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Seattle Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Families have options when failure to diagnose leads to death

People struggling with serious medical conditions rely on their doctors to make sense of their symptoms and find a treatment that will help. For most patients in the process of developing a serious condition, like cancer, timely medical intervention can make a major difference to the patients' prognosis and survival rates.

Tragically, there are cases every year where doctors fail to diagnose patients with deadly consequences. In some situations, obtaining a second opinion in a timely manner can protect an undiagnosed or wrongly diagnosed patient from the complications of a worsening condition.

Jail staff failed to provide appropriate care

When most people in Washington State think about situations in which a person may not receive an appropriate level of medical care, they envision typical health care settings. Places like hospitals, doctor's offices, nursing homes and more are often the locations at which a medical professional may fail to provide the right care to a patient. In addition to locations like these, a jail is another place where people may need medical care and where it may not be properly delivered.

As reported by The Seattle Times, a man who was in custody at the King County Correctional Facility in Seattle experienced this first hand. Two years ago, while serving a sentence for assault, the man fell in the early morning hours at the jail. It was not until later that morning that he was seen by a medical person at the jail. Upon asking to be taken to a local hospital, not only was the man denied but he was made fun of by jail staff.

The organ transplant process

People in Washington State who may be in need of an organ transplant will want to educate themselves about the process involved in receiving a new organ. As explained by WebMD, there are multiple types of transplants conducted today and a wide variety of organs that are transplanted. In most cases, the donor has died but some transplants may include a live donor.

There are more than 200 transplant centers in the United States and a patient maybe referred to one by their physician. However, patients are not required to work with the center closest to them or that their doctor recommends. People should feel free to do their own research on different centers to select the one they feel is best for their circumstances. Every transplant center is allowed to develop its own criteria for accepting or denying a potential transplant recipient. A physician's recommendation is required to receive an evaluation at a transplant center, however.

Venue change in wrongful death case

People in Washington State who believe they or their family member have been injured due to a medical error have reason to want to seek compensation. When a medical mistake or act of medical negligence leads to a person's death, that urge to be compensated can naturally be even greater. In seeking some form of compensation, some people might have choices as to where they pursue the legal action.

As reported recently by The Seattle Times, the family members of a famous pop singer who died from a drug overdose more than two years ago are facing these decisions today. At the heart of the matter is the performer's doctor. On one hand, the man has been accused of writing prescriptions for opioids to the singer's bodyguard despite knowing that the drugs were actually for the singer. Some reports indicate that the physician admitted to this while other reports indicate that he has disputed this.

Misdiagnosis linked to mimicking diseases

It is reasonable for people in Washington State to be concerned about a missed or inaccurate medical diagnosis. Their health is important, and they deserve to be given the right information so that they can make informed decisions and take steps to address any health conditions or illnesses they may have. One thing that can make a proper diagnosis difficult is the fact that many conditions share symptoms, and some can actually act or appear like other conditions. 

This mimicking of conditions is just one more reason that makes patient proactivity important so that they can advocate for more help with the information they were first given does not seem to truly address an issue.

Cerebral palsy is a birth injury that doctors can often prevent

Pregnancy is a time rife with anticipation and fears for soon-to-be parents. Most people take great steps prior to and during pregnancy to ensure the health of their children. These efforts could include losing weight, changing their diet, discontinuing medications, taking multivitamins and seeing a doctor regularly. The end goal of all of this work is to ensure the delivery of a healthy baby.

Sadly, sometimes things go wrong that are outside the control of the parents. This is why pregnancy, labor and delivery are all medical experiences that require expert medical care and advice. You rely on your doctor to make the right choices for you and your baby. Unfortunately, sometimes mistakes or negligence on the part of a medical practitioner can have lifelong consequences for your family.

Imaging technology may help surgical errors

Most people in Washington State have heard reports about mistakes made during operations that have resulted in severe harm or even death to patients. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality indicates that these types of errors can often be classified into one of three categories.

One type of surgical error involves a procedure being conducted on the wrong patient. A second type of surgical error involves the correct patient but the wrong operation being conducted. In the third type of surgical mistake, both the procedure and the patient may be correct, but the location of the operation is incorrect such as a surgery on the left knee instead of the right knee.

Lawsuit alleges lack of addiction diagnosis

For many people in Washington State, when they think about a medical error involving the failure to diagnose a condition, they think about diseases like cancer or heart disease. Certainly these conditions can go unidentified all too often but they are far from the only types of medical mistakes in which a physician did not appropriately diagnose a patient's problem.

Drug addiction is a health condition that also requires proper diagnosis in order to provide proper treatment to people. As reported by Vulture, the family of a famous pop artist has initiated a lawsuit indicating that the artist's drug addiction was not appropriately diagnosed.

Report issues recommendations for better patient safety

People in Washington State who have a CAT scan, MRI, mammogram or other diagnostic test have a right to know that their test data and results are being appropriately reviewed and responded to. Unfortunately, the results of a report that was recently released suggests that this may not be the case all of the time.

The report was issued by Coverys, an insurance company, and was based on medical malpractice claim data from 2013 through 2017. The findings brought to light serious problems with results from radiology testings. While errors involving general practitioners topped the list of the problems in the study claims, errors involving radiologists were second on the list, accounting for 15 percent of the errors.

What are preventable transplant errors?

Washington residents who need organ transplants are aware of the fact that these operations are very intensive. The recovery period afterward can be a long and difficult road, too. However, there are certainly some things that can make recovery harder, such as errors or mistakes that could have been prevented.

The National Institutes of Health have shown that errors do happen during organ transplant surgery, and sometimes these errors can be fatal. For example, there have been multiple cases in which HIV or HVC were transmitted through organ transplants. There has also been at least one death due to ABO incompatibility. These cases have all been connected to errors that could have been prevented, such as a redundant process for receiving organs or a lack of standardization. Human error on the part of the staff also plays a role.