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Detroit Medical Malpractice Blog

What do I have to prove in a medical malpractice case?

  • 16
  • December
    2014

Medical errors occur all the time, but those who are familiar with the area of medical malpractice know that it is only a fraction of medical errors which ultimately provide the basis for successful medical malpractice lawsuits. There are a variety of reasons for this, but one of the basic reasons is that not every case of medical error involves a fact pattern which is able to satisfy the basic elements of medical malpractice.

Michigan law, like other states, requires that a plaintiff provide evidence to support several elements in a medical malpractice action. The first of these elements is duty, which refers to some sort of legal obligation. In a medical malpractice case, duty is a particularly important element which goes by the name “standard of care.” This refers to the level or course of care that would be provided by a reasonably prudent physician under the same circumstances and who has comparable training.

Work with an experienced attorney to ensure proper selection of expert witnesses

  • 10
  • December
    2014

The principles of the practice of medicine and the standards of care that apply to health care professionals are not something those of us who work outside the profession are qualified to speak about in a court of law. Because the issues that come up in malpractice cases can involve very specific knowledge of the principles of medicine, expert witnesses are required to show which standards of care apply in cases of medical malpractice.

Something our readers are probably not aware of is that the qualifications for an expert witness vary according to the circumstances of the case. Under Michigan law, there are several potential scenarios, each involving different qualifications for expert witnesses. Here we’ll look briefly at the general principles which come out of state case law.

How can I protect myself from medical error?

  • 01
  • December
    2014

Medical error is more commonplace than many Americans realize. According to Consumer Reports, an estimated 440,000 Americans die each year after suffering medical errors. To be fair, it isn’t clear how closely medical errors are tied to those patient deaths—not every medical error is serious enough to cause a significant impact— but the problem is serious enough that patient safety advocates have been calling for changes. One of the changes being recommended is the creation of an agency to handle patient safety complaints to help improve patient safety.

Whether or not such an agency is created, patients are well advised to do what they can to ensure their own safety.  Although the way medical services are purchased is currently very different from the way other goods and services are purchased, there are some steps that can be taken. 

Group publishes results of latest safety ratings for Michigan hospitals

  • 26
  • November
    2014

For consumers of medical services, which is all of us, the way we approach purchasing health care is very different from the way we think about purchasing, say, a home, car or electric razor. For the average person, it is very difficult to make any kind of objective judgment about the quality of medical care at any given facility as compared to services offered at other facilities. Most of what we have to go on are anecdotal reviews, which is of limited benefit.

The situation is something that some groups have been trying to change in recent years. One such effort, by The Leapfrog Group, is to routinely rate hospitals and clinics in terms of their safety performance. The idea is to provide consumers with information to help them make more informed decisions. In its latest round of reviews, Leapfrog rated 79 Michigan hospitals, giving 23 of them an “A” rating. A total of 26 facilities received “B” ratings, 24 received “C” ratings, and a total of six received a “D” rating. 

Doctors and the refusal to provide medical care

  • 20
  • November
    2014

A recent article in the Huffington Post, looking at the current Ebola epidemic and the risk here in the United States, asked the interesting question of whether or not physicians have a duty to treat patients who present the symptoms of Ebola. While we would like to assume that physicians treat whoever walks into their clinic or hospital, this isn’t always the case.

Ebola, being the kind of disease it is, could conceivably create a situation where a physician has intractable concerns about exposing himself or herself to the virus. From the standpoint of professional ethics, the issue may be looked at from various angles, including the general ethical duty to treat those who are in need of medical care, as well as the degree of risk in treating the condition and the prospect of rendering successful medical treatment. Obviously, cases in which the risks of treating the patient are high and the prospects of success low, it is harder to find an ethical duty to treat.

Frequency of medication errors among children is surprising

  • 12
  • November
    2014

Medical errors come in a variety of forms, including birth injuries, surgical errors, failure to diagnose, and so on. One form of medical error that is often overlooked, though, is medication errors. Mistakes with respect to the type and amount of medication are very common, though, particularly among young children. According to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, medication errors occur, on average, every eight minutes among a certain subset of children.

According to that article, the study looked at medication errors which were reported to US poison control centers between 2002 and 2012. A total of 63,358 children below 6 years of age had been reported as experiencing a medication error, which amounts to one every eight minutes. The majority of these medication errors involved liquid medicine, with tablet and capsule errors being the next largest category. Many of the errors occurred when medication was given too soon. 

Researchers suggest developing blood test for general cancer screening

  • 05
  • November
    2014

What if there was a single test doctors could use to screen for various types of cancer? A recent research effort conducted at the National Cancer Research Institute in Liverpool looked at thousands of previous scientific publications with the aim of determining whether there might be a way to develop a general cancer screening test using blood samples. The idea, of course, would be to help health care providers better detect patients who are at risk for cancer so that they can begin receiving early treatment.

Researchers reportedly found that there are over 800 biomarkers in the blood of cancer patients, and it is suggested that a blood test could potentially be developed as a screening device for various forms of cancer. The idea is a relatively new one, though it isn't clear yet how feasible it is to develop a single blood test for early detection of multiple types of cancer.

CDC to establish guidelines for keeping Ebola at bay

  • 27
  • October
    2014

Medical errors can have serious consequences for patients, including serious injury and death. When it comes to fighting the potential threat of Ebola in the United States, though, medical error could have a much more wide-spread negative impact, potentially affecting large segments of the population, if the virus spreads unchecked.

Though some public health officials say the risk of Ebola spreading to significant numbers of Americans is small, others have raised more alarm. So far, several Americans have been confirmed to have contracted the virus. Healthcare workers returning from service in West Africa, of course, are most at risk of becoming sick. Because of this, the Centers for Disease Control will reportedly be announcing new guidelines for the care of healthcare workers returning from treating Ebola patients in Africa. 

Fremont pharmacy accused of medication mix-up

  • 22
  • October
    2014

In medical care, patients expect that those who give them medical advice, administer treatment, and write prescriptions know what they are talking about and are careful to avoid errors. The same is true for pharmacists—we trust that our pharmacists are doing their job correctly and watching out for potential errors. That is why it can be surprising for patients when careless mistakes do occur.

Here in Michigan, a family from Fremont is reportedly accusing Walgreens of filling a prescription incorrectly, which apparently led to a boy taking the wrong medicine for a month before the mistake was recognized. The bag that held the medicine bottle reportedly had the right name, address and medication label on it when it was picked up, but the family noticed the bottle itself was addressed to another person when they went to fill the prescription a month later. As it turns out, he had been taking a generic asthma medication rather than his ADHD medication. 

Careless prescription of NSAIDs can lead to serious consequences

  • 16
  • October
    2014

Most of our readers are probably familiar with the term NSAID, which stands for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Common examples of NSAIDs include ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen. As pain relievers, NSAIDs can be effective but they carry certain risks, such as stomach bleeding and ulcers, kidney or heart problems, and high blood pressure. Another potential risk, supported by some studies, is venous thromboembolism (VTE),

VTE is a condition which involves clotting in the blood, which can then travel to the lungs in some cases, resulting in deep vein thrombosis. Because of these risks of developing these conditions, it is important for people to be cautious in their use of NSAIDs and for doctors to be judicious in prescribing them.

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