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Ann Arbor Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Recent tragedy highlights Michigan's noneconomic damages cap

Can you put a dollar value on pain and suffering? Michigan law does.

As we've discussed before, Michigan law places a cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases. The law defines "noneconomic damages" to include, among other things, pain, suffering, physical impairment and loss of society and companionship. About half of the states have similar caps, a common component of tort reform.

Nursing home abuse: More than physical

While your elderly loved one may not show physical signs of abuse, there is a more sinister type of abuse happening in care facilities and nursing homes: emotional abuse. It is perhaps the most common type of abuse that happens to the elderly.

The problem is that because it leaves no visual mark it can be difficult to identify. But knowing what emotional abuse entails and the signs of this abuse are the first steps in putting a stop to it.

Who can you sue for medical malpractice?

A medical malpractice claim is not necessarily against your doctor or only against the doctor. A nurse can commit malpractice. The hospital itself or manufacturers of medical products could be liable. Or all of the above. It's not about a scattergun approach. It's about identifying the medical professionals or entities who contributed to your family's tragedy and holding them accountable.

According to a recent survey of doctors by Medscape, it's rare (just 12 percent of the time) that the treating physician or surgeon is the only party named in a lawsuit. More often, there are multiple parties involved, each with their own roles (and defenses). Who else might you end up suing for malpractice, besides the primary care doctor or specialist?

Medical malpractice suit in botched foot implant surgery

Degenerative diseases can leave Ann Arbor patients with significant, life-altering health issues. When the bones and joints are affected, mobility can be severely limited and pain may be constant.

This was the case with a patient in a nearby Midwestern state who sought treatment for pain associated with flat feet in 2007. He sought treatment from a local podiatrist and eventually underwent surgery for his condition. The surgeon implanted replacement joints in each of the patient's feet.

What is failure to diagnose and how are victims protected?

Failure to diagnose is serious for any victim of medical malpractice. A medical mistake such as a failure to diagnose can result in the wrong treatment, failed treatment or delayed treatment which can lead to a worsened medical condition or even death in some circumstances. Because of the serious harm that can be caused by a failure to diagnose, medical malpractice claim options may be available in a number of circumstances.

Victims of medical malpractice may suffer a variety of damages as a result of a medical mistake such as a failure to diagnose. Both incorrect treatment and delayed treatment may cause harm to the victim of medical malpractice. Erroneous treatment may lead to harm the victim did not previously suffer from and delayed treatment may lead to a worsened condition. The condition that is actually present may worsen when allowed to continue untreated. Erroneous treatment usually results from misdiagnosis, however, a medical condition can also be correctly diagnosed but not properly treated leading to harm to the victim.

Federal agency statistics on nursing home neglect

Ann Arbor residents have likely heard any number of the many stories that regularly circulate in the media about the effects of the aging Boomer Generation. The impact on Social Security as more age out of the work force, for example; the effect on health care costs as Boomers live longer and require more intensive care.

There is also another, much more disturbing phenomenon which we can expect to hear about as more and more elders move into nursing homes and assisted living facilities. That is nursing home neglect and abuse. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' website provides some statistics which can help our Ann Arbor readers form a clearer picture of the problem.

Should you be concerned about the risk of anesthesia error?

We often write here on our blog about things that can go wrong due to a provider's negligence during a surgical procedure. However, there's another risk factor during any surgery, major or minor, that doesn't depend on the surgeon at all.

We're talking about anesthesia error. The professional anesthetist who is in charge of putting you, as a patient to sleep; keeping you unconscious but stable throughout the procedure; and waking you back up safely afterwards manages a complex set of variables. As Ann Arbor patients prepare to undergo surgery, whether major or minor, many will wonder: is anesthesia error something to worry about?

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.

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Goethel Engelhardt, PLLC
3049 Miller Road
Ann Arbor, MI 48103

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