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Houston Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Law prevents service member from filing medical negligence claim

Texas is home to many military bases, which mean that many service members are treated at military medical centers. However, sometimes, the treatment at these medical centers is lacking and in the worst of cases, leads to a failure to diagnose, a misdiagnosis or other act of medical negligence.

One serviceman from another state has contracted cancer, but due federal law, is facing a legal battle that is blocking him from filing a claim for medical malpractice. The serviceman was initially seen by physicians twice at Fort Bragg's Womack Army Medical Center. He felt like something was not right, so he was permitted to be examined by a civilian physician six months later. This physician found that the man had tumor in his lung, which the Army doctors had noticed at both of his appointments, but they did not treat the man in any way for the growth. The man now has Stage 4 lung cancer -- a diagnosis that is expected to be terminal.

Did your child contract sepsis while in the hospital?

Like other Houston parents, you took your child to the hospital for diagnosis and treatment. You expected him or her to leave the hospital in better condition than when you took your child in. At some point, doctors assured you that your child was well enough to go home.

Everything seemed okay for a while. You knew your child may need extra time to heal at home. Then your child started getting worse. Could it be sepsis?

Maternal birth injuries unacceptably high across the U.S.

When something goes wrong during childbirth, both the baby and the mother's lives could be at stake. Unfortunately, emergency situations may not be treated or recognized in a timely manner, causing mothers to suffer life-long complications or even die. According to an analysis by USA Today, one in eight hospitals in the U.S. have complication rates twice the norm for labor and delivery. This is a serious issue affecting mothers in Texas and across the nation.

For example, one woman in a neighboring state had her blood pressure spike several times before suffering a fatal stroke. The physicians at the hospital seemed to be in no hurry to treat her high blood pressure. In another instant, a woman had a cesarean section performed by three physicians who were still in training. She hemorrhaged and nearly bled to death in the incident.

Can medical records be disclosed in wrongful death cases?

Medical records are sensitive, and people generally do not want these records made available to anyone. The law recognizes this, and thus, provides for a physician-patient privilege that protects this private information. Per federal and Texas law, the physician-patient privilege means that patients do not have to provide others with their private medical information, unless they agree to do so. This generally means that, with a few exceptions, doctors are not permitted to disclose any medical information obtained in a professional capacity without the patient's consent.

However, what happens if the patient passed away and can no longer give their consent? This can cause problems, particularly, if the patient's family is pursuing a wrongful death claim based on medical malpractice.

Surgical errors may have killed Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong will be forever famous as the first person on the moon. Texans may remember that Armstrong passed away in 2012 at age 82. According to one source, two years following Armstrong's death, his family settled a medical malpractice claim with the community hospital where Armstrong received cardiac bypass surgery.

Armstrong was up and walking following the procedure. But, when a pacing wire placed on his heart during the operation was removed, it resulted in a cardiac tear. This caused Armstrong to suffer bleeding and low blood pressure. He was first treated in a catheterization lab, and when that was not successful underwent an operation. The condition caused Armstrong to suffer significant organ damage though, and he passed away a few days later.

Brain injury victims deserve full compensation

Texans with loved ones in the hospital often visit them frequently. While the hope is that their loved one will show improvement with each passing day, a routine visit could turn devastating if they find their loved one is in a coma or passed away due to a brain injury. Physicians may claim that these things happen, and nothing could have been done to prevent them. However, this is not always the case.

There are a variety of ways that a person could suffer a brain injury due to the negligence of a medical professional. For example, anesthesia complications, including improper intubation and improper monitoring could cause a brain injury. Birth injuries and fetal brain injuries could result in long-lasting damages, including cerebral palsy and developmental deficits. Some brain injuries are caused by pulmonary embolism. A misdiagnosis of a heart attack or stoke could cause a brain injury. After a surgical procedure, inadequate monitoring could lead to a brain injury. Finally, medication errors could cause a person to suffer a stroke or seizure leading to a brain injury.

Should your pregnancy have been considered high risk?

One of the most natural things in the world is pregnancy and childbirth. Women have done it for eons, and these days, the majority of women go through the process without incident.

On the other hand, there are women who have difficulties as their pregnancies progress, and childbirth can prove challenging and even frightening. In some cases, doctors have little to no forewarning that something could go wrong. In other cases, they do know or should have known. Should your doctors have taken your pregnancy more seriously and considered it high risk?

Failure to diagnose conduct disorder has long-term effects

Not all illnesses are visually apparent to the average person in Houston or elsewhere. "Invisible" impairments, such as mental health disorders, can be just as damaging as physical illnesses. A failure to diagnose a mental illness can have long-lasting effects that affect not only a person's health, but also their relationship with others, ability to work and sometimes, even their ability to care for themselves or function in society.

Conduct disorder is an example of a mental illness that, gone undiagnosed, can lead to physical and social problems. Conduct disorder often manifests itself when a person is a child or adolescent. Symptoms include extreme antisocial and aggressive behavior. It could also lead to depression, anxiety and substance abuse. It is a common psychiatric disorder, but often goes undiagnosed.

MRSA's resistance to antiobiotics could lead to sepsis

Spending time in a hospital bed probably isn't your first choice for a good time. However, you suffered an illness or injury that requires you to remain hospitalized for a time. Your expectation and intention is to leave in better condition than when you arrived.

Unfortunately, you could contract a hospital-acquired infection called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, commonly called MRSA. What makes this specific staph infection particularly dangerous is its resistance to most antibiotics. A diagnosis that comes too late could result in this infection turning into sepsis, which could threaten your life.

When can negligent birth injuries lead to cerebral palsy?

Each year, approximately 10,000 babies across the nation, including some in Texas, will be born with cerebral palsy. While sometimes this type of birth injury takes place after the child is born, sometimes it takes place before the child is born or during the birthing process. In fact, around 20% of those with cerebral palsy suffered the injury that lead to the condition during the birth process.

Sometimes, the cause of cerebral palsy is due to the negligence of medical professionals. For example, during the birth process, the mother's medical team may fail to inform the physician that the infant is in distress, which ultimately delays treatment. For instance, if the umbilical cord is wrapped around the infant's neck during the labor process, causing the child to suffer a lack of oxygen, this could lead to cerebral palsy if the situation is not immediately addressed. Or, a mother could come down with an infection that goes undiagnosed and is ultimately passed down to the infant before birth, leading to cerebral palsy.

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