Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

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file0001812797650If your doctor is on probation due to medical negligence or for committing a serious surgical error, how will you know? According to a recent report from KQED News and California Healthline, proposed legislation “would have required doctors and other medical [professionals] to notify their patients if they were on probation for serious infractions.” However, as the report explains, the California Senate rejected the legislation, meaning that there will be no law in place—at least not in the very near future—that will require physicians to inform their patients about their severe mistakes.

Details of the Proposed Legislation and its Limited Application

As the report explains, the proposed legislation did not aim to require all doctors and other healthcare professionals who have been cited for any and all forms of medical negligence to tell their patients. The bill only “would have applied to a tiny pool of practitioners—those disciplined for serious offenses such as gross negligence, sexual misconduct, substance abuse, or a felony conviction related to patient care.”

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Opened First Aid Kit

Opened First Aid Kit

When you visit a hospital in San Diego for a routine procedure, you should not have to worry about sustaining a serious injury as a result of medical negligence. However, medical mistakes happen much more often than any of us would like to think. According to a recent article in Yahoo! Finance, up to as many as 440,000 people in the United States suffer fatal injuries every year because of hospital mistakes. In addition to those deaths, it is likely that around 722,000 American develop preventable infections while they are staying at a hospital, and around 75,000 of those infections turn out to be fatal. Yet, as the article points out, we can take steps to prevent some of the harms associated with common hospital errors.

Preventing Falls at the Hospital

You might not think immediately of a fall-related injury when you think about a medical error, yet falls in a hospital setting often result from medical negligence. Hospitals need to take steps to ensure that patients do not slip and fall and that they have the proper equipment to move around the facility without getting hurt. According to the article, about one million American patients suffer falls every year when they are in the hospital, and the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) reports that about one-third of those falls are preventable.

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19-08-6Can the increasing use of electronic records at hospitals and other medical facilities result in more medical mistakes? According to a recent article from Medscape, electronic health records in emergency departments could be leading to preventable medical errors. In most circumstances, we might assume that the use of electronic health records would help healthcare facilities to avoid the kinds of mistakes that result from human error. However, as the article suggests, human error can still factor into electronic health databases—and in fact might be more of an issue than before the age of electronic health records.

Wrong Files, Wrong Clicks, and Misinformation

It is all too easy, as the article intimates, for a mouse to slip and for an emergency room physician to click on the wrong file or to enter a dosage number that is much larger than it is supposed to be. At the same time, other employees tasked with entering information such as symptoms into a patient’s file might misread a name or enter that information into the wrong section, resulting in a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis. To be sure, “these are easy mistakes to make,” and “as ER doctors and nurses grapple with the transition to digitized record systems, they seem to happen more frequently,” according to the article.

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file3291233869663Medical mistakes happen in San Diego more often than they should, and patients do not always know that they have been the victims of medical malpractice until signs and symptoms start to appear. When a doctor or another healthcare provider—from nurses to hospitals to pharmacists—make a preventable medical error, the injured patient may be able to obtain compensation by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. What do you need to know about medical errors? According to a recent report from Becker’s Infection Control & Clinical Quality, patients should learn five important facts when it comes to medical errors and malpractice.

Adverse Events are Preventable but Happen with Frequency

Adverse events, or never events, are preventable errors that result from a healthcare provider’s negligence. Tracking the annual rate of adverse events largely began back in 1999 when the Institutes of Medicine published a now-famous report entitled “To Err is Human.” Over the last nearly 20 years, however, we have not seen a drop in the number of injurious adverse events. Rather, the report emphasizes that “annual adverse events have hit 100,000 to 400,000 per year.” To put that number in other terms, for every 100,000 hospital admissions each year, 120 adverse events occur. Every year about 4,000 surgical errors (or surgical near-misses), including wrong-site surgeries, happen.

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Opened First Aid Kit

Opened First Aid Kit

Does the failure to maintain a patient’s privacy ever rise to the level of medical negligence? According to a recent article from NPR, disclosing a patient’s health history under certain circumstances may in fact be grounds for a medical malpractice claim. What do you need to know about your privacy rights as a patient? When might a physician’s violation of those privacy rights lead to a successful lawsuit?

Breaches of Patient Safety May Amount to Medical Malpractice

Depending on the state you live in, courts may be more or less willing to consider a breach of privacy in relation to a medical negligence claim. Although California has not yet provided such a ruling, that fact alone does not mean that patients in our state should feel as though they do not have certain rights to privacy that patients in other states maintain.

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When you take your child to see the doctor, do you worry about preventable medical errors? Most parents aren’t immediately concerned about the risks of surgical mistakes when their children go into the hospital for a routine surgery. Yet a recent article in MedPage Today indicated that pediatric medical errors happen much more often than most of us assume, and “nearly half” of them are preventable.234461207_9f28bf606f

Tool Developed to Prevent Pediatric Medical Mistakes

A pilot study developed a tool aimed at preventing medical errors in pediatric patients. The study recently determined that, when it comes to pediatric inpatients, “nearly half of the harms in patient charts were preventable.” The study looked at 600 different pediatric medical charts. Of those, 240 charts—or 45 percent of those in the study—had recognizable harms that researchers determined to be “potentially or definitely preventable,” according to one of the researchers. The study has been published in Pediatrics.

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Many Californians are wondering about the outcome of a ballot initiative to raise the damages cap in medical malpractice claims. If the proposed legislation goes through, California residents who sustain injuries because of medical negligence will be eligible to obtain up to $1.1 million in certain compensatory damages, as opposed to the current cap at $250,000. But what types of medical errors usually result in medical malpractice lawsuits?

Small and Underused Militarfile000850100179y Hospitals

According to a recent article in the New York Times, military hospitals that care for about 1.35 million active-duty service members and their families show “signals of failing in a system” of care.  What is wrong with these hospitals? Investigators for the New York Times identified two major issues.

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A ballot initiative over penBarbara_Boxerding medical malpractice legislation in California, called “one of the nation’s most expensive ballot campaigns” by the Washington Post, received additional support via a television advertisement from Senator Barbara Boxer.  A recent article in the Los Angeles Times explains that Boxer “emerged as a forceful spokeswoman for an initiative to raise some medical malpractice awards in the state.”

Proposition 46, Damage Caps, and Medical Malpractice Legislation

The ballot measure, known as Proposition 46, “would increase the limit on certain medical malpractice damages from $250,000 to approximately $1.1 million.”  Since 1975, non-economic damages have been capped at $250,000.  Unlike economic damages, which typically compensate a victim for hospital bills, medical visits and treatments, and so forth, non-economic damages compensate victims for injuries such as loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, and pain and suffering. Also unlike economic damages, non-economic damages cannot be measured in a fixed dollar amount, and can therefore vary widely from case to case.

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Most recent news about the NFL and professional football has concerned the prevalence of traumatic brain injury among those who play contact sports.  However, a recent article in the Insurance Journal reported that a San Diego team doctor may be liable for medical malpractice.  What’s the link between medical malpractice and football?  In short, a number of players have come forward with allegations concerning drug abuse.


Narcotics Prescriptions and Medical Negligence in Football?

Back in May, approximately 500 former NFL players filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in northern California alleging that physicians affiliated with the pro sports league “illegally dispensed powerful narcotics and other drugs to keep players on the field without regard for their long-term health.” The initial complaint was amended shortly after its original filing date to add another 250 players to the lawsuit. Now, 750 plaintiffs are involved in the case against the NFL.

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Over the past year, consumer advocates across the state of California have been thinking about the current cap on medical malpractice damages and the possibility for raising that cap.  According to an article in Reuters, just last week advocates in favor of raising the medical malpractice cap indicated that “they had gathered enough signatures to place an initiative on the November ballot.”  The ballot initiative was a response to thus-far ineffective legislation attempts to raise the damages cap.

The ballot initiative is likely to be controversial, and until quite recently it wasn’t clear whether California residents would have to vote on raising the decades-old medical malpractice cap, or whether the state legislature would have taken care of this without a costly election fight.  The cap should have been raised, and the Walton Law Firm strongly supports the effort to raise it.

For San Diego residents who have sustained injuries because of medical negligence, the outcome of the ballot initiative will be very important.  In the meantime, if you have suffered a personal injury due to medical malpractice, it’s important to seek advice from an experienced San Diego medical malpractice lawyer.  At the Walton Law Firm, we’re paying close attention to the ballot initiative, and we can talk with you about your case today.