Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

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Ft. Lauderdale – Medical malpractice occurs on a daily basis in Florida and throughout the United States when medical care and treatment fall below the accepted standards of care. It is particularly appalling when the mistakes involve negligence in carrying out some of the most basic procedures such as the administration of intravenous fluids.

Earlier this month, hospital officials at Broward General Medical Center announced that they were investigating a nurse’s actions that may have exposed more than 1,800 patients to blood-borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis. The nurse, who has since resigned and has been reported to the Florida Board of Nursing, admitted to re-using saline bags and tubing in administering IV fluids to patients who were undergoing chemical cardiac stress tests. Hospital officials identified more than 1,800 patients who were treated by the nurse between January 2004 and September 2009.

A similar case of medical negligence took place earlier this year when more than 10,000 patients were administered colonoscopies with equipment that was not properly sterilized at VA hospitals in Miami, Tennessee and Georgia.
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Medication errors, whether the result of pharmacy errors or medical malpractice represent a significant portion of the preventable medical errors that take place every year in Florida and throughout the U.S.

It was ten years ago that the Institute of Medicine (IOM) declared that as many as 98,000 people die each year needlessly because of “preventable medical harm and errors.” A decade later, it is debatable whether any real progress has been made to reduce these errors and the harm that they can cause. Consumers Union, the non-profit publisher of Consumer Reports, issued a report in May 2009 indicating that preventable medical harm still accounts for more than 100,000 deaths each year. The report gave the country a failing grade on the progress that has been made in implementing the recommendations from the IOM study that it believes are necessary to create a health-care system that is free of preventable medical errors.

The Consumer Union report reveals that few hospitals have adopted well-known systems to prevent medication errors, and the FDA rarely intervenes.

Some medication errors are caused by similar drug names, packaging and design. Confusion between primidone and prednisone caused the death of an adolescent in 2004, and a report from 2008 indicated that prednisone is commonly confused with 12 other drugs. In 2007, the twin babies of actor Dennis Quaid and his wife were given 1,000 times the prescribed dose of the blood thinner heparin, which was packaged in similar vials with blue labels as those used by the manufacturer for its pediatric dosage, according to the Quaids’ lawsuit and testimony before Congress.
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Miami, Florida – Officials from Miami-Dade County’s Health Department have launched an investigation to determine the cause of death of two infants who died on consecutive days at Miami Children’s Hospital. The infants died in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit.

Fermin Leguen, the medical executive director of the Health Department acknowledged that it is very unusual for two infants to die on consecutive days in the same hospital because of an infection.

Vincent Conte, a senior physician from the epidemiology and disease control unit said he was contacted by the hospital on Monday morning and notified that “two babies had died from what they assumed was some sort of infection and that another infant was ill.” Conte said the third baby who was infected with the bacteria is improving but is still facing a number of other medical problems.

The hospital released the following statement on Wednesday:
“The hospital extends deepest sympathy to the families of the babies. We have taken all appropriate precautions to protect the health and safety of our patients and families. We continue to examine this matter in detail. At this time, the results of our examination are inconclusive. Due to privacy laws we are unable to give specific patient information.”

We trust our hospitals to care for the most vulnerable in our population and there is no more vulnerable segment of our population than premature infants in a hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit. When hospitals fail to take reasonable precautions to protect these fragile patients, they are negligent and the harm which results can be devastating to families.
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Tampa, Florida – A Florida Medical Malpractice Lawyer filed a lawsuit against University Community Hospital in Carrollwood for malpractice last month. The circumstances surrounding this case are anything but typical.

Robin Lumley, childless arrived at the hospital’s emergency room 2 1/2 years ago complaining of terrible pain in her abdomen.

ER nurses documented her complaints and a doctor ordered tests. Lumley asked to use the restroom and the hospital staff let her go.

A short time later, the hospital’s medical staff found that she had delivered a baby girl into the toilet.

The lawsuit alleges that Lumley, 46, didn’t know she was pregnant.

Lumley’s lawyer, however, claims the medical staff should have. Because they failed to recognize obvious signs and symptoms of labor, he says, Lumley’s baby nearly drowned.

The lawyer sued the hospital contending that baby Brianna Rose Lumley went into respiratory arrest which resulted in hypoxic brain damage due to the near drowning and sub-standard medical treatment.

According to the lawyer, the law suit was filed on the child’s behalf, not the mother’s. If it is successful, Robin Lumley won’t get a dime. All of the money recovered in the Florida medical malpractice case would be allocated to pay for the baby’s medical care.

The hospital refused to comment on the pending litigation.

According to caregivers, baby Brianna is just starting to speak and while she has had physical therapy to strengthen her limbs, she will likely face more physical and cognitive challenges.

The lawsuit also alleges that a doctor ordered a pregnancy test, but that test was never performed.

While near drowning incidents rarely occur in a hospital, the consequences are almost always tragic. Hypoxic brain damage – caused by partial deprivation of oxygen to the brain, and anoxic brain damage – caused by total deprivation of oxygen to the brain, are common problems following a near drowning. This type of brain injury is also commonly the result of malpractice. See my earlier post “Miami, Florida – Brain Damage Due To Cerebral Anoxia / Hypoxia Can Result From Medical Malpractice“.

Although this particular occurrence may be unusual in the hospital setting, medical malpractice is not. Unfortunately, many families suffer as a result of Florida medical malpractice.
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Miami, Florida – Cerebral anoxia and hypoxia are terms used to refer to a deprivation of oxygen supply to the brain. Cerebral anoxia refers to a complete absence of oxygen while cerebral hypoxia refers to a dangerous diminution of oxygen supply to this vital organ. Either can can lead to severe, irreversible brain damage characterized by the terms “anoxic brain damage” or “hypoxic brain damage.” Either condition can be the result of medical malpractice.

There are numerous causes of cerebral anoxia or hypoxia. Some examples include:

1). Injuries during birth/delivery (medical malpractice),
2). Compression of the trachea (sometimes the result of medical malpractice),
3). Complications of general anesthesia (often the result of medical malpractice),
4). Drug overdose (often the result of pharmacy negligence or medical malpractice),
5). Asphyxiation caused by ventilator/respirator failure or misuse (sometimes the result of
medical malpractice),
6). Inadequate perfusion on heart/lung machine during coronary artery bypass graft
surgery (CABG) (usually the result of negligence or medical malpractice),
7). Surgical errors,
8). Failure to monitor and treat severe hypotension (very low blood pressure) (usually the
result of medical malpractice),
9). Accidental Drowning or near drowning,
10). Asphyxiation caused by smoke inhalation,
11). Strangulation,
12). Cardiac arrest (when the heart stops pumping),
13). Carbon monoxide poisoning,
14). High altitudes,
15). Choking, and;
16). Diseases that paralyze the respiratory muscles

The cells that make up the human brain are extremely sensitive to oxygen deprivation. Some brain cells actually start to die within the first 5 minutes after their oxygen supply is interrupted. As a result, brain anoxia/hypoxia can lead to death or severe brain damage very quickly.

Brain hypoxia and anoxia are medical emergencies and must be treated immediately. The sooner medical attention is received and the oxygen supply to the brain restored, the better the chances of avoiding severe brain damage or death.

Hypoxia can be mild or severe (anoxia). In mild cases, inattentiveness, poor judgment, and uncoordinated movement may result. In severe cases, the results can include seizures, coma and brain death.

In cases where the brain is deprived of oxygen for only a short time and a coma results, it may be completely or partially reversible, depending on the extent of injury.

Cerebral anoxia/hypoxia is treated in different ways depending on what caused it. In every instance, basic life-support must be ensured.

The outlook or prognosis depends on the extent of the brain injury which, in turn, depends on how long the period of oxygen deprivation lasted. The patients who experience the best recoveries will have been deprived of oxygen for a short period of time.

Conversely, the prognosis is usually poor for those persons who were oxygen deprived for a longer period of time. Even a few minutes is considered a long time for the brain to be without oxygen.

When cerebral anoxia/hypoxia occurs as the result of medical malpractice, the patient or her family members are often not aware that oxygen loss to the brain has occurred. Symptoms to look out for include behavioral changes, cognitive or physical impairment, inattentiveness, poor judgment, memory loss, and a decrease in motor coordination among other warning signs.

Victims of cerebral anoxia/hypoxia, particularly infants and children, can be left with a permanent disability. It is critical for these individuals to receive extensive and continuous support from family, friends and specialists in treating brain damage and in providing neuro-rehabilitation.
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