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Ann Arbor Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Taking action for a provider's failure to diagnose cancer

Many Ann Arbor residents do their best to take care of their health. They eat right and exercise. They may give up or cut down on bad habits. And they see their doctor regularly, sometimes seeking out preventive screening and similar tests with the goal of catching any dangerous conditions in the earliest possible stages.

Early screening for cancer is unfortunately not a guarantee against a doctor, radiologist or other provider's possible negligence. As we saw last week, misreading or misinterpreting test results can lead to a failure to diagnose cancer. The news that a medical professional has failed a patient in this way can be devastating, especially because the undetected disease can then spread to a stage where treatment may no longer be as effective. It may be impossible to treat.

Failure to diagnose cancer results in patient death

Ann Arbor residents today are used to the kinds of campaigns designed to raise awareness of certain health conditions. From the "ice bucket challenge" of ALS to breast cancer awareness month, these efforts may help convince some to seek out screening and early detection measures that might help them catch a dangerous condition early on.

However, test results may be misinterpreted even when patients are already suffering from symptoms. This was the case with an East Coast man who went to the doctor five years ago suffering from pain in his abdomen. An ultrasound of his gallbladder was ordered, and eventually another due to the presence of a mass in his liver.

Uterine rupture calls for emergency response

Many women today deliver babies by cesarean section. The operation, when performed timely and correctly, can save the lives of mothers and babies who at one time in history would likely not have survived a complicated delivery process.

Should a mother who has had a cesarean section eventually choose to have another child, a vaginal birth after cesarean is not uncommon. Statistics show that the success rate is around 60 to 80 percent for those who attempt a VBAC. However, having had one cesarean section does raise some risk factors, and it calls for a hospital with staff who are trained and ready to deal with certain potential complications.

When can a hospital be sued for a doctor's negligence?

Michigan residents often rely on the help of doctors, nurses and other medical professionals when they are sick or injured. These professionals have studied long and hard to be able to identify and treat a variety of common, and uncommon, illnesses and injuries. Most people are not equipped to deal with these situations on their own, and therefore they put their faith in these trusted professionals.

However, doctors and nurses usually don't work alone. They work in conjunction with large hospitals. These hospitals also have a responsibility to keep people safe from harm. Along with doctors and nurses, hospitals must take specific precautions to ensure that patients receive the best care possible.

Understanding placental abruptions and mothers' rights

Health care providers have a significant responsibility when they are caring for a pregnant mother. They don't just have to monitor her condition, they have to watch out for the health of the baby as well. The slightest negligence on the part of a doctor or nurse in this context can easily lead to any number of birth injuries.

One condition for which medical professionals need to be on the lookout is detachment of the placenta from the uterine wall. The placenta is the organ that provides a fetus with nourishment. Sometimes, however, it can separate from the uterus. Such instances are known as placental abruptions.

Nursing home neglect and patients' legal rights

Overmedicating and under-medicating, as we discussed in our last post, are just two of many types of neglect and abuse that may befall nursing home patients. As our readers will likely know, senior citizens in assisted living situations are particularly vulnerable to nursing home neglect and abuse, due in part to their level of dependence on their caregivers.

With more than 20 percent of Michigan's elderly residents in nursing homes suffering from negligence, according to a recent study, the problem is not something to be taken lightly or accepted as if it's just a part of life. In fact, state law provides clear and unambiguous rights and protections for nursing home patients. Some of the rights have to do with patients' access to information. These include:

  • The right to receive copies of their medical records.
  • The right to know who is taking responsibility for their care, and who is actually providing it.
  • The right to have medical bills explained to them.
  • The right to communicate privately with anyone, including doctors and lawyers.

Is your elderly relative being over medicated in a nursing home?

There's no question that modern medications have worked wonders for Ann Arbor residents of all ages. Senior citizens in particular often rely on daily medications to manage conditions and maintain their quality of life. Those in assisted living facilities will commonly rely on caregivers to provide them with the correct medications at the correct dosages as part of their care.

For this reason, however, residents are also vulnerable to over medicating or under medicating when the staff of a nursing home neglect to follow the directions associated with medications. In some cases, patients may be receiving medications not even intended for their conditions. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' website offers a report that is likely to leave readers asking themselves: Is my loved one receiving the right medications at the right doses?

Serious medical mistakes call for serious legal action

As we discussed in our last blog post, not all negligence is equal. Sometimes a medical provider's actions (or inactions) amount to gross negligence. Not only is this likely to result in serious consequences for Ann Arbor victims, but gross negligence may also change the way evidence is handled in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Take the example of a wrong-site surgery. In other words, you went into the hospital suffering from appendicitis, and the hospital removed your gall bladder, or maybe a kidney. Or perhaps they performed the correct procedure, but forgot to remove a surgical implement from your body afterwards. Maybe you underwent a major surgery with a lengthy recovery, incurring significant medical expenses, only to find that your condition had been misdiagnosed in the first place.

Understanding gross negligence in medical malpractice

Last week's post about the Michigan doctor who intentionally misdiagnosed cancer in his patients in order to bill them for expensive treatments (which in fact left many of them in a worsened medical condition) was different from the kind of stories we see on a day-to-day basis. This wasn't a case where a doctor tried to do his or her best to help the patient. This wasn't a case where a lack of training or unclear policies at a hospital lead to injury or illness. This was something much worse.

In fact, the law itself draws an important distinction in more extreme types of medical malpractice cases. Let's take a look at what is known as "gross negligence" within the context of medical malpractice. This is intended as general information only, not as specific legal advice for anyone who has suffered injury due to a provider's gross negligence.

Michigan doctor intentionally misdiagnosed patients with cancer

We've blogged in the past here on our Ann Arbor medical malpractice law blog about doctors who fail to provide an accurate diagnosis due to negligence. Some of their defenders will respond that they're only human and not immune to mistakes. Nevertheless, we need to recognize the rights of victims in these cases to seek compensation for their losses through a medical malpractice lawsuit.

We might also point out that because doctors are human, some may fall prey to vices like greed. They may abuse their power to the detriment of their patients. An extreme example from right here in Michigan recently made national headlines.

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