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Medical Negligence in Cruise Ships

Cruise ships are places for recreation, but they can also be places for harm. It is worse if the harm is directly related to cruise ship management, like when an accident and injury has occurred because of its failure to maintain facilities, or its medical staff has committed negligence, resulting into the harm of an ill or injured passenger.

According to the website of Louis A. Vucci, PA, those who have been victims of negligence on the part of cruise ship medical staff may have legal options, such as getting compensation for the damages.

First, let us look what medical negligence is. Medical negligence occurs when a medical professional has a direct relationship with a patient, and the patient has been harmed in any way because of the medical professional’s action or inaction.

This can be particularly tricky when it comes to cruise ships, because most of the time, the medical professionals there are employed as independent contractors. It is much easier if the cruise line has its own medical staff, like on the following instances:

  • The cruise line pays the salaries of doctors and other medical staff
  • The cruise line handles the medical supplies, including equipment and medicine
  • The cruise line bills passengers for medical care
  • The cruise line has advertised its medical staff and facilities to passengers

Common Medical Negligence Cases

Medical negligence is both a health and legal issue, but more on the health aspect because the medical negligence can potentially be serious enough to result into complications, injuries, and even deaths. Below are some of the most common medical negligence issues in cruise ships.

Misdiagnosis

Misdiagnosis occurs when a medical professional has wrongly diagnosed a person, like when he or she has diagnosed a healthy patient as sick or a sick patient as healthy. These have their own respective risks and damages.

A healthy person diagnosed as sick may be subject to unwarranted procedures, medications, and other treatment methods, while a sick person diagnosed as healthy may be subject to delayed or complete absence of treatment, which may result into the worsening of his or her medical condition.

Incorrect Treatment

Even if the patient has been diagnosed correctly, he or she is still not completely safe, because he or she can still be treated incorrectly. Receiving inadequate medications and being subject to improper treatment methods or incompetent treatment techniques may result into several health risks, including allergic reactions, worsening of current medical conditions, and rising of new medical complications.

Risks of Power Morcellators

According to University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, women with fibroids are often unaware of the highly effective treatment options available to them in addition to hysterectomy. Power morcellators were once regarded as a minimally invasive way to remove fibroids and noncancerous tissues during a hysterectomy or a myomectomy. The drill-like device worked by mincing up this tissue into smaller pieces that were then removed through a small incision in the abdomen.  However, the FDA soon found a strong correlation between procedures using these devices and the development of deadly cancers—including uterine cancer, uterine sarcoma, and endometrial stromal sarcoma, and metastatic leiomyosarcoma. While the device was able to dice up noncancerous tissue, it could also spread cancerous cells to other areas of the body. According to Williams Kherkher, a staggering 1 in every 370 women developed cancer after undergoing a surgery using a power morcellator.

Along with these dangers, other dangerous symptoms are associated with power morcellators.  People who undergo these procedures may experience soreness, infection, bleeding, damage to surrounding organs, and abdominal pain.  With these serious dangers, the FDA released an official “black box” warning in 2014, meaning that the risks of morcellators were too great to justify the benefits.  Soon, Johnson & Johnson, the makers of the devices, recalled power morcellators.  Unfortunately, many women still suffered the effects of morcellators whether it was unpleasant symptoms or the development of deadly cancers.

Many individuals who have suffered as a result of power morcellators are taking action against the responsible party.

Is it too late to sue? Statute of limitations for transvaginal mesh injuries

The right to sue for personal injury has a time limit. This is called the statute of limitations, and it is designed to keep people from filing lawsuits for injuries they sustained a long time ago. However, the statute of limitations can be flexible if the situation warrants it.

In most cases of injuries caused by defective medical devices, the statute of limitations is two years from the time of the injury. However, the injured party may not even be aware that their medical condition or complaint is due to a defective medical device. This is a frequent case with women who have been implanted with a transvaginal mesh to address their pelvic organ prolapsed or stress urinary incontinence. According to the Williams Kherkher website, the most common symptom of transvaginal mesh failure is pelvic pain, which occurs frequently in women of a certain age for a variety of reasons. There is no reason to suspect negligence in such cases.

In one case in Texas, the patient needed four revision surgeries to remove the mesh because she developed complications. However, she had not been aware that the device was the one causing the complications until she heard it in the news a year later, and filed a lawsuit the year after that.

By the time she filed a complaint, it had been two years after her last revision surgery. Technically, she should have not have been able to file. However, she had not known about the defect until a year before, so the judge based the statute of limitations on when she acquired the knowledge.

It is important that you consult with your Houston personal injury attorney before jumping to conclusions about your case. Even if you had your last revision surgery three years ago, but only found out about the defect of transvaginal mesh from reading this post today, then you still have two years in which to file a lawsuit.

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