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Pittsburgh Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Woman in coma after complications of ectopic pregnancy

Some Pennsylvania parents may be aware of a 12-week pregnant California woman who, after experiencing an ectopic pregnancy, slipped into a coma on Feb. 15 following surgery. She sought medical help a day earlier but was discharged with a prescription for pain meds. According to reports, the 36-year-old woman, who has seven other children, was seen at a local hospital for severe abdominal pain the previous day. After an ultrasound was performed in the emergency room, she was told that everything was normal, and she was released with a Percocet prescription. A short time later, her husband found his wife unconscious in the car as he returned to the vehicle after leaving the pharmacy.

Ectopic pregnancies are a leading cause of death in the first three months of pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy results when the fertilized egg grows outside of the uterus. Sometimes, a second ectopically located embryo may accompany a normal uterine pregnancy.

Medical malpractice ruling in concierge medical practice case

Concierge medical practices are growing throughout Pennsylvania and the entire country. However, there may be changes ahead in how these companies screen their doctors and advertise after a Feb. 10 ruling. A jury in Florida awarded $8.5 million to the widower of a woman who had a leg amputated in 2008 after a doctor with MDVIP, the country's largest concierge medical practice, repeatedly failed to diagnose a circulatory problem that was causing her leg pain. Since the woman died four years later of leukemia, the award went to her surviving spouse. The physician had settled out of court.

The companies work by charging both patients and doctors. Patients usually pay a membership fee for access to what the companies promise is premium medical care while doctors pay for the companies to brand and advertise them as well as for other types of support. While the companies say they are simply brokers who connect doctors and patients, the jury in this case saw it differently. Experts say that the suggestion that concierge medical practices are responsible for the doctors they work with may change the way these organizations operate.

Medical negligence may lead to a malpractice suit

Doctors in Pennsylvania, as elsewhere, are obligated to provide patients with care based on their expertise and the standard of care expected of them. If a physician fails to supply that and a patient is harmed, the doctor may be held accountable. In the past, doctors were expected to provide the care that another doctor in a specific geographical area could provide. Doctors from large urban hospitals might be better trained in certain procedures than doctors in small rural areas. Today, with the advent of broader access to learning tools and the use of standardized testing, the gap between urban and rural has lessened.

Surgical error is one area where expertise may depend on a surgeon's skill and ability to know the newest techniques. A surgeon in a small hospital may not be expected to provide as high a level of care as one from a large university hospital. Part of the problem is that doctors may not feel comfortable speaking out against another physician. When this happens, the patient may find himself or herself in the middle.

New study claims medical errors kill over 200,000 a year

Patients in Pennsylvania and their family members may have reason to be vigilant for medical mistakes when they are admitted to hospitals. A study that analyzed a sample of 4,200 medical records indicates that medical errors in hospitals could contribute to hundreds of thousands of deaths every year.

Published in the Journal of Patient Safety, the numbers were estimated to be between 210,000 and 440,000 patients every year. These figures place hospital medical mistakes behind only heart disease and cancer as a leading cause of death.

Factors to consider before consenting to a vacuum delivery

Every pregnant woman wants to ensure that everything is done to ensure that her baby is delivered without incident or injury. Some Pennsylvania women may take it upon themselves to determine whether vacuum delivery is what they want if they need assistance during delivery. They could make a more informed decision by knowing the disadvantages of this procedure.

The first thing that pregnant women need to know is that a vacuum delivery should only be performed when the infant is at full term because premature infants have a higher chance of suffering intracranial hemorrhage. However, the risk for this type of delivery injury is greater overall in vacuum deliveries compared to when forceps are used. This is because of the pressure that the suction cup applies to the infant's head. There is also a slightly lower success rate for vacuum deliveries, according to several large studies that determined forceps are more successful. Vacuum deliveries also tend to take longer because the suction is only used when contractions occur. This means that a vacuum delivery still requires the mother to push.

Representing Pennsylvania victims of delayed diagnosis

Pennsylvania residents who receive late-term chronic illness diagnoses or whose loved ones died after heart attacks or strokes may suspect that their doctors should have diagnosed their symptoms much earlier. Timely diagnoses may be necessary to prevent diseases or medical emergencies from escalating and becoming more difficult or impossible to treat.

There are a number of different types of conditions that might benefit from being diagnosed sooner rather than later. For example, if a patient is suffering from a heart attack, stroke or pulmonary embolism, failure to diagnose the condition may result in serious complications in a small span of time. For other conditions, which might include various types of cancer, a delayed diagnosis in the early stages may limit treatment options.

Lawsuit filed against center where Joan Rivers died

Many Pennsylvania residents were saddened when they heard of the death of comedian Joan Rivers on Sept. 4, 2014. On Jan. 26, her daughter, Melissa Rivers, filed a medical malpractice suit against the ambulatory surgery clinic where her mother died as a result of complications that occurred during surgery. Joan Rivers was having a routine endoscopy when she stopped breathing and died from lack of oxygen resulting in brain damage.

The suit makes a number of allegations against Rivers' medical team. According to the plaintiff, doctors did not get consent for all procedures, including a laryngoscopy, and failed to weigh Rivers beforehand so that anesthesia could be correctly administered. Doctors also did not monitor her or realize that she was in distress and allegedly took photos of her while she was on the operating table.

Measles cases on the rise

Pennsylvania residents might be interested in news reports suggesting that parents and pedestrians may be contributing to the increasing number of measles cases. At least 64 confirmed measles cases during January are on pace to account for one of the largest outbreaks of the disease in the past 20 years. Many of the younger physicians do not have the experience in recognizing the danger that potential measles symptoms could present.

So far, the outbreaks have been concentrated in Mexico and 12 states, including California. Medical experts claim that because younger doctors rarely see measles cases, many tend to undervalue the importance of the pediatric vaccinations. The disease exhibits symptoms that are commonplace with several health conditions, making it even more difficult for today's physicians to properly diagnose. Due to the recent outbreak, renowned specialists are imploring doctors to increase their diligence in assessing potential symptoms of this infectious disease.

Informed consent and medical treatments

Doctors in Pennsylvania are bound by law to provide reasonable information to patients about their injury, and patients must consent to any treatment offered before it can be given. This is called the law of informed consent. When doctors fail to properly inform their patients, or they proceed with treatments without proper consent, they can be held liable.

A doctor must give the patient full information in easy-to-understand language about treatments available for his or her condition, as well as any risks involved with a proposed medical procedure. The doctor also must let a patient know what their expected prognosis is.

Medication errors and their relationship to medical malpractice

Medical errors occur regularly in hospitals, clinics and private offices across Pennsylvania, endangering and even physically harming countless patients. These mistakes come in many forms, including improper diagnoses or the failure to diagnose certain illnesses. However, the most common form of medical error involves the misuse of medications. Those who are victims of these types of errors may be eligible for monetary compensation, although they will require the assistance of an attorney who has experience handling such cases.

Medication errors can occur in different ways. A patient may be given the wrong drug or the wrong amount of medicine. A patient receiving different types of medications may experience a reaction resulting from a conflict between the drugs or an allergic reaction to a certain drug. Some errors stem from the failure of medical authorities to properly monitor the administration of medications. Mistakes can result from poor communication between doctors and other health workers.

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