Kenneth J. Bush, P.A.
Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Phone: 305-443-3795
Toll free: 800-595-9091

Miami Medical Malpractice Law Blog

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.

Medical error results in unnecessary treatment

A laboratory mistake at a Florida hospital resulted in unnecessary surgery for an elderly woman. The incident began when the 68-year-old Winter Park patient underwent a routine colonoscopy at the Orlando medical facility. When the tissue samples from the screening were evaluated, the results showed that she had developed cancer. However, pre-operative biopsy results that were administered later continued coming back negative as physicians attempted to determine the exact location of the cancer.

Though hesitant, the woman agreed to undergo a surgical treatment. Months after the surgery, the doctor called her with news that an examination of the tissues that the surgeon removed showed no evidence of cancer. Further DNA tests indicated that the initial diagnosis was incorrect, and reports say that that the woman's laboratory results were mixed up with those of a different patient. Sources say that the hospital did not provide a detailed account of records, documentation of the error or the steps employees performed to determine the outcome, and a lawsuit is now pending against the hospital for the violation of various state and federal laws.

What is medical malpractice?

Two words heard on the news in relative frequency are medical malpractice. What really constitutes medical malpractice, and what can patients and their families do if they think they have fallen victim to it? These are a few important questions that numerous Florida residents face.

How is medical malpractice defined?. Medical malpractice is, in short, negligence by a medical professional that causes injury to or the death of a patient. This negligence generally results in making mistakes that are, in most cases, highly preventable.

Pregnancy complications, a sad reality for some Florida mothers

Most women don't want to think about everything that could go wrong during a pregnancy. Instead, they choose to focus on the exciting changes that accompany bringing a baby into the world. While many woman in Florida make it through their pregnancy and the delivery of their child with few or no issues, others may experience pregnancy complications that could cause serious injuries to both themselves and their baby.

Several complications can present themselves during pregnancy. Some of the most common include the development of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and hypertension. Receiving a proper diagnosis is vital to the health and safety of both mother and child in these situations. Other pregnancy complications that are prevalent can be viewed on our Pregnancy Complications page.

Malpractice claim: Failure to diagnose led to unnecessary surgery

Patients depend on an accurate diagnosis before proceeding with medical treatment options. If there is a failure to diagnose, whether in terms of accuracy or timeliness, this can lead to a delay in necessary treatment or even the use of treatments that weren't really required. Unfortunately, many patients in Florida and elsewhere have been negatively affected due to diagnosing errors.

In another state, a woman filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against her grandmother's physician, claiming a failure to accurately diagnose terminal cancer led to an unnecessary surgery. The 31-year-old woman underwent surgery as an organ donor for her grandmother, who was told she needed a kidney transplant. According to the complaint, approximately one month before surgery, abnormalities were seen on a CAT scan that may have been consistent with a type a cancer. Despite this finding, the transplant surgery was performed as scheduled. Less than one year later, the grandmother passed away from a terminal form of cancer.