One recent study found that over 250,000 people die every year in America from avoidable medical mistakes. But the vast majority of these deaths never find their way into court or into the hands of an experienced attorney who can advocate on behalf of the victim’s family. They are simply swept under the rug by doctors and hospital officials who tell the family of the deceased that their loved one was simply too old or too sick and that nothing more could have been done. Although patient groups and the U.S. government encourage hospitals to “own up” to medical mistakes, often times it is only when family members seek the assistance of an experienced medical malpractice attorney that the real facts are uncovered. Medical records must usually be subpoenaed to reveal the truth that doctors and hospitals prefer to keep secret. Read the rest »
There is a saying that no good deed goes unpunished. A woman in Michigan learned this the hard way when she agreed to watch her sister-in-law’s cat while the in-law was out of town. Our subject was told that the cat was a spayed female, but instead, the cat was a male that had not been fixed—and was therefore aggressive. While she was feeding the cat, a stray from the neighborhood wandered into the garage, which prompted a cat fight. Our heroine made the mistake of trying to intervene and she consequently was bitten several times on her hand, forearm, and thumb.
Thinking it was no big deal, she cleaned up the bite wounds and went about her business. Then the infection set in, and she went to the emergency room for treatment. Over the course of a month, she went to hospitals three times and had varying levels of treatment provided to her, including antibiotics almost one month after her first visit. Three surgeries later, she had an intense amount of pain and suffering. She initiated a lawsuit against the hospital and doctors in question on the theory that they failed to properly diagnose the extent of her infectious injury and failed to properly treat the injury, thus allowing the infection to spread, necessitating all of those surgeries. Her argument was that she would have had much less pain and suffering and would not have needed multiple surgeries if the doctors properly treated her infections in the first place. She therefore made a claim to be compensated for her pain and suffering. Read the rest »
Unfortunately, hospital patients sometimes die. Transplant recipients may die as a result of their underlying conditions while waiting for a suitable organ donation. On a daily basis, many other hospital patients die from serious illnesses, accidents, diseases, or surgical malpractice.
But it’s always shocking to hear that patients sometimes die from preventable hospital conditions. This is apparently what happened recently when patients died from mold infections while being treated at a hospital for other medical concerns. As a result, lawsuits were recently filed alleging wrongful death against several area hospitals. Read the rest »
Two patients infected with a strain of bacteria resistant to drugs (called a “superbug”) filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the scope that was used in their procedures. An 18-year-old student fighting a severe infection, along with the family of another woman who died from the infection, sued the manufacturer of the medical devices known as a duodenoscopes.
This scope is used in many gastrointestinal procedures and is threaded through the mouth to the stomach.
The lawsuit alleged that the reusable scopes were unsafe because after a re-design of the scope, the cleaning protocols weren’t updated and published. It is difficult to properly disinfect the unit, which is why accurate and up-to-date disinfecting procedures are critical. The suit claims there was fraud and negligence on the part of the manufacturer. The claimants are seeking unspecified damages for injuries and, in the case of the woman, her resulting death.
In an odd twist of events, a software designer who was injured at a hospital has settled his medical malpractice case for $20 million AND a commitment from the hospital that it will participate in a case study aimed at identifying what went wrong in his case.
This designer went to the Washington hospital complaining of back and abdominal pain after falling out of his bed. He informed ER personnel that he suffered from a condition called AS—ankylosing spondylitis.
Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis affecting the spine. The vertebrae fuse together, causing the spine to become easily fractured, even as the result of a small incident. Although a scan was completed during his first emergency room visit, no fracture was identified (actually it was there, just not seen) and the patient was released. Although he clearly informed hospital personnel about his AS, there was no note in his file.
The parents of a 19-month-old toddler are suing her hospital because of the delayed treatment she received after swallowing a battery. The incident has left the girl with a burned esophagus, which restricts her eating, and does not allow for her to eat solid foods. The family is asking for unspecified damages, since “hundreds of thousands” have already been spent on her care.
While the toddler was “mouthing” a remote control, a small lithium ion battery dislodged and fell out. Before her mother was able to take the battery, she swallowed it. 911 was immediately called and the little girl was brought to the emergency room.
Accused of not protecting newborn babies and patients, the parent company of a Texas hospital is being sued for $1.5 billion in a putative class action lawsuit. A putative class action is a type of lawsuit filed on behalf of a group of people, known as a class, who have been affected by the same type of injury as the result of a defendant’s actions or negligent behavior.
Tuberculosis Spread Through Infected Nurse’s Contact
In this case, the defendant is being accused of exposing newborn babies, as well as other patients, to tuberculosis (TB). The lawsuit is now in a federal court and could have as many as 3,000 members in the class, representing those children born at the hospital. The suit claims that the hospital ignored all signs that an employee had active tuberculosis. Although the employee told the hospital she was actively exhibiting TB symptoms, they didn’t take her off duty until nine months later. At that point she had come into contact with thousands of patients; contact which included feeding and bathing newborns.
Everyone wants a better life. That means a life that is healthier, longer, and less painful. The creation of medical aids to add to quality (and quantity) of life has been going on for well over a thousand years. For instance, some historians believe that the first prosthetic limb dates back to 200 BC, made out of iron for a Roman general. Innovations and new technologies in prosthetics have continued ever since, with modern-day prosthetic limbs now being constructed of lightweight materials like carbon fiber; and with better functionality than ever due to advancements in biometrics and 3D printing.
So we can all agree that the drive for newer and better medical devices is a very good thing indeed. But not all products help patients; in fact, many of them harm. The main reasons defective products are released to the medical marketplace involve corporate greed and FDA oversights.
In Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog post, we’ve seen some shocking medical errors—doctors insulting a patient during surgery, an anesthesiologist blinding five people in one day, a three-year-old dying in the dentist’s chair. Here are some more tales from the operating room that never should have happened:
In our last post, we saw how anesthesia awareness can cause a patient to be trapped during surgery, unable to move, but feeling all the pain; how children are more sensitive to anesthesia than adults; and how one careless anesthesiologist can blind five people in a day.
Here are three more horror stories due to the negligence or incompetence of medical professionals who should have known better.