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New Orleans Medical Malpractice Law Blog

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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Mistakes in medical records could result in patient injuries

Medical records are important documentation of a patient's health history, and current and past treatment. Incorrect information in a patient's medical record could result in serious patient injuries. When a patient requests the help of a skilled attorney in the aftermath of an injury, medical records are the primary source of information. Louisiana patients may be interested in some of the incorrect documentation that other patients have found in their records.

One woman recounted her experience of discovering a potentially dangerous mistake in her elderly father's medical record. After a move across the country, the woman's father suffered a fall. The woman had her father's records in her possession due to the recent move, and she discovered that multiple pages of another patient's records had been inserted into her father's file. Fortunately, she was able to remove the pages before the records were turned over to medical professionals who could have potentially misdiagnosed her father based on the other patient's records.

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