Medical Malpractice

Common Birth Injuries

Category: Birth Injuries |

When you’re about to have a baby, you hope that your brand-new infant will be perfectly healthy. However, there are potential complications that may arise during labor and delivery that can lead to serious injury. A birth injury is one that occurs before, during, or after delivery and can be the result of the negligence of a doctor or other medical professional. Some of these injuries will heal with time and proper medical treatment, but other injuries can lead to lifelong disabilities requiring many years of therapy and treatment. Some common birth injuries include: Erb’s Palsy An Erb’s Palsy injury can result from shoulder dystocia which occurs when a baby’s shoulders are too large for the birth canal. If a medical professional uses too much force on the baby’s head during delivery, it can result in stretched or torn nerves. Permanent injury to a baby, such as paralysis of an arm, hand, or finger can result. Cerebral Palsy Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that can sometimes occur when there is a lack of oxygen during delivery or from direct trauma to the brain. Cerebral palsy can cause a variety of symptoms such as muscle spasms, seizures, and developmental delays. This birth injury can result in the need for lifelong medical care. Cerebral palsy can sometimes be the result of a failure by medical personnel to properly monitor the baby during labor, failure to recognize that a C-section is necessary, or the improper use of assistive devices during labor. Brain Injuries Brain injuries are the most serious form of birth injury. Brain injuries are typically permanent and cause physical and mental symptoms such as developmental delays. They can be the result of a lack of oxygen or physical trauma during delivery which sometimes results from the use of assistive devices such as forceps. Fractures Even though a baby’s bones are generally more flexible than an adult’s, they are still very delicate and can be fractured if the baby is not handled carefully and properly during delivery. Cephalohematoma Cephalohematoma typically appears several hours after a baby is born and can be caused by the improper use of assistive devices during delivery. Cephalohematoma is indicated by a bump on the top of a baby’s head that is a sign that bleeding is occurring beneath the cranium. The bump usually clears up in a few months, but there is a risk of complications. Contact a Trusted Attorney If your baby has been injured as the result of negligence, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. Contact the trusted lawyers at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk online or call us at 1-800-753-5203 to schedule your free consultation.

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Doctors Who Get Sued Are Likely to Get Sued Again, According to Study

Category: Medical Malpractice |

Doctors who have previously been successfully sued for malpractice are far more likely to face additional malpractice claims. This is the central finding of a new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine earlier this year. As stated by the study’s authors: “[A] relatively small group of U.S. physicians account[s] for a disproportionately large share of paid malpractice claims. Several physician characteristics, most notably the number of previous claims and the physician’s specialty, were significantly associated with recurrence of claims.” The study found a number of other startling trends in the likelihood and recurrence of medical malpractice, as well. The Data: Medical Malpractice is a Recurring Issue for Physicians Analyzing more than 66,000 claims over a 10-year period, the authors behind, Prevalence and Characteristics of Physicians Prone to Malpractice Claims, found that only roughly six percent of all physicians in the United States have been the subject of a malpractice claim. However, among those who have been sued for malpractice, the rate of recurrence is substantial: Approximately one percent of physicians have been sued two or more times for malpractice. These doctors account for 32 percent of all paid medical malpractice claims. While only 0.2 percent of U.S. doctors have been sued three or more times for malpractice, these doctors account for 12 percent of all paid medical malpractice claims. In other words, during the study period, less than 9,000 doctors accounted for more than 21,000 successful medical malpractice claims, while 2,160 physicians with three or more successful claims accounted for 7,801 instances of medical malpractice. The study went on to examine doctors with as many as six successful malpractice claims in their past, finding 126 such doctors who had collectively been successfully sued 960 times for causing harm to their patients. Here is a breakdown of the data: More than two successful claims: 8,846 physicians successfully sued 21,173 times More than three successful claims: 2,160 physicians successfully sued 7,801 times More than four successful claims: 722 physicians successfully sued 3,847 times More than five successful claims: 269 physicians successfully sued 1,675 times More than six successful claims: 126 physicians successfully sued 960 times Based upon these data, the study’s authors determined that, compared to physicians with just one previous claim, physicians with two previous claims were nearly twice as likely to commit medical malpractice again. Physicians with three previous claims were three times as likely to face another successful claim, and physicians with six or more previous claims were 12 times as likely to be sued again for medical malpractice. Types of Physicians Most Likely to Commit Medical Malpractice In examining the data, the study’s authors also identified five specific types of physicians who were most likely to face successful claims for medical malpractice. Of course, this does not mean that doctors who practice in these specialties are necessarily more likely to commit malpractice. However, it does show that patients who see these types of physicians, as a general rule, need to be particularly wary of the risk of being injured due to a medical mistake. According to the study, the five types of physicians most likely to commit malpractice more than once are (in order): Neurosurgeons Orthopedic Surgeons General Surgeons Plastic Surgeons Obstetrician-Gynecologists Over the course of the 10-year study period, psychiatrists and pediatricians had the lowest risk of recurrence for medical malpractice claims. More broadly, the study’s authors also examined physician specialty groups to determine which types of physicians saw the greatest rate of successful malpractice claims regardless of the recurrence rate among individual physicians. They found that four specialty groups accounted for more than half (51 percent) of all successful medical malpractice claims: Internal medicine – 15 percent of all successful medical malpractice claims Obstetrics and Gynecology – 13 percent of all successful medical malpractice claims General Surgery – 12 percent of all successful medical malpractice claims General Practice or Family Medicine – 11 percent of all successful medical malpractice claims Other Factors Linked to Increased Risk of Malpractice In addition to prior medical malpractice claims and practicing within these four specialty groups, the study’s authors identified a number of other factors that may indicate an increased risk of malpractice claims, as well. For example, among physicians with at least one successful medical malpractice claim: Out of 54,099 physicians, 82 percent were male. Physicians over the age of 45 account for more than two-thirds of all medical malpractice claims. The vast majority, 87 percent, worked in metropolitan areas. Just four percent worked in small towns and rural areas. 77 percent of physicians found liable for malpractice were trained in the United States. Medical Malpractice Settlement and Court Verdict Statistics Tragically, medical malpractice tends to have severe negative consequences for innocent patients and their loved ones. While perhaps due to the fact that a large number of “minor” instances of medical malpractice simply go unreported, the study’s findings indicate that a substantial majority of successful medical malpractice cases involve catastrophic injuries, and on average they result in substantial payments of financial compensation to victims and their families. According to the study’s authors: 32 percent of successful malpractice claims involve medical errors resulting in the death of the patient. “Major” and “significant” physical injuries accounted for more than half (53 percent) of all successful medical malpractice claims. The average compensation paid to successful claimants was $371,054. As with all types of personal injury and wrongful death claims, the vast majority of medical malpractice claims settle without ever going to trial. In fact, among the claims analyzed in the study, just three percent resulted in a trial verdict for the claimant. The remaining 97 percent were resolved through an out-of-court settlement. Do You Have a Medical Malpractice Claim? Call for a Free Consultation. If you believe that you or someone you love may be a victim of medical malpractice, contact Abrahamson & Uiterwyk in Tampa or Clearwater for a free consultation. To speak with one of our experienced attorneys in confidence, call (800) 753-5203, send us a...

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Telemedicine and Medical Malpractice

Category: Medical Malpractice |

There is good news and bad news about technological advances and their application in medical field. The good news is that electronic communications are making it possible for health care providers to interact with patients via text messages, email, webcam and other devices. The bad news is that it appears this type of intervention may lead to more instances of medical malpractice than the traditional face-to-face encounters. A recent Wall Street Journal article provides a comprehensive overview of how telemedicine is being used and the benefits experienced by both providers and patients. It also discusses some of the pitfalls that need to be addressed in order to improve care and decrease the potential for medical malpractice actions. The Good News: Telemedicine and the Transformation of Health Care The American Telemedicine Association reports that in 2015, more than 15 million people received remote treatment by way of telemedicine. That figure is expected to grow by 30% in 2016. Some of the positive ways in which telemedicine has improved and transformed health care include: Patients who have chronic medical conditions report their heart rate and blood pressure to their doctors without having to travel to the provider’s office for an in-person appointment. Doctors in large, sophisticated medical centers provide continuous monitoring of patients in intensive care units (ICUs) of smaller, more remote hospitals. Physicians are able to use the zoom feature to even “read the tiny print on an IV bag.” One critical-care specialist, commenting on the positive aspects of this type of medical care, stated that even though she cannot actually use a defibrillator on a patient to restart a failing heart, she “can give an order to the nurses there.” Doctors Without Borders, which provides care to patients in remote areas, states that every day, its physicians use the internet between five and 10 times a day to contact experts around the world for help. The Mercy Health System in St. Louis has nurses and doctors working round-the-clock to provide medical support to 38 smaller hospitals in more remote locations. The health care professionals are ready to advise local doctors on diagnosis and treatment of patients in ICUs and emergency rooms. Mercy states that it had 30% fewer deaths in 2015 than anticipated and credits telemedicine with the improvement. The Bad News: Telemedicine May Be Vulnerable to Medical Malpractice Claims According to the Wall Street Journal report, “critics worry that such services may be sacrificing quality for convenience.” Some of the major concerns are: Some conditions that may seem minor, like upper respiratory infections, cannot be accurately diagnosed long-distance. A doctor needs to actually listen to a patient’s heart, check to see if any glands are swollen and take a throat culture. All are procedures that must be done in person. A simple sore throat requires a throat culture or “rapid test,” neither of which can be provided through remote care. Antibiotics should only be prescribed after the results confirm there has been a streptococcus infection. A dermatology study evaluated 62 patient encounters. Medical providers discussed side effects of prescribed medications in less than one-third of the cases. There were “many” instances of serious conditions not being diagnosed at all or of being misdiagnosed. Although the use of telemedicine itself does not support a claim for medical malpractice, the health care provider still must meet the same appropriate standard of care as in a face-to-face medical intervention. If this happened to you, and you experienced medical treatment by interacting with your health care provider by way of an electronic device, the one area in which some experts believe you may have trouble is proving you had a physician/patient relationship. For more information and for a free case evaluation, contact is at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk and speak with one of our personal injury and medical malpractice attorneys.  

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Some Florida Surgery Offices Are “Filthy,” Say Inspectors

Category: Medical Malpractice |

Florida residents who need minor surgery can save money by choosing to have the procedure performed at a doctor’s office. This can be a significant cost savings over having the procedure performed at a hospital. In light of a recent report presented to the Florida Board of Medicine, Florida residents may want to consider more than a cost savings. The report informed the Board that an unacceptable number of these physician surgery offices in Florida are less than clean. Not so clean The inspectors found dirty floors, inadequately disinfected surgical devices, under trained medical staff, and doctors performing procedures with minimal training. Approximately 500 doctors operate state-registered surgical suites in their offices. The Surgical Care committee recommended a review of rules in a workshop setting. Closing loopholes In a study of Florida surgical office procedures, between 2000 and 2003 there were 13 procedure related deaths, and 43 complications requiring hospitalization arising from surgical office procedures. While changes to Florida’s rules with respect to office surgery have created one of the strongest in the country, the recent report has raised serious issues. A move is on to close loopholes in the rules. What is a loophole An example of a loophole is the requirement to have an autoclave to steam, sterilize surgical instruments, but no requirement exists to ensure someone has received training in operation of an autoclave. Improper use of the autoclave can cause improperly cleaned surgical tools. In addition, a staff member must be assigned to sterilize equipment. The rules provide no recommendations with respect to education in proper sterilization techniques. The inspectors found that receptionists for and bookkeepers had been assigned to this task in some instances. The rules enacted in 2000 have reduced the number of deaths and injuries related to in-office surgical procedures. The Board feels that more work needs to be done to regulate physician surgical offices. Have you been injured by someone else’s negligence? Call today! When Florida residents find themselves injured as a result of non-sterile conditions or improperly trained physicians, it is important for them to protect their rights. Being sure that appropriate actions are taken may require consultation with a legal expert. Speaking with a personal injury lawyer may be the first step in defining how to proceed. By contacting the law offices of Abrahamson & Uiterwyk at 1-800-753-5203, Florida residents can get a free initial case evaluation and consultation.

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