Patients have the right to assume that the care and comfort they receive from medical providers will be proper and safe. In most cases, physicians and medical staff do uphold their end of this relationship. Sometimes, though, medical providers fall short. In such cases, they may be guilty of medical malpractice. Boston attorney Frederic Halström has extensive experience in litigating medical malpractice cases; he won the largest-ever paid medical malpractice verdict in Massachusetts. This means that clients who hire Mr. Halström will have a significant advantage in the courtroom.
Medical malpractice occurs when a physician or other medical provider fails to administer proper care to his or her patient, resulting in physical, emotional, or mental damage to the victim. In some cases, the provider may fail to properly diagnose a disease or administer proper treatment or medication. Whatever the circumstances, it is the patient – the consumer – who suffers as a result of medical malpractice. When this occurs, victims are entitled to file a medical malpractice lawsuit and should consult with a medical malpractice lawyer. Massachusetts and national victims commonly receive compensation for the following types of medical malpractice cases:
Procedural Negligence – Procedural medical negligence occurs when a medical provider fails to properly treat a patient or to perform routine tests or treatments for a medical condition. Additionally, pharmacists who fail to give proper instructions to patients when dispensing medication can be liable for medical malpractice. If this negligent act intensifies the patient’s condition or leads to suffering, the doctor may be liable for medical malpractice.
Failure to Diagnose – If a physician fails to perform routine tests for diseases that are commonly linked to a patient’s symptoms, he or she may be guilty of medical malpractice. Failure to diagnose can be particularly dangerous to cancer or HIV patients whose health relies on early detection. In most states, the physician can only be held liable if it can be proven that he or she strayed from customary procedural care, and that this negligence led to the patient’s increased suffering or physical deterioration.
Misdiagnosis – In some cases, a physician may offer the wrong diagnosis to a patient. This is common in cases of female breast cancer. If the physician diagnoses or treats a patient for the wrong disease, the patient can suffer unnecessary financial and physical burdens.
Birth Defects or Birth Injuries – Obstetricians who do not use proper surgical care when delivering a newborn can be liable for medical malpractice if the mother or child is injured during the birth. Common negligence cases include the misdiagnosis of placenta previa and the prolonging of the birthing process. Placenta previa can cause dangerous blood loss to both the mother and the baby. Prolonging labor can lead to oxygen loss that can be fatal or cause significant brain damage to the child. Cerebal Palsy, a group of disorders that involve brain and nervous system malfunction, can be caused by lack of oxygen to the brain (hypoxia), as well as other factors.
Obstetrical Negligence – Obstetricians who fail to provide customary care to female patients may be guilty of medical malpractice if this negligence causes fertility problems or a deterioration of health for the patient. Obstetrical negligence may include improper insertion and monitoring of IUDs, and failure to diagnose gynecological diseases or conditions such as ovarian, cervical and breast cancer, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Surgical Mistakes – Surgical mistakes can involve any stage of the surgical process – from pre-operation to post-operation. Some examples of surgical mistakes are improper administration of anesthetic, failure to use proper surgical tools, or failure to provide proper care before or after the procedure.
Nursing Home Abuse or Injury – The mistreatment of elderly patients is an increasing problem in America. Often, nursing home patients do not receive proper medical or physical attention. In some cases, the owners of the nursing home or the medical providers on staff can be held liable for medical malpractice if it can be proven that their negligence led to the deterioration or death of a patient.
Wrongful Birth Improper Genetic Counseling – A wrongful birth improper genetic counseling claim usually arises from a lack of timely and adequate genetic counseling which fails to timely allow the mother the opportunity to consider termination and denies her opportunity to elect termination of fetus for genetic reasons.
Cystic Fibrosis – Cystic fibrosis is the most common lethal inherited disease in white persons. It is caused by a mutation on chromosome 7 that encodes the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) protein; this mutation causes defects in the CFTR protein, which in turn causes abnormalities in the regulation of chloride transport across epithelial cells and mucosal surfaces. Cystic fibrosis affects the mucus glands in multiple organ systems, in particular the respiratory system. In patients with cystic fibrosis, the body produces mucus that is abnormally thick and sticky in the respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract, pancreas and sweat glands, obstructing these glands and airways and resulting in chronic respiratory infections. Pulmonary complications account for most of the morbidity and mortality associated with cystic fibrosis. In the United States, cystic fibrosis occurs at a rate of approximately 1 case per 3300 in whites compared with 1 in 15,000 in African Americans and 1 in 32,000 in individuals of Asian origin. The carrier rate in whites is 1 in 30 individuals compared with 1 in 60 in African Americans and 1 in 90 in Asian Americans. Cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) mutations have been classified into five categories of abnormalities; individuals with a mutated form of cystic fibrosis thus can have a longer life expectancy than other individuals with cystic fibrosis. Recent advances in the treatment of cystic fibrosis with chest physiotherapy, mucus thinners, bronchodilators, antibiotics and anti-inflammatories have lengthened the life expectancy of cystic fibrosis patients. Testing for cystic fibrosis carrier status can be performed in a blood sample (genetic testing) or with sweat (sweat testing). If you or your child suffers from cystic fibrosis and you were not given the option to undergo genetic counseling and/or genetic testing [during prenatal counseling?], Frederic N. Halstrom and the Boston area medical malpractice attorneys at Halstrom Law Offices, P.C. can help you get the compensation you deserve.
First, it is important to remember that not all injuries or even fatalities are the result of medical malpractice. Our Boston law firm reminds consumers that all medical and surgical procedures carry with them some risk. However, there are some steps you can take if you suspect that you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice.
1. Examine the Evidence: Not all unfavorable outcomes are the result of medical malpractice, so it is important to ask some questions. First, does the damage caused by the medical procedure or surgery seem extreme? If so, was the patient warned that the medical or surgical procedure could have this result? If not, then the patient or their loved ones should question the physician or medical provider. If he or she is unable to give a satisfactory response, the patient may have been the victim of medical malpractice, and should seek the services of a medical malpractice lawyer immediately.
2. Document Everything: If you suspect that you have been the victim of medical negligence, it is important to retain specific documentation. Write down the doctor’s instructions and the consequences he or she listed as a result of a certain medical procedure. Try to keep copies of medical bills and patient instructions. This will assist your medical malpractice lawyer in assessing and litigating your case.
3. Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer: Massachusetts victims are encouraged to contact our offices today. Remember that the sooner you contact a lawyer, the stronger your case will be.