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Houston Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Do patients have rights in the emergency room?

Medical providers in the United States are bound to follow certain rules and procedures to ensure that their patients are treated with respect and provided with safe and comprehensive care. For example, Texas doctors must receive informed consent from their patients before undertaking certain medical actions. When doctors and nurses have time to review their patients' cases and prepare for their visits, meeting these standards may seem straightforward.

However, when medical personnel must make snap decisions on critical patient cases, it may become more difficult for them to provide their patients with balanced and comprehensive care. In emergency rooms, doctors and other staff must quickly assess, treat, and remedy their patients' ailments. They may not have time to read a patient's complete medical history and may have to act based on the most acute problem in front of them.

Were you diagnosed with septicemia after surgery?

The human body is a marvel and a mystery. As much as science has learned about it, they still can't adequately predict which way a medical situation will go. Two people with the same illness or injury can have completely different experiences as they recover.

Your body can recover from a significant amount of trauma, or bacteria can take it down. When a bacterial infection attacks your body, you could recover from it with medication and time, or you could end up in the hospital because the infection progressed into septicemia and possibly sepsis thereafter.

What is a surgical time out?

Texas parents may be familiar with the term "time out." Over the course of their lives they may have sent their children to this form of punishment dozens if not hundreds of times. A time out in this context involves having a child stop, wait and think about what they need to do to improve their attitude or behavior.

It may come as some surprise to readers, then, that surgeons and surgical nurses must take time outs as well. Surgical time outs are one component of the three-part Universal Protocol that was adopted in 2004 to help doctors avoid the damaging, dangerous and costly issues related to surgical mistakes. When a surgical team takes a time out, they are expected to do several things.

Misdiagnosis of heart attacks can be fatal

The blood the heart pumps provides oxygen to the body's cells and deoxygenated blood then returns to the heart through the lungs to replenish its supply and recirculate. When Texas residents experience a problem with their heart, the matter can soon turn serious since the heart is a critical organ in the functioning of the entire body.

One unfortunate common condition that affects many Americans is a heart attack. A heart attack happens when blood flow to the heart is restricted. This often happens when fat or plaque builds up in the arteries and blood can no longer get back to the organ. Although heart attacks can be treated, not every person who goes to the hospital suffering from a heart attack gets the right diagnosis.

How can undiagnosed preeclampsia impact a pregnancy?

Preeclampsia is a serious medical condition that can threaten the health of a pregnant Texas woman and her unborn child. Because preeclampsia can result in dangerous and even tragic complications during labor and delivery, legal recourse may be necessary to ensure that victims are made whole after suffering losses.

Preeclampsia is classified as a hypertensive disorder and results in high blood pressure in a pregnant woman. It can be diagnosed through a variety of different tests and assessments, and certain woman may be more likely to suffer from preeclampsia than others. Although it does not affect every pregnancy, preeclampsia is a relatively common and dangerous pregnancy complication.

Could your joint replacement surgery lead to sepsis?

Conditions that used to debilitate people in the past can now benefit from medical advances. Joint replacement surgeries happen all the time these days here in Texas and elsewhere. People who couldn't walk without pain due to the degeneration of a knee or hip joint can receive a new lease on life by having the affected joint replaced.

If you are one of these people, you likely expected to regain your mobility and live without excruciating pain after the surgery. You anticipated your surgery with hope and excitement even though you knew risks were involved, but you thought those dangers came from the surgical procedure, not your post-operative care.

Maternal loss of a loved one after birth highly preventable

Texas residents who are starting a family or adding to it by having a baby will undoubtedly be happy and enthusiastic as the event draws near. There are many things to consider with having a new baby and one that has thankfully been reduced is danger to the mother. Whereas women were once prone to injury and death related to childbirth, that fear has largely been reduced to a near-afterthought. However, new research indicates that the U.S. has had a worrisome number of maternal fatalities related to a pregnancy. People who have suffered the loss of a loved one in these circumstances should be aware of the percentage of these deaths that were deemed preventable.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report saying that there are approximately 700 pregnancy-related maternal deaths each year. A substantial percentage were preventable. Splitting these into categories, 31% percent occurred during the pregnancy; 36% occurred while the baby was being delivered or in the next week; and 33% occurred during the next year. The causes of these fatalities vary. 34% were from heart disease and stroke. Severe bleeding and the mother suffering from an infection were also prominent causes.

The right approach for victims of medical mistakes

A previous post here discussed the sometimes deadly problem of misdiagnosing pulmonary embolism. Sadly, however, pulmonary embolism is not the only life-threatening condition that doctors may fail to identify in their patients. Cancer, heart conditions, nervous system disorders and a host of other serious medical conditions can be overlooked by medical professionals when they fail to meet their duty of care to their patients.

The results of a misdiagnosis or a failed diagnosis can be deadly. Families who have lost loved ones to medical mistakes like these understand the grief that comes with knowing their relatives' lives may have been saved had their doctors taken the time to properly investigate the causes of their ailments. Nothing can bring back a person who died because of a medical mistake, but litigation may help survivors cope with their loss without experiencing financial strain.

Why are pulmonary embolisms commonly misdiagnosed?

A pulmonary embolism is a significant medical event. It occurs when a blood clot forms in the body and becomes stuck in the pulmonary artery that supplies the lungs with blood from the heart. The deprivation of blood to the lungs can be fatal and it is an unfortunate truth that this serious condition is often misdiagnosed in Texas residents and others throughout the world.

There are several factors that can contribute to pulmonary embolism misdiagnoses. One of those factors relates to the symptoms that individuals present in the week that their problem is ultimately identified. Patients who do not exhibit strong symptoms of pulmonary embolism are not always recognized as having the condition.

Devices used to save your life could also put it at risk

Anytime a foreign object enters your body, you run the risk of contracting an infection. If you cut yourself while chopping vegetables, skin your knee if you fall or step on something as you walk around barefoot, you expect to take precautions to make sure you don't get an infection.

What happens during a hospitalization? Do you have the same understanding regarding the risk of infection when medical personnel use invasive devices in a hospital to save your life or treat your condition? You aren't alone if the thought hadn't occurred to you. Unfortunately, many of the invasive devices doctors use to help you could also harm you.

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