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Pittsburgh Personal Injury Law Blog

Former Marine died due to missed diagnosis

News of medical errors can be all-too easy to find these days. In Pennsylvania and around the nation, more and more reports are published detailing injuries that resulted from medication errors, items left inside patients’ bodies after surgeries and more. Some situations involve a failure to diagnose problems accurately in time to properly address them. No matter the cause, the results can leave victims with serious injuries or even result in death.

A woman in Arizona is speaking out these days and asserts that her husband’s death at an area Veteran’s Affairs hospital should have been able to be prevented. The man was 91 years old at the time and had gangrene in his leg that developed after he fell in the hospital. Unfortunately, the gangrene was originally said to be only a bad bruise by medical staff. That misdiagnosis led to a worsened condition and delayed treatment that his wife says eventually caused his death.

PA fatigued drivers are a common cause of truck accidents

A recent blog post about the tragic accident involving actor Tracy Morgan focused on a common cause of fatal car accidents: fatigued drivers. In that accident, a Walmart truck driver rear-ended Morgan's limo bus, killing one man and severely injuring Morgan and others. The driver had reportedly been awake for over 24-hours at the time of the crash.

Earlier this month, a fatigued Pennsylvania UPS driver caused an accident leaving two people injured. The tractor-trailer driver has since been cited for inattentive driving.

Daughter receives largest malpractice award in state this year

With the recent publication of statistics indicating that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, concerns about becoming victims of malpractice are logical among Pennsylvania residents. Such errors can take many forms and involve medications, surgeries and more. The failure to diagnose cancer when evident in early stages is another all-too common cause of injury or death to patients.

The life of a Boston woman was cut short unnecessarily according to a Massachusetts jury who found a radiologist guilty in a recent medical malpractice lawsuit surrounding the woman’s August 2008 death from lung cancer and the related spread of disease that occurred due to the failure to diagnose it when care was initially sought. Reports indicate that the defense will pursue a new trial in the case.

Family files wrongful death suit after boating accident

A wrongful death suit was recently filed based on a 2012 boating accident that left one woman dead. The accident occurred when the boat driver launched the boat from the Harmony Station in Harmony Township, Pennsylvania and passed under the PPL railroad bridge, where he crashed into boulders in the river. The woman, along with the driver and another passenger, were thrown from the boat upon impact. The driver and other passenger made it to shore, but the woman was not as fortunate. Authorities found her body five days later and determined that she died from blunt force trauma.

Blood alcohol tests administered four hours after the accident show that the driver had a .09 BAC level. Experts believe that his BAC level was .15 at the time of the accident, which is well above the .08 legal limit.

The changing world of medical malpractice in Pennsylvania

Medical malpractice can come in many forms. Wrong or missed diagnoses, improper surgical procedures or medication errors are just some of the more common examples that cause serious injuries or even death to victims in Pennsylvania. Resulting complications can often be life-altering such as with a traumatic brain injury. People who have suffered such an injury may never be the same and the need for long-term care can become a new reality for families.

The ability to file claims and litigation is provided for by the law but can be complicated. The laws governing medical malpractice lawsuits have changed over the years and some of the changes may have contributed to a lowered number of malpractice cases in the state of Pennsylvania. In prior years, a case involving a negligent physician or other medical error could be filed in any county. Today, it must be filed in the county in which the injury took place.

Sponge left inside woman undetected for four years

Every day, many residents throughout Pennsylvania undergo surgical procedures for a variety of reasons. Every surgery, no matter how minor or severe, carries with it a certain level of risk. For too many patients, however, the risks involve preventable problems such as a surgeon mistake or actions of negligent operating room staff. Having a piece of surgical equipment left inside a patient is among the top forms of surgical errors that can cause serious injury to victims.

According to the Loyola University Heath System, as many as 1,500 items are left inside patients’ bodies every year. A California woman has recently initiated a lawsuit against a hospital in Simi Valley for problems that resulted from a sponge being left inside her abdominal cavity after a hysterectomy and bladder surgery in 2007. In her case, the sponge stayed in her body for four years and was only detected after another surgery in 2011 was conducted to remove her ovaries in response to otherwise unexplained bleeding.

Patients can help reduce medication errors

Medical malpractice can take many forms. A Pennsylvania patient may be subject to a complication during a birth, a surgical error a missed diagnoses or more. Medication errors are among the most common forms of malpractice cases. These errors can be introduced in the pharmacy, the hospital, the doctor’s office or even at the manufacturing plant. Because of the danger that prescription medication errors pose to patients, everyone is encouraged to strengthen his or her own involvement in the process.

A pharmacist at an emergency room offered some advice to patients on how to be more proactive in their healthcare when it comes to reducing the rate of serious injury due to drug mistakes. Patient education is one important element of this. Learning the different names of drugs and potential side effects is a start. Understanding how to store a drug and whether to take it with or without food for proper impact can also minimize negative results.

Medicare payments to be cut to hospitals with high infection rates

Residents in Pennsylvania know that they must be their own advocates for good healthcare in today’s world. Despite many respected, talented and honest medical professionals there are still a great many instances of medical malpractice. Some of these can be surgical errors and some can even be deliberate acts on the part of unethical professionals. All forms of medical errors together account for more deaths nationally than any cause other than cancer or heart disease.

Surgical errors take many forms and may include a piece of surgical equipment left inside a patient, a wrong-site surgery, the improper use of medical equipment or more. Many such acts can cause serious infections to develop in patients. Medicare payments to hospitals with high rates of infections or other avoidable patient injuries will be reduced starting this fall. This payment reduction is a move to crack down on these types of medical errors and improve patient safety.

Pennsylvania teen suffers head injury after accident

Pennsylvania vehicle accidents can have severe consequences, including life-changing injuries. A young teen is suffering from a head injury after a recent train accident in Phoenixville. The 14-year-old was found near railroad tracks after he was struck by part of a Norfolk Southern train. This is one of three train-pedestrian accidents that have occurred since May.

Authorities say that the boy was walking with friends when he was hit by a ladder that was attached to one of the train's boxcars. The boy was conscious at first, but he eventually lost consciousness. A nearby witness called 911 and the boy was then taken by helicopter to a nearby hospital.

The evolution of medical malpractice

As the world of medical insurance evolves, patients, healthcare workers and organizations in Pennsylvania and around the nation will be watching to see if changes will also be coming to the world of medical malpractice. Medical errors account for the third largest number of deaths in America according to recent statistics. From traumatic brain injury to medication errors and beyond, the range of injuries is great and the consequences can be severe.

In a recent presentation titled The Impact of the Affordable Care Act on Medical Professional Liability – an Update, some medical insurance professionals at the Casualty Actuarial Society’s Seminar in Reinsurance predicted some definite changes for malpractice cases. One of these changes they expect is a change in the actual malpractice policy coverage. Some coverage may be broadened to include areas not typically included in current policies.

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