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Wrightsville Beach Personal Injury Law Blog

Government drops its appeal of $42 million malpractice award

Medical malpractice awards can be high in North Carolina and around the country when children have suffered injuries that will require a lifetime of care. One such case involves a Pennsylvania boy who suffered catastrophic injuries during his birth allegedly caused by an obstetrician working in a federally-supported health care facility. The boy's parents sued the government in 2016 and were awarded $42 million in damages, and lawyers from both sides announced on Feb. 1 that a pending appeal has been withdrawn and the money will now be paid.

During the six-day trial, the jury heard how the boy suffered skull fractures and irreversible brain damage when the obstetrician in attendance chose to use forceps to complete his delivery. Lawyers representing the boy's parents argued that this drastic measure was unnecessary as neither the boy nor his mother appeared to be in distress, and the judge hearing the case noted that the doctor was sweating and straining as he struggled to extract the child.

Pain after knee replacement could be misdiagnosed

Knee surgery can be a difficult experience for North Carolina patients. It's an intense surgical procedure with anticipated pain and a complex recovery period. However, there is also a danger of a misdiagnosis of the cause of lingering, unexplained pain following total knee arthroplasty. When physicians use older criteria to diagnose CPRS, or complex regional pain syndrome, patients could receive an incorrect diagnosis. The misdiagnosis could worsen the patient's health condition and lead to greater levels of pain.

The surgery involves the complete replacement of a failed knee joint with prosthetic parts. While pain following the surgery is an expected part of recovery, some patients experience severe continuing pain. In some cases, this pain is diagnosed as CPRS; however, a study indicates that over half of the people could be misdiagnosed.

When the flu may be something more serious

North Carolina residents who believe that they have the flu might actually have an infection caused by flesh-eating bacteria. Called necrotizing fasciitis, this condition is contracted when bacteria enters through a cut in the skin. A variety of different types of bacteria, including group A strep, could be responsible for a person contracting necrotizing fasciitis. In some cases, it only takes a few hours before a person experiences symptoms.

Many of these symptoms, such as fatigue, chills and vomiting, seem similar to those caused by the flu. However, a person may also experience a lot of pain as well as skin that turns purple or red. According to the CDC, there is a 27 percent fatality rate associated with the disease. Depending on the severity of symptoms, it may be possible to treat it with antibiotics, surgery or both.

Medical errors can give rise to malpractice claims

For many people in North Carolina, a medical mishap can be a real nightmare. When people go in for medical treatment, especially for serious care like surgery or other treatments requiring hospitalization, they expect that they will emerge healthier and better off. However, in some cases, serious medical mistakes can lead to real problems for patients that suffer the effects of a physician's carelessness, negligence or incompetence while in surgery.

When a doctor makes a mistake, a patient may be looking to see how he or she can be made whole and how to seek accountability for the harms and damages done to him or her. Medical malpractice is frequently discussed in casual conversation or in television or billboard ads. However, medical malpractice is more significant than a mere mistake or error. Even skilled, competent surgeons make mistakes. In some cases, however, that error can rise to the level of serious malpractice.

Studies shows more lawsuits for male dermatologists

Some North Carolina patients might be more satisfied with their care coming from a female dermatologist than from a male one. According to a study that appeared in JAMA Dermatology on Dec. 6, female dermatologists are less likely to be sued than their male counterparts. Male doctors had a 250 percent higher chance of being sued.

According to a meta-analysis, women physicians are better at communication. Researchers say that women doctors tended to provide more support and reassurance and also got more patient input.

Infections are a common nursing home problem

According to a report from Kaiser Health News, 74 percent of nursing homes in America have been cited for not taking proper measures to prevent infections. The report analyzed four years of data from facilities in North Carolina and throughout the country. However, it is rare for nursing homes that are cited to face any significant consequences. Only 1 in every 75 nursing homes that have been cited in the years analyzed have received citations that come with financial penalties.

Infections may result in the death of up to 380,000 people per year. As of 2012, the average hospital stay was 4.5 days compared to 7.3 in 1980. This means that those who have surgical wounds or need to breathe through ventilators may be sent to nursing homes to finish recovering. The use of a ventilator or the presence of a surgical wound may make a person prone to infection.

Robotics are poised to increase accuracy of breast tumor biopsies

The discovery of a lump or other anomaly in breast tissue can be a scary thing. The good news is that for people in North Carolina as well as across the country, advances in diagnosing and treating breast cancer have helped to increase survival rates exponentially.

One of the most crucial aspects of adequate treatment of breast cancer is the precision with which biopsies are obtained and analyzed. This process may soon be improved with the advent of a 3D-printed MRI-guided robotic biopsy system currently still in the development phase by research scientists and physicians in the Netherlands. Billed as "Stormram 4," this new procedure is performed within an MRI examination. The Stormram 4 will use a tinier needle. Guided by the robotic system, this very small needle will be able to obtain tissue samples with much greater precision.

Promising treatment found for spinal cord injury patients

North Carolina residents who have suffered spinal cord injuries may be interested to learn that a recent study showed promising results for a treatment that could help with the regeneration of nerves. Following a major spinal cord injury, victims may have scarring, which limits the potential recovery for the regrowth of nerves.

Past studies have shown that there is an enzyme that promotes nerve growth when used in treatments for spinal cord injuries. The enzyme, called chondroitinase ABC, is injected into the patient. However, it does not have a long life, meaning patients must undergo repeated treatments in order for the enzyme to work properly. To prolong the life of ChABC, researchers found that olfactory ensheathing cells could be the answer. These cells regenerate and repair themselves to maintain a person's sense of smell throughout their lives.

Study reveals how durotomy med mal cases tend to be judged

Incidental durotomy is a condition where small tears or punctures develop on the outer membrane of the spinal cord, and it is often caused indirectly by spinal surgery. When it is quickly recognized and treated, it will not affect the patient's long-term health. However, when it is not recognized, or when a treatment to repair it fails, surgeons may face lawsuits. North Carolina surgical patients may be interested in a published study that revealed the criteria that durotomy cases tend to be judged by.

The study covered a group of 48 malpractice cases involving dural tears. The plaintiffs were split evenly between males and females, were 55 years old on average, and differed from each other in the severity of their injuries. The authors found that more than half of the rulings were in favor of the surgeons accused of malpractice. Eighty percent of those victims who suffered from no serious neurological conditions like brain damage did not receive a settlement.

Risk factors for Erb's palsy and symptoms in newborns

Although parents in North Carolina anticipate the birth of their children with excitement, the birth process inherently imposes risks on the mother and infant. Erb's palsy is a type of birth injury, and its severity can range from temporary symptoms to lifelong disability. The condition results from nerve damage to the brachial plexus during birth. One to two infants per every 1,000 births experience some form of the injury.

A difficult birth, often involving a small mother and a large infant, introduces the chance for this nerve damage to occur. A woman who gained an excessive amount of weight during pregnancy also has an added risk of giving birth to a baby that incurs this birth injury. Breech births and a prolonged second stage of labor are other risk factors. Erb's palsy has also been known to happen when medical practitioners use birthing tools incorrectly.

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