice. Plaintiff alleged that, due to this failure to treat the jaundice condition, he was left permanently disabled.

stethascope1After plaintiff filed his complaint for negligence and medical malpractice with the assistance of a conservator, defendant hospital filed an answer denying that plaintiff’s injuries were a result of negligent acts committed by the hospital or its employees. After filing an answer denying the allegation, defendant also filed another motion requesting that the trial court schedule a discovery conference and enter a discovery scheduling order. This is standard practice in most civil cases, including those with medical malpractice allegations. Continue reading

McIlwain v. Natchez Community Hospital, Inc., an appeal from the Supreme Court of Mississippi, involved a father who took his two-year-old child to defendant’s hospital emergency room because his son was crying, vomiting, and saying he was in pain.   When they arrived at defendant’s hospital, they were seen by a doctor who knew the boy’s father, because doctor had worked with the child’s paternal grandmother, who was a former nurse.

brain copyThe doctor was aware the boy had suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage in the past as result of being in a serious car accident. The subarachnoid cavity is located just beneath the top of a person’s skull. At the emergency room that night, the boy’s father told his doctor about the vomiting and complaints of pain, but did not mention the subarachnoid hemorrhage, since he believed doctor was already aware of this previous car accident. Continue reading