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Chicago Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Engineering and medical students hope to reduce surgical errors

A fatality rate of less than 1 percent for any surgical procedure sounds very low. However, when thousands of surgeries are conducted in Illinois and throughout the country every day, even a small percentage of surgical errors represents an unfortunate number of deaths. Medical students and engineers at a university in another state hope that their recent collaboration will result in even lower fatality rates for a certain procedure.

The midurethral sling surgery is considered to be a high-risk procedure. The bladder may be impaled in approximately 5-10 percent of the surgeries. Fatalities occur in less than 1 percent of the procedures when there are bowel or blood vessel injuries. The students are hoping to obtain better images of the cause of the injuries through the use of 3D models and motion sensors.

Pfaff Appointed to the ACTL's Sandra Day O'Connor Juris Award Committee

Bruce Pfaff has been appointed a member of the Sandra Day O'Connor Juris Award Committee of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He has accepted his invitation to participate and very much looks forward to the privilege of helping to select next year's recipient of this award. Sandra Day O'Connor was one of our best Supreme Court justices and the award in her name honors judges in the United States or Canada who have demonstrated exemplary independence in performing his or her duties, often in difficult or dangerous circumstances. Justice O'Connor is the personification of a dedicated judge and person who cares greatly about our country. 

Evans Scholar Cup

Bruce Pfaff was happy to participate in a significant fundraising event for the Evans Scholars Foundation operated by the Western Golf Association on September 11, 2017. The event was a pro-am fundraiser at the BMW International Championship at Conway Farms and brought together local pros with amateurs who are interested in making a substantial commitment to help fund the Evans Scholars. The Evans Scholarship Foundation provides tuition, room and board, and support for nearly 1000 undergraduates today, and it is growing. Since its founding in 1930, more than 10,000 student-caddies have attended college through the Evans Scholars. As always, the Western Golf Association ran a terrific event. 

Worth Reading - Civility in a Time of Incivility

In the July-August issue of the Utah Bar Journal, the Views from the Bench column featured the remarks given by Judge J. Frederic Voros, Jr. at a recent CLE event, entitled Civility in a Time of Incivility (Available at www.utahbar.org/barjournal, Accessed 9/8/17). 

Nurse errors with medication led to man's death, lawsuit claims

Many Illinois residents have loved ones who live in nursing homes and depend on medical personnel for their daily care. Staff at these facilities attend to residents' health needs, administer medications, evaluate symptoms and provide treatment as needed. Unfortunately, when mistakes are made in health care situations, the result can be catastrophic for patients. Nurse errors regarding medication have led to the filing of a lawsuit against a facility, its owner and a physician.

A resident of a nursing home -- a 72-year-old man-- was given a medication commonly used in the treatment of diabetes. However, this prescription was intended for another patient, as the man did not have diabetes. The man passed away from profound hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, approximately two weeks following the administration of the medication. Reports show that the man had also received an antibiotic and blood pressure medicine in error.

Weighing in kgs in emergency rooms can reduce hospital errors

Emergency departments in Illinois and around the country deal with countless traumas each day. Life-or-death situations are common, and decisions regarding care and treatment must be made quickly. While many visits to an emergency room are handled effectively, hospital errors can still occur. Health care experts suggest that many of these errors could be avoided by requiring a simple procedure in the emergency departments.

The recommendation by many medical professionals is to weigh everyone who comes to an emergency department for treatment in kilograms. Reports show that more than 40 percent of errors made involving medication can be attributed to dosing mistakes. Such mistakes can prove extremely dangerous for patients, particularly children. If a weight is recorded incorrectly in an emergency room, that data typically remains in a medical chart throughout the hospital stay.

Lawsuit alleges surgical negligence results in injury, death

Chicago doctors, surgeons and all other types of health care professionals communicate via medical records and charts. This is important to ensure that all have up-to-date information about new developments in patients' health conditions as well as any medications they may be taking. A recent case of alleged surgical negligence in a neighboring state serves to illustrate just how crucial this can be, as failing to do so reportedly resulted in a patient's death.

 A woman has filed a complaint alleging that her mother's surgical injuries and eventual resultant death were caused by a negligent surgeon's failure to review her medical chart. The deceased was taking a blood thinner medication when she went in for surgery in mid-February 2016. The surgeon, apparently failing to review her medical charts, did not take any steps to address the blood thinning issue, and the woman's punch biopsy of a breast mass took place as planned.

Woman claims newborn died as result of hospital negligence

Giving birth should be one of the most joyous occasions for Illinois families and others around the country. If something catastrophic should happen and a newborn baby dies, the parents would be understandably devastated. The tragedy would be compounded if a family believed that the baby's death occurred because of hospital negligence. Recently, a woman in another state filed a lawsuit against a medical center and a nurse employed there for actions she claims led to her son's death.

Court documents reflect that a mother filed a $8.6 million lawsuit related to the death of her baby boy in 2012. She claims that the defendants caused foreseeable harm to her son as well as emotional distress to her after her child died. The lawsuit states that the woman wants a trial by jury.

Failure to diagnose leads to lawsuit against hospital, physician

Many Illinois residents and others around the nation have accidents that require them to go to the emergency room for treatment. Physicians and other medical personnel provide care and perform procedures as necessary, depending on the diagnosis. Patients expect a certain level of care and assume that their condition will improve after receiving treatment. This was not the case for a man in another state. He recently filed a lawsuit against those he holds responsible for the failure to diagnose a condition he had.

The man went to a hospital's emergency room in July 2014, after having his arm cut by car glass. The complaint states that no X-rays were taken at the time of his visit. The physician who treated the man placed sutures in his arm. However, X-rays done in Aug. 2014 revealed that there were foreign objects in the man's arm. Surgery was necessary the following month to remove the objects.

Physician burnout can lead to surgical errors

Burnout can be a common complaint for many workers in Illinois and all around the country, regardless of the occupation. Stress and exhaustion on the job can lead to a loss of focus and possible mistakes. For the majority of jobs, an error may cause delays or monetary losses. However, in the medical profession, surgical errors can lead to serious injury or even death. Leaders at a recent industry event discussed ways to help physicians avoid and recover from burnout.

The keynote speaker at the event stated that a major cause of burnout for physicians is the care they are required to provide within a system. The doctors are stressed because the health care system in which they work promotes a standard of care they do not support. When a physician must administer a level of care that he or she may not deem as adequate, there is a conflict with morals and values. Professional burnout occurs often when this situation exists.

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