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Las Vegas Medical Malpractice Attorney

When healthcare professionals shirk their duties and provide levels of care below accepted industry standards, innocent patients bear the brunt of the harm. When the patients are a mother and her unborn child, the damages that affect both can be life changing. Professional negligence, formerly known as “medical malpractice” in Nevada, refers to negligence from a healthcare professional that results in harm, injury, or death to a patient. You may be able to pursue a professional negligence claim in Las Vegas if you or a loved one is such a patient in a birth injury case. At Claggett & Sykes, our medical malpractice attorneys can answer your questions during a free consultation.

5 Common Types of Medical Negligence Claim

While professional negligence can cover a wide range of issues, in the medical field the most common are:

1. Misdiagnosis

The leading type of physician error, misdiagnosis can be life-threatening as it can delay treatment for serious conditions.  The most commonly misdiagnosed diseases include heart attack, pulmonary embolism, infections, tumors in the body, and heart disease.

2.  Obstetric and Gynecologic Negligence

This type commonly occurs during labor and delivery but also extends to prenatal care during the pregnancy.

3. Surgical Errors

mistakes during anesthesia and surgery are very common and can include (among others) leaving a foreign object or surgical instrument inside the body, nerve damage, wrong site surgery, incorrect operation and even operations on the wrong patient.

4. Prescription Drug Errors

Prescription drug errors can include prescribing the wrong medication or amount AND the pharmacy administering the wrong medication.

5. Negligent Medical Advice 

Doctors and other medical professionals are required to make you aware of the risks of a surgery or procedure and make you aware of your options. This will help the patient decide whether they want a specific procedure or not. If doctors fail to give you the proper information and something goes wrong, it could have devastating results. You and your family members could have a good medical negligence case against the hospital.

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy refers to a group of disorders that affects movement and posture. It is a physical disability that stems from damage to the brain during development – either during gestation, labor, or shortly after birth. People with cerebral palsy have its effects for life. The symptoms can vary and affect movement, coordination, muscle tone, reflex, and balance. Cerebral palsy can also result in learning, intellectual, speech, visual, and hearing impairments. Some signs of this disorder can improve or get worse over time. Cerebral palsy is the most common physical disability in children, with 17 million diagnosed worldwide.

Cerebral palsy can occur due to abnormal brain development or injury to the brain while an infant is in the womb, or shortly after birth. Accidents, negligence, abuse, medical malpractice, undiagnosed infections, and traumatic injuries may all cause cerebral palsy in an infant. While professional negligence only contributes to an estimated 10% of cerebral palsy cases, this is still a significant amount when you consider how many children have this disorder. This is 10% of patients who may have led normal lives were it not for the negligence of a healthcare professional.

A medical professional may cause a child to develop cerebral palsy in a few different ways. Failing to monitor the mother during pregnancy can lead to infections that go untreated and transfer from mother to baby. Monitoring fetal vital signs during labor and delivery is also important. Missing signs of distress, such as umbilical cord prolapse, can lead to failure to remedy the situation in time to prevent brain damage from lack of oxygen. If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy and you suspect professional negligence, consider speaking to an attorney about a potential claim in Las Vegas.

Types of Birth Trauma Caused by Professional Negligence

Birth trauma can refer to traumatic events that a mother undergoes during and after childbirth. It can also refer to traumatic injuries a child sustains during a difficult birth. These events can result in long-term mental, emotional, or psychological effects and conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder in the mother. Birth trauma goes beyond typical events that happen during childbirth and into the realm of professional negligence. A medical professional may cause birth trauma by being apathetic, hostile, careless, or ignoring the needs of the mother. Birth trauma can also arise from improper use of birthing tools and techniques, causing infant injury.

Failing to use reasonable care during the birth of a child can lead to traumatic injuries, such as broken bones, torn ligaments, and head and brain injuries. Birth traumas may also occur when the healthcare provider fails to control maternal blood loss after delivery. When a birth trauma injures a child, the parents have the right to bring a claim in pursuit of general and special damages. These include not only financial losses but also intangible damages, such as mental anguish and loss of enjoyment of life.

What are Brachial Plexus Injuries?

The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves in the shoulder that controls signals from the spine to the shoulder, arm, hand, and fingers. When something compresses, stretches, or rips the brachial plexus nerves, it interrupts the signals and causes disability. Brachial plexus injuries can occur in infants when health care professionals are negligent during delivery. The most common situation surrounding these birth injuries occurs when the baby gets stuck behind the pelvic bone and the doctor fails to use the proper technique, leading to injury to the brachial plexus.

Other circumstances that can result in a brachial plexus injury are breech deliveries, fetal macrosomia, maternal diabetes, and maternal obesity. Monitoring the mother during pregnancy and treating risk factors can prevent brachial plexus injuries. When these nerves rupture and cause a disorder, the infant has “Erb’s palsy.” Erb’s palsy can result in paralysis in the affected arm, loss of motor function, numbness, and decreased grip. An infant will eventually recover from Erb’s palsy with medications, physical therapy, and possibly surgery.

What is Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is similar to other types of diabetes in that it affects how the cells process glucose, or sugar. Gestational diabetes causes high blood sugar in expectant mothers that can affect pregnancy and ultimately influence the infant’s health. It is possible to prevent gestational diabetes with proper monitoring, diet, and exercise. Certain medications can also help combat this condition. It is the healthcare professional’s duty to monitor the mother during pregnancy, recognize signs of gestational diabetes, and administer treatment before it negatively affects the baby.

If a doctor negligently fails to diagnose and treat gestational diabetes, it can lead to excessive birth weight, early birth, respiratory distress syndrome, low blood sugar, and type 2 diabetes later in life for the child. The mother can suffer high blood pressure, preeclampsia, and increased risk of future diabetes. If the courts deem that a “reasonable and prudent” professional would have done something differently to control gestational diabetes and prevent the harm, it may rule that the defendant was professionally negligent.

Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is a condition that comes with symptoms such as high blood pressure, protein in the urine, and water retention. Severe preeclampsia can cause headaches, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, abdominal pain, and shortness of breath. If left untreated, preeclampsia can turn into eclampsia, which is a severe and potentially fatal condition that can cause seizures or HELLP syndrome – a condition that affects the blood, liver function, and cardiovascular system. Untreated preeclampsia can also result in low birth weight in the baby.

At prenatal checkups, your healthcare provider should check blood pressure, urine levels, and elements of your blood that could point to preeclampsia. Other tests may include ultrasounds, Doppler scans, and kidney and blood-clotting tests. The doctor should take any signs of preeclampsia seriously, and prescribe appropriate treatment. Failure to watch for, diagnose, and treat preeclampsia within a reasonable time period may be professional negligence, or medical malpractice.

Proving Professional Negligence in Las Vegas, Nevada

If you experienced any of the above-mentioned events during your pregnancy or delivery, you may be the victim of professional negligence, but not every poor outcome is the result of medical malpractice. You must have the four elements that prove these types of cases in Nevada:

  1. This is typically easy to prove if the defendant was your doctor, hospital, or healthcare provider at the time of your alleged injury. Medical professionals owe high duties of care to their patients, as do hospitals in Las Vegas.
  2. To be legally responsible for an accident, an individual or entity must have breached its duties of care. A “breach” is any act of negligence, recklessness, or criminal act that went against the industry’s standards of care.
  3. Proof of the defendant’s breach of duty alone is not enough to bring a lawsuit. The defendant’s breach of duty must have caused your birth injury or at least significantly contributed to it.
  4. You must show that you suffered real damages because of the incident. This can include your injuries, your child’s injuries, a disability, physical pain, emotional suffering, and medical bills.

These are the four main elements of a professional negligence claim. Keep in mind that you may have a different type of legal claim in a birth injury case. For example, if a defective fetal monitoring system caused your incident, you may not be able to sue the doctor for failing to identify fetal distress, but rather the product’s manufacturer or distributor. In this case, you would have a product liability claim instead of a professional negligence one in Nevada. Speak with an attorney about your particular case to learn about your legal options.

Get Legal Help for Professional Negligence & Medical Malpractice in Las Vegas

Birth injuries are extremely serious. They can permanently affect you or your child’s life. After any type of birth injury, it may be worthwhile to speak with a professional negligence lawyer. There is a chance that a negligent medical professional caused or contributed to your incident. You may be able to sue the doctor that handled your pregnancy/delivery, the hospital, and/or a third party.

There are laws you must follow to bring a professional negligence claim in Nevada. These laws can be intricate, and require a lawyer’s assistance. There is a statute of limitations, or deadline, for filing on these claims. You have three years from the date of the injury, or one year after the date of the injury’s discovery, to bring this type of claim. If your case involves brain damage or a child’s birth defects, you have until the child’s 10th birthday to file a professional negligence claim. Several factors can affect this deadline. Speak with an attorney for information about your specific case to avoid missing your opportunity.

Nevada also requires an affidavit of merit for professional negligence claims. This is a document, signed by expert medical witness, that states a healthcare provider’s serious mistake or omission caused your injuries. The medical expert must have a career in the same or a similar field as the defendant. The personal injury lawyers in Las Vegas at Claggett & Sykes Law Firm can help with the filing process, and they can acquire expert medical professionals for your affidavit. Trust your case with us and see the difference experienced lawyers can make. Contact us today for your initial consultation.