Chicago Personal Injury Blog
We go to the hospital when we are sick and expect that we will receive the proper treatment and care. We trust that our doctors and other healthcare professionals will act in our best interests and keep us safe and fully informed about our own medical condition. But what happens when that trust is discarded or ignored out of fear or negligence, and potentially endangers the life of a patient?
Such was the case of a regular and longtime patient of Parkland Memorial Hospital. This woman who was suffering from severe heart problems related to her diabetes, once again placed her trust and care in Parkland Memorial Hospital. By all accounts, the patient had life-saving heart surgery and made a full recovery. For the next seven years, this patient was then seen and examined at the hospital during various appointments and check-ups which included getting 22 separate chest X-rays without incident. But despite the allegation that a foreign object in the patient’s heart was clearly visible in numerous X-rays since 2007, no one from Parkland Memorial Hospital thought to inform or disclose this information to the patient herself.
A lawsuit has been filed in San Luis Obispo Superior Court alleging that a convalescent hospital in Atascadero, California allowed a woman recovering there to develop bedsores which eventually lead to her death. The woman was staying at the facility to recover from hip surgery, but later died in a local hospital from complications brought on by the bedsores. The lawsuit alleged that the facility was understaffed when the woman was a patient and that a negligent lack of care due to limited staff led to the bedsores. The lawsuit claimed that her death was directly related to the administration’s misdirection of operating funds to enrich themselves – which impacted the staffing costs and decisions.
The woman’s family is seeking unspecified damages as well as reimbursement of legal fees, claiming that negligent hiring and supervision as well as dependent adult abuse was to blame for her death. At the time of the report, the facility had not yet responded to the lawsuit.
A $12 million dollar settlement in a whistleblower lawsuit brought against a Miami Hospital was recently reached. The federal lawsuit alleged that a cardiac specialist at the hospital performed many costly and unnecessary medical procedures on patients, going back to the year 2007.
The doctor at the center of the allegations was the director of the cardiac electrophysiology center, a position he apparently attained as a reward for getting the $10 million dollar donation to build the medical center. South Miami Hospital is part for the Baptist Health South Florida nonprofit medical system, and it is speculated that officials at a high level of Baptist Health were aware of some of the doctor’s actions.
A spokesperson for the hospital commented that the hospital fully cooperated with the federal government in reaching this agreement, and reiterated that these were only allegations. The hospital has not admitted fault in this case. Further, the cardiac specialist at the center of these claims is no longer on staff at the hospital.
Recently, a botched gastric bypass surgery performed at Memorial Hospital Jacksonville resulted in a $178 million jury verdict. In this case, a young police officer had elected to undergo gastric bypass surgery in a bid to not only lose weight, but with high hopes of gaining a healthier and longer life. The officer was considered a rising star in his department and, other than suffering from morbid obesity, was able to perform his duties. No one could have predicted the nightmarish change in lifestyle for the law enforcement officer and his family. The officer underwent what he thought would be routine laparoscopic surgery at Memorial Hospital, and ended staying up as a patient for over two months.
For as long as humans have been performing surgical procedures, there have been concerns and complaints about how such surgeries were performed. The earliest surgeries were most likely performed out of sheer ignorance and desperation, with little knowledge or guidance as to which procedures would produce what results. As early as 6500 B.C., a basic procedure called trepanation, which involved drilling a hole into the patient’s skull, was used to treat abnormal behavior. Then in 1540, the United Barber-Surgeons Company was formed, which brought together barbers and surgeons as they performed blood-letting and tooth extractions.
It is absolutely vital for your attorney to show that your medical provider failed to meet the standard of care which other average practitioners would have provided under similar circumstances. Without this, there can be no case. But, no matter how badly the doctor failed, no matter how obvious the mistake or the failure to properly act, the standard of care is not enough to fully prove a medical negligence case. Other requirements must be shown by your attorney—and one of the most important of these is the causal connection between the doctor’s actions and the injury or death.
For instance, consider a very obvious mistake such as leaving a scalpel, sponge, forceps, scissors, needle, towel or another medical object inside of the patient after surgery. No one could possibly deny that to do so would lie beneath the proper “standard of care” and that any surgeon would be clearly negligent to do such a thing. This type of negligence, and similarly obvious cases of malpractice such as operating on the wrong patient or the wrong organ, are often referred to as “Res Ipsa Loquitur” cases, using a Latin phrase meaning “The thing speaks for itself.” In other words, these incidents obviously involve malpractice.
According to internal documents and other sources, a large number of allegedly negligent incidents involving surgical patients being exposed to dirty, unsterilized, medical equipment have occurred over many years within the Detroit Medical Center, which is comprised of five separate medical hospitals. These alarming events have put patients at a significant risk for health related complications and at a much higher level in comparison with other parts of the United States. Some believe that part of the problem apparently is that the technicians (who make $18 an hour) are required to sterilize thousands of tools every day to very specific standards.
In some circumstances, doctors had to cancel surgical procedures, surgeries were interrupted due to the lack of necessary tools, or if they had the tools, they were unsanitary and unsterilized. There were reports of pieces of bone tissue and old blood from prior surgeries caught in suction tubes, bloody surgical tools placed on sterile trays, as well as necessary surgical tools and equipment not being available, or even missing. While the proper sanitized tools were being located, operations such as appendectomies, spinal fusions, and brain surgeries were delayed and some patients were left unnecessarily under anesthesia for up to an hour in the process. At least on two occasions, a child’s skull or chest was already opened for surgery, when the problems were discovered. In just a two month period of time, staffers reported that the wrong cauterizing tool was employed during surgery which burned a child’s lip, that blood covered instruments were present on a sterilized tray, that dried blood was found on a sterilized drill, that hairs were found on instruments, and that bone was found on a neurosurgery tool called a rongeur.
Whenever a physician, hospital or clinic is providing what is considered to be a significant medical intervention, meaning any sort of testing or medical treatment, as well as participation in any sort of clinical trials or medical research, there must first be, from the patient or subject, “Informed Consent.” Informed Consent is the process for obtaining permission, before performing any health care procedure upon a person, directly from that person (or one who has the power and authority to give informed consent on behalf of one unable to do so). How consent is obtained is the subject of guidelines in the fields of medical ethics and research ethics.
According to some estimates, there are approximately 40,000 to 80,000 deaths every year in hospitals across the United States that occur due to an initial misdiagnosis of a patient’s medical condition. Furthermore, approximately 5% of all autopsies examined revealed that the actual cause of death was due to a condition originally missed by the doctor. Obviously, a misdiagnosis of a medical condition can be a serious threat to one’s health, even one’s life.
So, how does it happen? How does one get misdiagnosed? The culprit, according to an author and professor of medicine at Harvard University, is the “18 Second Rule”. That is the average time it takes for a busy doctor to interrupt a patient reciting his or her symptoms, because they think they have the answer by then. About 80 percent of the time he or she probably does have it right, but how do you avoid being in the 20 percent? How do you avoid becoming another statistic? The answer, of course, is to urge your doctor to listen to all of your symptoms, and to makes sure that he or she hears your entire story, before jumping to a diagnosis.
Medical professionals in Chicago spend years training and preparing for their vocations. A doctor has typically had more than eight years of education and additional years of training before working as a fully licensed professional. This means that, in the end, they typically know what they are talking about and know how to handle a wide range of situations. With that in mind, however, you should not be afraid to question the statements and decisions made by your doctor during your pregnancy, as well as during and after delivery.
It is important that you find a doctor, in general and especially during your pregnancy, who is a good fit for you personally and whom you trust. Trusting your doctor makes it easy to feel comfortable and know that you are in good hands. That can be difficult, and it may require that you meet with a few professionals before finding the right one. Do not be scared to tell a doctor that he or she simply is not right for you and find another one; it is your right as a patient.