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June 2017 Archives

Better communication may be key to reducing medical errors

Many medical errors seem inexplicable. How did the doctor miss the tumor? Why was the patient discharged too soon? A recent study by members of the faculties at Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality in Maryland has identified an often-ignored source of doctors' errors: lack of effective communication between members of a patient's health care team.

Removal of wrong testicle leads to $870,000 malpractice verdict

Many human organs and body parts come in right-left pairs. When one of the pair must be removed from the body or amputated, the surgeon must take extreme care to ensure that the afflicted body part is removed and the healthy organ or body part is not touched. Despite modern preventative procedures that include the physician signing the organ or body part that will be excised, removal of the healthy counterpart still prompts medical malpractice lawsuits in Maryland and elsewhere.

Efforts to cap medical malpractice damages are faltering

Conservative politicians in Maryland and elsewhere have, for years, attempted to limit damages in medical malpractice cases. Hiding these efforts under the vague title of "tort reform," Republicans in both state legislatures and the United States Congress have proposed - and occasionally enacted - laws that limit recovery for non-economic damages to $250,000. Two recent developments show that these efforts to limit damages in medical malpractice suits may be faltering.

A doctor's duty to obtain patient's informed consent to treatment

Most people in Maryland think that medical malpractice involves a doctor's mistake in diagnosing a medical condition or in prescribing treatment or making a mistake in the administration of treatment. Another kind of doctor error is the failure to obtain the patient's informed consent to treatment. Defining the term informed consent is not as simple as it may at first appear.

Malpractice plaintiff gets new trial after appeal

Most medical malpractice plaintiffs profoundly believe that their doctor made a professional mistake during the course of treatment. Losing such a case that alleges physician error often feels like a prize fighter's body blow. An appeal can be taken but, unfortunately, appeals from jury verdicts in medical malpractice cases in Maryland and elsewhere are rarely successful. A happy exception to this general rule recently occurred when an appellate court in a neighboring state reversed the jury's verdict in favor of the defendant doctor and ordered a new trial.

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