As patients, we hold a reasonable amount of expectation that while under the immediate care of medical professionals we will receive thorough and proper medical attention. We have the right to expect that in assessing our condition Physicians and other responsible medical staff will provide us with a correct diagnosis, prognosis and treatment options. It is the obligation of those directly responsible for a patient’s medical care to refer the patient to a specialist if they cannot make a definite diagnosis and in certain cases time is critical.
In cases involving head trauma, special care must be undertaken beginning with the initial contact with the patient. Neck, shoulder and head stabilization is vital, medical responders are trained in responding to head trauma injuries. Upon arrival at the hospital, a patient will enter through the emergency room, at that time a thorough assessment should be conducted. Injuries to the head are typically evaluated by using the Glascow Scale, defining injuries either mild, moderate or severe. These tests evaluate a patient’s motor response, visual and verbal abilities. They are designed to identify the patient’s current status, having little to no outlook on potential future impairments.
There are a variety of injuries that a human head can sustain. Closed head wounds are often the most difficult to detect because symptoms might not present themselves immediately and in some cases not until months after the injury occurred. Even mild cases of head trauma, such as a concussion may have long-term affects on the patient. Approximately 5.3 million people who’ve experienced a head trauma suffer permanent disabilities. These disabilities may result in loss of employment or employability, familial or close relationships, even life skills. The costs of further medical care, rehabilitation services, and education or training services can be life consuming.
Undetected brain injuries can become more symptomatic over time. They demonstrate themselves in many ways from behavioral, to psychological, and physical. A person may experience unexplained mood swings, or inappropriate behaviors at specific situations. Depending on the where the injury occurred to the head, if damage occurs to central control centers in the brain it may impair motor skills functions, speech impairments, cognitive deficits, even presenting itself in atypical personality changes. Predominant physical symptoms include headaches, dizziness, disproportionate pupils; a progression of lethargy, and confusion may also be present. A suffering patient may be prone to anxiety, episodes of anger, sudden moodiness, paranoia, and feeling panicked.
If no presentable injuries are obvious, and goes, undiagnosed or is diagnosed as another condition the results can be detrimental. In certain cases an err could be fatal. A complete neuropsychological evaluation should be conducted that should includes Computed Tomography (CT) Scan ,Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) ,and a Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT) Scan. Over 230,000 cases presented to hospital emergency rooms are admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. However, emergency rooms and ICU units are responsible for between 20-40% of the misdiagnosis rate. Medical misdiagnosis’ and medical malpractice are two very different concerns. Both set standards for civil compensatory proceedings.
In cases, involving medical misdiagnosis accountability is held on part of physicians and hospital staff that failed to correctly diagnose the severity of the injury. Common misdiagnoses are acute psychological disorders, headaches, deafness, or physical ailments however, a large number of illnesses and diseases have additionally considered. Misdiagnosis is defined as a patient having received either a complete or a partially wrong diagnosis. The general compensatory cap applies, and physicians and physician’s representatives, such as hospitals and agencies that bare a financial stake in the hospital can be held liable. Currently North Carolina does not require physicians maintain litigation insurance.
Medical Malpractice suits take on a different context. Medical malpractice is considered when a physician, nursing staff, or other responsible hospital personnel can be shown to have failed to diagnose and assist the patient in receiving an appropriate diagnosis. If the hospital staff failed to act in a timely manner as needed due to the extent of injury, a surgical error resulted, hypoxia occurred in the care of medical personnel, or medication errors were made, the Physician, and hospital representatives can be held liable.
Both Negligence and Malpractice cases are complex, requiring extensive examination into the facts of the case, medical records, and car the patient received. The complainant carries the burden of proof, and records must clearly demonstrate that no pre-existing conditions were an underlying factor, including the nature of the head trauma itself. In cases of medical neglect, the complainant must prove that a negligent act resulted or that responsible parties willfully failed to act to prevent further damage to the patient. Expert Testimony will be required. Experts must satisfy North Carolina’s requirements as mandated by state law, having equitable knowledge and credentials (Stat. 8C-1, Rules of Evidence 702) as those that initially treated the patient.
An injured party may bring a complaint against a physician, a physicians representatives and medical staff involved in the patients care within 3 years of the date of incident. 1 year from the date of injury, or within a time in which the patient should have discovered the injury, but no later then 4 years from the date of injury. (N.C. Stat. 1-15, 1-52(16). North Carolina does not limit compensation caps pertaining to the extent of damages, however (N. C. Stat. 1D-25)caps awardable amounts pertaining to punitive damages, equal to three times the settled amount of compensatory damages or to the amount of $250,000, whichever is greater.