Pittsburgh Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Where medical diagnosing fails

Almost every Pittsburgh resident will visit the doctor this year. Some will visit for their annual exam and many more will need care because of an illness or injury. We all trust that our doctors will be able to tell us what is wrong and will help us get better but sometimes a doctor fails to diagnose our condition which can lead to a worsened condition.

When a doctor fails to diagnose a patient's condition correctly it can sometimes have serious consequences. Some diseases such as cancer and heart disease that are not treated promptly can lead to a delayed treatment and the spread of disease. As far as where a patient can receive a misdiagnosis the most likely place is with a family physician or internist. In a study done by CRICO Strategies, 57 percent of misdiagnosed errors were done in an ambulatory care setting. This was followed by 26 percent in a hospital inpatient setting and 16 percent in the emergency department. Among the mistakes made in ambulatory care, almost half were made by family physicians and internal medicine.

A breast biopsy is often misdiagnosed

Many women in the Pittsburgh area will undergo a breast biopsy at some point. In the U.S. over 1.5 million women have them each year. A breast biopsy is performed after a woman finds a lump on her breast or if there is an abnormality found in a mammogram. When one of these things happen, a doctor removes a small amount of tissue, which is then tested.

Breast biopsy tissue is tested by pathologists. According to a recent study, pathologists who analyze biopsies do not always come back with the correct diagnosis. This means that in some cases there is a failure to diagnose certain types of breast cancer which can lead to delayed treatment and a worsened condition. Breast cancer, as with many other cancers, can have a high survival rate if caught early.

Meconium aspiration syndrome can be serious

Couples who are expecting a baby in Pittsburgh can be filled with anticipation and joy. Most deliveries go as planned but occasionally there is a birth injury which results in a serious birth injury. One such injury to the baby is called meconium aspiration.

Meconium aspiration is when a newborn breathes in a mix of meconium and amniotic fluid during delivery. Meconium is the baby's first stool. Meconium is one of the leading causes of severe injury and death among newborns and occurs in five to 10 percent of births. It occurs more frequently in labors that are stressed or in pregnancies where the baby is past its due date. Symptoms of meconium aspiration include the baby's skin being blue at birth, breathing problems, limpness of baby at birth and the presence of meconium in the amniotic fluid.

A forceps delivery can cause a serious birth injury

Expectant Pittsburgh parents are often excited about the upcoming birth of their child. They spend months planning the new baby's room, buying clothing and going over a birth plan. Expectant parents don't want to think about what would happen if the delivery process goes wrong, but occasionally birth injuries do occur. When a doctor uses forceps during delivery, for example, the baby may suffer an injury.

Forceps are a medical device that is used infrequently during a vaginal delivery. The forceps look like salad tongs and the doctor applies them to the baby's head to help guide them out. There are some circumstances where a forceps delivery may be necessary. This can include if the labor isn't progressing or if the mother is pushing for an extended period of time but no progress has been made. Also, if there is a problem with the baby's heartbeat and immediate delivery is needed. Forceps might also be used if a baby's head is posterior, or facing up, which can make it difficult to deliver.

Gastric bypass surgery can lead to serious injuries

Many people in the Pittsburgh area are weight conscious, and the pressure to be thin is great. Also, more people are health conscious and believe that surgically removing the extra pounds can be beneficial for their health. These surgeries are popular, but surgical errors do occur.

Bariatric surgery has become extremely popular in the U.S. In the ten years between 1998 and 2008 the number of weight loss surgeries increased from 13,000 to more than 200,000. There are three main types of bariatric surgery. One is gastric bypass where the digestive system is rerouted past the stomach to suppress hunger. The second is a gastric band which is a band that is placed on the top part of the stomach which makes a person feel full. And the third is a sleeve gastrectomy where the majority of the stomach is removed to create a smaller stomach so that a person can't eat as much.

How do you prove fault in a medical malpractice case?

Almost all Pittsburgh residents will visit the doctor or undergo a medical procedure this year. Doctors are important in making sure we stay healthy or get us back on track in regaining our health. Most of the time our experiences with the medical community are positive. But when a medical mistake is made by a provider how does one determine who is legally responsible in a medical malpractice case?

While this post is not legal advice, in general medical malpractice happens when a doctor makes a medical mistake because they were negligent. If a doctor fails to provide the same level of care that another similarly capable doctor would and a mistake happens, then a patient may be able to seek a medical malpractice lawsuit. There are certain circumstances that need to be present to prove medical negligence. The first is that there was a doctor/patient relationship. Second, there needs to be an established applicable standard of care and the doctor's care needs to have deviated from that standard of care. Third, the deviation from the standard of care caused the patient to have a worsened condition, and finally the patient had an injury or worsened medical condition.

Surgical errors often kept secret

Thousands of Pittsburgh residents will have surgery this year. Many patients do their homework and research the surgeon and facility where the surgery will take place. But patients may be surprised to know that some surgical errors are kept secret.

A recent report has brought to light the problem with confidentiality agreements when it comes to surgical procedures. Many times when a surgical mistake occurs, the patient is bound by one of these confidentiality agreements that bars them from speaking out about what happened. The hospital will settle with the patient but as part of the settlement the patients cannot talk about it. This often times protects hospitals from being scrutinized but patients are left not knowing that errors have occurred.

Lack of training can lead to robotic surgical errors

Many Pittsburgh residents will have a surgical procedure performed on them during their lifetime. Surgeries are necessary for many people and most go as planned. In recent years, robotic surgery has become popular with many U.S. hospitals offering the service to its patients. Robotic surgeries are popular because they are typically minimally invasive. But unexpected surgical accidents do arise and some of them can be attributed to the surgeons not receiving proper training.

The da Vinci robotic surgery performs over 400,000 surgeries each year in the U.S. It is a popular tool used to perform many prostrate surgeries, hysterectomies, heart surgery, and many other types of surgeries. Many people choose robotic surgery because of the benefits that it advertises, including less bleeding, smaller incision site, shorter hospital stay, and the ability to operate precisely in hard to reach areas.

I'm not happy with my surgery, can I file a lawsuit?

When Pennsylvania residents undergo surgery, they are taking a risk. There are no guarantees and as such, things may not go as you expected. The surgeon may think everything went fine, but you might not be so thrilled with the results, whether you got a nose job or a broken bone surgically fixed. Do you have any recourse? Can you file a lawsuit and receive compensation for your lack of satisfaction?

If medical malpractice occurred, then you might have a viable claim for compensation. The judge would be looking for surgical errors and resulting damages, however, not your overall review of the surgical procedure. Just because you didn't like the final results for some reason doesn't mean that you can sue. You would have to prove that the surgeon deviated from a reasonable standard of care and that this deviation caused you injuries or damages.

My baby suffers birth injuries due to hypoxia, what can I do?

The birth of a baby is an exciting event for almost all Pennsylvanian parents. However, this joy can turn to anger when the baby is deprived of oxygen during labor and delivery. This is called hypoxia, and while some cases are mild and resolve themselves quickly, others are more serious in nature and can lead to birth injuries and permanent disability. If this happens, you most certainly want to understand your legal rights and learn more about the types of available recourse.

Besides a lack of oxygen, hypoxia can be caused by numerous factors, including umbilical cord injuries, infection, heart disease, shoulder dystocia, and abnormalities in the placenta and blood vessels in the brain. Doctors and nurses should be monitoring the baby's oxygen flow during labor and delivery. However, if they were negligent in their medical care, and the negligence led to your baby's birth injuries, then you may have a possible medical malpractice case.

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