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Boston Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Moving forward after a surgical error

When patients in Massachusetts are told they need to have a surgical procedure done, they're placing their trust in the medical professionals who will oversee the procedure. Any kind of surgical procedure carries danger. A serious medical issue that can unfortunately sometimes arise is a surgeon mistake that can result in injury or even death.

Some mistakes that surgeons make in surgery have to do with an egregious error such as leaving surgical equipment left inside a patient. This can be very dangerous as a piece of equipment remaining in the body can cause pain, infection and make it necessary to have another procedure to remove it. Another mistake that can happen is if a doctor commits wrong-site surgery. While the medical records and surgical plan should make clear what body part is to be operated on, a doctor might not pay as strict attention as he or she should. It's possible that another medical professional failed to conduct the proper tests or give the surgeon the information necessary.

Survey shows serious injury for medical mistakes still a problem

A concern of some who are being treated by medical professionals in Massachusetts may be that a physician will make a mistake and cause serious injury or death. While the medical profession has been more cognizant of the problem and tried to take steps to reduce the number of mistakes, a survey indicates that a number of state residents have had this happen to them or to someone they were close to.

The poll, conducted by Harvard School of Public Health, showed that 25 percent of the people polled said they had had this problem or someone close to them did and half of those errors resulted in serious injury. The survey involved 1,224 people. In many cases, they didn't report the error because they either didn't know how to do it or because they didn't think it would help. The attempt to tamp down on the errors was spurred by the death of a 39-year-old woman who, in 1994, was the victim of prescription medication errors. The woman wasa health reporter at the Boston Globe. She was given four times the amount of an anti-cancer drug she was receiving during treatment of the disease. Her husband had protested that her symptoms concerned him, but the discovery of the mistake wasn't made until she had been dead for four months.

Careless surgeon removes wrong kidney from patient

In Massachusetts and across the United States, a common fear for people preparing to undergo surgery for any reason is that a careless surgeon will make a life-changing mistake. In some instances, these surgical errors cost the patient his or her life. While it's not an expected occurrence and happens relatively rarely, it does happen. Those who have been harmed by this type of mistake need to know what to do after it happens.

A federal prisoner who had a tumor in his kidney was operated on to remove the organ. However, the surgeon performing the surgery on the 59-year-old patient removed the wrong kidney. The surgeon had had his license to practice for more than four decades and relied on his memory to determine which kidney was supposed to be removed because he didn't have access to the man's medical records. In addition, the information the doctor did have also had the wrong information. A CT scan was in the doctor's office showing that it was the left kidney, but it was not brought to the doctor. The doctor who made the mistake was placed on probation for three years. The patient is at risk for problems with his renal function in the future and he had to have a second surgical procedure as a result of the careless surgeon.

Woman dies after hospital gives her the wrong drug

Patients in Boston and across the country must always be aware of the potential of being given the wrong drug when given a prescription or undergoing a medical procedure. While medical professionals are expected to take precautions that the right medications in accurate amounts will be given to the patients, there is always the potential of medication errors. There's an inherent trust that a patient gives to a doctor and medical staff. If there is an anesthesia error or administering an incorrect drug, it is a betrayal that can result in terrible consequences including a fatality.

A 65-year-old woman died after she was given the wrong medication while she was in the hospital. Instead of an anti-seizure medication, she was administered a paralyzing agent that is frequently used during surgery. Two days before she died, the woman had gone to the hospital emergency room with questions about her medication after having had brain surgery. While there, she was supposed to have been given the anti-seizure medication intravenously, but instead received the paralyzing agent. As a result of receiving the wrong drug, she went into cardiac arrest, her breathing stopped and she had brain damage. She was later removed from life support.

Comedian and actor struggles to recover from brain trauma

The words "traumatic brain injury" don't really hit home for people in Boston or throughout the nation until a loved one or a familiar face suffers one. Only then do the ramifications of how difficult it can be to recover from brain trauma become clear. An injury of this kind can have a major influence on a person's life and the life of his or her family. They might not be able to return to normal and could require intensive therapy to recover some level of functionality.

The actor and comedian Tracy Morgan is trying to return to normal after suffering serious injuries in a car crash. The accident occurred when a truck delivering goods for Walmart crashed into the back of the limousine in which Mr. Morgan was a passenger. According to his attorney, the brain trauma he suffered in the crash is still affecting him even as he tries to recover. Mr. Morgan was released from rehabilitation in July, but he's had to cancel comedy appearances and a planned television program.

Tactics to avoid surgical errors and what to do if they happen

When a surgical procedure is necessary, a common fear for people in Boston and throughout the nation is that there will be a mistake made. Surgical errors that can lead to serious injury and even death are too common. The statistics for the number of incidents in which there are surgical errors is disturbingly high. Nevertheless, there are steps that patients can take beforehand to try and ensure that their procedure will be as safe as possible.

Some strategies that patients can follow include requesting the consent form long before the surgery so the dangers of the procedure are known and questions can be asked and learning about the policy for visitors at the hospital; discussing the possibility of surgical errors. Also, if the procedure doesn't need to be completed immediately, it's acceptable to shop around for the doctor or hospital that has a good safety record. Learning about the doctor and staff who will be performing the surgery to try and staying clear of professionals with a track record for negligence is also a good idea.

What is Erb's palsy and how does it develop?

When people in Boston and throughout the nation are having a baby, it is one of the most exciting and joyous moments of their lives. Along with the enthusiasm, there is often a fear that something will go wrong with the delivery process to cause birth injuries. These injuries can sometimes lead to an issue known as Erb's palsy. This condition frequently results from brachial plexus injuries. If the cause of the brachial plexus injury is because of a mistake on the part of the doctor, it's important that the parents are aware of how and why it happened.

There are several kinds of brachial plexus injuries possible in a baby. For it to be considered Erb's palsy, there will be paralysis affecting the upper arm and lower arm. It can be caused by the head and neck of the infant pulling toward the side as its shoulders are passing through the mother's birth canal. If the medical professionals pull on the baby's shoulders when the delivery is head first or when there is pressure on the baby's raised arms during a feet first, or breech, delivery, it is possible that there will be a brachial plexus injury.

Causes, description, treatment and prognosis of coma

When a person in Boston suffers a traumatic brain injury, there are numerous problems that can arise. One in particular is that the injured person falls into a coma. The mere word "coma" can strike fear into family members because its connotation indicates the possibility of extended problems, long-term care and death sooner rather than later. Since coma often happens when a person has been the victim of a head injury, it's important to know details describing it, treating it and what the prognosis over the long and short term might be.

When a person is in a coma, he or she is unconscious, but it is in a deeper state than what it generally considered being unconscious. There could be many reasons for this, and one frequent cause is a head injury. The person may be able to breathe on his or her own, maintain circulation and have other functions remain intact. The eyes might open, and there might be response to certain external stimuli or even emotional reactions. There is no reaction to commands, nor is there speaking.

Anesthesia errors found in death of famed performer

Anesthesia errors can affect patients undergoing procedures in Boston as well as across the entire nation. These mistakes don't discriminate and can even happen to rich, prominent and famous people who are being treated for a variety of issues. When there is an anesthesia error, the aftereffects of the mistake can lead to long-term health issues and, in certain cases, fatalities. Those who have been affected or had a family member hurt or who died need to understand what they must do to have the case investigated and file for litigation.

The investigation into the death of comedian, actress and fashion businesswoman Joan Rivers is revealing shocking mistakes that were made when she had the medical procedure. These mistakes ultimately resulted in her unexpected death. The medical professionals on hand didn't intervene when her vital signs deteriorated. Unauthorized people were allowed in the operating theater while the procedure was being done. A gastroenterologist was supposed to handle the procedure, but an ear, nose and throat specialist was also present and took over. This doctor began performing procedures that had not been scheduled. In addition, the anesthesiologist was found to have made a dosage mistake with Ms. Rivers. The numerous mistakes are believed to have led to her cardiac arrest and eventual death.

Child suffers missed diagnosis of invasive tumor

Nothing is worse than a sick child. In Boston and throughout the country, a child's illness is only made worse when there is delayed treatment because of an incorrect diagnosis. When there is a missed diagnosis, whether it's of cancer or another medical issue, there are numerous problems that can arise and deprive the individual of being treated and possibly cured.

Recently, a young girl was suffering from the symptoms of a cold that continued to worsen. The child was taken to a pediatrician and a doctor specializing in allergies, but her illness continued. The 8-year-old's face looked odd to her parents and the doctor stated that one of her nostrils was blocked. Shortly thereafter, the child's teeth began to take a crooked appearance and she said she was in pain. She was misdiagnosed until her parents were told that she had a tumor. As she prepared for surgery and chemotherapy, her parents were fearful. The day she was supposed to have surgery, a doctor told her parents that a biopsy indicated that he didn't believe she had cancer. She no longer needed chemotherapy, but had surgery to remove the non-cancerous tumor. The child had surgery and is now back on the road to health.

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