Guide By – Los Angeles Medical Malpractice Attorney
As the Los Angeles medical malpractice attorney who is among the top lawyers in this field, Cherepinskiy Law Firm will zealously apply all of its significant expertise, skills, and devotion to achieve the best outcome for you. The firm’s principal, Dmitriy Cherepinskiy, brings over a decade of experience as a defense lawyer on behalf of health care providers, including doctors, nurses and hospitals. Simply put, Dmitriy spent many years defending medical professionals in complex medical malpractice cases – he knows all their weaknesses …
Medical malpractice means professional negligence by any practitioner in the medical field. A doctor or another health care provider is negligent if he or she breaches the standard of care, and that breach causes an injury or death of a patient. Specific standards of care apply to various medical practitioners depending on their specialty. California law defines the “standard of care” as the level of skill, knowledge, and care in diagnosis and treatment that other reasonably careful [a particular type of a medical specialist, depending on a case] would use in similar circumstances. California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) No. 502 – Standard of Care for Medical Specialists.
If a medical provider’s negligence resulted in an injury or death of a loved one, a Los Angeles medical malpractice lawyer at Cherepinskiy Law Firm will work hard to help you recover compensation. This firm prides itself on its meticulous trial preparation, and it works with the best qualified medical experts who assist with the process of evaluating, investigating, and proving your claim.
Medical Malpractice Statistics
As an experienced medical malpractice attorney in Los Angeles, Cherepinskiy Law Firm understands that doctors and other healthcare providers do not want to commit errors. Yet, medical malpractice occurs with an alarming frequency, and leads to devastating results. The statistical data is staggering:
- Based on the data from a 2016 study by specialists at Johns Hopkins Hospital, every year, errors by medical practitioners cause approximately 250,000 deaths. This astounding number means that, following heart disease and cancer, medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the U.S.
- In fact, each year, medical malpractice in the U.S. leads to more fatalities than car accidents, breast cancer, or AIDS.
- California Department of Health estimates that 7,200 – 9,600 California residents die as a result of hospital-acquired infections
Types of Medical Malpractice
Examples of medical malpractice include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Anesthesia Malpractice
- Birth Injuries
- Delay in Diagnosis and Failure to Diagnose Cancer and Other Conditions
- Emergency Room errors
- Gynecologic surgery errors
- Hospital Negligence
- Medication Errors
- Neurology Malpractice
- Psychiatry Malpractice
- Opioid Overdoses (Pain Medication Misuse)
- Pharmacy Negligence
- Radiation Overdoses
- Radiology Malpractice
- Surgical Negligence
Each of these types of medical malpractice is discussed in detail below.
Detailed Overview of Common Types of Medical Malpractice
When anesthesia is not properly administered or the patient is not adequately monitored, the consequences can be catastrophic and deadly. Common examples of anesthesia malpractice include the following:
- Failure to make sure there is no air in the intravenous (IV) system. Air bubbles in IV tubing can introduce air into a patient’s blood stream and cause an air embolism – when air bubbles travel to the heart, lungs, or brain and lead to a stroke, heart attack, respiratory failure, or even a fatal outcome.
- Failing to provide appropriate pre-operative instructions. For example, when patients undergo general anesthesia, they must be instructed to avoid solid food and liquids for at least 8 hours prior to the surgery. Otherwise, while under anesthesia, stomach contents may move up to a patient’s mouth and get inhaled into his or her trachea and lungs – leading to a potentially fatal aspiration pneumonia.
- Delays in starting anesthesia. A delay in the administration of anesthesia or an inadequately small dose of an anesthetic may make a patient feel pain during a surgery.
- Administering excessive or insufficient doses of anesthetic. Excessive doses of anesthesia can cause intraoperative cardiac and/or respiratory arrests and multiple injuries, including a coma, brain injury, and even death. On the other hand, when paralytic and/or sedative components of anesthesia do not work properly due to an incorrect or a low dose, in addition to feeling pain, a patient can experience “anesthesia awareness” – a horrifying event when the patient wakes up during a surgery. Victims of anesthesia awareness suffer from subsequent emotional and psychological impairments, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), flashbacks, and nightmares requiring long-term therapy and counseling.
- Using an anesthetic, which a patient is allergic to.
- Failing to administer oxygen intra-operatively.
- Intubation Errors. In order to ensure safe breathing during surgery, patients are frequently intubated. However, mistakes – such as (a) the failure to perform an airway evaluation or (b) inappropriate positioning of the patient and the anesthesiologist during the insertion of the endotracheal tube – can cause airway obstructions, oxygen deprivation (hypoxia and asphyxia) and the resulting permanent brain injury or even death.
- Negligent monitoring of patients. During surgeries, anesthesiologists have a duty to properly monitor patients’ oxygen levels and vital signs. If there is any change in a patient’s oxygen saturation or vital sign status, a surgeon must be immediately notified. Inadequate monitoring or the failure to monitor can lead to tragic outcomes.
- Using defective medical devices and equipment during anesthesia, including inappropriate product labels.
Birth injuries caused by medical malpractice have the potential to cause devastating lifelong disabilities and permanently change the lives or newborns and their families. For a detailed discussion of these devastating injuries, please visit the birth injuries page.
Delay in Diagnosis and Failure to Diagnose Cancer and Other Conditions
A failure to diagnose or a misdiagnosis of cancer and other serious diseases can have a profound effect on a patient’s life, ranging from permanent injuries to death. As one of the best medical malpractice lawyers in Los Angeles, Cherepinskiy Law Firm is ready to analyze your case to determine if there was a breach of the standard of care. This firm has the skills to handle cases involving the failure to diagnose or a misdiagnosis of the following illnesses:
- Cancer, including:
- Breast Cancer
- Cervical Cancer
- Colon Cancer
- Lung Cancer
- Ovarian Cancer
- Testicular Cancer
- Acute Myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack)
- Bacterial Meningitis
- Pulmonary Embolism
Emergency Room Errors
This firm, as Los Angeles medical malpractice attorney, handles various matters involving malpractice on the part of emergency room physicians and hospital personnel. Emergency room triage nurses are trained to perform quick assessments of presenting patients in order to determine the level of necessary medical assistance depending on the acuity of the situation. Emergency physicians’ role is to evaluate, provide prompt care, and stabilize patients who are critically ill due to an injury or an illness. Medical malpractice on the part of emergency room doctors and nursing staff can cause delays in diagnosis and treatment with disastrous consequences ranging from severe injuries to death.
Gynecologic Surgery Errors
Gynecological surgeries have certain associated risks. However, many of these risks and adverse consequences can be avoided by practicing within the standard of care. Medical errors during gynecologic operations, as well as during the pre-operative and post-operative period, can result in severe injuries such as: perforation of organs, infections, and bleeding (hemorrhage). These are some common gynecologic procedures, which can involve malpractice:
- Dilation and curettage (D&C). This is a procedure that involves removal of tissue from inside a patient’s uterus.
- Cystocele and Rectocele Repair. When a patient’s bladder or rectum pushes into the vagina, this type of corrective surgery is designed to lift and tighten the tissue around the bladder and rectum.
- Hysterectomy. Hysterectomy is a surgery that removes a woman’s uterus or womb.
- Hysteroscopy. This procedure involves the use of a hysteroscope that allows a gynecologist to look inside the uterus for diagnostic and treatment purposes.
- Laparoscopic surgery. This modern minimally invasive surgical technique allows performance of the surgery through small incisions and with the use of a laparoscope.
- Myomectomy. Myomectomy is a procedure that surgically removes uterine fibroids.
- Ovarian surgery. This is a surgery, which removes patients’ ovaries or ovarian cysts.
- Tubal ligation. As a female permanent sterilization procedure, tubal ligation involves blocking, clipping, or tying both fallopian tubes to prevent pregnancy.
As an entity, a hospital itself obviously cannot commit negligence. Hospitals are liable for the negligent acts and omissions of their agents or employees. In other words, hospital negligence refers to the medical malpractice by hospital’s employees and agents, including physicians, physician assistants (PA’s), nurses of all types – registered nurses (RN’s), licensed vocational nurses (LVN’s), and certified nursing assistants (CNA’s), as well as various technicians, staff members., administrative personnel.
In the United States, hospitals are certified and credentialed by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (“JCAHO”) and must comply with multiple Federal and State regulations. In addition, hospitals are required to maintain and regularly update internal Policies & Procedures in order to promote compliance with regulations, accreditation requirements, and standards of practice.
Hospital negligence can cause serious injuries or death and it includes the following common types of malpractice:
- Nursing staff’s failure to properly monitor and observe patients;
- Medication errors by nurses;
- Hospital-acquired infections (e.g. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA));
- Nurses’ failure to communicate test results or changes in patients’ condition to physicians;
- Negligent credentialing of physicians (i.e. inappropriately granting staff privileges to incompetent or unqualified physicians);
- Negligent supervision of hospital personnel and staff; and
As a former defense attorney who represented hospitals in multiple cases, Dmitriy Cherepinskiy of Cherepinskiy Law Firm is the medical malpractice lawyer in Los Angeles who is highly skilled. This firm has the expertise to investigate and pursue hospital malpractice matters.
For years and years, medications have been playing a huge role in healthcare. For example, Penicillin (which had been discovered in 1928 by Scottish researcher, Sir Alexander Fleming) reduced the number of fatalities and amputations among soldiers during World War II. Other modern medications help patients with controlling various chronic illnesses such as diabetes. However, when doctors or nurses make medication errors, it can lead to serious adverse effects or even fatal outcomes. The following are some typical examples of medical malpractice involving medications:
- Negligent prescriptions by physicians
- Violations of Black Box warnings. Black box warnings are the strictest labeling requirements that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can require for prescription drugs. These warnings describe serious and even potentially fatal adverse reactions.
- Prescribing medications that have dangerous drug-interactions with other medications.
- Issuing prescriptions for medications that are contraindicated for specific patients (e.g. Aspirin is contraindicated for patients who take blood thinners such as Coumadin).
- Prescribing medications that patients are allergic to.
- Negligent administration of medications by doctors and nurses
- Incorrect medications and
- Dosing errors (administering doses, which are either too low or too high)
Neurology is the branch of medicine, which involves care and treatment of the nervous system disorders caused by trauma as well as chronic and acute illnesses. A neurologist can be negligent if he or she fails to recognize signs and symptoms of severe and potentially life-threatening conditions such as:
The medical field of psychiatry focuses on the treatment of mental disorders. In the United States, mental disorders are classified based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Psychiatrists treat disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder (manic depression), depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), substance abuse, sleep disorders, personality disorders, and eating disorders.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who have the right to prescribe medications. Unlike psychiatrists, psychologists are not physicians, and they are not authorized to issue medication prescriptions. Psychiatrists’ ability to issue prescriptions, however, can lead to malpractice. For example, they can breach the standard of care and negligently issue inappropriate prescriptions for antipsychotic and psychotherapeutic medications, resulting in addiction and subsequent injuries or even death. In their effort to obtain anti-depressants or stimulants, drug-seeking patients frequently feign psychological issues and disorders such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, and fatigue. Psychiatrists must be able to “see through” this kind of behavior and refuse to issue inappropriate prescriptions.
Opioid Overdoses (Pain Medication Misuse)
Based on the statistical and National survey data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS):
- In 2016, each day, 116 people died as a result of overdoses involving opioid drugs.
- In 2016, opioid overdoses caused deaths of 42,249 people.
- Approximately 40% of all deaths related to opioid overdoses involve prescriptions for opioid pain medications such as Morphine, Methadone, Buprenorphine, Hydrocodone, Fentanyl, Oxycodone / OxyContin, and Percocet (as opposed to illegal “street drugs” such as heroine).
Opioid medications are highly addictive. In the United States, the growing pattern of abuse of prescribed controlled substances — especially opioid pain medications — constitutes a serious public health concern. Modern researchers and commentators have called this problem the “Opioid Crisis” and the “Opioid Epidemic.” The most prevalent misuse of opioid drugs is in the field of pain management, because issuing prescriptions for opioid painkillers is very common and widespread in this field of medicine.
Those healthcare providers (physicians and physician assistants) who manage acute and chronic pain with opioid drugs, have a duty to watch for patients’ drug-seeking behavior and opioid abuse / misuse. Failure to comply with this standard of care, and negligent prescribing of opioid pain medications can result in the start of an addiction, worsening of addiction, and subsequent severe injuries or even death.
The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Diversion Control Division, explains that drug-seeking patients typically demonstrate the following behavior:
- Demand to be seen immediately;
- Request appointments to be scheduled toward the end of the business day;
- Call or come in after regular business hours;
- Feign physical pain and discomfort (e.g. back pain, stomach pain, kidney stones, headaches and migraine headaches);
- Attempt to elicit sympathy or guilt from the physician;
- Claim that non-opioid pain medications do not work for them;
- Complain that they are allergic to non-narcotic pain medications;
- Refuse to provide the name of their primary care physician;
- Claim that their prescription needs to be replaced because it had been stolen or lost;
- Request refills more frequently than originally prescribed; and
- If nothing else works, use direct threats of force or violence.
Pursuant to California Health & Safety Code section 11165, the California Department of Justice maintains Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES), which is a database that stores Schedule II, III, and IV controlled substance prescription information reported as “dispensed” in California. Effective July 1, 2016, all California-licensed prescribers with DEA numbers must be registered to access CURES. Starting on October 2, 2018, physicians and physician assistants are mandated to run a CURES report before they take any of the following actions with respect to any controlled substance:
- administer or
This requirement applies to all substances, which are classified as Schedule II–IV controlled substances. Exemptions to this requirement apply to Licensed Clinics, Health Facilities, Outpatient Setting facilities, County Medical Facilities, and some Hospital Emergency Rooms (ER’s).
Patients have the right to receive the prescribed medications in the correct dosage, and with appropriate instructions and warnings. Unfortunately, with an alarming frequency, pharmacies breach the standard of care in dispensing medications. The incidence of pharmacy malpractice is rising. Pharmacists experience the pressure to perform their duties quickly while being overburdened with the number of prescribed medications. These are some of the common prescription errors, which can cause serious injuries or even fatal outcomes:
- Dispensing incorrect medications
- Dosage errors
- Labeling errors: Medications can be mislabeled, which leads to patients taking something completely different than what had been prescribed to them.
- Warning Errors: Medications may have serious and life-threatening adverse effects. Other medications can have dangerous interactions with other drugs or foods. The placement of a wrong warning label on a medication container or the failure to place any warning label at all may lead to tragic consequences.
- Failure to Inquire regarding Patient History – Before dispensing medications, a pharmacist has to ask questions designed to learn some basic information about the patient. For example, patients may have an allergy to certain medications, or the prescribed medication may have a dangerous interaction with another medication already being taken by the patient.
- Failure to recognize drug-seeking behavior: Pharmacists have to be able to recognize drug-seeking patients, and take proactive steps that include (1) asking detailed questions regarding the patient’s history and the reasons for seeking the opioid pain medication; (2) calling prior pharmacist or healthcare provider to confirm the patient’s story; (3) making sure the patient did not fill similar prescriptions at other pharmacies in the same time period; and (4) potentially refusing to fill the prescription. Per the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Diversion Control Division, drug abusers show the following common characteristics:
- Unusual behavior exhibited in the pharmacy’s waiting room;
- Demands for immediate action;
- Unusual knowledge of controlled substances;
- Provide medical history descriptions with textbook symptoms;
- Give evasive or vague answers to inquiries into medical history;
- Visible cutaneous (skin) signs of drug abuse such as tracks and scars on the neck and extremities.
When a pharmacy suspects that a patient is a drug-seeker, the DEA recommends to never “take their word for it” and never dispense drugs in order to simply get rid of drug-seeking patients.
Further, effective July 1, 2016, all California-licensed pharmacists must be registered to access CURES, the California’s prescription drug monitoring program that that stores Schedule II, III, and IV controlled substance prescription information reported as “dispensed” in California.
A radiation overdose can increase a patient’s risk for long-term health issues, including an increased risk of cancer, benign tumors, and genetic disorders. However, some medical devices have recently exposed patients to excessive doses of radiation.
- CT Scanners: The abbreviation “CT” stands for computerized tomography. A CT scanner is used to obtain multiple X-ray images of the area being scanned. The images are taken at various angles around the patient’s body. A computer processing is then used to create cross-sectional images (slices) of the various anatomical structures, including bones, blood vessels and soft tissues. CT scan images are superior to those of plain X-ray, and this modern technology is very useful for diagnostic and treatment purposes. However, even under normal operating conditions, CT scanners emit a huge dose of radiation. Some CT Scans expose patients to the dose of radiation, which is equivalent to approximately 200 chest X-rays.
In October of 2009, after a series of radiation overdoses that 260 patients received at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued several recommendations intended to address CT scan problems. The FDA investigation demonstrated that, during brain perfusion scan procedures, multiple patients at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center received excessive doses of radiation – up to eight times the regular dosage of radiation associated with CT scanning. The FDA concluded that the overexposures were due to operator error and recommended adequate technician training. The FDA also recommended that CT scan manufacturers install displays showing radiation dosage settings, as well as submit radiation dosage information to patients’ medical record for tracking purposes.
- Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy can be a powerful tool in cancer treatment. It works by using radiation, including X-rays and gamma rays, to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors by damaging their DNA. One type of radiation therapy, which is called “stereostatic radiosurgery (SRS”), utilizes a highly-focused beam of radiation in order to target very small tumors in the brain and spinal cord. These systems require high precision. SRS equipment contains linear accelerator attachments, which involve multiple risks of radiation overexposure. Radiation is released through a cone attached to the SRS machine. If a cone is mismatched and it is smaller than the radiation beam, it can subject healthy tissue to radiation exposure. If software malfunctions lead computerized beam shaping devices to be left open, the radiation exposure can be extremely excessive.
Radiologic imaging is a very powerful modality in diagnosis and treatment of multiple serious diseases. A radiologist’s failure to detect apparent abnormalities can cause a failure to diagnose and timely treat the following:
- Cancer (brain, lung, breast, and other types)
- Preventable birth injuries
- Brain injuries
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Abdominal injuries
In a publication entitled “Malpractice Issues in Radiology,” radiologist Leonard Berlin referred to several published reports, which demonstrate that the approximate rate of interpretation error among radiologists is 30%. Among these interpretation errors, based on another study, approximately 80% are errors involving perception – i.e. the imaging study (x-ray, CT scan, MRI, etc.) demonstrates an abnormality, but the radiologist does not detect it. Additionally, a radiologist’s failure to communicate significant findings to a clinician can lead to dangerous consequences.
When a radiologist’s unreasonable failure to detect or communicate a significant and potentially dangerous finding causes a delay in the diagnosis or treatment of a serious illness or leads to a patient’s death, a medical malpractice lawsuit can be initiated. You will need the expertise of a skilled Los Angeles medical malpractice attorney to seek compensation from the responsible party.
Every surgery has certain risks associated with it. However, if surgeons comply with the standard of care, many of these risks can be alleviated or avoided. The common examples of surgical malpractice are as follows:
- injuries to anatomical structures adjacent to the surgical site
- infections (due to the use of contaminated surgical instruments or sterile field violations)
- wrong side surgeries
- wrong organ surgeries
- organ perforation
- leaving foreign bodies in the operative site (e.g. sponges, clips, pieces of wire, etc.)
What Damages Can be Recovered in Medical Malpractice Cases?
Victims of medical malpractice can claim the following two main types of damages: Non-Economic and Economic damages. In some situations, those who have been injured by a healthcare provider may potentially seek Punitive Damages. For cases involving future care, the Los Angeles medical malpractice lawyer at Cherepinskiy Law Firm retains top expert physicians, life care planners, and economists to evaluate clients’ needs and present the best case on their behalf. A detailed discussion of the recoverable damages is included on the Personal Injury Damages page of this website.
If a healthcare provider’s negligence resulted in the death of a loved one, then compensation can be sought in a Wrongful Death action. In some cases, an autopsy may be necessary in establishing the causal link between the healthcare provider’s negligence and the cause of death.
Take Action! Promptly Contact a Los Angeles Medical Malpractice Lawyer for a Free Consultation
If you believe a doctor, nurse, or another healthcare provider caused your injuries or a loved one’s death, please call or fill out an electronic contact form today to request a free consultation. Cherepinskiy Law Firm is the medical malpractice attorney Los Angeles residents can count on when they have been wronged by healthcare providers. This firm will work in a tireless and compassionate manner in a medical malpractice or a wrongful death case to make sure you are compensated for your injuries and losses.
This firm fights for clients throughout California, including Los Angeles, Orange County, as well as Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.