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Lack of communication can lead to serious surgical errors

During surgery, communication is critical. Many people are involved in the process from beginning to end, from the patient to the support staff to the surgeon. One little mistake as information gets passed through this chain can lead to serious and even fatal errors.

For instance, one teenage girl needed a lung and heart transplant in a now-infamous case. She went in for the surgery and got the new organs: A heart and two lungs. This was a hard, rare surgery, but it appeared at first to be successful.

Unfortunately, the organs got rejected by the girl's body. Doctors quickly realized that her blood type did not match the blood type of the organs they had given her. They did another emergency transplant, but the girl already had irreversible brain damage, and she wound up passing away as a result, despite two surgeries.

How could this happen? The investigation revealed that surgeon had no idea the organs would not match the patient. Somehow, no one had ever told him what the teen's blood type was. Though he had been told what the organ donor's blood type was on three separate occasions -- at least -- he could not know if it was a match without the corresponding information about the teen herself.

Information like this passes through many hands. If a crucial piece is omitted and the mistake is not caught in time, the results can be devastating. In this case, they were fatal. It is very important for family members and those who suffer injuries to know all of the legal options that they have.

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John J. Hopkins: From Working Iron To
Representing Those Who Work

ALTON —Like any successful trial lawyer, John Hopkins knows the importance of preparation. But he usually doesn’t write out the questions he plans to ask witnesses in depositions or in court.

View Article “I like to react to what the witness is saying—not only what they’re saying, but how they’re saying it,” Hopkins says.

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