We place a tremendous amount of trust in the medical community. When you suffer a serious illness or personal injury, you go to the hospital and expect that you’ll be treated with the utmost care to address your ailment. Unfortunately, doctors, nurses, and medical staff are only human and are prone to negligence in the workplace. When this happens, medical malpractice may happen and lead to complications and further pain and suffering for you.
Medical malpractice errors account for nearly 100,000 deaths each year in the United States. In fact, more people die each year from medical mistakes than from car accidents.
For more than 20 years, the attorneys of Portner & Shure have been pursuing the best interests of our clients in medical malpractice cases in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. Our firm has won verdicts and settlements worth millions of dollars for the victims of medical negligence. Our tremendous record of success in medical malpractice includes recovering $2.6 million in a November 2012 cerebral palsy case in Maryland.
If your loved one has suffered a serious injury or death as a result of medical malpractice, it is crucial to have an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side. The experienced attorneys at Portner & Shure are ready to help your family. Please call us for a free case review at 410-995-1515 or 301-854-9000 for assistance in Maryland, 703-734-8790 for service in Virginia, 804-916-1577 in Richmond, and 202-554-1449 in Washington, D.C.
- What is Medical Malpractice?
- Surgical Error
- Cancer Misdiagnosis
- Anesthesia Error
- Birth Injury
- Compensation We Can Pursue
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a health care provider causes injury or death to a patient by failing to act within the applicable standard of care. In general, the definition of the standard of care is “the type and level of care an ordinary, prudent, health care professional, with the same training and experience, would provide under similar circumstances in the same community.” To prove malpractice, an attorney must possess not only excellent legal knowledge but also familiarity with the health care profession and standards of treatment.
In every case we handle, our attorneys and staff—which includes a registered nurse—work with numerous physicians and other experts to bolster our claims. From reviewing medical records and validating claims to aggressively pursuing legal maneuvers aimed at securing full compensation, we have the skills and experience to handle all aspects of medical malpractice litigation.
Our attorneys can help you with medical malpractice claims involving:
- Birth injuries, including cerebral palsy
- Brain damage
- Cancer misdiagnosis
- Medication overdose
- Surgical negligence
- Prescription errors
- Anesthesia negligence
- Wrongful death
In the sections below, we’ll highlight a few of these medical malpractice areas to further illustrate the critical nature of these cases and the importance of having an experienced attorney on your side during these difficult times.
Surgical errors are preventable injuries and mistakes that happen during surgery. While it’s true that all surgery carries certain risks and you must sign an informed consent form before your procedure, surgical errors are those that go beyond the normal occurrences of surgery.
For a surgical error to be considered under medical malpractice it must be established that the error fell below the accepted medical standard of care and that it was the error that caused your injury. Proving these two aspects of surgical errors can be difficult by yourself, that’s why you need the help of experienced personal injury lawyers who will fight on your behalf.
While all surgeries and surgical errors are unique, there are some common factors that contribute to this type of negligence. These include:
- Incompetence: If your doctor or health professional has insufficient experience or lacks the skills to perform the surgery successfully.
- Poor planning: If your surgeon fails to review or prepare for complications that may arise and not making sure the proper equipment is prepped and ready for use when needed.
- Poor communication: Insufficient communication between the surgeon and their staff can lead to problems such as marking the wrong site for the surgery, failing to make sure the proper equipment is on hand, and improper dosage of a patient’s medication.
- Carless process: Surgical procedures are established so that surgeons can perform your surgery safely and effectively. Any shortcuts can have critical consequences.
- Impairment: If a surgeon is under the influence of drugs or alcohol while performing surgery and causes an unexpected injury.
- Negligence: When a surgeon is not as careful as they should be, such as not sterilizing the equipment or by using defective equipment, they can cause serious injury.
- Fatigue: Because surgeons and medical staff work long shifts, the risks of making mistakes because of fatigue are high.
As mentioned above, every surgery is unique and presents a range of different errors that can occur. Some of the most common mistakes that occur include:
- Injuring a nerve, tendon, or muscle during surgery
- Using too much, or too little, medication or anesthesia
- Leaving surgical equipment inside a patient
- Performing the incision in the wrong area
- Operating on the wrong body part
- Operating on the wrong person
- Causing infections
- Performing surgery when it was not necessary or advisable
Early detection of cancer is essential to successful treatment, higher survival rates and decreased costs of medical bills for cancer patients. Failing to order appropriate tests that could reveal cancer in its early stages is a medical problem.
If cancer is diagnosed after the disease has advanced to a more serious stage, more drastic forms of treatment, such as higher doses of radiation and chemotherapy, are required. These treatments may have been unnecessary if the disease was detected earlier. They are both painful and at times debilitating.
In cancer cases, physicians often fail to take patient complaints seriously. As a result, they are negligent for:
- Failing to identify an obvious lump during an examination
- Failing to order proper tests including X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, or a biopsy
- Failing to properly evaluate test results that have been performed
- Failing to follow-up with a patient
Both Richard D. Shure and Jon N. Portner had cancer strike close to home. In one case involving Mr. Shure's family member who died as a result of the negligence, there was a claim made for late diagnosis. A suit was filed and the doctor settled for over a million dollars.
It is important to know that many cases of cancer are curable, or can be put into remission if treated early. The following types of cancer are known to respond well to early treatment:
Anesthesia negligence is a form of medical malpractice in which an anesthesiologist causes serious injury or death to their patient due to mistakes made. In these types of cases, the medical practitioner failed to provide an adequate standard of care to the patient.
Anesthesia is commonly administered before surgical procedures. Any time anesthesia is used there is a risk of complications. Common types of anesthesia errors include:
- Administering too much of the anesthetic drugs
- Administering anesthetics to a person with allergies
- Use of defective medical devices and equipment during the administration of anesthesia
- Failure to properly instruct a patient prior to anesthesia
- Failure to properly monitor a patient during the anesthesia process
Pregnancy and childbirth can be one of the most exciting times for a new family. However, complications from childbirth and the delivery process is still a real concern. While your OB/GYN may have sufficient experience in delivering, negligence and errors can still occur. Some birth injuries are not permanent, but many can have lifelong impacts on the child and your family, resulting not only in financial hardships from ongoing medical care but emotional hardships as well.
Some errors that can cause birth injury include:
- Failure to order a C-Section in a timely manner
- Excessive use of a vacuum extractor
- Failure to treat seizures following birth
- Improper delivery
A number of birth injuries are the result of insufficient oxygen getting to the baby’s brain. This is called hypoxia and can occur when the infant’s head is in the birth canal for too long a period or if the doctor uses the vacuum devices incorrectly. This condition may lead to permanent ailments and complications including breathing issues and brain damage, as well as serious consequences such as seizures, coma, and even death.
Some of the most common birth injuries include:
- Cerebral palsy
- Erb’s palsy
- Shoulder dystocia
Cerebral palsy is a medical condition caused by damage to the developing brain. It often occurs from difficult labor or problems during delivery that cause lack of oxygen, bleeding, head trauma or other injury. An estimated 6,000 to 10,000 infants and children are diagnosed with cerebral palsy each year. Cerebral palsy's motor component can affect just the lower limbs or all four limbs. Children affected may also suffer from other problems such as vision and/or hearing loss, mental retardation, difficulty swallowing, learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders.
To be successful in these cases the legal team must work closely with experts in fields of obstetrics, maternal & fetal medicine, neonatology, pediatric neurology, neuro-imaging, child development, rehabilitation, vocational placement and economic analysis of past and future loss. With respect to economic loss, the costs providing proper care for a child over a lifetime can exceed millions of dollars. If your child has CP you must consider whether it is the result of negligence on the part of the doctor who managed your pregnancy and/or labor or delivery.
Mr. Portner's father is still a practicing OB/GYN in Colorado. With the help of his father's medical experience of over forty years, he has spent a considerable amount of time learning and evaluating issues in this area of law. While going over issues in these cases with his father's colleagues, he has gained access to some of the leading experts in this field of medicine.
Although a specific cause of cerebral palsy has not been pinpointed, the general consensus is that cerebral palsy is brought on by some form of injury to the brain of the infant before, during or shortly after birth. Fortunately for those that suffer from cerebral palsy and their parents, awards in cerebral palsy cases are usually substantial because of the long-term effect of the condition and the high cost of medical care associated with the disorder.
Local Cerebral Palsy Litigation
In Frederick County, a jury recently yielded an award of close to four million dollars to the family of a child diagnosed with cerebral palsy after birth. In this case, the mother, who was eight months pregnant at the time, began to complain of severe and persistent pain and vomiting. After alternative treatments were attempted, the child was born via cesarean section hours after the mother's complaints.
Upon birth, the child demonstrated signs of oxygen deprivation to the brain, which is commonly associated with cerebral palsy. At trial, the family alleged that the failure of the attending physicians to properly evaluate, diagnose, and treat the mother was the cause of the child's cerebral palsy. The jury agreed with the family, and rendered an award of nearly four million dollars for past and future medical expenses, future lost income and non-economic damages.
Taking Action for Your Child and Your Family
If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a number of factors may indicate that the condition has been caused or exacerbated by medical negligence. Common indicators of medical negligence shown shortly after birth are if a child include:
- Under-oxygenated or has bluish skin
- Trouble breathing
- Abnormal fluctuation of body temperature
The use of vacuum extraction and heart rate abnormalities are also indicators of medical negligence.
Other factors that could indicate medical negligence are whether the attending physicians addressed changes in the condition of the pregnant mother, whether physicians addressed changes in the condition of the fetus, whether a cesarean section was ordered in a timely manner and whether there is a family history of brain damage.
Compensation We Can Pursue
Medical malpractice injuries can severely impact your life and the life of your loved ones. Not only can you suffer unexpected injuries or complications, but you may be significantly limited in your ability to perform work or take care of yourself. Our experienced medical malpractice lawyers understand the complications these injuries can create and pursue compensation to help with the financial burden that is often associated with these injuries.
Our lawyers can pursue compensation for:
- Current and future medical and rehabilitation expenses
- Lost wages from time missed at work
- Future earning potential
- Pain and suffering
- Diminished quality of life
- Funeral expenses in cases of wrongful death
We’ll investigate your case and evaluate the details of the circumstances of the accident and the extent of your injuries. We will leave no stone unturned in bringing the responsible party to justice.
Contact Our Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorneys Today
With over 20 years of experience, our lawyers at Portner & Shure have proven records of success winning settlements and trial awards across a variety of practice areas. Our team has earned recognition nationally by prestigious organizations and publications through our unparalleled pursuit of justice on the behalf of our clients.
If you or a loved one has suffered serious injury from the carelessness of a medical professional, don’t hesitate to call us at 410-995-1515 or 301-854-9000 for assistance in Maryland, 703-734-8790 for service in Virginia, 804-916-1577 in Richmond, and 202-554-1449 in Washington, D.C. for your free case evaluation.