Distasio & Kowalski LLC is proud to announce that Michael J. Kowalski, a partner in the firm, was selected among America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators® for 2021. Less than one-half percent (0.5%) of active attorneys in the United States are selected for this honor. Attorney Kowalski was one of only 100 attorneys in Pennsylvania selected for this distinction which recognizes the best trial lawyers in the nation. It is his 5th consecutive year for selection. Attorney Kowalski was chosen for attaining a high level of excellence in medical malpractice litigation and personal injury litigation.
America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators® is meant to identify and highlight the accomplishments of the nation’s most esteemed and skilled litigators in high-stakes legal matters. Because of this, inclusion is by invitation only and is limited to the Top 100 professionals from each state in each category of practice. In addition, those chosen exhibit excellence and the highest ethical standards in their respective professions.
To be considered for op 100 High Stakes Litigators®, an attorney must have litigated a matter with at least $2,000,000 in alleged damages at stake or with the fate of a business worth at least $2,000,000 at stake. A multi-phase selection process includes third-party research and statistical analysis of a candidate’s professional experience, legal achievements, significant case results/verdicts, community impact, peer reputation, client satisfaction, notable honors, and community impact among other factors specific to the profession. In the end, the selection process ensures that attorneys selected for this honor reflect the highest ideals and ethical standards of the legal profession.
Contact Distasio & Kowalski Personal Injury Firm
Distasio & Kowalski LLC is a personal injury firm located in Wilkes-
Barre, PA. The firm specializes in cases involving Medical Malpractice, Birth Injury, Auto & Truck Accidents, Personal Injury, and Wrongful Death. the Distasio & Kowalski team are highly experienced litigators focusing on personal injury cases.
Preventable medical errors can cost you your health and possibly even your life. Each year people across the country die or are severely injured due to preventable medical errors. While we look to medical providers to diagnose and treat us, preventable medical errors can and do happen in healthcare settings. A new study detailed in an article by Yale University reported that most hospital medical errors involve poor monitoring or management of medical conditions. Diagnostic errors and errors related to surgery and procedures are also prevalent. While any medical error can be dangerous, there are some that are more common and can be more harmful.
Delayed Diagnosis or Misdiagnosis
A timely, accurate diagnosis is critical to your getting proper medical care. A fairly common medical error, delayed, or the wrong diagnosis can result in severe harm to a patient. Misdiagnosis may occur because a healthcare provider failed to ask the right questions or order adequate testing for a patient. A busy physician might order tests, but then fail to review thoroughly. Even if an accurate diagnosis is eventually made, a delay in diagnosis on the part of a healthcare provider can lead to the loss of valuable time in treating a serious illness.
Protect yourself from delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis
Take an active role in your care. Advocate for yourself, and ask questions. Being involved as a patient can be very important in preventing diagnosis errors. Follow up on test results and speak up if you have doubts.
Provide a full medical history. If you feel your medical provider is not asking enough about your history, speak up and provide as much information as you can.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion. Quality healthcare professionals support that decision.
Bring a family member to appointments or to the hospital to ask questions and help get information from your doctor.
Educate yourself and research your symptoms.
According to the FDA, a medication error is defined as any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the healthcare professional, patient, or consumer. Medical errors are one of the most common, preventable medical errors. Medication errors can occur when a patient gets the wrong medication or the wrong dosage. This error can occur on the part of a doctor writing a prescription or entering medication into a computer system, a nurse dispensing medication to a patient or a pharmacist error in filling a prescription. Medication errors are also caused by incorrect labeling on the part of a drug manufacturer.
The FDA has put many safeguards in place to help prevent medication errors. This includes barcodes that allow healthcare professionals to verify the right drug and dose is being given to a patient. They have also published guidelines to help manufacturers design drug labels and packaging to minimize or eliminate hazards that lead to medication errors.
To be proactive in helping to prevent medication errors, the FDA recommends that you:
Ask your doctor the name and purpose of any drug you are prescribed, as well as the risks and potential side effects. Ask about drug and food interactions as well.
Be sure you understand the directions in taking the drug, dosage, etc.
Check the container label each time you take a medication. Don’t transfer medication to another container, so you can always check the original label.
Keep an updated list of all of the medications you are taking.
If in doubt about medication, double-check with your pharmacist or another healthcare provider.
Surgical Medical Errors
Mistakes during and after surgery can have devastating results. This includes medical complications and possibly even death. Surgical errors can include wrong-site surgery, wrong operation, operating on the wrong part of the body, leaving a foreign object in a patient, or operating on the wrong patient. Post-surgical errors can include neglect in providing proper post-op care.
Protect yourself from surgical errors
A common theme for protecting yourself from medical errors is asking questions. Fully understanding your procedure and treatment can help you catch potential problems. Talk to your surgeon about the details of the procedure.
Research your procedure.
Take notes and detail everything.
Request medical staff show you where they will be performing surgery and mark the spot.
Errors involving anesthesia can cause permanent injuries or death. They can include failing to evaluate a patient’s medical history for possible complications or failing to provide proper instructions. Administering the wrong dose of anesthesia, improper placement of breathing tube, or not properly monitoring a patient on anesthesia are other potential errors.
Be proactive with speaking with your anesthesiologist before surgery
Be sure you are supplied specific instructions prior to surgery that addresses preparation. This might include not eating or taking certain medications. You will meet your anesthesiologist on the day of the operation before surgery. If you have questions or concerns, be sure the anesthesiologist addresses all of your concerns.
Childbirth Medical Errors
Childbirth errors can have tragic results, harming both the mother and child. Birth injuries that may result from medical errors or medical malpractice include cerebral palsy, brain injuries, paralysis, and bone fractures.
Childbirth medical errors that can cause serious harm include:
Not anticipating possible pregnancy and birth complications.
Failure to diagnoses a medical condition or birth defect.
Failure to respond to fetal distress.
Not performing or delay in performing a cesarean section.
Incorrect use of vacuum extractors or forceps.
To ensure proper care during childbirth:
Seek regular prenatal care. Regular check-ups with your obstetrician and early detection of potential problems will help prevent complications. Be sure your doctor is carefully monitoring your health throughout your pregnancy.
Eat a healthy diet.
Determine whether your selected medical professional is qualified to handle your birth. Are they skilled and experienced in handling birthing complications should they arise? Talk extensively with your obstetrician about your options and be well-prepared for delivery.
Lack of coordination between healthcare providers
In today’s medical world there are often multiple healthcare providers taking care of one patient. Communication and coordination are critical to the safe and successful treatment of a patient. A mistake in or lack of communicating can result in testing, treatment, medication, and other medical errors. Be sure your healthcare providers are all on the same page when it comes to your treatment.
Get help if you are the victim of medical errors
The most common contributing cause of medical errors is human error. A lack of training, fatigue, or simple carelessness can all contribute to medical errors. Charting and lab errors are common and can lead to patient injury. When there is a breach of duty on the part of a medical professional to provide competent care, it could be considered medical malpractice. If a medical error has injured you or someone you love, you need the help of medical malpractice attorney. A qualified medical error attorney can help when dealing with hospitals and their insurance company. The medical injury attorneys at Distasio & Kowalski can provide a free, confidential consultation. Our medical malpractice lawyers will work to determine if the injuries caused were due to medical negligence. Contact a medical malpractice attorney at Distasio & Kowalski in Wilkes-Barre today.
Birth trauma refers to damage of the tissues and organs of a newborn baby. Although many newborns might have minor injuries during birth, sometimes the injuries are more severe and include serious nerve damage. Brachial plexus birth injuries refers to damage to the brachial plexus nerves that occurs at birth, and may be related to a difficult labor and delivery.
The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that begins at the spinal cord in the neck and delivers messages from the brain to the shoulder, arm and hand. These nerves control muscle function in the chest, shoulders, arms and hands, as well as sensation in the upper limbs. A brachial plexus birth injury occurs when the baby’s neck is stretched, compressed, or awkwardly twisted. A quick or emergency delivery resulting in the baby being forcibly pulled out can result in a brachial plexus injury. The nerves may stretch or tear during a traumatic delivery. Although nerves have some ability to heal on their own, it depends on the severity of the damage.
The most common type of brachial plexus injury is called Erb’s palsy. Babies with a brachial plexus injury may have difficulty moving their arm or lack feeling in their arm. Damaged nerves may result in symptoms from minor weakness to partial or complete paralysis depending on the severity of the injury. A less common injury that affects the lower brachial plexus is called Klumpke’s palsy. This typically affects only the muscles in the hand and is not common in babies.
Four types of brachial plexus nerve injuries
Neuropraxia – This is a stretch injury and is the most common. The nerve is stretched but not torn. These injuries will typically heal on their own in time.
Neuroma – This is a more serious stretch injury that damages nerve fibers and results in scar tissue. The scar tissue may press on the healthy nerve and create discomfort. Long-term recovery is typically only partial, not complete.
Rupture – This a stretch injury that tears or ruptures the nerve. This type of injury will not heal on its own. Surgery is required to re-attach the nerves.
Avulsion – This type of injury is the most severe type of nerve damage and occurs when the nerve fiber is torn from the spinal cord.
For severe brachial plexus injuries, prompt surgical treatment might be needed to attempt to regain function. Without it, permanent disability may occur. In the most severe cases, the damage may be permanent. Chronic pain can also be a long-term result of a brachial plexus injury.
Erb’s Palsy birth injury
Erb’s palsy may occur during delivery when excessive pressure is put on the baby’s head, neck or shoulder because of difficulty delivering. The symptoms of brachial plexus injury can vary based on severity and extent of damage. Erb’s palsy is the result of the upper brachial plexus being paralyzed. The risk of a baby developing Erb’s palsy is greatly increased if they develop shoulder dystocia during delivery. Shoulder dystocia is a condition where the baby comes through the birth canal at an awkward angle and a shoulder becomes stuck on the mother’s pelvis. Erb’s palsy can include paralysis or limpness in a baby’s arm, limited or no movement in hands and fingers, and loss of sensation in hands and fingers.
Symptoms of Erb’s Palsy
Weakness or numbness in arm.
Limited motion in the shoulder, arm, wrist or hand.
Arm hanging by side and rotated inward.
Partial or total paralysis of the arm.
Potential Causes of Erb’s Palsy / Brachial Plexus Injuries
As we mentioned above, brachial plexus nerve injuries typically occur with traumatic or difficult deliveries. This may include a large baby, a breech birth or prolonged labor. A doctor delivering quickly may use excessive force to pull the baby from the birth canal resulting in a stretching of the baby’s neck. This can also result from excessive pulling on the shoulders during a head-first delivery, or by pressure on the infant’s raised arms during a feet-first delivery. Risk factors associated with brachial plexus injuries include improper use of birthing or extraction tools, prolonged labor, breech delivery, large baby, small or abnormal maternal pelvis shape or excessive maternal weight gain.
A baby’s arm that is limp can usually indicate a brachial plexus injury. Proper diagnosis requires a complete neurological exam to determine which nerves have been impacted and the severity of the injury. Treatment may include anything from physical therapy to improve movement in the muscles and nerves or occupational therapy to improve joint function and muscle tone to surgery in the most severe cases.
Brachial Plexus injuries during childbirth
The main cause of Erb’s palsy is damage to the nerves during childbirth. Brachial plexus injuries are avoidable. An obstetrician must proceed with extreme caution when risk factors are present during delivery. For instance, failure to recognize that a caesarean section should have been performed due to the baby’s size, use of excessive force or pressure on the baby’s head, neck, or shoulder during delivery, or improper use of delivery instruments, such as forceps or vacuum extractors, may indicate an error on the part of the doctor.
Often, Erb’s Palsy injuries are the result of preventable medical errors during delivery. Medical professionals have a duty to ensure you and your baby are provided a certain standard of care. Birth injuries may come with lifelong limitations for your child, crippling medical costs, and lasting emotional stress. If your infant has suffered a brachial plexus injury or has been diagnosed with Erb’s Palsy that you believe may have been caused by medical negligence, you should consult with an experienced birth injury attorney to explore your options and help recover compensation for your child’s injuries. The Distasio & Kowalski birth injury attorneys have seen the toll birth injuries can take on a family and we are here to help.
Michael J. Kowalski, a partner in the personal injury firm of Distasio & Kowalski, LLC, was recently selected among America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators® for 2020. Kowalski was selected for excellence in medical malpractice litigation and personal injury litigation.
Selection to America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators® is by invitation only. It is limited to the Top 100 professionals from each state in each category of practice who best exhibit excellence and the highest ethical standards in their respective professions. This honor is meant to identify and highlight the accomplishments of the nation’s most esteemed and skilled litigators in high stakes legal matters. Less than 1% of professionals in the United States are selected for America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators®.
To be considered, an attorney must have litigated a matter with at least $2,000,000 in alleged damages at stake or with the fate of a business worth at least $2,000,000 at stake. A multi-phase selection process includes third-party research and statistical analysis of a candidate’s professional experience, achievements, significant results, community impact, peer reputation, consumer satisfaction, and other factors specific to the profession. The selection process ensures that attorneys selected for this honor reflect the highest ideals and ethical standards of the legal profession.
Located in Wilkes-Barre, PA, Distasio & Kowalski LLC, specializes in cases involving Medical Malpractice, Birth Injury, Auto & Truck Accidents, Personal Injury, and Wrongful Death.
For more information on Distasio & Kowalski LLC, please visit www.dklawllc.com or call 570-970-5400.
Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers® has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence. Although the scope of the publication has dramatically grown, the core mission of Best Lawyers to highlight the top legal talent in America has remained the same. The Best Lawyers in America rankings are based solely on peer-review surveys in which tens of thousands of attorneys confidentially evaluate their colleagues. Corporate Counsel magazine has called Best Lawyers “the most respected referral list of attorneys in practice.” Attorneys named to The Best Lawyers in America were recognized by their peers in the legal industry for their professional excellence in 145 practice areas.
Distasio & Kowalski LLC specializes in birth injury, medical malpractice, auto & truck accidents, personal injury, and wrongful death. For more information on Distasio & Kowalski LLC, please visit dklawllc.com or call 570-970-5400.