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shutterstock_365277104-300x210Restrictions for young doctors in training were put in place in 2011. Those restrictions included not allowing residents to work more than 16-hours at a time. The restrictions were put in place because there was evidence that exhausted residents were putting themselves and their patients in danger. Today, those restrictions have been lifted in favor of education. Residents are now permitted to work rotations of 28 hours.

According to the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, limiting the number of hours interns were permitted to work also limited their educational opportunities. Interns’ education was being lessened because of the reduction in their hours. Surgeons, in particular, were critical of the 16-hour shifts.

A group of concerned medical professionals, along with the consumer group Public Citizen, fought against the changes in allowed work hours. These people said that patient-concern is a very real factor in their opposition of the ruling. Exhaustion, experts say, is comparable to being intoxicated. Studies have shown that interns working in the ICU for more than 24 hours had an increase in errors of 36 percent.

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shutterstock_256208305-300x199As it stands in most states across the nation, when a person is injured by a medical professional’s error or negligence, they have the right to file suit for medical malpractice. In Kentucky, the ease of which a person can file a claim is changing. The state recently passed a bill that will create panels of providers to review claims of medical malpractice before those claims are permitted into court.

The bill made its way through the House and Senate, and it is expected to be signed by Governor Matt Bevin. The bill, if made into law, will require review panels comprised of medical professionals to review the merits of a lawsuit before it reaches a judge and jury. Opponents to the bill say that is may be unconstitutional.

As originally written, the bill would have automatically allowed the opinion of the panel to be admissible as evidence in court. The bill was altered slightly before it was passed. If made into law, the bill stipulates that the panel would have only nine months to issue an opinion or the case would automatically advance to court. Additionally, the bill stipulates that the sitting judge would decide if the panel’s opinions were admissible as evidence rather than it being automatic.

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shutterstock_370064315-300x200Over two weeks, a jury heard the case of a toddler who had been injured by a family doctor in Arkansas. After listening to the case, the jury came back with a $45.6 million verdict in favor of the family.

According to reports, doctors failed to manage and treat jaundice in the newborn child in June 2014. Because of the lack of care, the baby developed kernicterus in the her brain. The untreated case of jaundice caused the child both permanent disability and brain damage that cannot be remedied. The child will not walk on her own, is not talking, cannot feed herself, and is not expected to be able to care for herself as she ages. Despite her physical impairments, the child’s cognitive function is normal.

The child’s parents alleged that the doctors at the hospital ignored the generally accepted standard of care when managing their newborn. Doctors did nothing following a high bilirubin reading during the child’s first day of life. They did no repeat blood testing and administered no treatment prior to the child being discharged. Once the infant was home, her bilirubin levels spiked so high that she was left with permanent brain damage.

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shutterstock_351039992-300x200It stands to reason that anyone visiting a doctor’s office or hospital expects to be treated with a certain standard of care. People assume that doctors and nurses know how to perform their jobs competently, and that they will receive accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.

Unfortunately, people are harmed by medical professionals with what could be considered regularity. Many people know someone who has been injured by a medical professional of, if they don’t know a victim personally, they have read about multi-million dollar settlements. The good news is that there are ways to reduce your chances of becoming a victim.

In the Office or Hospital

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shutterstock_482921167-300x200In today’s medical malpractice world, if a doctor apologizes, many patients will accept the apology and move on. If they decide to file a lawsuit, that apology can’t be used against them as evidence, provided the doctor or other medical professional makes no admission of negligence or error. If the doctor does make an admission, that evidence can be used in court.

If Maryland’s hospital administrators have anything to say, that could change within the state. If it does, more states may follow suit. Administrators are pushing legislation that would make it easier for medical professionals to acknowledge when something goes wrong and not have that statement used as evidence in court.

Administrators argue that it is about more than protecting doctors – it is about protecting and assisting patients. In today’s litigious society, doctors are afraid to acknowledge their errors. This may lead to patients not being treated with appropriate care. Trial lawyers say that this is not what would happen. In fact they say it would leave patients vulnerable.

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shutterstock_585631967-300x200A South Carolina medical center is on the hook for nearly $14 million after a jury found the hospital and its employees guilty of medical malpractice. According to reports, a woman filed the lawsuit after her legs, left arm and fingers on her right hand were amputated. She alleged that the amputations were due to the negligent care of hospital staff.

The jury in the case found Aiken Regional Medical Centers guilty of medical malpractice. They ordered that the centers pay $10 million in economic damages and another $3.75 in non-economic damages.

It was found that the victim went to the hospital in December 2012 with sepsis. Her condition progressed to septic shock shortly thereafter. The suit said that she was not given medication until 14 hours after her admission to the hospital. The suit also said that she was not seen by a doctor until five hours after entering the emergency room. Later that night, the woman suffered a cardiac arrest and her extremities began to show mottling. She was ultimately transferred to another hospital where she underwent the amputations.

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shutterstock_417550462-300x200It is an unfortunate thing when routine medical procedures go wrong, but it does happen. When it does, victims are entitled to compensation. Such is the case in Iowa where a victim was just awarded $500,000 by a judge.

According to reports, a woman underwent a routine colonoscopy in 2014. During the procedure, the surgeon allegedly tore the woman’s colon. Once the mistake was discovered, the surgeon scheduled the patient for a follow-up. The woman then underwent a second procedure to repair the damage from the first. In between the two surgeries, contents of the intestines had leaked into the abdomen. An infection occurred, and that infection ultimately took the woman’s life. She passed away just eight days after the second procedure.

The hospital, Crawford County Memorial Hospital, was sued by the woman’s widow. The hospital settled with the estate of the patient in the amount of $500,000, which was finalized under a judge. The judge also ordered that the hospital disclose the settlement amount to the public in accordance with the law. In the course of disclosure, it was discovered that the widow had been paid $100 to keep the settlement amount to himself.

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shutterstock_519734059-300x169A California appeals court dismissed a claim of medical malpractice. The original filing alleged that a wire was left in a patient’s body. The claim was officially dismissed by the court on January 24, 2017. The dismissal came after a 2-to-1 decision in the Court of Appeal of the State of California 5th Appellate District.

According to documents, a man underwent a surgery to remove a kidney stone. The surgeon named in the suit allegedly left a guide wire behind. The patient was notified the day of his surgery that the wire was left in his body. The man underwent a second surgery to remove the wire, and ultimately had to undergo a third procedure to remove his kidney.

The original surgery and date of notification was in July 2012. The man did not file his lawsuit until July 2013, a point that justices say was after the one-year statute of limitations had expired.

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shutterstock_301124384-300x200A man in Philadelphia is alleging that his wife’s death was due to medical malpractice. The woman died of a subarachnoid hemorrhage, and her widower has filed suit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas.

According to records, the woman went to Abington Memorial Hospital on August 28, 2016. She complained of being lightheaded and aches. The woman was admitted to the hospital and prescribed Heparin. The injectable drug was to be administered every 8 hours.

On September 4, 2016, the woman was found to be unresponsive. She was intubated and her condition continued to deteriorate. On September 9, 2016, the family made the decision to withdraw care and have the woman transferred to hospice. She died on September 10, 2016. The cause of her death was determined to be a hemmorhage.

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shutterstock_314541776-300x200A man in South Charleston died just three months after falling at a MedExpress clinic. The man’s widow filed suit for negligence, but a West Virginia Supreme Court ruled that the case was actually that of medical malpractice.

According to court documents, the widow of the man filed a lawsuit in Kanawha County, claiming that the clinic had been negligent in making it’s room safe. The original suit was filed as a case of negligence because the man had not received care prior to his fall.

In a 4-to-1 decision, the Supreme Court determined that this was indeed a case of medical malpractice. The man was evaluated prior to being taken to an examination room and this, according to the justices, established medical care.

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