Articles Posted in Birth Injury

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal reported that medical mistakes kill enough people each week to fill four jumbo jets. The story reported that: (1) U.S. surgeons operate on the wrong body part as often as 40 times a week; (2) about a quarter of all hospitalized patients will be harmed by medical errors; (3) if medical mistakes were classified as a disease, they would be the sixth leading cause of death in America; (4) medical mistakes cost tens of billions of dollars per year; and (5) medical errors often result in expensive and unnecessary medications, tests, and procedures. The article contended that a major cause of these problems is that doctors are far too willing to overlook the mistakes and errors of other doctors. The article went on to state that best way to help fight against this dangerous situation is for patients to demand more accountability of doctors and hospitals and for patients themselves to be better informed. Some practical steps suggested were for hospitals to publicly report their rates of infection, readmission, surgical complications, and medical errors so that patients can be better informed about which hospitals are safest. Other suggestions included encouraging nurses and other staff members to speak up when they notice a potential problem; using cameras in the operating room to better assess whether procedures are being done correctly; and having a more open dialogue about medical mistakes.

It is interesting to note that the number of autopsies being performed to determine the true cause of a patient’s death have declined drastically in the last ten years, thus making it more difficult to prove that a healthcare provider’s mistake caused the death. If you question the true cause of someone’s death, you should insist upon the performance of a complete autopsy. If the hospital or physician refuses, you have the right to have one performed at your own expense. The “cause of death” listed on a death certificate seldom even begins to shed light upon the true course of events that led to the death. You have a right to know the truth.

The law firm of Pierce & Thornton specializes in medical malpractice litigation throughout North Carolina and Virginia, including in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, Suffolk, and the Eastern Shore. The attorneys at Pierce & Thornton have nearly 50 years of combined experience in litigating all types of medical malpractice cases. They have obtained some of the largest jury verdicts and mediation settlements in Virginia over the past several years. We encourage you to contact our firm if you question the medical care rendered to you, a family member, or friend. If we can help you, we will. Your consultation is free.

Virginia residents should be aware that a recent study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services covering the 15 percent of the U.S. population enrolled in Medicare found that each month one out of seven Medicare hospital patients is injured-and an estimated 15,000 are killed-by harmful medical practice. Moreover, treating the consequences of these medical errors cost Medicare approximately $324 million a month, which amounts to 3.5 percent of all Medicare expenditures for inpatient care. Another recent study looked at the incidence of avoidable medical errors across the entire U.S. population and concluded that they affected 1.5 million people and cost the economy $19.5 billion in 2008. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that almost 100,000 Americans now die from hospital-acquired infections alone, most of which are preventable.

These recent studies are in addition to the landmark study conducted over twelve years ago by the Institute of Medicine showing that medical errors in U.S. hospitals kill up to 98,000 Americans a year. In 2000, another estimate in the Journal of the American Medical Association put the total annual death toll at 250,000. It included fatalities resulting from unnecessary surgery, hospital-acquired infections, and other instances of harmful medical practice.

The law firm of Pierce & Thornton specializes in medical malpractice litigation throughout North Carolina and Virginia, including in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, Suffolk, and the Eastern Shore. The attorneys at Pierce & Thornton have nearly 50 years of combined experience in litigating all types of medical malpractice cases. They have obtained some of the largest jury verdicts and mediation settlements in Virginia over the past several years. We encourage you to contact our firm if you question the medical care rendered to you, a family member, or friend. If we can help you, we will. Your consultation is free.

According to a news reports, the federal government will pay $2.3 million to settle a medical malpractice lawsuit involving a Virginia child born with neurological damage at Portsmouth Naval Medical Center. The parents of the child alleged that inadequate care at the hospital caused their child to be born with developmental disabilities. Specifically, the lawsuit alleged that when the mother was admitted to Portsmouth Naval Hospital with severe cramping in her lower abdomen at 35 weeks pregnant, she was moved to a triage room and connected to a fetal heart monitor that showed abnormalities indicating the fetus was under stress. Instead of notifying a doctor, the staff left her for more than an hour without any intervention. Approximately 2-1/2 hours after she was admitted, doctors performed an emergency cesarean section that showed the placenta had detached from the uterine wall, causing a loss of oxygen to the fetus that led to neurological injuries that are extensive, severe. Unfortunately, the damage to the infant’s brain is permanent.

The law firm of Pierce & Thornton specializes in medical malpractice litigation throughout North Carolina and Virginia, including in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, Suffolk, and the Eastern Shore. The attorneys at Pierce & Thornton have nearly 50 years of combined experience in litigating all types of medical malpractice cases, including those against physicians and nurses employed by the federal government. They have obtained some of the largest jury verdicts and mediation settlements in Virginia over the past several years. We encourage you to contact our firm if you question the medical care rendered to you, a family member, or friend. If we can help you, we will. Your consultation is free.

Virginia residents should be aware that a recent study has shown that patients in hospitals where nurses work long hours are much more likely to die of pneumonia and heart attack. In most U.S. hospitals, nurses work 12-hour shifts exclusively, a trend that began during the 1980’s due to nationwide nursing shortages, the authors of the new study explained. The study went on to state that although many nurses like these schedules because of the compressed nature of the work week, the long schedule, as well as shift work in general, leads to sleep deprivation. “Alertness and vigilance required for providing good nursing care depend upon having an adequate duration of quality sleep and rest, and long work hours can impact the quality of nursing care and can increase the potential for error,” an author of the study stated. “Nursing work hours may also be increasing to compensate for decreasing physician work hours in hospitals because the medical profession has taken steps to limit the hours a physician-in-training may work, whereas nursing has not taken similar steps,” the author added. Along with long work hours, the work schedule factor most frequently linked with patient deaths was lack of time off the job.

The law firm of Pierce & Thornton specializes in medical malpractice litigation throughout North Carolina and Virginia, including in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, Suffolk, and the Eastern Shore. The attorneys at Pierce & Thornton have nearly 50 years of combined experience in litigating all types of medical malpractice cases, including those involving nursing malpractice. They have obtained some of the largest jury verdicts and mediation settlements in Virginia over the past several years. We encourage you to contact our firm if you question the medical care rendered to you, a family member, or friend. If we can help you, we will. Your consultation is free.

Virginia residents should be aware that according to recently released study, as many as 75 percent of hospital tests are not followed up on and this failure can have serious consequences for patients, including delayed or missed diagnoses and even death. Researchers analyzed 12 international studies and found that between 20 percent and 61 percent of inpatient test results, and between 1 percent and 75 percent of tests on emergency care patients, were not followed up on after patients were discharged. Follow-up was least likely for critical test results and results for patients moving between health care settings, such as from inpatient to outpatient care or to general practice. Rates of missed results were equally high for paper-based records systems, fully electronic systems and those that used a combination of paper and electronic records.

The law firm of Pierce & Thornton specializes in medical malpractice litigation throughout North Carolina and Virginia, including in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, Suffolk, and the Eastern Shore. The attorneys at Pierce & Thornton have nearly 50 years of combined experience in litigating all types of medical malpractice cases, including those involving injury or death stemming from a failure to follow up on critical tests. They have obtained some of the largest jury verdicts and mediation settlements in Virginia over the past several years. We encourage you to contact our firm if you question the medical care rendered to you, a family member, or friend. If we can help you, we will. Your consultation is free.

A medical malpractice lawsuit filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), which allows people to sue the federal government for medical malpractice committed at federally funded clinics, was recently decided in favor of the family of a 6-year-old boy who suffered brain damage at birth. As a result of the brain damage injury, the child was rendered a quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. The lawsuit was brought in federal court against the U.S. Government because the negligent doctor worked for a federally funded clinic. The $29.1 million verdict will be off-set by a $6.5 million settlement previously reached with the hospital.

Other claims allowed under the FTCA include those brought by dependents of active duty military members (active duty military personnel cannot sue the government for medical negligence at this time) who are injured or die as a result of medical malpractice by military medical personnel. The attorneys at Pierce & Thornton have successfully handled medical negligence cases against the federal government and have experience in federal court, which is where FTCA cases must be filed. If you have questions regarding potential malpractice committed at a VA facility or other federally funded clinics, call one of our attorneys at Pierce & Thornton for a free consultation.

Doctors and other healthcare professionals in Virginia and around the country were recently notified of a new program launched by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration aimed at reducing the likelihood of preventable harm from medication use. The “Safe Use Initiative” was started because “too many people suffer unnecessary injuries from avoidable medication misuse, errors and other problems,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D.

Millions of people are harmed every year from inappropriate pharmaceutical drug use. Many injuries occur as a result of incomplete access to information about a drug, a patient, or the patient’s condition. “Only through coordinated interventions across all sectors of the health care system can we substantially reduce preventable injuries from using medications,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “All participants in the health care community have a role to play in reducing the risks and preventing injuries from medication use.”

The FDA highlighted several risk-reduction projects that may benefit from Safe Use collaborations, including evaluating consumer medication information, communicating about the risk of inadvertent overexposure to acetaminophen, implementing safeguards against surgery fires caused by alcohol-based surgical preps, and avoiding contamination of multiple use medication vials.

A jury recently awarded nearly $20 million to a child and his parents. The medical negligence did not occur in Virginia, but in New York. The child was born in 1998 with cerebral palsy after an oxygen-deprived delivery which resulted in the child being born lifeless. The doctor who delivered the child yanked at his head with forceps for over 20 minutes during the delivery and then another doctor inserted a breathing tub into the baby’s esophagus, rather than into his windpipe. As a result the baby had oxygen pumped into his stomach rather than his lungs, which further delayed the child’s resuscitation. Also, the mother sustained severe injuries during the delivery that required five surgical repairs to her vaginal area and rectum.

Had this egregious care with its horrific consequences occurred in Virginia, the maximum amount recoverable by this family would have been $1.5 million. No matter how egregious the care, or much long term care this child required at whatever cost, or how great the medical bills for the mother’s surgeries post-delivery, more than ten times LESS money would have been the maximum they could have recovered in Virginia. It is precisely this type of case which underscores the unfairness and harsh consequences of the medical malpractice cap for those most seriously injured by medical negligence in Virginia.