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South Carolina Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Tragedy of doctor error compounded when victims delay their claim

If you have suffered a personal injury due to doctor error such as a failure to diagnose, wrong-site surgery, or a medication mistake made by a prescribing physician, you may have a right to compensation under South Carolina law. But an injured patient can easily lose this right by not being diligent about pursuing the claim in a timely manner.

The statute of limitations can compound the tragedy of living with a serious injury caused by the negligence of a health care professional’s misdiagnosis. Depending on the type and severity of the injury, the last thing on the mind of a patient dealing with the pain and, in some severe cases, the disabling effects of medical professional negligence might be going to see a lawyer about filing a lawsuit. 

When joy turns to distress, look to us for assistance

The arrival of a child into the world is one of those moments that happens only occasionally in life. It is something that is months in the making and which is greatly anticipated, along with the parents' dreams and hopes for their child's future. Most of the time the moment of birth is a time for celebration. But on occasion something can go terribly wrong, and when it does the consequences for everyone can be heartbreaking.

Although childbirth today is not as risky as it was in decades and centuries past, that does not mean that accidents cannot still happen. There are numerous things that can go awry: physical injuries to the infant or to the mother, such as dystocia or brachial plexus injuries, or oxygen deprivation at a critical moment that can lead to cerebral or Erbs palsy or other brain damage. Doctors can fail to diagnose problems before birth until it is too late, or decide to perform a cesarean section at the wrong time or when it is unsafe to do so. And in a moment what should have been a joyous event turns instead into one of anxiety or even loss.

Electronic health records: the new medical malpractice frontier?

Part of the health care reforms that began in 2010 under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is the mandatory transition of health care record keeping from paper-based to electronic format. While the U.S. Department of health and Human Services claims that this conversion will reduce health care related administrative burdens and costs, as more health care providers and health insurers implement the change we may be seeing the beginning of a new trend in medical malpractice actions as a result: lawsuits alleging harm from errors in electronic records.

The types of mistakes that are being alleged in lawsuits connected to electronic records have both technological and human sources. Sometimes, these mistakes can be as simple as typos or software users having difficulty with drop-down menu lists or auto-completion of form fields. Other problems have more complex sources, such as voice recognition software that does not always work properly, or a failure to maintain current forms for record entries.

Can I file a claim if my baby has a birth defect?

In short, the answer is, "It depends." Every year, approximately one out of every 33 babies in South Carolina is born with a birth defect. The fact is that the cause of most of these birth defects is unknown. In cases where the cause of the defect cannot be identified, it can be very hard to prove medical malpractice.

Birth defects happen when the baby is still developing in the mother's womb. Many of the defects occur early in the pregnancy. Sometimes they even occur before the woman knows she is pregnant. While some defects can be prevented, others cannot. For example, some birth defects are caused by genetics. Others are caused by the mother’s actions during the pregnancy, such as using drugs or alcohol. 

Medication errors can be simple and deadly at the same time

The medical profession by necessity is one that is highly detail-oriented. The margin for error in making a timely and correct diagnosis, or in performing a surgical procedure, is often very small; and the consequences for even a seemingly minor mistake can be disproportionately serious. A good example of this phenomenon is when health care workers commit errors with medications.

When preventive measures fail to prevent a medication error, it can still be necessary to work with a personal injury law firm that has experience with medication error cases to address the negative physical consequences that can ensue.

Can unauthorized patient records release be medical malpractice?

Most of the time "medical malpractice" is associated with physical harm to a patient that results from a medical mistake like a surgical error or a misdiagnosis. But medical malpractice can also have an administrative component, which includes injury to patient privacy rights.

The right to privacy of your own health information, including hospitalizations, surgeries, other treatments for physical and mental health, health-related counseling, prescription medications and more, is one of the most intensely private areas of anyone's life. Federal laws, like HIPAA, act in concurrence with state laws to protect that privacy. Violations of either federal or state laws can result in both civil and criminal lawsuits against both individuals and health care facilities for willful or negligent behavior that results in unauthorized disclosures of patient information.

A vitamin may reduce premature birth problem in South Carolina

Recent reports listed South Carolina as one of the states in which newborns are most at risk. Support for this conclusion came, in part, from the fact that 80 infants died in 2013 due to premature birth or because their weight at birth was too low.

Researchers have now concluded that taking vitamin D during pregnancy might not eliminate risk of serious injury to a newborn during the delivery process or after, but it appears to lower the incidence of premature birth. As part of an ongoing study of the effects of the vitamin when given during pregnancy, 500 women are being offered free vitamin D in exchange for their consent to having their blood levels monitored.

Hospitals can afford defense lawyers -- how can you compete?

Hospitals can be imposing places. Even a community hospital in a medium-sized or small town can be a multi-story building with several doctors and surgeons accompanied by a multitude of staff and carrying the latest in medical technology. None of these personnel or their equipment are cheap, for you or for the hospital; all of this speaks to the financial resources that are available to the hospital, and those resources include having not just one but typically several attorneys available to represent it.

When you put yourself in the care of a hospital or other health care institution, you put yourself in a position where the hospital has a strong position when it comes to determining what care you receive; and if someone at the hospital makes a mistake, like a surgical error, delayed or misdiagnosis, or anything else that causes you injury or other harm, the hospital will count on its superior financial resources to defend itself against you.

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.

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