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Houston Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Failure to diagnose allegedly led to child's death

There are a number of medical conditions that can befall an individual at any given time. When one of these injuries or illnesses strikes, Texans rely on competent medical professionals to make an accurate and timely diagnosis and also to provide the proper treatment in a safe fashion. Unfortunately, though, a significant number of doctors and nurses act negligently while carrying out their duties. The results of such negligence can be tragic, as one incident that gave rise to a recent lawsuit highlights.

There, a four-year-old girl's parents claim the child died after medical professionals failed to accurately diagnose her medical condition. According to the lawsuit, the child died from bacterial meningitis, but the personnel at the medical facility where she was taken diagnosed her with an ear infection and sent her home. Just five hours later, the child was taken back to the hospital, but she was already suffering from cardiopulmonary arrest, which eventually led to her death.

When is a C-section necessary?

One of the most efficient ways to prevent harm from occurring in the medical field is to provide quick and accurate care to patients. Oftentimes on this blog we discuss how a failure to diagnose, or a delayed diagnosis, can pose a serious risk to unsuspecting patients. While these situations can leave patients with significant harm and even death, timely and proper action is also needed when a woman is about to give birth. Most commonly, this issue arises when a doctor must make a decision about whether to conduct a C-section.

There are a number of instances during which a doctor should perform a C-section. For example, the operation may be necessary when a placenta previa occurs. This condition occurs when the placenta blocks the cervix. In cases where the blockage is complete, or almost complete, a C-section is usually necessary. Placental abruption may be another reason for a C-section. This condition occurs when the placenta separates from the uterus's lining. A cesarean section will become necessary if the abruption disallows the baby from receiving the appropriate amount of oxygen.

How is the medical field trying to prevent medication errors?

When a serious medical condition befalls an individual, he or she often must turn to a comprehensive treatment plan. This plan may include surgery and medication. As we have often discussed on this blog, the success of these treatments is usually dependent upon accuracy and timeliness. Although surgical errors and instances of failure to diagnose may grab headlines, medication errors can be just as harmful to unsuspecting patients.

Sadly, medication errors occur much more frequently than many people realize. According to one study, about 1.5 million preventable medication errors happen each year in the U.S. This is troubling to say the least, especially since four out of five adults will take some sort of medication or supplement in any given week. The adverse effects of medication errors can vary in severity, too, with some causing only minor irritation while others can cause death. With so much on the line, the medical profession has tried to actively incorporate safety procedures to reduce and eliminate medication errors.

Some pregnancy conditions put the mother's life at risk

Pregnancy is often a wonderful time in the lives of expectant parents. As you wait for the arrival of the newest addition to your family, you may marvel at the changes your body is going through.

Not all of the changes that happen to a woman's body during pregnancy are good, however. Some can put your life at risk. Even if things appear to be progressing smoothly, some conditions can manifest later in your pregnancy, and if your doctor isn't monitoring you for signs that something could be wrong, your life may be in jeopardy. One of those conditions is preeclampsia.

Negligence can cause this life-threatening illness

When you enter a Texas hospital to undergo surgery, you know you are at risk. You also assume that the medical care providers who will be tending to your needs will keep your best interests at heart and conduct themselves according to the highest level of accepted standards. You also understand that during recovery, you remain at risk for infection, especially during the first 40 hours post-op.

What you may not consider ahead of time, however, is that if someone drops the ball at any point between your check-in and return home, you may suffer grave injury or life-threatening illness, such as sepsis.

Failure to diagnose appendicitis can be deadly

There are a number of medical conditions that can pose a serious risk of harm to patients when they are not quickly and accurately diagnosed. Most medical professionals should be, and are, aware of these conditions and how to spot them and treat them effectively. Others, though, may miss obvious signs. In these instances, patients can be left with extensive damages that are physical, emotional and financial in nature.

One of these conditions is appendicitis. This condition occurs when the appendix becomes inflamed. Many who experience this condition experience pain in the lower right portion of their abdomen, but most feel the pain initiate around their belly button. Although this pain may be the most common symptom, other signs may include vomiting, constipation or diarrhea, decreased appetite and worsening pain upon coughing. When not treated quickly, which usually means removal of the appendix, the appendix can rupture.

Surgical error caused woman to have 27 additional operations

Even the most strong-willed people can find themselves uneasy when they have to undergo surgery. Fortunately, the vast majority of medical procedures are completed without incident, oftentimes leading to successful results. Yet, the number of surgical errors that occur are more than enough to cause concern. These mishaps can cause significant harm to unsuspecting patients, leaving them with serious injuries, a worsened medical condition or, in the worst instances, death.

Perhaps even more concerning is the unimaginable errors that can occur. For example, look at the case of one Texas woman who had an operation to have a tumor removed from an adrenal gland and instead wound up with having nearly half of her pancreas removed. The surgical error has left the woman with a constant stabbing pain, caused by fluid leaking from her pancreas and into the rest of her body. The sudden loss of a significant portion of the organ has also left the woman with Type I diabetes. She has had nearly 30 additional surgeries since the incident, and she still isn't aware of her current cancer prognosis.

Handling grief after the wrongful death of a loved one

The extent of harm caused by medical malpractice can fall anywhere on a spectrum of severity. Some individuals are only hurt in a minor way, while others are left disabled or with what was once a treatable condition turned fatal. Families that lose a loved one to hospital negligence can face their own hardships. Perhaps the most debilitating is the emotional impact the loss may make.

The grief that accompanies the loss of a loved one can cause shock, confusion and anger, which can all lead to deep-seeded depression. Although most individuals are able to cope with this loss in their own way, everybody progresses through the process in a different way. Although many state that there are stages of grief, they are not always a part of an individual's unique path. Although many people are able to utilize their own coping skills, find support from friends and loved ones and practice healthy habits to enable them to accept the loss and move on with their lives, others require professional help from a psychologist.

Post-sepsis syndrome: Surviving sepsis may only be the first step

You may not even remember much about your stay in the intensive care unit. You may have woken up in a normal hospital room to find that your stay in the ICU gave you a life-threatening case of sepsis. Doctors may have told you that they treated you for this severe and potentially terminal infection and the danger has passed.

You probably accepted that explanation and went home feeling lucky to be alive. After all, you did survive an illness or injury that put you in the hospital along with a potentially fatal infection. You try to continue with your recovery, but something just doesn't feel right.

Cerebral hypoxia can cause serious brain damage

Brain injuries can occur in a number of ways. Commonly, this injury occurs when an individual suffers a blow to the head. However, brain damage can also occur when there is a lack of oxygen to the brain, which is medically referred to as cerebral hypoxia. This condition can arise from a number of circumstances, but may result from strangulation, the inhalation of smoke and compression to the throat.

The result of cerebral hypoxia can be devastating. Some types of brain cells can die after just five minutes without oxygen, which means that this type of hypoxia can cause serious damage quickly. Victims may be left with permanent brain damage or, in the worst cases, the lack of oxygen can lead to death. To treat brain hypoxia, medical professionals often have to intervene to provide assistance breathing, controlling heart rate and blood pressure and calm any seizures that may occur.

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