There are innumerable types of medical malpractice cases, but most of them fall into the categories of a doctor’s failure to diagnose, not gaining the patient’s consent, surgical errors, prescription errors, and negligence in diagnosing associated diseases, all of which can result in serious injuries and permanent disabilities that can cause the victim lost wages and employment opportunities, pain and suffering, an overall decline in quality of life, and sometimes death.
Our lawyers at Van Dorn & Curtiss know the lengths to which powerful healthcare companies will go to escape responsibility for their errors, and we refuse to accept settlements that are not fair and equitable under the circumstances of the case. We are not daunted by healthcare companies and their insurers stonewall tactics. Our reputation for zealous representation of our injured clients speaks for itself.
Find out more about medical malpractice:
- Emergency Room Errors
- Hospital Infections
- Objects Retained After Surgery
- Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis
- Prescription Drug Errors
- Let Our Attorneys Help You
- Contact Us Today
Emergency Room Errors
All emergency room medical providers have a duty to provide reasonable medical care to patients who come to the ER for help. Reasonable medical care is defined as what the average medical provider is expected to do under the same or similar circumstances.
In many cases in emergency medicine the key to reasonable care is in the concept of differential diagnosis. Essentially, a differential diagnosis is a list of all possible ailments the patient may be suffering from given their presenting signs and symptoms. For example, if a patient comes to the ER complaining of severe abdominal pain the differential diagnosis will normally include indigestion, blockage, appendicitis, ulcer, or abdominal aortic aneurysm among other things. The differential diagnosis may be different according to the history and background of the patient. For example older patients may require a different range of potential conditions than younger patients.
The standard of care then imposes on the treating emergency room personnel, typically the emergency medicine doctor, to rule out those conditions which might be life threatening. In our example they would include: appendicitis, abdominal aortic aneurism or a perforated ulcer.
How Does the Standard of Care Affect My Case?
The standard of care requires the ER doctor to make reasonable diagnostic efforts to rule out these life threatening conditions. If the life threatening condition should have been on the differential diagnosis list and was not and/or the patient leaves the ER and later dies or sustains serious permanent injury as a result of the failure to diagnose and treat the life threatening condition, the ER doctor and hospital may be liable for medical malpractice.
The significant issues in these types of cases include:
- Whether the duty of care required the life threatening condition to be included in the differential diagnosis based on the presenting signs and symptoms
- Whether the duty of care required additional diagnostic treatment to determine whether the life threatening condition was present
- Whether proper timely treatment would have saved the patient's life or avoided serious and permanent injury
The major danger with hospital staph infections is their resilience. 60% of staph infections are drug resistant. McCaughey points out that many other healthcare systems in countries like Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands have drastically reduced the infection rate in hospitals. However, unlike the United States, healthcare in those countries is a not for-profit business.
In the United States healthcare is based on profits. Doctors are encouraged by hospitals and insurance companies to reduce the number of diagnostic tests ordered; this reduces the costs incurred by the businesses. Each year, roughly 1.7 million Americans get drug-resistant staph infections from hospitals. It is estimated that it costs $30 billion each year to treat hospital infections. There are an estimated 100,000 deaths from hospital infections each year in the United States.
Most Common Types of Hospital Infection
Ironically, the insurance companies accuse lawyers for the rise in healthcare costs. However, if the insurance companies would do more to encourage more testing, hospital infections would decrease. This would result in a decrease in the number of medical malpractice and failure to diagnose lawsuits and their associated costs. The following is a list of the most common forms of lethal staph infection found in hospital patients:
- Methicllin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) – This strain has been in the news recently and is responsible for 120,000 hospital infections each year.
- Clostridium difficile – This infection is often fatal and its symptoms include diarrhea.
- Psedomonas aeruginosa – This lethal strain causes respiratory distress and is responsible for almost 20% of reported cases of patients acquiring pneumonia while in hospital care.
- Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VRE) – 10% of hospital infections are a result of this strain. This strain usually targets the urinary tract and open wounds.
Objects Retained After Surgery
Advances in medical technology have made crucial surgeries more successful and safer than ever. However, surgery is not without its risks. One of the significant things that can happen after surgery is retained objects in a patient's body, which can cause severe or life-threatening injuries.
When surgery is performed, doctors and nurses often place objects such as sponges and tools inside the patient's body to aid in the procedure. It is standard for these objects to be removed after the surgery; however, negligent medical professionals sometimes neglect to do so.
Some of the objects that are commonly retained in patients' bodies after surgery include sponges, gauze, and cotton swabs. There is also the chance that pins, blades, scissors, and other tools are retained.
What Is the Risk of a Retained Object?
These objects can pose a significant risk to the patient after a surgery. These tools may puncture blood vessels or organs, and can cause damage to muscles and bone joints. These foreign objects may also cause serious infections after the surgery, which can be life-threatening to the patient.
Retained objects after surgery are alarmingly common, occurring in as many as one out of every 1,000 instances. It is especially common in surgeries that have long durations when multiple teams are performing the procedure, as well as in patients with high body mass.
Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis
When most people hear about a cancer misdiagnosis, they imagine that the patient was diagnosed with a less serious disease. What they don’t think about is the possibility that a patient was told she had breast cancer, only to later discover that the diagnosis was wrong.
It happens more than you might realize.
With medical advances, doctors have been able to identify breast cancer at its earlier stage, known as Stage 0 breast cancer or ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). While this early detection brings comfort to numerous patients, it has also created a lot of problems. It is estimated that 17 percent of DCIS cases identified by a needle biopsy are misdiagnosed.
What a Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis Means to the Patient
If your doctor has ever delivered the shocking news that you have breast cancer, you know firsthand the panic and fear that ensues. Many patients choose extreme treatments, including mastectomy. What is unsettling is that some of these women may not have had breast cancer in the first place. Imagine the mental and physical toll resulting from that situation.
Prescription Drug Errors
There are many ways that a prescription medication error can occur. Because of the numerous people involved in the medication process, there are more chances for a mistake to happen. A few of the most common prescription drugs mistakes are:
- Medication mix-ups: This generally happens at hospitals and nursing homes when medication is given to the wrong patient. Doctors and medical staff working long hours, high patient turnover, and human error increase the chances for this mistake.
- Incorrect dosage: This can happen if a doctor mistakenly writes the wrong dosage on the prescription or if the pharmacy misreads the dosage information, giving you too much or too little of what you need.
- Drug warnings: A doctor may neglect to convey the drug manufacturer’s instructions, warnings, risks, and side effects to you, which can lead to a misinformed decision or incorrect usage.
- Prescription interaction: This can happen if a doctor prescribes a drug that interacts negatively with another prescription being taken or if the drug contains an ingredient in which you are allergic.
- Ineffective medication: If the doctor prescribes a medication that causes the underlying condition being treated to worsen.
- Equipment malfunction: An incorrect dosage of medication can be given if the machine administering it fails or breaks.
How to Avoid Prescription Errors
Though your doctor and pharmacy are in control of what prescriptions you get and how you receive them, there are ways for you to stay on top of your prescriptions and help avoid medication mistakes. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor or pharmacist questions. When you’re informed throughout the process you can feel satisfied that you have the correct medication and dosage. Some steps you can take include:
- Get informed: While at the doctor’s office, ask lots of questions about the medication: what it looks like, proper dosage, how often to take, and what to expect. Always ask about any side effects and risks associated with the drug. Ask about any abbreviations or acronyms used so there is no confusion at the pharmacy.
- Copy of prescription: If your doctor calls in the medication to the pharmacy, ask for a written copy to confirm you have the correct prescription at the pharmacy.
- Establish one pharmacy: Only doing business with one pharmacy is beneficial so that they have a record of all of your medications. It also enables you to have a relationship with the pharmacist who can help you avoid dangerous drug interactions.
- Verify prescription: Say yes if your pharmacist asks if you want to discuss your medication. During discussion you can check to make sure the prescription matches the doctor’s description of the drug. Always confirm the prescription label has your name, correct dosage, and strength.
Let Our Attorneys Help You
Medical malpractice cases can be among the most difficult, not just from a legal perspective, but more importantly from the perspective of the victim and the victim's family. That's why we try to treat our medical malpractice clients and their families with the same care and respect we would if the clients were members of our own family. And in many respects by the time the case is over we feel like the client is a member of our family. You can see how some of our clients feel by visiting our client testimonial pages. As consumers, we depend most on doctors and other healthcare professionals. We pay them for their services, and in return we assume that we will receive expert treatment. While we all know that people sometimes make mistakes, a doctor’s error has far more serious repercussions than most.
To help your family, our attorneys won’t just settle for what the defendant’s attorneys offer; Van Dorn & Curtiss decides with their clients what a fair settlement should be, and if the other side won’t meet our demands, we will take our client's case to trial and let the jury decide. We enjoy a reputation among malpractice defense attorneys for being fair but tough litigators, and they know that if are not willing to settle the case voluntarily the legal team at Van Dorn & Curtiss, will be fully prepared to take the case to trial.
Contact Us Today
If you or a loved one has sustained serious harm or even wrongful death due to the negligence of a health care provider, Van Dorn & Curtiss will use our years of litigation experience to work for you. We deal with many of the aspects often related to medical malpractice cases such as insurance liens, negotiating unpaid medical bills, and the recovery of other insurance benefits not included in your initial lawsuit. Van Dorn & Curtiss is a full service law firm and we will assist you in all associated legal issues for the one contingency fee.
We represent clients in Western New Hampshire and Eastern Vermont, including the cities of Concord, Nashua, and Manchester. If you want aggressive and expert pursuit of your medical malpractice claim and full and fair compensation for the harm caused to you by the negligence of a doctor or healthcare professional, call the Law Offices of Van Dorn & Curtiss today at (866) 933-6115 for a free consultation. Trust the lawyers other lawyers trust, and call Van Dorn & Curtiss today.