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Orange County Wrongful Death Law Blog

California wrongful death suit may improve hospital care

Medical facilities hold a position of trust. When people in California go to hospitals or medical centers for help, they depend on the doctors and nurses to treat them with dignity and care. However, the daughter of an elderly woman who died in a local hospital believes her mother was treated as a disposable person because of her age. They are suing the hospital for wrongful death.

The 93-year-old woman arrived at the hospital complaining of a stomach ache. Apparently, after admitting her, the nurse on duty did not assess the woman's pain level. Nevertheless, the nurse gave the elderly woman a dose of a potent narcotic. For some reason, the nurse failed to report this to the other nurses or the doctor on duty. As a result, the patient was given additional painkillers, which sent her into respiratory arrest.

Experts warn AspireAssist is likely a defective medical device

A growing demand for weight loss in the medical community has helped advance different interventions that can help California patients safely and effectively lose weight. However, a recently approved device has drawn harsh criticism from experts, claiming that it is inherently a defective medical device. Much of the concern focuses on the mental impact of the AspireAssist.

Although made by AspireBariatrics -- a northeastern biomedical company -- and used abroad, the AspireAssist was not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States until June 2016. Touted as being a more effective alternative to traditional bariatric surgery, the device works by essentially draining out food that has recently been ingested. Patients must manually drain the food by turning an attached valve.

Sexual abuse allegations blamed on nursing home neglect

Advocates for sexual assault victims tend to ignore one of the most vulnerable groups of victims -- the elderly. Nursing home neglect can result in deplorable living conditions and terrifying treatment by staff. California families usually place their loved ones in facilities that they believe will provide the best possible care, and they typically expect that abusive staff will be quickly and severely dealt with.

In March 2015, the administrator of an out-of-state residential nursing home facility was notified of a possible instance of sexual abuse. The alleged victim called the administrator directly to accuse the staff member of committing the act of molestation. In response to the allegations, the employee was moved to a different area of the residential facility and then told to stay away from the patient. Administrators never reported the possible crime to the authorities, a decision that they blamed on the patient's preference for privacy.

Deaths by medical malpractice third only to cancer, heart disease

California patients tend to trust the diagnoses rendered by their physicians, but it is very possible that much of that trust is misplaced. Medical mistakes -- including misdiagnoses or the complete failure to render any diagnosis at all -- are now the third most common type of death in the United States. With such high rates of death, it is also likely that there are untold numbers of patients who are still unaware that they were victims of medical malpractice.

Medical errors only come in third behind cancer and heart disease. While causes of death are not strictly recorded as medical errors, experts on the matter conducted a study that linked a third of all deaths back to mistakes made by medical professionals. The study was based on data from death rates that spanned a recent eight-year period.

Women suffer high rates of medical malpractice after giving birth

Giving birth is often a joyful and empowering moment for California mothers, but for some, it can also be the start of serious medical complications. Undiagnosed birth injuries are startlingly high for women. Perhaps even more troubling is that the full impact of this type of medical malpractice might still not be fully understood.

University researchers recently conducted a study that led them to compare childbirth to the act of completing a marathon. However, there is no training for women to prepare for giving birth. The researchers performed MRIs on a group of women who had given birth within the past seven weeks and looked for possible injuries that might have gone undiagnosed at their six-week checkup. They found that 41 percent of the women had suffered tears in the muscles of their pelvic floor that had not been properly diagnosed. Another 29 percent of the group had fractured pubic bones that had also gone undiagnosed.

Misdiagnosis often leads to medical malpractice in California

Many California medical patients have minimal to zero background in health-related areas that would allow them greater understanding of their own conditions. They rely on doctors to inform them of any condition or disease requiring medication, surgery or other treatment. In some situations, misdiagnosis has led to further illness and even death, leading to medical malpractice claims being filed against the physicians deemed responsible.

A patient has the right to reasonably assume that all care is taken and accepted standards of protocol followed to provide the safest forms of health care available. Sheer negligence on the part of a doctor, practitioner or other medical professional is unacceptable as it can have devastating effects on those who might otherwise have enjoyed full recoveries. Ordering incorrect types or amounts of medication, operating on the wrong body parts and failing to diagnose an injury or illness correctly are among the most common forms of medical malpractice addressed in civil court.

Defective medical device blamed for man's infection and death

Minimizing the risk of infection is usually one of the top priorities at California hospitals, and staff typically follow strict protocols to help create the safest environment for patients. An out-of-state family claims that a defective medical device compromised a patient's infection-free environment and ultimately caused his death. A product liability suit has since been filed, naming LivaNova, PLC -- the device's manufacturer -- and the hospital as liable parties.

In Dec. 2014, the 62-year-old patient underwent an open-heart procedure and an aortic valve surgery. Less than a year later, he died from complications and an infection linked back to his surgeries. Heater-cooler devices are commonly used during these types of procedures in order to exercise control over the body temperature of patients. The Sorin 3T Heater-Cooler System was used during this and several thousand other patients' surgeries, but it apparently contained a deadly defect.

California car accident kills 3 men

Three men were killed after a series of vehicle accidents. No criminal charges were filed for the second car accident, although that collision ultimately caused the fatalities. However, California police have taken one driver into custody on suspicions of possible drunk driving, which might have been the ultimate cause behind the first wreck.

A pickup truck hauling a trailer was struck from behind by a smaller motor vehicle sometime after midnight. The force of the impact was so strong that the truck was sent flying against the highway's center divider while the trailer swiveled around into other lanes. The full extent of injuries caused in this wreck is not entirely clear, although it is known that the driver who rear-ended the pickup suffered at least minor injuries.

Bassist Craig MacGregor falls victim to medical malpractice

Foghat is perhaps best known for its classic rock hit "Slow Ride," but bassist Craig MacGregor's health has been the band's most recent headline. After decades spent playing music, a missed diagnosis has left MacGregor unable to play his bass and in dire condition. Medical errors -- just one type of medical malpractice -- is currently the third most common cause of death and can effect patients in California without regard to fame or status.

In 2012, MacGregor underwent a CAT scan following a fall. Although the test was looking for possible broken ribs, what it actually turned up was much more serious. The resulting radiology report noted that there was a 10 millimeter nodule. MacGregor was never notified of the find, but says that if he had been told he would have had the opportunity to seek care in a timelier manner.

The VA notifies veterans of potential medical malpractice

Living with a brain injury requires specific care, treatment and help. Any failure to diagnose a traumatic brain injury can leave victims vulnerable to further injury. A recent internal investigation at the Department of Veterans Affairs revealed that a sizable number of veterans were the victim of medical malpractice after their traumatic brain injuries were misdiagnosed.

Before veterans in California can receive disability compensation for a TBI, they must be thoroughly examined and diagnosed by a medical professional. However, TBIs are complicated matters and cannot be diagnosed by any old physician. Examinations for this type of injury must be conducted by a professional trained to spot the hallmarks of the disease. Neurosurgeons, neurologists and psychiatrists are necessary for rendering an accurate diagnosis.