As the pandemic continues to impact many industries and ways of life, some are surprised by the increase in medical malpractice cases across the country. Shortages of supplies like personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer in addition to shortages of staffing and rooms in many hospitals has forced medical teams to make difficult decisions that may generate medical malpractice suits.
As courts sift through the many medical malpractice cases with limited staff and limited hours, medical professionals and attorneys who deal with medical malpractice cases say that they have seen more active cases related to COVID-19 or in relation to some of the ramifications of the pandemic. This may mean longer wait times of compensation for those seeking damages from negligent nurses, physicians, or other medical staff.
While the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act that broadly protects those providing medical treatment for covid-19, there may still be individuals who seek compensation on behalf of loved ones who were injured or died due to the negligence of a medical professional.
Additionally, there may still be instances of negligent care for non-coronavirus related medical care because medical staff are overwhelmed from the pandemic, leaving another avenue where patients could seek damages. As the pandemic continues within the U.S., some who have received medical care may want to pursue a claim for negligent care either related to the novel coronavirus, or for another instance of negligence in the medical setting.
What is Medical Malpractice?
A medical malpractice case can arise when a medical or health care professional causes unwarranted or negligent injury to a patient. It could be an action or non-action and can either be an intentional disregard of medical policy or simply an accident.
“Medical malpractice cases can arise in a variety of situations, but commonly occurs in surgeries where a surgical team is in a rush and may fail to sterilize the surgical equipment, or fails to do a proper count before the patient is closed up and mistakenly leaves behind tools or equipment in a patient,” explains attorney Gary Christmas of Christmas Injury Lawyers.
In many instances of medical malpractice, a patient’s life is severely impacted by the action or inaction of the physician or medical team. In the scope of the coronavirus pandemic, some instances that could fall under medical malpractice are premature discharges, failure to recognize systems or order proper testing, and poor follow-up or aftercare.
How Has Coronavirus Created New Medical Malpractice Claims?
As medical professionals continue to learn more and more about the novel coronavirus, their strategies and treatments have adapted. However, there is still a shortage of space and personal protective equipment that threatens hospitals across the country. This means that medical teams may be more likely to release a patient early or incorrectly diagnose a patient to prevent them taking up a bed that could go to a worse-off patient.
Actions like these could cause the severe injury or death of a patient, which is where medical malpractice suits have risen. Whether due to an overwhelmed hospital, or to the lack of awareness in the medical professional treating a patient, some are seeking justice after experiencing medical malpractice in states across the country.
Some claims may be related to inadequate care, and other claims may derive from a patient who entered a hospital for a non-coronavirus related need and was disregarded or insufficiently cared for. In instances like these, patients and their loved ones may benefit from seeking legal representation or assistance. The HHS may have generated broad protections for hospitals and medical teams, but there may still be the possibility of compensation.
There is still much to be understood about the novel coronavirus, but one thing that is for certain is that it will have profound long lasting effects on how medical professionals and everyday people interact. While there does not appear to be an end in sight, there are still many things a person could do to protect themselves and the ones they love from the virus, or from negligent medical care.
For anyone thinking of pursuing a medical malpractice claim, it may be beneficial to reach out to a local attorney who handles these types of cases. With the unprecedented situation created by the coronavirus pandemic, laws and regulations surrounding medical malpractice claims may have changed in a way that impacts a person’s ability to pursue their rightful compensation. Lawyers like them could not only help a person understand the nuances of the law, but they could additionally help them navigate their personal medical malpractice case in such a strange time.
American Double Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. Vonda Wright, Talks About Osteoporosis
Though bones may feel rock solid, they are actually filled with tiny holes in a kind of honeycomb pattern. Bone tissue gets broken down and rebuilt all the time.
“With aging, humans start to lose more bone mass than we build, and those tiny holes within the bones begin to expand, thinning the solid outer layer. In other words, our bones become less dense. Hard bones become spongy, while spongy bones end up becoming spongier. When this loss of bone density becomes intense, that is what is called osteoporosis,” says Dr. Vonda Wright, American double board certified orthopedic surgeon. “More than 10 million people are estimated to have osteoporosis throughout the nation, and this truly is an astonishing number.”
Dr. Wright has cared for athletes and active people of all ages since 1989, specializing in shoulder, hip and knee arthroscopy. She is currently serving as the inaugural Chief of Sports Medicine at the Northside Hospital Orthopedic Institute and is President of the Atlanta Chapter of the American Heart Association. Dr. Wright also actively promotes National Women’s Health Week & Annual Women’s Health Conversations. Below, we join her in conversation to learn more about osteoporosis in aging women and what can be done to prevent it.
“Bones can break as a result of accidents. If your bones are dense enough, they can withstand most falls,” says Dr. Wright. “However, bones deteriorated by osteoporosis are more vulnerable to breaks. The hip is a common candidate for osteoporosis, and is most vulnerable to fractures. A broken hip can lead to a downward spiral of disability. Osteoporosis is also common in the wrist, knee and the spine,” says Dr. Wright.
Osteoporosis in Aging Women
Dr. Vonda Wright reveals that the hormone estrogen enables women to make and rebuild bones. “However, as with menopause, the woman’s estrogen levels drop, eventually speeding up the bone loss. This explains why osteoporosis is most common among older females,” she says.
Dr. Wright recommends that women get screened for osteoporosis regularly after the age of 65. Additionally, women under this age with a high risk for fractures should also be screened regularly.
Reducing the Risk of Osteoporosis
Thankfully, osteoporosis is preventable. “There is a lot that can be done to diminish your risk of osteoporosis. Taking calcium, vitamin D, and exercising is a where to begin,” Dr. Wright says. She explains that calcium is the vital mineral that maintains bone strength. This mineral can be easily obtained from the food you eat— including milk and milk products and dark green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach—or from dietary supplements. She further emphasized that women over age 50 should take at least 1200 mg of calcium each day.
Vitamin D is also essential as it allows the body to absorb calcium. “With aging, your body necessitates more vitamin D that is produced by your skin in the sunlight. Alternatively, you can intake vitamin D from dietary supplements or from specific foods, like milk, eggs, fatty fish, and fortified cereals,” says Dr. Wright.
Exercise strengthens bones, too, particularly weight-bearing exercise like walking, jogging, tennis and dancing. The pull in the muscles acts as a reminder for your bone cells to keep the tissue dense.
Smoking, on the other hand, deteriorates bones. The same goes for heavy drinking. Additionally, some drugs may also increase the risk of osteoporosis.
“And even if you have osteoporosis, it is never too late to get serious about your bone health. As your bones are rebuilding all the time, you can always promote more bone growth by providing them with exercise, calcium, and vitamin D,” says Dr. Wright. “In fact, this is precisely why exercise is essential, for it shapes balance and confidence, thus preventing fractures. Some exercises even provide loads necessary to build bone mass, along with improving balance and coordination—empowering you to catch yourself before you topple.”
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