Keep Your Baby Healthy | National Birth Defects Prevention Month

Much like a new year, learning that you’re pregnant is a time full of wonder and excitement. 

A baby, despite their small size, changes almost everything. There’s a lot that goes into preparing for your little one, but really the #1 concern for most parents is how to keep their baby healthy.

You may not have known it, but January is actually National Birth Defects Prevention Month. What a great time of year to reflect on some practical tips that can help keep you and your baby healthy throughout pregnancy and delivery. Knowledge is power, so keep reading to learn more!

A pregnant woman holds her baby bump in the shape of a heart.

Prevent Birth Defects & Keep Your Baby Healthy

Each year, around 120,000 babies are born with a birth defect. To give you more perspective, this means that 1 in every 33 babies is born with an abnormality.  That’s a lot. Birth defects affect a child’s health and can alter their physicality, intellect, and development. Thankfully the CDC has many helpful recommendations that help prevent birth defects.

Here’s a few steps you should take once you learn you’re pregnant:

► Since you just received the good news, there’s no better time than now to select your doctor and schedule an appointment. Your doctor should be able to answer all of your questions and they’ll also see you for checkups throughout your pregnancy.

► It’s really important to steer clear of substances like alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and other drugs. If you’re planning on getting pregnant, avoid them before trying to conceive. None of these substances are safe for your baby. 

► Check with your doctor about the prescription medications you currently take. Professional counsel can help discern whether certain medications are safe or not. Some medications actually cause birth defects, so due diligence is vital.

► It’s also recommended that you get your flu and Tdap vaccinations during each pregnancy to help prevent illness. Not all vaccinations are safe to receive during pregnancy, so always consult with your doctor first.

Stay Healthy During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a difficult time in a woman’s life. With so many changes happening all at once it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Don’t forget to take time for yourself…prop those feet up and relax. Why? Because you deserve it, simple as that.

To keep you and your baby healthy, keep these tips in mind:

►According to the CDC, “Most women need 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day to help prevent birth defects. Women who might have pregnancies at high risk for certain birth defects should talk to their doctor about the right amount of folic acid for them.” Folic acid is a B-vitamin found in multivitamins and foods like breads and breakfast cereals.

►Consult with your doctor if you’re traveling abroad. According to the CDC, “Pregnant women can generally travel safely with a little preparation. But they should avoid some destinations, including those with Zika and malaria risk.” (Many diseases, including Zika and malaria, can cause birth defects and learning disabilities.)

►Prepare raw food items with great care, wash your hands during the cooking process, and avoid being around people that are sick. Infections can travel to the baby and cause birth defects.

Keeping a healthy diet and getting your recommended amount of exercise will keep you on the right track to a successful pregnancy. Be sure to visit the CDC’s website where you can read many more tips on how to maintain a healthy pregnancy. 

A woman lathers soap in her hands underneath a faucet.

Avoiding (& Identifying) Malpractice

So we’ve discussed a number of ways to protect your baby before birth, but how do you protect your baby during birth?  Unfortunately medical errors and negligence are very real and prevalent problems. Conditions like cerebral palsy and hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy sometimes happen because of a careless mistake. 

Sadly, mistakes like these are usually unavoidable. But here’s some tips that can be helpful in a medical setting:

► Have a family member or friend there with you. Beyond the emotional support they can provide, their presence helps keep the medical staff accountable. When you’re under an anesthetic or incapacitated, a friend can help ensure you receive prompt and thorough care. An extra set of ears and eyes is almost always a good thing.

► Unfortunately not all doctors have good bedside manner. If your doctor says something that’s confusing or you don’t understand, ask them to clarify. You deserve to know exactly what’s going on, treatments that are taking place, and what to expect during the process. Being aware can help you avoid malpractice in some cases, and identify it in others. 

► Doctors make mistakes, so stay attentive to anything that feels off. If you need to, ask for a second opinion. Don’t worry about hurting your physicians feelings, you and your baby’s health are far too important.

► Stay in tune with your body. Be aware of symptoms, changes, and effects in you or your child’s health. Communicate these with your doctor to make sure they’re paying attention to your needs and are providing the care you deserve. Take note when they’re not, both for prevention and worst case, future legal action.

► Again, staying aware and in the loop helps prevent malpractice, so don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions, and even take notes if something seems off.

January, National Birth Defects Prevention Month, is a great time of year to both refresh your personal knowledge, and to promote awareness in your community. Together, we can help decrease the likelihood of birth defects and keep moms and babies healthier!

How Doctors Legally (And Illegally) Cover Up Malpractice

You made it home. Five long days in the hospital, and home was the only thing you could think of.

But suddenly there’s a sharp pain in your stomach. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever felt before. You wrack your brain…”Did I take my medicine on time? Did I follow her instructions? Maybe I wasn’t supposed to eat yet…”

A few consults later with another physician and the truth comes to light. Your doctor didn’t just make a mistake that injured you. She hid it to protect herself. But the secrets don’t stop there. Did you know that doctors can hide their mistakes legally as well?

The Stats

Because of incredibly long hours and the general stress of the job, medical errors have become increasingly common. Out of fear of legal consequences, many doctors choose to hide their mistakes.

► 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.” Yikes. Back to your story.

Differences Between Settling & Going To Court

So. You find out about your doctor’s malpractice and decide to do something about it. You find the right lawyer and suddenly, the ball’s in your court. You have strong evidence and a solid case. They know you’ll win, so they offer you a substantial amount to settle. Finally, your doctor will own up to her mistake and you can move on with your life, right?

Well, not exactly.

Settlements, as you may know, are when cases don’t go to trial. They’re instead resolved outside of the courtroom.  Settlements can get the issue decided, put more money in your pocket, and resolve conflict in the shortest amount of time. The thing is, they usually involve a payment made by the defendant without admitting any fault. So you get justice, just not exactly all of it.

Trials represent a chance for more closure, but are a much lengthier, expensive, and are a public process involving more risk (but potentially more reward.) Litigation costs and attorney fees can add up, eclipsing the additional money gained from the jury award.

Two people discuss a legal situation with a document in hand.

The Disturbing Side Of Settling

For starters, settlements keep the issue private. County records will show the case was dismissed, omitting any further details.

The general public is left completely in the dark. Future patients don’t have access to databases like the “National Practitioner’s Data Bank”, which reports settlements and payments made by hospitals and doctors. Since the general public doesn’t have access to this information, malpractice is kept out of sight and out of mind. Future patient’s should know what they’re getting into, right? But how can they?

Settling can also keep you in the dark. No one has to give you the specific details of your own malpractice case.

The flip side, is that settlements can be a great way to end the case quickly and to keep things as drama-free as possible. Plus, there’s no risk of losing the trial. You get compensated, and that’s the biggest thing for many if not most people.

But sometimes, going to trial is the only option.

When To Go To Trial

Trials are when you decide to take your claim to court, allowing a jury of your peers to decide the monetary damages and who is at fault, along with a judge, attorneys, witnesses, and the use of testimonies.

For some, it can be critical to put their doctor’s wrongdoings on public record. It’s the best way to ensure the safety of other patients and the best way to avoid future incidents from happening again.

The fact remains that less than 7% of cases involving doctor malpractice go to a jury. It can also take years to process, which can be a demotivating factor when deciding whether to go to trial or not.

Despite this, taking your doctor or hospital to court over medical malpractice advocates publicly for higher levels of accountability in the professional world, and upholds a standard that is important to maintain.

A person signs a legal document with a pen.

Discerning Your Best Option

You’ve certainly felt the gravity of your physicians mistake. It affects your health, finances, and emotions, among other things. You deserve justice, no matter what form it takes.

If you face the decision to settle or go to court, just know that it’s not always black and white. It’s a deeply personal decision that only you can make. Your lawyer will be there to explain the pros and cons of each decision and to help you select the best option.

If you found this article helpful, be sure to check out the rest of our blog where you can find other informative posts. As always, feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions or would like to discuss pursuing a case.

The Scary Side Of Anesthesia: Mistakes, Awareness, Paralysis & More

This isn’t the Wild West. No, gone are the days where you reach for a shot of whiskey and clench a twig between your teeth. It’s nearly the year 2020 and we’ve got a MUCH  better way to deal with pain.

We’re talking about Anesthesia, the amazing gift that modern medicine has sealed with a bow and gifted us. Something almost all of us can be thankful for…unless you’re one of the few who’ve experienced it’s terrors.

In this article we’re going to talk about the scary side of Anesthesia…the side we hope you never have to experience.  But first let’s dig deeper into what Anesthesia is and how it helps patients.

A woman is comforted by her husband while in surgery.

The Purpose of Anesthesia

Most healthcare professionals are amazing. They work long hours and deal with stressful situations, all while doing their best to keep patients comfortable and healthy. One of the tools they routinely use is anesthesia. A combination of medications administered through a vein or breathed in, anesthesia is what keeps patients relaxed or even asleep during surgery. 

In case you weren’t aware, there’s actually three forms of anesthesia:

  • General anesthesia – Used for major surgeries, this is where you’re completely unconscious and unable to move your body; deep asleep and unaware of what’s happening. 
  • Regional anesthesia – Think a C-section, where a large part of the body is numb, but you’re still awake. 
  • Local anesthesia – Nearly the same as regional anesthesia, except the area under anesthesia is smaller. Local anesthesia is what dentists and eye surgeons routinely use.

When Anesthesia Goes Wrong

Anesthesiologists are responsible for giving patients the correct dose and combination of medications. They’re also there to monitor vital signs. Their job is incredibly important and surgeons rely heavily on their expertise. 

Now, for the most part they do an incredible job, but sometimes things go wrong. Maybe the body just reacts in an unpredictable way and it’s no one’s fault. Other times complications occur because someone didn’t do their job. Maybe they weren’t paying close attention or forgot to do something important.

Something important like:

  • Giving too high or too low of a dose.
  • Not tracking the patient throughout the procedure.
  • Failure to inform the patient how to prepare for surgery. 
  • Turning off the pulse oximeter alarm. (This is the device that is usually clamped on your fingertip. It sounds an alert if your heart isn’t pumping enough oxygen to your vital organs.)
  • Failure to recognize complications as they develop. Anesthesiologists should be paying close attention to your heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen levels, etc.

A man sits in a chair visibly upset with his hand covering his eyes.

Anesthesia Side Effects:

There are a wide variety of side effects. Based on the severity of the medical error and how the body responds, mistakes range from trivial to catastrophic. In some cases they’re even fatal, which is all the more reason anesthesiologists need to exercise extreme caution. Here’s a list of varying side effects:

  • Postoperative pain
  • Nausea
  • Serious allergic reaction
  • Sore throat
  • Brain damage from a lack of oxygen
  • Tooth damage
  • Stroke
  • Coma
  • Heart palpitations
  • Hypotension
  • Breathing problems
  • Nerve injury
  • Heart attack
  • Death

Have you ever heard of anesthesia awareness?  This is another scary complication where a patient may wake up in the middle of surgery. Unable to speak or move, they have no way to tell the staff what’s happening. Sometimes patients not only hear what’s going on, but feel it. Talk about a nightmare. Patients that have lived through this describe it as horrifying. Take this story from CNN for example:

When Carol Weiher was having her right eye surgically removed in 1998, she woke up hearing disco music. The next thing she heard was ‘Cut deeper, pull harder.’

She desperately wanted to scream or even move a finger to signal to doctors that she was awake, but the muscle relaxant she’d received prevented her from controlling her movements.

‘I was doing a combination of praying and pleading and cursing and screaming, and trying anything I could do but I knew that there was nothing that was working,’ said Weiher, of Reston, Virginia.

Even after surgery, anesthesia awareness can provoke severe emotional distress, and patients may even develop PTSD. 

What to do if You’re a Victim of Malpractice

Anesthesiologists are experts in their field, we all know that. But they make mistakes like everyone else. If you’re the victim of medical malpractice, and the anesthesiologist made an error, they should be held accountable.

Medical errors are unfortunate no matter the severity. They can effect your body in a long term ways, change your emotional state, and seriously alter the trust you once had in medical professionals.

If you or a loved one are the victim of malpractice, it’s important to take swift action. In most malpractice suits there’s a statute of limitations; your time frame  to pursue legal action.

If you have any questions or you’d like to pursue legal action, please contact us. You don’t have to just accept what happened to you. You have the right to defend yourself or your loved one, and claim justice.

 

The Craziest Objects Left Inside People’s Bodies After Surgery

A sponge, gauze, scissors…

Items that should be left on the surgical tray,  NOT  in your body.

We get it, some people aren’t phased by the sight of blood and can even watch a surgical video without flinching.

But if you’re like the majority of people, you look away. When going in for surgery you may ask how long your surgery will be or what recovery’s like. But the rest…well you leave that to the medical staff. You don’t want all of the spine tingling details. You expect surgery to go smooth. To get in and out and have a nice place to rest your head while you recoup.

A girl lays comfortably in bed full of blankets and pillows.

What you don’t expect is to experience stomach pain and bloating for years and later find out two surgical sponges were left behind during your C-Section. Or come to find out your doctor left behind a towel, that’s now intertwined with your intestines…what?!

Here’s a few of the craziest surgical tales we’ve heard yet.

Missing Retractor

Unless you’re in the medical field, you probably don’t know what a surgical retractor is. Basically it’s a tool doctors use to keep your incision open and to hold back tissue and other organs.

Patient Donald Church knows all too well about these large, metal devices. It’s been nearly twenty years since his surgery, but it’s still one of the wildest stories yet.

Mr. Church’s surgeon left a 12 inch retractor in his abdomen. 12 inches! Can you imagine the misery he must have been going through? Being constantly poked and prodded by a piece of metal. According to Church it was agonizing:

There were days when I would just roll up on the floor in the bathroom and sob, because I was in so much pain. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me.

Donald Church

Mr. Church voiced his concerns to his surgeon, but was told that pain post surgery was normal. Even thirty days after surgery, he was still communicating his concerns to no avail. Thankfully his family physician noticed a strange lump in Church’s chest during a routine exam. An x-ray was ordered which clearly showed the retractor. Church lived to share his story, and received some much deserved compensation for his troubles.

Infection Leads to Death

Not all stories have a happy ending. That’s why medical errors are such a huge issue that needs to be addressed. Sometimes people lose their lives because of careless mistakes.

In this story, a mother of three lost hers.

Geraldine Nicholson went in for surgery to have cancer removed. Scary enough, right? But weeks later she learned a surgical sponge had been left in her body from surgery. The sponge was removed, but Ms. Nicholson dealt with various infections spanning a year, because of it.

Cancer treatment saves lives but it also wreaks havoc on your immune system. Even the most mild infection can be life threatening. Because of the sponge’s aftermath, Geraldine wasn’t able to receive the chemotherapy and radiation she needed. She wasn’t left with a fighting chance. All because of a surgical error. Like others, she lost her life because of someone else’s mistake.

Surgical tools with surgeons performing surgery in the background.

Missing Needle

For many, there’s no surgery as scary as open heart.  It’s long and intense, and just seems so vulnerable. Imagine making it through a 9 hour surgery only to learn that a needle has been left somewhere in your body. Unlike some cases, at least the doctor acknowledged their mistake and tried to make it right, but needles aren’t easy to find. There’s a reason for the adage, “Like looking for a needle in a haystack.” Some things are nearly impossible to find.

Just a month after surgery Mr. Burns passed away because of complications from the needle. Only after an autopsy was performed was the tiny but devastating tool found.

Conclusion

According to the CDC there are an estimated 1,500 cases each year of foreign entities being left behind during surgery each year. The most common items are sponges and surgical instruments. Usually poor communication and organization are the culprit for such mistakes.

In most hospitals there are standard precautions in place to avoid errors like these. Such as the scrub nurse counting the number of sponges and instruments, both before surgery and after.

Mistakes happen. There will always be human error, but you shouldn’t be penalized because someone else made a mistake. Medical malpractice affects not only quality of life, but in some cases duration.

You are your best advocate. If someone treated you wrong, reach out to someone who can help.

 

9 Medical Malpractice Facts You Should Know

You’re reading this because you’re interested in medical malpractice. Maybe because:

The hospital treated you or a loved one negligently. Or you may be wondering if you have a malpractice case.

If that sounds like you, or if you’re interested in malpractice for some other reason, here’s 9 medical malpractice facts you should know.

9 Medical Malpractice Facts You Should Know

► One out of every three patients will be a victim of a medical error during their hospital stay. Truth is, there’s always going to be human error, but a third of all patients? That’s a lot.

Malpractice reports indicate that over $4 billion was paid out for medical malpractice lawsuits, in 2018 alone.  The average payout for a successful case was nearly $350,000. Money can’t fix what happened, but it can at least help. When you’re dealing with all of the emotional, physical, and financial turmoil malpractice causes, anything good helps.

► In 2018, payouts were for these top three malpractice allegations: 34.1% diagnosis, 21.4% surgery, and 21.1% treatment.

A woman wearing a surgical mask looks directly at the camera.

► About 34% of all doctors have been sued for malpractice. Why are the numbers so high? Many doctors admit that they’re overworked.

► You can’t wait too long to file a case. Every state is different, but there’s usually something called a “statute of limitations,” or a time frame you have to file. In Texas, for example, in most cases you have two years to seek legal action from the malpractice incident.

► Cases take time. Some are quicker than others, but it can take several months, and even years. Believe it or not, about 95% of cases settle out of court. This means that your law firm and the person or group you’re suing come to an agreement on their own.

A black and white photo of a jar full of coins.

► The majority of medical malpractice cases require no money up front. If your law firm believes you have a strong case they’ll actually foot the bill. If you win, your lawyer will receive an agreed upon percentage and will also be reimbursed legal fees. The good news is, if you lose you don’t owe them anything.

► Having a team of medical malpractice experts on your side is vital. In a malpractice suit, you’re usually going against giant corporations. You need expert witnesses and an experienced firm to win. Do your research and carefully select your firm.

10% of all US deaths are because of a medical error. Each with a family that deserves justice.

Justice For Medical Malpractice Victims

We’ve all seen the commercials where the lawyer looks straight into the eyes of the camera and says “we’ll fight for you,” right?

It can be a bit cringey, but the truth is, nobody can fight for patients unless they reach out, and many malpractice victims don’t reach out until they’re aware they may have a case, and receive an invitation to fight for justice.

So now that we’ve covered our medical malpractice facts to help with the first part (learn more about whether you have a medical malpractice case ), here’s our invitation:

If you or your loved one has experienced malpractice we urge you to contact a local malpractice attorney to get justice.

If you’re in the Houston area, contact our malpractice lawyers with any questions you may have, and we’ll help you.

 

What Are The 5 Most Common Types Of Medical Malpractice?

What are the 5 most common types of medical malpractice?

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

Black and white photo of adult hand with baby hand in it.

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

Assortment of prescription drug pills.

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

Group of surgeons and medical professionals standing near table.

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.
  • Anesthesia errors.
  • 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 Do I have a medical malpractice case? to find out, or give us a call.

4. Misdiagnosis

Sad woman laying in hospital bed with a coffee cup in her hand.

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

Hospital room with chair and patient observation light.

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. Again, if you believe you have a medical malpractice case, read Do I have a medical malpractice case? to find out, or give us a call and we’ll help you find out.

Final Thoughts

No one wants to think about medical malpractice. That 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.