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Slater & Norris, P.L.C. Personal Injury Attorneys Serving Central Iowa
Personal Injury Attorneys Serving Central Iowa

West Des Moines, Iowa Personal Injury Blog

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What you need to prove a doctor's failure to diagnose

Nowadays, there are many proactive measures and screenings doctors perform to catch illnesses, like breast cancer, early. However, even with such advanced technologies, there are still many instances of medical professionals failing to diagnose serious illnesses.

Some failed diagnoses may be the result of medical malpractice. If you believe that your doctor or physician was negligent in your diagnosis, there are some important steps you should consider before filing a medical malpractice claim. 

Iowa short on hospitals with an A grade for patient safety

Iowa only has a few hospitals that got the top grade in a recent set of hospital safety ratings.

The ratings were from Leapfrog. In the ratings, Leapfrog gave hospitals throughout the country, including 33 here in Iowa, letter grades for hospital safety.

Is your child exhibiting cerebral palsy symptoms?

When asked what they want most for their baby, most expectant parents will say "I just hope they're healthy." It's a common refrain as we prepare for a little one's arrival.

While most parents get exactly what they wish for, some births take an unexpected turn and lead to lifelong complications for the baby. One of the most common birth injuries a newborn can experience is cerebral palsy.

When to Contact a Birth Injury Lawyer

Though the birth of a baby should be one of the happiest times in the life of a parent, the experience is at times tainted by untoward complications experienced in the perinatal period-that time frame immediately before, during and after the birth of the baby. Sometimes, complications and conditions that are thought to be transient and disappear, often manifest themselves later when the child fails to reach certain developmental milestones on time, such as rolling over, crawling, standing up or walking. The child may lack certain gross and fine motor skills and may have difficulty learning. Health care providers may attribute such conditions to" unexplained developmental delay". However, such developmental delay may have been caused by preventable events at birth which were the result of medical malpractice. Oxygen deprivation can occur due to umbilical cord compression or strangulation or prolonged periods of contraction activity where the baby's heart rate does not return to baseline. It is therefore important to be vigilant of the events surrounding the birth of your child. If the birth was traumatic and the baby was deprived of oxygen before, during or after the birth, the baby may have suffered brain damage commonly referred to as "hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy" that may result in cerebral palsy and subsequent developmental delay. However, since the cause of such injuries is not always apparent and since developmental delay is not always immediately recognized, parents may unwittingly wait too long to consult a lawyer to review the case. Therefore, when a child fails to reach certain developmental milestones, it is often prudent to consult a birth injury attorney for advice. This might mean interviewing the family and obtaining copies of all relevant medical records relating to the birth and development of the child. It might also mean consulting with a qualified medical expert or experts to determine whether medical malpractice occurred and whether it caused significant harm to the child and their family.

29 Million Dollar Medical Malpractice Verdict in Sioux County, Iowa

Clients who have suffered the loss of a loved one due to the negligence of others often ask how is such a loss valued. Damages claimed by a family member for the death of another family member are referred to as consortium damages. Consortium is defined under Iowa law as "the relationship between the [family members] and the right of the [family member] to the benefits of companionship, comfort, guidance, affection...and attention within the family." In attempting to determine the extent of such a loss, and ultimately establishing a fair financial recovery, we use our experience in prior cases along with verdicts handed down by juries in similar cases in Iowa regarding consortium damages.

Did You Know-Healthcare Providers Are Not Required to Disclose Medical Errors or Internal Investigation Results

Research conducted by David Lind and the Heartland Health Research Institute corroborates several other studies conducted over the past 20 years that have concluded that medical errors constitute a leading cause of death in the United States and in Iowa. Well in advance of any superficial willingness of the healthcare industry to own up even to the existence of medical errors, patient advocate groups have unsuccessfully pushed Iowa policy makers and healthcare industry advocates to require transparency in not only the reporting of such errors, but in determining their root causes in individual cases where the results have been catastrophic for the patient, as well as require the sharing of those results with the patient. Even when an error is disclosed, healthcare providers seek to block at every turn a patient's natural attempt to gain access to the truth about how and why the error occurred in the first place.
Unfortunately, current Iowa law allows healthcare providers the freedom to dictate the nature and extent of the information they choose to release with respect to any medical error that occurs. Recently, the state of Iowa relied upon a somewhat archaic set of statutes to prevent release of its investigation of an incident involving a patient who was sedated to undergo a CT scan at the University of Iowa Hospitals and awoke with a dislocated shoulder. The Iowa Supreme Court agreed with the State that in the interest of promoting the effective review of medical care, the State was not mandated to release such information. Regrettably, for Iowans, this recent interpretation of Iowa law will likely be used by hospitals and doctors to thwart any number of individual patient inquiries into the cause or causes of a wide variety of medical and surgical errors resulting in serious injury or death to Iowans. While perhaps being informed that an error occurred, the patient would have access only to that information the healthcare provider chooses to release. Hence, the surviving spouse of patient who died in a hospital might get a letter from the hospital informing them that their spouse had been given the "wrong" medication, only to have the hospital rebuff any natural and understandable attempt to learn the particular circumstances of the error, whether the error had occurred with other patients and whether and to what extent subsequent corrective measures were implemented to prevent such errors from occurring in the future. Where a climate of full, open and honest disclosure of a medical error and a transparent investigative process breeds trust, secrecy evokes only suspicion and contempt.
As shown by Lind's research, where 60 percent of persons who experienced medical errors were not informed of the error by the healthcare provider, the Iowa legislature should not stand idle and allow these cloak and dagger practices to continue, but require not only that errors be reported when discovered, but that those harmed and affected by the error be provided a transparent investigative process so that they can learn why the error occurred in the first place to hopefully prevent its recurrence.

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage is Important-Review Your Policy

Many people don't understand the importance of uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist Coverage (UM/UIM). This is additional insurance coverage that you can add to your auto policy that will protect you, the occupants of your vehicle and other family members living in your household from a negligent motorist who is driving without insurance or with insufficient insurance. Uninsured motorist protection provides coverage in the event you are injured by a negligent motorist who has no automobile insurance coverage. Underinsured motorist coverage provides additional coverage to you should you be injured by a negligent motorist who does not have sufficient insurance to pay for your damages. In Iowa, motorist are required to maintain auto insurance on any vehicle operated on a public roadway. Of course many motorists on Iowa highways ignore this law for one reason or another. For those motorists who do have auto insurance coverage, Iowa law only requires that they maintain an auto policy that includes bodily injury liability coverage in the amount of $20,000.00 per person. This means that in the event you or someone in your family is seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident and the negligent driver is uninsured or only has minimum liability policy limits, you could be left with unpaid medical expenses, unreimbursed lost wages, costs associated with recovery, etc.

Medication Errors: What you need to know

Medication errors are mistakes in prescribing, dispensing and administering medications. Common causes of such errors include poor communication, ambiguities in product names, directions for use, medical abbreviations or writing and poor dispensing procedures. Medication errors will impact hundreds of thousands of people in the United States alone. Approximately 1.3 million people are injured annually in the United States due to medication errors. While the number may be staggering, taking an active role in your own health care can help you to prevent an adverse drug event from occurring.

Birth injuries-what parents can do to protect their child's rights

The signs and symptoms of a severe perinatal birth injury to a newborn baby resulting in physical, cognitive, emotional and developmental delay are often subtle and many times not recognized and diagnosed until several years after birth. Even then, the signs are ambiguous and often mistaken for causes other than those within the control of the health care providers responsible for the care of the mother and baby. For example, some babies are born prematurely because of the negligence of a physician or obstetrician in charge of the Mother's care. Babies born prematurely, particularly those prior to 34 weeks, are at increased risk of permanent injury often because their respiratory and cerebral vascular structures are not fully developed. Because of that, premature babies often require extended stays in a special department in the hospital called the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) until these vital organs can fully develop.

HHS Prohibits Long Term Care Pre-Dispute Arbitration Agreements eff. 11/28/2016

Effective November 28,. 2016 long term care facilities, as a condition to receiving Medicare and Medicaid payments, will not be allowed to enter into "pre-dispute" arbitration agreements with residents. (42 U.S.C. section 483.70). Such agreements, typically presented to a resident when they are in greatest need and most vulnerable at the time of admission to the nursing home, effectively deprive the resident of the right to litigate disputes in court before a jury or judge. So, for example, if a resident has signed a pre-dispute arbitration agreement and falls and sustains a serious hip or head injury, they are required to present the case to an arbitrator or panel of arbitrators, usually someone paid by the nursing home, and usually someone who decides the case in favor of the home. The resident does not have the benefits or protections of the civil justice system and any decision of the arbitrator cannot be appealed. Additionally, such agreements provide for confidentiality of any decision, thus prohibiting the making public of horrendous conditions that may exist in nursing homes. Though the new rule does not affect agreements entered into before that date, it is a provision that is long overdue and should pave the way for improving the quality of care in long term care facilities.

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