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Pittsburgh Personal Injury Law Blog

Veterans hospitals under investigation

Medical malpractice can take many forms and occur in a myriad of situations for Pennsylvania residents. Pharmaceutical errors can involve pharmacy staff, physicians or even drug manufacturers. Surgical errors can happen in hospitals or in out-patient clinics. A failure to diagnose can leave a patient searching for far too long to the true reason for symptoms and sometimes result in a far more serious problem than was originally at hand.

Our nation’s military veterans commonly receive healthcare at veteran’s hospitals. Currently there are 26 such facilities that are under investigation for problems with scheduling patients that may have led to serious complications or other issues. Two personnel at a veteran’s hospital in Durham, NC have been placed on leave during the course of the investigation. It is not known if any other staff members have been temporarily removed from their job duties.

Guarding against missed or incorrect diagnoses

Problems with diagnoses are known to be among some of the most common in the realm of medical malpractice cases for Pennsylvania patients. Whether an incorrect diagnosis or a failure to diagnose a problem altogether, the risk of such medical errors can be great. Serious injury and even death can result from such actions, or lack thereof, leaving victims and family members grieving and searching for answers.

According to the British Journal of Medicine, there are an estimated 12 million problems associated with medical diagnoses every year. With this knowledge in hand, patients are urged to take greater action in their healthcare to prevent their own potential victimhood. Some of the ways that people can do this include making notes before a doctor’s visit. Writing down all symptoms and potentially related information along with a list of questions can ensure that no detail is forgotten while in the doctor’s office.

Doctor guilty in death of woman after plastic surgery

Medical malpractice can take on many forms. In some cases, an incorrect medication or dose of a medication can be dispensed. Other times, communication between healthcare workers can lead to a missed or incorrect diagnosis. Surgical errors are yet further types of situation that leads to a serious injury or even death. A piece of surgical equipment left inside a patient is one of the most common types of surgical errors in Pennsylvania or elsewhere.

A careless surgeon can also be identified by his or her actions before, during and after a surgery. A Brooklyn doctor that has recently pled guilty in the case of a death of one of his patients falls into this category. The plastic surgeon agreed to perform liposuction on a woman who had already had a heart transplant with no cardiologist consultation. Additionally, he is said to have falsified information listed in her medical records. The woman died after the liposuction procedure in 2012.

Speeding cost the county $269 billion in 2010

Though our blog tries to focus on the Pittsburgh area, sometimes covering individual motor vehicle accidents can downplay just how prevalent crashes are. If we look at the nation as a whole, it is readily apparent that there are large numbers of crashes and people injured in car accidents every year. In 2010, there were 3.9 million nonfatal injuries and 32,999 people who died from car accidents. Not only are car accidents horribly prevalent, but they are also horrificaly expensive.

Based on that same data from 2010, car crashes cost Americans $871 billion. This figure may seem high, but it includes more than just the economic losses, but also the societal harm that comes with a crash. Societal harm includes pain and suffering, decreased quality of life and the cost of wrongful death.

Six year old faces life-threatening series of misdiagnoses

Nationally as well as throughout Pennsylvania, more public attention has been given to medical errors lately. New studies have shown that the rate of deaths caused by such actions or situations is far greater than previously thought. The reasons for these deaths range from problems during or after surgeries, birth injuries, medication errors, misdiagnosis or a failure to diagnose a problem correctly and more. Time and time again, the negligent actions of healthcare professionals have led to the loss of human life.

A six-year old little girl is today happy and healthy but could all too easily have been a fatal victim of a gross failure to diagnose a condition. After a tonsillectomy, the child began experiencing health problems. The symptoms were severe enough to render her virtually lifeless. Her mother took her to multiple doctors, each of whom had his or her own opinion about the problem. Theories included migraines, gastritis, mumps, allergies, infections and a throat tumor.

Safety organization advises drivers to take care this weekend

Summer is almost upon us and Memorial Day is just around the corner. Many people in the Pittsburgh area will have Memorial Day off and will enjoy the long weekend with friends and family. Some will have get-togethers, others will barbecue. Overall, it should be a fun weekend.

At the same time, there will be approximately 400 fatal motor vehicle accidents across the country between Friday at 6 pm and Monday at 11:59 pm, according to the National Safety Council. Though the number of fatal accidents will be considerably smaller in Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas, the increase in the number of fatal accidents in general is a cause for concern. On top of that, the Council estimates that there will be 40,900 people injured in motor vehicle accidents that will require medical attention.

Patient advocacy urged to prevent medication errors

Pennsylvania area residents who need prescription medications either to address a short-term situation or for an ongoing condition deserve the right to trust that they will always receive the right medication and dosage. In most cases, this does happen but the rate of medication errors is something that cannot be overlooked. There are many points along the route from receiving a prescription and getting it filled that can lead to problems for unsuspecting patients.

Some of these problems can begin with the prescribing physician. He or she may inadvertently write the wrong drug name or instructions. The use of physical handwritten prescriptions can cause a failure to read doctor’s handwriting properly. When this happens, pharmacists may improperly fill the prescription. For electronic prescriptions, the fact that many medications have similar names can make it all too easy for pharmacy staff to select the wrong one from a menu on a computer screen. If in a hospital, problems often involve nurses or other staff administering an incorrect drug.

Tractor-trailer driver doesn't see slower traffic, killing 3

A horrific trucking crash on the opposite side of Pennsylvania may have some people talking after a trucker appears to have not been paying attention to traffic, slamming into the back of a vehicle and causing a seven-vehicle accident. Not only did the tractor-trailer driver cause a serious crash, but that crash also left three people dead. Sadly, the driver of the vehicle that was hit and the driver and passenger of the vehicle in front of him, were unable to escape their burning cars.

Tractor-trailers are not always dangerous. If they are driven by safety-conscious truckers who are alert and paying attention, they are just another kind of vehicle on the road. When the driver is distracted, tired or otherwise not devoting all of his or her attention to the road, a tractor-trailer is a heavy misslie just waiting to cause an accident.

Malpractice cost remains of high concern to hospitals

Pennsylvania residents, like their counterparts around the nation, can grapple with the concerns about medical malpractice every time they seek care or fill a prescription. With more and more awareness about the true numbers of deaths that occur from medical errors every year, such concern is warranted. Consequences of errors can be minor or serious and result in brain trauma, loss of limbs, permanent disability or even death.

While patients are focused on how to protect themselves from a physician error, hospitals and doctors are focused on how to reduce the cost of malpractice insurance or cases when filed. Every state in the country faces these concerns and the circumstances can be very different from state to state. In Connecticut, several factors appear to have worked together to lower the cost of medical malpractice insurance between 2009 and 2012. Over those few years, 29 hospitals throughout the state have seen their insurance costs reduce by about 16 percent.

Malpractice caps subject of requested constitutional amendment

From state to state, the laws governing medical malpractice can vary greatly. These same laws can seem to be under frequent review and subject to change at almost any time. Pennsylvania residents can learn much about the tides affecting their own medical malpractice laws by watching activities in other states. Malpractice can be claimed for many reasons including problems resulting from surgeries, medication errors, birth injuries and more. No matter the cause of a claim, the specifics about a state’s laws will matter greatly.

Even when laws may appear to be clear, they may not be. Such is the case in Florida now. A conflict regarding caps on non-economic damages for medical malpractice claims has led to a request for a constitutional amendment. The supporters of the amendment, which must be approved by voters, are pushing for it in order to remove any question as to the authority and legal viability of the state’s current $500,000 cap.

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