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New York City Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Misdiagnosis is a leading cause of medical injury

Correct diagnosis is at the heart of effective medical care. Unless a physician accurately identifies what is wrong with the patient, proper care is unlikely to occur. And if a diagnosis is missed or delayed too long a medical condition can worsen, resulting in serious harm to the patient. New York readers may be surprised to learn that one of the most potent solutions to the problem of misdiagnosis is greater patient involvement in the diagnostic process.

According to a recent report from the Institute of Medicine, most Americans will experience an incorrect or delayed diagnosis at least once in their lives. According to the study, diagnostic mistakes account for 17 percent of all adverse events affecting hospital patients and 10 percent of patient deaths. Not surprisingly, mistaken diagnoses are a major source of medical malpractice claims.

Proving fault in a New York medical malpractice case

Medical malpractice can have devastating consequences. Depending on the circumstances, a patient may be left with a worsened medical condition, meaning that the condition for which they sought treatment is made worse than it was before the treatment. In other cases, the patient may be left with severe injuries and permanent disability. In some cases, a doctor's error can lead to the death of the patient. New York law allows victims of medical malpractice to sue and recover compensation for their losses. But in order to recover compensation, the victim must prove negligence on the part of the physician or hospital.

Proving doctor negligence in a medical malpractice case is far more complex than, for example, proving driver negligence in a motor vehicle accident case. In a car accident case the victim must prove the defendant driver failed to exercise reasonable care in operating their vehicle. Since most jurors know something about traffic laws and driving, determining whether the defendant was negligent is usually not overly complicated in a car accident case.

A popular practice during childbirth could cause injuries

Many of our readers are familiar with the wide variety of techniques and tools that are used during childbirth. In years past, it was completely common to see a doctor deliver a baby with the assistance of forceps - grasping the child with the tong-like instrument to help extract the baby from the mother. Unfortunately, that technique all too often led to a forceps injury. Or, perhaps some of our readers have seen a doctor use a vacuum extractor - another technique that can lead to birth injuries.

These techniques are among many that have been mostly phased out of use in recent years, but what if our readers were to find out that one of the most common childbirth practices currently in use today has been found to be unreasonably dangerous and unnecessary? According to a recent report, that may be the case.

When a failure to diagnose leads to a cause of action

We have all heard the phrase, "Nobody is perfect." That may be fine in many situations, as most people can probably forgive and forget when someone makes a mistake. However, some mistakes simply cannot be forgiven or forgotten, and a medical mistake of failure to diagnose would certainly fall within this category.

New York City is home to millions of people. Everyone is rushed, and doctors and nurses can work hectic hours. But, when it comes to medical care, rushing through exams and skipping over the results of tests because of the pressures of working with many different patients simply is not an acceptable excuse. For instance, many different types of cancer can be terminal, such as breast cancer and brain cancer. However, in many instances these types of cancer can be treated - as long as they are caught in the early stages.

The frequency of New York City birth injuries

Most of our New York City readers know that medical advances in treatment techniques and technology are occurring at a rapid pace in America. Lifespans are increasing, and more Americans are living out long, healthy lives. So, with these great advances, many people would probably expect that the medical profession has come a long way toward eliminating birth injuries. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

Current statistics estimate the frequency of birth injuries at approximately six to eight out of every 1,000 births. That may not sound like a high percentage, but birth injuries can lead to lifelong problems for a child. Every effort should be made to ensure that this number is eventually brought down to zero.

How can New York hospitals prevent wrong-site surgeries?

Most New York physicians would probably agree that wrong-site surgery is one of the most preventable of surgical errors. The term "wrong-site surgery" includes not only surgery performed on the wrong part of the body, but also the wrong surgical procedure and surgery on the wrong patient. Wrong-site surgery is a relatively rare occurrence, but there is also evidence that as few as ten percent of cases are reported. The number of reported cases has, however, been increasing in recent years.

When wrong-site surgery does occur, it can result in devastating consequences for the patient. Not surprisingly, a high percentage of these cases result in malpractice claims. Eighty-four percent of wrong-site orthopedic surgeries have led to malpractice recoveries.

Delayed diagnosis of aortic dissection may be malpractice

Aortic dissection is a serious condition affecting the aorta, the large blood vessel leading directly off the heart.. New York residents who have lost a loved one to aortic dissection may wonder if the condition was diagnosed early enough.

Aortic dissection occurs when the inner layer of the aorta tears. As blood enters the tear, the inner layer can separate from the middle layer of the aorta. Ultimately, the outside wall of the aorta may rupture, a condition that often leads to death from internal bleeding. Men in their 60s and 70s are most at risk.

What is New York's medical malpractice statute of limitations?

When an individual is injured by medical malpractice in the State of New York, prompt action is critical. New York has strict time deadlines, known as statutes of limitation, for commencing civil lawsuits. The statutes of limitation vary depending on the nature of the lawsuit. The court will dismiss a lawsuit that is commenced after the applicable statute of limitations has expired.

In New York, the general statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is two years and six months. This 30-month limit begins to run either on the date of the malpractice, or the date of last treatment if there was continuous treatment for the condition that gave rise to the malpractice.

Erb's palsy can have lifelong consequences

Birth injuries in New York hospitals are sometimes the result of medical malpractice. When medical negligence occurs during the birth of a baby, the result can be lifelong injury and disability for the child. One of the more common birth injuries that can result from mistakes made during delivery is Erb's palsy, also known as brachial palsy. This condition occurs in about two of 1,000 deliveries.

Erb's palsy occurs when the brachial plexus is injured during birth. The brachial plexus is a set of nerves that run from the spinal cord through the arm, and which control the arm, hand and fingers. Erb's palsy can occur when there are problems delivering the baby's shoulder, a condition called shoulder dystocia. If too much pressure is put on the baby's neck, head or shoulders, the nerves of the brachial plexus can be stretched or torn. If tearing occurs, the resulting nerve damage can be permanent.

Delayed diagnosis of cancer leads to $10 million jury award

New York readers of this blog may be interested in a significant medical malpractice verdict rendered by a Maine jury earlier this month. In what may be the largest medical malpractice verdict in that state's history, the jury awarded a woman $10 million after a hospital employee failed to diagnose cervical cancer.

The woman had received regular Pap tests, pelvic examinations and other lab tests that should have alerted physicians to the presence of the disease, but a lab technician misread the test results and failed to find the abnormal cells. The jury found the woman had cancer by 2009, but repeated misreadings of the screenings delayed diagnosis until 2011, when another specialist discovered the malignancy.