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Medical Malpractice Involves More than Physicians

Medical malpractice is defined as an act or failure to act of a health care provider to provide due care to a patient. It is considered negligence because it contravenes the tenets of the accepted standard of practice. People usually equate this with physicians or surgeons, but in fact many medical mistakes are attributable to nurses, medical technicians, laboratory personnel, hospitals, paramedics, therapists, dentists, and other non-physicians.

One of the most common medical mistakes committed by a non-physician is development of pressure sores or ulcers, otherwise known as bed sores, because of the failure of the nurse or orderly to regularly change the position of a non-ambulatory patient. Bed sores are extremely painful and, if left unattended, can expose subcutaneous tissue and even bone. It can also trigger complications such as sepsis, osteomyelitis, gangrene, autonomic dysreflexia, amyloidosis, anemia, bladder distension, and even malignant tumors.
Another type of medical malpractice that occurs more frequently than is reported is retained surgical instrument. Sponges are the most commonly retained item, although forceps, retractors, clamps and needles have also shown up in a postoperative patient. In such cases, nurses have come into share of the blame for failing to keep accurate count of the instruments such as sponges, which is part of their responsibilities.

Medical malpractice may be claimed by a patient when the health care provider through some commission or omission suffers injury, physical or otherwise. In one case, a patient who was conscious and able to feel the pain of his surgical procedure because of an error in the administration of the general anesthetic committed suicide because of psychological damage from the experience.

If you or someone in your family has suffered harm from medical mistakes, you may have a basis for a medical malpractice suit. This can become necessary if death has occurred, or the consequences of the negligent act resulted in significant financial losses.  Consult with a medical malpractice lawyer to find out what your legal options are.

The Full Cost of Medical Bills

They say that getting seriously ill is like being robbed; you end up with nothing. The same applies when medical mistakes lead to extended hospital stays, repeated surgeries, long-term medical treatment, or special medical needs. A recent study published in the Journal of Patient Safety states that as many as 210,000 people may die of preventable medical errors a year. For those who suffer from serious complications instead the costs can be high. Unless there are ample financial resources available, it can mean extreme hardship, even bankruptcy for the victim and the family to cope with medical bills.

Most people place their trust in health care professionals, and believe that they know best how to provide the care and treatment needed. The fact is, health care professionals are people who are capable of making mistakes, or who may not be as qualified as they should be.  Medical mistakes can be pressure sores, wrong site surgery, botched surgeries, anesthetic errors, instrument left behind, wrong diagnosis, delayed diagnosis, failure to diagnose, or medication errors.

The full costs of medical negligence is not merely confined with hospital and other medical bills, although those could be quite prohibitive if the consequences of the medical error renders the patient requiring more surgery or confined to intensive care. Other economic damages include the loss of future income as well as lifetime care expenses for the permanently disabled, or otherwise requiring constant medical attention, such as a comatose patient. Even with public healthcare insurance, some of these economic losses can pile up and have a huge impact on a family’s finances.

If you or a family member has been a victim of some type of medical error with serious health and financial consequences, you may have no choice but to seek compensation from the healthcare facility and/or professional involved. Otherwise, you may be left holding the bag and having to declare bankruptcy through no fault of your own.

The Causes of Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing home abuse is not always an active or malicious intent of the nursing home staff to do injury to the people entrusted into their care. Sometimes it can be due to an oversight or unintentional neglect. However, it is no excuse as it can still result in grievous harm to patients who are mostly unable to help themselves.

Nursing home abuse may take the form of inadequate nutrition, sporadic assistance in getting up or laying down, inattention to signs of distress or need for medical attention, poor patient hygiene, or poor social interaction. It is possible that some members of the nursing home staff are properly trained but do not have the patience or interest to provide the care these patients need. In most cases however, it all comes down to how many and how much.

“How many” refers to the number of qualified staff members who are hired to provide round-the-clock professional care to nursing home residents. “How much” refers to what the nursing home management can afford to set aside for the salaries of direct care and support staff, which will determine the ratio of qualified care givers to residents. In the US, many nursing homes rely on Medicare, Medicaid and insurers to pay for the keep of the majority of their residents.

These institutions, however, dictate how much nursing homes will get per resident; all but a few establishments can increase their rates to meet the rising costs associated with running a nursing home, which in large part includes the salary of nurses. As a result, many nursing homes are either understaffed or have under-qualified staff, or a combination of both. This can lead to neglect of the residents. Even if the neglect is understandable, it is still inexcusable. A nursing home abuse attorney would be sure to prove negligence on the part of the administrator, most especially if the cost-cutting is not one of necessity but of greed.

Medical Dangers in Defective Hips

Recent settlements for undisclosed amounts in two product liability cases against Johnson & Johnson for the DePuy ASR metal-on-metal hip implant represent the tip of the iceberg of what could eventually cost the medical supplies giant billions of dollars. The cases of Robert Ottman filed in California and MacDonald etal filed in New Jersey against DePuy Orthopedics Inc., both scheduled to be heard in court in mid-October had been settled out of court. It is speculated that DePuy owner J&J may shell out as much as $3 billion to the more than 11,000 plaintiffs who have filed individual and consolidated cases for the defective medical device.

The flurry of litigation followed closely upon the August 2010 recall of the DePuy ASR XL Acetabular System and the ASR Hip Resurfacing System after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received more than 400 complaints from patients who had received the hip implants. After steadfastly denying that the medical devices were defective despite the fact that 12% of the hip-implant recipients needed revision surgery, an unusually high failure rate, J&J finally recalled the products 18 months after the first lawsuit was filed in June 2010.

Medical dangers associated with the hip implants included metallosis, the subsequent deposit of metal fragments in soft tissue that resulted from the metal-on-mental friction of the implants. These personal injuries resulted from a defect in the product’s design, which could lead to the misalignment or loosening of the components. Infections, bone fractures, necrosis, bone staining, swelling and pain are just a few of the side effects of the device, classifying the cases as product liability cases rather than medical malpractice. Plaintiffs allege that DePuy had known of the defects of the products long before the first complaints were made to the FDA but concealed this knowledge from surgeons and patients.

The recall involved 93,000 implant units, 37,000 of which were in the US. It is anticipated that more cases would be forthcoming. The statute of limitations for product liability cases vary from state to state. Inquire with a lawyer in your state about your legal options if you or a family member has suffered from the hidden medical dangers of your DePuy hip implant.