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Miami Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Safety risks of problematic childbirths

Expecting parents in Florida may be interested in information on how childbirths may be affected by the quality of the safety programs in place at local hospitals. Some reports contend that the fatalities and injuries associated with problematic childbirths is one of the most significant health care issues in the country. However, a recently report reviews some of the ways four institutions dramatically improved childbirth safety over the past 15 years.

Studies attribute poor communication to approximately 65 percent of the catastrophic outcomes that can occur from a problematic childbirth. Improving training in communication, emergency childbirth response, compliance during high-risk procedures and cesarean section assessment were the common focal points in the safety initiatives. One organization lowered the neonatal fatality rate at over 40 of its hospitals by almost 50 percent, despite it being 62 percent below the country's average at the onset of the campaign.

The occurrence and results of anesthesia mistakes

It is a complex task to calculate general anesthesia for a patient, which is why proper training is required to administer anesthetics. A mistake in the type of anesthetics or the dosage could have debilitating effects or even cause death. It is often used on patients who are undergoing some type of painful medical procedure, such as surgery. However, many Florida residents might not know that it is used in more places than an operating room.

Anesthesia could be used prior to operations and surgeries as well as during recovery, and mistakes could happen at either of those times. Many nurses also administer anesthetics during labor and delivery. This means that there is a chance that an error in the combination or dose causes injuries to the mother, baby or both during birth.

What Florida parents should know about neonatal bone injuries

Bone injuries are among the most common birth traumas sustained by newborn babies in Florida and nationwide. Certain risk factors such as birth weight, breech delivery, shoulder dystocia and use of forceps during delivery are all associated with the possibility of bone injury. The prognosis for these is generally good, if identified properly and treated correctly, but may lead to more severe problems if not dealt with adequately and quickly.

Clavicular fracture is a very common type of neonatal birth injury, resulting in a fracture of the collarbone. This type of bone fracture is often considered unavoidable, but it may be exacerbated by other risk factors as described above. Healing with this type of fracture usually takes seven to 10 days, if treated properly. Long bone fractures, those relating to the arms or legs, may result from mishandling during labor and birth. If the bone is not displaced, typically splinting and restriction of movement are adequate treatments. Complete recovery takes two to four weeks, with the splint generally able to be removed after eight to 10 days.

The causes of laryngeal nerve birth injuries

A laryngeal nerve injury involves damage that occurs to one or both of the nerves attached to the voice box. Since this type of injury could happen during the delivery of infants, Florida parents might want to familiarize themselves with how it happens and its symptoms and treatment.

The main cause of this birth injury is the lateral rotation and flexing of the newborn's head while it is in the uterus. Injury to the laryngeal nerve during birth causes about 10 percent of paralyzed vocal cord cases. Due to the injury, an infant may exhibit high-pitched breathing or have a hoarse cry, often resulting from unilateral nerve paralysis. The newborn might also have trouble swallowing if the superior branch of the voice box is damaged. Bilateral paralysis could occur if both nerves are damaged or if the infant suffers an injury to the central nervous system, such as a hemorrhage or hypoxia involving the stem of the brain. The symptoms are usually asphyxia or severe respiratory distress.

Prevention of surgical errors

Florida residents may have heard stories about surgical errors like sponges being left behind in people. Although incidents such as these are rare, they do happen sometimes. However, surgeons and hospitals have taken a number of steps to help prevent these types of mistakes. Some of those measures are simple ones. Surgical teams count sponges before and after surgery, use ink to mark surgical spots and employ checklists as well as enforcing time-outs during surgery to ensure that they have the right records, the right plans and the right patient.

Contrary to the perception that these types of errors are common to surgeons at the beginning or end of their career, most mistakes are made by mid-career surgeons. Such errors also seem to cluster around surgeons who have made mistakes in the past. Statistics show that two-thirds of surgeons who make a mistake have also been mentioned in multiple malpractice suits prior to the surgical error.

Thyroid disease can affect one's mental health

Seeking help from a Florida physician for mental health issues could result in a surprising diagnosis: thyroid disease. Untreated hyperthyroidism can lead to issues such as depression because of the depletion of certain hormones. Low thyroid function can lead to slower thinking and motor responses, also causing an affected individual to deal with fatigue and sleepiness. Mood changes can result from untreated thyroid disease as well, and individuals could deal with a higher risk of Alzheimer's disease.

In cases involving a physician's failure to diagnose thyroid disease, conditions can worsen over time. Additionally, a physician may attempt to treat the wrong disease or condition by not recognizing a thyroid problem. In addressing a patient's complaints, a physician could overlook thyroid disease because of the general nature of the symptoms, which can often be indicators for various other medical conditions.

Learning more about causes of birth injuries in Florida

During some deliveries, it may be necessary to use a vacuum to help the baby exit the birth canal. However, there may be some disadvantages to this. First, the baby's head may experience swelling at the presenting point. While the swelling is normal to some degree, it could make it harder to secure the vacuum on the baby's head without causing any further injury.

While rare, it is possible that a baby could suffer bleeding within the brain due to the use of a vacuum. Another disadvantage of using a vacuum during a delivery is that they should only be used on a full-term baby. Therefore, this may not be an option if the baby is being delivered prematurely or is underdeveloped in any way. Primarily, a doctor will only use the vacuum-assisted delivery approach on babies that are 34 weeks into their development or later.

Failure to diagnose may contribute to increasing measles cases

Florida parents may be concerned with increasing reports of measles in the United States. Although the disease was considered to have nearly disappeared after the vaccine was introduced, more than 60 cases were confirmed in January 2015. One of the most common factors believed to be contributing to this surge in cases is parental decisions not to vaccinate their children. However, physicians may also be culpable in the spread of this highly contagious disease.

A failure to diagnose measles may allow the disease to be spread unnecessarily. One of the reasons for a missed diagnosis is the age of some pediatricians. Because the disease has been under control for so long, many younger professionals have never actually seen or treated patients with measles. Additionally, the early symptoms of the disease typically aren't apparent at the outset. An individual may be contagious for several days prior to the appearance of such signs, and other diseases manifest similar symptoms, making it difficult to correctly diagnose cases.

Pregnancy risk factors that may lead to cesarean delivery

A cesarean birth is a surgery that requires the cutting open of a pregnant woman's abdomen and uterus in order to deliver a baby. Florida has an above average rate of cesarean births.

Data about cesarean births has been tracked across the United States. For 2012, Florida had a rate of 35.0 percent to 39.9 percent of births performed by cesarean surgery. Several health factors in either the woman or the fetus may contribute to the decision to perform a cesarean instead of allowing a vaginal birth to proceed.

Possible side effects after a transplant

After a transplant is complete, there are a variety of side effects that may show up some time in the future. These can be caused or made worse depending on the patient's age, overall condition and whether or not the immune system has been suppressed. Patients in Florida who have undergone chemotherapy or are on drugs designed to suppress the immune system may be most vulnerable to side effects after a transplant.

Common side effects include organ damage, relapse and hormone changes. Infertility and cataracts are also reported among patients after a transplant. Medication given to patients during the transplant process may cause damage to the liver, kidneys and heart. It is often a good idea to talk with the doctor about this possibility before doing a transplant as the doctor and patient can be more aggressive in spotting early signs of damage.