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Seattle Medical Malpractice Law Blog

What is wrongful death?

Losing a family member unexpectedly can be one of the most heartbreaking things you go through in life. It is even worse if your loved one’s death was due to someone’s negligence and could have been prevented. You and other Washington residents may rightly want to know what qualifies as wrongful death and if you might be able to get compensation.

The Balance defines wrongful death as a fatality that occurs when someone was in some way negligent or involved in misconduct. Common forms of wrongful death include vehicular accidents in which the responsible party was intoxicated, driving recklessly or engaging in road rage. A wrongful death case might be related to professional misconduct, such as a doctor or nurse making a mistake that led to your family member’s death. If an armed robbery occurred and your loved one was shot and killed, that might also count as wrongful death.

Who can be involved in a medical malpractice claim?

If you are like many people who live in Washington State, when you  hear about or think about a medical malpractice claim, you may automatically think about a doctor or a surgeon as being the individuals against which an action has been initiated. While certainly these professionals may well be the subject of such claims, they are far from the only options you have when it becomes necessary for you to seek compensation after a medical error.

As explained by the Washington State Legislature, you may even pursue action for compensation or damages from an entity or health care business as well as from an individual. This might include a nursing home, a medical clinic, hospital or even a health maintenance organization. In addition, your effort to be compensated for a medical mistake may be directed at an employee of various levels including directors or executives of any of these types of businesses.

Helpful tips to prevent surgical errors

Every year, thousands of mistakes are made in hospitals across the country. If you are preparing to have surgery in one of Washington’s hospitals soon, you might understandably worry that you could contract an infection, suffer a post-surgical complication or become a victim of a medical error. At Miracle Pruzan & Pruzan, we would like to help you avoid surgical errors whenever possible.

The scope of medical errors is unfortunately widespread. One out of every seven patients on Medicare suffers a medical error, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. What measures can you take to keep something bad from happening to you during your stay in the hospital, or soon after you go home?

  • Before your surgery, go over the procedure with your doctor and make sure you understand what is entailed, as well as what to do during your recovery.
  • If possible, choose a hospital with experience in the procedure you will have, as well as a good track record overall.
  • Let your doctor know about any medications and supplements you are taking, and double-check all prescriptions with your pharmacist. Understand the possible side effects and make sure you know how much medication to take and how often.
  • Have a family member or friend you trust come with you to your appointments and visit your room post-surgery so you have someone to help if you need it.
  • Educate yourself on your upcoming procedure so you know what to expect and how to recognize any complications that might arise.

Brain scan developed to detect “football concussion” disease

After the movie “Concussion,” chronic traumatic encephalopathy became known across the nation as a brain disease that has affected numerous former football players ranging from high school to professional level. The disease, also called CTE, is caused by repeated blows to the head. Residents of Washington and elsewhere need to know that CTE does not only affect football players. Anyone who has been struck in the head numerous times may develop the brain condition later in life.

Currently, CTE can be conclusively diagnosed only after a post-mortem autopsy. The medical journal Neurosurgery recently published the results of a study regarding an experimental test to detect a specific protein that is present in the brains of CTE sufferers, while they are still alive. In the study, doctors claimed that the protein, called tau, was present in the brain of a former NFL football player during the brain scan. After the patient’s death in 2015, an autopsy confirmed that he had CTE.

Heart attacks in women often go undiagnosed

When you think of a person having a heart attack, most people tend to picture a man clutching his chest and falling to the floor. Even in the movies, this is how a heart attack is typically portrayed. For women, the symptoms can often be much less dramatic. This is one of the reasons why doctors can often misdiagnose a woman who is having a heart attack.

While some women might experience the standard symptoms of a tight chest and pain radiating down one arm, many other experience symptoms that are vague or even "silent." To find out more about some common heart attack symptoms that occur in women, read further.

What should you know about Erb's palsy?

As a Seattle parent whose child has been diagnosed with Erb's palsy, you likely have a lot of questions. What next? How do you handle this? Before all else, arming yourself with knowledge about Erb's palsy can help you with every step that follows.

Erb's palsy is described by MedicineNet as a type of brachial plexus palsy. It can result in the paralysis of the shoulder and upper arm in one or both arms. The severity of the paralysis depends on the nature of the injury. Likewise, healing potential depends on how the injury was received and how severe it is. More severe cases of Erb's palsy will require surgery or extensive physical therapy to help correct. In some cases, however, the paralysis may be resolved over several months without any external interference.

Study shows gap in pediatric care error reporting

If your child is in or has ever been in a hospital in Washington State and you have noticed a potential problem or error made by a doctor, nurse or other staff member, you might think that if you report it, your report will automatically be documented in the hospital's records. While this theoretically makes sense, the results of a study published earlier this year indicate that this is not necessarily the case all of the time.

According to Becker's Hospital Review, a study including multiple facilities providing care for patients under the age of 18 was conducted over a period of several months between 2014 and 2015. In looking at all of the reports made by family members of either mistakes or adverse events resulting from some error, a disturbing reality was seen. Less than half of all errors reported by a family member were documented by the facilities. Even worse is that less than one-fourth of all adverse events reported by a family member were in the facilities' documentation records.

How can I reduce the chance of an error in the ER?

Even if you are one of the people in Washington lucky enough to be very healthy, there is always the chance that you may need to seek emergent care from time to time. An unexpected illness or condition or even an accident may send you there. In some cases, you may need to accompany a family member or a friend to an emergency room. Just like in other parts of hospitals, mistakes can and do happen in ERs, making it important you find a way to take control of your case when you are there.

Prevention Magazine recommends that you go to the emergency room with as much information as possible. This may be difficult depending on the circumstances but when time allows, collecting medical information, records, test results and more may be a good way of ensuring ER personnel receive an accurate picture of your overall health. This may well help to reduce the chance of an error being made in your case.

Infection leads new parent to become quadraplegic

Expectant parents in Washington State know that there is always some level of risk that a complication may occur during pregnancy, labor or delivery. For people who seek prenatal care and give birth at hospitals or birthing centers, there should be some level of security and a feeling of protection because they have experienced professionals around them during these experiences. Sadly, however, there are times when these professionals fail to properly protect either babies or their mothers.

A startling example of this can be seen in the case involving a family in the eastern part of Canada. Earlier this year, the woman gave birth to a baby boy. Now, approximately seven months later she is bedridden in a medical facility and completely unable to hold her infant son. The sequence of events that led to this situation is something that a new lawsuit alleges should never have happened.

Large babies more at risk for birth injuries

As mothers across Washington know, their pregnancies are full of unknowns that can be both exciting an scary. One of these unknowns is a baby's size, which can determine whether or not they are at a higher risk for a birth injury.

According to Romper, there is no way to know just how much a baby will weigh before he or she is born, but there are some ways to estimate. Doctors can measure the mother's fundal height, which is the distance between the top of her uterus to her pelvic bone, or they can estimate the baby's size through an ultrasound. Babies who weigh more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces, are considered large, and also called fetal macrosomia. There are several risk factors for fetal macrosomia, including gaining a lot of weight during pregnancy or having diabetes (whether it is Type 1 or 2 or gestational). Babies who are large are more likely to go through a difficult birth, which can mean a doctor needs to use a vacuum or forceps in delivery, and a difficult birth can also cause a birth injury.