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Ann Arbor Medical Malpractice Law Blog

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.

Doctor shortage could lead to medical malpractice

Michiganders who go to the doctor expect prompt and attentive care that will uncover any medical conditions that require further attention, and rightly so. After all, doctors go through years of intense education and training before they are allowed to practice. On an everyday basis, these men and women hold the lives of others in their hands.

Unfortunately, far too many doctors are overworked and fatigued. Recent reports have indicated that this problem might only get worse, as Michigan is expected to see a doctor shortage in the coming years. In fact, recent estimates suggest that the state will need 12 percent more doctors in the next 15 years. Others claim that there are enough doctors now, but say that they are clustered in urban areas, leaving rural individuals without adequate care.

Why is failure to prevent bedsores a problem in nursing homes?

Ann Arbor residents have likely heard the term "bedsores" before, especially if they have elder relatives in assisted living facilities. It may sound relatively minor compared to many of the shocking, headline-grabbing stories we hear all too often of nursing home neglect and abuse.

The truth is that bedsores, or pressure ulcers, are not only a serious condition, but they may also be a warning sign that neglect in a relative's care is more widespread than is otherwise apparent. So it's worth asking, to be clear, just what causes bedsores? How does one prevent them, and what should be done if you notice a failure to prevent bedsores with one of your elder relatives?

Understanding the root of many birth injuries: Hypoxia

Cerebral palsy, as we've been discussing in recent weeks, is a condition that can result from a doctor's negligence during delivery. However, cerebral palsy is just one of a number of birth injuries that can develop from the same root cause. Let's take a closer look at that cause this week.

When a baby doesn't receive adequate oxygen flow to the brain -- whether due to a complication before delivery, during it or even afterwards -- the medical term for this is hypoxia. Hypoxia in many cases can be mild, something from which a baby can fully recover. In recent years, medical science has progressed rapidly in identifying and treating hypoxia. If a doctor recognizes what is happening quickly and responds appropriately, stabilizing the flow of oxygen, the baby may not necessarily suffer serious injury.

Supporting parents in cerebral palsy-related lawsuits

Last week on our Ann Arbor medical malpractice law blog, we discussed the topic of cerebral palsy. This week, let's look a little more closely at the diagnosis itself. Because the condition may or may not be a result of birth injuries, it's important that parents have professional guidance during this stage.

Cerebral palsy, in some situations, is a result of a negligent doctor's actions (or inaction) during delivery. Perhaps the delivery room doctor failed to make sure that the newborn was receiving adequate oxygen to the brain. Or he or she may have made mistakes during the delivery process that lead to this condition. Either way, the brain injury is a source of serious symptoms.

What is cerebral palsy?

Families that are expecting a child are often excited to welcome the newborn into their family. Lots of preparations occur prior to birth, including readying the house and receiving prenatal medical care. Yet, even with all of this preparation, the ultimate outcome of the birth is still dependent upon what happens in the delivery room. A medical professional's seemingly minor mistake can cause significant harm to the newborn and/or the mother.

One of the more devastating injuries is cerebral palsy. This medical condition results when a child's brain is injured, resulting in disturbances to movement and muscle tone. Though there are a variety of ways this disorder can develop, one way is when a child is deprived of oxygen during birth. This can occur when a doctor delays or makes another unnecessary mistake.

Helping victims harmed by a failure to diagnose their condition

As we noted last week here on our Ann Arbor medical malpractice blog, it's possible for a misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose to arise in any number of situations. Sometimes, a provider may proceed with a diagnosis in spite of difficulty understanding a patient's native language; a hospital may fail to provide trained, professional interpreters who can facilitate the kind of detailed, accurate communication necessary for a diagnosis.

The point is that a failure to diagnose isn't necessarily just a matter of misreading a test result or looking at the wrong patient's chart. There are a number of factors which a negligent physician may overlook or simply ignore that can lead to a misdiagnosis and worsened condition on the part of the patient. Patients and their families will naturally be wrought with questions when this occurs, so let's take a look at a few common ones.

Language barriers increase risk of failure to diagnose

Ann Arbor residents today are a more diverse population than perhaps any other point in our history. We may hear any number of languages besides English spoken on the streets, in shopping malls and schools, in restaurants and on public transportation. Unfortunately, one place where languages other than English are not spoken nearly enough -- or nearly well enough -- is our hospitals and clinics.

The problem exists all over the United States. In one case, a Spanish-speaking teen was feeling nauseous. His relatives tried to tell health care workers this, but were misunderstood due to a language barrier. Thinking they meant he was intoxicated, providers proceeded to diagnose and treat the patient for a drug overdose, when in fact he was suffering a brain aneurysm.

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