Kenneth J. Bush, P.A.
Medical Malpractice Lawyer
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Miami Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Hospital infection victims may claim medical malpractice

Doctors and medical staff undergo years of training before they start working, and ongoing training to stay up to par on medical techniques and safety protocols. Because of this, patients and their families put trust in the medical system, believing all necessary precautions are taken to ensure positive outcomes. Unfortunately, infections spreading to patients within hospitals are still a very real concern, not only in Florida but across the country. Victims of these infections, or the surviving family of fatal victims, may be entitled to file medical malpractice claims against those believed to be responsible for the infection.

In another jurisdiction, two families are questioning the actions of the hospital that they say is responsible for passing along an infection that ultimately claimed the lives of their loved ones. A 76-year-old male and a 59-year-old female underwent heart surgery at the hospital in question, and both ended up with bacterial infections in their chest. Both suffered severe side effects, including, but not limited to fever, chest pains and failure for surgical wounds to close. Each victim endured several rounds of different treatment options before it was discovered that the issue was related to an infection and at that point treatments failed. Sadly, both patients died, and their families are questioning the hospital's liability in the deaths.

Possible weekend effect could lead to medical malpractice claims

A recent study published by Johns Hopkins University has looked at the risks associated with surgeries and care received on the weekends as opposed to the same services offered on weekdays. The study simply questioned if services offered on weekends were up to par. Results of this 'weekend effect' study may give way to patients questioning care received, and could lead to medical malpractice cases against medical providers across the country, including some in Florida.

According to the study, surgeries performed on weekends, particularly those involving children, were more likely to result in injury or death to the patient. While deaths from relatively simple emergency procedures are considered a rare event, data shows a slight increase in complications or death from weekend surgeries. To many, this is certainly a cause for concern and something that requires more in-depth study.

Infections from medical care lead to medical malpractice claims

Even though medical facilities across the country, including those in Florida, are frequently updating policies to improve patient safety and treatment practices, infections related to healthcare received are still a problem. These infections may cause severe physical trauma or even death to those infected. In cases where infections result from care received in a medical facility, medical malpractice claims quite often follow.

According to the Center for Disease Control, approximately 20 people a day get infections from the medical care they receive. It is reported that about 100,000 people die each year from these infections, though the Journal of Patient Safety believes that number is much higher, closer to 400,000 people. These numbers are certainly cause for concern.

Hypertension and snoring raise risk for apnea in pregnant women

Sleep apnea affects a large part of the population, including residents in Florida; many of whom don't even know they have it. Pregnant women with certain factors, including a combination of hypertension and snoring, are considered to be at an increased risk for developing obstructive sleep apnea. In other words, they have a higher possibility of their airways closing off while sleeping, which can lower oxygen levels and disrupt sleep patterns.

While sleep medicine is still considered to be a relatively new science, there have been great strides taken in determining the effects of poor sleep and sleep apnea on pregnant women and their unborn children. Snoring, in itself, has been linked to higher rates of C-sections and low birth weight babies. According to recent data, women with hypertension are more likely to snore, and those with both factors double their chance of developing sleep apnea, compared to those who only snore.

Outpatient injuries could lead to medical malpractice claims

Many elderly patients, in Florida and across the nation, are allegedly victims of medical injuries occurring in an outpatient setting. While the severity of these injuries varies, they are believed to be caused by the care received, as opposed to complications from any underlying medical problems. If care given is indeed found to be the primary cause of these injuries, medical malpractice claims may be made against the provider believed to be responsible.

It has been reported that approximately one in five Medicare patients fall victim to medical injuries, and about two-thirds of those occurred in an outpatient setting. In a recent study, including data collected from over 12,000 Medicare patients between the years of 1998 and 2005, about 19 percent of those reported having experienced a medical injury. Risk of injury increased with age and disability status.

Caps on medical malpractice claims a punishment to victims

Patients who have been injured, or family members who have lost a loved one due to medical errors, retain the right to file claims against the facility or medical staff believed responsible for the error. These medical malpractice claims, if successfully litigated, can provide for an injured patient's future care or offer some compensation for the seemingly wrongful death of a loved one. Sadly, more states are trying to cap the amounts payable in non-economic damages to these victims. Florida was one of those states, but after review of a recent case, the Florida Supreme Court has ruled caps placed on these types of damages is unconstitutional.

Legislators first set the cap back in 2003, believing it would help keep medical-malpractice insurance rates lower and keep more doctors in the state. However, according to recent data collected, there seems to be no relationship between caps and malpractice insurance rates. In fact, companies that provide medical-malpractice insurance have shown an increase in profits and have failed to reduce insurance premiums.

Physician negligence in Florida and nationwide a growing issue

Prescription overdoses are a growing problem across the country. This problem doesn't come from the decisions of patients alone, but sometimes due to physicians who often over-prescribe medications or fail to adequately follow-up on a patient's progress. Florida patients or their families, who feel they have been victimized by physician negligence in regards to prescription issues, may be able to seek legal recourse for the lives lost and/or injuries suffered.

Patient trust that their doctors will keep their best interest in mind when it comes to formulating treatment plans. Sometimes, steps are missed and these mistakes can be deadly. In general, America has seen an increase in prescribed painkillers in recent years. These drugs are very strong and highly addictive. Overdosing on prescription painkillers can cause irreversible damages or even death.

Hospital admits mishandling outbreak communication

Florida residents might be interested in a case of possible hospital negligence that's been developing for more than five years. Five children died during an outbreak of a disease called mucormycosis at Children's Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana over a period of a little less than a year ending in July 2009. The hospital has reached out to the families of patients to give them information they were not previously given.

The families were not told that the patient deaths had been related to an outbreak of the disease. Children's Hospital has a policy that requires a specific response when a hospital-acquired infection causes death. Hospital staff are to treat the death as a sentinel event and perform a "root cause analysis," which is a study of why the deadly infection occurred. These steps were not performed in this case, according to the Children's Hospital medical director, because the infection was not the primary cause of death in any of the five cases. Rather, mucormycosis was a contributing cause of death in patients who were already ill and so the cases were not treated as sentinel events.

New study estimates 1 in 20 U.S. adults misdiagnosed

Miami residents may have heard about a new study published in BMJ Quality & Safety indicating that nearly 12 million people receive incorrect diagnoses from their doctors each year. Previous studies about doctors' failure to diagnose focused only on patients who were admitted to hospitals. The BMJ study analyzed medical records of patients of doctors' clinics and who were not hospitalized.

The researchers who conducted the study reviewed medical records from thousands of patients and found that nearly half of misdiagnosed cases may cause serious health issues for patients. Failure to diagnose correctly is especially serious when doctors neglect to follow up about symptoms that may indicate potentially fatal conditions, such as cancer. Researchers reviewed the records of people undergoing treatment for lung cancer and colon cancer. They found that doctors sometimes failed to diagnose people with these conditions, even in the face of abnormal chest X-rays or screening tests that were positive for colon cancer.

Surgeon pleads guilty to health care fraud

Health safety advocates in Florida may be closely watching the case of a New York doctor who had been charged with insurance fraud involving Medicare and had pleaded guilty in October 2013 to botching and faking thousands of surgical procedures. His victims and their family members attended the recent sentencing along with many supporters. The surgeon admitted that his actions were driven by greed and the desire to increase his income, resulting in falsified records leaded to unnecessary surgeries and millions of dollars paid to the provider. He also admitted to producing false claims almost every time he performed any type of surgery.

Many of his former patients have filed medical malpractice lawsuits against the surgeon. They feel that their ability to function on a daily basis has been taken away affecting their relationships with their loved ones and creating a hardship when looking for employment. Many of the surgeries he performed left the patients with severe physical disabilities.