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Pittsburgh Medical Malpractice Law Blog

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.

$36 million medical malpractice lawsuit filed for water birth

Pennsylvanians may be interested to learn about an ongoing medical malpractice lawsuit filed by the parents of a child who has cerebral palsy. According to the amended complaint, which was filed in an Oregon court on Jan. 14, the parents are seeking $36 million from a hospital for the child's injuries suffered during a water birth at the facility.

The complaint alleges the hospital provided them with inappropriate advice, telling the parents that a water birth was safer. According to the complaint, the hospital should have given the mother a C-section and also did not have an obstetrician to supervise the birth. Rather, the birth was apparently only attended by nurses and midwives.

Risk factors that could lead to uterine rupture

Pennsylvania parents may be interested in finding out what actually causes a woman's uterine to rupture during childbirth. Uterine ruptures most commonly occur to women who have undergone a classic C-section while giving birth. In some cases, however, it is still possible for some women to suffer a ruptured uterine during childbirth, even if they have never had a C-section operation.

There are two types of C-sections: the low-transverse incision and the classic C-section. Because the incision in a classic C-section is deeper and damages more tissue and muscle than the low-transverse incision, there is a higher chance of rupture through scarring resulting from the operation. Women who have had a classic C-section are usually advised by their doctors not to have a child naturally because of their increased risk during birth.

What therapies are used to treat brachial plexus injuries?

The brachial plexus is a system of nerves at the base of the neck that runs through the shoulders and into the fingers, controlling sensations and movements in the arms and hands. Brachial plexus injuries cause damage to these nerves, resulting in poor range of motion and movement in the affected limbs. There are a few types of therapy that Pennsylvania families can use to improve these complications.

Two therapy options are physical and occupational therapies, which help children strengthen their muscles, improve range of motion, reduce the formation of scar tissue and reduce muscle wasting. The therapists also help the children adjust to the limitations that their injuries cause and learn how to make the most of their bodily functions so that they can participate in daily activities. They give the children exercises to do at home as well.

Assisted delivery and complications

If there are problems encountered in a normal childbirth, many doctors in Pennsylvania use forceps to make the delivery process easier. A forceps is a medical instrument that resembles two large spoons joined at the bottom. Forceps are used to pull the baby out of the vaginal canal when the mother is too tired to push the rest of the way or when medical emergency requires a faster delivery than the mother can give.

The baby must be in the right position within the birth canal in order to use a forceps. This means the mother must be delivering the baby with its head facing the right direction, instead of breach. The newborn must also have been pushed far enough down the birth canal by the mother so that the forceps can be used easily. If the use of a forceps is unsuccessful, doctors may also use gentle vacuum to further encourage the baby to deliver.

Vicarious liability in Pennsylvania malpractice cases

While people may be aware that a doctor who causes an injury to a patient due to a surgical error or other type of negligence may be held liable through a medical malpractice lawsuit, they may be unaware that the facility at which the doctor is employed may also hold liability. Hospitals and other health care facilities that derive benefits from the doctor may be deemed vicariously liable for the medically negligent act.

Vicarious liability arises through the common law principle of respondeat superior, under which an employer may be held responsible for the actions of its employees who are acting within the scope of their employment. In the medical malpractice area, hospitals and other medical facilities will often try to argue that the negligent physician was acting outside of the scope of employment at the time of the negligent act or omission.

Medical malpractice and stillbirths

Stillbirths in Pennsylvania may happen for a number of reasons including birth defects, infections and lack of fetal growth. Although the cause of around 30 percent of stillbirths is never determined, individuals who have suffered a stillbirth often seek to understand why it has occurred. In some cases, a stillbirth may result from medical malpractice.

Negligence that causes a stillbirth might encompass issues that are not properly addressed during the pregnancy. Medical malpractice may also occur if a medical professional fails to adequately respond to a problem that arises during labor.

Premature births in the U.S.

Pennsylvania residents may not have heard the recent statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concerning preterm births in the United States. A preterm birth occurs when the mother goes into labor before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Disabilities occur as a result of the baby not experiencing the most important growth stages of the pregnancy, which are its last weeks and months. In fact, during the final weeks of the pregnancy, important organs like the lungs, liver and brain are still developing. The earlier the birth occurs, the higher the risk of fatality or severe disability. Common problems that a preterm baby may experience are difficulties in eating, problems with vision and hearing, difficulty breathing and cerebral palsy.

Women who conceived by using in vitro fertilization are at a higher risk for premature labor. If a pregnant person thinks she is experiencing an early labor, it is important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible. A doctor may be able to provide medication to ensure the baby will be healthier during birth. If the last baby was born preterm, an FDA-approved medication called hydroxyprogesterone caproate injection may help to reduce the risk of another preterm birth.

How is a traumatic brain injury identified?

The symptoms for a brain injury are not always immediately apparent. However, prompt medical intervention may be important for limiting adverse effects, making it important to seek treatment as soon as possible if one is suspected. Some Pennsylvania residents may wonder about the methods used by medical professionals to diagnose a traumatic brain injury. Additionally, it may be helpful to understand potential symptoms so that appropriate decisions about seeking assistance can be made.

Medical professionals use several strategies in identifying a traumatic brain injury. These include the Glasgow Coma Scale Test, a test that involves the use of simple directions as a care provider determines how well an injured patient is able to respond. Responses may help in assessing the severity of the injury. Imaging tests are also used, including MRIs and CT scans, to obtain a visual understanding of possible trauma. Additional assessments include interviewing others who may have been present when a patient was injured.

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