Sometimes a headache is just a headache, other times…

By Frank Natale, Malpractice Associate

A condition which can cause headaches and potentially lead to aneurysms is known as a cerebral arteriovenous malformation.
Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM) is an abnormal connection between arteries and veins, bypassing the capillary system. Although many AVMs are asymptomatic, they can cause intense pain or bleeding or lead to other serious medical problems.
The most general symptoms of a cerebral AVM include headaches and seizures with more specific symptoms occurring that normally depend on the location of the malformation and the individual. Such possible symptoms include:[2]
• Difficulties with movement coordination, including muscle weakness and potentially paralysis;
• Dizziness;
• Difficulties with speech and communication;
• Difficulties with everyday activities;
• Abnormal sensations (numbness, tingling, or spontaneous pain);
• Memory and thought-related problems, such as confusion, dementia or hallucinations.
Cerebral AVMs may present themselves in a number of different ways:
• Bleeding
• Sudden onset of severe headache. May be described as the worst headache of the person’s life.
• Seizure or brain seizure.  Depending on the place of the AVM, it can cause loss of vision in one place.
• Worsening of neurologic functions.

Treatment for brain AVMs can be based on symptoms, and is usually coordinated by a  neurologist for symptoms such as: seizures, headaches, or focal neurologic deficits.
AVM-specific treatment may also involve endovascular embolization, neurosurgery or radiosurgery.  Embolization (cutting off the blood supply to the AVM) with coils, or other materials introduced by a radiographically guided catheter, may be used in addition to neurosurgery or radiosurgery, but this type of treatment is rarely successful in isolation except in smaller AVMs. Gamma knife may also be used to eliminate the AVM in some cases.

Follow up care is extremely important where invasive (surgery, lasers, coils) care is undertaken.  For example people who undergo these procedures may have swelling of the tissue around the AVM, atrophy (wasting away or dying of tissue) from a lack of blood supply to the area, and other effects.  It is extremely important to understand what options your physician would consider to treat any of those effects.  Discuss those in detail with your family and the people you rely on for medical care.

If you or a loved one experiences complications arising from the treatment of a cerebral AVM, please feel free to contact Frank Natale at Bowers Law to discuss any legal options you may have. We can be reached any time at 410-885-6200.

Guest Post: What You Need To Know To File A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit In PA & Maryland

Occasionally we have the opportunity to welcome some guest insight from a colleague either related to our profession and the cases we handle, or in this case an attorney from Pennsylvania who handles medical malpractice claims. Kevin R. Marciano, Esquire, is the Managing Partner of Marciano & MacAvoy, P.C. and shares with us insight about medical malpractice claims in Pennsylvania, and how they different from medical malpractice claims in Maryland.

A medical malpractice lawsuit is used by patients to try and protect them from a negligent doctor who either knowingly or unknowingly caused damage while performing a medical procedure.  As I state on, medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. Specifically, medical malpractice can come from:

  • Prescribing improper medication or prescribing too much medication
  • Not using the basic standard of care to treat patients
  • Failing to warn patients about potential side-effects to medications or procedures
  • Making an incorrect diagnosis

The state of Pennsylvania has its own rules when it comes to preparing a medical malpractice lawsuit, and you should hire an experienced legal professional to help you understand and abide by those rules.

Standard Of Care

Before you can file a personal injury lawsuit for medical malpractice, you must prove that your doctor violated the standard of care for your state. Each state has nuances to their standard of care that your attorney will know, but standard of care is generally the accepted method for delivering safe and effective medical care in any situation. For example, the standard of care in most states says that doctors need to get patients to sign a document stating that the patient has been explained the risks of their treatment and accepts those risks.

A medical malpractice case can be brought against a doctor who either knowingly or unknowingly violates the state’s standard of care. If the doctor’s negligence and violation of the standard of care causes injury to a patient, then that patient can seek out a lawsuit that would award damages based on the decision of the state’s civil court.

A Medical Malpractice Case In Pennsylvania

The state of Pennsylvania has some rules regarding medical malpractice lawsuits that attorneys and victims must follow. When it comes to awarding damages, Pennsylvania does not put a cap on any of the potential awards a court might offer. The different types of damages awarded in a medical malpractice lawsuit are:

  • Compensatory Damages – These are the real damages such as lost wages and any medical bills the victim has accrued related directly to the medical incident.
  • Non-Economic Damages – This is the category of damages used to determine the value of the patient’s pain and suffering.
  • Punitive Damages – These are damages added to an award if the court determines that the doctor was purposely negligent. Compensatory and non-economic damages have no cap, but punitive damages are capped at a maximum of 200 percent of the compensatory award.

The Pennsylvania statute of limitations for a medical malpractice case has two parts to it. The patient has two years to file a lawsuit after discovering the error, or after it should be reasonably expected that they would discover the error. The courts usually decide when the patient should have noticed the damage based on the evidence that is available. However, there is a second limitation that says that no medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed seven years after the medical procedure has been performed.

The Difference Between Pennsylvania And Maryland

When comparing the process of filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Pennsylvania to the process in Maryland, there are two significant areas to look at.

  • Statute of Limitations – The time frame for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Maryland is much tighter than it is in Pennsylvania. While a patient has three years from the time they discover the doctor’s error to file their lawsuit, they only have five years from the date the procedure was performed to get their lawsuit filed. Any medical malpractice lawsuit filed after the five-year deadline will not get heard in Maryland.
  • Punitive Damages – Punitive damages are much more common in Pennsylvania than they are in Maryland. In Maryland, it is much more difficult to prove intentional negligence on a doctor than it is in Pennsylvania.

It takes an experienced legal professional to file a successful medical malpractice lawsuit in Pennsylvania or Maryland. If you feel you are the victim of a negligent doctor, then you should contact an attorney immediately to avoid running up against the ticking clock that is the statute of limitations.

Author bio:

Kevin R. Marciano, Esquire, is the Managing Partner of Marciano & MacAvoy, P.C. Marciano focuses his practice on representing catastrophic injury victims, including claims for medical malpractice, pharmaceutical liability, motor vehicle accidents, wrongful death, product liability, premises liability, construction accidents, liquor liability, personal injury and mass tort class actions.