BY: Matthew Curtis | IN: Medical Malpractice
When doctors fail to consider treatment a patient is receiving from other physicians or medications taken for unrelated conditions, they can make catastrophic errors that constitute medical malpractice.
The human body is a complex, interconnected, and interdependent system. That’s why a medical problem which impacts one aspect of our health should rarely if ever be looked at in isolation. Treatments or medications which may be effective in resolving one issue may have harmful effects on other conditions or vulnerabilities.
Such was the case in two recently filed lawsuits that Sommers Schwartz attorneys are pursuing based on a doctor’s failure to consult with a patient’s cardiologist before directing the patient to cease taking prescribed blood thinners.
These cases illustrate the damage that can be caused by doctors who fail to take a holistic view of a patient’s condition or fail to consult with their other doctors before deciding on a course of care.
Anticoagulants, as blood thinners are also known, prevent the development of blood clots. While effective at reducing the risk of stroke, heart attacks, pulmonary embolisms and other potentially fatal conditions, blood thinners can also lead to excessive bleeding during or after surgery or other invasive procedures. For that reason, surgeons and anesthesiologists frequently recommend that patients cease taking blood thinners in the days before they undergo a surgical procedure.
But the decision to discontinue blood thinning medication prior to surgery is not one that should be made lightly or without an evaluation of the potential adverse effects. Doctors owe their patients a duty to take into consideration and inform their patients of all the possible risks involved in changing a medication regimen, not just the benefits of the procedure to be performed. This includes consulting with the prescribing cardiologist, who can offer invaluable and possibly life-saving insights into those risks.
Tragically, that did not happen in the two cases we are pursuing.
In one of these cases, our client was to undergo a routine, preventative colonoscopy. Prior to the procedure, the patient’s wife advised the doctor’s office that her husband took the blood thinner Xarelto for atrial fibrillation. An office assistant advised her that her husband should discontinue use of the drug four to five days before the colonoscopy, which he did.
But none of the physicians involved bothered to contact the patient’s cardiologist, who would have advised against stopping the Xarelto more than two days before the procedure. The day after the colonoscopy, the patient died from a massive stroke.
Similarly, another client who was taking the blood-thinner Pradaxa was to receive a pain management injection. Without consulting the patient’s prescribing cardiologist, the anesthesiologist performing the procedure told the patient to stop taking Pradaxa five days beforehand. The day before the scheduled procedure, the patient experienced sudden right-sided weakness, confusion, and inattention – signs of an acute stroke.
Clear communication and complete information are two critical components of proper medical care. Had either physician consulted with their patients’ cardiologists prior to the procedures, they would have been advised to change their recommendations as to when to discontinue taking blood thinners. They would have had the information and background about each patient’s specific condition necessary to make a fully-informed decision, and their patients could have avoided the calamitous consequences of their physicians’ ill-advised recommendations.
When doctors and other health care professionals breach the standard of care in such a manner, the medical malpractice attorneys at Sommers Schwartz stand ready to hold them accountable.
We work closely with patients and their families to obtain compensation for injuries and losses caused by doctor malpractice, anesthesia malpractice, medication errors and all other forms of medical negligence. Our seasoned team of attorneys, nurses, and experts will investigate your claim and determine the best course of action to obtain the best possible outcome.
Please contact the medical malpractice attorneys at Sommers Schwartz for a free consultation to review your case.
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Matthew Curtis is a senior shareholder and member of the Board of Directors at Sommers Schwartz, P.C. For the past 30 years, he has successfully litigated complex personal injury and medical malpractice cases throughout Michigan, and across the United States.