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Most Expensive Medical Errors For Medical Malpractice Victims

In calculating the 10 most expensive and avoidable medical errors, a Colorado physician, Dr. Barry Bialek, looked at adding the cost of health care to the loss of income to the victim. In doing so, he came up with two categories of medical errors – errors leading to severe brain injury and errors leading to quadriplegia. All medical errors may be ripe for a medical malpractice suit against the at-fault party, however. This list only includes the most expensive medical errors based on the costs incurred by the medical malpractice victim.

Failure to Diagnose the Severity of a Brain Injury May Be a Medical Error

A mother’s labor is monitored on a device that records the infant’s heartbeat and rate of contractions. Failure to pay attention to the monitor or to recognize an infant in distress can lead to lack of oxygen and hypoxic-ischemic encepholopathy, resulting in severe brain injury to the infant.

A ventriculo-peritoneal (VP) shunt malfunction can lead to brain trauma. A VP is designed to drain excess cerebrospinal fluid to relieve brain pressure that causes seizures. A failure to note symptoms of its malfunction can lead to permanent coma.

Brain trauma can occur during post-operative recovery. After surgery, a patient is typically administered pain medication. The wrong dosage can suppress the respiratory function, causing a lack of oxygen to the brain.

Patients suffering head injuries need to be closely monitored, especially those with severe impacts. Failure to diagnose a hemorrhage and treat it accordingly can lead to a permanent comatose state. Also, an elderly person who falls can easily his or her head without being aware of it. Such individuals need to be closely monitored for signs of severe concussion or hemorrhaging.

A drug called Warfarin is used to prevent clots from forming on the heart’s mitral valve, but it can easily be toxic if the dosage and the patient are not closely monitored. Inattention can lead to spontaneous intracranial hemorrhage and severe brain trauma.

A transient ischemic attack (TIA), or “mini stroke,” occurs when a blood clot temporarily clogs an artery. A failure to diagnose the symptoms of possible TIA can lead to permanent brain injury.

Medical Errors Can Lead to Quadriplegia

A missed unstable cervical spine fracture as a result of an accident can lead to paralysis. Back complaints need to be properly examined and imaged by X-ray to rule out spinal fractures. Symptoms of tingling and numbness in the limbs could be a spinal epidural abscess, especially after patients suffer post-operative infections that can affect the heart and spread to the spinal canal.

Finally, a physician’s failure to note symptoms of unstable angina or to read an EKG can lead to a patient suffering massive myocardial infarction if untreated.

A doctor who commits a medical error that leads to either a brain injury or quadriplegia should be held accountable. The post-injury care, including medical bills and rehabilitative care, can be extremely expensive. Filing a medical malpractice suit against an at-fault doctor may help to pay for some of the costs associated with these expensive medical errors.

Source: Cover MD “Ten Most Expensive Medical Errors in the U.S.,” Barry Bialek