Obesity, C-Sections May Be Behind Rising Maternal Mortality Rate

Most people probably think of the United States as having one of the best
healthcare systems in the world. Indeed, here in Houston and throughout
the state of Texas and beyond, expecting mothers often receive top-notch
medical care. It is rare that pregnancy-related injuries occur in the
medical setting, but when they do, families can find themselves in devastating
situations.

Interestingly, recent media reports indicate that the maternal mortality
rate in the United States appears to be on the rise. The U.S. is one of
just eight nations where the rate is increasing rather than decreasing
or staying the same. The figures are startling: in 1987, there were just
over seven maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in the United States.
The number of maternal fatalities more than doubled between 1987 and 2011,
when there were nearly 18 deaths per 100,000 U.S. live births. These numbers
are according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What could be behind this rise in the number of mothers dying as a consequence
of childbirth and pregnancy? A researcher for the CDC notes that several
factors could be at play, including more older women giving birth, a huge
rise in the number of C-sections performed in the U.S., lack of access
to maternal care and better reporting methods. In addition, complications
due to obesity, such as hypertension and diabetes, can also put mothers at risk.

Pregnancy-related injury, including fatal injury, can be the result of
delivery room negligence as it pertains to the above factors. A botched
C-section can endanger a woman’s life, while negligent monitoring of diabetes
or high blood pressure can put both mother and baby in danger. Families
who have been affected by maternal death in the medical setting can find
a trusted resource in a Houston wrongful death attorney.

Source: Fox 8, “Why is the maternal mortality rate going up in the United
States?,” Kelly Wallace, Dec. 2, 2015

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Potential eligibility concerns for aspiring Texas nurses

The dream of becoming a nurse will someday become reality for many men
and women in Texas. Nurses contribute significantly to the state’s
healthcare system, particularly in labor and obstetrics but throughout
the field as well. While most nurses are skilled, compassionate and uphold
the standards of their important profession, as with every type of job
there are sometimes those who are careless or irresponsible.

When incidents of nursing negligence occur, an investigation often looks
back into how the negligent individual became a nurse in the first place.
At times the negligent individual may have legitimately obtained their
license and position, but at times there may be red flags that were overlooked
in the past. The Texas Board of Nursing has many different eligibility
requirements to obtain a nursing license in Texas; the Board also lists
many different issues related to eligibility.

Potential eligibility issues include being convicted of a felony or misdemeanor,
having past arrests or criminal charges pending currently, being sentenced
to a jail term or prison sentence, or even having plead no contest to
a criminal charge. In addition, having had a pre-trial diversion program
can also be a concern to the Board. The Board of Nursing notes that applicants
who may have eligibility issues can expect a longer review of their applications.

Last month, a woman from Goliad was arrested after authorities discovered
she had been working as a nurse without a license. The woman had worked
in at least two different rehabilitation centers without actually being
licensed as a registered nurse. The investigation has revealed that, so
far, the woman was able to become employed through clever identity theft schemes.

Texas hospitals and nursing centers have a commitment to their patients
to uphold standards of patient care. If these standards are not upheld
by their nurses, lawsuits and accusations of nursing negligence may result.

Source: Texas Board of Nursing, “Eligibility Issues,” accessed Nov. 20, 2015

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Family claims botched delivery in Texas newborn’s death

The loss of a loved one is always deeply hurtful, but often much more so
when the deceased was relatively young. The death of a newborn is almost
unfathomable to most Texas families, but unfortunately that is what one
local family has had to cope with recently. In situations where a loved
one has died unexpectedly due to a medical mistake, a family can obtain
legal advice from a Houston wrongful death attorney.

A Texas physician, twice sued before for medical malpractice, is at the
center of a controversy over a baby’s death earlier this month. When
the child’s mother went into the East Houston Regional Medical Center
to give birth, there were apparently no indications that the delivery
would go horribly wrong. According to the woman’s attorney, she had
experienced a largely uncomplicated pregnancy and thus it was expected
she would deliver a healthy baby boy.

The mother’s lawyer notes that, during delivery, the baby’s head
became lodged in the birth canal. Instead of performing an emergency Cesarean
section
, though, the doctor supposedly caused the baby’s collarbone
to break. Moreover, the physician supposedly ignored others’ requests
for a C-section. The doctor has been ordered to undergo 20 hours of high-risk
obstetrics training for failure to meet standards of patient care. The
attorney for the mother who lost her child says they may file a lawsuit.

It’s often upsetting to learn that doctors who have harmed patients
in the past continue to treat some of society’s most vulnerable members.
Still, it is possible to hold negligent doctors and hospitals accountable
for the harm they have caused. While accountability can’t bring back
a lost loved one or reverse the course of a fatal accident, it can allow
the family to receive compensation for their loss.

Source: ABC 13, “Parents want answers after baby dies at East Houston regional Medical Center,” Tracy Clemons, Nov. 9, 2015

March of Dimes observes Houston’s high rate of premature birth

Houston residents have a lot to be proud of, but there are some statistics
that show the city may be lacking in certain key areas. The rate of premature
birth, for example, is actually relatively high in Houston, a fact which
may surprise some locals, as the metro area is generally perceived as
being family-friendly. Still, According to the March of Dimes, Houston
had the tenth-highest rate of premature birth in 2013.

Houston’s rate of premature birth was 10.3 percent of births in 2013;
the national average was 9.6 percent. Houston’s 2013 rate, in addition
to being higher than the national average, was also higher than the average
in Texas. Why was the city’s rate of preterm birth so relatively high?
It’s not known for certain, but preterm birth, generally defined as
birth occurring before the 37th week of pregnancy, is linked to certain
health conditions such as diabetes, obesity and hypertension. In addition,
preterm births also tend to occur more often when mothers are very young
and lack access to care, or when mothers who are older and seeking fertility
treatments.

Premature birth can cause a host of problems for a baby, from
infections to respiratory distress syndrome. Unfortunately, preterm birth is also
the number one cause of infant death. In some cases, a baby’s premature
birth may have been prevented through proper care and pregnancy monitoring.
Lack of prenatal care has been cited as one of the reasons why Houston’s
premature birth rate is so high. A professor at Baylor College of Medicine
has noted that areas with high preterm birth rates were also areas in
which women averaged fewer prenatal visits than in areas with lower rates
of premature birth.

A
Houston birth injuries lawyer can help a family affected by a preventable premature birth. The medical
expenses incurred by a premature birth can be staggering; in Harris County,
Texas, the average cost of a birth that comes too early is about $40,000.
Seeking legal advice from a birth injury lawyer can help a family obtain
compensation for injuries stemming from a preventable premature birth.

Source: The Houston Chronicle, “High premature birth rates linked to obesity, care access,” Markian Hawryluk, Nov. 5, 2015

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Gross negligence in Texas malpractice cases

Having to go to a hospital is usually an experience that raises as many
questions while also providing answers. For an expecting mother in Texas,
a hospital stay can offer reassurance that a pregnancy is progressing
as planned, but it can also bring up many questions about pregnancy, labor,
delivery and recovery after birth. In some cases, delivery room negligence
during or before birth may cause pregnancy-related injuries – these injuries,
in turn, can spark the need for more information regarding negligence
in Texas law.

For severe birth injury and pregnancy-related injury cases, a family might
encounter the term “gross negligence.” As defined by the Texas
Civil Practice and Remedies Code, gross negligence means either an act
or an omission which entails an “extreme degree” of risk when
viewed in an objective manner at the time of occurrence. The risk refers
to potential harm done to a patient – in particular, the magnitude and
probability of such harm.

The second part of the definition of gross negligence involves the actor
– the medical professional accused of gross negligence – being aware of
the risk but proceeding anyway. A doctor who is aware of the substantial
risk of harm to a patient but continues anyway may be consciously indifferent
to the safety or rights of others; in such a situation the doctor may
be grossly negligent.

It’s important to know that OB/GYN negligence can still occur without
gross negligence being involved. There are different types of negligence,
but all can cause harm to a mother or baby. A Texas medical malpractice
attorney can offer legal advice regarding how to determine if negligence
occurred and how to hold negligent staff or providers accountable.

Source: Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, “Title 2: Trial, Judgment and Appeal,” accessed Oct. 30, 2015

Are Texas nurses required to initiate CPR?

Many adults in Texas have likely learned the basics of CPR, or cardiopulmonary
resuscitation, at some point in their lives. While not everyone may remember
exactly what to do, the basics are likely ingrained in many locals’
memories. Most Texans will probably never have to use CPR, but those who
work in healthcare have different legal responsibilities than do laypersons,
especially when it comes to initiating lifesaving measures.

In Texas, registered nurses are required to initiate CPR for patients who
require resuscitation. In the absence of a do-not-resuscitate order, a
nurse must initiate CPR for a patient who needs it. Typically, it is outside
the scope of a nurse’s practice to determine that a patient does not
require CPR. The Texas State Board of Nursing has important rules for
nurses regarding the immediate initiation of CPR as part of their duties
towards patients.

Unfortunately, nursing errors brought about by nursing negligence, overworked
nurses or hospital negligence can have a dramatic effect on patients’
well-being. If CPR is not initiated right away when it is needed, or if
it is performed incorrectly, a patient’s life could be on the line.
The reality of a healthcare worker’s job is that life-threatening
mistakes are a daily threat; workers, nurses and physicians must be constantly
vigilant in order to avoid these damaging errors. In the case of nurses,
this includes knowing how to perform one of the most basic yet vital lifesaving
maneuvers.

Interestingly, the Texas State Board of Nursing does not require nurses
have a current CPR card in order to work. However, specific employers
may have different requirements. In any event, a Houston nursing negligence
attorney can help patients who are concerned that a loved one’s life
could have been saved in a healthcare setting.

Source: The Texas State Board of Nursing, “Initiation of CPR – A nurse’s duty to initiate,” accessed Oct. 19, 2015

Brain performance institute to open in Dallas

According to a brain specialist working out of Houston, our ideas about
the brain are extremely outdated. Dr. Chapman has been working with patients
suffering from cognitive injuries due to traumatic brain injury and says
the brain is one of the most misunderstood areas of our bodies. It is
true that the brain has just recently become a focus of interest for treating
many different type of ailments. For those brain injury sufferers struggling
with a TBI, a new research facility is set to open in Dallas in 2017.

The facility would be the first of its kind to test patient’s cognitive
skills and plan training programs aimed at increasing the brain’s
ability to function. Beliefs about the brain have changed drastically
over recent years. Conventional wisdom once dictated that humans are born
with a fixed set of nerve cells, or neurons, that gradually die out as
we age. However, it has been discovered that the brain never stops making
new neurons.

What this means is that the brain could potentially learn new information,
meaning it could function at a higher level if it is struggling from a
traumatic brain injury that slowed brain function. Studies show that certain
types of training can reverse these trends of decline and increase blood
flow and strengthen connections between neurons. Dr. Chapman is well known
for her SMART program that was launched in Houston and examines and treats
brain function. The SMART program costs roughly $600 to $1,000 per session
for the general public.

Although groundbreaking, these brain training programs can be very expensive.
Many traumatic brain injuries are the result of a traumatic accident and
prevent the victim from doing things they once were able to do with ease
before their injury. This is why these brain rehabilitation programs hold
such promise for those suffering from brain injuries. Due to the high
costs associated with rehabilitation, medical expenses may make this type
of treatment unattainable. If someone is believed to be responsible for
a brain injury affecting you or a family member’s quality of life,
then it is important to hold them accountable financially for your misfortune.

Source: The Dallas Morning News, “New UT-Dallas institute to be at forefront of training the brain,”
Anna Kuchment
, October 10, 2015

Misdiagnoses and their potential for serious injury

Receiving the proper diagnosis is key to understanding, managing and treating
any sort of medical condition. This is especially true when a female patient
is pregnant, as certain conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure
can change how a pregnancy needs to be handled. In some instances, a misdiagnosis
could even contribute to
birth injuries or other serious injury to a fetus, a newborn or a pregnant woman. However,
a new government report shows that most Americans will receive at least
one misdiagnosis in their lifetime.

The report was released last month from the Institute of Medicine, with
the president of the National Academy of Medicine calling the report’s
findings a “serious wake-up call.” He mentioned that diagnostic
mistakes actually contribute significantly to harm done to patients, but
it’s also an issue that hasn’t received enough attention. In addition
to opening the door to physical harm done to patients, a misdiagnosis
can also cause trauma to a patient and their family, create unnecessary
treatment plans that are costly to the patient, and can lead a patient
to miss the treatment they actually need.

In some cases of misdiagnosis, a single negligent doctor will be at fault.
In other situations, there may be more than one party at fault for either
a missed diagnosis or an erroneous one. Diagnosis itself is often a collaborative
process, so a victim of misdiagnosis may wish to speak with a
Houston medical malpractice attorney regarding who may be at fault for their condition or their child’s
medical problems.

A misdiagnosis during or after pregnancy can cause a family to accumulate
massive medical expenses. By pursuing a medical malpractice suit, however,
a birth injury victim can face the future with the tools needed for stability
and growth. An experienced birth injury attorney can explain how misdiagnosis
may cause unnecessary harm to either mother or baby and can offer legal
advice for confronting this difficult situation.

Inducing labor and the health of mother and unborn child

Most Houston-area mothers vividly remember the births of their children,
especially if they had a difficult labor. A troublesome or prolonged labor,
in addition to being memorable as well as uncomfortable, can also be reason
for a doctor to induce labor. Speeding up the natural process of labor,
though, can carry risks and is typically only done for legitimate medical reasons.

A negligent physician or careless delivery room staff could inadvertently
cause pregnancy-related injuries if inducing labor is not done very carefully.
One of the risks of inducing labor is causing the baby to be born too
early; a baby’s arrival before 39 weeks often means the newborn is
more likely to have health issues and experience hospital stays. For women
who have had C-sections in the past, some hormones used to induce labor
can actually cause
uterine rupture. Sometimes, the amniotic sac is broken in an attempt to induce labor,
but if the baby hasn’t arrived soon after, this can raise the risk of
infection.

So, when do responsible doctors induce labor? A physician might induce
labor if an expecting mother is a week or two past her due date. Some
may not realize that, just like with premature birth, birth that occurs
too late can also raise the risk for complications. Another medical reason
to induce labor is to avoid infection if a woman’s water breaks but
her labor doesn’t begin. Finally, if either mother or baby have a
particular health problem such as high blood pressure or an abnormal heart
rate, an OB/GYN may induce labor.

Pregnancy is difficult enough without having to worry about delivery room
negligence. Still, this type of thing does unfortunately occur from time
to time. Women who have had labor induced due to rash decision-making
by a negligent OB/GYN may wish to talk to a Houston pregnancy-related
injury attorney. A woman or baby can suffer costly and damaging health
problems due to inducing labor in an unsafe manner or without a valid
medical reason.

Source: WebMD, “Inducing labor,” accessed Sept. 28, 2015

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What can I expect when discussing a medical malpractice case?

A family grieving the loss of a loved one rarely wants to initiate a lawsuit;
however, in many instances a civil suit is the only way to hold a negligent
doctor, hospital or other entity accountable. Still, taking one’s
case to a Houston medical malpractice attorney may be very difficult.
A family is likely dealing with a variety of intense emotions, coping
with ongoing grief and shock and struggling to overcome new financial
challenges. What can families expect when they talk to an attorney about
medical malpractice and wrongful death?

It’s helpful for families to know that there are four main elements
of a medical malpractice case. The plaintiff in a medical malpractice
suit, including those involving wrongful death allegations, must successfully
demonstrate this quartet of elements in order to prove their case. These
factors include a duty of care owed to the patient, a deviation from a
standard of care committed by the person who owed the duty, a causal link
between the deviation and the harm done to the patient and, of course,
the actual harm done to the patient.

The first element usually centers on the doctor-patient relationship. Proving
the second factor may require consulting other physicians and seeing what
the standard procedures are in a given situation. Typically, the health
care provider’s deviation from the standard of care is the breach
of duty owed to the deceased patient. Finally, it must be shown that not
only was the patient’s death due to the negligence, but that the medical
mistake in question was done by the defendant and not someone else.

Speaking with a Texas wrongful death attorney can illuminate many of the
often-confusing areas of the law associated with medical malpractice.
While medically-related fatal accident cases have reputations for being
extremely complex and difficult to win, in reality it is possible to hold
a negligent provider or facility accountable. Families can begin the process
by scheduling a consultation with an experienced medical malpractice attorney.