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Seattle Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Spinal cord injury subject of new lawsuit

While certainly many people across the United States may have heard about the new mother who gave birth to her baby and ended up a paraplegic in a Canadian hospital two years ago, residents in Washington State may have been even more aware of the situation due to the proximity to Vancouver, British Columbia. Now, that mother has filed a lawsuit in the case that has left her to live the rest of her days in a wheelchair.

As reported by the Vancouver Sun, the suit focuses on the actions of the doctor who administered a spinal anesthetic prior to a Caesarean section being performed to deliver the baby. The physician who gave the woman the medicine is said to have failed to discuss the risks with the patient or to get her consent to receiving the medication. In addition, improper administration of the drug is highlighted as is the use of equipment that was not sterile. It is not known which items may have not have been sterile.

Understanding breech positionining and options

Expectant mothers in Washington State understandably look forward to the birth of their newborn babies with both excitement and sometimes a bit of trepidation. Concerns about the process of labor and delivery may be especially present if it is a woman's first pregnancy or if there have been any complications. One situation that may come up is that the baby does not turn its position to the head-first exit position in time for delivery. Here a baby is said to be breech.

As explained by Baby Center, most babies in a breech position are ultimately delivered by Caesarean section but that does not mean there are no options for mothers who want to try to have a vaginal birth. One of the means of attempting to turn a baby before labor is called the external cephalic version. Medications may be given to the mother to help the muscles in the region relax. As the name implies, the work is done externally to the woman where a provider attempts to manipulate the baby's position by applying pressure to the mother's abdomen.

Don’t let your doctor misdiagnose one of these conditions

As a patient, you never want to think about a medical misdiagnosis. Instead, you hope that your doctor and his or her staff is on top of things at all times.

Unfortunately, it's not unheard of for a medical misdiagnosis to occur. Even if you're on the ball, things can slip through the cracks that lead to a mistake that can have a negative impact on your health.

The importance of proper prenatal care and testing

Expectant parents in Washington State who carefully select a health care provider to take care of the mother and baby during the nine months of pregnancy through to labor and delivery have taken a big step toward protecting the health of their new loved one. It is always important, however, that patients remain aware of their rights and the types of testing and care they should receive in the event that a doctor fails to suggest the right tests that may miss details they need to know.

As explained by WebMD, prenatal testing can do many things including identifying serious genetic conditions or alerting parents to potential birth defects. There are different types of tests that should be performed at different stages of a woman's pregnancy. Pregnancy-related conditions like preeclampsia may also be discovered thanks to prenatal care and tests.

Decision highlight nuances of diagnosis failures

Most people in Washington State have heard tragic stories about a patient who ends up with a serious condition that was potentially made worse by the fact that physicians did not appropriately diagnose it early enough, preventing them from the opportunity for early intervention or treatment when the condition was at a less severe state. In these scenarios people generally assume that medical professionals have all of the facts in front of them but fail to put the pieces together appropriately.

That may certainly be the case but there are other nuances which may lead to a failure to diagnose a condition. One of those things may be the failure to even collect information that might lead a health care professional to make the right diagnosis.

JAMA study exposes infection risk

Many people in Washington State require treatment in a hospital at some time. This may entail a short visit to an emergency room or a more lengthy multi-day stay in a hospital. Either way, depending upon their conditions, they might be at an increased risk of contracting an infection which would make it vital that health care professionals take proper steps to avoid unnecessary contamination.

Healthcare Finance recently reported on the results of observations conducted that looked specifically at the practices by medical professionals when it comes to use of personal protective equipment. The conveyance of infection was one concern that led to the observations. The results were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and showed serious lack of adherence to the stated procedures and processes.

What happens when a doctor fails to diagnose cancer?

People place a lot of trust and faith in medical doctors. After all, they go to school for nearly a decade and complete a residency to ensure they have the knowledge necessary to diagnose and treat human medical conditions. Individual doctors may specialize in certain things, but they should still have a broad foundation of general knowledge for diagnosing conditions.

Sadly, failing to diagnose serious conditions in a timely manner is a common occurrence. There are many factors that can contribute to a doctor overlooking the right diagnosis. Unconscious sexism and racism can influence how seriously a doctor takes self-reported symptoms, like pain. That means that women and people of color may be at increased risk for delayed diagnosis, which could prove deadly if the condition is a form of cancer.

Types of assisted vaginal delivery

Moms and dads who are looking forward to the births of their new babies most often have ideas of how they want the births to occur. These ideas may well involve as little outside assistance as possible so that they may enjoy the natural birthing process as they welcome their new little ones into the world. Knowing that medical care is available if need be may be important indeed but this remains important.

In some deliveries, there may come a point when the decision needs to be made about how to help a baby make its way out of the mother's womb. The most extreme option here is the Caesaran section but there are other options that do not require surgical intervention. However, that does not mean they are without their risks. These options include the use of a suction cup or a tool referred to as forceps.

Fibromyalgia often misdiagnosed

When people in Washington State think about the problems associated with doctors not accurately diagnosing medical conditions they might initially think about issues with diseases like cancer or other life-threatening illnesses. While certainly these situations can be challenging and leave patients in need of help, there are many other types of conditions that medical professionals may not appropriately diagnose that are not life threatening but that still leave people suffering instead of getting the relief and treatment they need.

Fibromyalgia is one of these conditions. AARP indicates that among the seven commonly misdiagnosed conditions, fibromyalgia is among them. Also on the list were lupus, Parkinson's disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, lyme disease, celiac disease and multiple sclerosis. Among the challenges associated with properly identifying any of these conditions is the fact that their symptoms can often appear very similar to different illnesses.

What type of errors occur in hospitals?

When most people in Washington hear about medical errors, the focus is typically on a mistake of a doctor or surgeon, or something they failed to do, such as diagnose a patient correctly. But there are many medical professionals in an operating room, and any of them can contribute to or cause a mistake that harms a patient. One of them is the anesthetist.

According to Elcam Medical, errors by medical professionals are the fourth-leading cause of death in the U.S., with more than 250,000 fatalities each year. There are about 40 million applications of anesthesia annually. Common anesthesia mistakes include administering the wrong dose or residual anesthetics, not timing the administration correctly and not improper control of IV fluid.