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Portland Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Medical malpractice claims go to jury in stent implant cases

Another large group of patients have been reportedly exposed to improper surgical procedures. Although the incidents did not occur in Oregon, the matter demonstrates the need for hospital authorities and health care personnel nationwide to be on guard for practices by surgeons that may involve repetitive, unnecessary procedures performed for economic gain. The first of 71 plaintiffs who have filed medical malpractice cases in the state court is currently facing jury deliberations in his case.

The plaintiff claims that the surgeon performed several unnecessary stent implants solely for financial gain in 2008. The complaint also accuses the hospital, Excela Health, of failing to protect patients from the improper treatments. Stent implants involve inserting a catheter inside an artery that runs to the heart, and implanting a device that will hold open the artery for the free flow of blood to the heart. This is designed to lessen the symptoms of those patients suffering from coronary artery disease.

Late diagnosis supports judge's award of $2.5 million to veteran

Oregon like most other states has a network of Veterans' Affairs facilities that care for veterans' medical needs. Several years ago, a shocking scandal revealed less than optimum management and services at many Veterans Hospitals across the country. In one state that was prominently featured, the first malpractice award has reportedly been decided by a judge in a non-jury trial. The award of $2.5 million to the veteran was based on a late diagnosis that did not identify his prostate cancer in time for proper treatment.

It is commonly known that prostate cancer can be treated if found early enough. In this case, the veteran sued on allegations that the VA hospital did not diagnose it soon enough to allow him a chance for life-saving treatment. Reportedly, a nurse did find abnormalities in the man's prostate in 2011 but did not take the necessary further steps to diagnose the problem more deeply.

Medical malpractice: $14 million awarded to amputee

Oregon medical providers are familiar with the infectious disease referred to as sepsis. It is a massive infection that invades the body and can often bring on death. Doctors must be familiar with identifying the symptoms and engaging the patient in emergency treatment without delay, lest they face the possibility of a later claim for medical malpractice.

An example of a case where sepsis was not recognized soon enough resulted in a recent jury verdict for $14 million. The award was made to a 54-year-old woman who became a triple amputee after being treated at the defendants' regional hospital in another state. She lost both legs, her left arm and fingers from the right hand, the lawsuit says.

Overdosing of medication can be medical malpractice

The incorrect administration of medication to a patient is a common cause of injury and death in Oregon and throughout the country. This may be due to incorrect statements in the patient's medical records, inaccurate test results or other errors leading to the wrong dosage, or in some cases, to the wrong medication altogether. The incorrect administering of medication leading to injury or death can be a basis for a medical malpractice claim.

An example of this problem occurred in a case from another state that recently resulted in the filing of a medical malpractice suit against several doctors and a medical center. The wrongful death complaint was filed by a widower in behalf of his deceased wife who died under the care of the defendants in Aug. 2016. The suit alleges that the patient appeared at the medical center with complaints of lightheadedness, general aches and fever.

Medical malpractice claims still being made despite apologies

Some form of apology law has been passed in many states, including Oregon. The idea is to allow doctors and others speaking for medical personnel to apologize and/or discuss settlement negotiations without being held accountable to any such statements in court. These laws are intended to reduce the number of medical malpractice suits by either having patients be reluctant to make claims or by settling claims more informally without a determination of medical malpractice.

Such laws have now been around long enough that studies are being published regarding their effectiveness. A recent university study concluded that the apology-type laws enacted in 32 of the states increased the number of medical malpractice suits against non-surgeons. Otherwise, the suits in general have not reduced the number of suits or reduced the amount of the settlements paid out.

Medical malpractice suits pile up over unnecessary heart surgery

One of the most difficult problems for the medical profession to confront, both in Oregon and other jurisdictions, is the case where a physician engages in a long and voluminous history of conducting defective or incorrect medical procedures. The result in that scenario usually means a great many victimized patients over the years. That is precisely the problem being faced by the medical profession in another state with respect to the medical malpractice of cardiologist surgeon.

The doctor, his medical center and the hospital where he performed the challenged heart procedures are the defendants in about 300 malpractice claims currently pending in the state court. Generally, the claims all assert that the physician implanted cardiac devices that were not medically necessary, and that he did it strictly for profit. The first of many trials clogging the civil court list are being juggled by the courts, and have been put off until Feb. 2018.

Late diagnosis, lack of treatment alleged in man's death

Delays by medical personnel in making a diagnosis can often spell ill consequences for the patient. In Oregon and elsewhere, unreasonable delays and failing to follow the indications of an examination can be grounds for liability. A late diagnosis that is negligent, and which is a substantial factor in causing the patient's death, is sufficient to constitute medical malpractice.

A recent complaint filed in a neighboring state asks for wrongful death damages against a physician and a medical center associated with a university campus. The complaint was filed by the decedent's daughter and alleges that his death was occasioned by a late diagnosis in 2005. Curiously, the press reports do not indicate any issue over the statute of limitations, which may be a likely issue in the litigation.

Dental negligence causing death can be medical malpractice

Dental surgery is a given source of medical negligence claims in Oregon and elsewhere. Incidents of dental negligence are well documented, and they often involve chronic painful conditions that are determined to be medical malpractice. Rarely, however, does a dental patient die from the negligence of an oral surgeon.

In another state, a high school student died during a standard wisdom tooth extraction in June 2015. Her parents sued the surgeon recently for medical malpractice and wrongful death damages. Whenever a standard procedure precedes the patient's death, an investigation for medical or, in this case, dental negligence is in order.

Doctors sued for late diagnosis regarding fatal brain tumor

When a group of doctors do not perform diagnostic tests that are clearly indicated by the symptoms, the patient's death from a missed diagnosis may be medical malpractice under the laws of Oregon and other jurisdictions. The determination of whether a late diagnosis could be responsible for the patient's death must generally be proved by medical expert testimony and evidence. In one state, a heartbreaking outcome may have been prevented if doctors had submitted a 13-year-old girl to the indicated tests.

The parents recently filed a complaint alleging rather shocking facts, including a series of omissions by medical personnel to perform a brain scan and other clearly indicated tests. The complaint alleges that the decedent first appeared at the defendant pediatrics practice at the end of Feb. 2016, with complaints of headaches. She was told to return if they reappeared. She returned in April with reports of three weeks of throbbing headaches, vomiting, impaired vision and nausea.

Judge okays $53 million verdict in medical malpractice case

Under any standards in Oregon and all other jurisdictions, $53 million is a large medical negligence verdict. It is not surprising that the recent verdict entered by a jury in another state deals with yet another mismanaged baby delivery case. In most of the cases, a child is born with severe brain damage after being deprived of oxygen to the brain through treatment determined to constitute medical malpractice.

In this recent case, a jury came in with a $53 million award to the parents of a boy who is now 12 years old, considered totally disabled and suffering with cerebral palsy. The defendant hospital filed a motion to the trial court to enter judgment in the favor of the hospital notwithstanding the jury's verdict. This week the trial court entered an order denying the post-trial motions of the hospital.

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