Archive for the ‘Medical Malpractice’ Category

10 Percent of U.S. Deaths Attributed to Medical Errors

medical errors malpractice In 2016, a John Hopkins University study revealed that medical errors had become the third leading cause of death in the United States, with only heart disease and cancer coming ahead in cause for death. That year, 251,000 preventable deaths were the result of a medical error. The study also showed that the CDC’s data was not accurate as it lacked a method to collect national health statistics that would properly classify medical errors as the cause of death on death certificates. This means medical error deaths are widely unreported, as they are often attributed to illnesses in which the patient sought care rather than the error that caused death.

The new study sparked a renewed interest in the topic of medical errors. This year at AAPA, a conference for the American Academy of PAs, Tatsiana Singh, MPAS, PA-C, Indiana State University Sycamore Center for Wellness, explained some efforts have been made that healthcare providers are aware of, despite the lack of reliable information. In the Institute of Medicine’s report in 1999, it was estimated that 98,000 people had died due to medical errors, which is what many articles had been referring to in the past, despite it being 30-year-old data.

This is due to a lack of attempt to review the information, with only a handful of attempts since on a national scale. A smaller-scale attempt that was published in the Journal of Patient Safety in 2013 revealed an estimate of 200-4000,000 annual deaths due to medical errors. Even further, there is a 10-20-fold higher, or 2 to 4 million people annually, of patients that suffer serious consequences due to medical errors but do not die. Looking at this information, it appears medical errors easily qualify as the third leading cause of death in the United States. These numbers could be a gross underestimate as the information is based on reviewing medical charts, which could be inaccurate.

Even further, there are some studies that suggest 10 – 30% of autopsies reveal misdiagnoses after the patient has died. The leading medical errors, based on the data from the Joint Commission, are operating on the wrong patient, doing the wrong surgery, or the wrong body part, followed by unintentional retention of a foreign object during surgery and delay in diagnosis. This means patients in the ICU and undergoing surgery are at the highest risk for medical error.

If you or a loved one have suffered consequences due to the negligent acts of a doctor, contact our team today to find out your legal options.

What Happens After a Medication Error by a Doctor?

medication errorWhile physicians have the background and knowledge to help people when they fall ill, they are fallible human beings. Even further, not all physicians have the same background and level of expertise, especially for more specialized conditions. In some cases, they may think the medication will help solve a medical issue and it winds up being the wrong choice. In other cases, there may be a clerical error in writing the script.

Prescribing medication is arguably the most important thing a doctor does. While seeing the patient has its importance, the end goal is to find the right medication or recommendation to help the patient fight off the ailment. However, when the wrong medication is administered, it does more than put a hitch in the proper regime needed. Instead, it puts the patient at risk for an adverse reaction, including allergic reactions and death.

The types of errors that can occur are widespread. Even when the medication is correct, the dosage could be wrong, which can have its own poor effects. For instance, if a patient has too much of certain drugs, they could be at much higher risk for complications and side effects. When a patient is not given enough, it may be the same as though they were not on medication at all. Depending on the ailment, this could have devastating effects. Even worse, when the wrong medication is prescribed, a patient could have an allergic reaction they otherwise would not have suffered.

Consequences of Medication Errors for Physicians

Writing an inaccurate prescription is considered negligence and could be grounds for a medical malpractice. In Connecticut, there are strict laws and regulations that protect patients from negligent acts. These laws aim to give fair compensation to patients that are victim to a negligent doctor. For patients who die as a result of the medication error, a wrongful death case is nearly the same as a medical malpractice lawsuit but is used in cases where the victim dies.

However, medication error lawsuits are difficult to prove. The first part of a medical malpractice suit is to prove that negligence occurred, which means the right person must be named. This means knowing who prescribe and issued the medication. This could be many different staff members. At our law firm, we do the right research and have the resources to uncover who is liable for injury suffered by an unknowing patient. Contact us today to find out how our team can help your case.

Properly Negotiating with an Insurance Company

negotiation insuranceAfter a claim, whether it is a personal injury or auto accident or even a malpractice claim, you will have to submit a demand letter to the insurance company. Once that step has been completed, it’s time to gear up for negotiations. Ideally, you will have a legal team on your side for negotiations. Even if you do have a lawyer, it’s important to understand what goes into a negotiation to be best prepared for how things will proceed.

The Negotiation Process

The first call is always the hardest in any negotiations. The adjuster will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the claim and offer a settlement for an amount lower than the demand letter. At that point, a counter offer will be made that is higher than the adjuster’s amount but lower than the demand letter. Due to this, it’s important to have a high enough number in the original demand to lower during negotiations. On average, it takes two or three phone calls to reach a figure that is between the two offers.

A reservation of rights letter will come after the negotiations have begun. This letter simply protects the insurance company from the claimant saying the insurance policy covers the accident because negotiations began. The letter isn’t meant to trick the claimant but rather protects the insurance company from having to pay out a settlement before agreements are made.

Know Your Settlement Amount Ahead

As mentioned, the original demand letter should have an amount that is higher than what you expect to receive. To have that amount, you must first determine the lowest settlement you are willing to take. This should be based on your own information and should not be revealed to the adjuster at any point. Of course, you don’t have to stick with this figure. If the adjuster makes points that lower the figure that you didn’t consider, lowering the figure could benefit your claim in the long run.

Don’t Accept the First Offer

Just as you are high-balling your offer to get more money, the adjuster’s job is to low-ball the first offer to try to pay out less. This is also done to see if you know what you are doing, or may be a somewhat reasonable offer but is lower than what you will accept. If it does seem reasonable, immediately make a counteroffer that is lower than your demand but a bit higher than the offer. This will show you are trying to be reasonable and could get to a quicker final settlement.

Ask for Justification

If you get a very low offer, ask the adjuster how they got to the offer. Rather than making a counteroffer, asking for a justification can reveal if they are using a tactic to get you down lower. Be sure to take notes on the reasoning. At this point, write a brief letter responding to the points. This will act as an unofficial secondary demand letter. You can lower the demand by a bit but it is advised not to lower too far to see if they adjuster will budge on the amount.

In the next phone call, ask for a reply to your letter. At this point, you should receive a more reasonable offer that is easier to bargain with and arrive at a reasonable offer. However, this won’t always work. In some cases, the adjuster will try to continually wear down your offer. Having a well-seasoned lawyer on your side can help. If you are entering negotiations of an offer from an insurance company and feel you are being unfairly treated, contact our team at Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers today.

Wrongful Death Claims in Connecticut: Important Questions Answered

There are few times in life more emotionally-charged than losing a loved one due to the negligence or wrongful act of another person. Despite the emotions, it’s important to have the right information and important questions answered before pursuing legal action. While many will want to immediately hold the person accountable, it can pay off to take a step back and full understand what comes with the territory of a wrongful death claim.

What is a wrongful death claim?

The compensation gained from a wrongful death claim is meant to help financial aid family members following a fatal accident. This is often when the family members had been financially and emotionally dependent on the deceased.

Who can seek damages?

A good rule of thumb is whether the person is part of the estate. Surviving spouses and children are the most common, but surviving parents and other family members may also be able to seek damages.

What damages can be covered?

Damages following a wrongful death fall into two categories: economic and noneconomic. Economic damages include monetary losses and the expenses that came as a result of the death such as funeral arrangements and medical bills. Noneconomic damages cover losses and injury that are harder to quantify, such as lingering effects of injuries.

Can I be compensated for pain and suffering?

In a wrongful death suit, pain and suffering may be sought when the victim did not die instantaneously. Collecting for your own pain and suffering is much more difficult to claim.

Can I claim emotional distress as a bystander?

In some circumstances, damages can be sought as a bystander. Family members who witnessed the death or saw their loved one at the scene of the accident may be able to collect compensation for their emotional distress. They might be compensated for emotional and psychological injuries that would be expected from the loss of a loved one.

Can I seek damages for loss of consortium?

When your spouse passes away and you have children, you are losing your parenting partner. In Connecticut, you can seek compensation for the loss of the ability to enjoy their companionship such as the spouse’s affections, companionship and sexual relations.

If you have lost a loved one suddenly due to the careless actions of another person, contact the Connecticut wrong death lawyers at Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers to find out how we can help.

How Adjusters Calculate Pain and Suffering After an Injury

Connecticut Slip and Fall LawyerWhile it may seem difficult to put a numeric value on the pain and suffering one goes through after an injury, compensation for damages has to be calculated. This type of damages is classified as compensatory damages. The compensation is calculated based on a variety of factors, including the severity and duration of pain, along with the symptoms of lingering pain and emotional distress. Unsurprisingly, lingering symptoms can be difficult to prove in general, and even more difficult to reflect in a court-of-law.

When looking to prove you have been through pain and suffering following an injury, it is important to understand how an insurance adjuster will calculate pain and suffering.

Calculations Used

After you have completed your medical treatment and therapy, coming up with the monetary amount for medical care is relatively easy. However, putting a monetary amount to your pain and suffering is much more difficult. So how do adjusters do it? The basic method used is the 1-5x multiple system, where one is the lowest pain and suffering, whereas five is the highest amount. They will consider the following aspects:

  • Severity of an injury. Soft tissue injuries tend to stay within 1 – 2x the full amount of your care. However, harder injuries, such as a broken collarbone, will likely be between 2 – 3x as much. Brain damage, however, will be put at 5x or more of the amount.
  • Liability of the insured person. If the victim is partially at fault or a third-party intervened in such a way that contributed to the accident, the question of liability may affect compensation.
  • Future prognosis. When extended medical treatment is clear and evident, the amount of pain and suffering is increased. This is because having to go through long-term treatments adds to the emotional distress of the ordeal, making the award much higher.
  • History of jury verdicts. Many find it surprising that other awards could influence their award. Geographic location plays a huge role in this aspect of calculation. Someone injured in the Midwest will likely have a lower award than someone in NYC, which an adjuster takes into consideration.
  • Exceptions. When the aftereffects of an injury are high but the cost of medical care was low, the case will be considered under its own merits.

Don’t let an adjuster be the full force in deciding what you deserve after a personal injury accident. Our Connecticut personal injury lawyers at Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers understand how adjusters work and how to present a better case for a more profitable outcome.

Common Medical Errors Made by Doctors and Hospitals

Sometimes unhappiness with a course of treatment for your ailments can be due to more than just a difference in style and bedside manner. When a medical error leads to the worsening of your condition, or an entirely new malady, you may be entitled to compensation. Knowing the common medical errors that are awarded compensation can help a victim decide whether it’s time to pursue legal action.

Misdiagnosis and Delayed Diagnosis

Many medical malpractice complaints stem from misdiagnosis or a delayed diagnosis that led to bigger problems. For a successful malpractice case, it must be proven a reasonably skilled doctor who was acting competently would not have made the same diagnosis error.

Childbirth Injuries

There are many fetal injuries that are considered childbirth injuries. These can happen either before or after birth. Generally, childbirth injuries are classified under two categories.

  • Negligence in prenatal care. Negligence can affect a child at any point in a pregnancy. This includes:
    • not identifying birth defects
    • delayed or not diagnosing a disease that could be transmitted to the fetus
    • not identifying an ectopic pregnancy
    • failing to diagnosis a medical condition that affects the mother such as anemia or gestational diabetes
  • Negligent childbirth care. When a doctor’s negligence during childbirth leads to injury, it can have devastating effects. Common errors include:
    • failure to anticipate issues due to a baby’s large size or a tangle umbilical cord
    • not responding to fetal distress
    • not ordering a necessary cesarean section
    • improper or incompetent use of forceps

Medication Errors

When a patient receives too much or too little of a medication when a reasonable physician would not have made the error, there could be serious harm. Examples of medication errors include:

  • Incorrect dosage written on prescription
  • A correct prescription being improperly filled by a nurse
  • Equipment malfunction causing improper administration of drug
  • In a hospital, receiving another patient’s medication

Anesthesia Errors

Anesthesia errors can be among the most dangerous of medical errors. Examples of this type of mistake include:

  • Not properly reviewing patient history
  • Not properly informing patient of the risks
  • Giving too much anesthesia
  • Not monitoring vital signs
  • Improper intubating
  • Defective equipment

If you feel your physician did not use proper care, contact one of our Connecticut medical malpractice lawyers at Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers. We will review your case and help you take the first steps toward compensation for your pain and suffering.

What Are Some Potential Side Effects of Epidural Steroid Injections?

 We all know people who complain of back pain, but unless you have experienced it yourself, it is almost impossible to understand exactly how devastating and debilitating it can be. Epidural steroid injections have proven to be an extremely effective treatment option for those who are suffering from both sciatica and low back pain. The injections may be offered on their own to address acute episodes of back pain, offering temporary relief that allows a patient to return to basic function. They can also be offered in combination with exercise and rehabilitation to provide a more long-term solution. Though these injections have been used for over fifty years and are considered to be safe, they are not without risk. If you are a candidate for one of these procedures, you should know what the potential side effects of epidural steroid injections are, and what steps you should take if you experience any long-lasting negative impacts.

Although your physician may assure you about the safety of epidural steroid injections, you should keep in mind that it is still an invasive medical procedure and that it carries very real risks and side effects. The most common side effect of these procedures is numbness of the bladder and bowels, but these are generally temporary and the symptoms go away in a short period of time. There is also risk of severe infection at the site of the injection, and this could potentially infiltrate the spine.

Another, more serious risk involved with epidural steroid injection is that of dural puncture. This describes a condition that results when the injection punctures the covering of the spinal cord and a small amount of fluid leaks out, leading to a severe headache. This problem can generally be addressed through a procedure known as a blood patch. During a blood patch, blood is removed from a vein in the arm and then injected into the epidural space to form a clot that stops the leak.

Other common injuries that can result from these injections include:

  • Damage to surrounding nerves caused by direct trauma from the needle or from infection
  • Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
  • Epidural abscess
  • Increased level of pain around the injection area
  • Partial paralysis
  • Complete paralysis of the limbs
  • Bleeding

There are also problems that can result from the steroid medication itself. These include facial flushing, anxiety, insomnia, high blood sugar, a decrease in immune system efficiency, stomach ulcers, cataracts and arthritis.

Though side effects of epidural steroid injection happen infrequently, when they do occur they are often a result of medical malpractice on the part of the medical practitioner. When a physician, anesthesiologist or other health care provider fails to provide the generally accepted standard of care they may be held responsible for the damage they cause. If you or someone you love has suffered this type of injury, you may be eligible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit for compensation for the damages you’ve suffered. To learn more, contact the law firm of Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation.

Are Urgent Care Centers Safer than Emergency Rooms?

 Urgent care centers have been popping up in communities all around the country. These standalone facilities are not connected to hospitals and do not provide all of the same services that emergency rooms do. They are there to provide an option to those who are experiencing simple problems such as ear aches, minor cuts requiring stitches or minor bone fractures, rashes and insect bites, and are a convenience – especially when your doctor’s office is closed or you can’t get an immediate appointment. Some people think that urgent care centers are an alternative to the emergency room, or even think that they are safer than emergency rooms because they fear emergency room errors, but this is not the case. The two types of facilities provide very different services, and it is important that you understand the difference when you are facing a true emergency and are not certain where to go.

It is understandable to be concerned about emergency room errors – nobody wants to take a chance with their health. But urgent care centers are neither equipped nor staffed in a way that provides an alternative to a life-threatening emergency.  Urgent care centers are open during hours that your physician’s office may not be, which makes them great for minor medical issues, but they are not open 24 hours. They also may not always be staffed by a physician – and even if there is a doctor on staff, they are rarely trained in emergency medicine. Urgent care facilities also do not have diagnostic equipment or laboratories on their premises, and do not have access to specialists such as orthopedic surgeons or cardiologists that may be needed in a true emergency. By contrast, emergency rooms are part of larger hospitals where those types of physicians are on staff and on call, available to provide treatment to emergency room patients at a moment’s notice.

People who choose to go to an urgent care center instead of an emergency room may be putting themselves at unnecessary risk. If the urgent care center is unable to provide you with the care that you need, you create a delay in your ability to get treatment as you will then have to be taken to a hospital.

In addition to these other issues, it is important to remember that urgent care facilities are private businesses that are not required to accept all patients in need of care in the same way that emergency rooms do. An urgent care center may not accept your insurance coverage, or may ask you to provide payment up front in order to receive treatment. This is not the case with emergency rooms, which are required by law to screen and treat any patient, no matter whether they can pay or not.

Though emergency room physicians and staff can and do make mistakes, the same is true of the staff at urgent care centers. When you are facing a medical emergency, time is of the essence. Make sure that you get to the appropriate facility as quickly as you can. If you believe that you have been the victim of negligence or medical malpractice by any health care practitioner, the attorneys at Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers can help. Call us today to discuss your case.

I Believe My Doctor is Ordering Unnecessary Tests. How Do I Dispute This?

 Everybody has a different perspective on receiving medical care, and everybody has different preferences. There are those who prefer that their physician completely take over. They don’t want to be told much of anything, don’t want a lot of explanations, and simply want to rely on their physician’s expertise and training to guide their care. Then there are the people who want to be in complete control of the process. This type of patient will already have Googled their symptoms and arrived at a self-diagnosis before they even enter their doctor’s office for their appointment, and they will want to know why – or why not – a specific diagnostic test or tests has been ordered. No matter which type of patient you are, there comes a time when you will start to suspect that your doctor is ordering unnecessary tests. Knowing when to speak up and how to dispute this is important, and so is understanding why physicians may be doing this. At Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers, we represent many patients who have been injured as a result of hospital errors. There’s a chance that your physician is simply being thorough and cautious to make sure that they rule out all of the possibilities for your differential diagnosis – but they may also be running up your medical bill. Call us today and we will help you figure out what is happening.

Though an abundance of tests may seem like an indication of a particularly thorough physician, it is important to remember that many diagnostic procedures not only cost you money – they can also put your health at additional risk. Not only will waiting for test results delay your diagnosis and treatment, but some tests can lead to infections, surgical or anesthesia mistakes, transmission of diseases, and more. Imaging tests may unnecessarily expose you to risk of too much radiation and other tests can simply cause stress on the body. Even having to undergo too many blood draws can lead to your veins being weakened and scarred, and make it difficult for phlebotomists to draw blood when a situation is more emergent or necessary. Some of the tests simply cause pain, or take you away from valuable quality time with your family.

The dark side of unnecessary tests is that doctors and hospitals may order them to line their pockets and improve their bottom line. Physicians may even be getting kickbacks from diagnostic labs, a practice which is actually illegal. Sometimes a physician will order a diagnostic test because their own abilities are limited and they are unable to make an accurate diagnosis without relying upon confirmation from the laboratories. Whatever the reason, if you believe that you have been forced to submit to unnecessary tests and you have suffered an injury as a result, you may be entitled to compensation for the damages that you’ve suffered. For more information, contact Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers. We will review your medical records to assess whether your treatment was reasonable, and if not we will provide you with representation designed to get you the compensation you deserve.

 

What are the Most Common Types of Plastic Surgery Malpractice Claims?

There are many reasons why a person may seek treatment from a plastic surgeon. Though we tend to think of these professionals as providing vanity-related services meant to augment or improve on a person’s looks for cosmetic reasons, the truth is that they also provide invaluable services to those whose physical appearance has been impacted by automobile accidents, birth defects, or disease. One way to distinguish between the two types of services is whether or not a procedure is likely be covered by medical insurance: where those procedures that are strictly elective and meant to improve appearances are generally paid out of pocket, while those that are deemed medically necessary are generally covered by insurance policies. Similarly, there is a disparity in terms of what drives the most common types of plastic surgery malpractice claims. Though many of these claims are filed as a result of infections, scarring, or pain, in most cases they are a matter of patients being dissatisfied with the results that they see. At Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers, we are here to provide our clients with knowledgeable representation and legal counsel as to whether they are eligible to file a claim for medical malpractice. If you have questions about your personal situation, we can help.

When a person files a medical malpractice case against a physician, there are certain factors that must be present in order to win. The easiest of these to prove is that there was a doctor/patient relationship between the two parties, while the more complex issue is often whether the physician provided services that fall short of what would be expected of a similarly experienced practitioner under the same circumstances. The other thing that must be proven is that damage was caused and that the practitioner was responsible for that damage. In the case of plastic surgery procedures, if the complaint is that the practitioner caused scarring, infection, burns, or some other type of diagnosable injury, the case is relatively straightforward to prove. However, in roughly 29% of plastic surgery medical malpractice cases the claim is based on patient dissatisfaction with the results. Further investigations have shown that this dissatisfaction is often a result of either poor communication between the patient and physician regarding the reasonable expectations that they should have of their outcomes, or the patient not adhering to the physician’s post-care instructions.

There is no doubt that by improving communications regarding what the expected outcomes of a plastic surgery procedure should be, as well as the importance of complying with post-operative instructions, a good number of plastic surgery medical malpractice cases can be prevented. However, for the many cases that are a result of a physician failing to provide the duty of care that is expected and causing real and measurable damage, the patient is entitled to compensation for the harm that they have suffered. At Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers, we will take the time to fully investigate your situation so that we have a good understanding of the damages you’ve incurred and provide you with legal counsel and representation appropriate to your case.

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