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Patient monitoring could prevent deaths

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people are injured or killed by preventable medical error in Texas hospitals and throughout the country. One woman is fighting to prevent medical malpractice through the passage of a new law that would require hospitals to electronically monitor patients’ breathing after surgery.

Known as Leah’s Law, the proposed legislation stems from the death of an 11-year-old girl who went into cardiac arrest after receiving a painkiller following elective surgery. The breathing problems associated with opioids are well documented, with at least one in every 200 patients experiencing serious respiratory distress while using these drugs. Most hospitals monitor the breathing of patients in intensive care units, but few do so in general care units, perhaps assuming that these patients will be able to report any problems themselves.

The proposed law would require hospitals to monitor patients in all wards for breathing difficulties after giving strong painkillers. According to Leah’s mother, this simple monitoring could have saved her daughter’s life. Instead, she died due to medical errors. Now, ten years after the death of her child, this parent is on a mission to change the law and protect future parents and patients from suffering the same fate.

Those who have suffered an illness, injury or loss of a loved one due to medical malpractice are often eligible for compensation from the hospitals, clinics and healthcare professionals who treated these patients. In order to assess a malpractice case accurately and take the proper steps to secure this compensation, many patients and families find the help of a medical malpractice attorney to be invaluable.

Source: Forbes, “Leah’s Law: A Mother’s Mission to Save Lives“, Robert J. Szczerba, November 19, 2013