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Pittsburgh Personal Injury Law Blog

Victim's family awarded $3 million for failure to diagnose error

A timely an accurate diagnosis is critical for getting a patient on the correct treatment regimen. Any delay or overall failure to diagnose a patient accurately can result in more than just serious injuries -- it can also result in death. A jury recently awarded a family outside of Pennsylvania compensation for the wrongful death of a loved one who failed to receive an accurate diagnosis. 

In 2009, a 67-year-old man sought medical attention after he began to experience some shortness of breath. The attending doctor ordered an echocardiogram of the man's heart and noted a troubling sign -- one of the patient's heart valves was narrowing. His physician then sent him to a cardiologist for a follow up. 

Pennsylvania son files wrongful death suit for mother, sister

The death of a loved one is never an easy experience, but it can be even more difficult when it was caused by a potentially preventable accident. A Pennsylvania man has filed suit over what he says was a tragic explosion caused by the negligence of multiple companies. The wrongful death suit seeks recourse on behalf of both his sister's and mother's estates. 

Both the mother and sister were employees of a local food truck and were working at the time of incident. The truck had a propane tank as part of its normal operations. However, according to the suit, the propane tank that was installed at that time had deteriorated and eventually ruptured, causing a tragic explosion. Not only did the women in the truck suffer ultimately fatal injuries, but a total of 11 nearby people were also injured.

Surgery patients still at risk for suffering medical malpractice

Feel safe enough while going under anesthesia for a surgery? Studies show that trust might be misplaced. Pennsylvania patients are still at risk for being injured due to serious and negligent acts of medical malpractice that, for the most part, could be avoided. 

Serious and potentially catastrophic surgical errors include leaving a tool or other item inside of a patient or operating on the wrong body part entirely. Perhaps what might be even more disconcerting than the fact that these types of errors still occur is that there really is not any good system in place for tracking their exact numbers. Depending on what hospital an error occurs at or which doctor was in attendance at the time, the exact same mistake can be recorded in multiple different ways.

City bus in auto accident after bus wrecks only hours earlier

Considering how many buses service Pittsburgh on a daily basis, the city claims that multiple bus accidents on the same day are nothing more than a coincidence. However, between the first auto accident and the second, a total of seven passengers had to be taken to the hospital. Other passengers may have also suffered more minor injuries.

The first wreck occurred when a personally owned vehicle entered an intersection against the red light and struck the bus, which apparently had the right of way at the time. At least one passenger suffered a broken bone while multiple others ended up with head injuries. During the wreck, one passenger's head struck the window with such force that the window broke.

Jury sides with victim of failure to diagnose perforated bowel

A woman outside of the state of Pennsylvania suffered a perforation to her small bowel during a procedure, but that is not what led her to file a medical malpractice suit against the OBGYN who performed the surgery. Instead, her claim cited his failure to diagnose the perforation based on the series of symptoms that she suffered afterward. A jury agreed with her claim that the physician had acted negligently and subsequently awarded her $1.57 million.

The woman originally filed a medical malpractice suit in Nov. 2013 after undergoing a laparoscopic surgery in Nov. 2011. The purpose of the surgery was to increase her chances of conceiving and successfully becoming pregnant. However, the attending OBGYN perforated her bowel during the surgery. Although this is considered to be one of the surgery's acceptable risks, her condition was not immediately diagnosed.

Wrongful death suits possible after tragic head-on collision

Pennsylvania authorities are still investigating the exact cause of a catastrophic accident that killed three people and injured over a dozen others. Losing a loved one in what might have been an avoidable accident is understandably devastating. Often, families of the deceased decide to initiate a wrongful death lawsuit against any party or parties who may have been responsible for contributing to the wreck.

The wreck involved a large 18-wheeler and a loaded tour bus that were traveling in opposite directions on I-380. One of the vehicles -- police are still unsure which one -- left the roadway and veered into the median dividing the north and southbound lanes. Upon entering oncoming traffic, the bus and 18-wheeler collided head on in what was likely a terrifying accident. The cab and the trailer of the 18-wheeler were completely separated, with the trailer left on the roadway while the cab was propelled into a nearby wooded area.

Commotion of emergency rooms can result in failure to diagnose

Emergency rooms can be understandably hectic places where health care workers must make rapid decisions and diagnoses. The quick nature of an emergency room is often necessary to treat Pennsylvania patients who are suffering from life-threatening illnesses or injuries. Unfortunately, an emergency room's biggest advantage can also increase the risk that a patient will suffer from a failure to diagnose.

 Even when patients present with several troubling symptoms, emergency room doctors continue to dismiss patient concerns, misread or overlook the implications of test results. Some fail to order necessary tests entirely. These actions can easily confuse patients suffering from serious injuries or illnesses, and some might even be led to believe that they are overreacting to symptoms or even making them up in their head. Ultimately, many of these patients are discharged with improper follow-up care instructions and often end up suffering further injury, putting them right back where they started -- the emergency room.

Police see auto accident increase over Memorial Day weekend

While many people enjoyed a long weekend in honor of those who died in the line of service to the country, several others were killed on Pennsylvania roads. Although an increase in car wrecks and related injuries and fatalities is common on holiday weekends, this Memorial Day weekend saw even more fatalities than the last. Victims of an auto accident or their surviving families may be entitled to take action in the form of a civil suit following the deadly three days.

In 2014, 709 car wrecks over the course of the holiday weekend left five people dead. The 2015 total increased to 718 accidents and 13 fatalities. Although non-fatal injuries decreased from 277 to 247, the total deaths more than doubled between 2014 and 2015.

Failure to diagnose celiac disease can cause other health issues

Celiac disease can be extremely painful and damaging for those who continue to suffer from the affliction without ever receiving a proper diagnosis. Perhaps more frustrating than the damage that occurs without proper treatment are the injuries that can be suffered after a misdiagnosis. Pennsylvania patients who have celiac may already be familiar with the injuries associated with a failure to diagnose their disease, and many might have suffered from some of the same misdiagnoses.

Because of somewhat similar symptoms, many people with celiac are wrongfully diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease. These are two of the most common wrongful misdiagnoses for celiac victims, although it is likely that there will be no improvement or response to typical treatments for either of these diseases. Instead, patients may actually experience a worsening in symptoms from the incorrect treatment.

Certain technology may increase instances of medical malpractice

Technology often appears to permeate every nook and corner of everyday life. From looking up a recipe online to checking a smartphone for directions, it can be difficult for many Pennsylvania residents to imagine life any other way. However, in some fields, the old adage of "less is more" could be true. There is mounting evidence that electronic health records -- EHR -- might be contributing to mistakes in health care and instances of medical malpractice.

Many proponents of EHRs point out that the technology is much cheaper and quicker than the older paper system of medical records. However, is fast and cheap really a justified replacement for what may have been a safer method of record keeping? EHRs are touted as actually improving care by providing nearly instantaneous access to certain records, but opponents cite flaws in the system that seem to negate that assertion.

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