Medical Malpractice

General Medical Negligence

When you or someone you care about suffers an injury during or as the result of medical treatment, the question of whether the injury gives rise to a legal claim can be a difficult one. At Burg Simpson, we’re here to help you find the answer.

If you believe that you were injured as a result of a healthcare provider’s general medical negligence, please call us to discuss your situation. We’re here to help. There is never a charge for an initial consultation.

Over half of all medication errors result in serious illness or death. About 1.3 million Americans suffer injuries due to medication errors each year. Medication errors are also referred to as "adverse drug events" (ADEs).

COMMON MEDICATION ERRORS INCLUDE:

  • Administration of the wrong medication
  • Administration to the wrong patient
  • Incorrect dose
  • Medication inappropriate for condition
  • Medication inappropriate for patient based on medical history
  • Multiple prescriptions given in inappropriate combinations
  • Emergency rooms administering pain medication to intoxicated patients
  • Administration of experimental drugs without patient consent

The risk of ADEs affects nearly everyone. Eighty percent of Americans take prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, or supplements on a daily basis, and 30% take at least five different medications. It is easy to assume that people are more likely to make mistakes taking medications at home, expecting hospitals and their staff to exhibit a professional standard of care. The reality is that hospitalized patients can expect to experience at least one medication error every day. According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), at least 400,000 preventable drug-related injuries occur in hospitals each year. About twice as many occur in long-term care settings. Overall, medication errors cause 7,000 deaths annually.

These can be many and far-ranging, but include:

  • Condition is not improved
  • Condition is worsened
  • Delayed recovery and/or extended hospital stay
  • Allergic reactions
  • Digestive problems
  • Seizures
  • Brain injury
  • Paralysis
  • Unexpected temporary mental or physical impairment
  • Overdose
  • Kidney damage
  • Liver damage
  • Heart attack
  • Permanent disability
  • Death

Causes of medication errors are potentially limitless, but some common ones are:

  • Poor labeling and packaging of medications
  • Poor handwriting
  • Failure to fully review patient’s medical records for drug allergies
  • Failure to fully review patient’s medical records for other prescriptions
  • Failure to adjust doses according to health changes in patient
  • Inadequate warnings provided by drug manufacturers

Because medication errors can occur in so many ways, it may be difficult to determine who is responsible. For instance, a doctor may have made an error in prescribing, or the prescription may have been correct, but administered improperly, or a drug may lack the proper warnings to alert health care professionals and patients to unique dangers. These are just a few reasons that it can be difficult to determine who is at fault.

  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Dentists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Hospital staff
  • Emergency room staff
  • Nursing home staff
  • Pharmacists
  • Drug manufacturers

Medication errors do not always have an outcome resulting in harm, but they can very easily result in serious injury or death. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed as a result of a medication error, you may be entitled to compensation for your loss including:

  • Current and future medical bills
  • Rehabilitation
  • Special education needs
  • Long-term care
  • Current and future loss of income
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of companionship
  • Burial expenses

Sometimes a piece of medical equipment, such as a tube, sponge, or surgical needle is left unintentionally in a patient’s body after surgery. When a surgeon or medical professional leaves behind retained foreign bodies, also called retained surgical items, the patient is at a great risk for infection, illness, organ damage, and even death. Although medical professionals usually take great pains to eliminate the risk of retained foreign bodies, this safety measure can sometimes go overlooked.

The failure to remove a surgical instrument or other object after surgery is a serious event. The patient will almost always have to undergo another invasive surgery, with its own additional set of possible complications, in order to remove the retained foreign body.

Proper diagnosis is fundamental to the practice of medicine. Researchers at Johns Hopkins studied 25 years of malpractice claims and found that diagnostic errors accounted for the most amount of claims and severest harms to patients. The study revealed that diagnostic errors may be the biggest patient safety problem in the United States. Most troublingly, diagnostic problems are often unrecognized, downplayed, or ignored.

Many medical conditions are treatable if they are properly diagnosed and treated in the early stages of the illness. Medical professionals, however, will sometimes either miss or give the wrong diagnosis, and this unnecessary delay can cause severe injury to someone with a serious medical condition. A delayed diagnosis can have a direct impact on a patient’s recovery and survival. The consequences can range from reducing life expectancy to paralysis to death.

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