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Boston Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Cognitive bias is referenced as a cause of fatal surgical error

For people in Boston who require a surgical procedure, there is an incalculable amount of trust placed in the surgical team and medical professionals in whose hands the patient's life will rest. For the most part, that trust is rewarded as doctors and hospital staff act professionally and complete the procedures without a hitch. However, there are instances in which mistakes are made. Some mistakes are of the egregious variety and end up causing long-term injury and even death.

One such incident sparked significant changes at Tufts Medical Center. After a 74-year-old woman had the wrong dye injected into her during a minor surgical procedure on her back. Sadly, this caused her to become ill and she died. The dye in particular specifically says that it is not to be used on the spine. Doctors admitted to the woman's sons that they had given her the incorrect dye in error. The issue is believed to have stemmed from the neurosurgeon not bothering to read the label because he anticipated what it would say and felt there wouldn't be an issue injecting the dye into the woman.

The importance of legal help after brain trauma

The brain is such a delicate part of the body that any head injury has the potential to cause long-term damage. People in Boston who are injured in any kind of accident need to understand that they need to be vigilant if they were hit on the head and suffered an injury. There is always the chance that there will be a traumatic brain injury and there could be long-term consequences because of it.

With brain trauma, the symptoms are frequently ignored until it's too late. A victim may fail to see the connection between the head injury and the nausea, dizziness, irritability, trouble sleeping, memory loss and many other symptoms that arise when suffering from a traumatic brain injury. If the person waits too long to seek medical treatment, the prognosis could be much worse than it would be if he or she went to a doctor immediately.

Actress and comedian dies from alleged surgeon mistake

When a person in Boston has a medical issue that requires surgery, they must consider many different things. With a problem serious enough that it requires surgery, there are numerous worries. Most people won't think about the possibility of a surgeon mistake that will kill or cause serious injury to them. However, surgeon malpractice does happen and people are hurt or suffer a fatality because of it. It's important to know how to move forward after a mistake like this occurs.

The actress and comedian, Joan Rivers, died recently after a routine surgery went wrong. According to the investigation, Rivers was scheduled to have an endoscopy when a doctor from outside the facility where the procedure was being performed requested permission to use their surgical instruments to conduct a biopsy on her vocal cords. The clinic reportedly only handles digestive problems. When the biopsy was done, Rivers' vocal cords are believed to have seized and she was unable to receive any air. She was rushed to the hospital, placed into a medically-induced coma and died less than a week later. The investigation is still ongoing.

How common is Massachusetts misdiagnosed cancer and why?

People in Boston who are having symptoms or just go to their doctor for a checkup are relieved when they are told it is nothing or at least nothing serious. The worst possible diagnosis is to be told one has a terminal or potentially fatal illness like cancer. However, when a person is told that they have nothing to worry about there are times when they do have something to worry about and they've been subjected to a failure to diagnose cancer or misdiagnosed cancer. The number of times this occurs is much more common than is believed.

Over 60 percent of doctors who were spoken to in a study regarding how often they believed that there was an incident of misdiagnosed cancer thought that the numbers were between zero and 10 percent. The BMJ Quality and Safety Journal put the numbers at 28 percent. Doctors have reasons they believe that there is a common incidence of misdiagnosis. Many, over 38 percent, think that an absence of comprehensive medical information regarding the patients is to blame. Twenty two percent blame inadequate resources for pathology. Slightly over 20 percent believe the absence of genetic information is to blame. While it may be small consolation to those who were victimized by a failure to diagnose cancer, it is not believed that apathy is a frequent cause of the mistakes.

Important facts about MA prescription medication errors

With the increased use of medications in Massachusetts to treat various illnesses and ailments, people in Boston need to be cognizant of the possibility that prescription medication errors might be made. While it might be due to a negligent pharmacist, an illegible handwriting on the part of the doctor or a simple and unintended mistake, that does not diminish the amount of damage that can be done when there is any kind of wrong drug administered or improper amount dispensed. Those who are concerned must keep certain factors in mind when being given any kind of medication.

While they are often not considered to be a major problem, medical mistakes are a top ten reason for people to die. In fact, the number of people who died because of this in recent years has been higher than those dying of breast cancer, car accidents and other issues or incidents. Mistakes made at the pharmacy are a significant reason for the fatalities. Sometimes, the right medication is given, but in the wrong dosage. Other times, the wrong medication is given entirely.

Surgical equipment left inside a patient a prevalent problem

When a surgery is necessary in Boston there's an inherent trust between doctor and patient. Part of that is believing that the doctor and medical staff will pay strict attention to what they're doing during the procedure and won't make egregious mistakes. Complications are, in certain instances, understandable. But if they happen because of a careless surgeon or negligent operating room staff, it's particularly disturbing. This happens all too frequently as a news report shows.

Since 2005, at least 800 people found themselves victimized by surgical equipment left inside a patient. The items have ranged from small to large sponges, needles and various instruments having been left behind. This can lead to health problems in the aftermath and even death. Sixteen people died in these incidents between 2005 and 2012. 95 percent of the people required longer hospital stays as a result of these mistakes. The mistakes were nine times more frequent when the surgical procedure was done in the event of an emergency.

Woman undergoes unnecessary surgery after misdiagnosed cancer

When a person in Boston is diagnosed with cancer, there are many issues going through their minds and fears they have to deal with. In some ways, receiving the diagnosis can be a positive as it will allow the patient to receive treatment and possibly beat the disease. There are times, however, when there is a cancer misdiagnosis or a failure to diagnose because of a negligent physician.

A 68-year-old woman has filed a lawsuit alleging that she was diagnosed with cancer and had half her rectum removed because doctors were looking at the test results of another patient. Doctors had told her she was suffering from cancer of the rectum and she was under the impression that she was dying. The results emanated from a colonoscopy of a man who was suffering from the disease. The woman had been in good health and was not taking any medicine prior to the diagnosis. The woman claims that she believed there to be a mistake and sought a second opinion. The biopsies came back negative, but doctors went through with the procedure anyway. A few months later, she was told that she had never had cancer to begin with.

What errors during delivery can lead to birth injuries?

For people in Boston, one of the most thrilling moments of their lives is to have a child. The excitement that accompanies a birth tends to shunt any trepidations off to the side whether it's concerns about what kind of parents they're going to be to possible mistakes that might be made during the delivery process. However, it is not an infrequent occurrence that neonatal birth injuries happen. Sometimes they're due to unavoidable circumstances. Other times, they happen because a doctor or medical professional made a mistake.

Errors that can happen to an infant during delivery can be lifelong problems. While an abnormally large child, an obese mother and abnormal fetal position at birth all can factor in, doctor's errors also lead to a wide range of maladies. If the doctor is forced to use an operative delivery, these could also lead to birth injuries.

Understanding causes and effects of traumatic brain injury

For people in Boston, being in an accident is a frightening thing. Injuries suffered in that accident only make things worse. When there is a head injury, an ongoing concern is how it will affect the brain. Having a handle on the facts and statistics regarding these injuries can help a person or family through the ordeal.

Traumatic brain injury contributes to approximately 30 percent of deaths due to injury in the United States. While these injuries don't always result in a fatality, they can have long-lasting effects on the life of the injured person and his or her family. Medical expenses to treat a person with a traumatic brain injury, rehabilitation and aftercare can be massive costs. Families might have to alter their entire lives to care for a person who has suffered this level of injury and is not able to fully recover from its aftereffects.

Understanding the cause and effect of medication errors

For a person in Boston who is given medication to treat an illness or ailment, the obvious intention is for their condition to improve or for them to completely recover. There is an inherent trust placed in a physician and a pharmacist that the proper medication in its correct dosage will be administered. However, there are times when medication errors are made. These errors can be due to giving the patient the wrong drug entirely or a mistake with the dosage. It cannot be denied that serious injury can result from mistakes in medication.

Mistakes with medication affect at least 1.5 million people each year. The costs associated with treatment after the fact is as much as $3.5 billion annually. That's not counting the people who lose time at work and must pay more for health care. Medication errors are considered preventable mistakes that can lead to a patient using the wrong medicine or the wrong amount of the medication - but what causes these errors?

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