Articles Posted in Emergency Rooms

When problems develop during childbirth most assume the same thing: I hope the child is OK. However, a new report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that we also need renewed focus on possible harm facing mothers during a birth.

Of course, in the past, childbirth has always been an incredibly dangerous time for mothers. In less developed parts of the world the material death rate remains shockingly high. While we recognize the risk elsewhere, in the United States there is a somewhat unacknowledged assumption that mothers will be fine during a delivery. The high risk of death during childbirth is a thing of the past–now the risk is very small.

Obviously vast improvements have been made over the decades on this front, but the problem has not gone away entirely. In fact, in some ways the risk of harm to the mother during childbirth has increased in recent years. It is vitally important that all of us understand this risk and that medical professionals act reasonable at all times to ensure mothers are not hurt in preventable ways as a result of inadequate response to maternal health complications during a birth.

The Huffington Post reported recently on troubling news regarding planning (or lackethereof) at a hosptial in New York in the midst of Hurricane Sandy. In all the talk about the mass power outages, subway floodings, property damage, and more, the effect on our most vulnerable is often given little attention. That include medical patients in hospitals.

Of course, it is absolutely incumbent upon all medical facilities to have emergency preparedness plans in place so that care is not sacrificied when things go wrong as a result of unexpected events. However, according to the recent report, one facility was forced to evacuate patients unexpectedly after the power went out and several back-up generators failed. Obviously access to electricity is critical for these facilities, because many patients’ lives literally rely on the functioning of the medical equipment used in their care. That is particularly true for patients who are on ventilators or may rely on extra outside oxygen support. Many other patients may need IV medication. On top of that, when the evacuation took place, it was critical for medical records and charts to follow each patient. It is easy to see how these sort of situations could descend into chaos and, without careful work every step of the way, patients might be harmed.

Employees familiar with the situation reported that the evacuation took all night on the Monday of the storm and half of the following day. It was an “exhausting” but “methodical” process. Apparently at least 300 residents were shifted to nearby facilities. That group including some very sick and vulnerable patients, like 20 newborn babies in the intensive care unit. No doubt the front-line care workers, nurses, students, assistants, volunteers, and others who aided in the effort did the best they could to handle what was undoubtedly a stressful situation.

Diagnostic errors are some of the costliest that a medical provider can make. Proper treatment to help a patient will not even begin until doctors correctly identify the specific ailment that is harming the patient. However, our Illinois medical malpractice lawyers know that failures to properly identify the problem occur frequently, with life and death consequences for those involved.

There are often misunderstandings about what constitutes malpractice in these sorts of situations. As with all malpractice, the law does not hinge on specific outcomes. In other words, doctors are not required by the law to do anything above and beyond basic reasonable care to figure out what the cause of an ailment is. If a doctor fails to diagnose a patient correctly, it does not automatically mean that they committed malpractice. Instead, the legal decision is based on more subtle factors, a comparison of the actions by the doctor with the actions of a “reasonable” doctor in the same situation.

For example, if a patient enters an emergency room with various symptoms, there are basic protocols that reasonable medical practitioners would follow to figure out the patient’s medical issue. That may involve performing tests and comparing symptoms with results to reach reasonable conclusions about what might be harming the patient. Not all diagnostic cases are easy or lead to clear answers. Doctors are not required to do anything more than a reasonable doctor would do. Yet, they can be held responsible when they do not catch issues that a reasonable doctor would catch.

A woman and her fiancé filed a federal medical malpractice lawsuit against two hospitals. They allege that they were ignored in a hospital emergency room so long that they returned home where the woman gave birth to a premature baby. The baby then died. The victims allege that their federal right to emergency medical treatment was violated. They seek unspecified damages for emotional distress. The two did not have medical insurance. There are current investigations as to whether the couple was ignored after the woman entered the hospital with severe abdominal pain. Federal law requires that most hospitals provide emergency attention to patients whether or not they have insurance. To ignore such a patient is medical malpractice. After visiting to two hospitals the couple went home. The mother gave birth to a breach baby and the 1-pound, 6 ounce baby girl was pronounced dead at the scene. This type of medical error goes hand in hand with health care reform. To read more about the birth injury, please click the link.

The children of a retired police lieutenant believe that there father was a victim of medical error after he was rushed to the emergency room. Fox40 stated that the children believe that the doctor abandoned his efforts to resuscitate the police officer and then surreptitiously removed the victims watch and put it in his pocket. According to the medical malpractice lawsuit, two witnesses noticed that the watch went missing from the victim’s wrist and then saw a bulge in the doctor’s pocket. Despite efforts from security, the doctor was able to leave the hospital with the patient’s wristwatch. The family’s greatest fear is that the doctor allowed the wrongful death. The doctor was released from the hospital after the medical error. To read more about the medical malpractice, please click the link.

A grand jury investigation has begun in the death of a woman who was found on the floor of a psychiatric emergency room. The woman was rushed by ambulance to the ER when diagnosed with schizophrenia and psychosis. The woman was found dead on the floor of the emergency room while waiting 24 hours to be treated. While waiting for treatment she suffered from a blood clot and died. Hospital staff appeared to ignore the patient while in the ER which was caught on the ER’s security camera. The hospital has been fondly referred to as “Killer Hospital.” The grand jury will investigate the hospital’s negligence and malpractice.

Read more about Killer Hospital and its alleged medical negligence here.

According to an article, “after several (medical) mistakes, miscommunications, and misdiagnoses,” a woman ended up having both arms and legs amputated and since then filed a medical malpractice suit against her doctors. The woman who had a history of kidney stones went to the emergency room with kidney stone pain. Instead of treating the kidney stone, the stone turned into an infection that led to septic shock. This septic shock turned her limbs black from loss of blood circulation. All limbs had to be amputated due to this medical malpractice oversight, according to the article.

Read more about the medical malpractice suit here.

A medical malpractice lawsuit was recently filed on behalf of a family who lost their 22-month old daughter as a result of medical negligence. In May 2007, the child was taken to a hospital’s emergency room with a fever. Within an hour of being at the hospital, her temperature rose to 105.7 degrees. Despite this rise, the attending doctor in the emergency room sent her home. The family returned to the emergency room where the child died less than an hour after arriving at the hospital. The lawsuit alleges that the attending physician was negligent because he deviated from the standard of care by sending the family home. Instead, tests should have been run to measure her blood counts. To read more about this medical malpractice lawsuit, follow the link.

According to federal officials, The University of Chicago Medical Center has violated the federal law of Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act by not following emergency room procedure. The Chicago hospital failed to provide a medical screening to a 78 year old man who died last month in their emergency room. The alleged violation could lead to loss of federal funding from the Medicare health insurance program for the elderly. The Joint Commission, which is given the power to accredit hospitals, is also going to investigate the alleged violation. The Illinois hospital said it has the correct policies and procedures in place and will take disciplinary action against its staff employees who may not have followed protocol.

Read more about the alleged hospital violation here.

According to the Crain’s Chicago, the University of Chicago Medical Center is under fire again, this time for the death of an elderly man who passed away on February 3 in the hospital’s emergency room. The article did not give specific details about this possible case of medical malpractice.

A spokesperson for the hospital acknowledged that the hospital may not have followed proper care procedures, “Our investigation found that proper policies and procedures were in place but staff members may not have followed the protocol. Appropriate disciplinary actions are being taken.” Recently, the University of Chicago Medical Center has come under criticism after announcing plans to redirect emergency room patients to different hospitals in a measure to decrease wait times.

Read the full article about the University of Chicago Medical Center.

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