Pittsburgh Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Family receives millions for birth injury

Pittsburgh parents-to-be are extremely excited for the birth of their new addition. The birth itself can be a flurry of activity with parents not always aware of what is going on. Luckily most births go as planned with a healthy infant born, but occasionally a birth injury can occur that affects the family and the baby forever.

A family in Massachusetts was recently awarded almost $30 million because of a birth injury that their daughter suffered. The mother-to-be went to the hospital at 28 weeks because of decreased movement in the baby. She was admitted and under observation. The baby's heart rate dropped and the doctor on call, who was home at the time, did not come in. About four hours later the baby's heart rate crashed and was very low for eight minutes. She was delivered by caesarian and was not alive when born but was resuscitated. Because of the lack of oxygen and blood flow she suffered a severe brain injury. Because of this injury she cannot walk or talk, is blind and fed through a tube. She requires around the clock care.

Hospital-acquired infections

Many Pittsburgh patients will need to be hospitalized at least once in their lives. A hospital stay usually means there is a serious medical condition that needs to be monitored. Most hospital stays result in the patient getting better but occasionally errors occur -- like the patient acquiring a serious infection.

When a patient is admitted to the hospital for treatment they often need around-the-clock care. A major unexpected condition that arises in many patients is an unexpected infection. One out of every 20 patients gets a hospital infection during their stay. These infections often means a patient needs to extend their hospital stay and it can even lead to death.

Things to know about medical errors

Most Pittsburgh residents will spend time in the doctor's office this year. Whether for a sickness or a routine exam, going to the doctor is an important appointment that people should make. Although most procedures go as planned, medical errors such as the failure to diagnose a condition do occur.

There are some interesting things patients may want to know about medical errors. Each year up to 400,000 Americans are the victim of a medical error. There are also around 4,000 surgical never-events that occur each year. These include wrong-site surgery and surgical equipment left inside a patient. Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. The most common preventable medical errors include medication errors, too many blood transfusions, too much oxygen for premature babies and infections. And finally, hospitals are the main site where the most serious events occur which result in death or serious injury.

Characteristics of a brachial plexus injury in a newborn

Pittsburgh parents expecting the birth of a baby are filled with anticipation and excitement. The birth of a baby is one of the biggest joys parents have in their life. Most births go as planned but birth injuries do occur. When the injury is caused by negligence, parents can be devastated.

One birth injury a baby can suffer from is a brachial plexus injury. So, how do parents know if their newborn has had this type of injury? A brachial plexus injury is one of the most common birth injuries a newborn can suffer from. A brachial plexus injury generally involves injury to the nerves in a newborn's arm. The injury usually occurs during a difficult birth and the baby's shoulder gets stuck during delivery. Most brachial plexus injuries are classified as Erb's Palsy.

Reasons why radiologists face medical malpractice lawsuits

Most Pittsburgh area residents will need a radiologist at some time or another. Radiologists often work behind the scenes examining scans, x-rays and other medical tests. These doctors are extremely important and it is critical that they make the right diagnosis. Occasionally they fail to diagnose a serious condition which can lead to a patient's worsened condition or even death.

When a patient suffers from a medical mistake they want to know what happened to cause the error. Radiologists are important doctors who analyze test results to make a patient diagnosis. Sometimes radiologists make mistakes and a patient can suffer. In these cases, a patient may file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Was your gastric bypass improperly performed?

For many Pittsburgh residents, gastric bypass surgery is a great option for improving their life. For most patients this surgery goes as expected but surgical errors do occur. A patient can suffer lifetime consequences from a gastric bypass error.

Gastric bypass surgeries have increased substantially in recent years across the United States. There are several different types of surgeries that can qualify as gastric bypass. These include lap band surgery and stomach stapling. There have been many different complications that have arisen from these surgeries. The complications include blood clots in the lungs, hernias, bowel leakage and peritonitis. Some of these complications can be quite serious and lead to the death of the patient.

Overlapping surgery could violate informed consent

When Pittsburgh residents need surgery they usually go through a series of checks to make sure they can have the surgery and what the risks and benefits of the surgery are going to be. Most surgeries go as planned but occasionally an unexpected surgical error occurs that can lead to devastating results including a serious injury.

Before most surgeries begin, informed consent is needed from the patient. Informed consent is the process of getting permission to perform the surgery. It includes the doctor discussing with patients their diagnosis, their treatment choices, risks involved with the treatment and the prognosis. In Massachusetts, a debate is ongoing that could affect surgeries across the United States.

Can a hospital be sued for negligent doctors?

When a Pittsburgh resident needs to go to the hospital they generally have a serious medical condition. The doctors who a patient may see in the hospital can be from many different areas. If the patient is a victim of a medical mistake, can they hold the hospital accountable for negligently granting hospital privilege to the doctor who made the mistake in a medical malpractice lawsuit?

No one anticipates becoming the victim of a medical mistake while they are in the hospital. But for thousands of people across the United States this has become a reality. When patients have been the victims of a medical mistake they may wonder who they can hold responsible. Hospitals often grant privileges to doctors to allow them to admit patients, treat patients in the hospital or perform surgery in the hospital without being an employee of the hospital. Hospitals screen these doctors before they allow them privileges. This process usually has the hospital reviewing the doctor's credentials, education, competence, licenses, board certification, work history, criminal background and malpractice history. A hospital has the duty to grant privileges to competent doctors. So, if a patient in a Pennsylvania believes that the doctor was not qualified they can hold the hospital responsible and bring a direct claim against them. This can be in addition to a medical malpractice claim against the doctor who made the mistake.

Common reasons why doctors are sued

When a Pittsburgh resident heads to the doctor they expect to receive an accurate diagnosis of their medical condition. Most of the time this is what happens for patients, but occasionally a mistake is made such as the doctor fails to diagnose a serious condition. When a mistake happens a patient may have the right to sue their physician.

There are many reasons why a doctor could face a medical malpractice suit. The most common reasons are the failure to diagnose a condition and the patient suffered an abnormal injury. These two reasons covered around 60 percent of medical malpractice lawsuits. Additional reasons for a malpractice lawsuit include the failure to treat a condition, poor documentation, errors in medication, not following safety procedures and not obtaining informed consent.

Trials to extend working hours under fire as unethical

Many Pittsburgh residents know the amount of work that medical students and residents put in each week. They have been notoriously overworked with limited amount of time off. The combination of inexperience and extended hours that are worked by medical residents can put patients at harm of medical malpractice.

Medical residents are notoriously overworked. But two trials which were set up to study medical residents who worked up to 28 hour shifts instead of the usual 16 are under fire for being unethical. The American Medical Student Association and the watchdog group Public Citizen say the trials have put patients in harm and did not receive informed consent from them. The studies were conducted at over 190 teaching hospitals across the United States by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. Medical residents are currently limited to 80 hour work weeks.

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