Thursday, September 11, 2014

Toxic Tort Challenges: Why You Need Expert Witness

Toxic torts are lawsuits filed by or for individuals who were exposed to toxic substances, resulting in injuries, sicknesses, or other damages. For toxic tort to succeed, three things have to be proven: first, that a substance involved is toxic; second, that the plaintiff was exposed to it; and third, that the exposure to the substance indeed caused harm to the plaintiff. Unfortunately, proving these three things is easier said than done.
This is mainly because of two major challenges confronting plaintiffs: causation and latency periods. In many cases the testimony of a toxicology expert witness is needed to overcome these challenges.
Causation is self-explanatory. While toxic chemicals can indeed cause injury and sickness, other “non-toxic” factors may also lead to the same result. For example, it can be difficult to prove that a certain substance is directly responsible for causing cancer in someone, since the disease itself can be caused by heredity. Determining causation also extends to the parties involved in the incident. For instance, exposure to toxic chemicals at the workplace can be blamed on the supervisors, the chemicals’ manufacturers and distributors, and other similar groups or individuals.
The latency period, or the amount of time between exposure and the onset of injuries or sickness, can also stop a toxic tort dead in its tracks. Certain chemicals, for example, are known to cause cancer after 40 years. Defendants can argue that the plaintiff have contracted the disease from other sources that the plaintiff may also have been exposed to.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Different Forms of Misdiagnosis

Did you know that as much as 1 in 20 patients in outpatient clinics or doctor’s offices are misdiagnosed every year? That’s according to a recent study published in the BMJ Quality & Safety journal. This figure does not include similar cases that may have happened in hospital settings. 
Misdiagnosis can come in several forms, including those discussed below.

Doing too little
In some instances, the diagnosis completely misses the patient’s condition, or passes off a serious illness or injury as non-serious. For instance, stomach pains that are treated simply as constipation could later be found to be a case of internal bleeding or a cancerous growth. Improper diagnosis or treatment can be construed as negligence on the part of the doctor.

Doing too much
Conversely, the doctor may diagnose a patient with a serious condition. A mass detected in radiographic images and treated with cancer-fighting drugs may turn out on further examination to be benign. Excessive or unnecessary treatment which stems from erroneous medical judgments or aggressive treatment approaches can also constitute negligence.

These two main types of misdiagnosis can result to serious harm or even death, which could be grounds for a medical malpractice suit. In proving that negligence had indeed transpired, the testimony of an internal medicine or forensic toxicology expert can be helpful. Such a professional can identify deviant treatments, poisoning drugs, and other possible harmful factors that can arise from medical negligence.