A recent article in The Washington Post reported that surgical “never” events – errors that should never occur, such as leaving an instrument inside a patient or operating on the wrong body part – resulted in paid medical malpractice claims about 500 times a year throughout the country, including Virginia. Of the patients experiencing “never” events, approximately 7% die, one-third incur a permanent injury, and 59% a temporary injury. The report goes on to note that the actual incidence of “never” events is likely higher due to the fact that the study only examined medical malpractice claims that were filed, rather than those that were settled pre-lawsuit or not filed. The physicians most likely to experience “never” events were those who had been sued in the past, as well as younger, less experienced doctors. Physicians and hospitals are using this research to identify scenarios where a “never” event is likely to occur and implementing higher standards and checklists, similar to other high risk industries, to reduce the number of occurrences of these events.

The law firm of Pierce & Thornton specializes in medical malpractice litigation throughout Virginia, including in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, Suffolk, and the Eastern Shore. The firm associates on cases throughout the United States. The attorneys at Pierce & Thornton have nearly 50 years of 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.

A Virginia wrongful death case alleging medical malpractice was recently settled during trial by the attorneys of Pierce & Thornton. The facts of the case involve the death of a 46 year old mother of five. She underwent a laparoscopic supracervical hysterectomy (“LSH”), a procedure where the uterus is removed but the cervix is preserved, in October 2009. During the procedure, defendant gynecological surgeon caused a 5 mm perforation in the decedent’s small bowel, which went undetected.

While recovering in the post-anesthesia care unit (“PACU”), the patient had difficulty with deep breathing and abdominal pain that was characterized as “gas pains.” The nurses and on-call physician who examined her in the PACU before discharge reassured her that her complaints were normal and likely related to her abdomen having been insufflated with carbon dioxide during the procedure. On exam in the PACU, the patient was noted to have normal vital signs, no guarding, rebound tenderness or other peritoneal signs. The attending physician advised that she could be admitted overnight if she wished, but the patient opted to leave the hospital. The patient had arranged to recuperate in a local hotel rather than at home because she had young children and a second floor bedroom.

The decedent called the physician’s office at approximately noon the next day and told the triage nurse that she was having continued gas pain and “horrible hot flashes and extreme sweats.” After receiving this message, defendant sent an email back to his nurse advising her to tell the patient to stop taking her Microgestin and “to ride-out the hot flashes.”

Two personal injury claims, both of which involved automobile accidents, were recently settled by the attorneys of Pierce & Thornton. The first accident involved our client being struck from behind while traveling north on Independence Blvd. in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The impact from the accident was severe enough to cause the driver’s airbags to deploy, and resulted in serious personal injuries, including a broken nose, and neck and back injuries. The second car accident also occurred in Virginia Beach and also involved a rear-end collision. As a result of this accident, our client was forced to undergo extensive physical therapy for over a year to be relieved of the pain associated with the injuries from this automobile collision. As part of each settlement, the amount paid by the defendants’ insurance companies is to remain confidential.

The attorneys at the law firm of Pierce & Thornton understand that tragic accidents are an unfortunate part of life. If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious auto, truck or motorcycle accident we can help. Pierce & Thornton has experience and expertise in representing families of those seriously injured or killed by the negligence of other drivers. The lawyers at Pierce & Thornton have obtained some of the largest jury verdicts and mediation settlements in Virginia over the past several years. We can put together a team of qualified investigators and gather the information and data necessary to reconstruct the accident and determine who was at fault. We will consult with all of your health care providers so that we have a complete understanding of the nature and extent of your injuries and how the accident has impacted your life. Call today for an immediate free consultation with one of our auto, truck or motorcycle accident attorneys. The attorneys at Pierce & Thornton handle cases throughout Virginia, including in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, Suffolk, and the Eastern Shore. They also associate with other attorneys on significant injury cases throughout the United States.

The Virginian-Pilot recently reported that a bicyclist died in the Hampton Roads area after being hit by a van while riding down Northampton Blvd. near the border between Virginia Beach and Norfolk. According to the Norfolk Police, the bicyclist was struck at approximately 12:25 p.m., and was unfortunately pronounced dead at the scene. In a similar story, the Richmond Times-Dispatch also reported on a bicyclist being fatally struck in Richmond by an SUV. Initially, the driver of the SUV fled the scene, but later came forward and admitted being the driver who hit the bicyclist. According to the driver, he unintentionally collided with the bicyclist while driving down a stretch of road that did not have a bicycle lane, was narrow and lined with heavy vegetation.

While the articles did not report the exact causes of the accidents or determine who was at fault, many bicycle accidents, injuries and fatalities are caused by the inattention of the drivers of cars, buses and trucks. Often times, even if the investigating officer cannot determine who caused the accident, a more thorough investigation conducted by a specialist trained in accident reconstruction can properly assign fault and allow the proper party to be compensated for his or her injuries.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious bicycle, motorcycle, auto or truck accident we can help. Pierce & Thornton has experience and expertise in representing families of those seriously injured or killed by the negligence of other drivers. We can put together a team of qualified investigators and gather the information and data necessary to reconstruct the accident and determine who was at fault. We will consult with all of your health care providers so that we have a complete understanding of the nature and extent of your injuries and how the accident has impacted your life. Call today for an immediate free consultation with one of our bicycle, motorcycle, auto or truck accident attorneys. The attorneys at Pierce & Thornton handle cases throughout Virginia, including in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, Suffolk, and the Eastern Shore. They also associate with other attorneys on significant injury cases throughout the United States.

The Virginian-Pilot recently reported that a 19-year-old man died in the Hampton Roads area when his motorcycle collided with a car on Interstate 64. According to the Virginia State Police, the man riding the motorcycle came into contact with a Jeep Cherokee and lost control, ran off the road, hit a guardrail and flew off the motorcycle. Unfortunately, the motorcyclist died at the scene.

While the article did not report the exact cause of the accident or determine who was at fault, many motorcycle accidents, injuries and fatalities are caused by the inattention of the drivers of cars, buses and trucks. Often times, even if the investigating officer cannot determine who caused the accident, a more thorough investigation conducted by a specialist trained in accident reconstruction can properly assign fault and allow the proper party to be compensated for his or her injuries.

The attorneys at the law firm of Pierce & Thornton understand that tragic accidents are an unfortunate part of life. If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious motorcycle, auto or truck accident we can help. Pierce & Thornton has experience and expertise in representing families of those seriously injured or killed by the negligence of other drivers. We can put together a team of qualified investigators and gather the information and data necessary to reconstruct the accident and determine who was at fault. We will consult with all of your health care providers so that we have a complete understanding of the nature and extent of your injuries and how the accident has impacted your life. Call today for an immediate free consultation with one of our motorcycle, auto or truck accident attorneys. The attorneys at Pierce & Thornton handle cases throughout Virginia, including in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, Suffolk, and the Eastern Shore. They also associate with other attorneys on significant injury cases throughout the United States.

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.

A 56-year-old-man from Newport News, Virginia was recently arrested after causing several automobile accidents while travelling the wrong way on Interstate 664 in Suffolk, Virginia. Prior to his arrest, two Virginia State Police Troopers tried several times to stop and block the driver, but rather than stop, the driver struck the Virginia State Police cars, as well as several other automobiles, causing injuries. The Virginia Troopers eventually stopped the driver’s vehicle at Jefferson Avenue and Dresden Drive in Newport News, Virginia. The driver was charged with driving under the influence, reckless driving, eluding, damage to property and felony hit and run.

The attorneys at the law firm of Pierce & Thornton understand that tragic accidents are an unfortunate part of life. If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious truck, auto or motorcycle accident we can help. Pierce & Thornton has experience and expertise in representing families of those seriously injured or killed by the negligence of other drivers. The lawyers at Pierce & Thornton have obtained some of the largest jury verdicts and mediation settlements in Virginia over the past several years. We can put together a team of qualified investigators and gather the information and data necessary to reconstruct the accident and determine who was at fault. We will consult with all of your health care providers so that we have a complete understanding of the nature and extent of your injuries and how the accident has impacted your life. Call today for an immediate free consultation with one of our truck, auto or motorcycle accident attorneys. The attorneys at Pierce & Thornton handle cases throughout Virginia and North Carolina, including in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, Suffolk, and the Eastern Shore. They also associate with other attorneys on significant injury cases throughout the United States.

A Virginia jury recently returned a verdict in favor of the family of an 89-year-old woman who was killed in an automobile crash after her car was struck by the defendant’s car as she was proceeding through an intersection on a green light. The defendant, a 90-year-old woman, was traveling in the opposite direction and failed to yield prior to making a left turn immediately in front of the decedent’s car, which caused the vehicles to collide. Although the defendant pled guilty to failure to pay full time and attention, the case was tried to a jury on the issue of damages. After hearing testimony that the decedent suffered a brain hemorrhage from the accident that led to her death approximately 30 days later, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the family of the decedent, who was an active, relatively healthy woman who lived alone.

The attorneys at the law firm of Pierce & Thornton understand that tragic accidents are an unfortunate part of life. If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious truck, auto or motorcycle accident we can help. Pierce & Thornton has experience and expertise in representing families of those seriously injured or killed by the negligence of other drivers. The lawyers at Pierce & Thornton have obtained some of the largest jury verdicts and mediation settlements in Virginia over the past several years. We can put together a team of qualified investigators and gather the information and data necessary to reconstruct the accident and determine who was at fault. We will consult with all of your health care providers so that we have a complete understanding of the nature and extent of your injuries and how the accident has impacted your life. Call today for an immediate free consultation with one of our truck, auto or motorcycle accident attorneys. The attorneys at Pierce & Thornton handle cases throughout Virginia and North Carolina, including in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, Suffolk, and the Eastern Shore. They also associate with other attorneys on significant injury cases throughout the United States.

A Virginia jury recently returned a verdict in favor of an 84-year-old nursing home patient who sustained an un-witnessed fall in her bedroom. The nursing home patient claimed the fall was caused by the nursing home’s failure to apply and monitor a fall alarm in her bed, which was required by the patient’s care plan. The evidence at trial showed that the plaintiff’s fall caused left arm and left femur fractures, which required surgery, and resulted in permanent injuries and loss of mobility. The defense claimed that a bed alarm was used and that it sounded just before the fall, but that the nursing home’s staff was unable to reach the patient before the fall. After deliberations, the jury returned a multi-million dollar verdict in favor of the patient.

The law firm of Pierce & Thornton has handled nursing home negligence cases throughout Virginia, including cases in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, Suffolk, and the Eastern Shore. We are also licensed to practice in North Carolina. The attorneys at Pierce & Thornton have tried, mediated and settled cases involving the incorrect administration or dosage of medication, falls, bed sores, decubitus ulcers resulting in respiratory arrests, myocardial infarctions, heart attacks, infections, brain damage, paralysis and wrongful death. We encourage you to contact our firm if you question the care rendered to you, a family member, or friend at a nursing, assisted living, rehabilitation therapy or hospice facility. If we can help you, we will. Your consultation is free.

The plaintiff’s decedent, age 40, suffered a fracture of his tibia after being struck by a tree. He was evaluated in an emergency department, diagnosed with a fracture and referred to an orthopedist. Over the course of the next several days he experienced chest pain, coughing and shortness of breath and consulted with his PCP who arrived at a presumptive diagnosis of pneumonia and admitted him to the hospital for observation and treatment.

On the second day of his hospital admission a venous Doppler study revealed a deep venous thrombosis in his lower extremity. He was placed on anticoagulation therapy. Lab work revealed compromised kidney function thus a CT of the chest with contrast, which could definitively diagnose pulmonary emboli, was contraindicated. The decedent’s overall medical condition continued to worsen and his physicians continued to work under the presumptive diagnosis of pneumonia.

On the fourth day of admission, the decision was made to perform an open lung biopsy to diagnose the source of the decedent’s continued decline. Heparin therapy was stopped in an anticipation of the surgery. On the day of the scheduled surgery, it was determined that decedent needed to undergo dialysis. The surgery was postponed until the following day. The Heparin was not restarted and the decedent suffered a pulmonary embolus prior to the performance of the surgery the next morning, resulting in his death.