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South Carolina Medical Malpractice Law Blog

What is the “July Effect”?

If you’ve ever watched a medical show or been friends with a medical professional, you have likely heard the term “July Effect.” This is a time when patient injuries and deaths seem to rise higher than normal. While this may seem like a spooky myth that gets circulated every year, one thing is for certain: there is much more inexperience in hospitals in July than any other month.

July is usually the first time new medical interns set foot on a hospital floor with the intent of treating patients. They have had all sorts of training, but now they are dealing with a lot of new factors that just can’t be taught in a classroom. As such, it seems more mistakes are made. 

What is Erb’s palsy?

Birth injuries can be a terrifying prospect for any expecting mother. While birth injuries are not common, one of the more common birth injuries that does occur is called Erb's palsy. Erb's Palsy is a kind brachial plexus palsy. When this happens, the newborn will have very limited or no use of one of their arms. It occurs because of a difficult delivery. If the baby is too big, or too much force is exerted on it, the nerves can become damaged and cause the complication.

In this specific injury, the nerve damage only affects the shoulder, making it difficult to lift the arm. If there is also a lack of feeling or movement in the fingers, the condition may be more severe than Erb’s palsy. There are four general types of nerve damage that can cause this birth injury.

The difference between birth injuries and birth defects

A health complication with a newborn is never a desirable situation. These issues tend to fall into two categories: birth injuries and birth defects. Knowing the difference is important, especially when it comes to medical malpractice claims.

A birth defect is a situation in which something prior to or during the pregnancy led to the baby being harmed. The cause can be something natural, like a genetic mutation, or artificial, like a mother drinking while pregnant. About seven percent of all babies are born with birth defects.

Why are cellphones in hospital a hazard?

Few devices have simplified our lives more than cellphones. With a few motions, we can call our friends, surf the Internet and play our favorite games. Doctors, too, have benefited from having a cellphone on them at all times. While pagers are still widely used in hospitals, mobile phones have made communicating instantly with someone without a pager much faster and easier. But cellphones may do more harm than good, especially in the operating room — and not because they distract doctors. Rather, unwelcome hitchhikers could be causing more patients to get sicker while they are being treated.

A recent study has shown that cellphones are a major attraction for some harmful tourists: bacteria. For the study, researchers examined more than 50 doctors — specifically their phones. The initial findings showed that more than 80 percent of the devices were veritable petri dishes, crawling with bacteria and other pathogens. After the initial test, doctors were asked to sanitize their cellphones. This dropped the percentage of “infected” devices to below 10 percent. But, after a week of carrying their phones around, about 75 percent of the phones had picked up the unwelcome visitors again

What constitutes a medical malpractice suit?

When we go to the doctor or hospital in South Carolina, we expect to get treated in a way that does not lead to a worsened medical condition. Yet accidents happen, leading to all sorts of complications — sometimes even death. Often, these mistakes can be grounds for a medical malpractice suit. But how do you know if you have a case?

The main component of a medical malpractice suit is negligence. No human is perfect, and that includes doctors. Some mistakes are unavoidable. But others, like being given the wrong dosage of a medicine, could have been prevented if the medical staff paid better attention to what they were doing. 

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.

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