Articles Posted in Malpractice

Arkansas is a beautiful state in which to live. Unfortunately, the healthcare system in the state could use some improvement.  As with every profession, there are great doctors, and unfortunately some that aren’t.  Arkansas consistently ranks at the bottom of national polls that take into account factors like availability of primary care physicians, doctor/patient ratios, and quality of care. Combine that with the overwhelming lack of resources (comparatively), shortage of nurses, overworked nurses, and it’s no wonder that the risk of being the victim of medical malpractice in Arkansas is so high.

In order to understand the potential danger of suffering medical malpractice at the hands of a trusted doctor in Arkansas, we have to look at multiple factors and estimate how each could potentially affect the quality of care that you receive every time you step through those hospital doors.

Arkansas’ Need for Qualified Physicians is Extremely High

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Suspected medical malpractice at an Arkansas doctor’s office led to at least seven misdiagnoses and potentially one fatality. That’s the latest from a wide-ranging investigation into Arkansas’s ailing Veteran’s Administration medical care system that has the whole nation watching.

In 2016 potential unsafe practices were reported to officials at the VA Medical Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas after it was revealed that one doctor there was “impaired” yet still treating patients. Investigators began to sift through that doctor’s medical files and immediately spotted significant errors and potentially lethal treatment mistakes. Continue reading ›

Patients Suffering from Inadequate Care May Soon Have More Legal Options Available to Prove Malpractice

In a groundbreaking decision a Pulaski County circuit judge has ruled that a long-standing law that has protected doctors from giving damning testimony at their own malpractice trials in Arkansas is unconstitutional. The law currently gives doctors the right to refuse to answer questions about whether their standard of care and performance was adequate in cases where victims suffered serious—even life-threatening injuries. Indeed, plaintiffs in medical malpractice lawsuits in Arkansas may even be barred from asking such questions of their formerly trusted caregivers.

The monumental moment came about when in 2017 Judge Wendell Griffen (the man who essentially stopped executions in Arkansas) ordered that a plastic surgeon would indeed have to answer questions concerning the quality of care he demonstrated in regards the Arkansas malpractice lawsuit he was facing.

I recently read a news account of a Tennessee couple that delivered a healthy baby boy at the University Medical Center in Lebanon, Tennessee.   While in the hospital, one day after his birth, a nurse encouraged the mother to put her newborn in the nursery so she could get some rest. Later, a nurse entered the room and began talking to the parents about the care the baby would need at home following the the procedure that had just been performed.  They were horrified to learn that a doctor had asked for the wrong baby – their baby – and the doctor performed a frenulectomy on their perfect and healthy baby boy.   This procedure involved clipping the underneath skin of the baby’s tongue.  One of the reasons this procedure is usually done is because the skin under a baby’s tongue is too tight and makes nursing difficult or impossible.  This was not the case for their baby.  The newborn was nursing and feeding well.   The doctor admitted his mistake to the family.   Some patients having this procedure may have complications down the road or may need speech therapy.

A recent study found that from 2010 to 2011 in Pennsylvania, wrong-site procedures, which are procedures performed on the wrong body part, wrong patient, wrong side, or the wrong procedure altogether, were reported to have occurred one time for every 63,603 procedures performed.  A study reported 84 percent of orthopedic claims involving wrong sites resulted in malpractice monetary awards to the patient. Continue reading ›

Medical malpractice is defined as:

In treating a patient, a medical care provider must possess and apply with reasonable care the degree of skill and learning ordinarily possessed and used by members of his/her profession in good standing, engaged in the same type of service or specialty in the locality in which he/she practices, or in a similar locality. A failure to meet this standard is negligence.

Medical malpractice happens every day. Doctors and nurses make mistakes that sometimes result in devastating outcomes. A few primary types of medical malpractices cases we handle include:

Childbirth Injuries:

• Failing to anticipate complications arising from the baby being too large or complications from a tangled umbilical cord;
• Failing to properly respond to indications of fetal distress;
• Improper use of a vacuum extractor or forceps;
• Failing to perform a cesarean section when necessary.

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I recently read a story from California about a little girl who was forced to wait for treatment in an ER for over five hours. According to the story, the family’s ordeal began on a Sunday morning in early December, when the normally rambunctious girl developed a fever and became lethargic.

When her symptoms persisted the next day the father took his little girl to the ER and he tried to get immediate care, but was rebuffed. After about five hours, according to the news account, he ambushed a nurse and demanded to see a doctor. The physician took blood samples that suggested the girl was in liver failure. She was taken by ambulance to the pediatric intensive care unit at Sutter Memorial Hospital. Doctors there had her flown to Stanford aboard a helicopter.

It turned out the girl was in septic shock from a Streptococcus A infection that invaded her blood, muscles and internal organs. According to the CDC early treatment can reduce death and disability from the disease. The Stanford doctors put the girl on life support and gave her medicine. They ultimately had to perform operations to amputate her lower legs and her left hand, which had been irreversibly damaged by a lack of oxygen.

The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled February 12, 2009 that a 2007 state law which allowed charitable hospitals’ risk pools to be sued directly should be applied retroactively. For over 100 years, Arkansas has recognized the doctrine of charitable immunity. Unfortunately, this doctrine affects the rights of injured victims of hospital malpractice in Arkansas. In essence, Arkansas hospitals that are charitable are immune from suit. Fortunately, the Arkansas legislature has granted injured Arkansans the right to a sue a hospital’s insurance company directly under the Direct Action Statute. Additionally, in 2007 the Arkansas General Assembly amended the Direct Action statute to allow a plaintiff injured by malpractice to also sue any self-insurance fund, pooled liability fund, or similar fund maintained by a medical care provider. Prior to this amendment, several Arkansas hospitals attempted to undermine the direct action statute by using a risk pool instead of carrying liability insurance. This 2007 amendment was designed to stop this injustice from happening.

The Arkansas Supreme Court recently ruled that the 2007 amendment would apply retroactively to lawsuits filed before the 2007 Act was passed. Although I would prefer that Arkansas follow most other states and do away with this archaic rule, this is a small victory for injured Arkansans. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to malpractice in an Arkansas hospital, it is important that you contact an Arkansas malpractice attorney to discuss your legal rights.

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