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New Jersey Medical Malpractice and Product Liability Law Blog

Poor medical care results in woman suffering undisclosed injuries

While the following story did not occur here in New Jersey, it does display some unfortunate decisions by a hospital and the inadequate response the hospital and medical professionals had towards a patient with a serious issue.

The story involves a woman and her husband, who went to the hospital after the woman complained of an inability to urinate. She had atrial fibrillation due to a prior condition and used blood thinners. As a result, the proper action for the hospital would have been to check on her coagulation times, but medical professionals never did. In fact, according to the story, the medical professionals on hand did very little at all -- except release the woman without properly treating or dealing with her clear medical issue.

Medical field and product liability are connected

You may not inherently think about product liability when it comes to medical care, but the two areas are tied at the hip. There are plenty of medical products out there that offer potent effects and actions on the human body and, when improperly used -- or made improperly -- they can be a real danger to the patients they are supposed to be helping.

Look no further than our last post about a woman who suffered fatal conditions as a result of an improperly filled IV bag. Medical professionals have to be as close to perfect as possible. Perfection is impossible, but mistakes such as a botched IV bag or, in other circumstances, an incorrect medication or improperly filled medication, are just unforgivable.

IV bag with wrong medication causes fatal condition with patient

An incredible sequence of events -- including a fire alarm, a medication error, and a patient's weakened medical state -- resulted in a tragic death in a hospital recently. The 65-year-old patient was in a hospital receiving treatment after she had brain surgery. She was supposed to receive an anti-seizure medication, which she did.

The only problem was that the anti-seizure was supposed to be mixed with an anti-anxiety substance as well. When the IV bag that contained this supposed mixture was being put together, the pharmacist accidentally combined the anti-seizure medication with a paralyzing agent instead. Medical professionals at the hospital had no way of knowing this error had occurred as the IV bag had all the necessary markings on it to make it seem as though it had the anti-anxiety medication in it.

Defensive medicine can lead to serious problems

Have you ever considered why the doctors, nurses or surgeons that you see make the decisions that they do? Even if you didn't understand the medical technicalities involved in the decision, it would still be fascinating to learn why they make the moves that they do, wouldn't it? We bring this up because there is a growing sentiment that medical professionals take certain courses of action and perform certain procedures and tests as a means of "defensive" -- or maybe more accurately, "protected" -- medicine.

What this means is that medical professionals may make decisions in order to protect themselves or their medical institution -- instead of making decisions that are best for the patient.

The frantic nature of the medical field, and what it means

Imagine your typical hospital lobby or emergency room. You probably see plenty of patients patiently (pardon the pun) waiting for someone to treat them. You also probably see medical personnel frantically, or at least quickly, moving around to get all of their work done. Records need to be updated, tests need to be performed, procedures are on tap, treatments need to be recorded and implemented. The list goes on and on.

With all of this chaos, an issue should be immediately clear to anyone imagining (or living) this situation: medical professionals don't have enough time to get everything done. They are always hustling around that it can lead to more mistakes and worse care. And yet, more patients keep piling up and medical professionals are asked to do more with less time seemingly with each passing year.

Hold medical professionals responsible after a birth injury

The birth of a child is supposed to be the happiest moment in a family's life. There's supposed to be a beautiful shimmer of sunlight in the background, and all of the people in the delivery room are supposed to be in awe of this newborn baby that you have just welcomed into the world. There may not be triumphant, heartwarming music playing while this amazing moment happens, but despite all of this hyperbole, the truth is that the birth of a baby is a tremendous moment. Nothing should ruin it.

And yet far too often, unfortunate mistakes during a birth occur at the hands of doctors, surgeons or nurses. These mistakes not only ruin this moment, they potentially could ruin the newborn's life -- and devastate the family as a result.

Who can be sued when medical malpractice occurs?

A couple of months ago, we wrote a post about patients who are affected by medical malpractice, and how those patients need to prove that medical malpractice occurred. It's not as simple as it sounds, but it's one of the most important steps in the process of filing a medical malpractice suit.

But let's say you have the evidence and information to establish this fact. Then the question becomes "who can you sue?" What parties, entities and people can be held liable for the pain and suffering you endured as the result of a medical error, or a botched surgery, or some sub-par medical care?

Cruise liners now open to liability for medical errors on ships

What if you were to be injured in a serious fall, and when you arrive at the hospital, the care you receive is so poor that you slip into a coma and, later, you pass away from your injuries? Your loved ones would pursue every legal action at their disposal to hold the medical staff and medical institution responsible for your unfortunate death.

But now imagine if this exact scenario happened while a person was on a cruise ship. Yes, those huge cruise ships have medical facilities, doctors and nurses on board. However, the care may not be quite up to many people's standards and, worse yet, for many years the cruise line industry was basically shielded from liability if a medical error or poor medical occurred on their ship.

Medical malpractice caps can limit your compensation

Imagine that you have just had surgery. It's not a major surgery (although any surgery is a big deal) but it's still invasive enough that you have to stay in a hospital overnight. As you rest in your hospital bed, you start to feel nauseous. Then, things take a turn for the worst and your doctors and nurses are scrambling to stabilize you. In the end you're okay -- but the whole ordeal happened because your surgeon made a mistake, causing complications.

The extra time and procedures necessary to help you recover from this surgical error leads to many more medical bills and costs associated with your care. You, understandably, are upset and eventually sue for medical malpractice.

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