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

Miami Medical Malpractice Law Blog

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.

The use of forceps during childbirth

An expectant mother in Florida may be nervous about the possibility of forceps being needed during the childbirth process. In most cases, forceps are not needed during a vaginal delivery. However, there may be cases in which this assistance is required. Forceps offer one option for guiding a baby's head through the birth canal although vacuum-assisted delivery might also be considered.

Factors considered by a physician in deciding to use forceps may include the length of time a mother has been pushing, the waning strength of a mother who can no longer push, fetal stress that may necessitate a prompt delivery or a medical issue that makes pushing a risk. Forceps cannot be used unless the baby has progressed far enough down the birth canal, and positioning is also a critical concern. If the baby is not properly positioned, it is not safe to use forceps.

Understanding the risks of hypertension during pregnancy

Florida residents may be unaware about the revised report provided by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada that discusses hypertension. According to the organization, this common medical dilemma affects 2 to 3 percent of pregnancies and can be classified as preexisting or gestational. If additional pregnancy-related symptoms supported by test results exist, the classification can include the additional preeclampsia category.

Chronic hypertension occurs whenever the pregnant woman's blood pressure is over 140/90 mmHg either before becoming pregnant or before a 20-week gestation period. If hypertension is discovered during a less-than-20-week gestation period, elevations in blood pressure typically indicate that chronic hypertension is present. The opposite is true if elevated blood pressure is discovered after a 20-week gestation period. This typically indicates that preeclampsia is not a factor in the pregnancy. Up to 5 percent of all pregnancies are affected by preeclampsia. It also occurs in 10 percent of first-time pregnancies and in 20 to 25 percent of pregnancies in women who have had a history of chronic hypertension. Disorders of this type are a leading source of pregnancy-related deaths and cause risk to both the mother and child.

Medical malpractice and vicarious liability

Florida residents may be interested in whether a hospital may be held responsible when a patient is harmed during a medical procedure performed by a physician or surgeon at the facility. The health care entity may be named alongside the physician in a malpractice suit under the doctrine of vicarious liability or respondeat superior.

Vicarious liability is used in tort claims to hold the employer liable for the negligent acts of the employee if the actions took place during work and the employer benefited from that work. When used as part of a malpractice claim, the plaintiff might assert that the hospital had control over the physician. If the physician is employed by the hospital, then this control may be clear. If the physician is considered an independent contractor, as many surgeons are, the notion of control is less obvious.

Concerns rise for outpatient safety

For many people, going in for minor surgery means a trip to an outpatient center, not a hospital. These freestanding medical facilities, which are located throughout the state of Florida, offer convenience and lower costs. They have also given rise to safety concerns. The death of comedienne Joan Rivers during a routine outpatient procedure in New York brought notice of the outpatient safety issue to a national media stage.

Authorities investigating the incident discovered that Rivers had not been weighed before her procedure, and thus may have been subject to an anesthesia mistake. The center's records were not clear on how much anesthetic she received, the doctor performing the surgery was not credentialed, and the staff failed to take action while their patient's vital signs were deteriorating. Finally, Rivers was subjected to a procedure for which she had not given written consent.

Tainted heparin leads to double amputation

On Dec. 12, a Florida appellate court upheld a negligence lawsuit against Holmes Regional Medical Center for failing to remove contaminated heparin from use after a drug company recall, which led to a patient's double amputation. The negligence suit was filed by the injured man and his wife.

The case involves a patient who underwent bypass surgery. As part of the surgical procedure, he was administered the blood thinner heparin. However, the drug was part of a manufacturer's recall several months before the patient received it because it had been contaminated. The patient developed a bacterial infection that resulted in the loss of his right foot and left leg.

Woman killed by medication error

Patients in Florida may be interested in learning more about a fatal hospital error reported in early December. A 65-year-old woman suffered cardiac arrest and irreversible brain damage after she was administered the wrong medication. She was taken off life support a few days later. According to the Journal of Patient Safety, during 2013, approximately 210,000 to 400,000 people died due to some type of preventable hospital error.

Researchers are still uncertain how many of these deaths may be attributed to medication errors similar to this particular case. The incident occurred at a hospital located in Bend, Oregon. The woman came to the ER two days earlier with questions concerning her medication dosage for brain surgery she recently underwent. According to the chief clinical officer with St. Charles Health System, the woman stopped breathing after an employee accidentally administered a paralyzing agent used in surgeries instead of the seizure medication she needed.

The risks and causes of stillbirth

The National Stillbirth Society reports that stillbirth happens in about one of every 160 pregnancies. A stillbirth is the death of a fetus within the uterus followed by the delivery of the infant after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Women in Florida might be shocked to learn that most stillbirths occur before labor, so it is important that they understand the risks and causes of stillbirth.

Women who are most at risk of experiencing stillbirths are those who are at least 35, have not had adequate prenatal care, are malnourished, smoke, or abuse drugs and alcohol. African-American women are also at a higher risk having a stillbirth, along with women who suffer placental abruption or preeclampsia. Some common causes of stillbirth are insufficient nutrients and oxygen to the fetus, growth restriction and birth defects. Fetuses that do not grow appropriately or are small are at a higher risk of dying from asphyxia. Birth defects occur in 15 to 20 percent of stillbirths and could result from environmental, genetic or unknown factors.

ER staff may misdiagnose young stroke patients

According to one study, adults between the ages of 16 and 50 evincing signs consistent with a stroke are sometimes misdiagnosed by emergency room doctors. For this reason alone, Florida patients might find this study, titled Misdiagnosis of Acute Stroke in the Young During Initial Presentation in the Emergency Room, noteworthy.

Among the findings of the study, 14 percent of the young patients reviewed were misdiagnosed with alcohol intoxication, vertigo, migraine, seizure and an inner ear disorder, where 'young patients" refers to individuals between the ages of 16 and 50. It was not until after these patients were released from the emergency room that they were diagnosed with having suffered a stroke. The failure to diagnose meant that the young adults missed the opportunity to receive time-sensitive treatment, which can be vital for stroke victims.

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.