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Regulators Fault United Medical Center for Leaving Patient on Floor Before Death

The Department of Health has faulted United Medical Center’s nursing home for not promptly assessing a patient who was left on the ground after falling out of his bed and later died.

About the Nursing Home Fall and Death

According to the Washington Post, Warren Webb, 47, died of a heart attack at the United Medical Center’s facility in August. Prior to his death, Webb had called for help, fell out of his bed, and was left on the floor for an extended period of time.

Audio recording of the incident and interviews with three eyewitnesses revealed that Webb had cried out for help at least 25 times and was left on the floor for roughly 20 minutes. Once finally lifted back into bed, nurses were unable to find a pulse.

He was rushed to the hospital’s 7th floor for emergency attention, but was pronounced dead shortly after.

Regulators Determine Incident Report Made False Claims and Omitted Key Facts

An investigation revealed that the hospital’s initial claim that it had acted promptly to assess and assist the Webb was not accurate.

In a report completed by the facility, the facility claimed Webb was told to “wait for staff before attempting to get out of bed by himself.” An employee told investigators that account was false, as were other key details in the incident report.

Regulators also noted that the nursing home did not have an instrument prepared to measure patients’ blood sugar in the case of an emergency.

Webb’s death came at a critical moment for UMC, as the hospital was under scrutiny for dangerous medical errors that led regulators to shut down its obstetrics ward in early August.

Contact an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you or a loved one have been injured due to a medical error, contact Thomas J. Henry. Our firm has a proven track record of winning large cases for severely injured clients for more than 25 years. Thomas J. Henry has the experienced medical malpractice lawyers and the legal and financial resources necessary to properly develop your case. Our dedication and determination is reflected in the record-breaking results we have helped our clients achieve.

Our firm has offices in Corpus ChristiSan Antonio, Austin, and Houston, serving clients across Texas and nationwide. Call us today for a free case review — attorneys are available 24/7, nights and weekends.

Vet Sues VA After Scalpel Left in Body

An Army veteran is suing a Veterans Affairs (VA) Hospital in Connecticut alleging a scalpel was left inside him after a surgery. The scalpel was discovered years later after the man suffered from long-term abdominal pain.

Details of the Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

According to CBS News, Bridgeport resident Glenford Turner, 61, underwent surgery at the West Haven-based VA hospital in 2013. Roughly four years later, Turner returned to the VA complaining of dizziness and severe abdominal pain.

An x-ray revealed there was a scalpel inside his body. Turner had to undergo surgery in April 2017 to have the instrument removed.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court last week.

Medical Malpractice Rates in the United Sates

According to the BMJ, medical errors result in 251,454 deaths every year, making it the third leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease and cancer. Even when not fatal, medical errors can result in a life-time of pain and disability.

It is important to note, not all medical errors will result in a medical malpractice claim. In fact, medical malpractice requires that plaintiffs prove:

  • A doctor-patient relationship existed
  • The doctor was negligent in their diagnosis or treatment
  • The doctor’s negligence was the cause of the injury claimed
  • The injury claimed led to specific damages

Common forms of medical malpractice include:

  • Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis
  • Childbirth injuries
  • Medication errors
  • Anesthesia errors
  • Surgery errors

 

 

12-Year-Old Dies After Infection Misdiagnosed as Flu

Family members of a deceased 12-year-old girl say her death was the result of doctors misdiagnosing her with the flu when she was actually suffering from an infection.

About the Misdiagnosis and Resulting Death

According to WCVB, Alyssa Alcaraz, 12, died on December 17; it was not until after her death that her family learned what was actually causing her to be sick.

Alcaraz’s family says her illness was initially marked by her throwing up and displaying symptoms similar to food poisoning. However, during a trip to the doctor, Alcaraz was diagnosed with the flu and sent home.

After a few days of missing school, Alcaraz’s condition did not improve and she was admitted to urgent care where doctors noted low oxygen levels. She was then rushed to Kaweah Delta Medical Center.

Within hours of arriving, Alcaraz’s organs began to shut down and she was pronounced dead soon after. Her death certificate noted that she went into cardiac arrest and septic shock from a strep blood infection.

Medical Malpractice and Misdiagnosis Statistics

According to the BMJ, medical errors result in 251,454 deaths every year, making it the third leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease and cancer. Even when not fatal, medical errors can result in a life-time of pain and disability.

It is important to note, not all medical errors will result in a medical malpractice claim. In fact, medical malpractice requires that plaintiffs prove:

  • A doctor-patient relationship existed
  • The doctor was negligent in their diagnosis or treatment
  • The doctor’s negligence was the cause of the injury claimed
  • The injury claimed led to specific damages

Common forms of medical malpractice include:

  • Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis
  • Childbirth injuries
  • Medication errors
  • Anesthesia errors
  • Surgery errors

Study: Electronic Health Record Use Increasingly Cited as Contributing Factor in Medical Malpractice Claims

Patients in hospital bed with vital sign monitor in foreground.

According to The Doctors Company, 80 percent of physician office practices and 90 percent of hospitals currently use electronic health records (EHRs). EHRs were adopted by healthcare facilities to provide easier access, facilitate collaboration, and improve efficiency for healthcare providers. Unfortunately, despite the positive impact on patient safety and health care, the use of EHRs has also presented new kinds of errors that can cause dramatic negative consequences on patient health outcomes.

A study conducted by The Doctors Company, a medical malpractice insurance provider, compared closed medical malpractice claims that the company received between 2007 and 2014 and between 2014 and 2016. The company found that the number of medical malpractice claims in which electronic health records were a contributing factor have continued to increase over the past decade.

EHR-related claims involved both system factors and human error factors.

System factors include:

  • EHR system design
  • Lack of access due to the system being offline or dysfunctional
  • Data not shared amongst relevant parties or departments
  • Insufficient area for documentation
  • Lack of system alerts and alarms
  • Lack of system security

Human error factors include:

  • Inconsistency between hard copy records and electronic records
  • Copy-and-paste and auto-populating fields
  • Data entry errors
  • Insufficient training on EHR use
  • Bypassing or ignoring alerts and alarms

Key Findings from the Electronic Health Record Study

Between 2007 and 2010, the company stated that there were only two claims involving electronic health records as a contributing factor. The recent study revealed that there were 66 cases between 2014 and 2016.

Here are some of the key findings from the study:

  • Between 2014 and 2016, 50 percent of EHR-related claims were due to system design errors and 58 percent were due to user errors. Some claims involved multiple factors, both system and user-related.
  • Most EHR-related claims events occur in hospital clinics and doctor’s offices.
  • Between 2014 and 2016, there was an increase of EHR-related claim events occurring in patient rooms.
  • The most common allegation in malpractice claims related to the use of EHR were diagnosis-related. The second most common allegation involved medication-related allegations, including improper medication management, wrong dosage, or wrong medication.
  • EHR-related claim events occurred most often in the obstetrics and gynecology specialty.

In the medical malpractice claims that The Doctors Company handled, typically EHR was cited as a contributing factor and not the primary cause. The company also noted that a study has not been conducted on written health record-related medical malpractice claims that they have seen, stating that the risk posed by this form of documentation “may well be higher” than that of electronic records.

Sources of EHR-related Problems

The authors of the study believe that many problems pertaining to the use of electronic health records could have been avoided in the first place. For one, the authors believe that the government could have done a better job in developing standards for EHR use and requirements to ensure usability and safety before ushering in widespread adoption in 2009. According to the study, healthcare workers played a small role in helping develop the EHR, and their concerns have not been properly addressed. Future optimizations of EHR technology, including workflow improvements, standardization of protocols, and use of artificial intelligence, could take years to implement.

Have You Been the Victim of Medical Malpractice?

If you believe that you or a loved one have suffered an injury or illness due to the negligent actions of a healthcare provider, call Thomas J. Henry. Our medical malpractice attorneys are experienced in handling many types of complex malpractice cases. Healthcare professionals have a duty to look after your health and well-being and adhere to the standards of their profession. Contact our attorneys for a free legal consultation — we are available 24/7, nights and weekends.

How do I Know if I have a Medical Malpractice Case?

Several surgeons operating on a patient in the operating room.

Following a medical procedure or treatment, patients usually expect their ailment, illness, or injury to improve or resolve. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. In some cases, a person is left worse off than before. How can you tell if the ineffectiveness or negative outcomes of a treatment or surgery are due to medical malpractice?

If a procedure or treatment does not have the intended result, it does not necessarily mean medical malpractice occurred. Simply being unsatisfied with the outcome of a medical treatment does not mean the treating healthcare provider will be on the hook for medical malpractice.

Patients bringing forth a medical malpractice claim in the United States generally have to prove four elements:

  1. A legal duty on the part of the healthcare provider to provide treatment or care (a doctor-patient relationship);
  2. A breach of the legal duty by the healthcare provider to adhere to the standards of the profession (medical negligence);
  3. Causality between the alleged breach of duty and injury sustained by the patient; and
  4. Damages stemming from the injury sustained by the patient caused by the healthcare provider’s breach of duty.

Oftentimes, patients have pre-existing injuries or conditions that could contribute to the undesired result from the treatment. In medical malpractice cases, medical experts from a wide range of specialties will likely be called upon to testify on your behalf that the results of the treatment were in fact caused by the negligence of the healthcare provider and not a prior injury.

In general, most injury claims require the presence of damages, which may include physical pain, permanent disfigurement or disability, emotional or mental anguish, lost future earnings, or additional medical costs. In a medical malpractice case, these damages must be a result of the injuries sustained by the patient due to the healthcare provider’s negligence.

What is a Breach of the Medical Standard of Care?

Although each of the four elements can be difficult to prove, proving that the healthcare provider breached the standard of care for the given procedure or treatment is perhaps the most contentious. Not only does the plaintiff’s legal team have to determine what exactly the standard of care is for the unique case but also show how the healthcare provider failed to meet the standard. Both of these tasks can be incredibly difficult and will require extensive testimony from one or more experts in the appropriate medical field.

It is possible that a doctor can adhere closely to the medical standard of care and still perform an error. If the given error is within the scope of the risks associated with the treatment or if the error did not causally contribute to the patient’s injury, the case for medical malpractice is weakened.

What are Common Types of Medical Malpractice?

When people think of medical malpractice, usually the first thing they envision is a form of error that occurred before, during, or after a medical procedure. However, there are several different situations that could lead to a valid medical malpractice claim:

  • Delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis
  • Prescription errors
  • Anesthesia complications
  • Injuries during childbirth (to the mother or child)
  • Surgical errors
  • Lack of informed consent

In each of these cases, the plaintiff must prove that the healthcare provider failed to adhere to the standard of care that any other reasonably careful healthcare provider in the same position would have.

In cases of a lack of informed consent, a doctor may perform a procedure skillfully but a complication associated with the procedure occurs. If the doctor failed to warn the patient about the potential for this complication to arise, the doctor failed to meet the standards of care of that any reasonably prudent doctor in the same situation would. A patient with proper warning of the complication may have chosen to forego the procedure.

Have you been the Victim of Medical Malpractice?

If you believe that you or a loved one have been the victim of medical malpractice, contact Thomas J. Henry immediately. Dealing with a significant injury or a loss of a loved one after a medical procedure can be difficult and emotionally draining. Our attorneys have experience handling a variety of complex malpractice cases and can help you determine if you have a legitimate claim to make against a healthcare provider or facility. Contact us today for a free legal consultation.

Hospital Cited as a Cause of Boy’s Death While Using a Heating Blanket 

A young boy died while he was in the hospital after being left under a heating blanket for a long period of time, causing his body temperature to soar to a deadly level.

Details on the Heating Blanket Death

The 6-year-old boy died at Penn State Hershey Medical Center after he was left under a heating blanket without having his temperature checked for 10 hours.

It was reported that the child had arrived at the hospital with a below normal temperature, so he was then given the heating blanket. The hospital records show that he didn’t have his temperature checked over the course of 10 hours. The hospital also said that the boy had “ongoing, complex and life-limiting health issues.”

Once he finally had his temperature checked, it had risen to 107 degrees Fahrenheit and his blood pressure dropped, so he was taken to the ICU where he later died.

While the protocol for officially reporting deaths is to notify the health department within 24 hours, the hospital waited 77 days to do so.

Because of this incident, the hospital has launched its own investigation for find out more information on what led to the boy’s death.

More Than 250,000 Die from Medical Errors Every Year

Research suggest that at least 250,000 people died due to preventable errors in hospitals in 2013  – far exceeding the number of deaths attributed to strokes and Alzheimer’s combined.  According to Discovery News, this new study supports a previous analysis which estimated that 250,000 to 440,000 preventable medical error deaths occur each year, making medical errors the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

Currently, the United States uses a system for collecting national health statistics which is recommended by the World Health Organization; however, this system does not keep track of medical errors. This means there is no way of knowing the exact number of deaths caused by botched surgeries, faulty prescriptions, or simple computer glitches.

Additionally, researchers reported that the death toll from medical errors would have been even higher had they chosen to include nursing homes and out-patient care in their analysis. The study’s authors hope their work will help shine light on what they claim is one of the most underreported endemics in global health.

Texas Dentist Facing Charges After 4-Year-Old Suffers Brain Damage

A Texas dentist was indicted Monday for a 2016 incident which left a 4-year-old girl with permanent brain damage.

Dentist Accused of Overdosing Child and Waiting to Notify Emergency Responders

According to FOX News, Dr. Bethanial Jefferson is accused of intentionally and knowing by omission causing serious bodily harm to a child by failing to seek and provide adequate medical attention.

Courissa Clark says she brought her daughter, Nevaeh Hill, to Jefferson’s office in Houston to have a tooth pulled. Upon receiving anesthesia, Nevaeh suffered a seizure and severe brain damage. Navaeh is now confined to a wheel chair and will be brain damaged for the rest of her life.

Court documents say that Jefferson administered too many sedatives in combination with other drugs, causing Nevaeh to fall into respiratory distress. The distress reduced oxygen levels to her brain, resulting in brain damage.

After the incident, Jefferson allegedly placed Nevaeh in a recovery room where she remained for several hours without adequate medical care before Jefferson finally contacted 911.

Dentist Facing Criminal and Civil Litigation

Jefferson has since been suspended from practice by the Texas Board of Dental Examiners, and Clark has filed a civil case against Jefferson on behalf of her daughter.

On Tuesday, a judge issued a warrant for Jefferson’s arrest. Jefferson turned herself in to Montgomery County Jail but has been released on $50,000 bond.

Wisconsin Court Rules Medical Malpractice Caps Unconstitutional

An appellate court has sided with a Milwaukee woman who lost all four limbs due to medical malpractice and ruled statutory caps on non-economic damages unconstitutional.

Woman to Collect $16.5 Million in Pain and Suffering

Ascaris Mayo, a 57-year-old mother of four, had all of her limbs amputated in after doctors failed to properly diagnose a Strep A infection which later led to septic shock, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

In July 2014, a jury determined that Mayo’s healthcare providers were negligent in their diagnosis and care of the infection and were responsible for the resulting amputations. Mayo was awarded $25.3 million.

However, restrictions to the amount Wisconsin victims can collect for non-economic medical malpractice meant that Mayo could only receive $750,000 of the $16.5 million awarded to her and her husband for pain and suffering.

The 1st District Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that this should not be the case. The court noted that the cap is unconstitutional on its face and places an illogical burden on catastrophically injured patients, denying them equal protection under the law.

The case is expected to be appealed at the Supreme Court.

The 1st District Court of Appeals’ decision comes just days after a bill that would create similar limits at a federal level passed the Republican-controlled House.

Current House Bill Would Impose Even Stricter Regulations

If passed, the Protecting Access to Primary Care Act (PAPCA) would cap non-economic malpractice damages to only $250,000.

Additionally, the House bill would:

  • Exempt clinicians who order a drug or medical device from class-action and product liability lawsuits.
  • Require damages exceeding $50,000 be paid in installments.
  • Reduce the statute of limitations for a malpractice suit to 3 years after the wrongful act or 1 year after the plaintiff discovers it (whichever comes first).

Supporters of the bill say PAPCA will reduce premiums and deter frivolous lawsuits; however, opponents view the bill as an infringement on injured plaintiffs’ rights and state prerogatives.

Medical Malpractice Rates in the United Sates

According to the BMJ, medical errors result in 251,454 deaths every year, making it the third leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease and cancer. Even when not fatal, medical errors can result in a life-time of pain and disability.

It is important to note, not all medical errors will result in a medical malpractice claim. In fact, medical malpractice requires that plaintiffs prove:

  • A doctor-patient relationship existed
  • The doctor was negligent in their diagnosis or treatment
  • The doctor’s negligence was the cause of the injury claimed
  • The injury claimed led to specific damages

Common forms of medical malpractice include:

  • Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis
  • Childbirth injuries
  • Medication errors
  • Anesthesia errors
  • Surgery errors

 

Bill Seeking to Cap Malpractice Damages Passes House

A bill seeking to cap noneconomic damages that could be collected in medical malpractice lawsuits passed the House of Representatives yesterday. Should the bill become law, injured plaintiffs would be allowed to collect no more than $250,000 in noneconomic damages for cases of medical malpractice.

Bill Introduces Multiple Tort Reforms That Would Dampen Litigation

According to Medscape, the Protecting Access to Primary Care Act (PAPCA) passed the Republican-controlled House with a mostly party-line vote of 218 to 210.

Supporters of the bill say PAPCA will reduce premiums and deter frivolous lawsuits; however, opponents view the bill as an infringement on injured plaintiffs’ rights and state prerogatives.

Currently 22 states have caps on noneconomic damages and five others limit total damages an injured malpractice plaintiff can collect. Most recently, legislators in Florida attempted to limit noneconomic damages to $500,000 in malpractice cases and $1 million in cases of catastrophic injury. The state’s high court struck down the law claiming the restrictions were arbitrary and unconstitutional.

In addition to capping noneconomic malpractice damages to $250,000, the House bill would:

  • Exempt clinicians who order a drug or medical device from class-action and product liability lawsuits.
  • Require damages exceeding $50,000 be paid in installments.
  • Reduce the statute of limitations for a malpractice suit to 3 years after the wrongful act or 1 year after the plaintiff discovers it (whichever comes first).

Medical Malpractice Rates in the United Sates

According to the BMJ, medical errors result in 251,454 deaths every year, making it the third leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease and cancer. Even when not fatal, medical errors can result in a life-time of pain and disability.

It is important to note, not all medical errors will result in a medical malpractice claim. In fact, medical malpractice requires that plaintiffs prove:

  • A doctor-patient relationship existed
  • The doctor was negligent in their diagnosis or treatment
  • The doctor’s negligence was the cause of the injury claimed
  • The injury claimed led to specific damages

Common forms of medical malpractice include:

  • Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis
  • Childbirth injuries
  • Medication errors
  • Anesthesia errors
  • Surgery errors

3 Women Blind After Receiving Eye Treatment at Florida Stem Cell Clinic

Three women have were left nearly blind or totally blind after receiving an unproven medical procedure at a for-profit stem cell clinic in Florida.

Treatment Method Has Yet to Be Tested for Safety in People

According to CBS News, the treatment method used on the women has not been proven effective and has not undergone testing to determine whether the treatment is safe for humans. The treatment involved injecting a cell preparation derived from each of the patient’s own fat tissue into both of the patient’s eyes.

Ophthalmologists who examined the women following their treatments said all the women had fairly functional vision before the procedure and that all the women were totally or legally blinded within a day of receiving the treatment.

Ophthalmologists determined that the women had all suffered detached retinas in both eyes and that the women’s vision is not expected to improve.

Clinic Was Listed on Federal Database

Reports state that the three women, all in their 70s and 80s, were seeking treatment for age-related macular degeneration – a leading causes of vision loss in individuals over the age of 50. The women were charged $5,000 for the unproven treatment.

Two of the women stated they had decided to go to the clinic because it listed a macular degeneration study on a federal data base overseen by the National Institutes of Health called ClinicalTrials.gov; however, the clinic removed the study before any patients were recruited to participate.

By the time the women had opted to undergo the treatment, consent forms listed the treatment as a medical procedure and not a clinical study.

One of the ophthalmologists who observed the women stated that many stem cell clinics allege that they are not subject to FDA regulations. As such, he urges patients to receive written documentation that a treatment has been registered with the FDA and that patients should always make sure they are being treated by a licensed physician.

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