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Pittsburgh Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Proving hospital negligence

Patients in Pennsylvania may benefit from learning more about strategies commonly used for proving hospital negligence. Medical malpractice or hospital negligence may be established once it has been determined that the health care facility or practitioner failed to uphold the standard of care recognized in the industry. However, a death or medical injury does not automatically warrant a malpractice claim because some complications are unavoidable. In order to prove medical negligence in court, there are certain criteria that must be fulfilled.

Courts typically require a patient to have actually suffered an injury in order to collect any compensation. Patients are entitled to duty of care when receiving treatment from a professional. There must be a connection between this injury and the defendant's deviation from medical standards. These types of deviations are often perceived as a breach of duty that is entitled to the patient.

Can I file a lawsuit after suffering from a brain injury?

Individuals who have suffered from a brain injury in Pennsylvania may be able to file a lawsuit against another party who was directly responsible for their injury. The person who suffered the injury would need to have proof that another party's negligent or intentional action caused them to suffer from the brain injury. If the victim is a minor, their parents may bring the lawsuit against the liable party.

In some cases, a lawsuit involving a traumatic brain injury may be considered a personal injury complaint. These cases include brain injuries that were caused by slip-and-fall accidents, car accidents or intentional harm. If a brain injury resulted from negligent medical care, the plaintiff could file a medical malpractice claim. In these cases, the brain injury may have been a birth injury or caused by a disease.

How can cancer be diagnosed?

Cancer is a disease characterized by out-of-control cell growth. These abnormal cells can form in any part of the body. There are more than 100 kinds of cancer, any of which left untreated can be deadly. The key to surviving cancer is early diagnosis. The sooner cancerous cells are found, the sooner they can be treated. Left untreated, cancerous cells will metastasize and move to other parts of the body. Nationally, about 33 percent of medical malpractice claims are related to diagnostic errors. Pennsylvania is one of the top five states for medical malpractice payouts, second only to New York.

Diagnostic errors are both the most frequently filed, and the most frequently awarded law suits. While tumors (clumps of abnormal cells) may be found in a variety of ways, cancer can only be diagnosed by viewing a sample of the abnormal cell under a microscope. This procedure is called a biopsy.

Types of traumatic brain injury

A concussion is a mild form of traumatic brain injury that Pennsylvania residents might be familiar with, but other types of TBI can occur due to things like falls, motor vehicle accidents and blows to the head. A penetrating injury takes place when the skull is penetrated and a foreign object damages specific parts of the brain. The other major type of TBI is a closed head injury, which happens when one suffers a blow to the head. This can result in primary or secondary brain damage.

Damage that is complete after an impact is referred to as primary brain damage, and one with this type of TBI may suffer from a skull fracture or blood clots, which can occur in the brain or between the brain and skull. Bruises or contusions might form near where an impact occurred, and contusions could also appear because the brain can come into contact with bony ridges inside the skull after the force of a blow. Primary brain damage may also cause lacerations when tearing occurs on the front or sides of lobes or blood vessels, and nerve damage arises if a blow causes the shearing or cutting of connecting nerve fibers.

Brachial plexus injuries and their effects

Pennsylvania parents may have encountered some difficulty while researching the long term effects of a brachial plexus injury to their children. Medical professionals are sometimes hesitant to describe pessimistic outcomes to parents, and education on the subject is not widespread within the medical field. An injury to the brachial plexus can have significant adverse effects on the health and well-being of the child for years. The sooner the parents and child are fully aware of the issues, the sooner they can begin to come to terms with them and begin an appropriate course of therapy and remediation.

The brachial plexus is a fine network of nerve fibers located near the neck. It controls the sensation and motion of the shoulder, arm, hands and fingers. Damage to the brachial plexus may have life-long consequences for the health and range of mobility of the limb.

What is a traumatic brain injury?

Pittsburgh football fans may understand that traumatic brain injuries are a serious concern in the sport, but they may not completely understand the issue. Additionally, it can be important to understand that the issue can affect the lives of many who are not involved in sports. In fact, millions of residents of the United States are affected by such injuries annually.

A traumatic brain injury occurs when a jolt, bump or other head injury results in some level of damage to the brain. At least 50 percent of such injuries are severe enough to warrant hospital treatment. In some cases, permanent brain damage can occur, and in other cases, a TBI can result in death. An estimated 50 percent of TBI cases result from automobile accidents.

What is Erb's Palsy?

Erb's Palsy is also known as brachial plexus birth palsy, a condition that may occur if an infant's neck is stretched during the childbirth process. Palsy is a weakness, and in the case of Erb's Palsy, a weakness in the upper arm can occur due to nerve damage. A loss of motion may also occur in this condition, which can be be treated in some cases. With parental involvement, some children can recover nearly all motion in an affected arms. However, a Pennsylvania parent faced with a serious instance of Erb's Palsy in a child may wonder about issues such as how the condition occurs and the implications if a child does not recover mobility.

Statistics indicate that this type of birth injury occurs one to two times in every 1,000 births. The severity of the injury affects the options for treatment and recovery. In the least severe cases, the nerve may be stretched but not torn. Such injuries typically heal within three months of occurrence and are referred to as neurapraxia. In neuroma, a more serious stretch injury, some scar tissue may occur, resulting in most but not all movement and feeling being recovered.

Receiving the wrong diagnosis in Pennsylvania

Many situations could result in an incorrect diagnosis, especially in the case of self-diagnosis. Most conditions have similar symptoms to a variety of other conditions, so a medical test could be the only way to determine what the problem is. This does not always result in a diagnosis, however, for certain conditions because they are difficult to diagnose.

Many tests could give a false positive for a condition, so it is important for medical professionals to double-check the diagnosis in some way to avoid providing the wrong diagnosis for the patient's condition. This can even happen during a routine examination or check-up when nothing is wrong with the patient.

Facial nerve palsy due to birth as a medical malpractice issue

Pennsylvania parents may want to learn more about one possible birth complication known as facial nerve palsy, which is caused by damage to the seventh cranial nerve during birth. Birth trauma such as this can cause serious problems throughout the early stages of infancy, but most cases resolve within a few months.

Although there are some causes of birth trauma such as a prolonged pregnancy and use of certain medications that induce labor, the cause of facial nerve palsy due to birth is typically unknown. However, problems during the delivery process may lead to nerve damage that results in the loss of voluntary muscle movement in the infant's face. Most often, the damage occurs in the lower facial nerve and is usually visible when the infant cries.

Disclosing errors to patients

Pennsylvania is one of several states that requires physicians to disclose unexpected outcomes to their patients as part of error disclosure. Many organizations support disclosure, something that physicians in the past were reluctant to do. Statistics show that acknowledging error and offering an apology as well as describing a plan that will not allow it to happen again results in fewer malpractice suits.

Hospitals in the past avoided talking about errors, offering little by way of an explanation about what went wrong and why it happened. Some physicians said they felt ashamed and uncomfortable while others were fearful of a lawsuit. Traditionally, physicians lacked adequate training in this area. Currently, hospitals and other medical groups feel that not disclosing error or admitting fault takes the patient's well-being out of center focus. To rectify this, strategies are being implemented that respond to errors with a proactive approach.

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