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Neurosurgeon admits guilt in medical error

Residents in New Mexico may be able to relate to an ongoing legal dispute concerning a fatal medical error that occurred at a healthcare facility in Massachusetts. A 74-year-old woman died in November 2013 after she awoke from an operation that was supposed to be a routine procedure involving an implantable pain pump at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. The woman died from the surgery later that same day.

The neurosurgeon who conducted the operation admitted to the patient's sons that erroneously administering the wrong dye was the direct cause of her death. However, according to one report, despite the practitioner's admission of guilt, his insurers denied any negligence or wrongdoing. The two surviving sons then decided to file a lawsuit against Tufts Medical Center as well as 12 staff members, including surgeons, nurses and pharmacists. The lawsuit was still pending as of Sept. 4, but an insurer has reportedly already made a settlement offer.

There are currently six healthcare facilities in the state that have implemented an initiative to provide immediate apologies for medical errors and financial settlements as early as possible. In addition, state laws passed during 2012 indemnify practitioners' apologies for medical errors from being used as evidence in court. The legislation also requires patients to wait a cooling-period of six months before filing a medical malpractice claim against a practitioner or facility.

Anyone who has lost a family member through medical negligence may benefit from conferring with lawyers about filing a malpractice claim. Legal counsel may be able to investigate the incident and determine whether the practitioner, other staff members or entire facility should be held liable for the resulting damages. These types of lawyers may also be effective in helping clients evaluate if an insurer's settlement offer is reasonable or adequate.

Source: Outpatient Surgery, "Surgeon Admitted Fatal Mistake, But Hospital Fights Negligence Charge", Jim Burger, September 04, 2014

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