Medical Malpractice

birth injuries

Why Do Most Birth Injuries Occur?

Birth injuries are a devastating outcome for parents who have to deal with tragedy and uncertainty when they should be experiencing the joy of new parenthood. Furthermore, seeking justice when a medical professional has erred is extraordinarily difficult. However, if you or your child suffered injuries due to birth, you may be able to seek compensation from the parties liable for your loss. Learn more about why birth injuries occur, and when you’re ready to discuss your case, call Burns, Cunningham & Mackey at 251-260-3815 to explore your legal options.

Improper Monitoring or Testing

Both during pregnancy and throughout labor, proper monitoring and testing is an essential part of securing a positive outcome. During pregnancy, there are many ways that improper monitoring can lead to negative outcomes. An expectant mother who gains a higher-than-average amount of weight during pregnancy could be suffering from gestational diabetes, a condition that often leads to a very large baby who cannot be born vaginally. Without screening for gestational diabetes, a care provider may miss this diagnosis and put the baby through substantial stress during labor.

Similarly, ignoring symptoms or waving them off as the concerns of a paranoid mother-to-be could lead to disaster. Consider a mother telling her OB/GYN about intense itching and nausea late in pregnancy. The doctor assumes that it is caused by late summer temperatures and tells her to just rest more. The woman actually suffers from cholestasis and subsequently suffers a stillbirth.

Care providers should be erring on the side of caution and testing whenever symptoms indicate a need to do so, rather than assuming that everything is fine.

Waiting Too Long to Act

Indecision can be fatal during labor and delivery. While labor goes smoothly the vast majority of the time, when it goes sideways, every second counts. An inexperienced care practitioner or one who is not up-to-date on evidence-based medicine may stall in these moments or refuse to make a decision until a more experienced practitioner is available to give advice. If a baby is in distress, they are losing oxygen. Every second that the caretaker in charge fails to act, the baby’s oxygen deprivation worsens. This can lead to lifelong disabilities and delays. A doctor who intervenes too late could be liable for birth injuries.

Avoiding Intervention

This is similar to waiting too long to act, and in fact, these issues often go hand-in-hand. Some healthcare practitioners prefer to allow labor and delivery proceed naturally for as long as possible, waiting to intervene until it is clear that it is 100% necessary. This may work in most cases, since birth often goes smoothly, but it can lead to disastrous outcomes for those who need intervention. A doctor who prides themselves on their low C-section rate may fail to offer a C-section to a mother in distress, leading to a child who passes away or suffers severe disabilities. A doctor may fail to intervene for several reasons, including an inability to assess risk to the mother and child, a desire to keep intervention rates low, or fear of carrying out the intervention properly.

Get Help with Your Birth Injury Case Now

Birth injuries can be extremely costly. In many cases, a child who suffers a birth injury needs lifelong care. They may need a wheelchair, expensive therapies, personalized assistance at school, and long-term nursing care once they reach adulthood. This can add up to millions of dollars, and there’s no way to know how much Medicare will cover. If your or your child’s injuries are due to a medical provider’s malpractice, you shouldn’t shoulder this financial burden alone. A medical malpractice case can help you recover compensation and get the assistance you need with your or your child’s care needs.

However, medical malpractice cases can be difficult to prove. Because of this, it’s important to choose an attorney with substantial experience in medical malpractice. Our team is here to help. We believe that medical care providers must be held to a high standard and that victims deserve justice when those standards are met. To talk about your birth injury case with one of our attorneys, reach out to Burns, Cunningham & Mackey online or call us at 251-260-3815.

The Most Common Types of Medical Malpractice

The Most Common Types of Medical Malpractice

FAST FACTS

  • Out of 4,000 physicians surveyed, 48% said they had been named in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
  • Surgeons and Ob/Gyns were the most named professionals in medical malpractice lawsuits.
  • 49% of these physicians have been named in a medical malpractice lawsuit between two and five times.

When you make an appointment with a doctor, you assume that you will be diagnosed and treated appropriately. When your physician tells you that you need surgery, you expect to be put under, have a procedure, and wake up with the issue solved, if not at least improved. Unfortunately, people don’t always have a positive experience with medical professionals.

A medical malpractice case arises when a patient is not provided with the currently accepted standard of care by a doctor, nurse or another medical professional. Mistakes are made in only a small number of cases which is good news unless it happens to you.

It would be fair to think that once a mistake is made, it wouldn’t be made again. It’s not necessarily the case. It seems that the same medical mistakes are made repeatedly, causing patients to seek remedy in a court of law. Let’s take a closer look at medical malpractice.

Elements Necessary for Medical Malpractice

It’s important to note before we talk about any mistakes that certain elements must be present for your Mobile medical malpractice attorney to move forward with a case. A mistake doesn’t always constitute malpractice.

The elements are:

  • There must have been a relationship established between the medical provider and patient.
  • The medical provider had a duty of care and failed to perform in accordance with that duty.
  • The patient was injured or harmed and sustained damages.
  • The injury was a direct result of the medical provider’s negligence or error.

The Most Common Types of Medical Malpractice

The Most Common Types of Medical Malpractice infographic

View/Download PDF

The most common types of medical malpractice are misdiagnosis, childbirth injuries, medication errors, anesthesia errors and surgical errors. It’s not to say that errors or negligence aren’t present in other situations, but the majority of medical malpractice cases center around one of these reasons.

1. Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis

You visit a doctor because you don’t feel well. You sit with the doctor, discuss your medical history and your current symptoms. The doctor hands you a diagnosis and a prescription. The troubles begin when your symptoms don’t get better and, in some cases, get worse. You may have been misdiagnosed.

Misdiagnosis is one of the most common types of medical malpractice. If you have ever searched online for what disease or condition has a headache, for example, as a symptom, you’ll have dozens of results on your hands. There are several conditions that have common symptoms and it’s not always apparent which condition you have. This is why it is so easy to receive a diagnosis that isn’t correct.

Another issue is delayed diagnosis. When you aren’t diagnosed with anything at all immediately but later diagnosed with something that should have been treated as soon as symptoms appeared, you could suffer serious harm. Remember that it is always your right to get a second opinion, even if you don’t believe you have a condition that would be considered life-threatening.

2. Childbirth Injuries

There are a number of injuries that can be caused to both mother and child when birth injuries occur. An error or negligence on the part of a medical professional may occur at any time during the birthing process or, in other cases, during the prenatal care of the mother.

A medical professional may fail to identify birth defects or misdiagnose a condition in the mother prior to the birth of the infant. There may be an error made during the birthing process itself. It doesn’t matter when the negligence occurred. If a child or mother is injured during pregnancy or labor and delivery, a medical malpractice case may arise.

3. Medication Errors

According to a decades-old study, medication errors affect about 1.5 million people every year. The prescription given may be incorrect, the medication could be inappropriate for the condition, or a drug may be given to the wrong patient.

A medication error, however, most often occurs when a patient gets too little or too much of a drug. The doctor may write the wrong dose on the prescription, a nurse may give the wrong amount or a machine like an IV pump may malfunction.

4. Anesthesia Errors

Anesthesia mistakes can be very dangerous. The slightest error by an anesthesiologist can have devastating effects on a patient. An error can occur when a patient’s full medical history is not taken, when preoperative instructions aren’t given or when too much or too little anesthesia is administered during a procedure.

5. Surgical Mistakes

Surgical mistakes are perhaps the most frightening for patients. When you are put under anesthesia for a procedure, you have no control over the situation. This can cause a great deal of anxiety and, thankfully, most people wake up and things are just fine.

In other cases, the wrong surgery is performed, nerves are severed, medical instruments are left behind and more. Surgical mistakes have the potential to be incredibly serious and sometimes fatal.

Again, it is important to remember that not every mistake made by a medical professional will lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit. When an error is remedied before it causes harm, it is rare that a medical malpractice case will be initiated. When a patient sustains harm at the hands of a medical professional, they have every right to seek a remedy for the damages they incur.

Lori Carver Speaks Out For The First Time Regarding The Pill Mill Case

Recently Lawrence Specker of al.com wrote an article about Lori Carver and her part in taking down two Physicians’ Pain Specialists of Alabama (PPSA) clinics. Drs. Xiulu Ruan and John Patrick Couch were found guilty of running a pill mill out of the PPSA clinics, for this reason, the clinics were shut down by the federal government in May of 2015. On Thursday, May 25, 2017, Dr. Couch was sentenced to 20 years in prison and ordered to pay $15 million in restitution, consequently. Dr. Ruan’s sentencing will take place on Friday, May 26.

Lori is represented by Peter Mackey of Burns, Cunningham and Mackey, and Gregory Vaughan of Holston Vaughan.

Mobile Bar Association President Pete Mackey

Peter Mackey- Partner of Burns, Cunningham & Mackey

Will the Medical/Hospital Community Address the 250,000 Deaths by Medical Errors?

I am certain others have written about the report from Johns Hopkins that medical errors cause more than 250,000 deaths every year in the United States, enough to make them the nation’s third-leading cause of death. http://www.futurity.org/medical-errors-deaths-1157152/ But why are they the third leading cause of death? Why do medical mistakes come in third in causing deaths in the US – after heart disease and cancer?

The report is disconcerting because it appears that hospitals do not actually record deaths using the term “medical error.” Is that for the obvious reason that they do not want to admit medical error on a death certificate or any other kind of report? Or is it because using the present system of codes for generating bills and collecting insurance premiums and billing is more important? That is where the results of the Johns Hopkins study were gleaned from — a reporting system used to generate bills and collect insurance premiums.

In another article, it is reported from a study by the US Department of Health and Human Services’ National Practitioner Data Bank, which covers all 50 states and the District of Columbia, that states have different and often widely varied disciplinary actions against doctors. http://www.futurity.org/doctors-discipline-1126012/ . That article references that patients assume oversight of doctors is well-regulated in all states, that all doctors are held to the same ethical standards and disciplined appropriately when needed. But that is not the case.

While the study about hospital errors does not blame bad doctors, are both issues related? There seems to be more interest by consumer groups to have these issues looked into.

Martin Makary, professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine suggests in the article that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should adopt updated criteria for classifying deaths on death certificates. He is quoted in the article as saying “Incidence rates for deaths directly attributable to medical care gone awry haven’t been recognized in any standardized method for collecting national statistics,”

The researchers performed their calculations based on eight years of US medical death rate data. This study was published in the journal BMJ, http://www.bmj.com/content/353/bmj.i2139 on May 3, 2016. In it researchers examined four separate studies that analyzed medical death rate data from 2000 to 2008, including one by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. They extrapolated that based on a total of 35,416,020 hospitalizations, 251,454 deaths stemmed from a medical error, which the researchers say now translates to 9.5 percent of all deaths each year in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control, http://www.cdc.gov/ in 2013, 611,105 people died of heart disease, 584,881 died of cancer and 149,205 died of chronic respiratory disease—the top three causes of death in the United States. This study puts medical errors behind cancer but ahead of respiratory disease. The article says non-medical causes of death like accidents are not numerous enough to crack the top three. That means you are more likely to die due to a hospital error than in a car wreck. You are more likely to die while being treated by trained medical personnel at a hospital than by texting drivers! WOW!

The researchers believe that most errors represent systemic problems, including poorly coordinated care, fragmented insurance networks, the absence or underuse of safety nets, and other protocols, in addition to unwarranted variation in physician practice patterns that lack accountability. That is so even though we have all sorts of rules and regulations designed to make your hospital stay safer. The Joint Commission(JCAHO) Standards and the National Patient Safety Goals (NPSG) as well numerous state rules and regulations are there for the medical profession to follow and to protect you. I hate to imagine where we would be without them.

Dr, Makary in the article summarizes by telling us that unwarranted variation is endemic in health care. He admonishes that there is a need to develop consensus protocols that streamline the delivery of medicine and reduce variability which can improve quality and lower costs in health care. He also advocates more research on preventing medical errors from occurring is needed to address the problem.

Does the medical profession and hospitals agree with Dr. Makary’s conclusion? I hope so. As a trial attorney who regularly reviews medical records and who tries medical cases, I see the sad results of medical errors. No one wants to be a statistic in future research. No one wants to believe it can happen to them. Someone needs to do the research and get proposals that will lessen the likelihood of these errors. Hopefully, the Johns Hopkins study will be the impetus for further research and action.