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Houston Medical Malpractice Law Blog

How an attorney can be helpful in a medical malpractice case

Last week on the blog we touched base on how courts and juries determine the applicable standard of care in medical malpractice cases. This may seem like a small thing given the events that have left one seriously injured, but the truth of the matter is that issues like this set the stage for an entire case, meaning that the outcome can either significantly strengthen one's case or severely diminish its chances of success.

The same holds true for other aspects of a case. Appropriately qualifying an expert witness, laying the proper foundation for the admission of certain evidence, and authenticating documents can all make or break a medical malpractice case. To succeed in these areas, one either need to know the law and how to create persuasive legal arguments and strategies, or acquire the assistance to do so.

Determining the applicable standard of care

If Texans were injured by the negligence of a medical professional, then they may be considering a medical malpractice lawsuit. These claims, when successful, can bring a victim compensation to help alleviate damages that were unexpectedly and undeservedly thrust upon them. These damages may include lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering and other noneconomic losses. However, before this compensation can be recovered, liability must be imposed, and this is no small feat.

One important consideration when pursuing one of these claims is the applicable standard of care. The standard of care that is applied in a medical malpractice case can be crucial because it serves as the bar that a defendant must live up to if he or she wishes to avoid liability. Therefore, a victim who can show that a higher standard of care is applicable may increase his or her chances of succeeding on a medical malpractice claim.

How would you know if you have sepsis?

Surgical procedures, misdiagnosed or undiagnosed medical conditions, or other injuries could result in you contracting an infection. If allowed to progress without treatment, the infection could ultimately turn into sepsis and then septic shock.

Medical staff may send you home with the impression that nothing is wrong with you. Then, your condition seems to keep deteriorating. When you finally go to the emergency room or see your doctor, you discover that you suffer from sepsis and end up in the intensive care unit on strong antibiotics.

Failure to diagnose leaves woman mostly blind

One of the challenges that Texas medical professionals face is that various conditions can share a wide number of symptoms. The responsibility then falls on a doctor to make an accurate diagnosis so that a patient can receive the most effective treatment possible under the circumstances. This may mean ordering multiple tests, accurately interpreting those test results and even obtaining a second opinion from a co-worker. Sadly, far too often, medical professionals are over-confident in their diagnosing abilities. This, in turn, can lead to a failure to diagnose a serious medical condition or a wrong diagnosis.

This happened to one woman who wound up blind because of her doctor's inadequate medical treatment. There, the woman, who was pregnant at the time, complained of having pressure surrounding her eyes and blurred vision. These complaints were made during multiple prenatal visits. Yet, her doctor chalked the symptoms up to the pregnancy and failed to order any kind of testing to determine if there was any other cause. As it turned out, the woman actually had glaucoma. The woman subsequently had surgery, but by then, it was too late to save anything but 10 percent of her vision.

Negligence and surgical site infections

Often, when Texans wake up from surgery, they breathe a sigh of relief that everything went according to plan. Unfortunately, some surgical errors may not be discovered until days, weeks, months or even years down the road. This can be especially true when it comes to surgical site infections.

Generally, one's skin serves as a barrier that protects internal organs from infection. Therefore, when a medical professional cuts the skin to perform an operation, he or she is putting the patient at risk of developing a surgical site infection. These infections occur in as many as 3 percent of all surgeries, and most of them develop within a month of an operation.

Stand up for your rights after a birth injury

The time surrounding the birth of a child can be filled with anticipation and anxiety. While most Texans are excited for the births of their children, most still have a concern in the back of their mind that something will go wrong. Fortunately, most births occur without incident, and the child and his or her parents go on to live happy and healthy lives. But, medical care when it comes to delivering a child is not foolproof, and when it is carried out negligently, serious harm can be inflicted upon a child, a mother or both.

The damages that can result from a birth injury, like cerebral palsy can be extensive. The medical care necessary to care for such a condition alone can be enough to financially ruin some families. Add to that the emotional pain and the overwhelming stress that accompanies a birth injury and one suddenly finds themselves in a position to feel hopeless.

Your baby suffers from necrotizing enterocolitis. What is it?

When you got pregnant, you probably had visions of satisfying food cravings, going to doctors' appointments and buying new clothes. Your thoughts may have gone directly from pregnancy to holding your newborn child while completely skipping over the potential for complications and the birthing process.

You certainly aren't alone. Most women would probably not think about the things that could go wrong while focusing on everything that could go right. The prospect of having a premature baby may not be as scary as it once was, but it could still result in dangerous health repercussions for your child, and your doctor may bear some responsibility in it.

Surgical fires can cause serious injuries and death

Surgical errors are more common than Texans think. Far too often surgical instruments are left inside patients, the wrong body parts are operated on or the wrong operation is conducted. These incidents can leave victims seriously injured and even deformed. Making matters even more frightening is the fact that surgical errors can go far beyond a slip of the scalpel or a failure to count sponges prior to stitching a patient up.

For example, surgical fires are a real issue that have to be dealt with in the medical field. According to the FDA, there are as many as 650 of these fires each year. They are defined as fires that occur in, on or around a patient and they can cause serious injuries and death. While many hospitals have implemented safety programs in an attempt to eliminate these fires, the fact remains that a quick Google search will uncover multiple news stories, some relatively recent, highlighting incidences where unsuspecting patients were burned during an operation.

Thousands of children suffer from severe sepsis every year

Kids tend to be accident prone. They suffer bumps, bruises and cuts on a fairly regular basis that heal well with no complications. They also get sick with the flu and other illnesses from which they recover well. This is mostly due to the fact that kids are also resilient.

In some instances though, children require much more care for their injuries and illnesses, and the stakes are higher. Kids may bounce back more easily than adults in some cases, but when they contract infections, their little bodies may not have the power needed to adequately fight. If doctors fail to give them the help they need quickly and adequately, an infection could become something much more life threatening.

Lawsuit: wrong diagnosis caused pain and suffering

Medical malpractice comes in many varieties in Texas. Most of the time, malpractice occurs when a doctor fails to take appropriate action in accordance with applicable medical standards. For example, a doctor may fail to conduct a sponge count following an operation, resulting in a sponge being left inside of a patient. This is often the situation in medical malpractice cases where doctors fail to diagnose a medical condition by neglecting to order the right tests or inaccurately interpreting test results. Sometimes, though, medical malpractice can occur even when it appears that doctors are doing what they are supposed to be doing.

Just look at one recently filed case. There, a man presented for medical treatment of what appeared to be flu-like symptoms. It was at that time that two doctors diagnosed him with cancer that had spread throughout his lungs and liver. The doctors told the 52-year-old that the disease was terminal. Mere days later, a third doctor confirmed the prognosis.

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