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North Adams Medical Malpractice Law Blog

What malpractice claim guidelines exist for pregnancy injuries?

If you are an expecting mother in Massachusetts, you know that when a preventable injury occurs as a result of a medical error, it has consequences not only for your well-being, but also for the health and safety of your child. After such an incident, you may wish to seek recompense; however, it is important to pursue action within the guidelines of the state’s legal code.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, you must file a medical malpractice claim within three years of the injury. In more complicated cases, such as an injury of which you were not—and could not reasonably expect to be—aware until after the fact, you have up to seven years to file a claim. In cases involving a foreign object left in the body, the timeline is indefinite. In such a scenario, you may pursue legal action more than seven years after the time of initial injury.

Is your diagnosis raising red flags?

You trust your Massachusetts doctor to provide the right diagnosis and the right treatment. Unfortunately, errors in diagnosis are common, and a missed diagnosis may mean that you do not get the treatment you need. Receiving unnecessary treatments after an incorrect diagnosis can be harmful, too. Here are a few steps to take if you have any doubts about the accuracy of your diagnosis.

Next Avenue reports that an estimated one in 20 people in the United States are misdiagnosed annually. This number includes delayed, incorrect and missed diagnoses. Such errors may arise from misinterpreted or inaccurate test results or because a given disease cannot be identified via lab tests. Additionally, your doctor may be facing increasingly crowded schedules, which means he or she sees more patients every day and has less time to spend with you.

Risk factors for preterm birth

The last weeks of pregnancy are essential for infants’ health and development, and premature birth can have serious consequences. Expecting Massachusetts parents should be aware of the risk factors for preterm birth.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of infants born preterm—that is, before 37 weeks of gestation—actually increased between 2014 and 2015 following a decline during the previous seven years. The causes of this phenomenon are not yet clear.

Risks of repeated brain trauma

Traumatic brain injuries can have long-term consequences for behavior, cognition and functional abilities. Thus, no TBI should go unexamined. Massachusetts patients who have undergone repeated head injuries should be aware of the potential for neurodegeneration over time.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that mild injuries, such as concussions, account for approximately 75 percent of the TBIs that occur annually. TBIs can cause wide-ranging, short- and long-term effects, including shifts in emotion, sensation, language and thinking. Brain trauma also can contribute to neurodegenerative disorders and epilepsy.

Importance of fetal monitoring to safe delivery

Before and during labor, fetal monitoring can help Massachusetts mothers and their doctors know when all is going well and when problems arise. It is crucial that doctors respond appropriately to danger signals when they appear during monitoring.

MassLive reports that February 2016 brought a resolution to the Gallego family’s long-running civil suit against one of six doctors whose negligence, the family alleged, contributed to the severe disability of their daughter. Court records indicated that the pregnant mother visited the hospital because the 28-week-old fetus’s movements were decreasing. Though the doctor decided to monitor her, he did not return to the hospital in response to the warning signs of a dropping heat rate in the baby, the family argued.

Medication errors in the ER

Massachusetts patients who find themselves in the emergency room may face a bewildering and overloaded system. High volumes of patients, staffing cutbacks and the pressures of providing care in a stressful environment mean that medication errors occur disproportionately in ERs around the United States.

Medscape reports that a decade ago, medical errors in health care facilities nationwide contributed to as many as 98,000 deaths annually as well as many nonfatal incidents. Overall, such errors played a role in 1.5 million or more adverse drug events at the time. A recent study provided a breakdown of the rates of error in dispensing medication. Mistakes related to anticoagulants comprised 11.3% of medical errors, whereas cardiovascular drugs—namely enoxaparin, warfarin and heparin—were indicated in 24.7% of errors.

Risks and warning signs of placental abruption

The perinatal period can be an exciting time for expecting Massachusetts parents who are getting ready to welcome a new member of the family. This time period is also when mothers are at the highest risk for placental abruptions, a rare but serious pregnancy complication that can have devastating outcomes if it is not diagnosed and treated quickly.

According to Mayo Clinic, abruption is a pregnancy complication in which the placenta separates at least partially from the wall of the uterus. An abruption can deprive the fetus of the essential oxygen and nutrients provided by the placenta and lead to a premature birth or even a stillbirth. Complications for the mother include severe blood loss and the danger of organ failure.

Minimizing the risks of brain injury from cardiac arrest

Undergoing cardiac arrest can be terrifying for Massachusetts patients. Persons in cardiac arrest need to receive immediate treatment to increase their chances of survival and minimize the possibility of severe long-term effects, such as brain injuries.

According to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, cardiac diseases are among the leading causes of cardiac arrest. During cardiac arrest, patients commonly may acquire brain damage as a result of hypoxia, or a deficiency in oxygen supply. Currently, more patients survive resuscitation because of improved technologies and capabilities to respond to cardiac arrest; however, growing success in resuscitation is paired with an increasing number of individuals who suffer hypoxic brain damage following cardiac arrest, which has long-term consequences for patients’ well-being.

The extreme risks of central nervous system malignancies

A diagnosis of malignant tumors in the brain or spinal cord is a terrible situation for Massachusetts residents and their families. When doctors miss the warning signs of brain and spinal tumors or opt to delay treatment, patients face worsening health, steep medical bills and disease spread. Furthermore, patients also may miss the window of opportunity for cutting-edge cancer therapies.

The National Cancer Institute notes that there are many varieties of central nervous system (CNS) tumors. Even benign tumors require treatment because they are liable to press on the spinal cord or brain and interfere with the essential processes of the CNS. Malignant tumors are graded on a scale of one to four depending upon the expected rates of growth and spread and the appearance of the cancer cells. Grade four tumors are the most severe, and recovery is unlikely. These tumors tend to spread rapidly, and cells from such tumors appear highly abnormal when viewed under a microscope.

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