Articles Tagged with Negligence

There are many hidden and unknown dangers in the very places we expect to heal; for example, hospital beds. Many of these hospital beds have rails, typically made of metal, that run along the side of the sleeping space. These bed rails operate to prevent someone from rolling off accidentally.

Several months ago the Consumer Product Safety Commission released a review of bedrail deaths and injuries of adults. Using data from hospitals, the report cited 155 deaths involving bed rails from January 2003 to September 2012. In that same period, almost 37,000 people were injured in bed rail accidents and treated at hospital emergency rooms. According to this report, the deaths and injuries most commonly occurred when the victim became stuck in the bed rails, mainly with his or her head or neck getting caught. These alarming numbers triggered the CPSC to move forward in addressing bed rail safety.

Last week, the CPSC “merged” two petitions related to bed rail safety. Combined, the two petitions offer the CPSC an array of options: it can decide to do nothing, ban the use of bed rails entirely, or choose any various steps in between. Safety advocates are insistent that no intermediary step will eliminate all harm, suggesting that a ban likely is the best and safest option. The prevalence of these beds and bed rails in residences, nursing homes, and hospitals suggests that it is likely this petition will gain deep collective interest among a number of organizations.

In early 2010, the family of a 17-year-old girl with a rare genetic disorder brought a medical malpractice suit against the Johns Hopkins Hospital alleging that the Johns Hopkins doctors and nurses provided inappropriate treatment to the disabled girl.

The Baltimore City jury that heard the medical malpractice suit found the staff at Johns Hopkins negligent in restraining the girl in a manner that caused extensive bruising. The girl, a long-time patient at Johns Hopkins Hospital, was extremely frail as a result of her condition and required special treatment. The girl’s father alleged that following an overnight stay at Johns Hopkins Hospital on March 12, 2007, he noticed “numerous bruises” on the girl’s body in addition to a “large lump on her forehead.” Johns Hopkins Hospital staff provided no explanation for the bruises other than “spontaneous bruising” caused by her disorder. The girl’s father was not satisfied with this response, and brought the medical malpractice suit against Johns Hopkins Hospital. Ultimately, the jury found that Johns Hopkins Hospital was negligent and committed malpractice for the bruises awarded the girl $250,000.00.

We handle cases like these all of the time in my practice.

In early 2003, a Pennsylvania pharmacist died of a heart attack while at work. In 2009, a jury found his family doctor negligent and awarded the man’s widow $4 million. Later, after determining the delay in the conclusion of the case was improper, the presiding Judge awarded the man’s widow an additional $1.2 million in damages. Last month, the Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld that $5.2 million award in the medical malpractice case.

This case is an example of the catastrophic results of a doctor failing to correctly diagnose and treat his patient. The man went to see the doctor four days before his death as a result of unexplained chest pain, jaw pain and anxiety. The doctor advised him that these symptoms were the result of anxiety. However, the man’s attorneys argued that the the doctor made a critical error by failing to take into account the following: the man was overweight, he had high cholesterol, he had high blood pressure and he had a history of heart disease in his family. On the day of his death, the man again contacted the doctor as a result of his symptoms persisting. By the time the doctor returned his call, the man was already in cardiac arrest.

Ultimately, jurors agreed that when the doctor analyzed the man’s complaints in light of the risk factors he had, the doctor should have immediately sent the man to an emergency room because the mans’ symptoms were suggestive of a heart attack. The autopsy results further confirmed this determination as it showed heart damage, specifically indicating that the man had a heart attack a few days before his death.

A woman in Pennsylvania was recently awarded one of the highest sums ever recorded in a medical malpractice suit after an infection went unnoticed and nearly killed her. The lawsuit was based upon medical negligence and medical errors committed by a home nurse that was treating the woman, who was suffering from Crohn’s disease. The woman was receiving care from a home nurse when the R.N. failed to recognize that she had an infected catheter. As a result of the nurse failing to refer the patient to a physician to treat the infected catheter, both of the woman’s legs were amputated below the knee. This was a result of the infection spreading to the bloodstream.

The jury in this case awarded the woman $23.12 million after hearing about the failure of the nurse to treat the bacteria-infected catheter and found both the nurse and the employer negligent. The damages were based on compensatory awards of economic damages for medical expenses and lost wages, as well as non-economic damages associated with pain and suffering. A medical malpractice case requires a plaintiff to establish that a health care provider undertook care of a patient, and thus had a duty to the patient; the duty was breached by the health care provider upon their failure to perform at the standard level of care; and that damages to the plaintiff resulted. A finding of negligence means the jury thought that the evidence showed that the woman’s health care provider committed a medical error resulting from an omission which deviated from the standards of practice generally accepted in the medical community, and found that this failure caused injury to the patient.

We handle cases like these all of the time in my practice.

The family of an 86-year-old Massachusetts woman has settled their medical malpractice case arising from the death of the woman after she fell from an operating table following hip surgery. The case settled for $800,000. The woman died seven days after she suffered a severe head injury during the negligent fall, as she was being prepared for transfer to her hospital bed. The fall caused severe internal bleeding and fractured her skull. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health investigated the case and concluded that the fall led to the woman’s death. It found deficiencies in procedure which led to the fall.

My name is Andrew Slutkin. As an experienced Baltimore, Maryland medical malpractice lawyer, I have successfully handled a significant number of medical malpractice / negligence cases involving falls that cause severe injury or even death. All of the cases involve people who are in a vulnerable position – such as being elderly or sick – and cannot take care of themselves. It’s always important to carefully examine the medical records to see what happened. But because these are the types of injuries where the injury is known to the health care providers at the time it happens, the medical records frequently make it seem like the heath care providers did everything correctly yet the fall somehow occurred. That is why witness and family accounts frequently help to determine what really happened. It also is important to check the health care provider’s policies and procedures to determine if rules and regulations were followed. To see some of the cases I have handled, click here.


Contact Andrew G. Slutkin with further questions or inquiries at 410-385-2786

A Florida jury has awarded the family of a 9-year-old boy $11.1 million in a medical malpractice case arising out of negligent medical care at a local hospital. The family claimed that the child was not properly treated in the emergency room. The child, then 3 months old, had been sick for days with vomiting and diarrhea, so he was taken to the hospital. After a few hours, he was discharged, however, the hospital had failed to check the child for dehydration. By the next morning he could barely breathe, and had to be rushed back to the hospital. By that time, he suffered from an irreversible brain injury.

As an experienced Baltimore, Maryland medical malpractice lawyer, I have successfully handled a number of medical malpractice cases involving sick children. I also have handled several dehydration cases. When people get sick, especially when they vomit or have diarrhea, they can become dehydrated quickly, which creates a serious imbalance in their fluid and electrolyte levels. When these levels become out of sync, they can cause severe sickness, organ damage and even death. In these cases, it is critical for the doctor or hospital to perform a a complete blood count and a simple metabolic panel. To see some of the cases I have handled, click here.

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