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Louisiana Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Holding negligent nurses accountable for harm caused to patients

When residents in Baton Rouge are ill or injured, medical facilities such as hospitals are heavily relied on to diagnose and treat patients. While doctors, specialists and surgeons are medical professionals that provide a vast amount of patient care, much of the care and well being of patients is in the hands of other hospital staff members. In fact, most patients are first seen by nurses and are continually seen by nurses throughout their stay in the hospital. And while nurses are vital to the care of patients, a negligent nurse could greatly harm the overall care and event he treatment plan of a patient.

Hospitals are busy places, and it is not uncommon for nurses to work long hours. In some cases, hospitals are understaffed, forcing some nurses to work extra shifts. Overworked nurses often means nursing negligence, which in turn means serious errors that could greatly harm patients.

The harms of being misdiagnosed

Whether it is something minor or serious, patients in Louisiana and elsewhere cannot sure what their ailment is until a medical professional diagnoses them. A proper diagnoses leads to the correct treatment plan and the road to recovery. However, if a wrong turn is made, a patient cannot make it down the path of recovery. A diagnostic error doesn't just mean that the patient was misdiagnosed but it often means that they were treated for the wrong illness. This wrong treatment plan could cause new harms, and at the same time, the patient could suffer worsened conditions because they have not been treated for the original ailment.

Back in 1999, the Institute of Medicine reported that roughly 98,000 Americans died each year due to hospital mistakes. And one of those concerning mistakes that still occur today is misdiagnosis or the failure to diagnose. According to recent statistics, most Americans will suffer from at least one wrong or delayed diagnosis in his or her lifetime. As a whole, Americans experience 12 million diagnostic errors every year.

How many patients are affected by diagnostic errors?

When you are suffering an ailment and are unsure what is causing it, you most likely will rely on the expertise of a medical professional to determine what is wrong. But sometimes several illnesses will have similar symptoms, and other illnesses or diseases and very difficult to detect. Such conditions could result in a misdiagnosis or a failure to diagnose. And while this might only cause minimal harms to some patients in Louisiana and elsewhere, other patients could suffer greatly due to delayed treatment or the wrong treatment plan.

How many patients are affected by diagnostic errors? In outpatient setting, diagnostic errors affect 1 in 20 patients in the United States. That is roughly 12 million adults. With regards to adverse events occurring in the hospital, diagnostic errors account for 6 to 17 percent. Lastly, 1 in 10 patient deaths are related to diagnostic errors.

Out-of-date ICUs causing serious and fatal medical errors

When serious medical emergencies or issues occur, hospitals are equipped to help and hopefully treat patients in Louisiana and elsewhere. It is not only the specialized medical professionals that care for patients suffering due to severe injuries or illnesses, but also special technology. And while these specialized doctors, tools and units were devised to improve the care and treatment of patients, it is believed that such steps are no longer beneficial for patients cared for in the intensive care unit.

According to recent reports, rooms in the intensive care unit might appear high tech due to all the beeping instruments and flashing lights; however, these units are not very high tech at all. In fact, these units are no different than they were 50 years ago, which generates some concerns for those being cared for in the ICUs today.

Surgical errors twice as likely during the nighttime

A surgery is not an easy even to face. Preparing for a surgical procedure often entails a preoperative examination, which helps ensure that the patient is strong enough to undergo the procedure. Additionally, this step allows additional communication between the patient and the surgeon, helping to address any questions and concerns. However, some patients in Louisiana do not get the luxury to routinely prepare for a surgery. Some surgeries are urgent and are done on an emergency basis. In these matters, surgical errors could be more prevalent.

Based on a new study conducted by the World Federation of Societies of Anesthesiologists, patients who have surgeries conducted during the nighttime hours are twice as likely to die when compared to those patients having surgeries in the morning hours. Moreover, it was found that those who have surgery in the late afternoon or early evening had an increased mortality risk.

What does nurse negligence look like?

It is not uncommon for residents in Louisiana and elsewhere to visit the doctor at a clinic or medical facility. While some of these encounters are minor and do not require more than a simple diagnosis and prescription for a medication, other patients require more medical attention to determine the proper course of treatment. No matter the length of a time a patient is seen by medical professionals, a nurse will first see him or her. This encounter is usually imperative as it is the time vital patient information is recovered.

When a nurse fails to properly collect patient information or provide adequate patient care, this could be considered a nursing error or nursing negligence. Such a situation could injure a patient, harming his or her health and wellbeing.

Standards of care used to prevent fatal medical errors

It is clear to patients in Louisiana and elsewhere that modern medicine has made tremendous strides over the past century. Even over the last couple of decades, major events have occurred that truly shape how modern medicine plays in the lives of patients throughout the nation. And while there have been countless positive, beneficial and exciting advances, modern medicine has experienced setbacks, pitfalls and even failings.

Medical mistakes have unfortunately harmed patients, sometimes costing them their lives. However, some of these past fatal medical errors shape the current duty of care required for medical professionals today. When major medical mistakes occur, guidelines and standards are implemented to outline the duty of care required by medical professionals in order to protect patients and prevent injuries.

Common birth injuries caused by medical negligence

As a previous post discussed, newborns are especially vulnerable to serious injuries during the birthing process. When a birth injury does occur, this is not only a shocking moment for parents in Baton Rouge and elsewhere, but it is also a devastating time while the parents attempt to reduce or revert the damages caused by medical negligence occurring during the labor or delivery process.

Unfortunately birth injuries are not uncommon for infants to suffer due to the general characteristics of even a healthy natural birth. However, in order to reduce the chances of birth trauma occurring during the birth process, the several medical professional assisting with the process have the duty to ensure the safety of both the mother and the newborn. If a medical professional fails to uphold that duty or fails to take timely emergency intervention, this could lead to serious birth injuries.

Helping take action after your new born suffers a birth injury

Whether you are preparing for your first baby or about to expand your family with another child, parents view the moments leading up until the birth of their child as both exciting and nerve wrecking. While any Baton Rouge parent expects the labor and delivery process to be completed with little to no issues, the unfortunate reality is that complications to arise during child birth. Moreover, if a medical professional does not properly respond to these complications, this could put a newborn in harms way.

A newborn is a very delicate yet resilient; however, when birth trauma occurs, an infant may not be able to recover fully. In some cases, acts of negligence during the child birthing process could result in serious birth defects, causing permanent injuries or even the wrongful death of an infant.

What errors occur due to the short staffing of nurses?

Whether you are being seen by your primary care physician, are going to urgent care or the emergency room or are being prepped for surgery, patients in Louisiana and elsewhere will likely have his or her first medical encounter with a nurse. These medical professionals provide important patient care steps in the beginning, during and after a patient is treated; thus, the actions and care by a nurse can be extremely vital. If steps are delayed or missed by a nurse or patient information is not properly communicated, the health and wellbeing of a patient could suffer greatly.

Because one nurse cannot be in multiple places at once, it is crucial that medical facilities, clinics and hospitals are adequately staffed with enough nurse to ensure quality patient care. However, the staffing of nurses is not always controlled by the number of patients at a medical facility but rather on the budget of the facility. This unfortunately could lead to short staffing and a reduced quality in patient care.

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