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Portland Medical Malpractice Law Blog

US Senate issues nursing negligence report

Many Oregon residents are currently living in nursing homes. Full-assistance service is a valuable commodity for elders who can no longer function independently, and also for many people who are perhaps recovering from automobile accidents or surgeries and are unable to take care of themselves but not able to stay in the hospital. Regardless of what issues have prompted a particular person to wind up in a nursing facility, he or she should never have to be worried about nursing negligence; however, data shows it is a serious concern in this state and throughout the country.

Representatives from another state issued a report that lists numbers close to 400 regarding nursing facilities that have been cited for having persistent substandard care problems. Sadly, issues in some full-assistance centers have led to fatalities. For instance, a man in one nursing home reportedly told staff members he needed medical assistance, but they did nothing. He called 911 himself but died soon after arriving at the hospital.

Never events: Surgical errors that should never happen

When an Oregon medical patient is scheduled for surgery, he or she typically understands that all surgical procedures involve a certain amount of personal injury risk. However, every patient has the right to reasonably expect that surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, practitioners and other licensed care providers will act according to accepted safety standards and protocol during pre-surgery treatment, throughout an operation and during post-operative care. Sadly, surgical errors often occur, which can leave patients in worse condition after their operations than they were before.

If your surgeon leaves a foreign object inside your body, operates on the wrong body part or mistakes you for another patient and performs a procedure that is not meant for you, you might suffer serious infection or other injuries. Before or after surgery, you can be a proactive patient, asking questions and making sure you understand everything your doctors and nurses are doing. However, if you are unconscious on an operating table, you are helpless. You are trusting that those involved in your surgery will do what they are supposed to do in the manner in which they are supposed to do it.

Nursing negligence: Former aide who pleaded guilty now free

Many adult children in Oregon are concerned about aging parents who live in nursing homes. Some of them may have reason to suspect that nursing negligence is occurring or that their loved ones are being abused by nursing home aides. Some years back, the son of a woman who was a patient in a nursing home suspected his mother was being abused after finding bruises on her body.

He set up a hidden camera in her room. Sadly, film footage showed what appeared to be a nursing home employee tossing the 78-year-old woman onto her bed and shoving her face into the sheets. The worker wound up pleading guilty to abuse and serving more than seven years of a 10-year sentence. She was recently released after reportedly issuing an apology to the family of the woman (who is now deceased).

Episiotomy: Necessary or obstetrical malpractice?

Many women in Oregon and beyond have undergone episiotomy surgery during childbirth. However, as in many other health-related areas, such as those involving risks of asbestos exposure, years of experience and scientific studies have provided information and data to help improve patient safety. With regard to cutting a woman's vagina during childbirth, most experts agree that, not only is it unnecessary, it is a health risk to the mother and may lead to obstetrical malpractice in some cases.

The initial idea behind episiotomy surgery was that making a surgical cut to the vagina could provide more room for the baby's head and shoulders to pass through during the birthing process. However, it is now known that the procedure often places women at risk for complications that might not otherwise occur had the mother in question not had the surgery. Dating back to 2006, national guidelines for obstetrics have recommended greatly limiting episiotomy surgery; in fact, it is recommended only to assist a birth where a baby's head or shoulders are stuck. 

Parents agree to settle birth injury case

In Oregon and beyond, mothers rely on their medical teams to help keep themselves and their babies safe during labor and delivery. If a baby suffers a birth injury, an investigation is typically conducted to determine whether a licensed medical care provider was negligent. The parents of a brain-injured infant in another state filed a lawsuit after their child was born with a dangerously low heartbeat.

A particular nurse was deemed responsible for the infant's brain injuries. She was assigned to monitor the child's heart rate at the time. Court records show that instead of using an electronic fetal heart monitor machine, the nurse used a hand-held mobile device, and was possibly monitoring the mother's heart, not the child's.

Oregon patients at risk for wrong-site surgical errors

When someone in Oregon undergoes surgery, his or her care is entrusted to the surgeon and medical team. Negligence of any kind can have disastrous results. Sadly, wrong-site surgical errors are a significant concern throughout the country. When a person is admitted to a hospital for surgery, he or she has the right to reasonably expect the attending medical team to adhere to accepted safety standards and regulations.

A woman in another state filed a lawsuit against an ophthalmologist who performed surgery on her eye. She also named an anesthesiologist and the facility where the surgeon was employed as defendants in her claim. She says her surgery was performed on the wrong eye.

Was your condition made worse due to nursing negligence?

There are many highly skilled, experienced and excellent nurses in Oregon. Sadly, however, nursing negligence exists in this state, as it does in others. When a licensed nurse cuts corners or disregards regulations to save time, patients and their families are often the ones to suffer because of it. This is why patients do well to be as proactive as possible regarding their own health care.

Nurses often have stressful jobs, especially in situations where a particular patient might be difficult to handle, such as in cases of dementia or other mental incapacitation. Of course, no matter how challenging a patient might be, there is never acceptable reason to neglect his or her care. Most patient situations require tremendous focus and diligence.

Suit claims delivery errors led to hysterectomy, baby's death

One of the most wonderfully exciting yet absolutely terrifying times of a woman's life is pregnancy. The level of both excitement and fear escalate when it is finally time for delivery. Although amazing medical procedures are performed every day in Oregon and across the globe, there are still significant risks and frequent complications when it comes to childbirth. One woman learned just how true that is when she went to the hospital to deliver her full-term baby boy. The medical malpractice lawsuit she has filed claims that delivery errors caused her to end up in intensive care, have a hysterectomy and lose her son.

On the day of the 25-year-old woman's scheduled induction, she showed signs of possible complications, including a fever and high blood pressure. She was allowed to labor without being given prescribed antibiotics until her son was delivered that evening. The child had a low heart rate, and despite lengthy attempts to save him, he passed away. It was determined that there was a bacterial infection in the womb as well as a problem with the umbilical cord. The mother also developed complications, including septic shock and blood clots, and ended up having a total hysterectomy.

Preventing surgical errors in Oregon

When people go to the hospital for an operation, they trust the surgeons and staff will treat the matter with the utmost professionalism and that everything will go according to plan. However, this does not always happen. Unfortunately, 32 patients lost their lives last year as the result of preventable surgical errors. Although this number is actually a decrease from the number of patients who died as a result of medical errors in years past, the Oregon Patient Safety Commission is working hard to reduce that number even more.

The commission was established by the state legislature in 2003. Based on OSPC guidelines, 56 hospitals across the state are voluntarily taking part in a program to reduce the occurrence of serious medical errors. Of the 136 incidents reported in 2009, half resulted in death or serious injury to the patient. In addition, surgeons operated on a wrong body part or on the wrong patient nine times, and surgeons left foreign objects in patients a total of 21 times.

Family claims woman's death was due to medical negligence

One family in a nearby state is reeling from the loss of a young family member. Following the woman's death, the family has filed a lawsuit claiming medical negligence. Oregon families may be interested to learn that the lawsuit could result in payment of the patient's funeral and medical expenses.  

The young woman suffered from an autoimmune disease called lupus. According to the lawsuit, the woman was not initially admitted to the hospital for her lupus but for an abscess on her tailbone. Throughout her 18-day stay, her cyst improved, but she suffered other complications related to her lupus.