Pittsburgh Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Husband receives large verdict in medical malpractice case

Cancer is a diagnosis that no one in Pittsburgh ever wants to hear. Cancer affects thousands of people each year and an early diagnosis is often critical in a patient having the best survival chance. The failure to diagnose cancer can have a serious effect on a patient. A husband from Squirrel Hill recently received a multi-million dollar verdict after the death of his wife who didn't receive a timely diagnosis of liver cancer.

In 2007 the woman complained of enlarged lymph nodes and a possible case of lymphoma. A CT scan revealed a liver abrasion of 1.9 centimeters. The patient was referred to a specialist and in April 2008 he didn't recommend a biopsy. In August 2009 he recommended just watching and waiting. The patient continued to see the specialist and others at UPMC but a follow up scan was never ordered. In May 2011 a scan was completed at the Mayo Clinic where is revealed an enlarged liver lesion that was 11 centimeters long and was a malignant tumor. She died in June 2012. Her family argues that if the tumor would have been thoroughly investigated earlier she could have made a complete recovery. The courts agreed and awarded her husband $5.7 million.

High levels of bilirubin in newborns can have major consequences

For most Pittsburgh parents, the birth of a baby is a happy affair. Most newborns are born without consequences and are healthy and can go home in just a few days. But sometimes newborns are born with medical conditions and birth injuries that need further treatment.

One medical condition that a newborn can suffer from is jaundice. Jaundice is caused by a high level of bilirubin which causes the baby's skin to look yellow. Bilirubin is a yellow pigment that is created as the body is getting rid of old red blood cells. If a baby's jaundice is not properly treated the bilirubin can move out of the blood and collect in the baby's brain tissue. This can cause hearing loss and brain injury.

Breast tissue commonly misdiagnosed

Breast cancer is a common and very serious medical condition. Many women get their breast tissue biopsied each year. Unfortunately, a new study found that many biopsy specialists misdiagnose breast tissue. These misdiagnoses can lead to serious complications for patients, including not receiving enough treatment or too-aggressive treatment.

The researchers reported that pathologists have difficulty in diagnosing breast tissue, especially when the tissue indicates the patient has a less serious condition or when the results are normal. 

When a young person suffers from heart failure it can be serious

Heart failure among Pittsburgh residents is a common occurrence. Emergency room doctors receive thousands of patients suffering from heart attacks each year. But when a person is suffering from heart failure, prompt medical attention can mean the difference between life and death. When a young person is suffering from heart failure they sometimes don't receive the care that they need and a failure to diagnose their condition can lead to serious injuries and even death.

When most people think about heart disease they think about those who are older. A younger person who may have heart disease probably never consider the possibility but many young people show signs of heart disease. A recently study showed that almost half of young people between the ages of 18 and 35 show early signs of heart disease. Many times if these people show up at an emergency room with heart attack symptoms, a heart attack is not immediately suspected. Both the patient and the doctor may not think that a heart attack is possible.

Wrong-site surgical mistakes put patients at risk

Surgical errors can lead to catastrophic complications for patients. There are many different types of surgery errors that can occur. In this blog post, we will discuss the dangers of wrong-site surgeries. 

Wrong-site surgeries can cause a variety of health complications for patients. While wrong-site surgeries are not the most common type of surgical mistakes, patients should be aware of the risks they face before they have a surgical procedure. 

A vacuum-assisted delivery can have serious consequences

Many Pittsburgh couples look forward to the birth of a new baby. The new arrival is highly anticipated for months and the family plans everything for their arrival. Most births go as planned but occasionally a birth complication arises that results in a birth injury.

When a delivery does not go as expected there are many options available for the mother. One option that is used occasionally is a vacuum-assisted delivery. In this situation a cup is placed on the baby's head and during a contraction the doctor pulls the baby out while the mother pushes. A vacuum-assisted delivery is used when the baby is not moving down the birth canal in a timely way or if the mom is too tired to push any longer. Most of the time a vacuum-assisted delivery has few side effects but there can be some serious consequences.

False alarms can lead to real problems for Pittsburgh patients

Most people in Pittsburgh have spent time in the hospital or have visited someone in the hospital. Many times, in hospital rooms, there are several different machines hooked up to monitor the patient's vital signs. It may seem that there is always some kind of beeping that is alarming for hospital patients and visitors. But to medical providers, these alarms are just part of their everyday environment. Thus, they may tend to ignore them from time-to-time or turn off an alarm and fail to diagnose a patient's medical emergency. Alarm fatigue is a patient safety concern that may cause serious injuries and even death.

Hospital staff members are exposed to thousands of alarms each year going off in patient's rooms. A study at Johns Hopkins Hospital showed that hospital staff experience 350 alarms per day per bed. Medical staff can easily become desensitized to the constant alarms, which can expose patients to harm. Medical staff can turn the alarms off or down without really checking to make sure the patient is alright.

Surgical site infections can cause serious injury

Many people in the Pittsburgh area will undergo surgery at some point in their lives. Most of the time, these surgeries go as planned, but occasionally, a surgical error occurs that causes a serious injury. One type of error is a surgical site infection.

A surgical site infection can happen for many reasons, but one reason is that the patient is too cold during and after surgery. Many times the surgery room is kept cold, but patients who are under anesthesia can suffer hypothermia from those temperatures. When a patient is too cold, they don't receive enough oxygen to kill off the bacteria in their system. Their white blood cells don't work as well when they're cold and they're not able to fight off infections as well. Patients who are warmed before an operation and then kept warm with special blankets while the surgery is taking place have less frequent surgery site infections.

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.

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