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The blog of PEGALIS & ERICKSON, LLC: a medical malpractice law firm in Long Island representing those suffering from injuries caused by medical errors. Contact us for a free legal consultation today.

How Birth Injuries Can Affect New Mothers

Birth injuries are a particularly tragic type of medical malpractice. It’s devastating to learn that a child will have a lifelong disability before he or she has a chance to enjoy childhood. Sometimes, new mothers are also affected by injuries during labor and delivery, and these can be fatal. After a wrongful death, families need answers and they deserve justice. A wrongful death lawsuit may be appropriate for some cases of maternal death.

Causes of Wrongful Death of the Mother

Despite the advanced healthcare system in the U.S., this country has the worst record for maternal deaths among developed nations, and more than half of those deaths are preventable. It’s possible for new mothers to suffer a fatal medical problem before going home from the hospital, but many of them die days or even weeks afterward. Some experts suspect that one reason for this is that the increased attention on the well-being of the newborn corresponds with a decrease in attentive care of the mother. As a result, hundreds of new mothers in the U.S. die from the following:

  • Heart problems, including cardiomyopathy
  • Massive postpartum hemorrhage
  • Infections
  • Preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced hypertension)
  • Blood clots

Elements of a Maternal Death Case
Every civil lawsuit must have certain elements present to proceed. In maternal wrongful death cases, it must be proven that the mother’s death was the result of medical malpractice, and the surviving family has suffered losses as a result of the wrongful death, which can include loss of financial support, household services, love, and guidance. It’s possible for a lawyer to file the lawsuit against multiple parties, which may include the hospital, obstetrician, nurses, and other physicians who rendered negligent care and treatment.

Consequences of Maternal Death
The death of a new mother is an unimaginable tragedy. The child will never have the opportunity to know his or her mother, and the other family members must cope with caring for a newborn in the midst of their grief, as well as their own individual loss. Nothing can make this situation better, but a lawsuit can give the family a sense of justice, as well as compensatory damages for medical expenses, funeral expenses, and loss of support and companionship.

Pegalis & Erickson, LLC offers our sincere condolences to families affected by wrongful death. There is nothing that can bring your loved one back, but you may wish to pursue justice with a wrongful death lawsuit filed in New York. Call (516) 858-2194 and let us know how we can help your family.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is also a good time to be aware of some common breast cancer malpractice issues, including the misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis of breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis
Approximately one in eight women in the U.S. is affected by breast cancer according to the American Cancer Society. For women in the United States, breast cancer is the second deadliest form of cancer. It is also, unfortunately, one of the most often misdiagnosed forms of cancer.

In many cases, breast cancer presents with subtle symptoms. Breast lumps, for example, are a common sign of breast cancer—yet many breast lumps are benign and coincide with hormonal changes. Sometimes, lumps are located in nearby lymph nodes in the armpit before they are located in breast tissue. Other more visible symptoms include skin changes such as dimpling of the breast, nipple discharge, itching and scaling of the nipple, and breast or nipple pain.

Breast cancer diagnosis becomes challenging because of its nonspecific signs, which mimic many other less severe conditions. Still, it is important to mention any breast changes to your doctor, who can order further diagnostic exams to pinpoint the exact cause.

Delayed Diagnosis of Breast Cancer
A delayed diagnosis of breast cancer results in delayed treatment, which can cause women to lose their lives. Patients with invasive lobular carcinoma— a certain type of breast cancer— are especially susceptible to a delayed diagnosis, which can have serious consequences.

In cases of misdiagnosis, doctors may treat patients for another condition, possibly causing damage to the body while the cancer continues to grow or even metastasize, which can result in increased symptoms and may be fatal. As with other forms of cancer, early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of breast cancer are key in increasing survival rates.

The five-year survival rate for breast cancer is nearly 100% for Stage 0 and Stage I, but a delayed diagnosis may not be found until the cancer moves into Stage II, III, or IV (which only has about a 22% survival rate).

If you have suffered from a breast cancer misdiagnosis or a breast cancer delayed diagnosis, contact Pegalis & Erickson, LLC for a case review at (818) 858-2914.

Recognizing Instances of Hospital Malpractice

Medical malpractice can have life-altering consequences for patients. An attorney can help affected patients pursue the compensation they need to move forward with their lives. It’s possible to name a hospital as a defendant along with one or more healthcare providers. For instance, a medical malpractice lawyer may present evidence that shows the hospital was negligent in failing to staff sufficient numbers of qualified healthcare personnel.

This act of hospital malpractice can be particularly serious in the emergency department. If there aren’t enough ER doctors, or the ER doctors aren’t adequately qualified, substandard treatment or delays in treatment can jeopardize a patient’s health. A hospital might also be found liable for neglecting to refer patients for follow-up care with their primary doctors or a specialist.

Patients who have been affected by acts of medical negligence near New York are invited to contact Pegalis & Erickson, LLC at (516) 858-2194. We are a malpractice law firm committed to empowering patients and their families.

What to Do When It's Time to Switch Doctors

There are many reasons why patients decide to end their relationships with their current doctors. Consistently long wait times, difficulty getting appointments, and frequent prescription refill errors are just a few of the most common. Other patients decide it’s time to switch if they no longer trust their doctor to provide sound medical guidance, or if the patients suspect they’ve been harmed by medical malpractice. When it’s time to make a change, find a new doctor you prefer before completely cutting ties with your old doctor’s office.

Find a new doctor.
Doctors typically have heavy patient caseloads, and not all of them accept new patients. Additionally, a new doctor you’re thinking of switching to might not necessarily accept your health insurance. Before leaving your current doctor, make some phone calls to confirm that you could be accepted as a patient elsewhere. Once you have a few possibilities, do some background research. Find out if the doctor has ever been the subject of a medical malpractice lawsuit. If you have special medical concerns, such as a chronic disease, consider looking for a doctor who emphasizes that area of medicine. Seek out referrals and recommendations from family, friends, and medical care professionals you are being treated by.

Schedule one last appointment.
If you’re in good overall health, you might not necessarily need to see your old doctor one last time. But if you’ve been on long-term medications or have conditions that require monitoring, you should schedule one last check-up with your old doctor to get a status update on your health. There’s no need to discuss your plan to change doctors.

Get copies of your medical records.
At your last appointment, request a physical copy of your medical record and once you set up an appointment with your new doctor, have your records digitally transmitted to your new doctor’s office. Patients have the legal right to access their own medical records.

Schedule a wellness exam with your new doctor.
It’s best to see your new doctor for a quick check-up for the first time, rather than waiting for a problem to develop. Make sure your new doctor has received your medical records. Discuss ongoing medical management of your conditions, if applicable. Before you leave, check with the office staff about their policies, such as scheduling and cancellations.

Pegalis & Erickson, LLC is committed to providing effective legal advocacy services for patients who have been affected by medical negligence in New York. We offer the resources of a large firm, with the personalized service and courteous attention of a boutique firm. Call (516) 858-2194 to request a free medical malpractice case review.

Overlooked Intravenous Mistakes

Although healthcare providers are typically conscientious and work hard to ensure that errors don’t happen, medical malpractice and medical negligence can and do occur. One often-overlooked area of mistakes in the medical setting is errors with intravenous systems. Here are some commonly overlooked IV mistakes that every patient should know about.

Not Recognizing Damage to the Infusion DeviceIn the past, checking infusion devices for signs of damage was commonplace in medical settings. Now, because devices come with integrated security features, checking every device before using it is often overlooked. Unfortunately, devices can have damage that is not caught by the integrated safety system that puts patients at risk. Often, this damage could have been identified during a pre-use inspection of the infusion device.

Not Using the Roller Clamp
IV tubing comes equipped with a roller clamp that allows the tubing to widen and narrow as necessary to control the flow of medication. Closing the roller clamp stops the flow of medication completely, while opening the clamp the entire way allows medicine to flow unrestricted into the patient’s line. Not using the clamp appropriately or failing to use the clamp at all can cause patients to receive an inadequate amount of medication or may cause them to receive too much. Both scenarios can be dangerous for patients and can impact treatment outcomes.

Not Checking the Drip Chamber
The drip chamber of an IV infusion device lets air escape from fluid to reduce the risk of an air embolism. It also helps to control the rate of fluid delivery. A faulty drip chamber could provide a patient with too much medication, which can be life-threatening. Safety features of IV systems are not always sufficient to identify problems with the drip chamber, so if it is not manually checked, medication could be delivered too quickly, jeopardizing the patient.

If a problem with an IV infusion system occurred when receiving medical care, causing a permanent injury contact the medical malpractice lawyers at Pegalis & Erickson, LLC. Our New York medical malpractice attorneys will gather the details and help determine if there was medical negligence.involved. Contact us today by calling (516) 858-2194.

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