Saunders and Walker Class Action Law Firm
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Medical Malpractice Attorney

A recent Harvard University Study found that most victims of medical malpractice never make a claim. Many patients are never even aware that a doctor or hospital’s mistake caused their injury or the death of their loved one.

Medical malpractice claims are usually the only way that a patient can find out if a medical error was made in their case. Most states have enacted laws that keep all hospital investigations secret and the patient is not even told if the hospital’s internal peer review investigation finds that a doctor was negligent or incompetent. The insurance industry and the medical community have been restricting patients’ rights to know about medical negligence and limiting patients’ rights to compensation under the false pretense of “tort reform”. They claim that high medical malpractice insurance rates are caused by frivolous malpractice lawsuits. This is false. There are very few frivolous malpractice lawsuits because all malpractice cases are very expensive to bring and judges and juries are very careful to screen out and dismiss cases against doctors where there is no clear negligence.

A medical negligence case has two basic legal requirements. First, we must show that the medical provider gave medical care that was below the reasonable standard of care for a medical professional in that field. Second, we have to show that the medical provider’s failure to meet the reasonable standard of care caused the injury of death to the patient. We prove these two elements through the testimony of another doctor in the same field of medicine. There are many doctors who care deeply about keeping standards up in their profession and some of these doctors are willing to testify for injured patients against other doctors. If there is a clear case of malpractice we can almost always find a doctor that will help us and testify for the malpractice victim against another doctor.

A surgery or other medical treatment that results in a bad outcome with unexpected serious injury or death to the patient is not always a malpractice case. Sometimes even if the medical providers meet all the reasonable standards of care a patient can suffer serious or fatal side effects of the medical procedure. The medical providers are not liable to pay damages for a bad outcome unless they committed negligent acts that caused or contributed to the bad outcome. Sometimes the negligent conduct is failing to advise the patient of the possibility of one of these bad outcomes. This is called failing to obtain “informed consent” of the patient to undergo the procedure and accept the risks of one of these bad outcomes. Almost all medical procedures or treatments have at least some risk of a bad outcome. Therefore, it is important to speak with a law firm experienced in these cases to evaluate such factors. Our firm had been handling these cases for many years and we have full time medical personnel in our office so that we can fully and properly investigate your case.

Insurance companies and medical providers rarely settle even very good cases without the filing of a lawsuit and aggressive litigation. Therefore, it is important to have an experienced trial lawyer to represent you in your claim. Our firm has years of experience handling medical negligence litigation and we would be happy to give you a free opinion concerning your claim and to represent you for a reasonable percentage of the recovery if we agree to represent you.

Please call 800-748-7115 or email me so that we may evaluate your medical malpractice case today.

Case Study: Wernicke’s Encephalopathy

A 21-year-old woman developed severe persistent nausea and vomiting early in pregnancy. In approximately 2 ½ months she lost over 17 kg. A previous pregnancy was complicated by hyperemesis gravidarum – severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy – and the patient ultimately delivered an 8 pound, 4 ounce male without difficulty. Hyperemesis gravidarum is uncommon and many cases respond to anti-vomiting treatment and intravenous fluid replacement. Neurological complications are even more rare.

At her first prenatal visit for the second pregnancy, at 8 weeks gestation, the patient weighed 198 lbs. and reported headache, nausea, and vomiting. Subsequently, the patient was admitted to the hospital at 12 weeks, 15 weeks, 17 weeks, and 19 weeks for hyperemesis gravidarum and dehydration. At each admission her level of ketones – which are present in the urine when the body is starving – were excessive. Liver enzyme studies indicated biochemical features of mild liver failure. The patient was treated with intravenous fluids for hydration and, variously, metoclopramide, odensatron, and promethazine for nausea and vomiting. A maternal fetal medicine specialist concurred with the need for anti-vomiting medication and added the need to monitor her electrolyte status.

When the patient was admitted at 19 weeks’ gestation, she weighed 160 lbs. and electrolyte studies showed a potassium deficit for which supplementation was administered. On the third day of her admission, the patient awakened confused and amnesic. She did not know the date or the reason for her hospital admission, and she could not recall her son’s name. The patient exhibited rapid, involuntary movement of her eyes, a condition called nystagmus which reflects a neurological disorder. The patient’s mother reported that her daughter was having difficulty walking.

Her physicians considered surgery for possible gall bladder disease and prescribed antibiotics for a urinary tract infection. A CT scan was ordered to rule out a stroke; and an EEG was performed to evaluate the possibility of a seizure disorder. Though the patient had not exhibited psychological problems in the past, a psychiatrist consultant evaluated the patient for anxiety and amnesia and ordered Ativan. Physicians believed the patient’s encephalopathy was related to her urinary tract infection and order a lumbar puncture to determine whether the infection had spread to her cerebrospinal fluid. On the sixth day of hospitalization, the patient’s mother reported that her daughter was worse. She was disoriented and rocking and crying in bed. An MRI of the brain was ordered and showed rounded virtually spherical patches of T2 hyperintensity in the posteromedial thalami consistent with Wernicke’s encephalopathy. By the time intravenous vitamin supplementation including thiamine was administered that afternoon, the patient was non verbal and did not recognize her name.

Early diagnosis and prompt treatment is essential in Wernicke’s Encephalopathy, which is a potentially fatal medical emergency due to thiamine deficiency. The diagnosis of Wernicke’s Encephalopathy should be suspected once any one of the neurological triad – confusion, nystagmus, and lack of gait coordination – presents in a patient with hyperemesis gravidarum. Because pregnant women who have vomited for more than a few weeks develop subactue thiamine deprivation, specialists recommend that women with hyperemesis gravidarum greater than two weeks’ duration should be administered preventative intravenous thiamine. A review of literature suggests that maternal death or permanent neurologic abnormality occurs in more than 80% of cases of Wernicke’s Encephalopathy.

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Saunders & Walker
3491 Gandy Blvd
Pinellas Park, FL 33781
Phone: (727) 579-4500
Phone: 1-800-748-7115

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