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South Carolina Medical Malpractice Law Blog

The difference in Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s palsy

Any expectant mother hopes their newborn is born without defect or injury. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Two of the most common injuries in South Carolina are Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s palsy. While these two injuries are similar, they do have their differences.

Both types of palsy are caused by damage to the brachial plexus. This is a bundle of nerves in the neck, near the shoulder. In the case of Erb’s palsy, the nerves that control and give sensation to the shoulder and upper arm are affected. When the lower plexus is affected, it can hinder the movement and sensation in the lower arm and hand, called Klumpke’s palsy. Sometimes these injuries happen at the same time, called a global palsy.

Can a doctor’s unethical behavior be medical malpractice?

Most people associate the term “medical malpractice” with something that physically injures the patient during the course of treatment, such as a botched surgical procedure, a prescription filled in error, or a misdiagnosis. In a recent post we discussed medical malpractice that occurs outside a hospital setting. But what about a doctor’s behavior that has nothing to do with the physiological aspects of the treatment?

At least one recent case has been reported in the media about doctors behaving badly while a patient is sedated, playing practical jokes and verbally disparaging the patient to other staff members. In one that case, a jury agreed that the behavior of the doctor and his staff rose to the level of medical malpractice and even defamation, awarding $500,000 to the man who was subjected to the behavior.

Medical malpractice does not always happen at hospitals

Surgical errors. Misdiagnoses. Delayed treatments. When you think about the topic of medical malpractice, these may be the things that come to mind: major medical mistakes on the part of doctors, surgeons and nurses, usually in a hospital setting. But from our perspective at Furr & Henshaw, medical malpractice is not confined to any particular location or to specific medical professionals. By being willing to step back and look at the broader scope of the medical profession, it becomes possible to see that there are more ways to become a victim of a health care error than the commonly thought-of ones.

As an example, think about what happens after you visit a doctor or a hospital. Chances are good that you will receive some prescribed medications to treat anything from post-operative pain to a specific illness or physical condition. Prescription drugs carry inherent risks if they are not used properly, or if the wrong medication or an incorrect dosage is prescribed. You need to be able to count on not only the prescribing physician but also the people who fulfill it at the pharmacists’ counter to get things right, because if they do not then you become vulnerable to different consequences, up to and including death.

South Carolina’s cap on medical malpractice damages

When a doctor commits medical malpractice, the patient may be entitled to damages. Under South Carolina law, however, there is a cap on the amount of damages a patient can receive in a medical malpractice claim.

There are two general types of damages: economic and non-economic. Economic damages refer to financial losses the patient incurred as a result of the injury. Examples of economic damages include past and future medical expenses, lost income, and reduced earning capacity. There is no cap or limit on economic damages.

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. 

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