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New Orleans Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Did medical malpractice lead to woman's untimely death?

When a person in Louisiana or elsewhere requires medical attention for any reason, regardless of location or station in life, he or she has the right to expect optimum care. However, a situation that happened recently in another state led one family to think that perhaps sometimes some patients are treated differently than others. Reportedly, the family of a woman who died while in custody are claiming medical malpractice and plan to sue the jail, a doctor and medical practice that they believe are responsible for her death.

The 31-year-old woman died at a detention center in Aug. 2017, only days after arriving at the facility and admitting to using injectable drugs. According to court documents, she began experiencing withdrawal symptoms shortly after admission, which reportedly continued for the next few days and included nausea, vomiting and increasing anxiety and irritability. Although she received temporary care at the in-house medical facility, her withdrawal symptoms continued. Reportedly, she began experiencing hand spasms, which apparently had been a symptom during previous withdrawal periods. Apparently, after medical personnel prescribed a muscle relaxant, the patient was told to drink more water and report to a nurse if the spasms continued.

Woman claims hospital negligence led to mistaken identity

Most people rightly assume that contemporary hospitals in Louisiana and across this country have effective systems in place to ensure they know the correct identity of each patient entering their doors and to be sure they are consistently applying accurate patient information throughout the duration of each person's stay. Unfortunately, a woman in another state who thought her brother was brain dead discovered the hard way that this assumption does not always prove to be true. After pulling the plug on the wrong person, she is now suing the medical facility, claiming hospital negligence led to a case of mistaken identity.

The incident happened last summer when an unconscious man was admitted to the hospital and identified by his Social Security card. The person staff thought was the man's sister was contacted, but this man and the woman's brother have similar names and appearance. Since the patient was heavily bandaged and covered in a neck brace and tubes, his appearance was altered, and nobody questioned his identity. They were told he was brain dead. She and other family members sat by the man's side for two weeks, assuming this was their loved one, before making the final decision to withdraw life support.

Hospital negligence leads to 4,000 ruined eggs and embryos

Many Louisiana couples dream of becoming parents one day. Unfortunately, some experience difficulty conceiving naturally and turn to medical intervention to help them achieve their goal. Sometimes, such plans include a cryogenic procedure in which embryos or eggs are frozen to be used at a later date. Last March, hospital negligence led to a malfunction in the cryo tank at a fertility center, affecting nearly 1,000 families. More than 70 lawsuits were filed against the facility, and recently, eight more families stepped forward to file claims for monetary damages.

The incident happened nearly one year ago, in March 2018, in another state. Over 4,000 frozen eggs and embryos were deemed inviable when a malfunctioning alarm system failed to alert staff to a rise in temperature. The fertility center apologized by letter to the affected patients, and since the event, they have also offered all involved families free fertility care.

13 veterans file class-action medical malpractice complaint

Most people in Louisiana and across the country would agree that the ability to walk without pain or difficulty is crucial to one's well-being. People who experience problems with their feet that significantly hinders this ability often seek a surgical solution. While everyone undergoing any type of surgery hopes for a successful outcome, this was not the case for over 100 veterans who were victims of medical malpractice after receiving podiatric care from a doctor at a VA medical facility in another state. Recently, a class action complaint was filed by 13 of those patients.

The incidents took place between 2009 and 2016. A thorough investigation by the Inspector General at the Department of Veteran Affairs of all cases involving the podiatrist at the VA facility revealed that 115 veterans were negatively impacted. Consequently, the VA sent letters to most of these patients, informing them that they were victims of medical malpractice and advising them to seek legal assistance. However, patients who did so learned of a two year statute of limitations that prevented them from taking legal action.

Family claims medical malpractice led to child's death

As most Louisiana parents know, a child's first trip to the dentist is both exciting and a bit scary, for the child and parents alike. In most cases, the experience is generally a positive one, and the child is ready to begin a lifetime of periodic dental visits to keep his or her teeth healthy. Sadly, one family in another state had a vastly different experience. Their 2-year-old son died during a dental procedure, and the parents have now filed a lawsuit against the dental facility and the anesthesiologist involved in the procedure, alleging medical malpractice.

The incident happened in Dec. 2017 when the boy visited the dental facility to undergo pulpotomies (baby root canals) and to have crowns put on his teeth. During a prior visit, the facility, which at the time of the incident was primarily designed for child patients, had recommended the procedure be done. Sadly, the youngster died following the visit.

Surgery center accused of medical malpractice

Many Louisiana residents can understand the trepidation one feels when checking into a medical facility for surgery or any other procedure. Not only do people fear that pain and discomfort may accompany the procedure, but they may also worry that medical personnel might not follow all necessary safety protocol, including sterilizing of instruments. Such negligent actions can lead to unexpected serious consequences, perhaps even resulting in a medical malpractice situation. Recently, a woman from another state filed a lawsuit against a surgery center, claiming its failure to follow proper sterilization procedures led to thousands of patients being exposed to dangerous pathogens.

The woman was one of 3,778 patients who had visited the facility for a procedure between Jan. 1, 2018 and Sept. 7, 2018, all of whom may have been exposed to hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV. During an investigation conducted on Sept. 7, 2018, the state's department of health found medical hardware and instruments were improperly sterilized, among other transgressions, and ordered the facility to close to deal with the issues. It reopened three weeks later. Recently, the facility sent a letter to patients explaining that they may have been exposed and suggesting they be tested for the diseases, although according to the health department, the risk of infection is low.

Surgical errors can lead to serious injury or death

When someone checks into a hospital for surgery, whether in Louisiana or another state, he or she likely assumes specific procedures are in place to protect the safety of all patients. However, a recent investigation by public health officials in a different state revealed a surgical error that took place at one hospital several years ago. As a result, in addition to being fined over $40,000, the hospital had to take action to improve its internal processes to improve patient safety and prevent medical and surgical errors.

In Dec. 2014, a woman checked into the hospital for open-heart surgery. According to the surgeon, during the lengthy procedure, well over 100 needles are used, and during this surgery, a needle broke off and became lost in the woman's abdomen. The surgeon claims nurses did not record the missing needle during a safety procedure in which all instruments are counted following surgery, but according to a nurse and a senior scrub technician, everyone else present knew a needle was missing. According to the surgeon, even if he had realized the needle was missing, he would likely not have attempted to retrieve it, but instead would have informed the patient and followed up with her in case problems developed.

Was birth injury leading to infant death caused by midwife?

For most people in Louisiana and across the country, a baby's birth is an exciting and wonderful time. A new person is entering the world, and although the birth process itself can be painful and stressful in general, in most cases the end result is a happy and positive one for everyone involved. Sadly, however, this is not always the case, and for some, a birth injury can occur during the process, sometimes resulting in death. Such was the case for one family.

The incident happened in a different state last winter when a pregnant woman hired a midwife to help her deliver her baby at home. The midwife delivered the baby in the breech position. The baby boy died three days later, allegedly from brain injuries suffered during the birthing process. The mother is now suing the midwife for negligence.

Did hospital negligence lead to heart transplant patient's death?

A serious surgical procedure such as a heart transplant can be frightening for anyone. Those in Louisiana undergoing such a procedure has the right to assume they will receive the best care possible, thus easing their mind a little at such a stressful time. In fact, unfortunately, a hospital's level of care is not always acceptable, and sometimes, hospital negligence results in patient death.

A woman in another state recently filed a lawsuit against a hospital after her husband died following a heart transplant performed there two years ago. She was motivated to pursue the lawsuit after she received an anonymous letter claiming that the surgeon who had performed the procedure had been allowed to continue operating even after the hospital had been warned of his alleged incompetence.  In the lawsuit, the widow also cites a detailed investigation of the hospital by local reporters in which several disturbing points were revealed, including a high rate of deaths among heart transplant patients in the hospital's heart program and concerns about the competency of the program's lead surgeon.

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