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The Evolution of Medical Malpractice


I just read about a rash of cases involving invasive pelvic exams of anesthetized women in hospitals after surgery. While cases of this nature are rare, from our experience, they bring to mind other more common, yet still unexpected events of negligence in hospitals.

The attorneys at Freidin Brown, P.A. have successfully handled many cases involving surgeries on the wrong part of the body. Many years ago, I represented a woman who got surgery on the wrong knee. The error was discovered mid-surgery. The wrong knee was closed and the correct knee was then treated.

We sued the surgeon and the hospital for malpractice. While the surgeon did the operation, it was the circulating nurse who indicated the incorrect knee for the procedure. Due to the multiple contributing factors of this error, we sued the hospital for negligence as well. During the trial, the surgeon tried to blame the nurse and the nurse pointed to the surgeon. The jury found both at fault for medical negligence.

Since that time most hospitals take greater care to identify (multiple times) which limb, finger, side or whatever is the target. Often, they will even write it on your body to avoid any mistakes.

So now, the occurrence of surgeries performed on the incorrect body part is much rarer in hospitals. But, enter the world of surgical centers. Some of these institutions are focused on the monetary value of a higher intake volume and do a multitude of surgeries every day. Many of these establishments, though certainly not most, are in it just for the money.

Recently we started representing a young man, a former professional athlete, who had the wrong disc taken out of his back. That was an unnecessary surgery that caused harm to his back. He had a healthy disc taken out and still had to have another surgery to get the real herniated disc removed due to negligence. Our firm plans to file suit on this case soon. We anticipate the surgeon will defend by saying the earlier diagnosis of the third lumbar disc was wrong and it should always have been the fourth.

Hardly likely.

In the old days, surgeons counted the discs with their fingers. Now they are supposed to rely on x-rays to identify the right level.

Another unexpected hospital error is being given the wrong medication. The patient, or a surrogate, should always try to ask, “What is that?”

I will tell you all more about hospital mishaps when I get some more spare time. But, for right now I need to get back to preparing for a trial against a cigarette company for selling the most dangerous product in the history of humankind.

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