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A fatal medication error leads to state proposal to punish nurses

A fatal medication error that resulted in the death of a 7-year-old South Carolina boy appears to be the catalyst for proposed legislation aimed at punishing nurses. The boy died after a nurse administered an incorrect drug dosage that was 10 times what had been prescribed by the doctor.

The proposed legislation must still go through a committee process before it ever comes to a vote by the legislature. The law would take away the license of a nurse whose medication errors rose to the level of gross negligence. 

Medical device sterilization may still lead to patient injuries

Some medical devices used by hospitals and doctors throughout South Carolina for such common diagnostic procedures as endoscopies have come under the regulatory microscope of the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA reports that following the procedures provided by the instruments' manufacturers may not be enough to keep patients safe from injuries caused by infections.

Hospitals in other parts of the country experienced deadly outbreaks of bacterial infections in patients on whom the devices were used after hospital staff disinfected the devices using standard methods. Because the devices are so widely used in the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses, discontinuing their use is out of the question.

Preventing prescription medication errors

Government studies and investigations have shown that about half of all prescription medication errors could be prevented. Administering an incorrect drug and other medication errors account for the hospitalization of 100,000 people each year 700,000 visits to hospital emergency rooms throughout the country.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, points out that doctors and other health care professionals have the ability to choose from more than 10,000 prescription drugs. Depending on the illness being treated, the number of medications that might be appropriate for a patient adds to the decisions a doctor must make in determining the best way to treat a particular patient. 

How long do I have to file a lawsuit for medical malpractice?

A nursing home injury or a personal injury caused by hospital negligence or doctor error might provide the victim with a right to obtain compensation from the party whose negligence caused it to happen. Medical professional negligence or, as it is more commonly referred to, medical malpractice is like any other personal injury claim in that a victim has only a limited amount of time within which to file a claim.

Horry County, South Carolina, residents who have experienced a worsened medical condition due to misdiagnosis of a medical condition or a surgical error, such as wrong-site surgery, must file a lawsuit against the responsible person or entity within the time specified under the South Carolina Code of Laws. This time period within which a lawsuit must be filed is referred to as the "statute of limitations."

FDA issues safety alert related to hospital disease outbreak

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a safety alert concerning the use and cleaning of endoscopes in hospitals. The alert follows the deaths of two people who contracted a deadly, antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection, "Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae bacteria.

The first known case of this "superbug" infection in the United States occurred in 1996, and has spread to most states, including South Carolina, since 2006. It is most commonly being found in hospitals. One way that the infection can enter the body is via contaminated medical devices, such as the duodenoscopes subject to the FDA's safety alert.

How do I know if I have a medical malpractice case?

Unfortunately, medical procedures do not always go as planned. However, the mere fact that you experienced unsuccessful results or were misdiagnosed does not necessarily mean that medical malpractice occurred.

So what do you do if you suspect that a medical mistake caused your injury or the death of a loved one? How do you know if a health care provider committed medical malpractice in South Carolina?

Hospitals can be negligent in the same way as human beings

One aspect of South Carolina business law that can be overlooked is the concept of legal "personhood" for an organization – in several key ways, a business such as a corporation can have the same rights and duties under the law as a human being. But if you suffer an injury while in the care of a health care institution the legal entity status of that institution can have a direct impact on your ability to be compensated for your injury.

Ordinarily, the reason why a business such as a hospital chooses to incorporate or otherwise become a legal entity is to protect the people behind it from liability. But once the business becomes a "person" in the eyes of the law, then just like a real person, it can be subject to a cause of action for negligence. Moreover, this artificial person can also be held accountable for negligent acts or failure to act on the part of individuals under its control, such as administrators, doctors and medical staff, and indirectly, even contractors that it engages.

Does a bad medical result mean medical malpractice?

A visit to the doctor is supposed to be the start of the healing process to make you feel better from whatever illness or injury brought you there in the first place. Sometimes, however, the result can be a worsened condition that can have a long-term impact on your health and well-being.

When a doctor makes a mistake by misdiagnosing an illness and thereby causes it to get worse, or when treatment of an injury results in a permanent disability, the natural response might be to blame doctor errors. A resident of Horry County who finds himself or herself in such a situation bears the burden, under South Carolina law, of proving that the medical malpractice was, in fact, the cause of the worsened condition.

Informed consent as a basis for medical malpractice claims

Surgery is perhaps the most deeply personal involvement that anyone can have with the health care system. It entails allowing someone, with whom you just became acquainted due to injury or illness, to operate on you. It represents a major act of confidence and trust. At times, it may also involve a leap of faith.

It follows, therefore, that before you allow a surgeon to proceed with an operation you should not only be fully informed of the nature of the procedure, including its possible risks, but you should also properly consent to having it done. This advance information and permission is well-known in the medical profession in South Carolina and elsewhere as "informed consent."

Medical malpractice case alleges premature release caused murder

The formula for most medical malpractice lawsuits is fairly straightforward: a patient enters a hospital, a doctor is negligent in treatment of patient while there, the patient's condition gets worse or was misdiagnosed or, in the worst case scenario, the patient dies.

One medical malpractice lawsuit has turned these factors upside down.The case involves a murder that took place away from the hospital, but the lawsuit alleges that the hospital is still responsible for medical malpractice.

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