Furr & Henshaw
Myrtle Beach
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Mother of deceased child hopes to pass Leah's Law

South Carolina parents whose children have suffered injuries or died due to medical malpractice may be interested to learn that one parent is working as an advocate for new legislation called Leah's Law. The law, named after the woman's daughter who died after suffering respiratory arrest caused by the medicine provided by the hospital, would require that all hospitals monitor their patients' breathing electronically after every surgical procedure.

It is estimated that approximately 210,000 to 400,000 patients suffer preventable harm by hospital staff that ultimately contributes to their death. In the case of the daughter, the technology to monitor her breathing electronically was already available in the hospital, but staff did not use it because it was not a part of the procedure. The legislature is set to be introduced in early 2014.

These statistics provide justification for the new legislature. For example, 1 in 200 people who have undergone surgery experience severe breathing problems. In addition, 29 percent of opioid-related deaths between 2004 and 2011 were related to inadequate monitoring of the patient's breathing following surgery. However, arguments against the legislation include an increase in costs for hospitals that would have to add additional monitors, and 'alarm fatigue," where staff members may fail to respond to alarms due to an overabundance of non-life-threatening warnings.

While people rely on hospitals and staff members to do all that they can to care for patients, preventable accidents do sometimes occur. Unfortunately, these accidents may lead to unnecessary injuries and possible death. Someone who is injured or loses a family member due to medical errors or hospital negligence may be eligible to file a medical malpractice suit. In this type of lawsuit, those who are injured or suffer the loss of a family member could seek compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, and even loss of income.

Source: Forbes , "Leah's Law: A Mother's Mission to Save Lives", Robert J. Szczerba, November 19, 2013

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