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Miami Medical Malpractice Law Blog

How is Erb's palsy treated?

As symptoms of Erb's palsy are observed in a newborn baby, a parent may worry about the long-term implications for their child. It is helpful for Florida parents to understand that most newborns diagnosed with this condition recover without much special treatment. Frequent examination by a doctor is important to evaluate recovery of the nerves. This process can be slow due to the rate at which nerves typically grow.

The most common treatment used for Erb's palsy patients is daily physical therapy. An affected arm may be difficult for a baby to move, making it important for parents to help in keeping muscles and joints functioning and fit. Instruction in proper exercises is provided so that a parent can continue to work with their child multiple times per day to maintain the range of motion in the affected limb.

Cancer diagnosis and concerns

A Florida resident dealing with a belated diagnosis of cancer may wonder why such an issue might be missed in early stages. An understanding of cancer diagnostics may be helpful. Expert insight is typically needed as cell samples or tissues are examined for clues. Microscopic examination is common, but lab tests may also be helpful in identifying cancer.

DNA and RNA provide clues to health care providers as they evaluate whether cancer is an issue. In addition to identifying the presence of cancer, these cell proteins can help in determining appropriate options for treating a patient's cancer. Cell testing may also identify additional diseases in patients. The detection of a lump alone does not mean that an individual has cancer. It is through these lab tests and microscopic studies that cancer is typically confirmed. It is also through such tests that cancer may be eliminated as a consideration due to discovery of an infection or issue that might cause a cancer-like growth.

The parties who can be held liable for birth injuries

When parents consider filing medical malpractice claims for a birth injury suffered by their child, they might not realize that doctors are not the only ones who could be held responsible. In Florida, the anesthesiologists, nurses, medical facilities and pharmaceutical firms may also be held liable. When they are named as defendants in a medical malpractice lawsuit, they could be held liable for the negligent actions that caused those birth injuries.

However, the medical facilities in which the health care professionals practice could be held vicariously liable for the employees' negligent actions. Under the respondeat superior legal doctrine, employers might be held accountable for workers' negligent actions if the workers were performing within the bounds of their employment at the time of the incidents. This doctrine does not apply, however, when the medical professionals are regard as independent contractors instead of employees.

What is Erb's palsy?

Erb's palsy is a type of brachial plexus palsy most frequently caused by a baby's neck being strained too far in one direction during birth. The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves located at the base of a child's skull near the neck. Children in Florida who suffer from Erb's palsy will have chronic weakness in their arm, hand and shoulder and may suffer loss of movement, as the brachial plexus controls nerves going to the upper limbs.

Erb's palsy occurs in one or two of every 1,000 births on average. The condition can range from more mild forms from which the child is likely to recover through physical therapy to severe forms which occur when the nerve is torn from the spine. In especially severe cases, partial or total paralysis of the affected arm may result.

Types of surgical errors and rate of occurrence

Some of the scariest types of medical errors occur during surgery for Florida patients. These are wrong-procedure, wrong-site and wrong-patient errors. These occurrences, while rare, are an indication of serious safety issues in a medical facility and are often referred to as "never" events because the errors should never happen.

A wrong-procedure error occurs when a patient goes in for surgery but the procedure that the surgeon completes is not the one that is planned. With a wrong-site error, a surgeon operates on the wrong area of a patient;, with a surgeon operating on the wrong part of the spine being one example. A wrong-patient error happens when a surgeon completes a procedure on a patient for whom the procedure was not intended, possibly because the patients have similar names.

Health care facility liability in Florida

Florida residents may benefit from understanding more about the provisions concerning the liability of health care facilities, as described by the state's 2014 statutes. Florida law states that all of these facilities, including ambulatory surgical centers and hospitals, are liable for failing to exercise due care in fulfilling their duty to maintain a competent medical staff and ensure comprehensive risk management. The process for hiring medical personnel is to consist of a judicious selection after conducting a thorough review.

Some of the duties health care facilities are responsible for upholding include implementing a protocol in writing that governs the process for selecting new medical personnel. These facilities are also required to conduct periodic reviews of the treatment and medical care that each staff member provided to their patients. In addition, facilities are required to have a comprehensive risk management program in place that complies with the appropriate requirements corresponding with its scope of services, location, architecture, size and other relevant characteristics.

Cerebral palsy in infants

Florida parents who are expecting a child should be aware that their child can be at risk for cerebral palsy. This condition is caused by a brain injury and affects a child's motor skills, balance and ability to communicate, among other things.

There are two types of cerebral palsy: congenital and acquired. Congenital cerebral palsy is brain damage that is suffered by an unborn child and is most common. In some cases, children are at risk for congenital cerebral palsy if they are premature or if something occurs during pregnancy that results in a disruption of oxygen to the brain. Acquired cerebral palsy is brain damage that occurs more than 28 days after the baby has been born. This can be caused by a brain injury suffered by the infant, such as in a car accident, or if the infant suffered a cerebrovascular incident.

Neurologically related birth injuries in Florida

Some residents in Florida may benefit in learning more about the state's remedies for birth injuries that are neurologically related. The state implemented the Florida Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation plan to provide restitution for relevant birth injuries regardless of fault. The plan covers birth injuries dating back to Jan. 1, 1989.

The statute describes birth-related neurological injury as an injury to the spinal cord or brain of a live infant of at least 2,500 grams in weight at birth. The trauma is caused by a mechanical injury inflicted during the labor, delivery or resuscitation in the post-delivery period immediately thereafter. The birth injuries may also be caused by oxygen deprivation. These are the only injuries covered under the no-fault compensation plan due to the rehabilitation custodial care costs that are often remarkably high.

How frequently do doctors fail to diagnose health conditions?

The failure of doctors to diagnose the ailments of Florida patients often contributes to conditions worsening, irreparable harm and even death. Missing a diagnosis completely or a delay in diagnosis are common among instances of misdiagnosis. Malpractice lawsuits could result from these incidents of a failure to diagnose, sometimes due to conditions like hypertension that are frequently missed and at other times due to potentially devastating health issues like lung cancer.

Heart attacks and appendicitis are among the most damaging conditions to be missed, along with cancer of the breast, lung and colon. However, medical professionals do not often fail to diagnose those conditions as often as a toxoplasmosis infection. An estimated one of four people with the condition have not been diagnosed, and most people with this condition do not show symptoms. One in six people with sleep disorders have not been diagnosed either. As many as one in 10 people with otosclerosis do not know it. One in 15 people with osteoporosis are undiagnosed and as many as one in 18 with hypertension, chronic lower respiratory diseases and COPD have also not received diagnoses.

Surgical mistakes under-reported

Florida residents may be interested in a report that discusses surgical errors and their possible causes. Reporting of wrong-site surgeries continues to increase, but experts feel that incidents will continue to be under-reported due to liability issues and other factors. The reporting of wrong-site surgeries went from 15 in 1998 to 592 in 2007, but it is believed that even more cases occur annually. A report suggests that only 10 percent of incorrect surgeries are reported.

A surgical error most often occurs due to communication failures among operating room personnel. In 70 percent of wrong-site surgeries, some form of communication breakdown occurred, according to the Joint Commission. Not following proper procedures is also a factor in wrong-site surgeries, with some citing of procedural non-compliance in 64 percent of cases.