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North Adams Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Federal law may extend beyond ERs to protect urgent-care patients

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, or EMTALA, is a federal law intended to ensure that hospitals don't "dump" emergency patients who may be indigent or uninsured by refusing to examine or treat them or by sending them to other hospitals. EMTALA requires hospitals to thoroughly screen all patients who report to emergency rooms and, if they are found to have a serious medical condition, to properly stabilize them before transferring or releasing them.

Alleged failure to diagnose tragically ends in man's suicide

For most Massachusetts residents, the scenario sounds like something out of a bad dream: A patient is admitted to a hospital only to be discharged within hours then die less than two days later of the very illness for which he or she was originally seen at the hospital in the first place. Yet, allegedly, in another state, this is exactly what occurred. The patient's family is understandably unhappy about it and have filed a lawsuit alleging that the hospital's failure to diagnose or act when the patient clearly expressed suicidal thoughts resulted in his death.

The now-deceased 33-year-old individual, himself a doctor, called 911 on July 20, 2015 to report suicidal inclinations. He was taken for treatment to Wilkes-Barre General Hospital where he said that, for a number of weeks, he had been thinking about committing suicide by hanging himself. Medical records indicate that prior to his hospitalization he had been prescribed medication and was seeing a doctor who had also allegedly failed to accurately evaluate his mental condition, according to the complaint.

Doctor error allegedly leads to elderly woman's death

When loved ones are ill, residents of Massachusetts have little choice but to trust in the training and judgment of medical professionals. Sadly, sometimes that trust is misplaced, as seems to be the case in a recent incident in another state. A retired professor has filed a wrongful death lawsuit after alleged doctor error led to the death of his wife.

The man is suing three doctors, as well as McKay-Dee Hospital where the physicians are employed. In addition, the suit also names the hospital's parent company, IHC Health Services, as a defendant. The defendants stand accused of giving the woman a drug known as Haldol, despite a clear FDA warning on the box that would seem to counter-indicate its use, given her medical history.

Employer may be responsible for employee's theft of confidential info

The Massachusetts Appeals Court recently ruled that an insurance agency could face liability after an employee with an arrest record allegedly took personal contact information from a confidential database and shared it with her boyfriend, who then used it to intimidate an individual. The employee did have a prior federal weapons charge that was resolved without conviction upon completion of a diversion program. She was employed by the insurance company for several years.

Brain lesions and delayed trauma

After a head trauma, a person in Massachusetts may develop a mass lesion in the brain. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, these brain injuries create pressure inside the skull. Most often, traumatic brain injuries are associated with lesions known as contusions and hematomas.

A contusion is a bruise, and brain tissue may sustain one just as any other portion of the body might. The bruise consists of blood that has leaked into the damaged area of the brain from broken capillaries, veins or arteries. Hematomas form when blood collects and coagulates between the inside of the skull and the brain’s protective covering. The clot could also form between that covering and the next layer. A lesion could also be due to a hemorrhage, which is bleeding located either along the surface of the brain or within the tissues.

Maternal cardiac arrest has early warning signs

When you are sick, you want your North Adams doctor to be able to identify what the problem is and get you the prescription or the procedure that gets you back on your feet. Pregnancy issues can be different, though. Although your OB/GYN runs tests and watches for common threats to you and your baby, most do not have the critical specialization that prepares them for identifying and dealing with certain high-risk complications. At Donovan O’Connor & Dodig, LLP, we have counseled many patients who suffered long-term health problems because of a missed diagnosis during pregnancy.

According to the American Heart Association, one of the highest causes of maternal death in the U.S. is cardiovascular disease, and many physicians are not trained to recognize the warning signs. Cardiologists recommend that obstetricians and other health care providers who treat pregnant women adopt a method specifically for identifying cardiovascular risk factors. When the chances of complications are high, experts believe patients should be referred to a specialist. Some indications that a woman could have or develop heart problems during pregnancy include high blood pressure or cholesterol, diabetes and obesity. Older women also have an increased likelihood of cardiac arrest.

Protecting yourself during pregnancy with reliable prenatal care

If you have recently found out you are pregnant, you may have already begun thinking about the prenatal care you will be receiving. Finding a reliable, thorough and committed OB-GYN in Massachusetts is imperative to the health of you and your baby. At Donovan O’Connor & Dodig, LLP, we are familiar with the risks pregnant women face.

According to, prenatal care is the unique medical attention you and your unborn child receive throughout your pregnancy. During this time, you will be monitored carefully to verify that your body and health are conducive to the baby’s growth. Prenatal care is crucial so your doctor can recognize early on if there are signs or symptoms that need to be treated before they worsen or compromise the health of you or your child. In fact, studies have shown that women who receive adequate prenatal care often have children who are healthier at birth.

The effects of brain injuries

When you or someone you love suffers a brain injury, it can be a scary experience. At Donovan, O’Connor & Dodig, LLP, we understand that knowing more about the situation and learning what to expect after the injury can help to put you at ease. This type of injury can cause serious effects and alter your life. Luckily, there are many facts available in Massachusetts to help you understand more about brain injuries.

According to the Brain Injury Association of America, brain injuries occur to about 2.5 million people each year. Every brain injury is different for every person, and there are no standard effects you can expect if you suffer one.  

Water park fun can mask hazards

Water parks can make for refreshing family fun on a hot summer day. After all, who doesn't love the thrill of speeding down a twisting slide and making that huge splash into the cool water at the end? That's why approximately 85 million people visited the nation's 1,300 water parks in 2015.

Preventing nursing errors in hospitals: part 2

A person in a Massachusetts hospital may have many more interactions with nurses than with doctors during the stay. A previous blog post discussed simple ways these medical professionals can prevent harm to patients. According to Nurse Journal, another essential nursing duty is documentation in the patient’s medical record, which often informs future decisions and prevents serious or fatal medical mistakes.

Because administering medication may be one of a nurse’s primary responsibilities, it is essential to document exactly when and how much of each dose was given. If a doctor discontinues a drug, this should be recorded, too. Other items that should be added to a patient’s chart include the following:

  •          Nursing actions taken
  •          Health information
  •          Changes in the condition of the patient
  •          Health care provider’s orders for care
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