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Queens New York Legal Blog

Mitigating high-risk pregnancies

A common thought amongst many people in New York City may be that the advances witnessed in medical science in recent years have removed all of the risks typically associated with pregnancy. However, the complexities of the human body (along with external factors that can influence prenatal growth and development) sometimes ensure that a woman's pregnancy may be difficult regardless of any intervention. Such cases are defined as "high-risk pregnancies." 

The National Institutes of Health reports that there are four factors which contribute to high-risk pregnancies: 

  • Preexisting health conditions: Hypertension, diabetes, infertility issues, obesity, polycystic ovary syndrome, and cases of kidney, thyroid and autoimmune disease have all been linked to pregnancy complications. 
  • Age: Complications are inherently more frequent in teen mothers and women over 35 who are experiencing their first pregnancy. 
  • Lifestyle choices: Drinking and smoking both have been shown to contribute to issues with pregnancy. 
  • Pregnancy conditions: Women who develop gestational diabetes or preeclampsia, as well as those carrying multiple babies, are at an increased risk of complicated prenatal periods and deliveries. 

Understanding board certification

Most in Queens, while perhaps not familiar with the exact meaning, at the very least understand the concept of board certification when it comes to physicians. That understanding may prompt most to only consider board-certified doctors when researching their provider options. The assumption is that only board-certified doctors have been approved to practice within a certain medical discipline. Thus, why would one consider seeing a doctor that has not been given that approval? Yet this is where the difference between having an understanding of this idea and knowing what it actually means comes into play. 

Doctors become eligible to practice medicine when they become licensed by the state in which they work following the completion of medical school and the appropriate residencies. Once licensed, doctors can practice within a medical specialty without being board certified. According to the American Board of Medical Specialties, board certification is a completely voluntary process. Whereas licensure signifies that a doctor has met the minimum competency requirements in order to practice, board certification means he or she has followed peer-developed standards in order to demonstrate expertise. 

Multiple deaths at nursing home linked to neglect

For many families in New York, the decision to place their elderly loved ones in a nursing home is not an easy one. Often, people spend considerable time researching facilities and comparing factors such as quality of care, amenities, facility upkeep and transparency to find the best possible fit for the people they love most. However, nursing home neglect is not unheard of and can be an unsettling thought for many people.

In a recent investigation of a Tennessee nursing home, investigators concluded that neglect on the part of the facility's staff lead to the injuries or deaths of several patients. The findings showed that multiple poor decisions were made that ultimately put the health and safety of patients at risk. For example, investigators found that specified physicians orders were not being followed, lackluster efforts to communicate with physicians created worsening conditions for patients and a general disregard of prescriptions created dangerous circumstances.

Patient attentiveness may reduce risk of hospital mistakes

Each day, New York hospitals facilitate the treatment of thousands of patients requiring medical care. Because of the high volume of patients, each requiring customized treatment, hospital staff are subject to human error from oversight, distraction and even carelessness. Unfortunately, in instances of error, the results can create long-term problems for victims whose overall health may be negatively compromised from the actions of previously trusted health care providers. 

According to a professional source quoted by Web MD, many patients are dangerously passive when it comes to their hospital stay. Their agreeable nature and extensive trust in their health care providers may put them at increased risk of becoming the victim of an error. Patients who require medical treatment should do their best to be proactive about their care including asking questions, verifying personal information and clarifying their treatment options. 

Nursing home neglect and abuse prevail despite being penalized

Many family members and loved ones feel shock and rage when they suspect their relatives who reside in New York nursing homes are suffering from abuse and negligence. Despite relatives reporting their concerns and taking additional measures to protect them, many nursing homes are still unsafe havens for the elderly. According to The NY Post, Medicare currently ranks 40 percent of the 600 nursing homes in the state as substandard care facilities. 

There are many reasons why nursing homes fail to provide their residents with the level of care, support and supervision they require. Understaffing issues, inadequate credentials and training and other issues lead to residents suffering and dying at the hands of their caregivers. Despite receiving infractions for allowing residents to be harmed and kept in poor conditions, many facilities continue to accept new patients without making changes to raise their care standards. The NY Times states that a large portion of nursing homes maintain their ability to accept Medicaid and Medicare payments despite repeatedly allowing hazardous conditions and staff actions to put residents at risk of harm and death. 

Can medical errors happen in urgent care facilities?

One way that individuals in the New York City area have been able to avoid extremely long wait and treatment times and exorbitant medical costs at hospitals is to go to their nearest urgent care center. The promise of low cost and quick treatment for nonlife-threatening injuries and health ailments is a big convenience and draw. 

The downside to urgent care facilities for some individuals is the risk of being harmed and receiving inadequate care. Medical errors are the cause of “10 percent of deaths across the country”, states HopkinsMedicine.org. Patients do not always receive the same level of care and treatment at urgent care centers that they would receive at hospitals. 

Why medical malpractice is high among minorities

When it comes to health care, you would think everything is equal. A life is a life, right? Unfortunately, interactions with the police are not the only times race affects treatment from those who are supposed to protect you. Multiple studies and reports have shown minorities receive a lower standard of care than Caucasians do, which leads to higher rates of medical malpractice.

Why do race and ethnicity have such an effect on health care, and what can you do about it?

Is a misdiagnosis always due to negligence?

Cases of medical malpractice lawsuits arising from patients in New York City being misdiagnosed by doctors are not all that uncommon. Yet they may not be representative of the total number of misdiagnosis cases that occur in the U.S. every year. Information shared by CBS News puts that number at 12 million incidents annually, half of which can result in significant harm to patients. Yet are all of those cases examples of doctor negligence? This essentially amounts to questioning whether the law allows your doctor to be wrong once in a while. 

When it comes to your health, you may think that the answer to that question most certainly should be no. However, some degree of recognition may be given to the fact that doctors are not infallible. They also may be restricted by the limits that the diagnostic procedures and technology at their immediate disposal imposes. Then there are those rare situations where you may be suffering from a condition that little is known about. So the question then becomes when is a doctor negligent in misdiagnosing you

Hospital liability in newborn falls cases

If you were asked to imagine the worst possible scenario you could face shortly after having had your baby delivered in a Queens hospital, seeing your baby dropped would likely be at the top of the list. Yet with all of the care and delicacy you, your spouse and hospital staff members know that babies require, how could something like this happen? We at Futterman, Sirotkin & Seinfeld, LLP are here to tell you that such accidents are more common than you may think. The question of liability in such an accident may come down to the nature in which it occurred. 

When you picture cases of babies being dropped (termed "newborn falls" in the medical community), you probably conjure up images of someone mishandling a baby and dropping it. Such accidents do indeed happen, and when committed by a hospital staff member after your child has been born, there may be little question about who should be held responsible. However, many newborn falls cases (more than 55 percent according to Becker's Hospital Review) happen when mothers (who are often understandably exhausted after having gone through delivery), fall asleep and allow the newborns that they are holding to slip from their arms. Should hospital staff members share liability in such a scenario? 

Hospital stay leaves man with severe bedsores

People in New York City head to area hospitals expecting to find relief from the injuries or health issues they have been afflicted with. They trust their care into the hands of doctors, nurses and other hospital staff members that they believe will do their very best to care for what is ailing them. What they may not realize is that there are health risks inherent with hospitals stays themselves. Exposure to disease-causing pathogens as well as falls and other injuries can be common in healthcare facilities. All of these problems are preventable through the proper action of hospital personnel. 

When such action does not happen, many may understand why those who suffer because of it might choose to seek compensation. A Georgia woman is doing just that. Her husband was admitted to a local hospital for difficulty breathing due to a swollen tongue. While there, he developed serious bedsores. Such injuries occur when constant pressure on skin tissues (like that which occurs when one is confined to a hospital bed) limits blood flow and causes the skin to ulcerate. Such ulcers can be easily avoided by simply moving a patient in his or her bed throughout the day. One of the man's ulcers became so bad that the underlying bone was eventually exposed. While he was ultimately discharged from the hospital, the bedsores eventually contributed to his death. 

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