Medical Malpractice Cases
Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyer Serving Central Mass, Metro West, and Worcester County
The law office of Peter Ventura advises and represents people who suspect that a serious injury or death in the family was caused by negligence on the part of a doctor, nurse or hospital. Massachusetts medical malpractice attorney Peter Ventura has the legal knowledge and courtroom skill necessary to investigate, document and present your claim for damages. Our law firm represents plaintiffs on a broad range of malpractice or negligence claims involving such problems as the following:
- Anesthesia errors
- Surgical negligence
- Dental malpractice
- Chiropractic malpractice
- Prescription Mistakes
- Emergency room negligence
- Failure to diagnose serious illness such as stroke, cancer or heart disease
- Birth injuries caused by errors by an obstetrician or other delivery team member
- Hospital negligence resulting in dehydration, infection or bleeding
- Prescription or medication mistakes by physicians, nurses or pharmacists
- Mistakes by radiologists, surgeons, cardiologists, neurologists or other specialists
A Massachusetts patient alleging malpractice in the diagnosis or treatment of a serious medical condition has some steep obstacles to overcome. In most cases, you need the support of medical professionals who can comment knowledgeably about the performance of the doctor or nurse in your case before you can even file the lawsuit. You need to show through medical experts that the mistake that injured you was of a nature that a reasonably careful professional would not have made.
Medical Specialist Errors
When we see medical specialists, such as radiologists, cardiologists, or neurologists, we expect that they will use all their skill and knowledge to pinpoint our condition and improve it, when possible. Unfortunately, sometimes even these highly-trained doctors make mistakes, even in the emergency room. Preventable medical errors kill and injure hundreds of thousands of people across the U.S. every year.
Like all other doctors, specialists are required to use a particular “standard of care” with their patients. This means that their diagnostic and treatment process must be in accordance with the community standards of other reasonably competent specialists in their field. If they fail to adhere to these standards and their patients are injured as a result, they can be held legally responsible.
Specialists can make mistakes in numerous ways. Among the most common are:
- Failure to diagnose a condition
- Failure to read a test result properly (e.g., X-rays, CT scans, MRI results, etc.)
- Failure to order a necessary test
- Misdiagnosis of a condition
- Inadequate treatment of a condition
- Unnecessary treatment of a condition (e.g., overmedication)
- Mixing up test results with another patient
- Poor communication with patient about medical history
- Poor communication with other treating doctors and medical providers
These errors may come to light through physician admission or through painstaking investigation by experienced professionals after the fact.
Injuries from Medical Malpractice
Mistakes made by specialists can result in devastating injuries, from the aggravation of an already present condition (such as cancer) to the creation of a new condition. Some examples include:
- Heart failure
- Heart attack
- Cancer metastasis
- Tumor growth
- Internal bleeding
- Chronic pain
- Mental anguish
If you believe that you or a loved one suffered an injury due to medical specialist error, it’s a smart idea to contact an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. If your case has merit, you may be able to obtain compensatory damages for medical and hospital expenses, loss of income and earning capacity, pain and suffering, loss of companionship and other claims. In wrongful death cases, punitive damages may also be awarded if gross negligence is demonstrated.
$650,000 Medical Malpractice Case
In Ware, MA, Attorney Ventura worked as co-counsel in a medical malpractice case against an anesthesiologist and hospital for failure to timely diagnose and treat the plaintiff’s post surgical epidural hematoma. Because of the lack of timeliness, the 83-year-old female patient was rendered paraplegic. The case was successfully resolved for $650,000.
Each time you take prescription medication, you place great trust in the skill, knowledge, and professionalism of your doctor and pharmacist. Most of the time all goes well. But when it doesn’t, the consequences can be tragic. Over 1.5 million people in the U.S. are injured by prescription-related mistakes each year. Of these, approximately 7,000 die.
Prescription mistakes can happen in multiple ways. A doctor or nurse practitioner may write the wrong medication name or dosage on your prescription. The pharmacist may misunderstand the prescription and give you the wrong medication or dosage. Mistakes also occur when:
- the doctor, nurse or pharmacist fails to consider potential negative interactions the prescription may have with other medications you’re taking;
- the doctor, nurse or pharmacist confuses drugs with similar-sounding names and gives you the wrong one;
- the doctor, nurse or pharmacist fails to identify your drug allergies;
- the doctor or nurse prescribes too much medication;
- the pharmacist gives you another person’s medication;
- the pharmacist correctly labels your prescription but gives you the wrong medication.
Prescription mistakes can lead to devastating injuries. These include allergic reactions, birth defects, irreversible brain damage, blood clots and stroke, digestive problems, heart damage, kidney malfunction, liver damage, muscle injury, and death.
Those with the greatest risk include:
- People over the age of 65: Seniors tend to take more medication and have more doctors than other adults, which increases their risk of being over-medicated or suffering from negative drug interactions.
- Children: Kids’ bodies are still developing and metabolize medication differently than adults do. Moreover, most medications are not formulated for children, and doctors often must prescribe a dosage based on the child’s height and weight. This imprecise method can lead to serious errors.
Follow these simple steps to avoid prescription mistakes:
- When your doctor gives you a prescription, ask the doctor the name of the drug, the dosage and how often you must take it. Write the information down. This way, you don’t have to rely on interpreting the doctor’s handwriting on the prescription itself.
- Educate yourself on the medication by researching it online and asking your doctor about the risks.
- Before leaving the pharmacy, read the label on your prescription to ensure that your name is correct. You should also confirm that the name of the medication and dosage amount corresponds with the information your doctor gave you.
- Examine your medication before taking it. If it looks different than usual or the name of the pill is different than expected, don’t take it without first consulting your health care provider.
- Inform your doctor and pharmacists of all the medications you are taking, including other prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, herbal medications, and vitamins.
Defective Medical Devices
When things go wrong with our health, we don’t only put our trust in doctors, we also put our trust in the manufacturers of those medical devices intended to keep us healthy or improve our quality of life. Unfortunately, medical device manufacturers sometimes betray this trust when they design and make their products. Far too often, they rank the health of their profits above the health of the patients their products are supposed to serve. This allegiance to their company’s bottom line can lead some manufacturers to:
- rush the product to the market without firmly establishing its safety or effectiveness
- neglect to perform tests they suspect might reveal a design flaw
- conduct hasty, substandard research about the potential risks of the device
- intentionally conceal the potential risks of the device
- wait too long before recalling a defective product from the market
Of the more than 1700 medical devices on the market, hundreds of medical devices have been recalled over the past decade. The most common recalls have occurred with:
- Artificial hip or knee implants
- Heart stents
- Prosthetic limbs
- Medication pumps
- Intrauterine devices
- Mechanical heart valves
- Silicone implants
The most important thing you can do is educate yourself. Ask the brand name of the device the doctor intends to use and research the reputation of both the device and its manufacturer. Ask your doctor why he or she prefers this particular device, and why it is right for you. Also, be sure to discuss with your doctor the pros and cons of alternative devices and treatments for your condition.
Contact a lawyer as soon as possible if you believe that you have a defective device. An experienced products liability attorney can help you investigate whether wrongdoing has actually occurred, collect evidence, and assess whether you might have a legal claim against the medical device manufacturer.
Seeking Medical Treatment After an Accident
Medical treatment after a car accident is one of the most critical parts of any personal injury case. It is important that you understand that without documentation of injuries, it can be very difficult to get an insurance company to pay out the proper amount for claims. The more that you understand the process, the more likely you will be to follow the appropriate steps to protect your claim.
The body is complex and different injuries can impact the body in different ways. For that reason, it is necessary for people to obtain medical treatment as soon as possible after a car crash. Even if you feel fine, your body could be in shock or consumed with adrenaline. Your injuries may seem minor or nonexistent at first, but a trained medical professional will be able to pinpoint potential issues you may not see. Not only will this help your insurance claim, but it could save your life and protect you from unknowingly damaging your body.
Sometimes, even with proper medical treatment, symptoms can occur hours or sometimes days after an injury. As soon as you feel pain or notice any abnormal change in your body, you should seek medical attention. Do not wait. Remember, documentation is everything. The more prompt you are about diagnosing your problems, the stronger your personal injury case will be. Especially if symptoms occur later, you will need medical proof that the symptoms are dated close to the time of the car accident.
Of course, it may take a few days to get into a doctor’s office due to scheduling. However, in the meantime, you can still be proactive about documenting your own injuries. For example, you should take photos of any bleeding or bruising. If you can indicate on the photos the date the picture was taken, that is even better. If there is pain, numbness, or other symptoms that are not visible, make a detailed written document of those symptoms. Remember to document any non-medical expenses you incur during this time. Do not forget to include ongoing medical expenses, as well.
Understanding how insurance companies work will greatly assist in learning why medical treatment is necessary. Without proof, the insurance claim holds no water and the company does not have to fulfill your claim. Insurance companies pay close attention to detail such as:
- Date of the crash
- Medical treatment following the crash
- Documented injuries
- Correlations between injuries and time of crash
Medical Test Botched – Results May Vary
A routine trip to a doctor for any number of complaints often leads to some form of a medical test. The results of these medical tests often guide the doctor in creating a treatment plan. Whether you are having blood drawn, undergoing a pregnancy test, or verifying a genetic disorder, accurate test results are critical to a proper diagnosis. A test that shows a woman is not pregnant when she is could result in severe injury to the fetus. A test that gives a false negative for a genetic disorder would lead to a failure to treat the disorder or a missed opportunity to prevent its effects. Still, many patients give little thought at all to the people reading their lab results or even how the tests are conducted. Recent reports have suggested that this is a major problem in the United States.
There are approximately 35,000 labs in the country performing what is considered “moderate to high complexity testing” for patients. These labs are required to undergo inspection once every two years. Including the labs that perform less complicated testing, there are approximately seven to ten billion laboratory tests performed annually. These results influence 70% of medical decisions and diagnoses. Laboratory test results also influence other aspects of a patient’s life such as relationships (consider an incorrect paternity test, for example) and job offers (think drug testing). An error in any of these areas could have major consequences for a patient and their loved ones.
One five-year-old Massachusetts girl and her family suffered immensely due to the mishandling of the results of her bone marrow transplant tests. The little girl received a stem cell transplant at Boston Children’s Hospital from her fraternal twin sister and the lab mistakenly marked her donor as “unrelated.” Because of this oversight, the tests repeatedly showed that she was maintaining her own cells, which were actually the cells of her sister. Because of this mislabeling, the girl needed a second painful transplant and ultimately died. Many laboratories are pressured to focus on the bottom line. A constant eye towards turning a profit means that costs will be cut and, as a result, a higher likelihood that people will suffer. If a lab chooses not to properly store a blood sample, use a testing agent that has expired, or simply mixes up samples, patients’ results will be flawed.
$2,000,000 Medical Malpractice Case
Peter Ventura worked as co-counsel against a surgeon and other hospital physicians because a patient died from surgical complications. Suing for Wrongful Death, the estate of the female received $2,000,000, controlled by the female’s decedent (early 60s).
New Approach on Medical Mistakes Aims for Honesty
Medical malpractice cases form an astonishing number of personal injury suits every year. They can be an uphill struggle when hospitals and healthcare facilities go out of their way to avoid owning up to the errors they make. In the end, it often does not play out well for the hospitals and costs victims years of pain and suffering.
Now, seven Massachusetts hospitals have signed onto a new initiative that might change the landscape of healthcare lawsuits, and here is the kicker: It is about actually owning up to their errors.
The original CANDOR initiative that led to this approach started about a decade ago in far-off Michigan, where the University of Michigan Health System first started to practice transparency and honesty. While lawsuits have been a beneficiary of this, the real initiative is to increase patient safety.
The basics of this healthcare model and advice for how it can be implemented have been published in an academic paper in Frontiers of Health Services Management, and in a booklet that the University has published to advise other healthcare institutions.
Even better, this initiative has been backed by the federal AHRQ, or Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The feeling, which has been upheld in practice since the initiative went into effect, is that not only will this save on malpractice claims which cost hospitals millions of dollars every year, it will allow hospitals to save tens of thousands of lives by improving healthcare best practices.
The new approach is called “CANDOR,” which aside from being a clever reference to honesty, stands for Communication and Optimal Resolution. The idea is that instead of trying to cover up and hide malpractice, hospitals should be taking strict actions to scrutinize what went wrong and actually correct the errors that led to the problem in the first place.
The initiative was developed with a federal research grant to the tune of $23 million and was tested in 14 different hospitals across three different health systems.
Medical Malpractice FAQs:
1. Can I recover compensation for lost wages?
If you have been injured and are not able to work, you will need to find a way to be compensated for these wages. If you were hurt because of the negligence of a medical provider, the provider’s liability insurance can cover your lost wages and be added to your compensation should you win a personal injury lawsuit against the treatment provider who was negligent.
2. Do you charge up front as personal injury lawyers?
We offer a free initial consultation, where we can meet to discuss the merits of your case. You should bring with you any medical records that are pertinent, including all treatment records for the injury you sustained. No upfront fees are generally charged but rather the legal fee you pay will be based upon a percentage of the amount collected as per Massachusetts statutory law.
3. I think I was mistreated by a number of providers. How does this work?
If you were a patient in a hospital, and you believe it was the cumulative treatment you received that resulted in your injury, a number of people may be liable for your injuries. Depending on who treated you and whether doctors acted within the standard of care will determine who is liable for your injuries. Each medical provider which caused you injury can be held liable for your damages.
4. I was given the wrong prescription and I took it. Do I need a lawyer?
If you took a medication that was not prescribed to you, but you didn’t have any medical issues or damages because of it, you do not have a medical malpractice lawsuit on your hands. While giving you the wrong medication was a negligent mistake, the mistake must have resulted in an injury to you in order to have a claim. You can’t recover financial compensation for a mistake that did not cause any injury. If you did suffer injury and harm as a result of taking the wrong prescription, you may have a valid claim.
5. How do I know if I have a viable medical malpractice lawsuit?
Medical malpractice lawsuits are complicated, and only a professional that has experience handling medical malpractice cases can properly determine if you have a viable case. We offer a free initial consultation so that you can talk about your case, and together, we will determine if your case has validity. The initial consultation is your time to talk about all the questions you have regarding your case. Contact us today via this form, or by calling 508-755-7535.