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Boston Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Man claims surgical error required a second appendectomy

Stories of surgical errors involving the removal of the wrong body part or tissue may seem hard to believe, especially when a respected surgeon is involved. Yet as today’s story reminds us, surgical errors can happen even when a patient is in otherwise capable hands.

According to the medical malpractice lawsuit that a 43-year-old man has filed against both the doctor and the hospital where he was treated, his appendectomy procedure failed to remove his appendix. Instead, a pathology report describes the tissue that was removed as a three-centimeter yellowish mass.

Newborn screening test could save lives

Although new mothers may justifiably breathe a sigh of relief after a complication-free delivery, a recent article reminds us that medical monitoring and preventive screening tests are recommended for newborns in the first few months.

Specifically, even newborns that appear healthy and happy could benefit from preventive testing. One mother learned this lesson the hard way when she discovered that her seven-week-old newborn had stopped breathing. Sadly, the newborn could not be saved. An autopsy revealed that the newborn had died from a critical congenital heart disease called total anomalous pulmonary venous connection.

Study finds disturbing increase in gestational diabetes rate

Diabetes may require health monitoring in any individual, but especially in the case of pregnant women.

Women with a preexisting diagnosis of diabetes may have twice the risk of giving birth to newborns with birth defects. Yet even women who develop diabetes during their pregnancy -- called gestational diabetes -- have an elevated risk of 26 percent. Some of the potential diabetes-related birth defects may include congenital anomalies, lung and heart problems, other deformities, and even perinatal death.

Aspirin may help protect against certain pregnancy complications

For those readers that regard aspirin as a miracle drug, today's story may provide one more example in support of their convictions.

According to a published draft recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, taking low-dose aspirin during pregnancy may reduce the chance of preeclampsia. Specifically, the panel found that a daily dosage might lower the risk of preeclampsia by 24 percent. Accordingly, they recommend doctors prescribe a daily aspirin dosage of 81 milligrams after 12 weeks of pregnancy. In addition, the daily aspirin regime might also lower the risk of pre-term birth by 14 percent, and help protect against intrauterine growth restriction.

Settlements and medical malpractice litigation strategy

When a medical malpractice lawsuit naming a medical practitioner as a defendant is resolved by a payout, the data is generally reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank. According to that data, about 96 percent of payouts in medical malpractice lawsuits in 2013 were made pursuant to settlement agreements.

Readers of this blog may have questions about whether any conclusions can be drawn from that statistic. As a preliminary matter, it should be noted that most lawsuits are resolved by settlement, rather than by a trial verdict. Yet a recent article provides additional insight.

Study suggests a link between hospital negligence and infections

A new survey of hospital infection rates is being touted as the first nationally representative count. Specifically, researchers surveyed over 10,000 patients, randomly selected from 183 hospitals. The report was produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The survey data is important because infections continue to affect the lives of many Americans. In 2011, about one in every 25 hospitalized patients developed an infection during their stay. In numbers, that translates into about 722,000 hospital infections. Unfortunately, not every patient is able to recover from an infection. Of those Americans with infections, about 75,000 succumbed to their condition in 2011, or one in every nine.

Studies examine the safety of an alternative birthing method

When a procedure goes wrong, getting a straight answer from a doctor or hospital can be difficult.

For example, many hospitals have their own counsel and carry liability insurance, as a precaution against medical malpractice lawsuits. To avoid admitting liability, a hospital may be uncooperative with a patient’s requests for information. Hospitals may also attempt to avoid a lawsuit offering a confidential settlement. An injured patient, unfamiliar with the court system, may be intimidated into accepting such an offer, even if it is not in his or her best interest.

Alex Rodriguez claims doctor error may have worsened his injury

As readers of this medical malpractice blog are aware, a faulty or misdiagnosis is a recipe for trouble. Existing injuries or conditions may go untreated. That, in turn, may require more extreme interventions when they are finally discovered. The recent medical malpractice lawsuit brought by New York Yankees player Alex Rodriguez provides context.

According to reports, Rodriguez is unhappy with the treatment he received after a 2012 hip injury. He claims that he based his decision to keep playing after a hip injury on an orthopedic surgeon's review of his October 2012 MRI. Specifically, Rodriguez claims that the surgeon failed to inform him of a left hip joint tear, which other doctors held to a professional standard of care would have spotted in the MRI. 

Hospital staff with drug addictions may endanger patients

Routine drug testing may be accepted practice in some industries, but a recent article questions why hospital staff members aren’t subject to the same procedures.

The article cites the recent incident of a medical technician who was addicted to the painkiller fentanyl. The technician stole this painkiller from patients awaiting procedures by injecting the prefilled syringe into his own arm, and then refilling the syringe with saline. Unfortunately, the technician also had hepatitis C, which he passed on to some of the victims who were administered the contaminated syringes. At last count, the injury toll was 45 cases. Hepatitis C is also potentially fatal, and two of the victims died after contracting the virus.

Survey compares surgical error rates at 199 hospitals

 In an age of informational transparency, it makes sense that health care consumers might want a ranking of surgical errors by hospital. That visibility could not only help prospective medical patients make informed choices, but perhaps decrease the rate of medical negligence among hospitals.

At least that may have been the hope of some researchers working on the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program. The NSQIP is essentially a registry that has been compiling complication and mortality data arising from six common surgical procedures at 199 hospitals. In 2009 alone, approximately 55,466 patients were tracked in the survey data. 

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