Questions and answers February 2015

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Questions and answers February 2015

Here are the latest answers to the questions that were posted online. Please note that I do not edit the questions.

Question.

Do I have a medical malpractice case? More Details: I was in a car accident 3/8/14 over the next two weeks I saw a neurologist twice complaining of severe headaches and pressure in my head. Each time he told me I was fine. Upon my insistence he gave me a prescription for an MRI, for 4/21/14. I dropped the MRI disc at his office later that day. On 4/22/14 he called me and said I had some bleeding in my head and his best advice was I go to an ER (which was 2 hours away). Once at the hospital they took a scan and the surgeon arrived and told me I needed emergency surgery and that I would not survive the night without it. There was a significant amount of blood build up pushing my brain off its axis. I required 4 emergency surgeries to stop the bleeding. I had stroke like symptoms and after nearly a year I am still not 100% and have some complications from surgery.

Answer

Answered by New Jersey Medical Malpractice Attorney John Ratkowitz.

To know whether you have a case, an attorney will have to examine the medical records and submit them to an expert.

It sounds like you have reason to investigate a case. I assume that you were referred to a neurologist because there was some element trauma in the automobile accident. This, in combination with persistent headache arguably should have resulted in additional investigation into whether or not you sustained a subdural hematoma. Click here for more information about that condition. Given the fact that a month passed between the time that your symptoms began and the time the diagnosis was made (presumably while your condition deteriorated) other medical personnel may be implicated in a malpractice case. Again, an attorney would have to look at the records to evaluate that issue.

Question

I had a ruptured spleen after a colonoscopy can this be considered negligence? More Details: I had an endoscopy and colonoscopy and ended up with a ruptured spleen lost a considerable amount of blood had a heart attack and an emergency splenectomy.

Answer

Answered by New Jersey Medical Malpractice Attorney John Ratkowitz.

The literature suggests that a ruptured spleen during a colonoscopy may be an accepted complication of the procedure. This happens rarely, but if you believe the medical literature, it is something that can happen in the absence of negligence. Click here for a medical article discussing the issue.

At the same time, cases involving a ruptured spleen during a colonoscopy have been successfully litigated when a physician failed to recognize that complication in a timely fashion. If you lost so much blood that you had a heart attack, it sounds like there was some delay between the colonoscopy and when the condition was diagnosed. Depending on which physicians you saw when, you might have a viable case. Click here for a jury verdict review that discusses factually similar scenario.

Question

I was diagnosis with Lupus and giving medication for treatment and do not have Lupus. 85% of my face has dark pigmentation on it. Do I have a medical negligent case?

Answer

Answered by New Jersey Medical Malpractice Attorney John Ratkowitz.

Use of topical steroids can cause changes in skin pigmentation, so theoretically if you were given steroids because of Lupus and you did not have that disease, you may have a case. To no for sure, a lawyer will have to look at the medical records and assess whether the misdiagnosis was unreasonable. Also, because steroids are used to treat a variety of inflammatory conditions, it is possible that the diagnosis was wrong but the treatment was right. Finally, there will be a question about whether the case is financially viable, which depends on how prominent the changes are.

If you want to investigate a case, you should contact a New Jersey medical malpractice attorney. We take these cases on a contingency basis which means you only have to pay if you succeed.  Additionally, initial consultations are usually free

Question

More Details: On January 16, 2015, I slipped and fell on black ice on a road in my apartment complex. I severely injured my left wrist. I have Renters Insurance I pay for through my Landlord. The insurance company tell me my policy does not cover personal injury. My landlord takes no responsibility. Now, the insurance company is not returning my calls. Where should I go to get my Doctor bills paid?

Answer

Answered by New Jersey Medical Malpractice Attorney John Ratkowitz.

You should make a claim against the owner of the apartment complex. When you do, they will advise you whether they contract out ice and snow removal, and then you may make a claim against the contractor as well. You should hire a personal injury attorney to do this.

The medical bills should be submitted to your health insurance company. If you do not have health insurance, the medical bills should be part of the demand that your attorney makes when they attempt to settle or litigate your claim.

Personal injury attorneys take cases on a contingency basis which means you only have to pay if you succeed.

Question

How long do you have to file a claim of medical malpractice? My husband went in for a “routine” Greenfield Filter removal surgery. The filter was put in with no problem the day before a scheduled back surgery due to an accident at work. The removal attempt was unsuccessful. The filter was broken and embedded in my husband’s IVC during the removal. My husband ended up in the hospital for a month due to multiple blood clots in his legs and lungs. He is now on blood thinners for the rest of his life. He was a healthy active husband and father, now he is looking at permanent disability due to this botched surgery. The removal attempt was done on May 3, 2013. I was speaking with a former county prosecutor a few days ago and was told to seek counsel immediately before our time runs out. Can someone please help us? My husband just turned 40 last Aug. HELP!

Answer

Answered by New Jersey Medical Malpractice Attorney John Ratkowitz.

There is very little time to investigate a case because the SOL expires two years from May 3, 2013. An attorney can prepare a complaint in a few hours, but the real issue is that an expert must review the pertinent medical records and sign an affidavit of merit supporting the case. In a perfect world, this should be done prior to filing suit, but you can delay serving an affidavit of merit a bit if the circumstances justify it. What you cannot extend is the statute of limitations.

The point is (as everyone has suggested) call a malpractice attorney and see if you can set up a meeting to start the process. If he/she thinks he can help you, they will deal with the statute of limitations, the tort claims notice and the affidavit of merit.

Question

Do I have a case for being given an injection of Rocephin during the first trimester of pregnancy resulting in low amniotic fluid and premature birth? In 2011 I became pregnant went to the doctor for my initial appt at about 8 weeks and was given routine testing in Oct. I was called later on that month by the office and was told that I have gonorrhea. i am married and asked that I be retested and was told the results would be the same and that I shouldn’t waste time as this could be harmful for the baby. I was scared so i agreed, informed my husband and he went and got tested. That week I was given an injection of Rocephin, prior to this I did not have any problems during pregnancy. My husband got tested and received the same medication and the following week he received confirmation that he did not have gonorrhea. I went for my follow up appt and told the nurse pract. and she said that my results could have been a false-positive. At 18 weeks found out that I had oligohydramnios. My pregnancy became high risk, I was advised a medical abortion but refused. At 23 weeks I was hospitalized for 30 days and delivered at 27 weeks.

Answer

Answered by New Jersey Medical Malpractice Attorney John Ratkowitz.

I do not see a connection between ceftriaxone and oligohydramnios in the basic literature. The cause of oligohydramnios is often undetermined, although there are characteristics in mom and baby that can increase the risk of the condition appearing. For an article discussing these, click here.  If any of these risks existed, then I think a link between the low amniotic fluid and the drug you were given is less likely. The caveat of course is that I am not a doctor, so if you have different information, that is another story.

If you have information that suggests a causal connection between ceftriaxone and oligohydrannios, then you should consider contacting a medical malpractice lawyer and provide that information to him so that he can begin an investigation into the issue. Malpractice lawyers take these cases on a contingency basis which means you only have to pay if you succeed.

Below are some articles you may find helpful.  They are written for a New Jersey audience (where I practice) but the ideas discussed in these articles usually apply in most other jurisdictions as well.

Question

Do I have a medical malpractice case for a spinal fusion failure due to incorrect equipment? I had a spinal fusion performed in November of 2012 by Dr. X. After almost a year of no improvement, increasing pain, and not getting any relief with Dr. X, I sought a second opinion with Dr. Y. Dr. Y ordered several tests, including x-rays and determined that the screws used in the fusion were too short and did not connect as they were supposed to and that the bone spur pressing against the sciatic nerve that was supposed to be removed during the first surgery was still there. During a 2nd spinal fusion done by Dr. Y he verified his findings and discovered that almost no bone grafting material was used and as a result a significant amount of scar material had formed that had to be removed. I was told by Dr. Y that there was no chance of the first surgery being successful with these issues present. I subsequently had to have an additional 2 SI joint fusions done. Do we have any recourse against Dr. X for botching the 1st surgery so badly?

Answer

Answered by New Jersey Medical Malpractice Attorney John Ratkowitz.

If you can prove what the second surgeon is telling you, then you may have a case, but in my experience subsequent treating surgeons are quick to criticize care that came before them in conversations with patients, but when push comes to shove they will not take that position in court or at a deposition after a case goes into litigation.

If an attorney secures the records and the second doctor’s records inferentially suggest some of the things you are saying, it is possible he could hire an independent expert who could look at the pertinent records and films and reach the same conclusion. There will be questions about whether the case is financially viable if the second surgery fixed all of the problems. Articles below explain financial viability in more detail.

Below are some articles you may find helpful.  They are written for a New Jersey audience (where I practice) but the ideas discussed in these articles usually apply in most other jurisdictions as well.

Question

If I asked my doctor to run a test and she didn’t would that be malpractice? I went to my doctor told her I was having pain in the back of my calf and I have a history of blood clots and asked her to check it out but instead of doing the tests she just told me to take a aspirin everyday this was Thursday now it Sunday I’m at the ER and they think I had one in my leg that has now went to my lungs which if that’s what happened is life threatening do I have a case for malpractice?

Answer

Answered by New Jersey Medical Malpractice Attorney John Ratkowitz.

It sounds like you have reason to investigate a case. I do not think advising a patient with a history of DVTs and calf pain to take aspirin is an adequate substitution for referring the patient for a doppler study.

The question is whether the case is financially viable, and that really depends on the extent of damages. Articles below explain this in more detail.

Below are some articles you may find helpful.  They are written for a New Jersey audience (where I practice) but the ideas discussed in these articles usually apply in most other jurisdictions as well.

Question

Misdiagnosis of dermatological condition that led to severe scarring and disfiguration

More Details: In Feb 2009 I presented with large cyst-like lesions on my chin. Over the next month or two the lesions spread over my entire face. My dermatologist diagnosed me with a rare dermatological condition called Rosacea Fulminans. There is no treatment for the condition itself and it usually resolves itself after a year. After 12 months my dermatologist reached out to colleagues about the case. One physician insisted I see him in person before he made a diagnosis. I went to see him and he immediately said it was Demodex mites. I told him my dermatologist had already tested for that and ruled it out. He said she must have not been performing the test correctly and did the test himself. It came back positive for Demodex mites. By this time the damage was already done and I’ve spent thousands of dollars trying to correct it.

Answer

Answered by New Jersey Medical Malpractice Attorney John Ratkowitz.

You may have a case if earlier intervention would have gotten rid of the mites sooner and you can prove that the earlier diagnosis would have resulted in less harm, but if the misdiagnosis happened in 2009, a big question will be whether the defendant has a statute of limitations defense.

A statute of limitations is a law setting a time limit on legal action in certain cases. There are different statutes of limitations on different kinds of cases. For example, a breach of contract case often has a longer statute of limitations than a personal injury action. Complicating matters more is the fact that the statute of limitations in any cause of action is usually governed by state law, and different states have different time limitations. Click here for a website that provides a rough estimate of the statute of limitations in all 50 states for common causes of action. Note that this website advises that these limitations periods are merely rough estimates. You should contact a local attorney (one in your state) who can tell you whether these estimates are correct.

In medical malpractice cases, circumstances sometimes justify allowing cases to be filed after the statute of limitations expired. For example, if a surgeon leaves behind an instrument during a surgery and a patient only discovers the foreign object after the limitations period has expired, most states have a common law exception to the statute of limitations that would allow a plaintiff to file a lawsuit that would otherwise be out of time. Finally, statutes of limitations usually incorporate exceptions that extend the limitations period for minors and people who are incapacitated.

If you think that you may have a viable malpractice case, you should contact a local medical malpractice attorney (one in your state).  They take these cases on a contingency basis which means you only have to pay if you succeed.  Additionally, initial consultations are usually free. You can use the “Find a Lawyer” service through this website to research medical malpractice attorneys.  Then, visit each attorney’s website and look for a firm that has a record of successful verdicts.

Question

Doctor misdiagnosed a sore on my head as being not cancer and about two 1/2 years later I find out it was. Do I have a case? In July 2012 I went to my general doctor and Mentioned that I had a sore on my head that has been there for a long time he looked at it and said that it was Seborrheic Keratosis which is a skin growth and was nothing to worry about and froze it early this year in my yearly check up with my General doctor I now have they seen it and have me go to a dermatologist and it was cancer.

Answer

 

Answered by New Jersey Medical Malpractice Attorney John Ratkowitz.

It sounds like you have a case. The big question in most failure to diagnose cancer cases is whether the patient can prove that the doctor’s negligent care caused the damages suffered by the plaintiff. In essence, the plaintiff must be able to show that earlier intervention would have changed the outcome. This is a fact sensitive inquiry. An attorney will have to review the medical records and often get experts to review the pertinent radiography films to determine when accepted standards of care should have compelled a doctor to investigate the possible diagnosis. Then, if it is determined that the cancer was present and detectible, the next question becomes what was the likely stage/prognosis when the cancer should have been discovered. If the cancer was at an early stage when it should have been discovered, the case is more likely to be viable.

If you want to investigate your case further, you should contact a local medical malpractice attorney (one in your state).  They take these cases on a contingency basis which means you only have to pay if you succeed.  Additionally, initial consultations are usually free. You can use the “Find a Lawyer” service through this website to research medical malpractice attorneys.  Then, visit each attorney’s website and look for a firm that has a record of successful verdicts. If you are unable to find a lawyer who meets these qualifications within your state, sometimes you may contact an out of state lawyer who can refer you to a qualified attorney in your state while providing support related to the issues of medicine.

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