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People who live in Norfolk, Virginia (VA), and all over Hampton Roads are fortunate that for the second year in a row, Sentara Healthcare has been ranked as the most integrated health care system in the nation by SDI and the magazine Modern Healthcare.

The only healthcare system in the country to be among the nation’s top 10 for all 14 years of the survey, Sentara has landed at number one in 2001 and consecutively in 2010 and 2011. As a Virginia medical malpractice attorney I know that a visit to a hospital doubles your risk of death compared to driving on a highway in the United States. Surprising yes, but this is just one of the shocking revelations reported by Hearst on hospital safety in America. So it’s reassuring to know that our area hospitals rank high.

Most people who haven’t been the victim of medical malpractice have no idea the nightmare that can occur when medical staff are negligent. One example of medical malpractice that most people don’t think of is the improper administration of medication or wrong medication. Families may realize something is wrong with their loved one and try to bring it to the attention of medical staff such as the case of a fifteen year old boy named Lewis. The three day recovery period following his elective surgery turned into something the family would have never imagined. The painkiller Toradol, a brand name version of ketorolac made by Roche and used particularly to relieve migraines, couldn’t stop Lewis’ excruciating pain coming from his stomach after the operation. After insisting the problem was nothing more than gas, the nurses and doctor who performed the surgery left Lewis, with a dropping temperature and rising heartbeat.

The boy’s mother shrieked for help as Lewis’ complexion began to go white, and a doctor finally answered the call. His parents and sister watched in horror and shock as this boy slipped away in front of them, from a minor routine surgery he should have recovered from. Lewis bled internally until his body gave out in front of a family that had no idea he was even near death. What caused this bleeding? Toradol. If a senior doctor had been on staff during the night, the symptoms might have been recognized and even prevented.

So, even if the facility you go to has a good reputation, be on guard for your own safety. Any hospital can have bad actors who do not follow the rules for safe patient care. When a nurse or doctor violates those rules and you are seriously hurt, you should call a Virginia medical malpractice attorney to learn your rights.


About the Editors: The Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.

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