Our medical malpractice lawyer in Austin helps clients understand their legal rights and the options they may have to seek compensation.
Facts about Austin, Texas
Austin is the state capital of Texas, and is the fourth largest city in the state. The population of Austin is over 964,000 people. Austin is part of the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which is comprised of the following counties:
Austin is listed as one of the best places to live in the U.S. The local economy is thriving. The scenic urban landscape is a popular draw for young professionals and families. Suburbs of the Austin area that are popular and growing include Round Rock, Cedar Park, San Marcos, and Georgetown.
The Greater Austin area has a large population of college students thanks to the University of Texas, which houses more than 50,000 students. The population of Austin is less diverse than other large metropolitan areas. The population is comprised of:
- Caucasian – 68.3%
- Hispanic – 35.1%
- African American – 8.1%
- Asian – 6.3%
- American Indian/Alaska Native – 0.9%
Austin is considered the Live Music Capital of the World, and is noted for its varied tourist attractions. There are more than 250 parks in the city, and it is home to the Circuit of the Americas.
Austin is also considered a hub of research and development, and is nationally recognized for technological efforts. Austin also has a reputation for growth in the healthcare environment. Over the past decade, several new hospital systems have been built, including a new Scott & White Healthcare clinic and Lakeway Regional Medical Center’s Lake Travis Specialty Hospital.
Our Practice Areas
At MedMalFirm.com, we help clients who have been injured due to medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, birth injuries, pressure ulcers, and more. Our medical malpractice lawyer in Austin has a great deal of experience litigating these cases and has obtained millions of dollars on behalf of our clients.
Austin Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Medical malpractice injuries are tragic, and the consequences are far-reaching. We trust our healthcare providers to offer the best service and care possible. When preventable medical mistakes are made, not only are patients left to pick up the pieces, but it also hinders trust in the healthcare profession.
At MedMalFirm.com, our medical malpractice lawyer in Austin understands that mistakes are a part of life. Still, our team believes that preventable medical mistakes should be documented, and those responsible should be held accountable for their actions. The majority of medical malpractice lawsuits filed in the United States are the result of human error, including negligence or malicious intent.
Examples of Medical Malpractice Claims:
- Doctor fails to diagnose a medical condition
- Doctor misdiagnoses a medical condition
- Surgeon operates on the wrong patient
- Nurse improperly administers medication
- Patient develops bedsores due to not being repositioned
- Patient is prescribed medication they are allergic to
Patients should feel empowered to stand up for their legal rights and health.
Diagnostic Errors are Largest Source of Malpractice Claims, Study Shows
A study examining medical malpractice claims from 2013 to 2017 showed that diagnostic errors were the largest source of claims during those years. Studies like this one highlight the factors that most commonly lead to medical malpractice claims, as well as identifying the challenges that healthcare providers face when making decisions.
According to research provided by Coverys, 33% of medical malpractice claims filed between 2013 and 2017 were related to diagnostic errors. Half of these claims were related to poor clinical decision-making. Researchers reviewed more than 10,000 medical malpractice claims, which revealed the following information:
- Approximately 36% of diagnostic-related claims involved a patient death.
- An additional 36% of claims occurred in an outpatient setting.
- Around 33% of diagnostic-related claims included claims that the healthcare provider:
- Failed to properly evaluate the patient
- Failed to obtain adequate family history or medical records
- Around 52% of claims involved diagnostic errors related to laboratory testing, including:
- Doctors ordering the wrong test
- Technicians improperly performing the test
- Tests being misinterpreted
- Among all claims, 14% involved radiologists.
While other areas of medical malpractice-related claims have decreased over this period of time, the number of diagnosis-related claims has remained steady. Researchers reported that the second largest source of medical malpractice claims was surgical or procedural-related claims, which accounted for 24% of claims.
Austin Birth Injury Lawyer
If you or your child were injured during labor or delivery, you understandably have many concerns. At MedMalFirm.com, our Austin birth injury lawyers are frequently contacted by families who have questions about birth injuries and their legal rights. When a birth injury occurs, it can be difficult to sort out the cause of the injury and determine who may be responsible.
Of course, there are some complications and medical events that cannot be prevented or predicted. Unfortunately, the majority of birth injury cases are the result of medical malpractice or negligence. That means that a healthcare provider violated the standards of care in some way, and this violation resulted in harm to you or your child.
Examples of violating the standards of care could include:
- Failure to diagnose or treat a medical condition
- Failure to order a c-section when needed
- Improper administration of medications
- Inappropriate operation of medical equipment
- Inappropriate use of epidural-related drugs
How Common are Medical Errors?
When you seek medical attention, the last thing on your mind is the possibility that the person caring for you could do more harm than good. Unfortunately, new research indicates that a significant number of Americans are injured, or die, as a direct result of medical errors, rather than a medical condition requiring treatment.
A report published in the BMJ suggests that medical errors may be the third leading cause of death among U.S. patients, following cancer and heart disease.
Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer in Austin
Each year, thousands of American families face the difficult decision of whether or not to place an elderly loved one in a nursing home. At MedMalFirm.com, our nursing home abuse lawyer in Austin knows that this decision is never an easy one to make. Furthermore, as you make the decision, you are faced with placing a certain level of trust in the nursing home to provide care in an adequate manner. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse is a tragedy that occurs far more often than we would care to know.
The truth is, not every nursing home is reputable, and a career in elder care is not for everyone. If you suspect your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse, contact a nursing home abuse lawyer in Austin without delay. Victims of elder abuse are significantly more likely to die early and unexpectedly compared to nursing home residents who receive adequate care.
Signs to Watch Out For
Signs your loved one may be experiencing abuse or neglect include:
- Malnutrition or dehydration
- Unclean bedding or living area
- Acting fearful or withdrawn
- Frequent crying
- Persistent complaints of poor treatment
- Unexplained bruises, cuts, burns, or broken bones
- Frequent “falls”
- Blood on clothing or undergarments
- Infection with venereal disease
- Suspicious transfers or withdrawals of funds
- Fraudulent checks or forged signatures
- Cash, valuable, or other asset disappearance
- Stolen identity
Any of the above occurrences are sufficient reason to contact a nursing home abuse lawyer right away. A skilled lawyer will be able to help you determine whether your loved one’s experience constitutes nursing home abuse. This is done by conducting a thorough investigation into your case.
Helpful tips if you suspect nursing home abuse:
- Keep records of any visits to the facility
- Take photographs of any injuries
- Take photographs of unsanitary living spaces
- Document interactions with staff
- Keep copies of medical records
- Keep copies of all financial statements
Elderly Abuse in Nursing Homes: What Statistics Show
While it is difficult to imagine someone willfully and intentionally abusing an elderly individual, the fact is that elder abuse in nursing homes happens at an alarming rate in the U.S. In 2013, the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee conducted research designed to highlight the prevalence of elder abuse in nursing homes.
The report indicated that as many as 30% of nursing homes across the U.S. have been cited for abuse between 1999 and 2001 alone. The 30% recorded accounts for nearly 9,000 citations across more than 5,200 facilities.
If the number of incident reports alone is not enough to concern U.S. families, the number of serious incident reports should. The same report indicated that more than 1,600 reported cases of abuse were significant enough to have caused “actual harm to residents to place the resident in immediate jeopardy of death or serious injury”.
Abuse in Nursing Homes Higher among Federally Funded Facilities?
One element of the government research report that is particularly troubling is the fact that the vast majority of nursing homes cited for abuse violations are for-profit. Furthermore, many accept funding from the federal government. According to the study, 11,000 of the 17,000 nursing homes in the U.S. are for-profit.
One of the downsides to for-profit nursing homes is the fact that limited and scrutinized funding often leads to lower pay for staff members. In some cases, the lower pay could result in inadequate background checks and training. Conversely, not-for-profit facilities may have access to more funding and more qualified staffing.
The Real Picture of the Elderly Population in the United States
With nursing home abuse reports increasing in number since the 1990’s, it is important to consider the future of the elderly population in the U.S., especially with the aging “baby boomer” population. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) Administration on Aging (AOA), it is anticipated that individuals 65 and older will comprise 20% of the total population of the U.S. by 2050. That is a significant concern for the individuals and agencies working to protect elderly Americans.
With a lack of properly trained staff at nursing homes an already growing problem, it is plausible that the reported 30% of nursing homes receiving citations could increase exponentially.
Austin Pressure Ulcer Lawyer
When a patient confined to a bed or wheelchair is too weak or sick to move on their own, they must rely on a caregiver to regularly lift and reposition them. Routine repositioning prevents the skin from having unrelieved contact with the surface of the bed or chair. Unrelieved pressure and friction can damage the skin and lead to pressure ulcers.
Many caregivers do not follow proper protocol for repositioning patients. The result is development of pressure ulcers, which are painful, can become infected, and can be life-threatening.
Understanding Pressure Ulcers
A pressure ulcer (sometimes called a bedsore or decubitus ulcer) will not develop overnight. Pressure ulcers develop in stages when skin is allowed continuous and uninterrupted contact with a surface. Without proper preventative care, friction will cause irritation, and that will eventually lead to an open, oozing sore.
Pressure ulcers are categorized according to their symptoms and severity, and are broken down into stages. These include:
At this stage, only the surface of the skin is irritated. Blood flow has been interrupted but with attentive care, a Stage 1 pressure ulcer can be reversed leaving no lasting damage.
The outer layers of the skin begin to die. Your loved one has been experiencing uncomfortable pressure and pain for some time. Shallow craters appear as the outer layers of skin die and fall away. This is the time to contact an Austin pressure ulcer attorney before more severe damage occurs.
Deeper layers of the skin are involved, and at this point a pressure ulcer will appear as an open, bleeding wound. As with any open wound, the body is now open to infection. This is the stage at which pressure ulcers can lead to sepsis and other life-threatening complications.
This is the worst stage of a pressure ulcer. A Stage 4 pressure ulcer destroys all the layers of the skin and exposes the muscle and bone underneath. Imagine the pain and suffering involved as patches of skin slowly die to reveal underlying structures. Pressures ulcers of this type are almost exclusively caused by gross neglect and should receive the prompt attention of an Austin pressure ulcer attorney.
Pressure ulcers are horrifying injuries, made only more unacceptable by virtue of being completely preventable. A healthy person confined to a bed has the strength to, more or less, reposition himself as needed, avoiding development of a pressure ulcer. However, an immobile patient’s skin can be pressed to a bed in the same position indefinitely without attention from a responsible caregiver.
Pressure ulcers are completely preventable by following clinical guidelines while caring for patients.
Preventing Pressure Ulcers
The Joint Commission has weighed in on pressure ulcer prevention, and has offered prevention strategies based on information from the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP). These strategies are included in the NPUAP “Pressure Injury Prevention Points“, and include:
- Risk Assessment – Every patient should be assessed for risk factors including a history of pressure ulcers, vascular problems, or a history of conditions like diabetes.
- Skin Care – Patients should be provided with adequate skin care. This includes regular skin inspections, cleaning, moisturizing, and avoiding sensitive pressure points when positioning.
- Nutrition – While ill, injured, or in the hospital, patients are at a greater risk of being undernourished. Proper nutrition is important to maintaining healthy skin.
- Mobilization and Positioning – Immobility is the greatest factor in pressure ulcer development. Patients should be turned or repositioned at routine intervals. Caregivers should consider the patient’s overall health, weight, and skin condition.
- Monitoring, Training, and Leadership – The prevalence of pressure ulcers should be monitored. Healthcare teams should be educated about pressure ulcers, and trained in how to prevent, recognize, and treat them.
Pressure ulcers are preventable with proper care, and if treated in a timely manner, the risk of complications is quite small. Unfortunately, many people who develop these injuries are neglected, or are left without treatment to the point that the wound progresses. If pressure ulcers are not properly treated, complications can quickly develop.
Factors like malnourishment and poor hygiene can increase the risk of complications. Serious complications that can result from pressure ulcers include infection, sepsis, and gangrene. These complications can result in the need for amputation, or can be fatal. Wounds that progress to this point is also often a sign of medical malpractice or neglect.
When to Call a Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Austin
If you suspect that you or someone you love is a victim of medical malpractice, contact a medical malpractice lawyer in Austin as soon as possible.
Texas law has certain procedures for filing a medical malpractice claim. Victims (plaintiffs) are required to give a 60-day notice to the healthcare provider named in the claim (defendant). There are also time-specific requirements for filing expert witness reports and other documents.
It is the patient’s burden to prove that a healthcare provider violated the standards of care, and that this violation caused the injuries suffered. Proving negligence requires a thorough review of your situation and interviewing expert witnesses and other parties. This process can be lengthy, and depending on your case, can be complicated.
While you may be anxious to file a claim and pursue recovery, it is important that your case is managed properly and follows state laws. That is where a medical malpractice lawyer in Austin at MedMalFirm.com can help you.