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Pittsburgh Elder Law Blog

Surgical error results in award for Pennsylvania man

Medical professionals are trained to be cautious and thorough, but sometimes mistakes happen. One man in Pennsylvania has learned about medical mistakes the hard way. A recent news story tells the man's story of a surgical error and the lawsuit that followed.   

The man had gone to a surgeon after dealing with pain in his right testicle for 15 years. The surgeon recommended removal of the painful testicle, but when the surgery was performed, he accidentally removed the left testicle. The man sued the doctor after the mistake that left him still suffering with extreme pain in the remaining testicle and without the fully functioning testicle that was removed in error.  

Nursing home neglect suits possibly affected by new bill

Our elders deserve care and attention, and families should not be saddled with fears about how their relatives are being treated. Patients depend on staff training and hospital oversight. Nursing home patients also depend on the ability to sue if they have been abused and neglected in a nursing home. A recent news story out of Pennsylvania tells about a threat to such safety -- in the form of a new bill that poses threats to patients' ability to receive damages from improper care, including nursing home neglect and abuse.  

The bill is known as the Protecting Access to Care Act. Authors of the story say that the bill was rushed through committee with no opportunity for a public hearing. Opponents of the bill say that the bill helps doctors and hurts patients. 

Pennsylvania bill aims to help those on veterans' disability

Once a person becomes disabled, there are benefits that can be taken advantage of in addition to any financial settlements awarded. Those who are recipients of veterans' disability are also eligible to have their student loans discharged. This information may not be widely known among disabled veterans, so one Pennsylvania representative has created a bill that will contact qualifying veterans and inform them of their ability to discharge student loans. 

The bill will ramp up efforts to identify and notify veterans who have suffered total and permanent disability of their eligibility for student loan discharge. While vets may be busy trying to receive the full amount of benefits to which they are entitled, details such as student loan discharge may be overlooked. The bill aims to help with that by notifying veterans of their rights and giving them simple instructions about how to apply. 

Emergency room error a factor in Pennsylvania woman's death

Fast and accurate treatment is critical for positive health outcomes in the emergency room. Permanent disability or even death can result from an emergency room error. Recently, the family of a deceased woman won their appeal to reinstate a wrongful death lawsuit against a Pennsylvania hospital.

The incident occurred in 2012 when the woman went to the emergency room complaining of diarrhea, vomiting, shortness of breath, headache and back pain. Sadly, the woman was pronounced dead after four hours at the hospital. The lawsuit alleges that the woman died from the doctors' failure to spot the symptoms of sepsis in a timely manner. 

Falling accidents in Pa. nursing homes can bring penalties

Elderly and disabled people depend on nursing homes to provide consistent, compassionate and competent care. When nursing homes fall short in providing safe care, nursing home residents can suffer. Whether it is from abuse, neglect or falling accidents, residents can experience a range of injuries, some of which are fatal. Recently, a Pennsylvania nursing home was penalized with a downgraded license due to one resident's fatal fall. 

The downgraded license stems from a February incident in which a woman died from injuries suffered during a fall in a nursing home bathroom. Although the resident was classified as a high-risk for falling due to multiple medical issues, including unsteady gait, visual disturbances, seizure disorder and bladder dysfunction, the resident was not fully supervised and supported by staff during an early morning bathroom visit. Unfortunately, the resident suffered multiple fractures and bleeding in the brain that resulted in her death. 

Pennsylvania court grants medical malpractice case a new trial

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. An appeals court offers the chance to have a case reviewed, allowing another chance for justice to succeed. Recently, a Pennsylvania woman was given another chance to plead her medical malpractice case in appeals court.

The woman had brought a case against her gynecological surgeon, alleging medical malpractice when her bowel was cut during a hysterectomy. Her surgeon became aware that the bowel had been cut when he smelled fecal matter during the surgery. He consulted a general surgeon, who repaired the bowel. The bowel had been cut nearly in half, and recovery forced the woman to have to wear a colostomy bag for a short time. 

Nanny cameras may help prevent nursing home abuse

Worries about what goes on behind closed doors in residential care facilities may keep families up at night. A neighboring state has taken steps to help alleviate some concerns over nursing home abuse. If it proves successful, perhaps Pennsylvania will consider a similar program.

Until recently, the ability to use a hidden camera to view the care that loved ones receive in a nursing or assisted living home was not condoned by the jurisdiction that has now embraced the cameras. Now, the cameras are not only permitted but are provided free of charge, according to the established guidelines. The video monitors were previously only permitted for private homes.

Family sues over alleged misdiagnosis that leads to death of man

Seeking care from those who are trained to properly diagnosis and treat an illness is the normal reaction by those who are suffering from injury or disease. The worry that a doctor or hospital staff may miss important signs and symptoms may be rebuffed by most medical providers. However, as many Pennsylvania families know, even an experienced doctor is capable of a misdiagnosis that can lead to far worse problems than the original complaint.

According to a recent lawsuit that was filed this month, a 43-year-old patient presented himself to a local health clinic with what appeared to be symptoms of influenza. He was prescribed a medication to reduce the severity of the symptoms. A few days after that initial contact, he sought further treatment from the emergency department of a local hospital for the same symptoms, along with new complaints of lower leg pain and rapid heart rate. Physicians purportedly confirmed the influenza diagnosis but also planned a more thorough examination of his lower extremity for the next day.

Woman witnesses nursing home neglect through hidden camera

One of the greatest acts of trust is turning the care of loved ones over to others. When that loved one is a cherished elderly and vulnerable parent, then the realization that nursing home neglect has occurred is likely a devastating revelation. While one woman's story did not occur in Pennsylvania, sadly, this story is not restricted to just one area of the country.

Recently, the woman shared how she discovered that her father had suffered alarmingly substandard care while residing at the home that was trusted to provide proper care for the 94-year-old. The woman stated that she became concerned when she noticed that her parent appeared to have suffered from a marked downturn in his health. While the man was already blind and diagnosed with a debilitating brain illness, the daughter, who is also a nurse, stated that the change in his appearance and physical condition was concerning and led her to suspect that he was being neglected.

Mother sues for alleged hospital negligence over missing remains

Whenever a patient seeks medical care, he or she likely places complete trust and confidence in the medical staff. However, there are situations that could result in a medical facility facing accusations of hospital negligence that caused the patient to suffer serious physical pain or emotional distress. Pennsylvania patients who have been a victim of this type of harm may also consider their legal options.

Three years ago, a woman suffered a miscarriage and delivered the pre-term child at a local hospital. The woman purportedly spent time with her deceased child and then expressed her desire to have the remains cremated. After she was informed that the hospital would require approximately 14 days to perform an autopsy, she then turned her child's remains over to the care of the staff.

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Robert Peirce & Associates, P.C.
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