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Articles Tagged with Hospital Negligence

During a stay in the hospital after the birth of an infant in New York, mothers are often encouraged to rest as much as possible and allow nurses and doctors to help them recuperate from labor. The setting should provide a safe environment for the baby’s first few days of life. Careful monitoring and support from hospital staff and medication to assist with recovery are often critical for new parents.

An infant in Oregon was recently removed from life support 10 days after he was born, and his mother has filed a negligence suit against the hospital where she gave birth. She is claiming that a nurse should not have left her newborn in the bed with her when she was too heavily medicated to remain alert. Her baby suffocated in her arms while she slept.

The infant was resuscitated, stabilized and taken to a neonatal intensive care unit, where he was placed on life support. According to the lawsuit, in addition to the trauma of his time without oxygen, the baby sustained broken ribs during the CPR performed by a doctor. The mother alleges that the delay in response from the staff at the hospital contributed to the catastrophic brain damage her son suffered. She is also suing one of the nurses at the hospital where she gave birth.

Many people experience medical malpractice each year, in a number of forms. In 2012, there were $3.6 billion dollars in payout for medical malpractice suits. You or a loved one may have recently been at a hospital and found that your stay wasn?t as peachy as you hoped, leading to questions: What is hospital negligence? What is the hospital liable for? Can I sue? Should I sue?


Cases in which the patient is injured are known as “Vicarious Liability.” Hospitals are public and private corporations and can always be held to the same standard as other entities in that classification. You may have heard horror stories of some types of hospital negligence. Situations such as a tool being left in the body after surgery, a slip and fall on the premises (yes, the hospital is liable!), not having a nurse available to take care of you – all of these are considered hospital negligence.

Let?s run through an example of vicarious liability. You go in for an emergency appendectomy, get checked in, and taken in for surgery. You wake up, and there is no nurse on call. Weeks later, after going through an airport metal detector, you discover a small surgical instrument was left in your stomach. Not only is the hospital vicariously liable for the surgical instrument, but if you are able to prove that there was no nurse available, they are additionally liable for that.

If a baby dies due to the negligence or misconduct of another person, then they may be held responsible by the family through a wrongful death lawsuit. The family is unable to recover their lost child, but they can attempt to recover compensation from the accused in the form of damages.

A wrongful death lawsuit can only be made by the family of the deceased. A wrongful death lawsuit can come about due to a variety of scenarios. Common scenarios that can lead to this lawsuit include:

  • Death caused by the negligence and or malpractice of medical staff. If the nurses failed to pay attention during birth and their negligence resulted in the baby dying or if the doctor failed to perform a C-section properly.
  • Dangerous or hazardous working conditions. If a medical institution has unsanitary facilities and equipment and the baby dies due to infection then the hospital and staff may be held responsible.
  • If the death occurred due to the crimes of a person, even if he wasn’t trying to cause harm to the deceased, he may be held responsible. For example, a nurse stole medical supplies which resulted in a shortage at the hospital which contributed to complications in birth and the baby’s death. 
  • An effective wrongful death lawsuit needs to have the following elements: 
  • A person must lose their life due to the circumstances involved. A wrongful death lawsuit, of course, cannot take place if no life was lost.
  • The death must be a result of the misconduct, negligence or negative aims of the accused.
  • There must be surviving family of the deceased for a wrongful death lawsuit to take place, as only family members can file the lawsuit.
  • A personal representative must be appointed by the court to handle the distribution of the property and assets of the deceased. 

If a family member or loved one died, and you believe the death was due to negligence or misconduct, then you may have a right to file a claim. In such a case, to help ensure you get the best representation and the best outcome, it would be wise to contact an experienced attorney near you.

Infections at hospitals can wreak havoc on patient health. So, one would hope instances of hospital-acquired infections would be trending down. Given this, the results of a recent study are something some might find quite discouraging. The results suggest that, when it comes to one particular type of hospital-related infection, not much progress has been made on cutting down on its occurrence over the past decade.

This infection is ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP). This is a type of infection connected to the use of respirators at hospitals. The study looked at data on certain patients to make an estimate of how common of a complication VAP is. It estimates that, among patients who are on a respirator for over 48 hours at acute-care hospitals, around one-tenth end up getting VAP.

The study further suggests that the occurrence rate of this infection has been holding at around this level for at least the past decade. This brings into question some federal data that had pointed to the occurrence of VAP possibly going down. According to the study’s lead author, factors such as: the possibility of reporting bias, variation in reporting standards and the difficultly of detecting VAP are among the things that could have led to the federal data suggesting a decline that wasn’t actually present.

Instances of a mistaken identity can happen in a lot of different environments. In some contexts, such errors at worse will result in some embarrassment. In others though, such mistakes could be quite harmful. For example, at health care facilities, a misidentification of a patient could seriously endanger the patient’s health.

Recently, an ECRI Institute report looked into patient identity errors. These are mistakes in which one patient is confused with another. The report looked at over 7,600 such errors that were voluntarily reported by health care organizations. These errors came from over 180 organizations. They occurred between January 2013 and July 2015. ECRI officials postulate that these cases likely make up only a small portion of the patient identity mistakes that actually occurred.

While most of the mistakes the report looked at did not result in a patient getting hurt, there were a couple that were fatal and some others that resulted in serious harms.

Lack of communication or poor communication between doctors and their patients is problematic in a number of ways. It is particularly problematic, though, when the communication failure concerns serious medical or surgical errors. Lack of communication is often the result of the provider’s fear of liability, but lack of communication often results in more willingness to litigate.

This is one reason for the push to increase transparency between patients and their providers. The trend of increasing transparency is one that has even expanded to the federal level, with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality now promoting new guidelines for hospitals to adopt. The guidelines are premised on saving hospitals money as a result of reducing medical malpractice litigation. 

The program, known as Communication and Optimal Resolution (Candor for short), has federal funding behind it and has been tested at a number of hospitals. The program prescribes the communication of error to the patient and their families within one hour of their occurrence. Providers are advised to keep close contact with patients and their families during the investigation, which is supposed to be completed within a month or two, and to interview them about the occurred. Billing is also placed on hold during an investigation. At the end of the process, hospital staff is supposed to discuss future prevention of such incidents to the patient.

Virtually nothing comes close to the emotional toll of a birth injury – but the financial toll should not be overlooked, either.

When a medical professional’s negligence causes injury to your newborn, you may need time to grieve. But at the same time, it is essential that you begin thinking about how to give your child the best life possible.

According to the CDC, lifetime medical costs for children with intellectual disabilities are more than 25 times higher than costs for children without disabilities. Can you rely on your health insurance to cover the difference? Do you need to file a lawsuit so you can afford to give your child the care he or she deserves? To decide the best course of action, it is important to have a handle on the true costs of raising a child after a birth injury.

Last time, we began looking at the Federal Tort Claims Act, under which those harmed by federal health care providers may seek recovery from the federal government. Under the FTCA, the federal government may be held liable in the same way, and to the same extent, as a private hospital or health care provider would be liable.

One difference, though, is that the FTCA does not allow plaintiffs to obtain punitive damages. For those who aren’t familiar with them, punitive damages are not intended to compensate the plaintiff but rather to punish the defendant in a civil context. The damages available to plaintiffs in FTCA claims are limited to compensatory damages, which are the monetary losses stemming from the negligence asserted. 

Another difference is that the federal government is allowed to assert defenses based on immunity that are otherwise available to federal employees, as well as other defenses unique to the federal government. While the FTCA is considered a general waiver of the defense of sovereign immunity, there are some circumstances where a plaintiff may not be entitled to recover damages due to immunity.

When our loved one is in a life-or-death situation, we tend to put our trust in medical professionals without hesitation in hopes that our loved one will be saved. Even with this trust, many individuals will stay vigilant to make sure that no errors are made when it comes to the health of someone they love. But what happens if you notice an error and a medical professional refuses to hear your concern? That’s exactly what happened to a New York woman last year.

The woman’s husband ended up at DeGraff Memorial Hospital after having a heart attack. About 30 minutes after the man arrived, the doctor removed him off life support and declared him dead. What happened next is truly something out of a horrible nightmare. The wife says she noticed signs that her husband was still alive. She told The Buffalo News that her husband “turned his eyes” and looked at her. When she told the doctor that her husband was still alive, the doctor brushed it off as “life expelling out of his body.”

Sometime later the coroner arrived and saw signs of life as well. He told the doctor who again brushed it off as a bodily reaction to drugs. The coroner refused to take the body until the signs of life stopped showing. Finally, almost three hours after declaring him dead, the doctor came back to check on the patient. At that point he realized that the man was alive. According to the man’s wife, he was actually “thrashing around on the gurney. “ Unfortunately, the man died the next morning after being transferred to Buffalo General Medical Center.

In a prior post, we highlighted how some vehicles could be vulnerable to unauthorized users hacking into the car’s system to cause it to lose power, to have the braking systems operate (or cease to operate) without the driver’s knowledge. A user also described how his Jeep Cherokee was driven into a ditch by hackers.

If a car’s cruise control and braking system can be compromised, it is no wonder that people are afraid of medical devices being hacked in the same manner. It may seem a bit like science fiction, but it can actually happen. 

According to a recent report, infusion pumps could be vulnerable to cyber attacks. These devices are responsible for introducing medicines into a person’s body as well as regulating certain functions. Essentially, hackers could take control of the device and possibly disable it, which could have an effect on a person’s health and well being.

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