The Mn Criminal Defense, Personal Injury & Family Law Blog
Brainerd Personal Injury Lawyers and Physician Negligence
February 8, 2019
When doctors become doctors, they swear that even if they can do no good, they must do no harm. Unfortunately, not all physicians live up to that commitment later in their careers.
Generally, doctors are morally and personally responsible for their own mistakes, just like the rest of us. But legal responsibility is different. Typically, the hospital, clinic, or other entity which employs the doctor is liable for damages in physician-related wrongful death claims. That’s true in negligence cases and some intentional tort claims as well.
Mistakes like the ones outlined below often inflict significant economic and noneconomic damages on Minnesota families. A Brainerd personal injury lawyer may be able to obtain compensation for these losses.
Some physicians prescribe incredibly powerful opioid pain relievers, like Fentanyl, for relatively mild injuries, such as a broken leg. Fentanyl is fifty times stronger than heroin, so patients easily become addicted. In fact, many Fentanyl patients develop opioid addictions even if they take the drug exactly as directed.
To continue taking painkillers after their original doctors cut them off, many patients seek out doctors at “pill mills.” These physicians write prescriptions and do not ask too many questions. Failure to examine the patient’s medical history in these cases is clear evidence of negligence. Consulting the patient’s history, ignoring it, and writing a prescription anyway is even worse.
On a related note, Brainerd personal injury lawyers sometimes become involved in nursing home medication error cases. At a busy care facility, it’s very easy to give the wrong patient the wrong kind of medicine. Alternatively, it’s also easy to misplace a decimal point or transpose two numbers and give a resident the incorrect dose. These explanations do not excuse negligence, and the care facility is still liable for damages.
Brainerd Personal Injury Lawyers and Birth Injuries
Nothing turns utter joy into utter heartbreak like a serious birth injury. Furthermore, even if the victim survives, the family often faces a lifetime of further heartache and mounting medical bills.
Shoulder dystocia is one of the most common causes of birth injuries in Minnesota. If the baby is too large to move down the mother’s birth canal, the umbilical cord continues dropping. In a matter of minutes, it will cut off oxygen to the baby’s brain. Since doctors know that the clock is ticking, they often get desperate and turn to dangerous delivery aids, such as:
Vacuum Extractor: The doctor places a metal cap on the baby’s head and uses a surgical vacuum to literally suck the child out of the mother’s womb. The excessive force often causes fatal injuries to the fragile newborn. Additionally, if not fitted exactly right, the metal cap will cause a permanent brain injury.
Forceps: This mechanical delivery instrument resembles a pair of giant salad tongs. The doctor uses forceps to pull the baby out of the womb. Much like a vacuum extractor, forceps often cause several types of fatal injuries.
Episiotomy: Once upon a time, doctors routinely made incisions on the mother’s perineum to widen the birth canal. Doctors now know that these incisions often cause uncontrollable maternal bleeding. But when the pressure is on, some doctors fall back on what they once knew.
Other infants and mothers develop serious or fatal hospital infections, perhaps due to something like the Bair Hugger Warming Blanket. This gadget sucks dirty air from the floor, heats it so bacteria grows even faster, and uses it to warm the patient’s blanket.
On average, doctors listen to their patients for eleven seconds before they redirect or interrupt them. After such brief interaction, it’s impossible to know anything meaningful about a patient’s symptoms. So, misdiagnosis is a serious problem, especially with regard to:
Cancer: Most doctors see cancer as a lifestyle or genetic disease. So for example, they hardly ever diagnose lung cancer in nonsmokers, breast cancer in men, or bladder cancer in young people.
Head Injuries: Many head injury victims are either young children or older adults. When these individuals complain about symptoms like confusion or disorientation, doctors often assign the symptoms to shock from the accident or early-onset dementia. The longer head injuries go undiagnosed, the more difficult they are to treat.
Heart Attacks: In many cases, heart attacks lack signature symptoms. For example, many female heart attack victims do not have severe chest pains. Moreover, like cancer, many doctors see heart attacks as lifestyle or genetic conditions.
Making matters worse, many doctors do not order a full battery of tests. They are afraid that the insurance company will not pay for the procedures.
It is hard to believe that a doctor could operate on the wrong patient, remove the wrong limb, leave a surgical object inside a patient’s body, or make other such mistakes. However, errors like these are not unheard of, especially in very busy emergency or operating rooms.
Sometimes, a Brainerd personal injury lawyer may be able to obtain higher damages in surgical error cases than in other kinds of medical negligence claims. Mistakes like the ones mentioned above are shockingly negligent. Additionally, some courts consider these claims to be battery, which is an intentional tort.