Statistically, nearly 7 of every 1,000 births nationwide results in injury to the child. Unfortunately, such was the case for Ben Harman, who was born 13 years ago at Kent Hospital in England. His particular birth injury was caused by the doctors and nurses failing to check his blood sugar levels at birth, despite the clear warning signs that required that check. What’s worse? The hospital did not explain the child’s condition to his parents until four years later.
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Girl has cancer. Girl goes into remission. Girl believes her cancer is back after Googling her symptoms. Girl tells doctors. Doctors ignore Girl. Girl dies from cancer.
Unfortunately, this is not an allegory. This actually happened to Bronte Doyne, a 19-year-old from England. She was suffering from fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma, a rare liver cancer that only affects 200 people each year. She had first been hospitalized in 2011 when doctors suspected appendicitis. Unfortunately, that was not the only time they were wrong. Bronte was eventually diagnosed with cancer, and was told that her chances of survival were high following surgical intervention.
A new report from CNN.com reveals that nearly half of the hospitals that perform children’s heart surgery provide no data or statistics on surgical death rates. In fact, 60 out of 109 hospitals fail to provide that basic information that patients may rely on. What’s worse? That means that parents have no idea what the death rate from surgery could be for their child based on the 22,000 babies and children who have heart surgery each year.
On April 1, 2015, Snyder & Wenner won a $3,200,000 verdict against the United States Government for a medical malpractice claim arising from care rendered at the Phoenix VA Hospital.
Briefly stated, plaintiff presented at the Phoenix VA for treatment of a rotator cuff tear. The orthopedic surgeon was aware there was also a mass in the shoulder, but told the patient it was simply a fluid-filled sac that could be “washed away.” During the surgery, the doctor repaired the rotator cuff but also realized that the mass was actually solid, not fluid-filled. Without discussing this new finding with the patient, the surgeon decided to remove the solid mass from plaintiff’s shoulder. The surgeon did no preoperative workup to diagnose what the mass was or to see what nerves would be in jeopardy if the mass were removed. When the surgeon removed the mass, he cut the axillary nerve, which ran directly through the mass. In doing so, the surgeon caused permanent, severe injury to the plaintiff.
When Insurance Companies Win, Consumers Lose
An article from the October issue of the New England Journal of Medicine finds that tort reform does not have the impact on emergency room medicine that supporters guaranteed it would.
Tort reform is an idea pushed by insurance companies that claims medical malpractice lawsuits cause the costs of medical care to increase, cause doctors to stop practicing medicine, and cause a trickle-down effect that impacts every person in our country. Most of the myths of tort reform have been debunked, but insurance companies have spent tens of millions of dollars promulgating this theory, and it still resonates with many people. The myth that this study sought to confirm or reject was that doctors live in fear of lawsuits, so they order excessive tests to rule out possible medical conditions; this increase in diagnostic testing leads to more charges to the insurance company, which, in turn, causes medical care to be more expensive.