Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

grieving-wrongful-death-300x199Dealing with the loss of a loved one is never easy. Particularly so if your loved one’s death was easily preventable and caused by another person’s negligence, such as a fatal drunk driving crash. While family members are left to mourn a shocking loss, they must also make costly funeral preparations for the deceased. Facing an unexpected large expense can compound stress for loved ones and leave them financially burdened. When this occurs, the family of the deceased may take legal action to file a wrongful death claim against the negligent party for damages. This type of claim can recoup funeral and burial expenses as well as the financial burden of losing the family’s breadwinner and other harms like the loss of companionship. Attorney David Tapalian’s expertise in personal injury law and wrongful death in Rhode Island and Massachusetts has helped hundreds of families successfully win compensation after a serious injury or death of a loved one.  As an experienced RI wrongful death lawyer, he will guide, support, and fight for you and your family during these trying times and ensure that your case is handled the way it deserves.

What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim is a type of legal action that may be initiated when a wrongful act or negligence of another party resulted in somebody’s death. For example, a parent may file a wrongful death claim if they lost a child in a car accident caused by a drunk driver. In Rhode Island, according to R.I. Gen. Laws § 10-7-1, this act, neglect, or default that led to the death must be classified as a type of action that would have allowed the deceased person to file a personal injury claim for damages had they survived. The type of action that led to the death may be based on negligence, like an auto accident, medical malpractice, or an intentional harm, like a crime. The estate or certain family members (spouse, child, parent) of the deceased can file a lawsuit and potentially be awarded a monetary settlement for damages against the party legally liable for the death. The essential aspects of a wrongful death claim are:

DSC03955-C-300x225Any number of words can be considered highly subjective; for instance, “a little” or “a lot”.  Telling a child that they may have “a little” or “a lot” of ice cream may cause an argument at home, but will likely be forgotten minutes later. However, using inexact language like this in a serious medical situation can have dire consequences. As a Rhode Island personal injury lawyer experienced with medical malpractice claims, Attorney David Tapalian knows that even the smallest of details can be the difference between life and death in a critical medical situation. Doctors and surgeons perform complicated and intricate feats in the operating room on a daily basis. Yet, a seemingly minor miscommunication can result in a patient suffering severe, life-altering injuries, rather than successfully recovering from a simple, routine procedure.

Miscommunication is a significant cause of preventable “adverse events” in surgical cases and a research study at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center looked at the dangers of using inexact language in the operating room. Certain words can be ambiguous and potentially lead to devastating consequences for surgery patients. Authors of the study looked through 319 minutes of medical transcripts for surgeries occurring at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and overall, the publication claims that within those surgeries there were almost 4,000 instances of imprecise language. The surgical teams used ambiguous language over 12 times per minute. In particular, with six of the different surgeries, the researchers found that medical professionals used inexact language over 130 times.

A common example cited in the study was rounding a numerical measurement that should have been stated precisely, i.e., instructions called for a cut “around” 4 centimeters, for a proposed cut of precisely 3.5 centimeters. One sentence that particularly stood out to researchers was “take this over there.” In this statement, two of the words are largely ambiguous and can be taken to mean multiple different things. The word “this” doesn’t make clear what object “this” refers to, and “there” does not explicitly state the location of “there”.  Leaving the interpretation open by using inexact, or highly subjective, language can result in a misinterpretation and potential error. If a patient suffers an injury due to a surgical error, they should seek legal advice from a personal injury attorney in Rhode Island who is experienced with medical malpractice claims.

photo_89336_20170508-300x204In 2017, a $40 million settlement was awarded to a North Providence man in what is believed to be the largest medical malpractice award in Rhode Island history. In 2015, $25 million was awarded to an Exeter man in what was the highest medical malpractice settlement at that time. We often hear the term medical malpractice with large settlement figures attached. Injuries and treatment resulting from medical malpractice can be extremely extensive and costly. Medical malpractice cases include many complicated components and usually involve outside medical experts. As an experienced personal injury lawyer who works with Rhode Island medical malpractice cases, Attorney David Tapalian knows that a medical malpractice lawsuit can be a lengthy and complicated process and not one that an injured person wants to go through alone. If you think you have a potential RI medical malpractice case, do not try to navigate the system on your own. Consult the expertise of the Providence, RI personal injury and medical malpractice lawyers at Tapalian Law.

Establishing a Medical Malpractice Case in Rhode Island

To determine the potential for a medical malpractice case, the injured must prove that a relationship existed between the doctor and the patient. If your neighbor is a doctor and chatted with you about your medical issues one day but had never treated you or saw you in their office for medical purposes, it would be more difficult to prove a patient/doctor relationship versus your long-time physician with a lengthy medical history file for you as their patient. Once that relationship has been clearly established, the plaintiff will need to prove negligence on the part of the medical professional and ensuing injuries and damages. It is extremely helpful to have an experienced RI medical malpractice lawyer like David Tapalian on your side to successfully prove these damages.

thermometer-and-pills-300x225As explored in a recent Tapalian Law blog, a Vietnam veteran died in July at the Bedford VA Medical Center in Bedford, Massachusetts while his nurse’s aide allegedly played video games on her phone. We questioned the potential of the family to file a wrongful death for medical malpractice lawsuit. When a patient incurs an injury resulting from neglect by a hospital, doctor, or other healthcare professional they may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. In order to have a valid medical malpractice case, certain criteria must be met and negligence proven, as discussed in Part 1 of the blog. However, what happens when a patient dies due to medical negligence, such as 68-year-old Vietnam Vet Bill Nutter did? In the unfortunate circumstance of a patient’s death, certain family members may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. At Tapalian Law, our Providence personal injury firm can assist families of deceased victims who believe their loved one died due to medical malpractice. We also help victims who have incurred injury due to medical negligence with medical malpractice claims in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

What is Wrongful Death?

A wrongful death is a death caused by another’s act of negligence. The act of negligence could be medical malpractice, a car accident, a motorcycle accident, or a workplace accident, among other causes. When a family member dies due to the negligence of another person such as a doctor, hospital, or drunk driver, surviving dependent’s may qualify to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Proof of injury in a wrongful death claim is essential. In the particular example in Part 1 of the blog, a wrongful death case may arise because a patient, Mr. Nutter, died possibly as a result of medical negligence. His eligible family members may attempt to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible hospital or doctor. Even seemingly straight-forward wrongful death lawsuits can be complex and turn quite complicated. When hiring a wrongful death attorney, you should seek out experience. Attorney David Tapalian is a skilled and tenacious lawyer helping Rhode Island and Massachusetts residents with their wrongful death and medical malpractice legal needs.

hospital-room-300x225A Vietnam veteran died at the Bedford VA Medical Center in Bedford, Massachusetts this past July while his nurse’s aide played video games on her phone, according to a Boston Globe report. The 68-year-old veteran, Bill Nutter, was hospitalized at the Bedford VA with multiple medical ailments suffered from the effects of Agent Orange, including diabetes and a condition that could suddenly send him into cardiac arrest. Because of this condition, he was to be monitored on an hourly basis by the staff at the VA Medical Center. After his passing, Mr. Nutter’s wife was informed that her husband died of cardiac arrest and “they couldn’t do anything about it”, but days later she was informed by a doctor that allegedly the hourly check-ups had not been performed. It is unknown whether the family has consulted with a medical malpractice attorney. At Tapalian Law, we have helped victims of medical malpractice in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and these sad circumstances sound like they could turn into a potential wrongful death lawsuit for medical malpractice.

What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs when a hospital, doctor, or other healthcare or medical professional, through a negligent act or omission, causes an injury to a patient. The negligence may be due to errors in diagnosis, treatment, aftercare, or health management. According to the American Board of Professional Liability Attorney’s, to be considered medical malpractice under the law, the claim must meet the following criteria:

file000251845750-232x300A jury awarded $40 million to a North Providence man in what is believed to be the largest medical malpractice award in Rhode Island history. Represented by a medical malpractice attorney, Rhode Island resident Peter Sfameni was awarded $40 million, amounting to $62 million with interest, by a jury in Superior Court for errors made during his treatment at Rhode Island Hospital in 2010. Mistakes made throughout his medical treatment led to the eventual amputation of his right leg. Tapalian Law is a personal injury law firm located in Providence who is ready to fight for your right to compensation for a medical malpractice claim.

A Rhode Island Medical Malpractice Attorney Can Help You Seek Compensation


A 2016 study by Johns Hopkins suggests that medical malpractice occurs more often than we think. Medical malpractice lawsuits can be extremely costly to physicians and hospitals. In 2015, an Exeter man was awarded $25 million, the highest award in a medical malpractice lawsuit at that time, in a malpractice claim against Rhode Island Hospital.  Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, or other medical professional, fails to properly treat a patient’s medical condition and their negligence results in harm or worsened injury to the patient. A medical error is not always a negative reflection on a particular physician but is commonly due to poor systems within a hospital or medical office setting.  It is often due to a lack of communication among staff leading to poor patient care or an absence of safety protocols. Examples of medical malpractice cases include: missed or delayed diagnosis, birth injuries, anesthesia, or medication errors (incorrect dosage or prescription), and surgical errors. Guidance from a medical malpractice lawyer will assist you in determining if an error was made by your doctor or physician.  In the case of Mr. Sfameni, he suffered from a genetic blood-clotting disorder requiring him to take blood thinners. He presented at the Rhode Island Hospital emergency room in December 2010 suffering from various medical issues. Throughout his care for these problems, he was taken on and off the blood thinners, based on the advice of the various doctors who treated him. While off the medication he became seriously ill, suffering from severe blood clots in his legs and lungs. His right leg had to be amputated due to gangrene.


Thanks to sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, people can share the details of their lives with friends and family every second of the day. People post everything from what they are eating for breakfast and where they are eating dinner to how irritated they are standing in line at the grocery store and how long they have sat in the doctor’s office waiting to see the doctor.

Therefore, it’s common to tell others about a car accident you were in or other accident that caused you to be injured. Social media makes it easy and convenient to update all of your friends and family with one post. Posting on social media is much easier than making numerous telephone calls or sending a text to each person. However, sharing information on social media can damage your accident claim, especially if you have a public profile. Don’t be fooled; social media posts can damage your personal injury claim even if your profiles are private.

Nothing you post on the internet is completely private, regardless of your security settings. The attorney for the other party will be monitoring your activity online. He may also request a subpoena from the court to compel you to turn over the information from your social media accounts.


Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to a study by Johns Hopkins. This information should cause concern for anyone who may need medical care in the future. The startling study sheds light on the mistakes made by healthcare professionals that result in the wrongful deaths of many patients each year.

What Did The  Research Show?

Researchers analyzed data for medical death rates over an eight-year period. After reviewing the data, patient safety experts concluded that over 250,000 deaths each year are the result of medical errors. The study, published in The BMJ, revealed that medical errors surpass respiratory disease as the third leading cause of death in the United States.

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