Pegalis & Erickson
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.

Spotlight on Common Medical Negligence Risks in 2017

Medication errors, birth injuries, and delayed diagnoses are all common types of medical malpractice that probably won’t ever be eliminated entirely. Improvements in hospital protocols and medical technology can help manage some of the risks. But unfortunately, advanced technology also opens the door to new types of medical negligence. Here are some of the top risks to watch out for during 2017.

Electronic Heal th Records (EHRs)

The days of paper patient charts are officially over. These days, doctors are more likely to consult a laptop or iPad in the exam room. Electronic health records (EHRs) document, manage, and share patient information in real time with other authorized users. This means that a patient’s lab results can be made instantly available to his or her primary care physician. When used properly, EHRs can be highly effective in coordinating a patient’s care. Unfortunately, not all doctors are adapting well to the digital age. If a healthcare provider has access to a patient’s EHR, but fails to refer to the vital information included in it, it’s possible to make a crucial error. For instance, the doctor might prescribe a medication a patient is allergic to or which is incompatible with other medications the patient is taking.

Patient Identification
Despite technological advances, errors in patient identification are still among the most common types of hospital negligence. When the wrong information is attached to the wrong patient record, it’s possible for doctors to administer incorrect treatment or even to perform the wrong sort of surgery. Hospitals have a responsibility to take reasonable preventive measures, such as by implementing strict registration desk protocols. Hospitals are also responsible for verification of patient’s identity wrist bands prior to administration of medications.

Here at Pegalis & Erickson, LLC, we understand the confusion and mixed feelings that can follow an act of medical malpractice in New York. Our professionals can help you understand the issues involved with your case, and sort through your options for legal recourse. Call us at (516) 858-2194.

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.

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