A Doctor Failed to Monitor My Loved One. Can I File a Maryland Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Medical Malpractice Published on November 9, 2023 and updated on November 13, 2023.

doctors prepping for surgery

Doctors and other health care providers have many responsibilities beyond diagnosing and treating patients, including monitoring patients who are receiving treatment. When health care providers fail to monitor patients, the results can be catastrophic or even fatal.

Patients who were injured because of a failure to monitor may be able to file a Maryland medical malpractice lawsuit. However, there are many factors to consider, which is why victims should speak to an experienced Maryland medical malpractice lawyer about their potential options.

Our firm has secured millions for victims of medical malpractice in Maryland in a variety of cases.

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What is Failure to Monitor?

Failure to monitor means a doctor, nurse or other medical professional involved in your treatment failed to take reasonable steps to monitor your treatment and your overall condition. This often means monitoring patients when they are in the hospital, but it also includes monitoring patients who are being treated while going about their daily lives. Failing to monitor a patient can cause their condition to deteriorate or even become life-threatening.

When do Medical Professionals Need to Monitor Patients?

There are numerous situations in which medical professionals have a duty of care to provide appropriate monitoring of their patients.

During Surgery and When the Patient Received Anesthesia

So many things can go wrong during surgery, and not just because the patient is under local or general anesthesia. Surgeons and the other medical professionals involved in the procedure need to keep a close eye on the patient’s vital signs, especially oxygen levels and heart rate. Monitoring is essential to help prevent severe complications, including fatal injury.

During a Course of Treatment

If doctors prescribe medicine or refer you to a specialist, they need to check in to determine how the treatment is going and if there are any side effects. Sometimes doctors need to revise the treatment based on how the patient is responding, particularly if there are unexpected side effects. Monitoring patients during treatment also helps doctors confirm their diagnosis.

During Labor and Delivery

Doctors need to carefully monitor the mother and the unborn baby for signs of distress. This includes monitoring oxygen levels and the fetal heartbeat. If doctors do not closely monitor the mother and the fetus, there is a risk of long-term or fatal injury. For example, oxygen deprivation can cause permanent brain damage.

When Patients Have Been Specifically Put Under Observation

Patients may be put under observation after surgery, because they are in critical condition after being severely injured in an accident, or because they are a suicide risk. Observation may also be necessary after a severe infection.

What are Some Examples of Failure to Monitor?

These are some examples of doctors and other medical professionals failing to monitor patients under their care:

  • Failing to monitor patients when they are transferred from one part of the hospital to another
  • Failing to monitor oxygen levels when a patient is under anesthesia
  • Failing to monitor a newborn’s vital signs
  • Failing to monitor a pregnant mother’s vital signs when she is in labor
  • Failing to monitor a patient who is undergoing rehabilitation, such as swimming, walking or exercises
  • Failing to correctly transfer information about a patient who is getting moved to another facility
  • Failing to conduct a thorough evaluation of a patient at a follow-up appointment, including failing to ask appropriate questions
  • Failing to determine if a prescription medication is causing severe side effects
  • Failing to check-in on a patient who is recovering from surgery to look for signs of infection or failing vital signs
  • Failing to make sure patients are receiving the correct medication while at the hospital
  • Failing to carefully monitor cancer treatment to determine if it is working and if the cancer is spreading
  • And more

How Failure to Monitor Puts Patients at Risk

Failing to monitor patients can have life-threatening consequences. For instance, unborn babies can suffer permanent brain damage that causes lifelong disability, such as cerebral palsy. Patients undergoing surgery could also suffer permanent brain damage because doctors did not make sure the patient was receiving oxygen.

Failing to monitor a patient’s treatment could result in an incorrect diagnosis. If doctors had kept a closer eye on the patient, they may have discovered the treatment was not working. This may have led them to consider another type of treatment for a different diagnosis.

Monitoring is particularly important after surgery as vital signs may dip and doctors may need to act quickly to save the patient’s life. Close monitoring can help doctors identify infections or other problems that could result in serious or fatal injury. These problems could include a drop in blood pressure or signs of a heart attack or stroke. Some patients may experience excessive bleeding.

Liability for Failing to Monitor a Patient’s Treatment

In a failure to monitor claim, victims’ attorneys need to prove that another physician in a similar situation would have done more to monitor the patient. Your lawyer must also establish that the failure to monitor resulted in damages, such as medical costs because you needed additional care.

While medical malpractice claims are often made against doctors, there are other parties who may bear liability. For example, nurses may be liable for failing to monitor. Doctors are often busy with other tasks and delegate some of their responsibilities to nurses and hospital staff.

Here are some examples of parties that may bear liability for failure to monitor:

  • Anesthesiologists who do not monitor patients who are under anesthesia
  • Hospital staff who did not respond to or report problems
  • Obstetricians who do not detect signs of fetal distress, such as a lack of oxygen
  • Hospitals that did not have adequate procedures to make sure patients are monitored

It can be challenging to find out who may be liable for failing to monitor a patient. Sometimes hospitals or medical facilities are vicariously liable for the actions of their employees.

If you or your loved one were injured because of a failure to monitor, you should contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney with the resources and legal knowledge to investigate these types of cases.

Call to Discuss Your Failure to Monitor Claim

Health care professionals in Maryland are expected to take reasonable care to monitor patients to determine how treatment is going and respond appropriately to problems that may arise. Failure to monitor patients can have severe consequences, particularly when the patient is in labor or has recently experienced a life-threatening health problem.

Victims and their loved ones should contact an experienced lawyer to determine if they may be able to seek compensation through a Maryland medical malpractice lawsuit.

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Contact The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl today: 410-297-0271.