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Pittsburgh Personal Injury Law Blog

Medical malpractice damage caps remain controversial

People in Pennsylvania and around the United States seek medical care every day. The rising concern about instances of medical malpractice can leave patients wondering who they can trust when. Some medical errors may be clearly identified at the time they occur while others may not be noticeable for some time. The failure to diagnose cancer properly, for example, is something that may not be immediately detectable.

When people do become victims of medical negligence, the law allows for them to seek compensation. While in Pennsylvania, there are no limits on the amount that can be awarded to victims for damages, other states do impose such limits. The discussion about whether or not caps should be in place seems to be ever present, regardless of current state laws. In Missouri, the battle over this issue is once again heating up.

Study: exposure to drunk driving increases risk of DWI in teens

A recent study published by the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development has found that when teenagers ride in vehicles driven by impaired drivers, they are more likely to drive while drunk or high on drugs themselves. Although this is certainly an important statistic and one that certainly should be explored more in-depth, reports on the study fail to focus on the more immediate dangers -- teenagers riding with impaired drivers.

Many of us in Pittsburgh think of drunk drivers causing severe or fatal accidents in which another driver or someone in a different car suffers serious injuries, but it is just as possible for a passenger within the drunk driver's vehicle to be injured in the crash. Whether the passenger is intoxicated him- or herself is not important; passengers should not be hurt by their drivers.

Anesthesiologist ordered to pay $1 million for surgical error

When trust in medical providers turns out to be unearned and a medical error is discovered, Pennsylvania patients have reason to be concerned and upset. These cases can involve many different problems including the wrong medication being prescribed, a missed diagnosis, surgical errors and more. Depending upon the situation, an individual healthcare professional can be held responsible and other times the potential responsibility is sharable between many parties.

One medical malpractice lawsuit that was recently settled by a jury decision in Wisconsin was levied against three parties—St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, St. Clair Anesthesia and the individual anesthesiologist. According to a news report detailing the case, the hospital settled its case directly with the plaintiff just before a trial was to begin in February of this year. The amount of the settlement has not been disclosed.

Small trucking companies holding out on important safety tool

Trucking is an extremely important part of our economy and there are a number of trucking companies in Pittsburgh. Without trucking, many of us may not be able to get the products we use in our daily life. At the same time, the trucking industry can be extremely dangerous and could put many people on the road at risk. The amount of danger a fully loaded semitrailer truck can cause against a car is enough to justify serious federal regulations.

One of the more recent proposed regulations that the federal government has issued is to include devices that would record how long a vehicle has been in use. The idea is that with a device that will provide clear and hopefully untampered evidence of how long a truck has been in use will help to cut down on dangerous trucker fatigue.

Six-year old boy dies after misdiagnosis

Throughout Pennsylvania and the United States, patients everywhere put their trust in medical professionals every day. When errors occur, the results can be devastating for individuals and family members. This can be especially so when the error involves a child. An incorrect medication dosage, an instrument left inside a body after surgery, a doctor’s failure to diagnose a condition and more are all-too common examples of medical errors.

One Houston family must endure the pain and loss of their child due to an alleged misdiagnosis after a trauma accident. The little boy, who was six years old at the time, reportedly hit a pole on an elementary school playground and was taken to a nearby emergency room. While at the hospital, the boy underwent a kidney, ureter and bladder X-ray. The physician on duty told the parents he was constipated and should be taken home.

Nation’s Medicare patients at risk for medication errors

Our nation’s aging population has fueled a dramatic rise in the number of people living in care facilities. One specific type of these homes is referred to as a skilled nursing facility which is reserved for people needing a higher level of care than others. Many Pennsylvania families have had to make the decision to move their loved ones into such centers in order to provide the proper level of treatment and assistance. Sadly, these homes are the sites of many reported medication errors, neglect or other problems.

An article in the media recently reported on a concerning level of serious errors found to involve Medicare patients living in skilled nursing facilities around the country. An investigation conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services noted that as many as one-third of all residents are the victims of either medication errors, infections or other medical mistakes.

The future of bicycle safety could protect against brain injuries

It should be no surprise to the people of Pittsburgh that bicycle accidents can lead to brain injuries. Certainly, if a cyclist isn't wearing a helmet it can increase the risk of traumatic injuries, but bikers' brains may be at risk even with a helmet on. The fact of the matter is, if a car hits a bicyclist, the injuries are going to be severe, even if the cyclist is otherwise careful. A negligent driver can easily cause brain injuries in even the safest of bikers.

So, the goal, then, should be to prevent car-bicycle accidents in the first place. While many cities have started creating green bike lanes and otherwise encourage biking, if cyclists don't feel safe riding in urban areas, they won't.

Proposed ballot measure urges medical malpractice reform

Across the nation, the variation with which medical malpractice claims are handled is great. Some states impose limits on the amount of money that victims or their family members can receive from these claims while others, like Pennsylvania, have no limits whatsoever. Concerns among patient advocates about how to best protect patients against errors such as a failure to diagnose cancer or delayed treatment is great.

Efforts are underway in many states to change the laws that govern punitive malpractice awards. In California, such a change may end up being put in the hands of voters on this coming November’s ballot. If passed, it would be the first such action since the California Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act of 1975. A group is currently collecting signatures in support of the change and must submit enough signed petitions by March 24 in order to qualify as a fall ballot measure.

Broken ankle leads to award of more than $9 million

In Pennsylvania and around the country, people seek medical treatment when injured every day. Some injuries may be treated easily while others can be more involved. When surgical errors occur, however, the increased complexity of such situations is tremendous. A single surgical error can lead to a worsened condition as well as out-of-pocket losses for the patient, highlighting the need for compensation for a victim.

A man who previously worked as a public safety dispatcher for the City of Towanda understands this all too well. Due to a fall on some steps in 2004, he broke his ankle. After some initial treatment, he experienced problems with his pinky toe and sought further help. The toe was removed but an ensuing infection led to the amputation of the neighboring fourth toe as well. Continued problems led to the amputation of his entire lower leg, from the knee down, in July of 2009.

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