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Pittsburgh Personal Injury Law Blog

Doctor experience does not always prevent medical errors

A professor at the University of Pennsylvania has noted that experience in and of itself does mean the doctor is less prone to error. Doctors often rely on anecdotal evidence concerning what has worked in the past, but such physicians have not always kept up with what is current in the medical field.

For example, doctors will often prescribe antibiotics for a certain illness based on past experience where the patient has gotten better after taking the antibiotic. However, the patient's recovery may have little to nothing to do with the antibiotic - they may have already been getting better when the antibiotic was prescribed. Doctors nevertheless may prescribe such medications with little to go on than their own subjective "experience" - and thus be at risk for medication errors.

Failure to note allergy may have resulted in woman's death

Medical staff needs to be responsive to the individual needs of their patients. A failure to abide by protocol or review a patient's medical history can often lead to devastating results.

Though this did not occur in Pennsylvania, the death of a woman due to medical staff failing to account for particular allergies could easily have occurred anywhere. A nursing staff's failure to note a possible latex allergy on the assessment forms or place an allergy sticker on the patient's chart may have led a jury to conclude that medical malpractice existed. The failure to then notify the physician of the risk of allergic reaction may have exasperated the situation.

Should Pennsylvania residents avoid surgery in July?

Many Pennsylvania television viewers have come to know the interns of "Grey's Anatomy." Together, Meredith Grey, Izzie Stephens, Alex Karev and the entire group have experienced ups and downs and banded together over the mistakes that they made during their internships. Although their mistakes make for a dramatic storyline, they spell disaster and pain in real life.

Surgical interns in the real world are capable of making real surgical errors that could seriously impact you or a loved one's life. Guess what month the interns all start their careers? July. According to some studies conducted in the past few years, July is one of the most dangerous months to go in for surgery.

Prolonged labor leads to birth injuries and cerebral palsy

We've mentioned some multi-million dollar verdicts in Pennsylvania and other states concerning birth injuries suffered by children while the mother was in labor and under the care of hospital staff. In some circumstances, such lawsuits will be settled before ever going to trial.

Recently, a $3.75 million settlement was reached as a result of birth injuries ultimately resulting in brain damage for a child. An expectant mother was given a substance known as Pitocin that was designed to speed up the labor process. Instead, the woman went through 28 hours of labor before it was decided that the child needed to be delivered through a Cesarean Section.

Hernia surgery eventually results in a brain injury

A woman went into the hospital for hernia surgery, and she came out with a debilitating brain injury. The woman in question was a mother of four children.

The woman's physical condition deteriorated for approximately three weeks after the surgery took place, and eventually she reached the point where she could not eat or even hold her head up. The infection that she suffered from progressed to the point where internal bleeding resulted, and eventually she also suffered a significant brain injury due to both surgical errors and lack of follow-up care for the patient.

Failure to diagnose cancer results in $5 million verdict

We can likely expect similar awards in Pennsylvania to what was delivered by a jury in the District of Columbia. There, a jury awarded $5 million to the family of a man that died after a doctor failed to diagnose this individual's cancer.

The deceased man died this past December after having to endure four years of chemotherapy. However, it is claimed that such a cancer would have been detected at a much earlier stage if his treating doctor had followed the guidelines set down by various national health organizations.

Medication errors often due to improper warnings

Researchers are suggesting that changes be made to the manner in which warning labels are applied to prescription medications. It appears that current labeling practices may not result in catching the attention of the individual taking the medication, and this has resulted in a variety of medication errors.

This could prove problematic - especially for elderly patients across the Pittsburgh area. A study has suggested that only about half of elderly patients even read the warning labels that are affixed to the medication bottles. Only 54 percent of such elderly patients actually did look at the label with their eyes.

Pennsylvania child's brain injury possibly due to surgical error

A jury in Pennsylvania recently came back with a $1.1 million concerning a possible surgical error. It's been claimed that the child suffered a brain injury following a routine sleep apnea procedure. The boy, who was only 11-months old when the surgery took place, reportedly suffers from developmental delay that puts him well behind other children his same age.

The surgical error apparently occurred while a procedure was conducted to remove the boy's tonsils and adenoids while at the same time inserting ear tubes. The boy experienced breathing problems while still in the recovery room. Nevertheless, the boy was not closely monitored, and he was later found in his hospital bed unable to breath and with no pulse. Though the hospital staff was able to resuscitate the boy, the child unfortunately suffered brain damage.

Doctor suspended in one state continues practicing in others

A doctor that works for the veteran's administration and that has a license, among other states, in Pennsylvania, has a significant disciplinary history against him. And while his license was suspended in one state for purported medical malpractice, he was still allowed to continue practicing in another state.

Disciplinary records show that this doctor was recently suspended for operating on the wrong part of a patient's spine. Apparently, a number of years ago similar surgical errors occurred as he operated on the wrong side of two separate patients' spines.

Patients catching fire in hospital operating rooms

A Pennsylvania nurse anesthetist was found negligent after a patient suffered second-degree burns to the larynx, face and chest during surgery. The nurse administered additional oxygen without first informing the surgeon of what steps had been taken, and the surgeon then activated an electrical device that caused a fire.

Unfortunately, such surgical errors are more common than one might expect. Mistakes made by anesthesiologists while administering such oxygen has often led to severe burns or injuries for patients undergoing a surgical procedure. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have reported that as many as 550 to 650 surgical fires occur every year.

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