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Oregon Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Child's cancer missed, doctor's failure to diagnose to blame

Those in Oregon who have children likely find themselves, at one time or another, seriously concerned for their child's health. Though many of these instances are just a parent being overprotective, it is always best to have a medical condition examined by a medical professional. When a doctor tells a parent that their child is fine, it may come with a sigh of relief. Yet, sometimes doctors are wrong, and it can have a serious impact on an innocent child's health.

A recently filed lawsuit helps illustrate just how damaging a doctor's failure to diagnose can be. In that case, a boy's parents claim a doctor failed to diagnose his cancer despite having examined him 13 times. The parent's allege the doctor told them their son had a persistent fever. The doctor apparently also failed to spot or to adequately consider swelling on the child's buttock, brought to his attention by the parents, which wound up being a sign of slow-growing cancer. Unfortunately, the child was not properly diagnosed until he was taken to another hospital. He then had to undergo painful chemotherapy and has suffered hearing loss.

Wrongful death lawsuit underway in retained sponge case

It is a terrifying reality that mistakes happen in the operating room. An exhausted or inattentive nurse or doctor can make an inaccurate incision, nick an organ, operate on the wrong body part (or even the wrong patient), or leave a foreign object inside a patient. All of these doctor errors can cause significant harm to a patient. He or she may be left with a worsened medical condition that causes severe pain and suffering. In the worst cases, these instances are fatal.

A trial recently began, centered on one of these tragic fatal accidents. According to the claim, a 58-year-old woman went under the knife for an extensive 17-hour long surgery. However, when the operation was completed, a surgical sponge was left inside of her. Doctors present at the time were assured sponge counts were accurate, but they failed to timely look at an X-ray that showed a sponge was still in the woman's abdomen. Doctors tried twice to retrieve the sponge, but were unsuccessful. The lawsuit claims that complications caused by the sponge's retention eventually led to the woman's death. The defense agrees that the sponge was wrongly left inside the patient, but denies that it caused her death.

Tainted blood transfusion allegedly led to child's death

Expecting mothers and fathers are often excited to bring a new child into their family. However, the birth process is not easy. A lot of planning and healthcare is involved, and it takes a lot of hard work and dedication on the part of many individuals to ensure everything goes smoothly. The center piece of this complex period is an expecting mother's doctor. He or she is crucial to ensuring prenatal care is sufficient and that the birthing process itself is done safely.

Every year, though, many mothers find themselves or their child unnecessarily harmed by a doctor's error. One mother who has filed a lawsuit against her doctor allegedly lost her son due to a medical mistake. In 2012, the woman had her child prematurely. The child was subsequently given a blood transfusion that contained Cytomegalovirus, a common and usually harmless virus that has the potential for causing complications. However, in this case, the child had a bad reaction and his medical condition worsened until he passed away. The child's parents have since filed a lawsuit, claiming steps should have been taken to properly screen and treat the transfusion blood to ensure it was safe for their premature baby.

Failure to diagnose, delayed treatment caused cancer death

Oregon residents who develop a cough, headache, runny nose, or just about any other condition may turn to the internet in an attempt to self-diagnose. This rarely works, as the seemingly smallest thing might leave an individual feeling as if he or she is about to die. The only way to truly know one's medical condition is to go to the doctor. Often, a doctor's findings put an individual's mind at ease. However, sometimes the good news is false, and patients do not find out until it is too late.

This happened to one woman who, unfortunately, died from lung cancer after her doctor's failure to diagnose her condition. After developing a persistent cough, the woman went to her doctor, who performed an X-ray. He examined the X-ray and determined the woman had a respiratory infection. She was given a prescription and sent home.

What can Oregonians do to help avoid a failure to diagnose?

Going to the doctor can be intimidating for many of Oregon's residents. After all, many of us have been taught to see medical professionals as a sort of authority figure. Our nervousness around doctors might cause us to have difficulty communicating with them, which, according to one expert, can increase the likelihood of misdiagnosis, especially when the average doctor only listens to his or her patient's symptoms for about 10 seconds. That's right. Ten seconds. Doctors are being forced to see more patients in less time, and that can be problematic for patients who expect complete and adequate care.

So what can patients do to help avoid a failure to diagnose? One expert suggests a patient tells the doctor his or her story. This means coming to a doctor's appointment prepared with a list of medications currently being taken, a complete medical history, and an ability to describe the current problem, including when it began and what the patient was doing when he or she first noticed it. It is hoped that by clearly and quickly communicating with a doctor unnecessary tests will be avoided and the condition will be rapidly identified and treated.

Robotic surgery may increase risk of injuries

The medical field is constantly evolving. New medications and medical practices promise to give patients more accurate and effective treatment. However, not all innovations are great for patients. In fact, researchers have discovered that when minimally invasive robotic surgery is used to treat prostate cancer, patients may be put at an increased risk of harm. The study, published in JAMA Surgery, found that in 2006 the incidents of harm doubled amongst patients, which corresponds with the year robotic surgery for prostate cancer was accepted at many hospitals.

This is, no doubt, startling news for many Oregonians. What is even scarier is the fact that robotic surgeries are becoming more common. In 2006, these types of operations accounted for about 10 percent of all minimally invasive robotic prostatectomies. Experts suggest that, despite the data, robotic surgery can be safe. However, they call for standardized training, new rules covering competence and credentialing, and new hospital guidelines.

Woman seeks compensation after unsuccessful hysterectomy

In most instances, unless something major goes wrong, individuals who have a surgical operation leave the hospital feeling that the surgery went as intended. However, symptoms of a surgical error can take time to manifest. This time lapse can make it difficult for a patient to link their newfound pain to a prior doctor error. During a later medical examination, though, these individuals often discover the mistake.

This happened to a woman who discovered her uterus was not completely removed during a hysterectomy. The woman went in for the procedure in 2012, but started experiencing bleeding shortly thereafter. Her doctor told her it was normal and sent her home. A year later, the woman went to the emergency room with continued bleeding. Shortly thereafter it was discovered that her doctor had failed to remove the woman's entire uterus, leaving her with cervical and uterine tissue that required additional significant medical treatment. She now seeks compensation for her damages.

Improper intubation leads to wrongful death lawsuit

Unfortunately, many Oregonians have had or will have a medical scare in their lifetime. The good news is that medical professionals are on standby, ready to help those in need of help. In many instances, these highly educated and trained individuals are able to quickly and adequately treat patients, leaving them better off. All too often, though, a medical mistake occurs, and a patient is harmed, sometimes fatally.

This happened to a child nearly four years ago, and his family is now filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the hospital they believe is responsible for his passing. The seven-year-old victim died after he was improperly intubated, depriving him of oxygen. The child had been in a bathtub at home when he was found submerged. The child coughed up water, but his mother still sent him to the hospital. There, medical professionals gave the child drugs to stop his breathing in order to allow intubation, but multiple attempts to intubate him failed, causing him to be deprived of oxygen. One medical professional stated that medical personnel did not use the right sized tube in a timely fashion.

Doctors fail to spot swollen epiglottis, causing wrongful death

There are many medical conditions that should be easily diagnosed and treated. Despite the ease with which these conditions can be handled, failing to do so quickly and correctly can be fatal. Perhaps the scariest part of these situations is that patients are entirely reliant on medical professional's expertise. This means that a fatal scenario can arise in the blink of an eye, stripping an unsuspecting individual from his or her family.

This happened to one man when doctors failed to recognize that his epiglottis, the flap in the throat that keeps food from entering the airway, was swollen. The man went to the hospital when he thought he got a pill stuck in his throat. Once at the emergency room and unable to breathe, medical personnel performed the Heimlich maneuver, then, once that failed to remedy the problem, they performed a tracheostomy. All of these attempts were unsuccessful, and the man died shortly thereafter. The deceased man's family has now filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the hospital.

Failure to diagnose broken ankle leads to malpractice suit

This blog often discusses instances of medical malpractice that leave victims with serious injuries that sometimes turn fatal. Botched surgeries, failures to diagnose severe and aggressive diseases, and errant births all fall into that category. Yet, it is important for Oregonians to recognize that they do not have to suffer a life-threatening injury in order to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, as is evidenced by a recent claim filed against the staff at an Oregon hospital.

The lawsuit arose when medical personnel failed to diagnose a man as having a broken ankle, causing him to live with unnecessary pain for seven months. Reports indicate the man injured his ankle while playing soccer, but upon going to the doctor and undergoing multiple tests over several months, including X-ray and MRIs, the man was diagnosed with a sprained ankle and joint pain. Finally, after seeing several doctors, the man was diagnosed with a closed fracture foot. He was able to have a successful operation that allowed his ankle to fully heal, but he still had to endure months of pain and suffering. He now seeks nearly $50,000 in damages.

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