Proactively Protect Yourself From Medical Errors

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021

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.

Medication Errors

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.

Anesthesia Errors

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.

 

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Understanding the difference between a birth injury and a birth defect

Tuesday, February 6th, 2018

It’s usually one of the happiest times of a couple’s lives. Expectant parents anxiously preparing and awaiting the birth of a new baby. Tragically, excitement can quickly turn to heartbreak for parents when something goes wrong and an infant is born injured or suffering in some way. It’s an important time to be sure you understand the difference between a birth injury and a birth defect. While this is a confusing time for new parents, filled with a mix of emotions, it is important to determine the cause of your baby’s suffering. Knowing the difference between a birth injury and a birth defect can be very important in determining if there was any medical negligence involved in harm caused to your baby. If there was negligence or a medical error, you may be eligible for compensation for those injuries and for ongoing medical treatment for your newborn.

What is a birth injury?

Birth injuries usually happen during or immediately after the labor and delivery process. Injuries could possibly result from excessive force or trauma during delivery. Birth injury may also result from failure to monitor the baby for fetal distress or from other medical errors or substandard care during or after the birthing process. This can include misdiagnoses or failure to diagnose potential complications during pregnancy and delivery. It may also include delayed C-section and mistakes involving forceps, vacuum or other birthing tools, among other medical errors. Unlike birth defects, birth injuries are preventable in many cases, depending on the circumstances. Right Diagnosis from healthgrades reported that 7 out of every 1,000 children born in the United States are born with birth injuries each year.

Some examples of birth injuries include:

  • Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy or HIE
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Erb’s Palsy
  • Brain damage
  • Head trauma
  • Infection
  • Nerve damage
  • Paralysis
  • Fractures

What is a birth defect?

Birth defects occur as a baby is still developing in the mother’s womb. That’s a main difference between a birth injury and a birth defect. Birth defects are medical conditions or abnormalities that could occur as a result of a variety of causes. This can include certain genetics, infections, exposure to chemicals or drugs, or possibly unhealthy lifestyle choice. Birth defects can have serious and lasting effects on a child.

Examples of birth defects can include disorders such as brain damage, Down syndrome, spina bifida, congenital heart defect, cleft lip or palate, limb or cranial abnormalities, and metabolic disorders. The CDC estimates that birth defects affect one in every 33 babies. This is about 3 percent of all of the babies born in the United Sates each year.

What to do when your infant suffers a birth injury

Sadly, birth injuries are far too common and can mean life-long health consequences for your child. Distasio Kowalski personal injury attorneys see the tragic effects that medical errors have on the lives of families in our area. Bringing a child into the world should be a joyous event. It should not be marred by substandard medical care. Doctor’s and other healthcare providers have a “duty of care” to uphold when treating patients. If they fail to provide that established standard of care, they can be held liable for injuries that occur. It’s time to call an injury attorney.

Getting legal help for birth injuries

We hope this helps you to better understand the difference between a birth injury and a birth defect. If you suspect that your newborn may have been injured as the result of medical negligence or a medical error, you should consult with a medical malpractice attorney. Although you are emotional and overwhelmed when you are dealing with a seriously injured child, you owe it to yourself and your family to determine the cause of the injuries. You want to hold the responsible party accountable. You also want to ensure that the long-term medical and emotional needs of your child are met. An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to assess your situation and help you explore your legal options.

Medical negligence can lead to birth injury or the death of a child. A birth injury can affect the quality of life of a child, as well as an entire family, resulting in a lifetime of medical treatment and financial hardship. It’s imperative that an experienced birth injury attorney determines if your child is suffering from a preventable birth injury or unavoidable birth defect.

Statute of limitations for birth injury cases in Pennsylvania

The statute of limitations is a time period in which you can legally file your birth injury claim. In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice suit is two years. However, when the patient is a minor, the Minor’s Tolling Statute allows for added time if the patient is under the age of 18. The two-year time limit would begin to run on the child’s 18th birthday.

For more information on your legal options in a birth injury case, contact the Wilkes-Barre personal injury lawyers at Distasio Kowalski toll free at 855-970-5400.

 

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