How to Identify Hematologist Negligence in New Jersey
Hematologists are blood doctors. They specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of all diseases, disorders, and conditions relating to blood, such as anemia or lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. If you have blood infections, hemophilia, malaria, blood clotting deficiencies, high blood pressure, myeloma, or any condition that is caused or affected by the blood and its varying components, you may find yourself in a hematologist’s office or in the office of a doctor who consults with a hematologist.
When you put your trust in a specialist to provide expert information and treatment, you expect that they will support your health and recovery 100 percent. It comes as a shock and blow when a medical specialist in hematology, who is charged with moving you on the path to full wellbeing, causes further injury or damage due to their error or negligence. Hematologists, who provide specialty care for serious disorders, are not immune to such mistakes.
When you have been injured due to a hematologist’s error, the dedicated members of our legal team at Fronzuto Law Group can advocate for and support you in recovering full financial damages for the immediate and long-term consequences of such a mistake, including the economic, physical, and mental impacts of your injuries. Read on to learn more about what a hematologist is trained to do and how our New Jersey medical malpractice attorneys can assist in pursuing compensation for hematologist negligence.
The Core Function of Hematologists
Hematology is the study of the blood and its components: cells and platelets that are created in the bone marrow, each performing a distinct function, namely circulating oxygen, fighting infection, or stemming blood flow. Red blood cells ensure the body is oxygenated, supplying the entire body with its vital life force, while white blood cells protect the body by fighting invaders like bacteria and viruses. Platelets ensure that a simple paper cut does not kill us. They supply blood clotting agents to prevent uncontrolled bleeding. When diseases affect or derive from the cells or platelets, a hematologist identifies the specific cause or causes by examining these blood ingredients.
For example, red blood cells not only oxygenate the body, but remove bodily waste, such as carbon dioxide, via hemoglobin, a protein made in the body from iron. Iron is a mineral found in many foods, such as spinach, red meats, and raisins, but also in supplements. When the body has too little iron, the red blood cells cannot do their job, and an individual with too little iron may suffer from oxygen deprivation, finding it difficult to breathe or concentrate. They may also experience weak muscles, a racing heart, and fatigue. A patient who cannot breathe may visit a pulmonologist or allergist, but a hematologist may be the one who examines the patient’s blood tests to find the red blood cell deficiency, suggesting anemia rather than asthma or allergies.
Common Diseases and Disorders Treated by Hematologists
Anemia patients have too little iron in their system. Those with this condition may feel tired and short of breath doing ordinary activities. However, other mineral and iron deficiencies may cause other blood diseases, like a more serious form of anemia that results from a lack of vitamin B-12 found in meats and nutritional yeast or fortified cereals. If left untreated with vitamin B-12 injections, pernicious anemia can be deadly. Another type of anemia, aplastic anemia, occurs when the bone marrow no longer produces sufficient red blood cells, causing the person afflicted fatigue, lingering infections, or excessive bleeding. Hemolytic anemia occurs when the immune system believes red blood cells are invaders and so destroys more red blood cells than the body can regenerate. Further, malformed red blood cells can lead to sickle cell anemia. All anemias are characterized by breathing, energy, and focusing difficulties.
Thalassemia is another red blood cell disorder, diagnosed when genetic defects cause insufficient hemoglobin production. With this condition, lack of the necessary amount of hemoglobin prevents oxygen from being distributed throughout the body, and can lead to bone, spleen, and heart problems, as well as slow growth and development in children. And polycythemia is a dangerous, incurable cancer caused by the bone marrow’s overproduction of red blood cells that thickens the blood, endangering the sufferer with blood clots to the vital organs.
White blood cells fight infections, but when the body’s white blood cell production malfunctions, diseases like lymphoma, leukemia, and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) can develop. Like all cancers, lymphoma and leukemia are caused by too many mutated white blood cells. MDS, however, occurs when the body produces an excess of underdeveloped white blood cells, which overtake the normal white blood cells. Plasma, which makes white blood cells, can also be the source of disease, such as plasma cell myeloma, which is a cancer that causes tumors to form in the spine, hip or rib bones and kidney damage.
Platelets stop bleeding when you are cut or bruised. When your body produces too few, too many, or not enough normal platelets, you can be endangered by uncontrolled bleeding. Von Willebrand disease and hemophilia cause profuse bleeding due to too few platelets, while primary thrombocythemia can cause blood clots in vital organs from too many platelets. But some medications, like antibiotics, NSAIDS, aspirin, antihistamines, and heart drugs can interfere with platelet production as well.
Understanding Diagnosis and Treatment in the Field of Hematology
When symptoms indicate any of the blood cell or platelet dysfunction, hematologists diagnose blood disorders by blood and bone marrow testing to check for abnormal blood components or composition of the blood. Treatments are typically bone marrow or blood transfusions to restart the blood production with healthy blood or marrow. Other than surgery, medications that promote red blood cell production in the bone marrow, antibiotics for infections, and mineral and vitamin supplements for iron and B-12 can treat many blood disorders.
Although treatment for some conditions, like iron or B-12 deficiency anemias, are uncomplicated, other conditions may require prolonged and difficult treatment, like blood cancers. Hematologists, like oncologists, know how to diagnose and treat some forms of cancer, analyzing each case’s treatment options based on the stage of cancer, meaning whether the cancer has spread in a confined area or throughout the body. They are highly educated in all blood diseases and their treatment, not just cancer, so understanding the patient’s specific symptoms, medical profile, treatment options, and the various diagnostic pathways that may be recommended is essential.
Hematologists Should Follow Strict Standards When Caring for Patients with Blood Disorders
After earning a four-year undergraduate degree, followed by a professional degree in medical school, hematologists begin their specialization by first completing a three-year study of internal medicine in residency. They then complete another three-year fellowship study in hematology and oncology before they can practice in their field or become board certified. They are highly educated specialists who should know how to timely diagnose blood disorders so that they do not worsen or cause irreparable harm.
How Hematologist Negligence Occurs
Failing to uphold the proper standard of care in hematology may cause tragic outcomes, such as cases in which cancer is left undiagnosed and becomes untreatable. And yet, one of the costliest mistakes that hematologists make is failing to treat patients, who ultimately suffer complications. Surgical mistakes occur during biopsies or tumor removals when adjacent surgical sites are unintentionally cut or infected. Improper doses of drugs used in chemotherapy and other medications for cancer or blood disease treatment is another source of hematologist negligence, causing patients pain and suffering when they are overmedicated or suffer allergic reactions. And delayed diagnosis and treatment are major sources of malpractice when symptoms mimicking other conditions, like mild anemia, sleep disorders, hypertension, or other ordinary conditions, turn out to be more dangerous conditions that remain untreated too long. These mistakes can be fatal.
Sometimes, errors occur when doctors or staff do not accurately complete patient history, office visits, and consent documentation, creating an incomplete record upon which to base diagnosis and treatment. Also, a doctor who fails to obtain informed consent from a patient for a procedure could be sued for medical malpractice when the procedure injures a patient who would not have undergone the procedure had they known the risks. Other errors occur when hematologists do not order the appropriate tests to confirm a diagnosis, with blood tests or bone marrow biopsies, or do not timely review the test results. And sometimes, malpractice occurs from poor communication with patients or fellow staff members, who can make mistakes when information is misreported or not reported at all. For example, a doctor who prescribes a patient medication but is not clear on how to administer the medication may be liable to an injured patient whose nurse incorrectly dosed or administered a medication that caused an adverse reaction.
Seeking Compensation for Hematologist Malpractice in NJ
With all of their education and training, a hematologist is held to a high standard of medical professionalism. When their practices fall below that standard, patients may be injured and suffer physically, mentally, and financially. In other devastating situations, people lose a loved one due to failure to diagnose in hematology, causing irrevocable damage, trauma, and loss for the family left behind. To seek redress for a hematologist’s negligence resulting in injuries or death for you or someone you love in New Jersey, it is crucial to seek legal help.
Fronzuto Law Group is a renowned New Jersey medical malpractice law firm with an abiding commitment to fighting for compensation on behalf of medical negligence victims and those who love them. Contact us online or call (973)-435-4551 today to speak with a medical malpractice attorney who is well versed in handling hematology malpractice cases.