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Medical Malpractice

The Nixon Law Firm, PLLC is a leading law firm working on behalf of patients and their families who are injured or killed by medical negligence. I have successfully resolved many medical cases for my clients.

Due to our reputation and involvement in state and national professional associations, I have been referred cases from around the country for representation. I welcome referrals of medical negligence cases in all areas. I have developed medical expertise in many areas, and know where to go to learn new areas and find the necessary experts.

Notable Medical Negligence Cases

Because of confidentiality rules, I cannot tell you the names of the people involved in most of my medical negligence cases, or the amount recovered. But I can tell you what the medical issues were, which may help you decide whether you may have a claim. In all of the following cases, I was able to get a generous settlement for my client.

  1. Failure to diagnose myocardial infarction. Our client’s husband began to experience symptoms which included chest pressure and fatigue. When he sought treatment from a hospital emergency department and a cardiologist, despite suspicious findings in EKG and bloodwork results, he was sent home and advised that he did not have a heart problem. Tragically, he suffered a fatal heart attack a few days later, leaving a widow and two young children. Our expert concluded that this man’s risk factors, symptoms, and test results required further follow-up and testing, which would have led to the correct diagnosis and treatment that would have saved his life.
  2. Failure to diagnose spinal cord injury leading to paralysis. Our client’s aunt was an elderly but active woman who was in a minor car accident. When she presented to a hospital emergency department with symptoms including weakness and diminished sensation on one side, the physician who saw her concluded she had suffered a stroke, and referred her to another institution for physical therapy. She eventually became a paraplegic and had to be admitted to a nursing home, where she quickly deteriorated and eventually died. Our expert concluded that her history and symptoms required an MRI, which would have revealed spinal cord impingement which was surgically correctible had it been diagnosed early on.
  3. Obstetrical negligence – use of forceps resulting in fractured skull. Our client’s mother experienced a protracted delivery, and her obstetrician decided to use forceps to accomplish the delivery. Her little boy was born with a fractured skull, which resulted in partial paralysis. Our expert concluded that the obstetrician failed to recognize that the cause of the protracted delivery was the baby’s large size in proportion to the size of the mother’s pelvis, and a Caesarean was required for a safe delivery.
  4. Failure to diagnose melanoma. Our client reported a small growth on his back to his primary care physician. The physician visually inspected it, and reassured the man that it was of no concern. When after a period of time the growth increased in size and began to bleed, a biopsy revealed that it was malignant melanoma that had advanced to a stage where it was not curable, resulting in our client’s painful and disfiguring illness and eventual death. Our experts concluded that the growth should have been biopsied when it was first observed, and that the melanoma would have been diagnosed and effectively treated.
  5. Surgical negligence – improper foot surgery. Our client complained of foot pain and sought treatment from an orthopedic surgeon, who performed surgery that made his condition worse, resulting in permanent pain and disability. Our expert concluded that the man should have been referred to either a podiatrist or orthopedic surgeon specializing in foot surgery, and that appropriate surgery which avoided weight-bearing areas of the foot would have successfully treated our client’s symptoms.
  6. Negligent plastic surgery leading to disfigurement. Our client sought cosmetic evaluation and treatment for a stomach that had been stretched from childbirth. The plastic surgeon recommended and performed liposuction as well as abdominoplasty, which resulted in a disabling and unsightly infection, and permanent disfigurement. Our expert concluded that performance of both types of plastic surgery is contraindicated in the abdominal area because of the area’s vascularity.
  7. Psychiatric negligence. Our client sought psychiatric treatment for what she believed was depression. The psychiatrist diagnosed bipolar disorder, and prescribed an array of medications in increasingly powerful doses, and ordered electroconvulsive therapy. Our client became agitated, depressed, and suicidal, and experienced memory loss. Our expert concluded that the woman had been incorrectly diagnosed and overmedicated, and that the correct diagnosis was attention deficit disorder, treatable with minimal medication and counseling that would not have resulted in disability.
  8. Failure to diagnose tracheitis. Our client’s two-year old son experienced difficulty breathing. Our client called her pediatrician, who advised that he did not need to be seen, and that he had a virus that was prevalent in the area that could be treated with Tylenol and over-the-counter cough medicine. She put him to bed and found him dead the next morning. Our experts concluded that the boy’s symptoms required that he been seen and that the appropriate tests would have led to the correct diagnosis, which could have been successfully treated with antibiotics.
  9. Failure to diagnose endocarditis. Our client’s wife, who had a history of mitral valve prolapse for which she had had an artificial heart valve implanted, began to experience fatigue, anemia, and weight loss. Her primary care physician prescribed iron supplements without performing any diagnostic testing. She did not improve and eventually died. Autopsy revealed endocarditis, an infection of the lining of the heart. Our experts concluded that her artificial valve put her at risk for endocarditis, and that her symptoms required an echocardiogram, which would have revealed the endocarditis, that could have been successfully treated with antibiotics.
  10. Obstetrical negligence – improper use of vacuum extraction. Our client was admitted under the care of an obstetrician for the delivery of daughter. He attempted to hasten the delivery with the use of a vacuum extractor, which resulted in extensive tearing of the mother’s vaginal and perineal tissues, and creation of a fistula. This resulted in incontinence and loss of bowel control, which caused loss of ability to work and severe emotional trauma. Our expert concluded that less damaging alternatives, such as episiotomy or Cesarean should have been offered and would not have caused permanent injury.
  11. Failure to diagnose bowel perforation following abdominal surgery. Our client had laparoscopic surgery for gallstones. When she reported abdominal pain, constipation and other symptoms following the surgery, she was advised to take Maalox and sent home. Her continued symptoms caused her to return to the hospital, but even after admission she was not offered a surgical consult, until after an abdominal CT scan which revealed a perforated intestine. She was then transferred to another hospital, where emergency surgery was performed. Because of the infection caused by the delay, she required a lengthy hospitalization, with several surgeries, intravenous antibiotics, and other rehabilitative measures. She was left with permanent disability, scarring, and disfigurement. Our experts concluded that her symptoms required immediate radiological studies and a surgical consultation, which would have prevented the permanent harm that she suffered.
  12. Failure to diagnose corneal perforation. Our client experienced a work injury as a result of a wire hitting his eye. He was examined by an emergency room physician who diagnosed a corneal abrasion, and prescribed a topical antibiotic. Our client continued to experience pain, tearing, and production of pus in his eye, and returned to the emergency department the following morning. A different physician diagnosed a perforation of the cornea, through the lens, and he was transferred to a different institution for emergency surgery. The surgery was too late to save the sight in his eye, and he was left blind in that eye. Our expert concluded that the emergency department physician failed to conduct an appropriate examination and diagnostic tests, which would have revealed the perforation upon initial admission and resulted in intravenous antibiotic therapy and surgery that would have saved our client’s eyesight.
  13. Failure to diagnose colon perforation after hysterectomy. Our client had a routine hysterectomy but shortly thereafter began to develop shortness of breath, and nausea. On the first day after her surgery, she had decreased urine output, and later developed decreased appetite. The shortness of breath worsened, and she was seen in the hospital by the on-call physician, who thought she might have fluid overload. Her condition developed to include abdominal complaints. It was not until six days after her surgery that a CT scan was done of her abdomen, which showed free air, which would be indicative of a bowel perforation. Exploratory abdominal surgery revealed a jejunal perforation. This had caused the shortness of breath, which was eventually diagnosed as ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome), and required her to be on a ventilator in the ICU. She was not discharged from the hospital until several months later, and remains with major lung problems that have resulted in a significant decrease in her level of activity. The case was heard by a screening panel which included a retired judge, a lawyer, and a doctor, who decided unanimously in favor of the plaintiff.
  14. Failure to diagnose colon cancer. Our client began to experience gastrointestinal symptoms, and was referred by her family doctor to a surgeon for a colonoscopy. He told her he found nothing worrisome, and that she should repeat the colonoscopy in one year. Almost exactly one year later, after continued symptoms, a CT scan revealed a very large tumor which was diagnosed as stage IV colon cancer. Surgery and chemotherapy were unsuccessful in preventing the spread of her cancer, and she died at age 55, leaving a husband, children and grandchildren. Our experts said the tumor was present at the time of the colonoscopy, and if the surgeon has followed the guidelines which had been extensively discussed in the medical literature, he would have seen it and been able to remove it, with complete recovery.
  15. Delayed diagnosis of colon cancer. Our client was able to survive, but will have a lifetime of gastrointestinal problems and fear of recurring cancer. He suffered for months after his gastroenterologist told him he had diverticulitis, and that he should change his diet. Through careful review of his medical records I was able to determine that the doctor had rushed the colonoscopy procedure, with a “withdrawal time” less than the guidelines call for, causing him to miss the tumor. Our experts confirmed that prompt recognition and removal of the tumor would have relieved his symptoms, and prevented the need for chemotherapy.
  16. Unnecessary surgery for a rectal tear. During a routine laparoscopic hysterectomy our client’s obstetrical gynecologist inadvertently burned a small area in her rectum, which developed a leak a few days later. At the emergency department she was seen by the OB-GYN on call. Rather than admitting her for observation, and consultation by a colo-rectal surgeon, the doctor decided to perform emergency surgery removing part of the rectum, suturing the ends together and creating an ileostomy to divert the contents of her intestine to a bag. An infection began due to the leakage of fecal material, and the surrounding abdominal tissue became necrotic, resulting in a large open wound in her abdomen. Over the next three years our client needed several surgeries, by a colorectal surgeon and other specialists and had to give up her job as a nurse for the VA. Our expert said the surgery was done too quickly, as the tear might have healed by itself with antibiotic treatment and it was done improperly, with sub-optimal placement of the ileostomy.
  17. Failure to diagnose appendicitis. Our client presented to the Emergency Department with abdominal pain and vomiting. Rather than performing a CT scan or an ultrasound, the Emergency Department doctor sent her home telling her to follow up with her primary care doctor. The primary doctor relied on incorrect information entered into her chart by a medical assistant and claimed that because she did not report abdominal pain, his diagnosis of a simple viral illness was correct. In fact, a review of the computerized billing records showed that he had recorded abdominal pain, an important sign that she was suffering from appendicitis. After she was sent home, her symptoms seemed to resolve, and she was able to return to college out of state after the Christmas holidays. In fact, her appendix had burst and when she went to the hospital in the city where her college was located it was found she had severe sepsis that required surgery and extensive antibiotic treatment. Had she delayed going to the hospital, she would have died. The doctor who treated her agreed to testify on her behalf and said that both the Emergency Department doctor and her primary care doctor were at fault.
  18. Failure to monitor after surgery for adverse effects of pain medication. Our client underwent a routine knee replacement surgery and required pain medication during his post-surgery hospitalization. He was evaluated before his surgery, and the hospital staff noted that because he had sleep apnea, he was at high risk for a respiratory event, so should have pulse oximetry monitoring after surgery. This was not implemented and he was given oxycodone and morphine for pain control, with inadequate monitoring by nurses not trained in pain management. He was found unresponsive on the morning of his second post-surgery day. Although he was able to be revived, he remains permanently brain damaged, with both physical and mental disabilities. Our experts said he should have been monitored and that if he had been, his oxygen deprivation would have been detected in time to prevent his anoxic encephalopathy and resulting disability.

These are just a few of the complex medical issues which I have researched and learned about leading to successful outcomes for our clients. As a medical negligence lawyer, I believe it is my obligation to know the medicine as well as the law, which allows me to challenge the experts hired by the defense. Please contact us if you have questions regarding a possible medical malpractice case. You can reach us by phone at 603-669-7070 or fill out our online contact form.