Common Examples of Medical Malpractice Claims
You usually seek medical treatment in order to get better. But medical malpractice can cause additional injuries and hardships on top of the original ones. You may experience a delay in healing due to negligent treatment. Even worse, you may have a catastrophic complication that leaves you battling for your life and/or your overall vitality.
Here are some common reasons people may need a medical malpractice lawyer:
A surgeon is one of the most highly skilled operators in hospitals and across other professions. The knowledge, reaction times, and endurance it takes to perform life-saving procedures is an incredible accomplishment for the surgeon, and a prize for any hospital they work at…when it goes well. When it goes wrong, the consequences can be disastrous.
Examples of common surgical errors include:
- Operating on the wrong patient or body part: It seems extremely avoidable, and yet it happens.
- Patients go in for a left knee surgery, and wake up with their right knee operated on.
- A male patient goes in for a cystoscopy, wakes up with a vasectomy.
- An elder patient needs a dislocated jaw bone put back into place, but instead receives unnecessary brain surgery.
- The liability of such a mistake should be a clear call, and yet, sometimes surgeons refuse to own up to their mistakes. For example, a St. Louis-area doctor who operated on the wrong side of a patient’s spine claimed he was exempt from liability due to the PREP Act, which granted legal immunity to health care providers working to stop the spread of COVID-19.
- Nerve injury during surgery: Nicking or severing a nearby nerve during an operation is another mistake that cannot be excused. Not only is such an error costly to a patient, a lawsuit could reveal negligent circumstances like incompetence, fatigue, drug or alcohol influence, or neglect that deserves to be accounted for.
- Too much anesthesia can lead to serious side effects like nausea or vomiting, respiratory distress, seizures, prolonged unconsciousness, hypothermia, hallucinations, brain injuries, and even death.
- Too little anesthesia could mean the patient wakes up mid-surgery, or is conscious of the pain of being operated on without the ability to speak. Not only is such a scenario torturous, it could cause other conditions like PTSD and heart attack.
- Wrong site incision: Similar to wrong-side operations, just cutting a patient in the wrong area before realizing the mistake is a serious breach of professionalism. It could lead to permanent scarring, nerve damage, or infection.
- Leaving instruments inside the patient: Leaving metal tools or “gossypiboma” (surgical sponges or pads) inside the body after a surgical procedure is an all-too-common oversight. These completely preventable mistakes are known as “never events” because they should never happen if the correct procedures are followed. Items left inside the body can cause pain, infection, re-injury, and even wrongful death if they go unnoticed and untreated.
When you consent to an invasive procedure, you literally place your life in the hands of your surgeon. If that trust is not respected, and you suffer extra injury from the one person who was supposed to heal you, call the offices of Pierce Skrabanek at 832-690-7000 to explore your options with our medical malpractice attorneys.
Hospital negligence is a distinct category that may or may not involve a doctor’s wrongdoing. That depends on whether a doctor is essentially employed as an independent contractor, or if they are part of the staff in the same manner as nurses, technicians, and janitorial employees. These distinctions are ones that experienced medical malpractice attorneys like we at Pierce Skrabanek would sort out on a client’s behalf.
There are specific situations where the hospital as an organization is the negligent party.
Examples of unique instances of hospital negligence include:
- Inadequate or understaffed hospitals/emergency rooms: If enough doctors and nurses are not hired to cover the area’s need, your care may be delayed due to hospital negligence. Overworked doctors and nurses may also be the result of hospital staffing negligence.
- Insufficient supplies and/or medical equipment: Without the proper diagnostic and treatment tools available, the doctor may be competent, but the hospital has set both you and your physician up for failure.
- Paperwork mistakes: Failing to take a thorough patient history, failing to order proper testing, misplacing charts, misrecording information in the charts, ignoring or misreading laboratory results, and prematurely discharging patients due to miscommunication could all be considered the hospital’s responsibility.
- Incompetence: A failure to diagnose or the act of misdiagnosing an injury could be fatal. For example, think of a patient displaying symptoms of deep venous thrombosis (DVT) who is told to fly home and seek care with their primary physician instead of being treated on sight. DVT and flying is known to be a potentially deadly combination. If that patient dies, a lawsuit against the hospital for failing to meet the minimum standards of care may be justified.
- Improper medication or dosage: Whether the wrong medication was ordered (prescription negligence), dispensed (pharmaceutical negligence), or administered (practitioner negligence), improper medication can lead to serious side effects or poisoning, and deserves justice.
It may be difficult to understand the exact origin of the failure of care you or a loved one have experienced. This is why it’s important to contact experienced medical malpractice lawyers like those at Pierce Skrabanek—we can help pin down the source of the negligence and seek justice on your behalf.
Injuries that result during the birthing process can be particularly horrific for parents and families. After nine months of care, a healthy child is damaged due to medical malpractice at the moment of birth. Shouldn’t a hospital or birthing facility be the safest place for welcoming a new life?
Common, preventable birth injuries include:
- Brain damage: Damage to a baby’s brain can come in the form of anoxic infant brain damage (lack of oxygen), umbilical cord choking, an undiagnosed brain infection, bleeding in the brain that isn’t treated fast enough, or physical injuries from medical tools like forceps or vacuum extractors.
- Cerebral palsy: This is a life-long condition which can be caused by birth injuries, specifically mistreated bleeding in the brain, infection or fever, lack of oxygen, heart attack, stroke, or other forms of medical negligence.
- Newborn cephalohematoma: When bleeding within the baby’s skull causes blood to pool around the brain, the pressure it creates can lead to depressions and/or swellings in the head, brain damage, and seizures. The main risk factors for cephalohematoma in infants are difficult, prolonged labors and the use of forceps or vacuum extraction.
- Spinal cord injuries: Spinal cord injuries could leave your child partially or fully paralyzed, unable to crawl, walk, run, jump, or play with other children. Newborn spinal cord injuries usually occur if the delivering physician pulls on the baby’s body or head too hard in an effort to drag them out of the birth canal. For that reason birth spinal cord injuries typically happen at the neck, which risks full-body paralysis.
- Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE): This refers to a lack of blood flow (ischemia) or oxygen (anoxia), which can result from placental abruption or bleeding. It can also be caused by abnormally long labor, umbilical cord prolapse (which cuts off the oxygen supply), or a fetus presenting in the wrong position at the time of birth. It’s the responsibility of your medical team to watch for all of these events, and act swiftly to prevent injury.
You may have noticed that forceps and vacuum extractors were mentioned frequently in these causes of birth injury. When a baby needs to be retrieved from the mother’s body quickly (usually because of a risk of oxygen deprivation), these tools must be used carefully, and must not be defective.
The consequences of malfunctioning tools or an incompetant user can be profound. Hiring a lawyer with experience in birth injury cases can help you find out what went wrong, and who is responsible.
Medical Device Injury
Medical devices are often life-saving (think of pacemakers), but if they are defective or used/placed incorrectly, they can cause serious pain, injury, and sometimes death. Forceps and vacuum extractor injuries are one type of medical device injury.
Other common medical device injuries include:
- Surgical mesh: Surgical mesh can be used to support prolapsed organs (bladders), uphold hernias as they heal, and help reconstruct the female pelvic region (often after childbirth). However, more recent uses of transvaginal mesh has led to pain, infection, and sometimes crippling internal scarification. In some cases, it requires a lawsuit to force companies to take these products off the market.
- Hip prosthesis: A hip replacement can give an accident victim, injured athlete, or elder person a new lease on life. However, instances of hip implant injuries due to metal-on-metal implants can lead to blood poisoning, brain injury, loosening of the implant, necrosis (tissue death), severe pain, and the need for a repeat surgery (plus lengthy recovery).
- Spinal stimulator implants: These implants are meant to mask feelings of pain sent through the spinal cord with a gentle tingling sensation called paresthesia. When it works, it can relieve pain for conditions like angina (heart) pain, chronic back pain, and missing limb syndrome, but when it goes wrong it can lead to shocks, burns, and injury to the spine causing paraparesis (partial inability to move one’s legs).
- Defibrillators: Pacemakers, aka defibrillators, help restore and maintain a normal heartbeat by sending an electric pulse through the heart. However, the need to replace the electrical leads with some pacemaker products can lead to death and cardiovascular injury. Not all implants and not all extraction tools are the same, and unsafe products may need to go through a legal process to be banned or modified for safety.
- Insulin pump implant: The convenience of an implanted insulin pump is supposed to improve a patient’s life. Ideally, it should act as a failsafe which bypasses human error. But when an implanted insulin device fails, it can lead to severe injury (coma and brain damage) or death.
If you or your loved one has been injured by an implanted medical device, contact the medical malpractice lawyers at Pierce Skrabanek for help. Let experienced medical malpractice attorneys investigate the device manufacturer and the medical team which implanted it, all towards the goal of seeking the justice and support you deserve.
Recent cancer statistics show that over a million people in the United States are diagnosed with cancer each year, and roughly one-third of them will die as a direct result of that cancer.
A cancer misdiagnosis can cause profound harm in one of two ways:
- Your cancer is not recognized as cancer: Time is critical with a cancer diagnosis. The earlier the disease is detected and treated, the better the chances are for remission and a long, healthy life. A doctor may fail to order cancer tests when symptoms are first present. A doctor might misdiagnose cancer as another ailment and treat that one instead. In such an instance, a doctor may actively antagonize the cancer by treating it like a different condition (lasering skin cancer thinking it is only a blemish, for example). In each of these scenarios, the doctor may be held liable for the resulting damage.
- You are falsely diagnosed with cancer: Being told you have cancer causes an immediate emotional toll. Engaging in unneeded cancer treatment (chemotherapy and radiation) harms your body unnecessarily. Having organs removed to stop the spread of a cancer that isn’t there can alter your life and family (especially in cases of false uterine, ovarian, or testicular cancer—this may effectively sterilize a person, meaning they can never have their own children).
Cancer is one of the most serious diseases impacting humans, and a failure to diagnose cancer properly is an equally serious form of medical malpractice. Call a dedicated medical malpractice attorney today at 832-690-7000 to discuss what can be done towards recovery.