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Seattle Personal Injury Law Blog

Plastic surgeon's license revoked after malpractice claims

When people in Washington seek the help of a licensed plastic surgeon, they usually spend considerable time researching doctors who they feel will be able to accomplish their objectives in a manner that is safe and effective. While many health care professionals highlight patient safety as a primary concern, there are some that would rather make a quick buck at the expense of their patients' wellbeing. 

In a recent case out of New York, a renowned plastic surgeon who has performed procedures on multiple television stars has lost his license under intense scrutiny about his poor practicing habits. An alarming investigation revealed that the doctor was slammed with over a dozen malpractice claims in the last 5 years of practicing. In a complaint filed as recently as a few weeks ago, a woman claimed the procedure he performed on her was so painful that she screamed throughout the harrowing ordeal. At one point, she claims he made a comment about how difficult she was being and joked about stabbing her. 

Staying safe when you have to drive in heavy fog

With the notorious gray weather of Washington, it is not unusual for you to encounter days when fog is prevalent and the air seems thick. While you may be used to this weather, driving in it requires you to pay extra attention as your visibility is greatly limited. At Elk + Elk, we have helped many victims of motor vehicle accidents. 

If you check the weather forecast or look out your window and notice that it is foggy, it is imperative that you plan a bit of extra time to get to where you need to go. Because of the reduced visibility, you will need to drive slower than usual and other drivers around you will be doing the same. As such, make sure you allow yourself enough time to safely complete your commute without the stress of running late. 

Woman's kidney accidentally removed during spine surgery

While shocking, news of wrong-site surgeries may surface often enough to show how this issue continues to be one that plagues the healthcare industry. Many in Seattle might question how a wrong-site surgery can occur, given the assumed intelligence of the practitioners involved, as well as the understanding that patients must first consent to any treatments performed on them. Yet it may typically be due to simple breakdowns in communication (or oversights by a doctor) that such bizarre errors happen. 

A recent case that occurred in Florida serves to illustrate this point perfectly. A woman went in for lumbar fusion surgery to relieve back pain she had been feeling as the result of a car accident. While the surgery was done on her spine, her surgeons opted for an anterior approach (where the spine is accessed through an incision in the abdomen. During the procedure, the surgeon tasked with accessing the surgical site noticed what he believed to be a malignant mass. Without asking for the woman's consent, he removed it, only to later discover that it was one of her kidneys. 

Distracted driving blamed for accident that killed woman

When people get in their car to drive somewhere in Washington, they take on the responsibility to drive safely and follow the rules to protect themselves and their passengers. However, they cannot control the actions of other drivers who may not be paying as much attention to the critical task of driving. In unfortunate incidents where people are the victims of another person's negligence, it can be extra challenging to grasp the situation when it appears to have been entirely preventable. 

This is precisely the challenge that a family in Wisconsin is facing after their family member, a 22-year-old pregnant mother, was killed in a violent collision caused by another driver who was distracted at the time of the incident. The woman's car was plowed into by a man suspected of being on his phone, while she sat stopped at an intersection. The impact killed both the woman and her unborn child and landed the man behind bars awaiting sentencing. 

Committed families can protect their elderly loved ones

When families in Washington make the difficult decision to place their elderly loved one in the care of a nursing home facility, chances are the weeks and months leading up to the transition were filled with apprehension. Despite their efforts to arrange their care for their family member, a conclusion was reached that it would better benefit everyone if a nursing home took over the primary care responsibilities of helping their family member. 

In these situations, a big concern for many families is the safety of their loved one. There are undoubtedly facilities that lack trained staff or who fail to implement required policies designed to protect the residents of their facility. In these situations, patients who live in a poorly managed facility are at a much higher risk of being neglected, injured or taken advantage of. According to verywellhealth.com, when people are seeking a trustworthy nursing home, they should look for the following qualities:

  • A well-rounded social environment, complete with activities for the residents. 
  • A well-maintained facility and a friendly atmosphere that is homely and comfortable. 
  • Personable staff members who are outgoing and interested in each of the residents. 
  • High-quality food and a menu that features varied food options. 

The limitations of Washington's wrongful death laws


In many areas of the country, individuals who have lost a loved one in an accident due to another person's negligence are eligible for wrongful death benefits, regardless of whether that individual supported a spouse, child or family member.

But Washington has limitations on who can receive wrongful death benefits. 

What can you do to stay safe on the roads this New Year's Eve?

According to a 2015 report by CBS News, 30 U.S. residents die a day in motor vehicle car accidents involving an alcohol-impaired driver. This stat comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is no secret that this number spikes exponentially during the holiday season, especially right around New Year's. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there is a spike in the number of drunk driving-related accidents in December. In 2013, the latest year for stats, 733 people died in crashes caused by drunk drivers in December. You can do your part this New Year's Eve by keeping in mind a few key safety tips to prevent drunk driving accidents in Washington.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving shares a few tips via CBS News. For starters, if you plan on going out on New Year's Eve, have a plan in place for getting home. If you know you will be drinking alcohol, designate a sober driver or schedule an Uber. If you cannot find a designated driver and if Ubers are all booked up, get the number of a local taxi service or research a convenient bus route. 

Fatigue can be dangerous for health care providers

When people need to visit their doctor in Washington, they place their full trust in their health care provider's ability to thoroughly assess their condition and provide recommendations for treatment and recovery from their symptoms. However, there are undoubtedly times when doctors are ineffective in caring for their patients due to misunderstandings, inadequate information and even fatigue. 

Doctors often work long hours and an average shift can be filled with caring for lots of different patients. Each of these patients has differing needs, symptoms, medical histories and allergies. Keeping all of the information straight that they are given can be incredibly challenging at times. Additionally, doctors face common problems that other people face as well including fatigue, family situations and personal problems. Managing all of their emotions and continuing to provide optimal care to each patient they see is a process that requires commitment and vigilance. 

Drunk driving deaths increase in Washington State

People who live in Washington State have no doubt heard for years and even for decades about how dangerous it is to drive a motor vehicle after drinking alcohol. Unfortunately, it seems that despite the clear facts, there continue to be too many people who simply refuse to make the safe and responsible choice to put their keys away when they will be consuming alcoholic beverages. In fact, records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that the number of drunk driving deaths in the state has been on a steady rise for the past few years.

In 2013, 151 people were killed in crashes statewide in which alcohol was a stated factor. The following year saw a decline in these deaths to 132. However, the subsequent three years saw that trend reversed as 145 lives were lost at the hands of drunk drivers in 2015 followed by 160 in 2016 and then 178 in 2017. Each year during this five-year period, drunk drivers contributed to between 26 percent and 35 percent of all vehicular fatalities.

What is duty of care?

When it comes to medical malpractice in Washington, it is important to understand a concept called duty of care. Your whole case will rest on its presence. If you cannot prove there was a duty of care, then you cannot prove your case. The National Law Review explains this is the responsibility of a medical professional to provide care to you.

It is a legal and medical concept. To prove a duty of care existed, you have to show you had a relationship with the medical provider. You also must show this relationship existed at the time of your injury. This is often easy to prove through medical records showing the person was your health care provider. If no such records exist, you can also provide witness statements showing there was a duty of care present between you and the medical professional. The key is to show you had an established relationship where the other person agreed to provide you care and you agreed to receive the care.

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