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Ann Arbor Medical Malpractice Law Blog

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Medical error is not as uncommon as many people might think it is. Though studies vary regarding the rate of medical error in the United States, medical error is said to be among the leading causes of death. Not all medical errors are created equal, though. Some are more serious than others and have more of an impact on the patient than others.

When it comes to seeking compensation for medical error, therefore, it is important for patients to understand that not every medical error can become the basis for a viable medical malpractice claim. A medical malpractice claim must meet certain legal requirements, one of which is that the mistake must constitute a breach of an established standard of medical care. Establishing the relevant standard of care is not easy in every case, and sometimes involves battles between medical experts. 

To whom should I report elder abuse?

Elder abuse is a serious problem, and given the increasing population of elderly Americans, is likely to be a growing problem in years to come. The variety of actions which constitute elder abuse is wide, and includes harm or threats of physical or mental harm; neglect in the provision of medical care, food, shelter, clothing, and other necessities; and exploitation of an elderly person’s money or property.

Elder abuse is a serious issue that deserves a response at all levels at which it is possible to respond. With respect to harm done to the victim, civil litigation can allow victims and their families to obtain damages for any losses and injuries suffered. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the losses and damages could be financial, emotional, or medical. In some cases it could even mean loss of life, which could involve wrongful death litigation. 

Filing a complaint against a Michigan health care professional

When a patient is harmed by a medical professional, it isn’t always possible to pursue medical malpractice litigation. In some cases the issue may be that the case is unlikely to be successful and it is too risky to take it to trial. In other cases, the case may have strong merits but the payoff may not be promising. In such cases, is an injured patient unable to do anything? Not exactly.

One possible avenue for justice in such cases is to file a complaint against a health professional with the Health Professions Licensing Division of the Bureau of Health Care Services. This agency regulates and disciplines numerous health care professionals by working with specific regulatory boards, such as the Board of Nursing, Board of Osteopathy, Board of Psychology and the Board of Medicine. 

Noneconomic damages caps in medical malpractice cases

In medical malpractice cases, noneconomic damages are an important but controversial issue. Such damages encompass losses that cannot be directly monetized, such as loss of a limb, trauma, pain and suffering, and loss of companionship. In tort reform, noneconomic damages are often capped so that juries don’t give excessive awards. A recent medical malpractice case out of Wisconsin highlights how jury awards can exceed the cap.

The case involves a 53-year-old married wife and mother who had her limbs amputated after contracting a Strep A infection which went unnoticed and resulted in septic shock. In total, the woman and her husband were awarded a total of $25.3 million; $15 million of the award was for pain and suffering while $1.5 million was for the husband’s loss of companionship.

Failure to diagnose diabetes can lead to heart attack

As consumers of medical services, we expect that our doctors have the education, training and experience necessary to property diagnose, treat and monitor our illnesses, diseases and other conditions. When a doctor fails to catch a serious diagnosis, the consequences can be serious, doing significant harm to the patient.

One example is the failure to diagnose diabetes, which can lead to heart attack if left untreated. According to new research, 10 percent of those who suffer heart attacks have undiagnosed diabetes. That number was reached by examining health records at 24 hospitals nationwide.  

Hospitals try staffing pharmacists to prevent medication errors

Medication errors, like all medical errors, can occur in a variety of settings for a variety of reasons. One particular area of health care where they are likely to occur, though, is in the emergency room. Because of the fast pace of emergency room facilities, the chances of medication errors occurring is greater than in other medical settings. Doctors may not always put the time in to determine what drug interactions may occur, or may write down the incorrect prescription by mistake, among other things.

Because of this, some hospitals across the country are taking steps to reign in the problem. Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, for instance has hired a number of emergency pharmacists to be on call to review prescriptions prior to their being filled and administered. This review process is particularly important for the hospital, since medication errors are more likely to occur with children. 

Over one-third of Michigan hospitals given "A" safety rating

The Leapfrog Group, an organization dedicated to health care safety, recently released safety ratings for hospitals nationwide. The survey, which gives hospitals a rating from A to F, found that 35 percent of the hospitals in Michigan—28 out of a total of 80—were given A ratings, Nationwide, nearly one-third of hospitals showed an improvement of at least 10 percent in their performance since 2012.

Back to Michigan—no hospitals in the state received an F score, but experts point out that hospitals must always be on the lookout to improve their efforts with respect to medical errors. This is especially the case when one considers that over 400,000 patients die nationwide per year as a result of medical errors. 

Unnecessary C-sections carry extra risks

According to a recent report by Consumer Reports, cesarean section deliveries are too common in many hospitals across the country. This has caused concern among patient advocates, who say that doctors may be performing more C-sections not out of necessity, but because of other factors.

C-sections, of course, carry risks that normal, vaginal deliveries do not, including increased risk of infection, increased bleeding, blood clotting and unexpected anesthesia reactions. Birth injuries are another concern in surgical deliveries, with laceration and damage to organs sometimes occurring. Generally, these risks are worth taking when the risks of a normal delivery are high enough. When the mother is healthy and low risk, though, a C-section may not only be unnecessary, but more dangerous.

Nursing home neglect case a stark reminder of resident vulnerability

When many people think about living a nursing home as an elderly person, there is a fear associated with this possibility. In nursing home living, residents generally do not enjoy the autonomy and privacy they had as younger adults. In addition, there is a vulnerability to caregivers that can be concerning to some, particularly given the stories of nursing home abuse and neglect we hear about from time to time in the news.

One such story comes from out of state, in Buffalo, New York, where a total of 17 nurses and nursing assistants have recently been charged with felony and misdemeanor crimes connected to the neglect of a deceased nursing home resident. Though the resident’s death was not due to any neglect on the part of nursing home staff, but to a neurological disease, authorities there accuse hospital staff of regularly failing to carry out their duties with respect to the resident, despite the fact that staff documentation shows those duties were met.

Jury favors couple in malpractice suit against radiology clinic

A medical malpractice lawsuit filed by a Grand Rapids couple against Kent Radiology and one of its former radiologists has reportedly ended in a jury award of $1.25 million. The award is in compensation for the death of the couple’s baby girl back in 2009 when she was only three days old.

The cause of death was officially determined to be inconclusive, but the couple alleged that death was due to an improperly placed feeding tube which led to fluid buildup around the infant’s heart, and ultimately cardiac arrest. According to the couple’s complaint, the radiologist on staff at Kent failed to notice the improper catheter placement, which constituted negligence. 

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