When you hear about a miracle of modern medicine – like when a little boy is given a hand transplant, or when a medical advancement allows someone to live when in years past he or she would have died – it can make you feel encouraged that we live in such an exciting time. Just as medical technology and advancements have brought benefits to patients, they also carry with them the potential for disasters that pose a threat to the safety of patients. These are not rare, freak accidents that occur in only one in a million cases. The kinds of injuries we are referring to have occurred multiple times in different hospitals throughout the United States. When a patient is injured in a medical setting due to the negligent actions or the failure to act on the part of their doctor or any other medical professional, they may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit to recover compensation for their injuries and losses.
Robotic surgery mishaps
Between 2000 and 2013, using data from 10,000 incident reports from the FDA, researchers from MIT, Rush University Medical Center and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that surgical robots were involved in 144 patient deaths and 1,391 patient injuries.
According to a story on NBCnews.com, some of the errors the study found included burnt or broken pieces of tools falling into the patient (14.7 percent), electrical sparking (10.5 percent) and robots making unintended movements (8.6 percent) — the last of which was responsible for 52 injuries and two deaths. Most of the errors made by surgical robots were reported during complicated cardiothoracic and head and neck surgeries.
Electronic medical records
HealthcareITNews.com published an article about how Electronic Medical Records (EMR) can lead to costly medical malpractice suits. The story recounts the many mishaps that have occurred due to the mishandling and miscommunication with regard to EMRs in a healthcare setting. One error, which resulted in a $2 million verdict for the plaintiff involved a doctor missing an abnormal urinalysis, which led to advanced kidney disease for the patient.
Defective infusion pumps
An infusion pump is a machine that you will see at the bedside of many patients whether in the hospital, nursing home or in a private home. Infusion pumps deliver fluids such as nutrition and medication directly into the patient’s body. A professional programs the precise rate and duration for the fluid to be administered to the patient. These pumps are used to deliver the critical fluids upon which the patient’s life may depend, so whenever there is a failure or a defect in an infusion pump, there can be devastating consequences.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received approximately 56,000 reports of adverse events associated with infusion pumps between 2005 and 2009. Within that time frame, manufacturers recalled 87 infusion pumps in order to address some of the safety concerns with the device. In 2010, the FDA announced a three-point initiative to improve infusion pump safety to reduce the number of cases of medical malpractice, product recalls and deaths associated with these devices.
Gamma camera defects
Gamma cameras are huge machines that perform full body scans, and are used in nuclear medicine applications, have been the subject of many Adverse reports to the FDA about mechanical failures which can cause injury to patents and hospital staff. In 2013, a patient was crushed to death by a gamma camera, which triggered a Class I recall of the medical device. There have been at least five patient injuries to patients and staff in 2015 alone according to Modern Healthcare.com.
Although they are rare enough occurrences, surgical fires usually have devastating consequences. Surgical fire can ignite causing significant danger especially when there is oxygen present during surgery. According to Emergency Care Research Institute (ECRI), there were approximately 200 to 240 surgical fires that occurred nationally in 2012.
If you have been injured or if you have lost a loved one due to a preventable medical error caused by healthcare technology, or a negligent medical professional you may be interested in scheduling a no-obligation consultation with a Washington, D.C. medical malpractice attorney from the law firm of Paulson & Nace, PLLC who will discuss your case and answer your questions. Please call 202-463-1999 or use our contact form to find out more.