No family should have to go through the experience of navigating a birth injury. It can be a really difficult and trying time and unfortunately, the impact on your family can be long-lasting. Your child could suffer a long-term issue that leaves you struggling with medical bills, and wondering who’s at fault.
Moments that are meant for cuddling and bonding, turn into hours of research. Trying to understand a new diagnosis and find treatment options.
Depending on circumstances and blame, a birth injury lawsuit could potentially help. In this guide, we’ll answer your questions and do our best to point you in the right direction.
Common Birth Injuries
Birth injuries come in many different forms and can happen immediately before, during, or in the short period after childbirth.
These injuries can be temporary, or in some cases more severe.
Some of the more common injuries that affect families are:
In this next section we’ll explain some of the reasons birth injuries occur. Follow along to learn more.
Causes of Birth Injuries
There are many reasons for birth injuries. Some are natural and unavoidable while others stem from medical negligence.
Difficult births can sometimes cause trauma to your child. For instance, if the birth calls for forceps then there may be bruising or scratches. Fortunately these types of injuries go away in a couple days, but sometimes worse harm is done.
Another common issue is oxygen deprivation which can lead to serious health conditions such as cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy, for example, can be congenital or acquired. Meaning it’s genetic or something happens to cause it.
No matter the cause, handling a birth injury can be challenging. If you feel like your baby’s injury was because of the lack of skill or attention by a medical professional, we encourage to reach out to a medical malpractice lawyer. You don’t have to go through this alone!
Does Your Baby’s Injury Call For A Lawsuit?
It can be difficult to analyze everything, especially in the midst of a traumatic experience. That’s why you need someone on your side to help you maneuver the situation and figure out who’s to blame.
It’s possible there’s nothing your doctor could have done. But it’s also possible someone made a bad decision.
Healthcare professionals have a duty of care to follow to make sure your child is safe. Prenatal care and monitoring are part of this, in addition to the birth. If a healthcare professional drops the ball, you have every right to sue. You and your baby deserve better.
Why Look For a Settlement?
In times of crisis, its hard to think about things such as money. But at some point, you may want to consider how this mistake will impact your family financially.
It isn’t fair for a family to deal with the burden of mounting medical bills when someone else is to blame. That’s why many people turn to a birth injury attorney to help them sort through the options.
You may seek a settlement for any of the following reasons:
► You want to see a healthcare professional brought to justice.
► To ensure this doesn’t happen to somebody else.
► So you don’t have to struggle financially.
► Wanting to provide the best possible care for your new child.
No matter the reason, you deserve to have your voice heard and fight against this act of medical malpractice.
What’s The Process For A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
The goal of any lawsuit is to figure out the truth. And also to provide justice for victims. That’s why it’s vital to work with the best birth injury lawyer possible. Someone who can represent you well and help prove the truth.
The process will involve a legal consultation, of course. Be sure to bring copies of any and all medical records and correspondence between you and the doctor/hospital. Your lawyer will also help you establish how much should be sought in damages.
Often times in birth injury lawsuits, a “Life Care Plan” will be brought forth. This plan helps estimate how much your child’s care will cost, over their lifetime. This may include the costs of therapy, medication, caregivers, transportation needs, and many other things. Your lawyer and the defendant (often times the hospital or insurer’s legal team) will go back and forth until they reach an agreement. If both parties don’t reach a settlement then it’ll likely go to court.
It’s important to remember that each state has its own statute of limitations, which is basically the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit after an injury. A lawyer will help guide you on this!
How Long Will It All Take?
If your case goes to trial it can often take several years to fully resolve. This can be daunting for new parents. The good news is that in most cases, the guilty party will offer a settlement before it gets to that point. A settlement is a large sum of money that will be given all at once or in periodic payments.
If you think you’ve been affected by medical malpractice and your child has suffered a birth injury because of it, don’t hesitate to contact us. It’s the first step in getting justice for your baby!
Medical malpractice is complicated, but we’re here for you.
We broke this medical malpractice guide down into 6 sections. Each section will either help you prep for your medical malpractice case, or answer the questions “do I have a malpractice case?” and “how do I sue the hospital?” Here’s how it’s broken down:
Malpractice Background & Prep Sections (1-4)
► Sections 1-2: Prep by learning the common forms of malpractice and the myths surrounding malpractice.
► Sections 3-4: Prep by getting a better understanding of malpractice in the ER — especially important if your case starts in the ER — and the reason medical errors happen, and often get swept under the rug.
“Do I Have A Malpractice Case & How to Sue The Hospital” Sections (5-6)
► Section 5: Answer the question, do I have a medical malpractice case?
► Section 6: Finally, learn the steps to sue the hospital and win your medical malpractice lawsuit.
To start reading, just click the section below that interests you the most:
1. Know The 5 Common Types Of Medical Malpractice Cases
Let’s start with this — what do you think are the leading causes of death, in the United States?
Maybe heart disease comes to mind. Or cancer? We’ve all heard that word more than we should. Surely’s it’s high on the list.
How about accidents, diabetes, stroke? If you thought of any of these… you’re right. They’re all up there. In the top 12, in fact.
But medical malpractice? Many people wouldn’t think to mention that one.
According to a recent study conducted by Johns Hopkins, “More than 250,000 people in the United States die every year because of medical mistakes, making it the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer.” Yep.
Medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in our country. How is that even possible in a country as developed as ours?
In this article we’re going to cover the five most common types of the third most common cause of death, medical malpractice.
#1 Birth Injuries
If you’ve searched through our site at all, you’ve probably noticed that we talk a lot about birth injury malpractice. It’s because we’re passionate about fighting for justice for families who’s child has been injured because of negligence.
Every family deserves to bring a healthy baby home. Of course, there are unforeseen circumstances and health conditions that are unavoidable, but if something negligent did happen, someone needs to be held accountable.
Birth injuries can occur in many different ways, such as nerve injuries, cerebral palsy, medication mix ups, and misdiagnosis. These injuries are costly, not just financially, but physically and emotionally as well.
Sometimes the injury is obvious, and other times they may not notice for quite some time. Either way, it’s important you reach out to a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible, as you have a limited window of time to seek legal action.
#2 Prescription Drug Mistakes
Each day millions of patients are treated in healthcare facilities across the country. It’s no easy feat, considering the numbers of patients compared to medical staff, and there’s always a need for more healthcare professionals. Some people pursue this field because of passion and the desire to help others. For others, maybe it’s for more practical reasons, like job security and good salary. Whatever the reason, the common thread among all medical professionals is that they’re human.
Humans make mistakes. Workers are often overworked and fatigued, which of course spikes the chance of a mistake occurring. Other times, people simply don’t pay enough attention. Whatever the reason, there has to be consequences for sloppy care. Errors like medication mix ups, prescribing errors, and overdoses shouldn’t happen.
It’s important that there’s clear communication among healthcare professionals, that charting is accurate and up to date, and that medications are labeled correctly.
All precautions need to be taken in order to avoid mistakes like these. But when people fail to take the proper precautions, mistakes happen, people get hurt, and they come to medical malpractice lawyers like us to seek justice and compensation.
#3 Errors During Surgery
We’ve all heard stories of surgery gone wrong. Like a doctor sewing up a patient with a medical instrument left inside. It sounds crazy, but it happens, and more often than you might think.
Surgical errors aren’t limited to foreign objects left behind, but also:
Operating on the incorrect body part.
Damaging healthy organs while performing surgery.
Failure to properly monitor vitals and blood supply.
Not taking enough precautions to avoid infection.
Like prescription errors, surgical errors often occur because of negligence at the hands of healthcare professionals. Surgery is meant to correct an existing condition, not create new ones. If you think you may have a medical malpractice case, read the chapter below titled Do I Have A Medical Malpractice Case? to find out, or give us a call.
Misdiagnosis happens a lot more than it should. In fact, diagnostic errors occur in 10%-30% of all medical cases. When a condition like heart disease or cancer is misdiagnosed, the results are often fatal. If you find an illness early on, the chances of survival are significantly higher. But what if you were diligent and expressed concerning symptoms to your doctor but they didn’t listen? Or maybe they didn’t take you seriously, and blew you off? Testing could have been done. Your medical record and family history should have been carefully scrutinized.
All too often patients don’t receive the treatment they should. If your doctor wasn’t comfortable with treating you, they should have referred you to someone who could. The worst scenario is knowing you could have survived had the disease been found earlier.
If this has happened to you or your loved one, reach out to an attorney. Poor care or untimely death because of misdiagnosis isn’t fair. There are things you or your family member can do to make it better.
#5 Failure to Treat
So a diagnosis has been made… but the treatment wasn’t timely. Or you went in for surgery, but were released too soon and later got an infection. Healthcare professionals are responsible for seeing the big picture. Knowing which steps should be taken and how to get you back to health is a big part of their job.
There’s a reason you’re seeking care from a health care professional… because they went to school for years and trained to recognize signs and symptoms. They have the knowledge but if they’re not passing that on to you, what’s the point?
When a doctor or medical professional fails to treat you because of negligence or substandard care, it may be malpractice.
No one wants to think about medical malpractice. That’s probably why most people don’t realize that medical malpractice is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. But changes won’t happen if people don’t know the truth about malpractice, and what they can do if they become a victim of malpractice.
If you or your family member has dealt with any form of medical malpractice, please reach out to us or an attorney in your area. The first step can seem hard, but it’s probably much easier than you think, and it’s the only path to justice and compensation. But you’ll want to avoid falling prey to the malpractice myths below.
2. Know The 5 Myths About Malpractice Cases
Whether you’re in Alaska or here in Houston, contacting a medical malpractice attorney near you can seem like a daunting task.
That’s the first myth we’ll unravel, by the way.
The rest of our malpractice myths include:
► Medical malpractice claims are typically frivolous.
► There’s many more medical malpractice claims than actual malpractice.
► Medical malpractice claims increase health care costs.
► All medical malpractice attorneys are the same.
Let’s dive right in!
#1 Contacting a Nearby Medical Malpractice Lawyer is Difficult
Far from it. We can’t speak on behalf of the other malpractice attorneys out there, but for us, all you have to do is dial our number and we’re there, 24/7.
Or send us a message. From there, we do the heavy lifting for you.
We guide you through the process with over 60 years of collective experience.
And if you live far away from Houston Texas, here’s some simple options to find a good malpractice lawyer (and here’s a list of criteria to help you pick the best of the best):
1. Talk to your family, friends & acquaintances for recommendations.
2. If you know a lawyer you trust, ask if they have any recommendations. (Hint: They will.)
Again, we can’t speak for other attorneys, but the vast majority of law firms make you, the prospective client, the #1 priority. That means that, aside from the mental hurdle of picking up the phone, that first conversation should actually be pretty easy.
The problem is that most of the lawsuits that garner our attention are the ones that are sensationalized and wrung out by the media. Like the man who sued a dry cleaner for $67 million when they lost his pants, or the woman who spilled coffee on herself then sued for $2.7 million. These cases are frivolous, but they’re also few and far between.
We’re not hearing about the mother who’s baby was carelessly treated during birth, or the individual who is now quadriplegic because of a surgery error. Every-day people whose lives have been forever altered because of a medical mistake. People who deserve justice. There’s nothing flippant about that.
#3 There’s Many More Medical Malpractice Claims Than Actual Malpractice.
Malpractice, sadly, occurs much more often than medical malpractice lawsuits. The reasons vary. Sometimes doctors hide or make light of their mistakes. Sometimes patients trust their doctors more than they should and never realize they’ve been diagnosed incorrectly, or given the wrong dosage, or have been operated on for the wrong surgery. Et cetera, et cetera.
The moral buried in this myth is to keep your eyes open and be aware — malpractice happens, and it happens often. And when it happens, the chances of the doctor breezing over the mistake or outright hiding it are much higher than you’d think.
The premiums doctors pay for medical malpractice insurance are probably a lot less than you think. And as mentioned before, the number of cases filed has significantly dropped in the last twenty years. This just isn’t the issue many believe it is.
Want to know what is responsible for US health care being twice as expensive as other developed nations?
► Doctors and nurses get paid twice as much, for one (and the care is similar and often lower in quality compared to other developed nations).
► Drugs are incredibly expensive.
► Hospitals in America pay more for diagnostic tests and administration too.
And there you have it. America’s health care is ridiculously expensive, but medical malpractice claims have little to do with it.
Next up, the myth of equality.
#5 All Medical Malpractice Attorneys Are The Same.
Imagine a salesperson, chatting with one of her fellow salespeople, says “you know, I really think every salesperson in this company is equally good.”
It’s just an unfair assessment. We all know that no two people are alike, whether we’re talking salespeople or attorneys. Some people are just better at certain things than others. You wouldn’t hire a family lawyer over a medical malpractice lawyer, if you’re trying to prove medical negligence, right?
More importantly, you wouldn’t hire a bad lawyer over a good one.
That is, if you knew better.
You need to do your research. Don’t place your trust in just anyone. Be selective and hire an attorney with a proven track record, and ideally an attorney whose focus is solely one area of law.
Hopefully we were able to help debunk a few of the common medical malpractice myths you may have believed. Now that we’ve covered the myths, it’s time to take a deep dive into malpractice in the ER.
3. Medical Malpractice Cases That Start In The ER
When stakes are high, doctors NEED to make quick and calculated decisions in order to save lives. But what happens if your doctor makes a bad call?
In this article we’ll help identify what emergency room medical malpractice looks like, and what you can do if you or your loved one has been a victim of it.
Common ER Mistakes
Each day, nurses and doctors clock in for their shift. Shifts that are long, tiresome, and unpredictable. Without a crystal ball, there’s no way to foresee what any given day may look like. Will a patient with a traumatic injury arrive via ambulance, or will a worried father of three check in for chest pain?
Working in the ER is tough, there’s no question about it. But when the average emergency room doctor makes $252,235 per year, and has sworn to the Hippocratic Oath, don’t they owe you their best? Burnout and fatigue aren’t good excuses when a patient dies.
Let’s take a look at some of the mistakes a person may experience:
► Failure to do a full physical exam – The four primary vital signs are blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and respiration. Continually monitoring these vital signs is crucial for a patient to have the best chance of survival. If your nurse or doctor isn’t doing this very basic thing then they’re failing you.
► Failure to test for life-threatening conditions – What’s the use of technology if your doctor isn’t using it? With high tech imaging and detailed lab tests available, doctors have to make use of these amazing resources in order to do their job well. Invaluable resources that help diagnose and treat.
► Prompt correspondence with specialists – There’s no way a doctor can know EVERYTHING. With countless diseases and different approaches to treatment, there’s a reason doctors often choose an area of medicine to specialize in. If your doctor doesn’t have the knowledge necessary to treat you, they should be referring you to a specialist that does.
► Prescribing the wrong medication or incorrect dosage – Medication errors can be deadly. Accidental overdoses usually occur when protocol isn’t followed or staff members don’t pay close enough attention. Even Hollywood star, Dennis Quaid, dealt with the devastation of a medication error when his newborn twins were accidentally overdosed. Thankfully they survived.
► Surgical errors – Everyone makes mistakes…we get it, but the operating room isn’t the place for foolish errors and negligence. Leaving a 5 inch scalpel in a patient’s abdomen is insane. Sometimes doctors even operate on the wrong body part. WHAT?
►Patient dumping – This may shock you, but sometimes hospitals “dump” patients that don’t have the means to pay for services. “Victims typically fall into one ori more of the following categories: those with a mental health condition, undocumented or under-documented immigrants, and the homeless,” reads one article. A patient in Maryland was left at a bus stop in the freezing rain, wth only a hospital gown on.
Example: A Young Mother’s Story
Let’s paint a picture of what negligence looks like. Theresa Boland, a young pregnant mother fought tooth and nail to receive treatment. At just 30 years old, she certainly didn’t suspect a blood clot, but she knew something was wrong.
And that’s why she made her way to the ER. Her leg pain was severe and was accompanied with redness and tingling. But doctors brushed off her symptoms (at three separate ER visits) as assuperficial thrombophlebitis, sciatica, and cellulitis. Not one incorrect diagnosis, but three! After multiple ER visits, three ultrasounds, several phone consults, and a visit to her PCP she received the correct diagnosis: acute deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or a blood clot.
“My DVT experience was terrifying and frustrating. I cannot understand why it took a series of doctors and repeated ultrasounds to diagnose my DVT, especially since my symptoms were classic.”
What would have happened if Theresa’s diagnosis had been delayed any further? Would Theresa and her unborn daughter have made it? Click here to read Theresa’s full account of the story.
ER Malpractice Can Cause Serious Injuries
Nurses and doctors play a significant role in the well-being of their patients. Generally they do a terrific job, but occasionally they make a mistake…and in emergency situations, those mistakes can be quite serious.
When medical malpractice occurs, it can result in paralysis, an diagnosed stroke, severe cardiac damage, a life threatening infection, and can produce many other issue. In the worse case scenarios, some patients even die.
What You Should Do If You’re A Victim Of Malpractice In The ER
Medical malpractice errors can be costly, and not just in a financial sense. The emotional turmoil, alone, is so so heavy.
Bills pile up and wages are lost. How do you handle disability care, rehab, or burial costs?
It’s a lot to handle but you don’t have to go at it alone. A lawyer can fight on your behalf, and potentially help take back those financial losses and more. It certainly won’t fix everything, but it can help.
You don’t deserve to be in this situation. If your or your family member has been harmed by medical malpractice, please contact our office so we can help you.
4. What Cause Medical Malpractice Errors & Why Are They Hidden?
What’s the main cause of medical errors?
And how often do doctors make those mistakes?
Do doctors actually hide their mistakes?
These are not easy nuts to crack.
Let’s touch on medical errors —
Some say most medical errors are caused by communication problems. Others say workflow issues, or incorrect patient records or technical failures.
But these are leaf and branch issues — we need to dig to the root of the problem.
In this article, we’ll look into:
► How burnout may increase medical errors by 200%
► The main reasons for doctor burnout
► How often doctors make mistakes
► Whether or not doctors hide or gloss over medical mistakes
This subtle killer has officially claimed the bronze medal for taking the most lives in the US.
Ranking behind only heart disease and cancer itself, medical malpractice is the third leading cause of deaths in the US.
That’s the million dollar question. One of the most likely culprits is (perhaps not too surprisingly) burnout.
Sadly, Doctors Are Burning Out More Than Ever
Let’s cover 3 things really quick. First, money. Money holds a lot of sway over the mind, and doctors are far from immune. Most doctors are plagued with medical school debt up to their ears, typically around $200,000 worth, but some pushing North of half a million.
This debt takes most doctors 10 to 30 years to pay off. That’s stressful.
Next up, hours worked. The average doctor works roughly 60 hours, or 1 1/2 times more than the average American. Also stressful.
► An increasing number of doctors say they’re clinically depressed, or show clear symptoms of depression.
► 9 out of 10 doctors discourage others from joining the profession.
► Worst of all, nearly half of doctors report that they’re burned out (42%).*
That places patients in a tipsy boat threatening to capsize into an ocean of physical, emotional and financial turmoil.
That is, the risk of becoming a victim of medical negligence is high. And unless patients are aware and able to do something about it, they’ll suffer quietly with no justice, physically, emotionally, and financially.
Medical Errors: How Often Do Doctors Make Mistakes?
How many mistakes do doctors make each year? How often do doctors make mistakes?
While this is impossible to know completely, the numbers we do have point to a severe problem:
► More than 1 out of 10 patients are harmed over the course of their medical care. *
► Medical errors result in 250,000 deaths each year. *
► More than 7 out of 10 doctors say they’d admit little or nothing if they made a medical error, and most say they wouldn’t even apologize. *
That means we’ll never know precisely how often doctors make mistakes, because many if not most of them will hide it if they can.
Or best case, “admit little.”
Don’t Blindly Trust The Hospital, Which May Hide Medical Errors
Now, our medical system is flawed, but hey, what system isn’t? The main takeaway here isn’t that humans create flawed systems. We all get that, much more than we’d like to. No, the point is that you, the patient (or parent or child or other relative of the patient), need to be aware of this.
For all of the people who stand up for themselves when they feel mistreated, there’s countless others who don’t. And a big reason why they don’t is because medical professionals are seen, by many if not most, as the authority on the subject.
Many people never even realize they’ve become victims of malpractice because they trust authority to a fault.
They believe in a broken system brimming with stressed, over-worked, depressed and likely medicated individuals who make mistakes and oftentimes, refuse to admit it.
And the consequence? These patients suffer with no justice or recompense. Or worse still, their powerless, innocent child does.
Don’t let that be you.
Be Aware Of Medical Errors To Protect Yourself & Your Family
So. Our medical system is flawed. Our doctors are human. When you take into consideration the mountains of debt on their shoulders, the sheer volume of hours they work, and the piddly wages (compared to the debt) they earn, it’s easy to feel for them.
As Americans, we can easily sympathize with work hours that would make many countries dry heave at the thought, wages lower than we think we deserve and larger than life personal debts.
But we can, perhaps even more so, empathize with the need for justice. We all make mistakes and we all must take responsibility for those mistakes. And the bigger the error, the bigger we pay.
Doctors, like the rest of us, should be held accountable. If they make a medical error, they should receive a fair punishment that fits the crime. And on the other side of that coin, the patient should be fairly compensated.
If you’ve been mistreated by the medical system — even if it is by a doctor or medical professional who probably otherwise means well — You. Are. Owed. Plain and simple.
Take action and receive proper compensation.
It may not be a fair trade, but it’s something. Justice, or near it.
Fact is, you might. And you might not. Common sense doesn’t always dictate in the court of law, and what may seem like a clear cut lawsuit may not be. But one way or the other, this is a great place to start. Because you’ll be able to either confirm that you have a case, or that you don’t.
Let’s start with the home runs. That is, if you answer yes to one of the questions below, it’s looking good. Really good.
YES = You Likely Have A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Did they leave a surgical sponge or other foreign object inside of you after performing surgery?
This happens waaaay more than it should. 4,000-6,000 times more than it should. Yep. You read that right — in the US, 4,000 cases are reported each year, of surgical items being left inside a patient. And experts believe the actual number is closer to 6,000! That means that roughly 12 US surgeons per day who sew up their patients only to remember they’d left a foreign object inside of them. Oops. BIG oops.*
FYI, here’s a few of the most common objects left inside a patient:
► Scalpels: Blades for making surgical incisions.
► Retractors: Tool that holds incisions open.
► Sponges: Material not unlike gauze, to soak up blood and keep it from pooling.
► Clips/clamps: Tools used to pinch off blood vessels.
► Needles: Used to sew stitches and sutures.
Next up, the unwanted operation.
Did they perform an operation on you that you did not need?
Home run number two. If they operate on your arm to remove a tumor, but it turns out your x-rays had been switched with another patient’s and you don’t have a tumor after all, guess what? That’s medical malpractice. Time to talk to a malpractice attorney and plan your lawsuit.
Did they perform an operation on you that was meant to be for a different patient?
Patient A needs their tonsils removed. You (patient B) need lower back surgery. They remove your tonsils. Not cool, but congrats — that’s malpractice. You sir or ma’am, have a medical malpractice case. Same goes for the wrong part of the body, which brings us to question 4:
Did they operate on the wrong part of your body?
Let’s say you go in for an appendectomy. They put you under for the procedure. You wake up expecting to feel a little sore in, you know, your appendix region. But instead, you wake up to a missing leg. Yikes. That’s a home run and then some — time to call the best malpractice lawyer you can find, because you just might have a case.
Did they perform surgery without your consent? (Non-emergency only.)
You wake up confused and sore. Questions are asked. “Wait, why on earth didn’t you ask me first?!” you project, eyes justifiably bulging. They fumble around with some silly answers including how they’re legally clear to perform emergency operations without consent. But a vasectomy? That hardly seems like a justifiable emergency to you. And you’d be right to second guess. Grab the nearest attorney and sue away. (Actually just kidding — find the best attorney and medical staff.)
Did they fail to inform you about a significant risk? (A risk that has more than a 5% chance of occurring.)
Here’s the situation. Your doctor solemnly tells you that you have a narrowed carotid artery that needs to be opened so you don’t have a stroke. “Great!” you smile, and the next thing you know, your surgeon inserts a stent into your femoral artery, threads it through until he reaches your carotid, then inflates a balloon through the stent, successfully expanding your carotid artery. Yay! Wait no, not yay — they didn’t tell you the mortality rate, did they? Nope. 32% – that’s the mortality rate at two years after this sort of operation. That’s a big no-no and it’s on you to lower the hammer of justice.
Now, if you answered yes to any one of these questions, you almost definitely have a medical malpractice case. Congrats! What’s next? Give us a call, and we’ll walk you through the process to get you paid! It can be annoyingly complex, but that’s why we’re here — so it doesn’t have to be for you.
So how do you know if you have a medical malpractice case if you didn’t have a yes for any the questions above?
Read on, to our “not-quite-home-runs-but-still-possibly-a-case-q-and-a.”
YES = You Might Have A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Were you injured during a medical procedure or because of a treatment?
Now, this may seem like an obvious win. You’re suffering in some way because your doctor messed up! But not all mess ups are considered malpractice.
That said, if you believe you’re suffering because your doctor messed something up, and you’re a smart, reasonable person, there’s a pretty good chance you’re right.
And this is the best part. All it takes is a quick call to find out.
Do you believe your doctor’s or nurse’s treatment was below medical standards?
The big question here is why? If you have a good reason, the best thing you can do is immediately contact the best attorney you know. The average medical malpractice settlement is over $425,000 and the average jury award is over $1 million. 9 out of 10 cases settle.* You don’t want to give up a chance to win $.5 million to $1 million, do you?
Does your doctor have a sketchy past littered with malpractice?
This is far from a home run, but still a pretty solid indicator that you’re on the right path. But how do you find out? Dig up their medical history online! You can use this online physician search tool from the Federation of State Medical Boards to look your doctor up.
Even if you don’t suspect a doctor of malpractice, and just want to know who is treating you or your family (or maybe you have a new doctor) it’s always nice to know that you’re in good hands. And if you’re not, you can find a better doctor!
Last but not least — there’s one automatic disqualifier you should know about. Sadly, your window of opportunity isn’t open forever. With that in mind, the next section will help you determine whether yours is or isn’t.
Are you within your state’s statute of limitations?
This is a biggy. If the answer to this question is no, I’m sorry to say, you don’t have a medical malpractice case.
How do you find out?
Well, let’s start with this. As of the date this article was written (and aside from suing government agencies), every state gives you at least a year. For example, here in Houston and the rest of Texas, you have up to 2 years after the day of the personal injury incident.
4. 4 of the most common never events that lead to winning a malpractice case.
5. And more.
Let’s jump right in!
Prep & Win Your Medical Malpractice Case vs The Hospital — The Process
Suing the hospital requires 5 stages:
1. The investigation.
2. Filing suit.
3. Pretrial discovery.
4. Negotiations and settlement.
5. Trial prep and the trial itself.
Before any of this, you’ll need a lawyer. You’ll want to report malpractice too, but we’ll focus on the lawsuit process first.
Step 1: The Investigation
This step is pretty simple for you, because we (or your lawyers) are going to do all the work. In this stage, we’re going to find the answer to two simple questions:
1. Negligence: Was the doctor or medical professional negligent in the eyes of the law?
2. Injury: What was the injury you received because of their negligent care?
If it truly is a matter of medical malpractice, we can move forward to pursue the medical malpractice case. How?
By getting the medical records reviewed by an expert in that field.
Here’s how to get a valuable testimony from a physician who knows the area of medicine involved in your case:
Make sure your attorney has contacts in the medical community. This will help identify qualified expert witnesses.
Understand that a determination can only be made by a doctor who practices in that area of medicine. In most cases anyway.
Many states (including Texas) require an expert’s medical opinion. It’s mandatory to prosecute a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Pro tip: A lot of people ask “how long do I have to file a medical malpractice case?” This varies, but we can tell you this — in Texas, it’s almost always 2 years from the date of your injury. Read more about malpractice time limits.
Step 2: File Suit Against The Hospital
Once we (or your lawyer) receive the opinion of our medical expert, we can prep and file a lawsuit on your behalf. We file suit and serve copies of the papers on the defendants.
Their lawyers file Responsive Pleadings, which is called Grounds of Defense, in response. Now we’re getting somewhere.
Step 3: Pretrial Discovery
This is divided into three parts:
1. Written Discovery: Each party sends written questions, or Interrogatories to their adversary. They send a request for relevant documents as well. Both sides must provide written answers and hand over all copies of documents relevant to the case.
2. Depositions of the Parties and Lay Witnesses: These are testimonies under oath, conducted outside of the courtroom. We use these depositions to assess the adversary. Like all responsible attorneys, we prep you thoroughly for this process.
3. Depositions of Expert Witnesses: Once our experts complete their opinions on the case, we tell the defense who our experts are and the details on their opinions. The defense will depose our experts, and we’ll depose theirs. In the same way you were thoroughly prepped for your deposition, the experts will be too.
Step 4: Negotiations With the Hospital & Settlement
Now, here’s some good news. The vast majority of medical malpractice cases never go to trial. Why?
Basically, hospitals usually know they’ll lose in court, and choose to negotiate and settle instead. That means you’ll be well compensated for your injury. However, not every case settles. If your case doesn’t settle, it’s on to step 5…
Step 5: Trial Prep & Trial
If the defense refuses to give us a fair offer, our experts will testify in court. But before that, we prepare. A lot. Hours of preparation are necessary. This is to make sure our visual aids, exhibits, opening statements, closing arguments, and everything in between will set us up for success.
We hold pre-trial conferences with you, as well as our witnesses and experts, so everyone’s on the same page and knows exactly what to expect. Focus groups with people similar to the potential jurors help us understand how the jury may respond to the case. This is just a simple overview — there’s much more that goes into the process, but that’s the bird’s eye view.
By the time we get to the trial, we’re well-prepped and ready. Of course, it’s impossible to predict the outcome of the trial. But we do everything in our power to help you win your medical malpractice case ethically and within the scope of the law.
First, why would you want to report medical malpractice? Well, there’s a couple good reasons. First, there’s a chance that the doctor or hospital will have to stop practicing.
Second, it may force them to quickly offer you money to settle. More details on that in a moment.
Step 1: Report the Hospital or Doctor
Report medical errors as soon as possible to your state’s medical complaint board. Don’t expect a response. Also, unless multiple complaints have been issued against this hospital or doctor, they’re unlikely to do anything about it beyond filing the report and notifying the doctor and hospital of the complaint.
Step 2: Gather the Information Needed to File a Report
When filing a report, it’s not necessary for a patient to submit a medical opinion. Patients reporting medical errors aren’t doctors, and that’s okay. Instead, you should include as many details as possible about the incident. Especially firsthand information.
Step 3: See if the State Board Agrees
First, this does not initiate a medical malpractice lawsuit — Filing a report with the state board is intended to only affect the ability of the doctor or hospital to continue practicing, rather than to compensate the patient for injuries sustained.
That said, this may trigger the insurance company of the responsible parties to try to offer you money to settle.
Pro tip: If they offer you a settlement, don’t accept it before you consult with your attorney. A good medical malpractice attorney will be able to estimate the value of your damages and determine whether or not the offer is acceptable.
The Difference Between Medical Malpractice & Adverse Events
Malpractice is a fairly complex subject, with a wide variety of things to consider.
Let’s start with the difference between adverse events and medical malpractice. These have distinct differences that determine whether you have a lawsuit or not. This is how to differentiate between adverse events and malpractice.
Adverse Events Definition
Adverse events are unavoidable risks that come with specific medical procedures or treatments. They’re events that the doctor can foresee and prepare for. Here’s an example of an adverse event.
So, a patient undergoes surgery and the doctor prescribes her a new antibiotic.
She sustains an injury because of an allergic reaction. Unfortunately, she couldn’t produce medical records of the allergy that existed prior to the prescription. In this case, the doctors would not be at fault because they had no way of knowing. Adverse event.
Medical malpractice happens when a doctor or physician fails to diligently follow standard protocol that exists to protect patients. It also includes a doctor’s failure to do something, which is negligence. Let’s take the previous example.
Say the patient was prescribed antibiotics after their surgery and still developed an allergic reaction. This would be malpractice if the allergy was stated in the patient’s medical records and the doctor failed to check before the prescription. The doctor would be at fault and the patient could file a claim of negligence against them.
Why Does it Matter?
When considering medical malpractice, you need to know the difference between adverse events and malpractice. Some procedures and prescriptions come with inherent risks.
The patients are told and have the ability to decide whether they accept the risks. In this case, this will not qualify as malpractice. If the doctor makes an error that could have been avoided, that is a claim.
How To Find The Right Lawyer To Sue the Hospital & Win Your Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Let’s start with the obvious. If a loved one is killed because of medical negligence, the next step is pretty straightforward. Prove the case. Recover compensation.
But malpractice cases are complex. Experience isn’t a luxury, it’s absolutely vital to your success.
In the case of a wrongful death due to a medical mistake, a family is often
reeling from the bad news. Often, they’ll wonder if they have a case or not. A good lawyer will help you figure that out, and help you get compensation, step by step.
The Criteria A Winning Lawyer & Firm Should Meet
Attorneys are people and firms are made of people. As such, none are perfect. But with that in mind, this is how to win your medical malpractice case:
You get as close to perfection as possible.
Here’s a list of criteria to help you choose the best lawyers for your malpractice lawsuit.
They have worked extensively in malpractice and can tell you if the death was purely accidental or caused by a doctor mistake.
Experienced attorneys can also put family members at ease. Because they’ve successfully held many doctors and hospitals accountable in the past.
Years of trying cases in civil court, which means your lawyers know and understand the nuances of judges and juries.
Your attorneys should meticulously prepare your case, well before the first day of a trial.
The firm you choose should ideally have a registered nurse on staff.
Well-seasoned malpractice lawyers can confidently go up against powerful defendants in a wrongful death lawsuit. These can include physicians, hospitals, nursing homes and other entities who often have considerable clout.
Last but not least. Following the loss of a loved one, family members often don’t know where to turn. By sharing what they know with experienced counsel, they
can gain a sense of purposeful direction in light of unexpected tragedy.
4 “Never Events” That Result In Winning Medical Malpractice Claims
People injured in these cases should always seek compensation.
The most frequent never events happen during surgery. When the surgeon or their staff is negligent, they can cause irreparable harm.
Here’s 4 common never events:
1. Surgery on the Wrong Body Part
For patients going into surgery, they expect the doctor to treat the appropriate appendage. If a doctor operates on your arm, when it should be your shoulder, it can lead to lasting damage.
2. Wrong Surgery
Surgeons should double check the patient’s records and history to ensure they receive the appropriate treatment. There is no excuse for performing the wrong surgery on a patient.
3. Surgery on Wrong Patient
Treating the wrong patient is not only inexcusable, it can cause extensive harm. A doctor needs to know the patient in order to understand their medical history. If the patient receives the wrong surgery, it can be crippling, if not fatal.
4. Leaving Foreign Object in the Body
Many tools are used during a surgery. Things like towels, scalpels, and sponges litter the site. However, there have been instances where a surgeon stitches the body, leaving one of the objects inside the patient.
These events should never happen. If doctors and hospitals make these reckless mistakes, you can sue them to claim a large compensation.
The Role of Informed Consent in Medical Malpractice Cases
There are many forms of medical malpractice. Many people associate “malpractice” with medical mistakes like surgical errors or medication errors. But there are many other forms of medical negligence that can lead to patient injuries. This includes malpractice claims that stem from situations where health care providers performed unauthorized procedures or treatment. These types of medical malpractice cases are violations of patient consent, or lack of consent claims.
Health care providers have a legal duty to provide care that meets acceptable standards of their profession. And they must meet a number of established guidelines as they do. Consent is one of the most fundamental standards in the practice of medicine; by law, medical professionals have to get the patient’s consent before they provide treatment.
Many situations and unique issues arise in medical settings. As such, there are two lawful forms of patient consent:
Informed consent, or express consent, refers to a patient’s explicit acceptance of treatment. It requires a medical professional to adequately inform patients about any treatment or procedure they recommend, as well as any inherent risks. This is usually written. Most surgeries, elective procedures, and other forms of non-emergency treatment shouldn’t happen unless the patient is properly informed and has signed a consent form.
In the absence of informed consent, there are circumstances where a patient may implicitly agree to treatment provided by a medical professional. This may involve a patient who calls and schedules an appointment with a physician, for example. Affirmative physical gestures, arriving at a pre-designated time and location for treatment, and complying with pre-surgery procedure (i.e. fasting before surgery) can be considered implicit agreement.
In emergency situations where patients can’t provide informed consent, implied consent gives medical providers the ability to provide emergency care.
Informed consent can play a critical role in medical malpractice cases. Especially when a patient doesn’t provide their informed consent to undergo a certain procedure or receive certain treatment, and then suffers harm.
Here’s some examples.
Wrong Site Surgery
Wrong site surgeries occur when a medical professional performs surgery on the wrong part of the body. For example, let’s say a patient gave their consent to have surgery on their right elbow. But the doctor performed the procedure on the left elbow. That’s wrong site surgery. When a doctor removes the wrong organ, or amputates the wrong body part, that’s wrong site surgery as well.
Wrong Patient Surgery
Another common error involving lack of informed consent and hospital negligence, is surgery performed on the wrong patient.
This can happen when a doctor performs a procedure on the wrong patient, who didn’t consent or even need that particular surgery.
Risks & Complications
In some cases, patients may suffer from treatment complications. Maybe the doctor didn’t inform them properly, or at all. Or maybe the doctor said it was less serious than it actually was. Or the treatment conflicted with the information a doctor gave them.
Informed consent requires a health care provider to adequately discuss risks and complications. The consent forms must include this. These types of claims are based on the idea that the patient would not have consented to the procedure if the doctor gave them the proper information about the risks and complications to begin with.
Evaluating the role of informed consent can be a challenging endeavor, and one that will vary from case to case. As such, lack of informed consent claims demand the attention of lawyers who have extensive insight handling medical malpractice cases and determining how health care providers failed in their duty to adequately inform patients, obtain consent, and / or provide care in accordance to acceptable standards of care.
Need to Hire a Lawyer & Win Your Case?
We handle a comprehensive range of cases including:
1 Always report medical errors to your state’s medical complaint board. This process can vary from state to state, though it generally involves a form in which the complainant identifies all relevant parties and describes the mistakes that occurred and the harm that resulted. In some states, when you send a report, the doctor or hospital might not be sanctioned. They may not even contact you about the report.
This is usually because they see the event as an isolated incident. Why? Because of the strong professional record of the party or parties in question. That said, a report is still very significant. The more complaints a doctor or hospital receives, the more likely it is for a board to sanction them.
In addition to filing a report with a state’s medical complaint board, you might also consider consumer websites. These allow them to rank the quality of care received from a doctor or hospital. That way, you notify other potential patients, which is important because state medical complaint boards aren’t usually public.
Ever wonder if those pesky medical forms you sign before surgery hold up in court? You’re not alone.
Let’s say you recently underwent a medical procedure that didn’t go as planned. Before the operation, you vaguely remember someone asking you to sign something. It was probably an informed consent form. You were told that it was mandatory and in order to have surgery, you’d have to sign it. Like most human beings in your situation, you sign without reading every minute detail. You trust your doctor, you’re sure they have your best interests at heart, and you desperately need this surgery to get better.
Sadly, something went wrong. Neither the doctor or hospital wants to take responsibility. You threaten to sue and guess what appears seemingly out of nowhere? That pesky liability waiver with your messy signature staring back at you.
Can you still pursue legal action or is the end of the story? Keep reading to find out!
So WHAT Is An Informed Consent Form?
An informed consent form is a medical document that indicates your consent to undergo a medical procedure. It also informs you of your privacy rights and protects healthcare professionals from legal action if death or injury occurs.
We know it’s frustrating to think that a doctor can literally get away with murder just because of a signature. The good news is, that’s not the case! You still have legal rights and we’re here to fill you in on the details.
Situations Where You Can Still Sue
There are scenarios where a signed form just isn’t going to hold up in court, which is good news for you. Let’s discuss what situations nullify this (sometimes) pesky document.
Someone Was Negligent
We’ve all heard those horror stories where a doctor performed surgery on the wrong body part or anesthesia didn’t kick in. Or how about when a doctor leaves a surgical instrument inside of a patient’s abdomen? In situations like this, it’s pretty obvious that the doctor was negligent.
But how does this relate to signing a medical consent form?
Well, it’s simple. If you can prove that your healthcare provider was grossly negligent during a medical procedure, then the form can be thrown out. The whole purpose of a surgery consent form is to make sure you’re aware of possible risks, and it’s also there to protect doctors. But we’re talking about protecting doctors that make the right decisions, yet a patient still dies or is injured by no fault of the doctor. Not the ones that are negligent!
Your Doctor Didn’t Follow Medical Protocol
Healthcare professionals are guided by what’s considered the standard of care. Basically, there are guidelines that the medical profession deems reasonable for certain medical conditions and diseases. For instance, the standard of care for a cancer patient may involve surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation.
Now, let’s assume that during surgery, your doctor strays from normal practices and opts to try out a new technique he heard about. And unfortunately for you, it makes things worse. In cases like this, the surgery consent form holds no weight. You are entitled to sue the doctor for turning you into a guinea pig without your consent.
You Weren’t Given The Medical Facts
Before you go into a procedure, it’s your right to be made fully aware of not only the benefits but the risks too. Now let’s jog your memory a bit, do you remember if the following things occurred prior to your procedure?
► Did the hospital staff fully inform you of the dangers involved in this procedure?
► Did your doctor try to minimize the risks or even neglect to mention them?
► Was your physician’s main concern cutting you open rather than hearing your worries and concerns?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you may have grounds to sue.
We hope this post was able to give you a little sigh of relief. That even though you signed an informed consent form before surgery, you still have legal rights. Medical malpractice and negligence are completely unacceptable and thankfully the court system agrees.
With that said, what do you do next?
The first step is always to get legal counsel. Simply get in touch with a medical malpractice lawyer (over here!) We’ll untangle this mess, do what we can to help you move on, and fight on your behalf for the compensation you deserve.
Each day, the brave men and women of our armed forces suit up to protect our freedom. A job that deserves a special kind of gratitude and respect. We’d like to believe that we’ve come a long way in taking care of our heroes and in many ways we have…
But the truth is, in a place where everyone should feel safe, our military has in a lot of ways been disregarded. We’re talking about the care they receive at military hospitals and facilities.
While the typical civilian hospital treats the most sick and weak of the population, military base hospitals treat the most healthy. Military surgeons in non-combat zones often lack the necessary skills to save lives because they perform surgery enough. This is a problem. Follow along, as we explain why this is happening and what you can do if you’re a victim.
Military Healthcare – A Broken System?
Most service members are in the prime of their lives and in peak physical condition, but this leaves military surgeons with little experience, a terrifying prospect for a potential patient. According to U.S. News,
“While civilian surgeons may perform as many as 500 operations every year, military surgeons usually perform under 100.”
That’s less than 20% of their civilian counterparts. What happens when our soldiers are on the operating table? Also, let’s not forget that due to healthcare coverage, military families are often treated at a military hospital as well. Did you know that military babies are twice as likely to experience a birth injury? Surely, our heroes and their families deserve the same level of care and odds of survival as civilians do.
The military healthcare system is in need of repair.
A Tale Of Military Medical Malpractice
So we know the level of care is an issue, but so is transparency. In many of the stories you hear, negligence within the military was never disclosed. That was the case for Private Ashley Shelton.
Pvt. Shelton was deployed to Afghanistan after being told that the 5 pregnancy tests that showed positive for pregnancy were due to false positives. Dr. Jonathan Richard Coyle, who was in charge of pre-deployment screening told Shelton the false-positives were because of mice exposure.
After working 3 months in a combat zone and exposed to harmful chemicals, Shelton gave birth to her son, Benjamin, on August 15th, 2012, without even knowing she was pregnant.
While in the womb, Benjamin was exposed to anthrax and other vaccinations that were required for Pvt. Shelton to be deployed, and received no prenatal care. Benjamin suffers from congenital birth defects. The U.S. Army has yet to recognize the mistake that led to a soldier giving birth in a combat zone in Afghanistan. Pvt. Shelton and Benjamin received no compensation from the government for this malpractice.
What Is Medical Malpractice & Negligence?
Whether a patient is in the military or not shouldn’t matter when they step foot in a medical facility. Every patient deserves quality care, and the standards should be the same. In case you’re wondering if your situation was the result of malpractice or negligence, let’s first discuss what the two terms mean.
These are the most common types of medical malpractice and negligence:
► Failure to diagnose – This is when a doctor misses your diagnosis or even incorrectly diagnoses you with a different condition.
► Incorrect treatment – If a competent doctor would have taken a different treatment path, that could be malpractice. This also includes a doctor choosing the right treatment, but then administering it incorrectly.
► Failure to warn a patient of the risks – Every patient should know the possible risks associated with a procedure or medication so they can make an informed decision.
► Medical errors – This may include medication mistakes, or surgical mishaps, among other errors.
The distinction between malpractice and negligence may seem slight, but in general it all boils down to intent. If your doctor unknowingly makes a mistake that’s often negligence. But if your doctor makes a choice and is aware of possible consequences, that’s considered malpractice.
A Change To The Feres Doctrine
Until a recent revision to the “Feres Doctrine,” service members were unable to sue the government for military medical care malpractice altogether. For 70 years, a mistake could occur and it be swept under the rug. Because of this hard fought for amendment, service members can now seek compensation for damages, and regain their voice.
If you or a loved one has been injured by medical malpractice or negligence in a non-combat military facility, now is the time to act. Some cases may be retroactive to 2018. We are eager to help you seek the justice you deserve.
Ah it’s finally spring…the time of year loved by almost everyone!
The trees green, the flowers bloom, and animals emerge from their winter beds. As the temperature rises, most of us are eager to be kissed by the rays of the sun; turning our skin golden and freckling our noses.
Excited to end the chapter of yet another cold winter, no one wants to be the bringer of bad news, but the truth is…the sun isn’t always our friend.
Did you know that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S. but is also the most preventable? In honor of Skin Cancer Awareness month, we’d like to share with you some helpful tips and tricks for staying safe this season.
The Risk Factors For Skin Cancer
As with any disease, certain characteristics and habits can affect your likelihood of getting them. Skin cancer is no different. Here’s a list of important risk factors you should keep in mind before basking in the sun:
► Skin Tone – Fair and freckled friends, you’re at a higher risk, so you’ll need to give your skin a little extra care to keep it safe!
► Smoking – If you’re a smoker, you know it’s causing damage to your lungs, but you should also know that it increases your risk of skin cancer too.
► Previous Skin Cancer Diagnosis – Unfortunately, this cancer is the lightning that often strikes twice. Examinations are crucial, especially if you have had skin cancer before.
► Ultraviolet Exposure– This is far and away the most common cause of skin cancer but there’s so much we can do to reduce the harm!
Even with greater risk, there are many measures you can take to help protect your skin. Follow along as we share helpful recommendations.
How To Protect Your Skin
Your skin is your body’s largest organ. Keep that in mind as you enjoy your favorite warm weather activities and give your skin the care and protection it deserves. To limit harmful damage, consider doing the following:
► Limit Exposure – Avoid being in the sun for an extended period of time, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This is when the sun’s ultraviolet rays are the most harmful.
► Keep From Burning– Having five or more sunburns at any point in your life doubles your risk for melanoma.
► Use Sunscreen – Experts recommend using sunscreen each and every day, with an SPF of 30 or even higher.
► Self-Examinations – Examine your skin in its entirety once a month.“What am I looking for?” you may ask. Typically: asymmetrical or unusually large moles, any changes in moles, and spots on your skin that don’t heal within several weeks.
► Seek Professional Help – Enlist an expert for a skin exam on a yearly basis to make sure your skin is healthy and happy! And if for some reason your doctor doesn’t take your concerns seriously, visit a different one.
Be Your Own Advocate
Seeking guidance from your doctor, or even a dermatologist is always a good idea. But what if they don’t listen?
Picture this: You notice a new mole on your chin. You know what to look for, so you keep an eye on it. A month goes by, and it only seems to be getting bigger. You go to your primary care physician and they brush it off, mumbling about how the internet has made everyone think they’re a doctor.
But you remember that your sister had a melanoma removed a few years ago. This is the fork in the road, do you listen to your doctor? After all, they are one of the few figures we’re taught to listen to without question. Do you hope that they’re right and that you’re just overreacting?
NO, advocate for yourself. Ask your friends and family questions, do your research, trust your gut, and most importantly get a second opinion.
Cancer is often missed because of faulty screening, failure to correctly read test results, and failure to investigate family history among other things.
You may feel rude or uncomfortable seeking a second opinion, but this could be a matter of life or death. And you deserve better!
Staying Safe And Protecting Your Rights
Skin cancer can be very treatable, especially when caught early. Taking heed to the Cancer Society’s recommendations is the smartest thing you can do to protect your skin, and decrease your odds of developing skin cancer.
We also want to reiterate the importance of seeking professional advice. If you or your loved one sought treatment and a healthcare professional failed to treat you, reach out to us. No family should deal with the loss of a loved one because of medical malpractice or negligence.
You deserve to be listened to and taken seriously. Please reach out to us, if you feel you or a family member were misdiagnosed or mistreated. We’re eager to help, and get to the bottom of this.
These numbers put the US dead last among other wealthy developed countries. America ranks 55th in the world, according to the World Health Organization’s maternal mortality ranking.
What does this mean? It means we lag behind poorer countries like Lithuania, Kuwait and Kazakhstan. It means that with all its wealth and prowess, the U.S. is the most dangerous developed country for giving birth.
Here’s another surprising fact. Most countries have lowered or flatlined their maternal mortality rates over the years. America’s rate has risen. The U.S. is one of only two developed nations whose maternal mortality rates have increased since 1990. The other is Serbia.
Mothers should not die from common delivery complications. Doctors don’t need expensive procedures or new technology to help them. All they need to do is perform basic tasks that experts have been recommending for years.
So why do the numbers keep rising? Last year, US Today dug through thousands of hospital records. They interviewed victims of botched deliveries to find some answers. This is what they discovered:
► The biggest culprits of maternal death are internal bleeding and strokes caused by high blood pressure. These are preventable!
► Hospital staff often ignore standard medical practice when treating mothers. They should be calculating blood loss instead of “eye-balling” it. They should administer medication for high blood pressure right away to prevent strokes.
► Malpractice is widespread. It occurs in tiny, rural hospitals with few resources. It happens in the biggest birthing centers boasting the best technology and staff.
► Data for maternal deaths exists. But the US doesn’t currently track childbirth injuries.
“Your wife’s just not a priority right now…”
Kira Johnson and her husband Charles chose what they assumed was one of America’s best hospitals to deliver their second son in April 2016. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles treated celebrities. So when the two eager parents arrived for Kira’s scheduled C-section, they never expected anything to go wrong.
Sure enough, Langston Emile Johnson emerged healthy and happy. His mother was doing well. Soon, she drifted off to sleep.
But hours later, Johnson noticed blood in Kira’s catheter. He mentioned it to a nurse, but no one changed the catheter until an hour and a half later. An ultrasound revealed internal bleeding, and doctors ordered a CT scan. Meanwhile, Kira was shivering uncontrollably, her skin deathly pale. Johnson begged staff to speed up the CT scan, but they told him, “Sir, your wife’s just not a priority right now.”
By the time doctors finally recognized Kira’s dire condition, it was too late. Her abdomen had completely filled with blood. She died during emergency surgery, twelve hours after giving birth.
Charles later discovered that surgeons had nicked Kira’s bladder during the C-section. He filed and settled a medical malpractice lawsuit against Cedars-Sinai. Later, he told his story during March for Moms in Washington, D.C. Today, he continues to advocate for change.
“There is nothing I can do to bring Kira back,” Johnson said. “But what I can do is to fight as hard as I possibly can to make sure we send mothers home with their babies.”
Everyone’s At Risk, Even The Wealthy
Actor Dennis Quaid and his wife Kimberly’s case proves that medical malpractice before and after birth can happen to anyone, even the rich and famous. In 2007, their twins developed staph infections shortly after birth. Doctors prescribed Heparin, but the pediatric unit administered an adult dose of the drug—1000 times the safe amount for infants. Staff rushed them to the intensive care unit.
When the Quaids called the hospital to check on the twins’ condition, the staff lied and told them they were doing fine. But when they came in the next day, they found their precious children in critical condition.
The twins recovered from the overdose about two weeks later, but the Quaids were understandably livid. They sued the hospital and won $750,000.
Not everyone is lucky to survive those kinds of errors. A similar drug snafu killed three premature babies at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. The cases are countless.
American hospitals must do more to reduce the maternal and infant mortality and injury rate. Hospitals need to train their staff members better. Federal agencies need to do more to ensure that hospital staff follow best safety practices. But until that happens, it’s up to individuals to advocate for better care.
If you (or a loved one) believe you have suffered from birth injury medical malpractice, we can help! Contact us here.