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Maryland Med Spa Sued For Customer’s Death Following Liposuction November 21st, 2014

162017_132140396847214_292624_nA now-closed med spa in Maryland has been sued by the estate of a former customer who underwent liposuction surgery at the med spa in 2012 and died six days later as a result of invasive Group A Streptococcus infection. The customer was placed on life support for three days before she died. The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (“Department”) closed the med spa two days after the customer’s death, following the Department’s receipt of three complaints involving customers of the med spa developing infections after having liposuction at the facility.

The lawsuit for the wrongful death of the former customer followed two other lawsuits filed against the same med spa earlier last month. An investigation undertaken by the Department in 2012 found that all three customers had their liposuction procedures between mid-August and mid-September 2012. The investigation found that members of the team that performed the liposuction procedure did not wear gloves, that some of the nurses were not licensed in Maryland, the med spa facility had visibly dirty equipment, and the med spa’s areas were not separated between clean and dirty areas for sterilization. It was also determined that the doctor who performed the customer’s liposuction had a skin infection that he self-treated one month before he performed the procedure on the customer.

While the Baltimore-area med spa location is closed, the Pennsylvania-headquartered company that operated the med spa has other locations in Delaware and Pennsylvania.

The Baltimore wrongful death case is captioned Michele Thompson v. Daniel Francis, D.O., et al., Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Case No. 24C14006080.

The Department reported in 2012 that an average of 189 cases of invasive Group A Streptococcus (“GAS”) infections were reported in Maryland over the past five years and that between 9,000 and 11,500 cases of invasive GAS occur in the United States annually, which result in 1,000 to 1,800 deaths yearly.

GAS are most often found on the skin and in the throat. GAS is spread by direct contact with mucus from the nose or throat of infected individuals, by contact with infected surfaces, or through contact with sores on the skin or with infected wounds. GAS is described as “invasive” when it is found in blood, muscle, or the lungs and can be severe and life-threatening. Some people with GAS may not have symptoms and are referred to as “carriers.”

Symptoms of GAS may include fever, flu-like symptoms, redness at the wound site, abrupt onset or localized or generalized severe pain and swelling that is often rapidly increasing, and progressive dizziness, weakness, and confusion.

Source

If you or a family member may have been injured as a result of a procedure performed at a med spa, outpatient clinic, or surgical center in the United States, you should promptly consult with a local medical malpractice attorney in your U.S. state who may investigate your possible medical negligence claim for you and represent you in a claim for damages, if appropriate.

Click here to visit our website or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your state who may assist you.

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Arkansas Appeals Court Rejects Nursing Home’s Attempt To Compel Arbitration November 20th, 2014

162017_132140396847214_292624_nOn November 19, 2014, the Arkansas Court of Appeals (“Appeals Court”) affirmed the trial court’s denial of a nursing home’s motion to compel arbitration of medical negligence and wrongful death claims filed by the deceased resident’s wife on behalf of his estate regarding the care that her husband had received at the defendant nursing home. The Appeals Court affirmed that the wife was not a third-party beneficiary of the admission contract between her husband and the nursing home, which the wife purportedly signed on behalf of her husband and which contained a requirement to arbitrate disputes between the parties.

The Appeals Court stated that there are two elements that are necessary in order to apply the third-party-beneficiary doctrine under Arkansas law: 1) there must be an underlying valid agreement between two parties and 2) there must be evidence of a clear intention to benefit a third party.

The Appeals Court stated that the resident’s wife signed the admission documents that contained the arbitration agreement in her representative capacity and not in her individual capacity. The trial court had determined that the wife did not have actual or apparent authority to sign the arbitration agreement and she was not authorized to sign the documents as her husband’s representative, which findings were not challenged on appeal. The Appeals Court therefore held that the underlying agreements were not valid and the third-party-beneficiary doctrine does not apply.

The Underlying Facts

The Appeals Court’s opinion sets forth the following underlying facts: on July 7, 2010, the wife’s husband became a resident of the defendant nursing home. The husband was incapacitated and confused at the time of admission and therefore did not have the capacity to sign the admission documents on his own behalf. At the time of admission, the wife signed all of the required admission documents, including an arbitration agreement, even though she did not have a power of attorney or any court or legal document authorizing her to serve as her husband’s agent or to sign the admission documents on his behalf. The arbitration agreement was signed by the wife on a line under which was printed “Patient or Legal Representative.”

Source  Progressive Eldercare Services – Chicot, Inc., D/B/A Lake Village Rehabilitation And Care Center And Chicot Operations, LLC D/B/A Lake Village Rehabilitation And Care Center v. Sue Long, As The Administrator For The Estate Of Marion L. “Sugar” Long, Deceased, Division I No. CV-14-401, 2014 Ark. App. 661.

If you or a loved one were injured (or worse) as a result of nursing home negligence, nursing home abuse, or nursing home neglect in Arkansas or in another U.S. state, you should promptly seek the legal advice of a local Arkansas nursing home claim attorney or a nursing home claim attorney in your state who may investigate your nursing home claim for you and represent you in a case against a nursing home, if appropriate.

Click here to visit our website or telephone us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to be connected with Arkansas nursing home lawyers (or nursing home lawyers in your state) who may assist you.

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Maryland Medical Malpractice Defense Verdict For Spine Surgeon (Part Three) November 19th, 2014

162017_132140396847214_292624_nIn Part Two of “Maryland Medical Malpractice Defense Verdict For Spine Surgeon,” we ended our discussion at the point where the 5-week post-surgical cervical MRI was read by the hospital radiologist as showing that the cord appearance and the amount of stenosis “appears essentially unchanged from the prior preoperative MRI,” which the defendants and their experts vehemently denied.

The Underlying Facts

Prior to the plaintiff’s ACDF and cervical decompression surgery in late June 2010 that was performed by the defendant spine surgeon, the strength in the plaintiff’s lower extremities (legs) were determined to be normal, along with normal range of motion. Within weeks of the cervical surgery, the plaintiff was suffering from spasms in his right quadriceps (thigh) that the plaintiff described as new-onset but the defendants argued were similar to spasms the plaintiff reported in the past. Nonetheless, the plaintiff’s spasms worsened and extended throughout his right leg and into his left leg over time, accompanied by an increasing amount of pain.

The defendant spine surgeon performed lumbar surgery on the plaintiff during mid-August 2010, to relieve the plaintiff’s spasms (the plaintiff alleged that the defendant spine surgeon told him that the lumbar surgery would “absolutely” take care of his spasms, in response to the plaintiff’s confirmatory questioning just before he was provided anesthesia for the surgery, and that he would not have permitted the defendant spine surgeon to operate on his lumbar spine if the defendant had not represented that the surgery would “absolutely take care of ” his very painful spasms; the defendant spine surgeon denied making any guarantee that the lumbar surgery would fully resolve the plaintiff’s spasms — hence, the plaintiffs alleged the lack of informed consent for the mid-August 2010 lumbar surgery as well as the lack of informed consent for the late-June 2010 cervical surgery (the plaintiffs alleged that the defendant spine surgeon did not obtain proper informed consent for the cervical surgery because the defendant stated to the plaintiff that he required “emergency surgery” or else he “would be paralyzed for life,” which the defendant spine surgeon denied telling the plaintiff, and all experts at trial, and even the defendant himself, stated was not “emergency surgery” and that it would have been inappropriate for the defendant to have told the plaintiff that he needed emergency surgery or he would be paralyzed for life)).

After the lumbar surgery, the plaintiff did not get better — his condition deteriorated and worsened. He was diagnosed with spasticity in his legs along with painful contractures, resulting in the plaintiff being unable to straighten his legs and therefore unable to walk. The plaintiff described at trial the painful spasms that he suffers in his legs, which start as a waive beginning in his feet and progress up to his hips. The spasms are extremely painful, occur without warning, and happen many times every hour, around the clock. When the spasms occur, they are so painful that the plaintiff’s left hand is physically deformed due to his clenching his left hand when he has spasms, according to the plaintiff’s trial testimony. The plaintiff testified that he has been in a wheelchair since November 2010, and that he is permanently disabled (he has not returned to work since mid-June 2010).

The plaintiff had two cervical revision surgeries performed by a Baltimore neurosurgeon during July 2011, at which time the plate and screws that the defendant spine surgeon had placed were removed and the two levels that the defendant had operated on were revised (as well as adjacent levels). The same neurosurgeon operated on the plaintiff’s lumbar spine in January 2012, at the same levels addressed by the defendant spine surgeon (and at additional levels). Those surgeries permanently resolved the plaintiff’s complaints of back pain and other pain and the feeling of a disconnection between his upper and lower body, which had returned, but the plaintiff’s extremely painful and debilitating spasms have not gotten better and he cannot straighten his legs, allegedly due to the failure to timely and properly decompress his cervical spine in June 2010 and thereafter (which the defendants denied).

The defendant and his experts testified during trial that the plaintiff’s condition is unfortunate, but was not the result of medical negligence. They pointed to the plaintiff’s diagnosis of arachnoiditis following the lumbar surgery that they contend was not caused by medical negligence, as well as the plaintiff’s myelomalacia, which they contend was not caused or worsened by the defendants.

The Maryland medical malpractice jury deliberated for four hours and forty minutes, during which time raised voices could be discerned coming from the jury room. The jury rendered its verdict at 8:40 pm on November 13, 2014, finding that the defendants were not negligent and that there was not a lack of informed consent for either spine surgery performed by the defendant.

If you, a member of your family, or a friend may be the victim of medical negligence in Maryland or in another U.S. state, you should promptly seek the legal advice of a Maryland medical malpractice attorney, or a medical malpractice attorney in your state, who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.

Click here to visit our website to submit a secure form or telephone us on our toll-free line (800-295-3959) to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in Maryland or in your state who may assist you.

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Pharmacy Held Liable For Pharmacist’s Disclosure Of Customer’s Prescription Records November 18th, 2014

162017_132140396847214_292624_nBy its decision dated November 14, 214, the Court of Appeals of Indiana (“Appeals Court”) affirmed a $1.8 million verdict in favor of a customer of Walgreen Company (Walgreen’s) whose personal, private prescription history was viewed and disclosed by one of its pharmacy employees to a third party. After a four-day trial, the jury had found that the pharmacist and Walgreen’s were liable for the damages sustained by the customer as a result of the breach and awarded the customer $1.8 million, of which Walgreen’s and its pharmacist were liable for 80% of the verdict.

The Underlying Facts

The plaintiff had a sexual relationship with a man between 2006 and 2010, during which time she filled all of her prescriptions, including oral birth control pills, at a Walgreen’s pharmacy. During 2009, the man began dating a Walgreen’s pharmacist (“pharmacist”). In August 2009, the plaintiff became pregnant with the man’s child and gave birth to a son in May 2010. At some point, the man learned that he had contracted genital herpes.

Within a week of the child’s birth, the man sent a letter to the pharmacist he was had been dating, advising her about the baby and about the possibility that he may have exposed her to genital herpes. While at work during her shift at Walgreen’s, the pharmacist looked up the plaintiff’s prescription history in the Walgreen’s computer system to see if she could find any information about the plaintiff’s sexually transmitted disease but denied that she looked for information related to birth control and further denied that she printed anything relating to the plaintiff’s prescription profile.

Within days, the man sent a text message to the plaintiff that stated: “I’m not trying to start any crap but I have a print out showing that you didn’t even refill ur birth control perscription for july or august. The last time you filled ur prescription was june. I know uve lied to ur mom and harmony and anybody willing to listen but the printout does not lie. I know you lied to me wth tears and curse words and misplaced righteousness. U really should think about what you did…on ur own. You really should think about that FACT before you call me another name. What kind of person does something like that?”

The man followed up with the following text to the plaintiff: “Abby, you ddnt refill ANYTHING at all. No type of birth control medication at all. June you did. You did NOT in july and august. Jeez….r you really still trying to claim? Again, I’m not trying to start shit. What’s done is done, but what’s happening was totally avoidable. You are NOT a victim. You did something wrong abby. Very wrong. Ps….it is not illigall for ME to have it. Ime being very technical here but I ddnt break any laws myself.”

About ten months later, the man mailed a gift to his son with a return address that the plaintiff did not recognize. The plaintiff conducted an internet search and determined that the return address belonged to the pharmacist. The plaintiff was also able to determine that the man and the pharmacist were married and that the pharmacist worked as a pharmacist at the local Walgreen’s where she filled her prescriptions. The plaintiff immediately contacted her local Walgreen’s to report her suspicion that the pharmacist had accessed her personal records and had disclosed the information to an unauthorized individual (the man, who was now the pharmacist’s husband).

Walgreen’s investigated the plaintiff’s complaint and determined that the pharmacist had committed a HIPAA/privacy violation, the pharmacist had viewed the plaintiff’s prescription information without consent and for personal purposes, but that Walgreen’s could not confirm that the pharmacist disclosed the plaintiff’s information to a third party. Nonetheless, Walgreen’s issued a written warning to the pharmacist and the pharmacist was required to retake a computer training program regarding HIPAA.

The plaintiff filed a complaint against the pharmacist for negligence/professional malpractice, invasion of privacy/public disclosure of private facts, and invasion of privacy/intrusion, as well as claims against Walgreen’s alleging respondeat superior, negligent training, negligent supervision, negligent retention, and negligence/professional malpractice.

In deciding the respondeat superior issue on appeal, the Appeals Court noted that the pharmacist was authorized to use the Walgreen computer system and printer, handle prescriptions for Walgreen customers, look up customer information on the Walgreen computer system, review patient prescription histories, and make prescription-related printouts. Furthermore, the pharmacist was at work, on the job, and using Walgreen equipment when she accessed the plaintiff’s confidential information, and the plaintiff belonged to the general category of individuals to whom the pharmacist owed a duty of privacy protection by virtue of her employment as a pharmacist.

The Appeals Court held that the fact that some of the pharmacist’s actions were authorized, or incidental to authorized actions, or of the same general nature as authorized actions, precluded summary judgment in this case. With regard to the issue of the professional malpractice of a pharmacist, the Appeals Court stated that Indiana law provides that a pharmacist shall hold in strictest confidence all prescriptions, drug orders, records, and patient information (Ind. Code § 25-26-13-15(a)) and that the pharmacist in this case unquestionably had a duty of confidentiality to the plaintiff and that the pharmacist had breached that duty. Because the plaintiff had provided evidence of the damages she sustained as a result of that breach, the Appeals Court held that the jury verdict would be affirmed against Walgreen’s based upon the respondeat superior liability of Walgreen, which attaches as a result of the liability of the pharmacist for her negligence/professional malpractice.

The Appeals Court held: (1) the trial court did not err denying Walgreen’s summary judgment and directed verdict motions on respondeat superior liability; (2) the trial court did not commit reversible error with respect to an ex parte brief filed by the plaintiff; (3) the jury instructions were not erroneous; and (4) the damages award was not excessive or based on improper factors.

Source Walgreen Co., Appellant-Defendant vs. Abigail E. Hinchy, Appellee-Plaintiff. No. 49A02-1311-CT-950.

If you may have a claim against a pharmacy or a pharmacist, you should promptly contact a local attorney in your state who may investigate your claim for you and represent you in a claim against a pharmacy or a pharmacist, if appropriate.

Click here to visit our website to complete and submit a short, secure form, or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959, to be connected with lawyers in your state who handle pharmacy/pharmacist claims who may assist you.

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Florida Supreme Court Establishes Harmless Error Test For Civil Cases In Medical Malpractice Case November 17th, 2014

162017_132140396847214_292624_nIn its plurality opinion published on November 13, 2014, the Supreme Court of Florida (“Florida Supreme Court”) established the test for harmless error in civil cases in a medical malpractice case that had been won by the defense at trial. The Florida Supreme Court held that the test for harmless error in civil appeals requires the beneficiary of the error to prove that the error complained of did not contribute to the verdict (the beneficiary of the error must prove that there is no reasonable possibility that the error complained of contributed to the verdict).

The Florida Supreme Court stated that the party contending harmful error must still identify the error and raise the issue before the appellate court, but the harmless error test it was espousing properly places the burden of proving harmless error on the beneficiary of the error. The Florida Supreme Court explained that by requiring the beneficiary of the error to demonstrate that there is no reasonable possibility that the error contributed to the verdict, this harmless error test discourages efforts to introduce error into the proceedings.

The Underlying Facts

In 2003, a 38-year-old woman had a Cesarean section delivery five weeks before her due date. She received spinal anesthesia for the procedure. A moment after the placenta was delivered, she became unresponsive, her blood pressure fell, and she went into cardiopulmonary arrest. The woman was temporarily resuscitated and transferred to the Intensive Care Unit, where she suffered a second cardiopulmonary arrest. Five hours after the birth of her son, she died.

The woman’s husband subsequently filed a Florida medical malpractice case alleging that the defendants (the hospital and the anesthesiologist) were negligent in administering anesthesia, in monitoring his wife’s system and controlling her fluids during surgery, and in responding to her cardiopulmonary arrests. The central issue during the Florida medical malpractice trial was the cause of the woman’s death: the defendants alleged that the woman died as a result of an amniotic fluid embolus (“AFE”), which is an allergic reaction that develops when a mother’s blood mixes with amniotic fluid. The plaintiff’s experts disagreed. Ultimately, the jury found in favor of the defendants.

The Alleged Harmful Errors

The plaintiff argued that the trial court committed harmful error when it limited his cross-examination of the defense AFE expert and when it excluded evidence related to two circumstances of alleged witness tampering.

The AFE Diagnosis Issue

The plaintiff contested the AFE diagnosis, which is a diagnosis of exclusion (i.e., ruling out other possible causes of the woman’s death leads to the conclusion that she died from AFE), and argued that the defendant hospital had a practice of over-diagnosing AFE. The plaintiff attempted to cross-examine the defense AFE expert with regard to the defendant hospital’s over-diagnosing AFE. The defense AFE expert estimated that the national average of AFE was approximately one in 20,000 births (with a range from one in 8,000 to one in 80,000 births). The defendant’s pulmonologist had testified that the deceased woman died from AFE, and that there were approximately 20,000 births at the defendant hospital per year, with one or two diagnoses of AFE per year. However, the defendant hospital had previously provided sworn evidence that there were approximately 2,200 births at the hospital per year, which the plaintiff argued would mean that the defendant hospital was over-estimating the incidence of AFE at the defendant hospital by about ten-fold. The trial court did not permit the plaintiff to cross-examine the defense AFE expert as to the above.

The Florida Supreme Court stated that under the Florida rules of evidence, the trial court had no discretion to exclude the plaintiff’s proffered cross-examination of the defense AFE expert (trial courts may exclude only evidence in which the “probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of issues, misleading the jury, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence”). The Florida Supreme Court held that the defendants, as the beneficiaries of the error, had not demonstrated that there is no reasonable possibility that the exclusion of the plaintiff’s intended cross-examination of their AFE expert contributed to the verdict (the jury should have been allowed to hear the defense AFE expert’s proffered opinion that if one to two out of 2,200 births each year at the defendant hospital resulted in a diagnosis of AFE, the defendant hospital was overdiagnosing AFE, thus drawing into question the credibility of the diagnosis of the deceased woman’s AFE diagnosis – “Barring an entire line of cross-examination of an expert witness concerning critical facts and opinions directly related to the core issue of a case necessitates recognition that the responses of the expert witness here would have yielded powerful impeachment evidence … the exclusion of this cross-examination was in fact harmful”).

Witness Tampering Evidence

The medical examiner who performed the autopsy on the woman’s body concluded that there was no evidence of AFE from the pathology slides, and concluded that the woman did not die from AFE. The plaintiff alleged that the defense attempted to intimidate the medical examiner because she did not agree that AFE was the cause of death. Evidence of witness tampering is admissible because it is “evidence of a consciousness of guilt, and there is nothing more sacred than judicial proceedings that are free from attempts to tamper with or intimidate witnesses.”

The medical examiner was not permitted to testify at trial that just before her deposition in this case began, her lawyer told her that one of the defense attorneys suggested to him that the medical examiner “might not want to embarrass herself by maintaining that the autopsy showed no evidence of AFE and that a world-renowned AFE expert was going to contradict her opinion and testify that the slides on which she saw no evidence of AFE were actually replete with evidence of AFE.”

The plaintiff wanted to have the medical examiner testify during trial as to the defense effort to intimidate her. The plaintiff proffered that the medical examiner would testify that she believed that the defense attorney’s statements and related conduct were an attempt to get her to change her testimony. The Florida Supreme Court stated that “[t]he circumstances strongly suggest that the defense or someone working on behalf of the defense was responsible for the events that occurred prior to [the medical examiner's] deposition, and that party intended to and did exert pressure on [the medical examiner] in an effort to change her opinion” and thus the plaintiff satisfied his burden to show that the challenged testimony was relevant and the communication reasonably understood by the targeted witness as an attempt to intimidate her. The Florida Supreme Court held that the trial court’s failure to admit the proffered testimony was an abuse of discretion, and in light of the harmful error caused by the exclusion of the evidence, a new trial was required.

Source Frank Special, et al., vs. West Boca Medical Center, et al. No. SC11-2511.

If you or a loved one may have been injured or suffered other harms as a result of medical negligence in Florida or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a Florida medical malpractice attorney or find a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.

Click here to visit our website or telephone us toll-free at 800-295-3959 to be connected with Florida medical malpractice lawyers or medical malpractice lawyers in your state who may assist you.

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Maryland Medical Malpractice Defense Verdict For Spine Surgeon (Part Two) November 16th, 2014

162017_132140396847214_292624_nIn our blog posting on November 15, 2014, we began discussing the Maryland medical malpractice verdict in favor of the defendant spine surgeon and his orthopedic practice that was reached by a six-person Maryland medical malpractice jury on November 13, 2014 on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, after seven full days of trial and nearly five hours of jury deliberations. We begin today’s blog posting where we left off.

The Underlying Facts

After being admitted to the surgical floor of a local hospital by the defendant spine surgeon for what the plaintiffs testified was supposed to be “emergency surgery” on the plaintiff’s cervical spine to keep him from “becoming paralyzed for the rest of his life,” the plaintiff waited for his paralysis-avoiding surgery. He expected to be brought to the operating room for surgery on the night of admission; he continued to remain NPO (nothing by mouth – no food, no liquids) since admission.

The plaintiff’s medical records indicate that he was examined by multiple physicians (a neurologist, a neurosurgeon, and others) in consultation with the defendant spine surgeon during the evening of his admission to the hospital and on the following day. The plaintiffs testified during trial that they recalled various doctors entering the plaintiff’ hospital room but that the doctors did not examine the plaintiff and the doctor who seemed to be leading the other doctors told the plaintiff that the defendant spine surgeon was one of the best. The plaintiff had various MRIs performed on the day of admission and on the following day. The plaintiffs testified that they continued to wait for the ‘emergency surgery” that they expected to take place at any time.

The day following admission, the plaintiff had a cervical CT scan. During the early afternoon on the second day after his admission to the surgical floor of the hospital (the plaintiff had remained NPO the entire time), the plaintiff was finally brought to the operating room, where the defendant spine surgeon and his assistant (another spine surgeon from the defendant orthopedic practice) performed a two-level ACDF (anterior cervical discectomy and fusion) and cervical decompression.

The plaintiff had some initial improvement following his spine surgery, including relief from his pre-surgery feeling of a disconnection between the upper portion of his body and his lower body, but his condition soon began deteriorating, including the return of spasms in his right thigh and other distressing symptoms. The plaintiff began experiencing problems walking (he had ambulatory problems that began shortly before his cervical surgery but he was able to continue to work as an equipment operator at a power plant until mid-June).

Five weeks after the ACDF was performed, the defendant spine surgeon ordered a cervical MRI, to be compared to the plaintiff’s pre-surgical cervical MRI. The radiologist who read and interpreted the 5-week post-op cervical MRI, comparing that MRI to the cervical MRI performed the day prior to the plaintiff’s cervical surgery during June 2010, wrote in his report, “Postsurgical change. Cord appearance and the amount of stenosis appears essentially unchanged from the prior preoperative MRI.”

The radiologist’s report and findings were a major source of contentious disagreement between the plaintiffs and the defendants during trial. While the plaintiffs pointed to the report as evidence that the defendant spine surgeon failed to perform an adequate cervical decompression during the surgery in June, each of the defendants’ experts who testified during trial (a radiologist, a neuroradiologist, a neurologist, and an orthopedic surgeon), as well as the defendant spine surgeon himself, testified that the radiologist who read the postsurgical cervical MRI was wrong, and that the MRI did not show any cord compression or significant stenosis. They also testified that the plaintiff did not have symptoms that would have been expected if there had been an inadequate cervical decompression.

We will continue describing this recent Maryland medical malpractice trial in tomorrow’s blog posting …

If you have been injured due to medical negligence in Maryland or in another U.S. state, you should promptly seek the legal advice of a Maryland medical malpractice attorney or a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice lawsuit, if appropriate.

Click here to visit our website to submit a secure form or telephone us on our toll-free line (800-295-3959) to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in Maryland or in your state who may assist you.

Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.

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Maryland Medical Malpractice Defense Verdict For Spine Surgeon (Part One) November 15th, 2014

162017_132140396847214_292624_nLate in the evening on November 13, 2014, a Maryland medical malpractice jury on Maryland’s Eastern Shore returned a verdict in favor of a spine surgeon and his orthopedic practice after seven full days of trial. The jury of one woman and five men took over four and a half hours of deliberations before returning the defense verdict.

The male plaintiff had alleged that the defendant orthopedic spine surgeon was negligent in performing his cervical spine surgery in late June 2010 that ultimately resulted in him becoming wheelchair-bound. The plaintiff also alleged that the defendant failed to have obtained his informed consent for the cervical surgery during June 2010 and for lumbar surgery performed by the defendant during August 2010.

The Underlying Facts

In June 2010, the plaintiff was sixty-one and had been employed as an equipment operator at a local power plant for over thirty years. He had a seven-year history of sciatica with pain radiating into his right leg that had been treated by epidural injections in the past. During early June 2010, the plaintiff experienced an acute episode of feeling a disconnect between his upper body and lower body and he began having falls and a loss of balance over a three-week period. He drove himself to a Maryland hospital emergency room for his symptoms later in June and was discharged to home with instructions to follow up with the defendant orthopedic practice that had treated him for back pain in 2003 (the defendant orthopedic practice is the dominant orthopedic practice on Maryland’s rural Eastern Shore).

The plaintiff followed up with the orthopedic practice, as instructed, five days after his emergency room visit and was examined by a spine surgeon (not the defendant spine surgeon). The plaintiff was advised to begin physical therapy and to have a lumbar MRI because of his symptoms.

The plaintiff had the lumbar MRI at an outpatient facility five days later. On their way home from having the MRI, the plaintiff and his wife received a cellphone call from the caregiver of the plaintiff’s disabled mother-in-law who was living with the plaintiffs at that time, advising the plaintiffs that the caregiver had received a telephone call on the plaintiffs’ home landline, seeking to speak with the plaintiff and advising that the plaintiff should immediately go to the emergency room where the defendant spine surgeon, whose name was provided by the caller to the caregiver who then provided the name to the plaintiffs, would meet the plaintiff in the emergency room.

The plaintiffs, who were running errands before returning home, immediately drove to the emergency room where they were promptly placed in a small triage room. Shortly after their arrival, the defendant orthopedic spine surgeon, whom they had never met before, entered the triage room. Unknown to the plaintiffs at that time, the defendant was new to the defendant orthopedic practice, having become an employee of the defendant orthopedic practice ten months earlier, after finishing his fellowship training in spine surgery a month before he came to Maryland.

The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant spine surgeon examined the plaintiff, who was seated in a wheelchair at that time (the plaintiff alleged that he was placed in the wheelchair when he arrived in the emergency room), and then announced to the plaintiff, in his wife’s presence, “You know, it’s not your back, it’s your neck” and then, according to the plaintiffs’ testimony during trial, advised the plaintiffs that the plaintiff needed “emergency surgery or you will be paralyzed for life.” The plaintiff was made NPO and admitted by the defendant directly from the emergency room to the surgical floor of the hospital, where he awaited the emergency surgery on his neck.

The plaintiff testified at trial that he felt relieved when the defendant spine surgeon told him he needed emergency surgery on his neck, believing that he was saved from becoming paralyzed by coming to the emergency room as instructed and being admitted to a hospital bed. The plaintiffs testified at trial that the defendant was very caring and had a wonderful bedside manner, which, along with their feeling that they had avoided the plaintiff becoming paralyzed by the fortuitous meeting with the defendant, led them to put their full faith and trust in the defendant’s care.

We will continue telling the plaintiffs’ unfortunate saga from being ambulatory to becoming wheelchair bound, in tomorrow’s blog posting …

If you or a family member may have been injured due to medical negligence in Maryland or in another U.S. state, you should promptly seek the legal advice of a Maryland medical malpractice attorney or a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice lawsuit, if appropriate.

Click here to visit our website to submit a secure form or telephone us on our toll-free line (800-295-3959) to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in Maryland or in your state who may assist you.

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Mississippi Supreme Court Requires Intentional Conduct For Medical Malpractice Claim For Suicide November 14th, 2014

162017_132140396847214_292624_nThe Supreme Court of Mississippi (“the Court”) issued an opinion on November 6, 2014 in a medical malpractice claim arising out of a patient’s suicide, holding that Mississippi law requires intentional conduct that proximately created an “irresistible impulse” in a patient to commit suicide in order for there to be a recovery for medical negligence. Since there was no evidence that the patient who committed suicide ever sought psychiatric treatment from the medical malpractice defendants, the plaintiff’s allegation that the defendants committed an intentional act by not providing a psychological consult did not meet the requirements of the irresistible-impulse exception.

The Mississippi law regarding suicide stems from a 1968 case in which the Court stated that there was a rebuttable presumption that a person will not destroy himself by suicide, citing the common-law rule that suicide is an “unforeseeable, intervening cause . . . which breaks the causal connection between the wrongful act and the death.” However, the Court recognized an exception to the common-law rule by allowing recovery against a defendant resulting from a suicide only if the suicide was proximately caused by the intentional act of the defendant that created an irresistible impulse in the decedent to take his or her own life. The Court held that if the decedent took his own life through an uncontrollable impulse and without conscious volition to cause death, and the mental condition was caused by the injury, the death was compensable.

The Underlying Facts

The decedent was admitted to the hospital on June 9, 2008, complaining of chest pains. He was examined and after testing, was diagnosed with a gastric ulcer, gastritis, esophagitis, questionable pericarditis, and normal coronary arteries following a heart catheterization. Three days later, during the night before he was to be discharged from the hospital, the decedent became agitated and aggressive, removing an IV from his arm and attempting to leave the hospital, but he was stopped by nurses and forced back to his room. A nurse reported that the decedent had a hallucination during the incident, stating that someone was trying to rape him.

The decedent and his mother requested that the decedent remain in the hospital and not be discharged, stating that medication that the decedent was given made him “crazy” the night before. One of the drugs that the decedent had been prescribed was Reglan, which comes with a warning for the risk of suicide. However, the decedent and his mother did not voice concern that the decedent may hurt himself or may commit suicide.

During the decedent’s return visit to the doctor for treatment of his ulcer four days later, the doctor was allegedly informed about the incident the night before discharge from the hospital. The doctor wrote a prescription for Reglan and asked the decedent to return in three or four weeks. The following day, the decedent told a friend that he was tired of living and later that same day, told his cousin that he needed a gun and that he wanted to see his deceased cousin. The decedent obtained a gun and called his girlfriend the next day to ask that she take care of his sister and mother if anything happened to him. He then texted his friends to tell them that he was resting in peace. He barricaded himself in his bedroom and committed suicide later that day.

The decedent’s mother subsequently filed a Mississippi medical malpractice case against the hospital and doctor, alleging claims for medical negligence, vicarious liability, breach of warranty, wrongful death, torturous breach of contract, gross negligence, and punitive damages. The trial court granted the medical malpractice defendants’ motion for summary judgment that argued that under Mississippi law, a suicide is actionable only when a defendant’s intentional wrongful act proximately caused an irresistible impulse resulting in the suicide, and that the plaintiff never pleaded any intentional wrongful act committed by the defendants that caused the decedent to commit suicide.

The Court affirmed the lower court’s decision, noting that the decedent never expressed to the defendants a desire to harm himself and was not under the control of the defendants when he committed suicide.

Source Dianne Truddle, as Mother and Wrongful Death Beneficiary of Eric Carmichael, Deceased v. Baptist Memorial Hospital – Desoto, Inc. and Sunil Malhotra, M.D., No. 2013-CA-00707-SCT.

If you or a family member have been harmed as a result of medical negligence in Mississippi or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a Mississippi medical malpractice lawyer, or find a medical malpractice lawyer in your state, who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.

Click here to visit our website or call us toll-free at 800-295-3959 to be connected with medical malpractice attorneys in Mississippi or in your state who may assist you.

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Settlement Announced For Many Stryker Defective Hip Replacement Claims November 13th, 2014

162017_132140396847214_292624_nOn November 3, 2014, Howmedica Osteonics Corp., a/k/a Stryker Orthopaedics (“Stryker”), entered into a settlement agreement that resolves federal claims filed in multi-district litigation venued in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota that covers 2,375 plaintiffs in 39 states, and resolves approximately 2,000 cases involving plaintiffs from many U.S. states that had been filed in New Jersey state multi-county litigation venued in Bergen County, New Jersey.

The settlement agreement covers patients who had revision surgery involving Stryker hip replacements and will pay $300,000 to each such patient who is represented by an attorney ($213,000 to those who are not represented by an attorney), subject to other conditions affecting the amount paid (such as the patient’s age at the time the patient received the hip implant), which amounts to more than $1 billion in total. Some patients will receive an “enhancement benefit” based on specified circumstances, which may result in a payment not to exceed $550,000. A current spouse of a patient with an active, filed lawsuit as of November 3, 2014 may receive a maximum one-time payment of $1,500. Eligible claimants who need revision surgery but are too infirmed in undergo revision surgery will receive $75,000.

The settlement covers only those who had revision surgery prior to November 3, 2014 or who require revision surgery but are too infirm to undergo the procedure, whether filed or unfiled, but does not cover others who received Stryker hip implants but have not yet had revision surgery. It has been reported that approximately 20,000 patients in the United States had received the Stryker Rejuvenate Hip Stem and ABG II Modular Hip Stem products before they were voluntarily pulled from the U.S. market on June 28, 2012.

Source

One of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs stated with regard to the Stryker settlement, which does not affect litigation involving other brands of hip replacement devices, “The difference between the Styker hip and other hip failures is that the Stryker Rejuvenate and AGB II hips were placed on the market at a time when fretting and corrosion problems with metal-on-metal prosthetic hips were becoming known in the orthopedic community. Stryker actively marketed the Rejuvenate and AGB II to orthopedic surgeons – affirmatively stating that laboratory testing by Stryker showed no concern for fretting and corrosion of these hips.  My experience with clients having Stryker Rejuvenate and AGB II hips is that the hips fret, corrode and fail significantly faster than other metal-on-metal hips.”

Source

Large (and small) medical device manufacturers develop and market many products that help to relieve pain and improve the quality of life for patients. Without their medical products, many people would needlessly suffer debility. However, because a successfully marketed medical device can result in enormous profits for its promoter, patients who receive defective medical devices supplied by unscrupulous medical device manufacturers may suffer needless harm that may result in being worse off than before receiving the defective medical device.

If you or a loved one received a hip replacement that may be defective, or was negligently implanted, you should promptly consult with a defective medical device lawyer who may investigate your medical device claim for you and represent you in a claim against a medical device manufacturer, if appropriate.

Visit our website to complete a short, secure form, or telephone us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959, to be connected with medical device lawyers in the United States who may assist you.

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South Dakota Medical Malpractice Victims Of Spine Surgeon May Help Other South Dakotans Obtain Justice November 12th, 2014

162017_132140396847214_292624_nA former spine surgeon in South Dakota, who returned to his native Iran, left behind many victims of medical malpractice, both living and dead – he may be the poster boy of the need for justice for South Dakota medical malpractice victims. While nearly all prior medical malpractice claims filed against South Dakota physicians were unsuccessful, due in part to South Dakotans’ deference to doctors, the former spine surgeon’s alleged egregious misconduct and acts of medical negligence that seriously harmed many of his former patients may finally level the playing field.

More than thirty medical malpractice lawsuits have been filed against the South Dakota surgeon, with one ending in a verdict for the plaintiff last year that involved allegations of unnecessary surgeries that resulted in the patient’s death. Another surgical medical malpractice case was being tried last week. The surgeon may be judgment-proof (a judgment rendered against him may not be paid because of the lack of medical malpractice insurance coverage and the surgeon has no assets in South Dakota from which the judgment may be paid) but the former hospital in which he had an ownership interest where many of the unnecessary surgical procedures were performed may be held responsible for the spine surgeon’s wrongful actions (the hospital is alleged to have known about the unnecessary surgeries and his bad conduct but failed to take appropriate actions to address the wrongdoing).

The claims against the former spine surgeon include not only unnecessary surgeries that permanently harmed patients and caused the deaths of some of them, but also claims that he was abusive and intimidating towards staff and had a sexual relationship with a female sales representative who sold him medical devices he used during spinal surgeries, including engaging in sex with her in his office while patients were waiting to see him.

The spine surgeon is also accused of scheduling more surgeries and procedures at times he desired to make expensive purchases, such as when he wanted to purchase a car that cost more than $200,000 (it is alleged that he instructed his staff to contact his patients who had had surgery within the past six months to schedule further surgeries on them so that he could buy the outrageously expensive car).

A background check of the spine surgeon would have revealed that he was convicted of felony burglary in the 1980s while he was a college student and that he had lied about the conviction on his medical license application (he changed his name after his conviction). The background check would also have revealed that he had surrendered his privileges at a hospital while he was being investigated, and was subsequently denied reinstatement of hospital privileges on several occasions.

Source

Perhaps South Dakotans will re-evaluate their previous unjustified siding with South Dakota doctors who have negligently injured their patients, which may lead to meritorious medical malpractice claimants receiving fair compensation for their losses and harms. Just because a doctor wears a white coat does not make him/her an angel.

If you or a family member may be the innocent victim of medical malpractice in South Dakota or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a South Dakota medical malpractice attorney (or a medical malpractice attorney in your state) who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice lawsuit, if appropriate.

Visit our website to complete a short, secure form, or call us toll-free at 800-295-3959, to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in South Dakota or in your state who may assist you.

Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.

You can follow us on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn as well.