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Boston Medical Malpractice and Workers' Compensation Blog

Falls are a danger in the Massachusetts tree care industry

Like many other Boston residents, we were distressed to learn about a recent fatal accident in our state that took the life of a tree worker. The Eagle Tribune reported that the man abruptly fell about 50 feet from the tree on which he was working.

What we found most disturbing about this incident was that the same victim suffered a similar fall (which he survived) eight years earlier. We found ourselves asking three questions after learning about the death.

Can unauthorized emergency treatment be hospital negligence?

Whether it is for religious beliefs or another reason, some people do not want certain types of emergency medical treatment. Examples of unwanted treatments might include blood transfusions, surgery, experimental techniques and drug treatments, to name a few. Complicating the issues even more is that occasionally, an unauthorized emergency treatment may worsen the patient's condition.

In describing hospital negligence that may occur in an emergency, it is important to understand that "unauthorized" means that health care providers did not acquire the patient's informed consent before treatment. Informed consent is an important part of health care. Breaking it down into two easily understandable elements, it means:

  1. Informed: Medical providers explain the treatment to the patient as well as any risks and benefits it may carry. The provider must also make sure the patient understands the explanation.
  2. Consent: Based on his or her understanding of the doctor's explanation, the patient signs a document consenting to the procedures.

What you can do to stay safe in an industrial work environment

If you are a part of the industrial workforce in Massachusetts, you likely know that your job is full of safety hazards. The powerful tools and heavy equipment pose constant dangers, along with toxic substances, extreme heat and excessive noise with which you must cope every day. Although your employer is responsible for your health and safety, you might find that he or she focuses more on profits.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration expects business owners to conduct regular safety training sessions and enforce prescribed safety protocols. You should take all you can from these sessions because what you learn from them might save your life.

Workers' compensation and the impartial medical exam

Not all Boston workers' compensation claims are settled quickly. Some of these claims can proceed slowly, making already injured workers even more uncomfortable. When an employer or a workers' comp insurance provider disputes the worker's claim, it can take even longer.

One way the program attempts to make a timely decision about a disputed workers' compensation claim is by having an impartial medical examiner look at the worker. These impartial examiners are selected from a pool of specialists who are certified in a variety of medical fields. While this system is designed to protect you and your employer, it can be scary for injured workers.

Failure to diagnose: Conditions that mimic ovarian cancer

If a doctor misdiagnoses an allergic condition as a common cold, it probably will not result in serious complications. In most cases, the patient will recover from the symptoms regardless of the diagnosis. However, some conditions will worsen without the correct diagnosis followed by immediate treatment. Ovarian cancer is such a condition and it can be fatal without proper treatment.

Our Massachusetts attorneys understand that no medical professional is infallible and that we all make mistakes from time to time, but we do not believe misdiagnosis of cancer should ever be ignored. Failure to diagnose ovarian cancer happens in many cases because the illness mimics so many other conditions. Its symptoms are minor at first and may include bloating, constipation, nausea, pelvic pressure and vaginal bleeding. Other conditions with similar symptoms include:

  • Urinary tract infection
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Peritoneal disease
  • Chronic ectopic pregnancy
  • Benign pancreatic or ovarian cyst

Meconium aspiration syndrome is a common birth injury

Unfortunately, many different problems can arise during the birthing process to place newborn infants at risk of birth injuries or death. One of the most common conditions newborns suffer is meconium aspiration syndrome, or MAS.

Meconium is the first stool of a newborn and is passed before the infant begins to take in breast milk or formula. When the baby passes meconium after delivery, it typically does not cause any health concerns. However, sometimes an infant will pass the substance before delivery causing it to mix with the amniotic fluid and possibly enter the baby's lungs. In most cases, this happens if the baby is experiencing fetal distress. Factors that could cause this distress include:

  • It is far past the delivery due date
  • The mother suffers from diabetes or high blood pressure
  • Labor is significantly long or difficult
  • The infant is not getting enough oxygen

Working teens, your injuries are covered by workers' compensation

Getting a job while you are in your teens is both responsible and exciting. Now, you finally have access to your own funds that you can spend however you like or save for college. You have also joined the Massachusetts workforce. This means you are at risk of suffering work-related injuries. If this is your first job, it is wise to learn a little about workplace injuries and workers' compensation.

Being young and strong does not necessarily minimize the risk of becoming involved in a work accident. Even if you are exceptionally cautious and comply with all of the safety rules that your supervisor taught you, accidents can still happen. Sometimes, these incidents are purely accidental, but other times, another party may have caused the mishap. In all cases, you are eligible for workers' compensation benefits as long as the injury occurred on-the-job.

The challenges of appealing a denied workers' compensation claim

If you are a member of the Massachusetts workforce, you may find comfort in knowing that your employer carries workers' compensation insurance that will cover you if you should suffer a workplace injury. However, are you familiar with the procedures you must follow in the event of a workplace accident? Do you know that the insurers deny many claims?

A serious workplace injury that keeps you off work for some time can cause anxiety and concern for your family's welfare, and the last thing you need at such a time is a denied workers' compensation claim. If you thought the claims process was challenging, wait until you have to navigate the appeals procedures.

Disease and injury awareness can improve workplace safety

When the American workforce was new, no one paid much attention to safety, and workers' compensation was a long time away. As workers' suffered injury after injury and became sickened due to materials used at work, it became clear these things were problematic. Lawmakers responded by creating the workers' compensation system, which has helped so many Boston residents and other Americans survive and thrive after an injury.

Obviously, awareness about safety in the workplace can lead to solutions. When employers understand any potential injury and disease risks that may exist for workers, they can address and correct the situation. When employees understand the illnesses and injuries that could occur in the workplace, they can develop strategies to help them avoid an accident. The following list contains a broad range of categories in which many diseases and injuries occur in the workplace.

  • Allergic reactions and skin irritations
  • Fertility issues and pregnancy abnormalities
  • Respiratory conditions like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and asthma
  • Infectious diseases like hepatitis and tuberculosis (particularly in the health care industry)
  • Musculoskeletal disorders affecting the upper extremities
  • Disorders that affect the lower back region
  • Sudden or gradual loss of hearing
  • Traumatic injuries caused by a workplace accident

Is failure to diagnose skin conditions a big problem?

When discussing or thinking about failure to diagnose, conditions that affect the skin are often overlooked. Because people can see most of their skin every day, they may think that nothing is wrong. However, many patients may not notice the symptoms associated with such conditions because they see their own skin so often.

As you age, you may not notice when wrinkles first appear because you look at your face every day in the mirror. Like the aging process, skin conditions evolve and change over time, meaning that many patients do not notice if a problem develops. On the other hand, some people see every new spot as a potential problem, but they may also feel that they are just being paranoid so they never seek a diagnosis.