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Leah's Law will change how hospitals monitor patients

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Virginia parents may be interested to learn about how a mother who lost her 11-year-old daughter due to hospital negligence has advocated for a new law to prevent the same thing from happening to other surgical patients. Following an elective surgery at a prestigious hospital, the young girl was given continuous opiod medication but was not continuously monitored.

Up to 400,000 hospital patients die every year due to harm that may have been prevented by taking simple safety measures such as using a pulse oximeter after surgery. Other statistics show that this kind of monitoring is necessary to save patients' lives. Inadequate monitoring was found to be related to 29 percent of adverse effects in patients who were given opiods between 2004 and 2011. A study found that continuous monitoring can prevent transfers to intensive care units by 49 percent.

The legislation, called Leah's Law, is set to be introduced to California lawmakers in 2014 and would require hospitals to continuously monitor post-surgical patients. Though monitoring is commonly used in intensive care units, this law would mandate that general care units also electronically monitor patients' breathing.

When a hospital or doctor is responsible for preventable harm to a patient, a lawyer may be able to help the patient or their family. A personal injury attorney may be able to help a client determine if they should file a lawsuit for medical malpractice based on the facts of the case. A lawyer may also review evidence and medical records to help a client receive compensation for their injures and hold the hospital or medical provider responsible for their error.

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

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