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New York City Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Many factors influence the decision to settle a malpractice suit

According to a medical liability defense lawyer practicing in New York, there are several reasons a physician may choose to settle a case outside of court. For instance, a settlement may be a better option if an expert opinion reveals that the physician failed to provide the reasonable standard of care expected to a patient or if a doctor's actions are indefensible. Furthermore, if the malpractice insurance is inadequate, it could lead to loss of personal assets in the event litigation results in a high trial verdict.

Additionally, an early settlement could provide for faster compensation to a plaintiff and reduce the overall cost of a case. A trial may be lengthy, but a settlement offers a quick relief to both sides from the stress and burden of the litigation process.

8 hospital errors no longer disclosed

Many residents in New York may be surprised to learn that the federal government stopped publicly disclosing data regarding eight hospital-acquired conditions as of August 2014. Potential patients are no longer able to research the data on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website, although the agency denied it was making the changes in 2013.

The data used to be available through a public spreadsheet primarily utilized by advocates for patient safety and researchers, but that has recently been taken down as well. The eight avoidable HACs could be potentially lethal in many cases. The CMS's Hospital Compare website still lists 13 conditions, and the agency claims that the change is a reflection of more accurate data collection and incorporation from reliable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's bloodstream infection data.

Questions to ask during a doctor visit

When New York residents become sick, they may visit their doctor in order to get better. However, while they know that their doctor has a wealth of information available, there are certain things that they may not discuss with their patient. Asking the right questions during a routine doctor visit could prevent medical errors that may possibly be fatal.

Studies indicate that one in every 20 patients may be misdiagnosed. Although only a small percentage results in serious injuries, patients should express their concerns to their physician if they believe something does not feel right or if they need more clarification. Moreover, research has shown that when new medical residents begin caring for patients in July, there is a 10 percent increase in fatal medication errors. Patients may be proactive in avoiding such an error by confirming the details of their medication.

Experts speak out about medical errors

Residents in New York may benefit from learning more about the statements of concern health experts expressed to Congress on July 17. Multiple experts in the health care industry told members of the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging that one of the primary causes of the alarmingly high rate of preventable deaths from hospital mistakes is inaccurate reporting by public health agencies.

A professor at Harvard School of Public Health claimed that patients are just as at risk of suffering a death caused by medical error today as they were 15 years ago. The chairman of the panel, Sen Bernie Sanders from Vermont, noted that most patients are probably unaware that preventable deaths caused by medical error is the third largest cause of deaths in America each year. The president of the National Patient Safety Foundation cited research indicating 25 percent of all patients are at risk of suffering injuries from a drug, adverse drug effects or medication errors within the first month of receiving a prescription.

Preventing medication errors after hospital discharge

Health literacy in New York is defined as an individual's ability to interpret and follow health care instructions and information. A study now shows that people with the lowest health literacy levels are the most likely to make medication errors after they are discharged from a hospital. Common errors include failure to have a prescription filled and failure to continue taking the medication as recommended by the health care professional.

There are also cases of misunderstandings that have the potential to compromise a patient's health. This includes patients taking medications without understanding the purpose, frequency or proper dosage of the medication. There is a growing belief in the medical community that identifying the people most likely to make errors and providing them with more support may work to minimize the risk of medication errors.

Uncertain testing leaves lyme sufferers in poor health

New York residents may have heard that a Boston music professor suffering from Lyme disease found himself fighting his own physician's preventable errors as well as his worsening symptoms. While one test came back negative, another more comprehensive screen was not administered at all; the test needed to diagnose the disease was only available in Europe.

After a tick bite he suffered in Spain, the professor spotted the rash that reveals the serious infection. The standard Lyme disease test given in the U.S., known as the Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay, screens only for infection from a single, common tick species. It reportedly took 10 months for the man to locate a doctor that could properly treat and diagnose the disease.

Initiatives underway to protect lives of mothers in childbirth

Readers in New York who know of or are expectant mothers are likely to understand the fear of fatal complications related to childbirth. The U.N. and the World Health Organization published a new report that ranks the United States last among fully developed countries for maternal mortality, and along with the study's findings that between two and three women die daily from pregnancy problems in the U.S., evidence seems to show that the country's current standard of care for pregnant women might benefit from improvements in many areas.

Some motivated medical professionals are taking steps to help make childbirth a safer prospect for American women. The California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative, for example, produced a toolkit for treatment of hemorrhaging that has managed to significantly lower the maternal mortality rate in that state.

Hospital faces wrongful death lawsuit in misdiagnosis

Residents of New York may be familiar with the news release regarding the medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuit recently filed against a hospital in New Mexico by the widow of Russell Means, an Arizona American Indian activist and former leader of the American Indian Movement (AIM). In the lawsuit, Mrs. Means claims that the hospital's staff incorrectly diagnosed her husband's health condition, which contributed to his death in 2012.

According to the report, the woman alleges that in 2011, doctors with the Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe failed to notice that her husband was suffering from esophageal cancer, even though he displayed clear symptoms such as spitting up blood and trouble swallowing. In the lawsuit, which was filed in a state court in San Miguel County, it was stated that medical personnel at the hospital reportedly told Mrs. Means that her husband did not have cancer but could be suffering from enlarged tonsil instead, even though his tonsils were removed when he was a child.

Woman files lawsuit for medical negligence during operation

New Yorkers considering surgery may wish to learn about a lawsuit that a California woman filed in regards to a surgical error. The woman went in for a routine hysterectomy in 2007 and was released. However, she returned to the hospital three days later with complications. The complications included nausea, abdominal pain, blurred vision and constant thirst, and they persisted for four years.

During that time span, she repeatedly visited the hospital. Doctors diagnosed her with severe constipation at first and sent her home. During another visit, doctors diagnosed the woman with unspecified gastrointestinal issues. The woman was given a third diagnosis of ovarian cysts after she began bleeding in 2011. It was during the removal procedure intended for the cysts when a doctor discovered that a surgical sponge had been left inside her during her hysterectomy. The sponge had become encased in scar tissue, and as a result, 50 percent of the woman's intestines had to be removed.

Nursing home accused of neglect announces staff changes

New York residents who have parents who are living in nursing homes may remember that 17 people who were employed at the HighPointe on Michigan nursing home faced charges for allegedly neglecting one of their patients. On June 11, it was announced that Kaleida Health intended to improve hiring practices by removing its director of nursing and the Buffalo facility's director. The initial probe that ultimately resulted in 17 employees being charged was conducted in June 2013. They were arraigned in April 2014 on felony charges that included endangering the welfare of a disabled individual, falsifying business records and willfully violating state health laws.

The decision came after Kaleida Health's new chief executive officer and leadership team conducted a review of the facility's operations. Several individuals from other health care systems were selected to fill the positions on an interim basis as they were still searching for individuals to fill the spots permanently.

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