Pittsburgh Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Elements of negligence needed for a wrongful death case

Pittsburgh residents don't expect their family member will become the victim of medical malpractice. When a person goes to the doctor they expect that they will get answers about what's wrong and hopefully a way to make it better. But when a doctor makes a mistake it can lead to a serious injury or even death.

When a family believes there has been a doctor mistake that led to their loved one's death there are elements that need to be present in order to bring a negligence claim. The plaintiff must prove four elements of negligence are present. The first element is duty. This is where the plaintiff shows that the defendant owed them a duty of care. A doctor would owe a patient duty of care because they provide competent medical care.

Reducing birth injuries, medical errors through practice

Pittsburgh parents-to-be are full of excitement and trepidation for the upcoming birth of their baby. Most births go as planned but occasionally a birth does not go as expected. These can lead to some scary moments in the delivery room and even a birth injury.

The University of Pennsylvania Hospital has started to implement simulations of high risk complications that can occur in childbirth and other scenarios. By having medical professionals practice ahead of time it can give them an opportunity to learn without hurting a patient. For example, excessive blood loss is one of the leading causes of death for new mothers if it is not stopped in time. Practicing for this hemorrhage allows doctors and nurses to practice communicating among providers in quick and efficient way. Other hospitals across the country use the simulations as well.

Man dies because hospital makes religion mistake

Many Pittsburgh residents have ideas as to what medical treatment they would like performed on them in an emergency. For some, religion plays a part in their medical decisions as well. But it is important for medical providers to be aware of what a patient's wishes are and to make sure they do not make medical malpractice mistakes.

A family says a man is dead because a hospital made a mistake in not caring for him. The man was diagnosed with kidney failure but the hospital refused to treat him because they thought he was a Jehovah's Witness. The man was diagnosed with kidney failure and 10 days later he was denied life-saving care because his medical records mistakenly said he was a Jehovah's Witness. Medical personnel believed that religion prohibited the particular treatment he needed. The man died later that night. His widow is suing the medical center and doctors for wrongful death and medical malpractice.

Military medical malpractice and Healthcare Resolutions program

Anyone can be the victim of medical malpractice, including the members of our military. Medical mistakes happen every day in Pittsburgh and across the United States, injuring thousands of people each year because of medical malpractice.

Military members who have suffered a medical mistake at a military medical center may be able to participate in the Healthcare Resolutions program. This program is currently offered at 8 military medical centers with plans to expand to more. This program is a way for patients to discuss with doctors what went wrong with their medical procedure. The military center's Healthcare Resolution specialist facilitates the release of medical information and coordinates meetings between the patient and the doctor. In 2014 the Healthcare Resolution specialists handled over 1,400 cases. This program does not take the place of legal action.

New Breast Cancer Guidelines: Will They Lead to More Undiagnosed Cases?

For women in Pittsburgh who have an average risk of developing breast cancer, the time to begin regular mammograms and breast cancer screening has long been debated. In fact, the three largest breast cancer organizations - American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Cancer Society, and U.S. Preventative Services Task Force - all suggest different ages that a woman should begin regular screening. Recently, the American Cancer Society has changed its guidelines in a controversial move from 40 years old, to 45. This comes after a study suggesting that mammograms are actually more harmful for younger women than helpful.

Doctor's family sues hospital for medical malpractice

Many Pittsburgh residents go to the doctor each day seeking answers for what is bothering them. They expect that their doctor will be able to diagnose the issue and help them feel better. Most of the time this is what happens but occasionally a failure to diagnose a serious illness results in the patient suffering from a worsened condition.

A Pennsylvania doctor's family is suing Geisinger Medical Center in Danville after the doctor died because of a failure to diagnose her illness. The woman went to Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center because she was having bad headaches. The medical center transferred her to Danville where she died from hemorrhaging three days later.

Disabled man misdiagnosed twice

When a Pittsburgh resident has to go to the emergency room, they assume that they will receive prompt and accurate care. When a person has a medical emergency, they need immediate and accurate care. Most of the time emergency room doctors can accurately diagnose a condition but when there is a failure to diagnose a worsened condition can occur.

A severely disabled man presented himself to the emergency room on two separate occasions and continued to receive the wrong diagnosis. The man, who can't speak because of his disabilities, went to his local emergency room twice because he couldn't sit up or do anything. The first time the emergency room staff x-rayed the man's chest and shoulder and found no fracture so they sent him home. The second time, the emergency room again performed another set of shoulder and chest x-rays and found nothing. A week later, his mother brought him back for a third time because he was in severe pain. He remained under observation for 3 days and was about to be sent home with no diagnosis until an x-ray technician was reviewing the third set of x-rays and realized he had a broken neck. The technician called the doctor with his discovery. Because the man wasn't diagnosed in a timely manner he suffered with a broken neck for 15 days.

The failure to diagnose liver cancer can be very serious

When a person goes to the doctor with certain symptoms they assume they will receive a diagnosis and a treatment plan. Most of the time this is what happens in the Pittsburgh area but occasionally a patient suffers from a failure to diagnose. Liver cancer is a very serious condition that if not diagnosed early can lead to a worsened condition or even death.

Liver cancer affects over 35,000 people each year who receive a diagnosis. In some countries in Africa and Southeast Asia, it is the most common cause of cancer. It is also a deadly cancer and kills over 600,000 people worldwide each year. Those who have cirrhosis or a chronic Hepatitis B infection are most at risk of developing liver cancer. Frequent screening of these people is recommended in order to catch the cancer early.

Lack of informed consent

Pittsburgh residents usually visit their doctor regularly. Most people don't have major issues but when a procedure needs to be done informed consent is usually required. When there is a lack of informed consent patients can be injured and surgical errors that are not expected may occur.

In Pennsylvania informed consent is required before surgical procedures and administering anesthesia, radiation, chemotherapy, blood transfusions, insertion of surgical device and experimental medications. It includes the physician performing the procedure to disclose all of the facts, risks and alternatives to the procedure that is about to be performed. A lack of informed consent for a patient can arise if they did not receive informed consent and if they would have received the informed consent it would have made a difference in the procedure that they went through.

Drug errors can be common in surgery

For many Pittsburgh area residents, surgery is inevitable. Surgeries are necessary for life-threatening ailments and other circumstances. Most surgeries go as planned but surgical errors and medication errors during surgery can be common.

Medication errors during surgery are relatively common. It is estimated that almost half of all surgeries have a medication error or unintended side effects caused by the drugs. Of those who had medication errors a third caused injury to the patient. Unlike other areas of the hospital where medication is double checked before it is administered to a patient surgery rooms don't have the same safeguards in place. There usually isn't enough time to go through the same safeguards as patient conditions change rapidly. Most patients don't even know they have been the victim of a medication error because they're asleep during the procedure and there may not be a lasting consequence. Many errors involve drugs being labeled incorrectly and some occurred when there were unexpected medication side effects caused by an allergy.

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