Medical Errors and Their Tragic Consequences

As a Keene, NH medical malpractice lawyer, I read the NY Times article concerning a medical error that resulted in amputation with sadness and dismay. The author describes his own journey in coping with the loss of a limb as a result of an undetected medical error that had occurred 17 years earlier. As he notes, the error was preventable but caused physical and emotional suffering that will last a lifetime. In his own words, Frederick Southwick describes steps that could have prevented such a medical error, “Despite calls to action by patient advocates and the adoption of safety programs, there is no sign that the numbers of errors, injuries and deaths have improved. Why? Because those responsible for the delivery of health care have been unable to change how they do things. They could help themselves by embracing the lessons of great manufacturing companies to improve quality and efficiency. Automatic alarm systems and shut-off switches can be designed to make it nearly impossible for caregivers to do the wrong thing. Checklists and specific protocols based on best practices for each procedure can also help. In my case, if an alarm had alerted the doctor to how long the cuff had been in place, if the cuff had automatically deflated after a period of time, or if a checklist had reminded the doctor to remove it, my leg might never have been injured. Better yet, if the doctors had not used the cuff, which evidence has shown can be dangerous to patients, I would still be walking on that leg today.”
If you suspect you’ve been a victim of medical malpractice, contact me. I am a medical malpractice trial attorney with more than 35 years of trial experience.