Archive for May, 2011

Missouri Medical Malpractice Related to Improper Anesthesia Practices

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Many people presume that medical malpractice is very rare and that one’s chance of being a victim of medical malpractice is extremely remote.  It is certainly the case that most health care professionals are conscientious, competent and diligent, however, almost 90,000 people per year die as a result of medical malpractice according to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.  There are many that believe these estimates radically understate the number of malpractice related fatalities.  A common cause of medical malpractice claims are related to improper administration of anesthesia.  Admittedly, there is a certain degree of risk anytime a person must be given anesthesia, but sometimes errors by medical professionals result in avoidable injuries or even wrongful death.

There are many types of anesthesia error including giving too much anesthesia, which can cause severe risk of injuries including cardiac arrest, stroke, brain damage or wrongful death.  If too little anesthesia is given, the patient may suffer excruciating pain during the procedure.  The anesthesiologist is required to monitor a patient’s consciousness during a medical procedure to ensure that a patient does not become conscious and awake during surgery.  Those who regain consciousness during a surgical procedure can suffer long-term trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  This can be a terrifying experience because the patient is aware and can feel pain but is unable to move or communicate.

General anesthesia is always dangerous because a patient’s vital functions are slowed dramatically.  If the anesthesiologist does not exercise reasonable care, the patient can be the victim of an overdose.  During a recent six-year period, there were over 2,200 anesthesia related fatalities.

Medical malpractice claims are among the most difficult types of lawsuits.  They require expert testimony by physicians familiar with the applicable standard of care.  These cases are also complicated by the fact that non-economic damages like pain and suffering and diminished enjoyment of life are capped at $250,000 per year.  Because of the high cost and complexity of litigating these cases and the limits on damages, it is essential to retain an experienced medical malpractice law firm that has skill and experience working within these limits and restrictions.

A number of other mistakes may contribute to anesthesia errors including the following:

  • Inadequate monitoring
  • Substandard intubation
  • Improper instructions on discharge
  • Dosage Errors
  • Excessive duration of administering anesthesia
  • Inadequate skill and training
  • Improper response to problems or complications
  • Malfunctioning medical devices

There are many other situations that can result in serious injury or wrongful death caused by anesthesia.  If you or a love one is a victim of medical malpractice stemming from anesthesia, you may have a right to compensation for your injuries.  Our Missouri medical malpractice attorneys offer a free case evaluation.  We will provide an honest and candid assessment of your legal rights and options.

Missouri Auto Accident Lawyers Discuss New Technology to Prevent Distracted Driving Dangers?

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Even more drivers engage in distracted driving practices than drunk driving because it is so easy to glance at one’s cell phone and read a text message.  The U.S. Department of Transportation has characterized the surge in cell phone related distracted driving as an epidemic.  Many states including Kansas have passed distracted driving laws in an effort to reduce serious Kansas auto accident caused by drivers caused by cell phones.  Some technology companies have recently joined this effort to reduce driver distraction by implementing the use of new cell phone applications designed to activate a driving mode that puts a phone on silent mode.  A number of new technological innovations have been designed to reduce the impact of cell phones on drivers.

It is still unclear whether new technology will actually promote a decreased distraction level or actually make the problem worse.  The development of bluetooth technology created the ability to limit cell phone use to hands free calls.  Some states embraced this development and limited cell phone calling to hands free calls only.  However, these laws have not proved successful in reducing auto accidents related to cell phone use.  The fact that hands free devices do not reduce accident risks is being provided as an explanation for why in certain states cell phone bans have not resulted in reduced accident rates despite the fact there is clearly established evidence that cell phone use while driving results in an increased number of car accidents.  The accident rates for hands free use of a cell phone do not appear to be any different than cell phone use with a handset.  The theory is that the most serious form of distraction caused by cell phone use may be mental distraction which is equally present with a hands free or handheld cell phone.

Another technology that some believe offers promise in reducing cell phone related distracted driving is cell phones that respond to voice commands.   Voice-enabled technology still results in a cognitive distraction.  This technology would permit a driver to use his or her voice to compose and send a text message.  This would eliminate the visual and manual distraction associated with cell phone use for calls and texting while driving.  It has already been established that changing the radio station can distract drivers and endanger their safety.  Changing the radio in one’s car manually requires all three forms of driver distraction visual, cognitive and manual.  Voice-activated technology would remove two of these types of distraction.

Another form of technology, which is being voluntarily implemented by some parents to prevent their teens from texting and driving, disables a cell phone when a car is being driven.  It is possible this technology could become standard in all vehicles in the future.  This technology could be very effective in alleviating the distracted driving epidemic because cell phone use behind the wheel would be completely eliminated.  While talking and texting on a cell phone is the most common cell phone related driving distraction, the expanded capabilities of cell phones is creating new distractions.  Many drivers use cell phones to surf the internet, watch movies, monitor GPS positioning or check Facebook accounts.

It appears that texting while driving is the most serious distracted driving cell phone practice.  Text messaging distracts a driver on all three levels of distraction including visual, manual, and cognitive.  Kansas has recognized the serious risk associated with text messaging while driving.  A new Kansas law enacted in January 2011 penalizes drivers for texting while driving.  Police may now issue tickets when observing an individual texting while behind the wheel even if the driver is stopped at a red light.  This law is also applicable to novice drivers, such as those driving under a learner’s permit or intermediate-licensed drivers who are under the age of 20.

These new technologies combined with laws to implement these technologies may eventually reduce the risk associated with cell phone related distracted driving.  Many Kansas residents will continue to suffer serious injury or even death at the hands of distracted drivers using their cell phone to call or text.

If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a Kansas distracted driving accident, our Missouri auto accident lawyers are merely a phone call away.