Catastrophic Injuries Resulting from Medical Malpractice
No one plans to experience a catastrophic injury. This is especially true for injuries resulting from the negligence of someone you trusted with your health. Unfortunately, medical errors lead to thousands of injuries and deaths each year. Medical malpractice injuries often leave the victim permanently damaged and unable to take care of themselves. In most situations, medical errors generate difficulties for not only the victims but their families as well. In addition to the extra help a loved one may need with daily tasks, there is a possibility they will face lifelong medical debt arising from the catastrophic injury. In many cases, this will lead to a decrease in their quality of life.
Examples of Medical Errors Resulting in Catastrophic Injuries
Medical malpractice that leads to catastrophic injuries is preventable. For this reason, you may be able to hold a medical professional liable for damages. But, what is considered a medical malpractice catastrophic injury? Some examples include the following:
The birth of a child should be the happiest moment of any new parent’s life. However, for some, a doctor or other medical professional’s action can turn this into a traumatic experience. For example, birth injuries may arise due to the doctor’s failure to provide appropriate prenatal care. Or birth injuries may be the result of a doctor’s inappropriate response to a condition that arises during delivery of the baby. Medical mistakes made during pregnancy, labor, and delivery have the potential of causing lifelong physical, cognitive and developmental challenges.
If a baby is hurt during the delivery process, his or her injuries can be permanent. This one moment in a child’s life can affect their quality of life for years to come and, in some cases, the rest of their life. Additionally, parents may need to pay for costly specialized care, rehabilitation or other unanticipated therapies for their child. Many times, recovering compensation through a birth injury lawsuit may be the only way parents can pay for the added care.
Birth injuries resulting from medical malpractice include:
Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that results primarily from the lack of oxygen to the brain. Children can develop cerebral palsy during a traumatic delivery. It is one of the most devastating birth injuries caused by medical malpractice. This group of neurological disorders affects muscle coordination, body movement, and brain function. Delivery mistakes that may cause Cerebral Palsy include the medical providers failing to:
- Notice signs of complications
- Monitor fetal Heart rate and respond to fetal distress
- Properly detect and treat maternal infections
- Schedule and perform an emergency C-section
- Use birth-assisting tools such as forceps or a vacuum properly
It is important to note that children affected with cerebral palsy may not display any symptoms until months or even years after birth.
The brachial plexus nerves provide movement and sensation to the shoulder, arm, hand, and fingers. When these nerves are damaged during vaginal delivery, brachial plexus injuries occur. Brachial plexus injury occurs in 1.5 of every 1,000 live births. Serious and permanent damage including paralysis can be a consequence of a brachial plexus birth injury.
Symptoms of brachial plexus injuries can be detected soon after delivery. Such symptoms include:
- Little to no movement in the affected arm
- Claw-like hand
- Absence of spreading the arms
- Frequent crying
Spinal Cord Injuries
Surgical mistakes or misdiagnosis may result in debilitating spinal cord injuries. Many times, an injury to the spinal column results from a doctor’s error when treating the patient for a condition not related to the spinal cord. Examples of medical errors that lead to spinal cord injuries include:
- A medical error in administering a spinal block or spinal anesthetic
- A failure to diagnose a tumor that ultimately injures the spinal cord
- A medical error during orthopedic surgery or neurosurgery
- An undiagnosed spinal cord infection or epidural abscess
It may seem far-fetched but surgeons do make mistakes. For example, a surgeon may remove the wrong organ or even perform an operation on the wrong patient. How does this happen? Poor communication, fatigue, insufficient preoperative planning, drug or alcohol use, and neglect may all be causes of surgical errors.
Other errors seen in surgical malpractice cases that can be life-altering include:
- Punctured organs
- Anesthesia failures and miscalculations resulting in lack of oxygen, brain damage and death
- Injuring a nerve during surgery
Loss of Limb
An amputation caused by medical malpractice may be the result of many errors. For example, a sponge left inside a patient’s body after an operation can turn into an untreated infection resulting in the need for amputation.
A wrongful amputation will leave patients with lifelong physical, emotional and financial burdens. They will need to undergo expensive physical therapy to help with basic but important needs such as getting positioned in a bed, balancing when standing and pain control to name a few.
It is important to understand that physical therapy is not just for new amputees. In fact, many who have had to undergo an amputation will need to be evaluated every one to two years. Depending on the limb that was amputated, the patient may not be able to participate in the same activities they did prior to their catastrophic injury. This can lead to a decrease in their enjoyment of life. Additionally, wrongful amputees will likely face the costly expense of a prosthetic limb or other walking aid.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, prescription errors cause at least one death every day. These terrifying errors are many times due to poor communication, mislabeling and providing the wrong directions for use.
The failure to diagnose life-threatening conditions can have devastating consequences including death. The conditions most commonly misdiagnosed are a heart attack and cancer. Doctors have a responsibility to diagnose and treat cancer both aggressively and properly. The earlier the cancer diagnosis, the better the prognosis for a patient. Delaying the treatment allows cancer to grow stronger which may lead to the wrongful death of the patient.
Medical errors are the third-leading cause of U.S. deaths claiming 251,000 lives annually. This accounts for nearly 700 preventable deaths every day.
Medical Malpractice Lawsuits for Catastrophic Injuries
Many times, medical malpractice may not be clear to a patient or their survivors due to its complexity. It doesn’t make it easier when providers are not forthcoming when their errors are responsible for a patient’s catastrophic injury or death. If you or a loved one has experienced the nightmare of a catastrophic injury due to medical malpractice, you may be entitled to damages.
To recover damages and hold the provider responsible, victims of injuries caused by a health provider’s negligence will need to prove the four essential elements of a medical malpractice claim:
- The healthcare provider had a duty to the patient.
- The healthcare provider breached the duty.
- This breach of duty was the direct cause of some kind of harm.
- The harm directly caused an injury for which the patient may receive compensation.
Damages in Medical Malpractice Cases
Aside from holding the responsible party accountable for their actions, you deserve fair compensation. The compensation you may receive from a medical malpractice catastrophic injury lawsuit can help you overcome the stressful financial hardship arising from costs related to the injury caused by the negligence.
Similar to most states, Texas has passed a law that caps the amount of compensation a plaintiff can receive in a medical malpractice case. When it comes to non-economic damages, there is a cap of $250,000 in Texas. Non-economic damages may include:
- Emotional anguish
- Reputational damage
- Loss of enjoyment in life
However, in Texas, there is not a cap on economic damages in a medical malpractice claim. Economic damages consist of payment for past and future medical care, reimbursement of lost income, compensation for lost earning capacity and other financial losses that can be attributed to damages caused by the medical malpractice.
How The Carlson Law Firm Can Help
If you or a loved one has suffered a catastrophic injury or death and suspect it was the result of medical malpractice, don’t hesitate to contact The Carlson Law Firm. Our team has the knowledge and resources required to establish legal fault and protect your rights. It is important to consider both the short and the long-term costs associated with catastrophic injuries. We will advocate relentlessly until you receive the justice you deserve. Contact us to discuss your situation and explore your legal options for maximum compensation. Our legal team strives to help victims of medical malpractice and will protect you any way we can. We care, we can help.
- Written by Adriana Torres