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Maryland Medical Malpractice Claim Against Student Phlebotomist Settled September 2nd, 2014

162017_132140396847214_292624_nIn an unreported decision of the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland (“Court”) that was issued on August 29, 2014, the Court was asked to decide an indemnification issue between the medical malpractice defendants. The alleged facts, however, caught our attention because the underlying situation is commonly faced by patients who are required to undergo medical tests that are performed by health care providers whom patients have no way of knowing their qualifications or the extent of their experience with the procedures they require.

The Alleged Facts

On January 13, 2007, a mother brought her six-year-old child to the defendant health care clinic. The medical director of the health care clinic examined the child and told the mother that someone would come to draw the child’s blood for testing, after which the doctor left the room to see other patients. The medical director thought that a “lab person” of the defendant health care clinic would come and draw the child’s blood. However, a student phlebotomist gaining required experience entered the room to perform the blood draw. The mother was not told that the person performing the blood draw was a student or that she was not an employee of the health care clinic.

The mother observed the student phlebotomist stick herself with the needle and then use the same needle on her son. When the doctor returned to the examination room, the mother advised the doctor of such. The doctor confronted the student phlebotomist, who advised her that she had used a butterfly needle, that she had “grazed herself” with the needle, and that she had thrown the needle away when she saw blood on it, after which she used a second needle in an unsuccessful attempt to draw the child’s blood.

The doctor told the mother what the student phlebotomist had told her. The mother advised the doctor that she observed only one needle that was used. When the doctor checked the used needle box located in the examination room, she saw only one needle inside. When the doctor then confronted the student phlebotomist again, the student confessed that she had used the same needle on the child that she had accidentally stuck herself with. The student phlebotomist was then tested and found to be positive for Hepatitis C.

The child was tested for Hepatitis C for a period of one year after the incident. Fortunately, his testing was negative for Hepatitis C.

The mother filed a Maryland medical malpractice lawsuit against the student phlebotomist and the health care clinic. The Maryland medical malpractice case was settled for $50,000.

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The facts of this Maryland medical malpractice case highlight an important and troubling issue for patients: when people seek medical care, they rightfully assume that all health care providers who provide them care, including not only the nurses, physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners whom they meet face-to-face, but also all others who have any involvement with their medical care, such as phlebotomists, x-ray technicians, radiology technicians, pharmacy technicians, and lab personnel, will have the appropriate education, knowledge, experience, and qualifications to properly carry out their job requirements in order to avoid patients from suffering unnecessary harm.

If you or a loved one suffered injuries or other harms as a result of a health care provider failing to provide care or services consistent with the applicable standard of care, you should promptly consult with a medical malpractice attorney in your U.S. state who may investigate your medical negligence claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.

Click here to visit our website to complete and submit a short, secure form, or call us toll-free at 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.

West Virginia Medical Malpractice Case Filed For 4-Year-Old’s Undiagnosed Ruptured Spleen September 1st, 2014

162017_132140396847214_292624_nThe parents of a four-year-old child filed a West Virginia medical malpractice case on July 16, 2014 against a physician, a radiology practice, and a local hospital, alleging that their medical negligence in failing to diagnose their son’s ruptured spleen led to his serious injuries. The family’s unfortunate odyssey began when the child, who suffers from cerebral palsy, was brought to the hospital emergency room on August 27, 2013 complaining of dry heaves, chills, and significant abdominal pain, which caused him to be screaming in pain and pointing to his abdomen.

According to the parents’ West Virginia medical malpractice lawsuit, a CT scan of the boy’s abdomen was performed but the defendant physician who reviewed the study failed to note an enlarged spleen or that the boy’s spleen had ruptured. The child’s medical condition rapidly deteriorated while he was in the emergency room, requiring that he be intubated and treated for hemorrhagic shock (his blood pressure dropped to 69/56) for which he received blood transfusions. Despite the boy’s worsening condition, the treating physicians failed to order an abdominal ultrasound or obtain a surgical consultation.

The local hospital’s emergency room physicians transferred the child to another hospital for evaluation, diagnosis, care, and treatment. During the helicopter ride to the receiving hospital, the boy’s condition deteriorated to the point where the helicopter had to divert to another hospital en route, where emergency surgery was performed to address the child’s ruptured spleen that was finally diagnosed when physicians reviewed the earlier CT scan. During the emergency surgery, the boy coded and required CPR to be resuscitated. Further hospitalizations were required.

The parents’ medical malpractice lawsuit alleges that the physician who originally read the CT scan was negligent, reckless, and incompetent in failing to diagnose their son’s ruptured spleen, and was further negligent in failing to compare the August 27 CT scan with an earlier CT scan on July 6, 2013. The first hospital is named as a medical malpractice defendant for its failure to order additional testing and its failure to obtain a surgical consultation at the time of the emergency room visit.

The West Virginia medical malpractice case seeks unspecified compensatory damages for the little boy’s permanent brain injury, developmental delays, and other personal injuries allegedly suffered as a result of the medical malpractice defendants’ medical negligence.

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This sad and unfortunate medical malpractice case is an example of the situation faced by most people who arrive in hospital emergency rooms throughout the United States: you don’t know the education, training, knowledge, or experience level of those assigned to diagnose and treat your medical condition, and you are not given a choice regarding who provides you with your emergency room care. Most people with complicated or unexpected emergency medical situations who visit hospital emergency rooms have no way of knowing if their complex medical conditions have been fully and properly diagnosed, if the treatment they received was proper and sufficient, or if the discharge instructions they received were appropriate and complete.

If you or a loved one are the victim of emergency room malpractice, you should promptly contact a local medical malpractice attorney in your U.S. state who may investigate your emergency room negligence claim for you and represent you in an emergency room malpractice case, if appropriate.

Click here to visit our website or call us on our toll-free line (800-295-3959) to be connected with emergency room malpractice lawyers in your state who may assist you.

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Medical License Of Maryland Psychiatrist Summarily Suspended August 31st, 2014

162017_132140396847214_292624_nBy its order dated August 27, 2014, a Maryland psychiatrist’s medical license was summarily suspended by the Maryland State Board of Physicians (“Board”) after the Board concluded that the public health, safety, or welfare “imperatively requires emergency action.” The Board-certified psychiatrist had a solo practice in Baltimore City and had been licensed in Maryland since 1979. She did not have hospital admitting privileges and she was not Board-certified in the sub-specialty of pain medicine.

It appears that the Maryland psychiatrist got herself in trouble when she began getting involved in pain management medicine. Her training in pain medicine involved taking a pain management course at an American Psychiatric Association meeting in mid-2013 and sixteen hours of pain management training with the American Academy of Pain Medicine in March 2014.

The Board focused its attention on the Maryland psychiatrist’s Baltimore City pain management practice after one of her patients was found unconscious in a hospital emergency room bathroom with a syringe in her arm (the syringe was suspected to contain heroin), along with over 350 medication tablets in 21 bottles (many of which contained multiple types of medications), 40 syringes, a rubber strap, suspected marijuana, and a large amount of cash. All of the medication bottles had labels indicating that the psychiatrist had prescribed the drugs, all of which were controlled dangerous substances (CDS), including alprazolam, dextroaphetamine, OxyContin, hydromorphone, and methadone.

The Board conducted an investigation, which included an unannounced office visit to the psychiatrist’s Baltimore office and review of the medical records of ten of her patients, pursuant to subpoena. Among other observations during the unannounced office visit, the investigators found medications in an unlocked cabinet, which included CDS and expired medications.

An expert retained by the Board determined that the Maryland psychiatrist failed to document adequate patient assessments, failed to conduct an adequate physical examination of patients in many instances, failed to use risk assessment tools, continued to prescribe opioids to her patients despite evidence of abuse, addiction, and/or diversion, and was otherwise deficient in her treatment of pain management patients, which led the expert to conclude that the psychiatrist was “not professionally competent to practice pain medicine as a result of  a clear and consistent deficit of skill, knowledge and judgment with regard to management of patients for whom she is prescribing opioid medications,” raising “a substantial likelihood of serious risk to the public health, safety or welfare of patients due to her lack of training and clinical judgment to treat complex patients seeking care for pain management.”

Source

If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries or complications due to pain management 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 pain management malpractice claim for you and represent you in a pain management claim and/or psychiatrist malpractice claim, if appropriate.

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

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

Nursing Homes May Manipulate The Medicare Star-Rating System August 30th, 2014

162017_132140396847214_292624_nMedicare employs a five-star quality rating system for nursing homes throughout the United States. Nursing homes that receive a five-star rating are supposed to be the best in the nation – only about one-fifth of the more than 15,000 nursing homes in the United States have received a five-star rating. Medicare awards stars based on three criteria: health inspections, staffing, and quality measures.

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The Medicare nursing home rating system can be manipulated by the owners and management of nursing homes because two of the three criteria – staffing levels and quality measures - are self-reported by the nursing homes to Medicare. Medicare generally accepts as true, without verification, the information reported to them from nursing homes regarding their staffing levels and their quality measures. If the reported information in these two categories is misrepresented, wrong, or fraudulent, nursing homes may receive higher ratings (more stars) than they would otherwise be entitled had the true and accurate information been provided. Because so many families look to and rely on the published Medicare nursing home star ratings when looking for and choosing a nursing home for a loved one, they may be deceived to the detriment of their loved one when basing their choice of nursing homes on unreliable Medicare star ratings.

For-profit nursing homes, many of which are owned and operated by large corporate chains, attempt to maximize their billings and profits by maximizing the number of patients in their facilities – the more residents they have (who are attracted by the higher Medicare star ratings), the more money they receive, which is reflected in their balance sheets and reported to their shareholders. Not only are residents and their families deceived by falsely reported information to Medicare, but the investors of the nursing homes are also deceived about the quality of their investment. Lenders also look to the Medicare star-rating of nursing homes when evaluating whether to loan money to the owners, and under what terms.

With so much at stake when Medicare determines how many stars a nursing home receives, nursing home owners and managers have learned how to game the system: while 37% of nursing homes achieved four-star or five-star ratings when Medicare first began the star-rating system in 2009, by 2013, almost one-half of nursing homes had been awarded the top two star-ratings. Nearly two-thirds of the more than 50 nursing homes that are on the federal watch list for quality issues are rated four or five stars by Medicare for the self-reported criteria: staff levels and quality measures. Yet more than 95% of the nursing homes on the federal watch list received only one or two stars for health inspections, which are independently conducted by the states in which the nursing homes are located.

Staffing Level Stars

Nursing homes have an incentive to misrepresent their self-reported staffing levels to Medicare: they receive an extra star for their overall rating if their staffing level rating is four or five stars. Only 39% of nursing homes received an extra star for staffing levels in 2009, yet by 2013, 52% of nursing homes received the extra star for receiving four or five stars for their staffing levels. Nursing homes can manipulate their self-reported staffing levels by adding staff shortly before their annual inspections – they know in advance when the annual inspection will occur. After the inspection period, the additional staff often disappear.

Quality Measures Stars

Nursing homes have an incentive to misrepresent their self-reported quality measures to Medicare: they receive an additional star for their overall rating if their quality measures is five stars. The percentage of nursing homes that have received five-star ratings for quality measures has increased from 11% in 2009 to 29% in 2013. Nursing homes can manipulate their quality measures data, which are based on matters such as the number of residents who have serious falls or who develop pressure ulcers (and the seriousness of the bedsores), by down-playing the severity of such injuries in their residents’ records (e.g., documenting a Stage III pressure ulcer as a Stage I pressure ulcer).

The New York Times recently reported on a nursing home located in California that Medicare had awarded five stars. Despite its highest rating from Medicare, the nursing home was fined the highest fine possible ($100,000) by California in 2013, for the death of a resident in 2006 due to an overdose of a blood thinner. This same highest-rated nursing home was subject to at least 102 consumer complaints between 2009 and 2013, which is much higher than the state average. It is reported that many of the nursing home residents live three in a room, there is a shortage of quality staff, and there is often a scarcity of basic supplies, such as washcloths.

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If you or a loved one suffered injuries (or worse) while a resident of a nursing home in the United States, you should promptly consult with a nursing home claim lawyer in your state who may investigate your nursing home claim for you and represent you in a nursing home negligence, nursing home abuse, or nursing home neglect case, if appropriate.

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

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Two Maryland Hospitals Sued For Misdiagnosed Liver Disease During Pregnancy August 29th, 2014

162017_132140396847214_292624_nTwo Maryland hospitals, including The Johns Hopkins Hospital, have been sued for their alleged negligent failures to timely and properly diagnose and treat a woman’s liver disease during her pregnancy, thereby leading to permanent brain damage and her current vegetative state. The gravely injured woman, who uses a ventilator to breath, has required around-the-clock nursing care for more than two years due to her irreversible brain injury, according to the Maryland medical malpractice lawsuit that was filed in court on August 18, 2014 by her husband, on their behalf.

The 33-year-old woman, who has two elementary school-aged children, went to the defendant community hospital located in Baltimore County, Maryland, in August 2012, when she was 12-weeks pregnant with her third child. She sought medical treatment for severe nausea and vomiting, which had caused her to lose 14 pounds during the early part of her pregnancy. She was treated for dehydration and malnutrition but was not given vitamins intravenously, according to the Maryland malpractice claim. On the evening of the day she sought treatment in the hospital emergency room, she complained of a heartburn-like feeling and she was admitted as an inpatient.

It was not until the second day after admission that the woman was diagnosed with extreme and serious morning sickness. Her medical negligence claim contends that her symptoms at that time should have revealed that she had liver dysfunction but the hospital failed to properly diagnose and treat her condition. Two days later, the hospital staff noted signs of liver dysfunction but she was not further tested, according to the medical malpractice allegations.

The woman suffered a miscarriage that same day. A D&C was not performed and part of the placenta may have been left behind (which was not removed until she was subsequently transferred to The Johns Hopkins Hospital).

The following day, the woman complained of ear problems and tingling in her left thigh, which could have been signs of hepatic encephalopathy, but her physicians allegedly did not consider her condition to be an emergency situation. That evening, the woman complained that she was having vision problems, that she was unable to focus her attention, and that her tingling and numbness were progressing.

The following day, the woman experienced a fall after which she told her physicians that she was having vision and hearing problems as well as feeling numbness over her entire body. The community hospital physicians consulted with physicians at The Johns Hopkins Hospital (“Hopkins”), and they agreed that the woman would be transferred to Hopkins once a bed in the neurological ICU became available. However, the Hopkins’ physicians did not recommend further medical testing to the community hospital’s physicians, prior to transfer, according to the Maryland malpractice lawsuit.

Shortly after midnight, the woman was transferred and admitted to Hopkins, where a liver biopsy and emergency procedures were undertaken to address her failing liver. Despite such efforts that restored her liver function, the woman suffered a catastrophic brain injury that is irreversible, The Maryland medical malpractice case was filed against both hospitals and numerous physicians, seeking compensatory damages in the amount of $28 million.

Source: The Daily Record, August 21, 2014. McVay, et al. v. The Johns Hopkins Hospital, et al.  Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Case No. 24-C-14004802.

If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries, or worse, as a result of medical malpractice at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, or in another hospital in the United States, you should promptly seek the legal advice of a Baltimore medical malpractice attorney (or a medical malpractice attorney in your U.S. state) who may investigate your hospital negligence claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice claim against a hospital, if appropriate.

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

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

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Should Doctors Be Tested For Drugs And Alcohol Abuse? August 28th, 2014

162017_132140396847214_292624_nCalifornia voters who go to the polls on November 4, 2014 will be faced with the public safety issue whether doctors in California should be tested for drug and alcohol abuse, which is contained in California’s Proposition 46.

Part of the Official Summary for Proposition 46 states, “Requires drug and alcohol testing of doctors and reporting of positive test to the California Medical Board. Requires Board to suspend doctor pending investigation of positive test and take disciplinary action if doctor was impaired while on duty. Requires doctors to report any other doctor suspected of drug or alcohol impairment or medical negligence.”

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Four relevant sections of Proposition 46 provide as follows:

2350.20. Every physician shall, and any other person may, report to the board any information known to him or her which appears to show that any physician may be or has been impaired by drugs or alcohol while on duty, or that any physician who was responsible for the care and treatment of a patient during an adverse event failed to follow the appropriate standard of care. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any physician or other person who in good faith makes such a report to the board shall not be liable under any law of this state for any statement or opinion made in such report.

2350.25. (a) Upon the effective date of the regulations adopted by the board to implement this article, hospitals shall conduct testing for drugs and alcohol on physicians as follows:

(1) On a random basis on physicians who are employees or contractors or who have the privilege to admit patients.

(2) Immediately upon the occurrence of an adverse event on physicians who were responsible for the care and treatment of the patient during the event or who treated the patient or prescribed medication for the patient within 24 hours prior to the event. Testing shall be the responsibility of the physician, who shall make himself or herself available for testing at the hospital as soon as possible, and failure to submit to testing at the hospital within 12 hours after the physician learns of the adverse event may be cause for suspension of the physician’s license.

(3) At the direction of the board following a referral pursuant to Section 2350.20 on a physician who is the subject of a referral.

(b) The hospital shall bill the physician for the cost of his or her test and shall not pass on any of the costs of the test to patients or their insurers.

2350.30. Hospitals shall report any verified positive test results, or the willful failure or refusal of a physician to submit to a test, to the board, which shall do all of the following:

(a) Refer the matter to the Attorney General’s Health Quality Enforcement Section for investigation and enforcement pursuant to Article 12 (commencing with Section 2220).

(b) Temporarily suspend the physician’s license pending the board’s investigation and hearing on the matter pursuant to Article 12 (commencing with Section 2220).

(c) Notify the physician and each of the health facilities at which the physician practices that the physician’s license has been temporarily suspended pending the board’s investigation and hearing on the matter.

2350.35. (a) If, after investigation and hearing, the board finds that a physician was impaired by drugs or alcohol while on duty or during an adverse event or that a physician has willfully refused or failed to comply with drug and alcohol testing, the board shall take disciplinary action against the physician, which may include treatment for addiction as a condition of licensure, additional drug and alcohol testing during a period of probation, and suspension of the physician’s license until such time as the physician demonstrates to the board’s satisfaction that he or she is fit to return to duty.

(b) If the board finds that a physician was impaired by drugs or alcohol during an adverse event, the board shall inform the patient or, in the case of the patient’s death, the patient’s family, of its determination.

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In this day and age when public safety workers are routinely subjected to drug and alcohol testing as a condition for their continued employment, it would seem to many that it is long overdue and based on common sense that doctors, who are responsible for the public’s health, should be subjected to drug and alcohol testing too. Even the California Medical Association has not opposed the concept of some form of drug testing, although it believes that the provisions with regard to drug testing contained in Proposition 46 are defective and inappropriate.

What may come as a surprise to some people is that two well-known and respected public advocacy groups have come down on different sides of the Proposition 46 drug and alcohol testing debate.

It was recently reported that the  associate director of the ACLU of Northern California criticized the drug-testing provisions of Proposition 46 because they do not limit drug testing of doctors to those doctors who are in “safety-sensitive” positions (like pilots) and also unfairly expose doctors who fail the tests to the risk of losing their medical licenses.

In response, Consumer Watchdog published on its website the August 25, 2014 letter from the father of two small children whose tragic and avoidable deaths were the impetus for Proposition 46 in which he responded to the ACLU’s criticism regarding the proposed the drug and alcohol testing of California physicians, which stated, in part: “How can the ACLU contend that some doctors are not in “safety sensitive” positions? Explain to me and the voters of our state when and in what circumstances a doctor is not in a “safety sensitive” position. Likewise, please spell out for me and the voters in what circumstances and why a doctor who practices while drunk or on drugs should not be potentially at risk of losing their medical license … As was reported recently by USA Today, more than 100,000 health care professionals currently are battling substance abuse problems around the nation. Add to that list those abusing alcohol, and the number swells to more than 500,000. California’s own Medical Board has estimated that 18% of the state’s physicians will suffer substance abuse sometime during their lives, and that up to 2% could be abusing drugs or alcohol at any one time … I understand the ACLU has never been a fan of drug or alcohol testing in any form, even when it comes to safety sensitive positions such as airline pilots, and has consistently opposed the use of DUI checkpoints as a form of deterring drunk driving. Such stands put the ACLU at odds both with public opinion and, frankly from my perspective, with common sense.”

California voters will have the final say on November 4, 2014 as to whether California physicians should be subject to drug and alcohol testing as required by California’s Proposition 46.

If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries or other harms as a result of medical malpractice in California or in another U.S. state, you should promptly seek the legal advice of a California 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 or call us toll-free at 800-295-3959 to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in California or in your state who may assist you.

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

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Ophthalmologist Malpractice Lawsuit Results In $1.5M Verdict August 27th, 2014

162017_132140396847214_292624_nA North Carolina medical malpractice jury found against the defendant ophthalmologist after a trial that concluded on August 19, 2014 in which it awarded the plaintiff damages in the amount of $1.5 million for the total loss of his eyesight in his left eye, for which the ophthalmologist will be responsible for close to $2 million once interest at the rate of 8% per year is added that has been accruing since the ophthalmologist malpractice lawsuit was first filed in January 2011.

What was supposed to be a routine cataract removal surgery on the plaintiff’s left eye in 2008 went horribly wrong when the wrong medication was used during the surgery.

The defendant ophthalmologist ordered a dye called VisionBlue that is used to stain the cataract in the effected eye so that the cataract can be safely visualized and removed during cataract removal surgery. Testimony during the medical malpractice trial established that the ophthalmologist ordered the correct medication but the nurse who filled the order brought methylene blue instead (methylene blue can damage the eye). The nurse handed the methylene blue to the surgical technician, announcing that she was handing the technician methylene blue. The surgical technician then handed the medication to the surgeon, also announcing that she was handing him methylene blue. The defendant ophthalmologist contended that he did not hear either the nurse or the surgical technician state that the medication he was handed was methylene blue.

The defendant ophthalmologist applied the methylene blue to the patient’s left eye during the cataract surgery, which severely damaged his eye. Corrective surgery was done at the same hospital, but it was ineffective in repairing the damage done by the methylene blue. A corneal transplant was attempted to save the man’s sight, but his body rejected the implant. The plaintiff is now blind in his left eye and has glaucoma due to the multiple corrective surgeries. In his right eye, he has 20/20 vision.

Source

What Is Methylene Blue?

Methylene blue is a chemical compound used in chemistry and biology. Methylene blue turns blue when it is dissolved in water but is a dark green powder that is odorless in its solid state. It is often described as the first fully synthetic drug used in medicine: its use in treating malaria began in 1891 and it was used for that purpose during World War II. Since the 1890s, it has been researched for its antidepressant and psychotropic effects. It has been used in large doses as an antidote to potassium cyanide poisoning, was used in the past for carbon monoxide poisoning, and is presently being investigate for its use in certain cancer treatment.

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The official Safety Data Sheet for methylene blue warns that if there is contact of methylene blue with the eyes, “Immediately flush with plenty of water for up to 15 minutes. Remove any contact lenses and open eyes wide apart. Get medical attention if any discomfort continues.” However, under the heading “Information on toxicological effects,” the Safety Data Sheet states, “Serious eye damage/irritation: Based on available data the classification criteria are not met.”

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If you or a family member were injured by an eye doctor (ophthalmologist), you should promptly seek the legal advice of a medical malpractice attorney in your state who handles claims against ophthalmologists, who may investigate your ophthalmologist claim for you and represent you in a ophthalmologist malpractice case, if appropriate.

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

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

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Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Filed For Dangerous Drug Combination August 26th, 2014

162017_132140396847214_292624_nA patient at a Philadelphia health center has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the health center, three physicians at the health center, a physician’s assistant employed by the health center, and a pharmacy, accusing each of them of medical negligence in prescribing her a combination of medications that led to her suffering severe and permanent injuries as a result of the contraindicated drug combination.

The woman alleges in her medical malpractice lawsuit that she went to the Philadelphia heath center on July 20, 2011, where she had been a patient since 2007. During her visit, she was given prescriptions by the physician’s assistant for the statin medication Pravachol (statins are prescribed to lower cholesterol level) and the antiviral medications Norvir and Prezista, which are used in the treatment of HIV. All of the prescriptions were signed off by a physician.

The plaintiff alleges that she was not advised regarding the possible drug interaction between her statin drug and her antiviral drugs. She had nine additional visits to the health center between August 2011 and April 2012 during which time her prescription medications did not change and she was never advised to stop taking her medications. Furthermore, one of her refills for Pravachol was mistakenly filled by the defendant pharmacy with the statin medication Simvastatin, according to the woman’s medical negligence lawsuit.

A FDA Drug Safety Communication dated March 1, 2012, warns: “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is issuing updated recommendations concerning drug-drug interactions between drugs for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV) known as protease inhibitors and certain cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins. Protease inhibitors and statins taken together may raise the blood levels of statins and increase the risk for muscle injury (myopathy). The most serious form of myopathy, called rhabdomyolysis, can damage the kidneys and lead to kidney failure, which can be fatal.” Source

The woman alleges that on April 29, 2012, she went to the emergency room because she was unable to walk or bear weight. She was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, allegedly due to her taking a combination of statin drugs and antiviral medications. Rhabdomyolysis is the breakdown of muscle tissue that leads to the release of muscle fiber contents into the blood that are harmful to the kidney and often cause kidney damage (when muscle is damaged, a protein called myoglobin is released into the bloodstream that is filtered out of the body by the kidneys – myoglobin breaks down into substances that can damage kidney cells). The prognosis depends on the amount of damage to the kidneys. Acute kidney failure occurs in many patients. Getting treated soon after rhabdomyolysis begins reduces the risk of permanent kidney damage. Source

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If you have been injured due to a medication error and/or due to medical negligence in the Philadelphia area or elsewhere in the United States, you should promptly seek to consult with a Philadelphia 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 or call us toll-free at 800-295-3959 to be connected with Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers or medical malpractice lawyers in your state who may assist you.

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

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Kentucky Supreme Court Orders Production Of Medical Malpractice Incident Report August 25th, 2014

162017_132140396847214_292624_nThe Supreme Court of Kentucky (“Kentucky Supreme Court”) rendered its decision on August 21, 2014 in a case where the defendant hospital claimed a federal confidentiality privilege to refuse to provide the medical malpractice plaintiff with a copy of the incident report written by a surgical nurse at the defendant hospital concerning the elective surgery that resulted in the death of the patient.

As the Kentucky Supreme Court noted, the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005 (“the Act”), 42 U.S.C.A. § 299b-21 et. seq., was enacted by the U.S. Congress to encourage health care providers to voluntarily associate and communicate privileged patient safety work product (“PSWP”) among themselves through in-house patient safety evaluation systems (“PSES”) and with and through affiliated patient safety organizations (“PSO”) with the express intent of creating a national system capable of studying, analyzing, disseminating, and acting on events, solutions, and recommendations for the betterment of national patient safety, health care quality, and health care outcomes. In furtherance of the Act’s purpose, the Act provides a confidentiality provision establishing that “patient safety work product shall be confidential and shall not be disclosed,” except as authorized by the Act itself. 42 U.S.C.A. §299b-22(b); 42 C.F.R. § 3.206(b).

Prior to the Act, providers had little incentive to communicate amongst themselves and to report and analyze errors nationally due to fear that such communications or analysis might well generate litigation and/or be discoverable.

The Alleged Underlying Facts

After a patient died as a result of complications from elective spinal surgery, her estate filed a medical malpractice and wrongful death case during which the estate sought to be provided a copy of the post-incident or event report generated by a surgical nurse at the defendant hospital concerning the surgery through the defendant hospital’s Patient Safety Evaluation System. The defendant hospital objected to producing the report, alleging that the only post-incident report that existed was a report created through its HealthCare’s Patient Safety Evaluation System and therefore was protected from discovery by the federal privilege for patient safety work product created by the Act.

The Act’s definition of “patient safety work product” expressly does not include a patient’s medical record, billing and discharge information, or any other original patient or provider record and does not include information that is collected, maintained, or developed separately, or exists separately, from a patient safety evaluation system – such separate information or a copy thereof reported to a patient safety organization is not by reason of its reporting considered to be patient safety work product.

The Kentucky Supreme Court stated that because Kentucky Administrative Regulations with regard to Kentucky hospitals provide that “administrative reports shall be established, maintained and utilized as necessary to guide the operation, measure of productivity and reflect the programs of the facility” (902 KAR 20:016 § 3(3)(a)) and these reports “shall include: . . . (5) [i]ncident investigation reports; and (6) [o]ther pertinent reports made in the regular course of business” (which required documents also include peer review and credentialing records), these types of reports are required in the regular course of the hospital’s business, are hospital records, and, therefore, are generally discoverable under Kentucky law. Furthermore, Kentucky hospitals are required to “have written policies and procedures governing all aspects of the operation of the facility and the services provided, including: . . . (g) [a]n effective procedure for recording accidents involving a patient . . . , including incidents of transfusion reactions, drug reactions, medication errors, and similar events . . . .” 902 KAR 20:016 § 3(4).

The Kentucky Supreme Court stated that the Act did not intend to supplant, or invalidate, traditional state monitoring or regulation of health providers. In this case, the Kentucky Supreme court noted, the incident information reported by a hospital surgical nurse normally would be found in an incident report which is required by Kentucky regulations to be “established, maintained and utilized as necessary to guide the operation . . . of the facility,” but the information was not completed or maintained separately as a hospital record (in a normal incident report), but was filed and stored in a database ostensibly dedicated to the Hospital’s Patient Safety Evaluation System operated by its Risk Management Department and to which the hospital’s PSO had access.

The Kentucky Supreme Court held that while the incident information may be relevant to the defendant hospital’s endeavors under the Act, it is not, nor can it be, patient safety work product, since its collection, creation, maintenance, and utilization is mandated by Kentucky as part of its regulatory oversight of its healthcare facilities - Congress never intended the Act to deprive the states of state-mandated information relevant to their regulatory duties, as evidenced by its recognition of dual reporting requirements. 42 U.S.C.A. § 299b-21(7)(B).

The Kentucky Supreme Court held that Congress did not intend for separately-mandated incident information sources to be able to acquire a federal privilege by virtue of the health care provider’s act of putting them solely into a PSES repository system for the use of the healthcare provider’s PSES and its PSO. Thus, information normally contained in an incident report is not privileged under the Act and may be discovered, following an in camera review, and its information compelled. To the extent the information normally contained in such state mandated incident reports is intermingled with other material properly privileged under the Act, they may be separated from each other by the trial court in camera.

Source Phillip Tibbs, M.D., et al. v. Hon. Kimberly N. Bunnell, Appellee and Estate of Luvettta Goff, et al., Real Parties In Interest. Case No. 2012-SC-000603-MR. Decided August 21, 2014.

If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries (or worse) as a result of medical negligence in Kentucky or in another U.S. state, you should promptly seek the legal advice of a Kentucky 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 or call us toll-free at 800-295-3959 to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in Kentucky, or medical malpractice lawyers in your state, who may assist you.

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Alabama $4M Medical Malpractice Verdict For Heart Attack Misdiagnosed As Stomach Virus August 24th, 2014

162017_132140396847214_292624_nOn August 19, 2014, after a seven day trial, an Alabama medical malpractice jury returned its verdict in favor of the plaintiff in the amount of $4 million. The medical malpractice defendant was the emergency room physician who had treated the 40-year-old man in the hospital’s emergency room, where the man sought treatment for signs and symptoms consistent with cardiac issues, including chest pain. The man died two days later after suffering a heart attack at home from which he was unable to be revived.

The plaintiff alleged that the man went to the hospital emergency room on January 13, 2008 after he had felt ill for two days after eating breakfast on January 11, 2008. He was released from the emergency room after four or five hours after being examined by the defendant emergency room physician, despite having continuing complaints suggestive of heart problems. He continued to feel ill for the next two days. While at home on January 15, 2008, the man suddenly clutched his chest, fell backwards, and told his wife to dial 911. He was rushed by ambulance to the hospital but the emergency room staff was unable to resuscitate him from the heart attack that he had suffered.

The man is survived by his wife of 22 years and their two children. The wife filed the Alabama medical malpractice lawsuit, alleging that the defendant emergency room physician breached the standard of care in treating her husband by failing to consider the man’s signs and symptoms as cardiac in nature and to rule out heart problems before discharging her husband from the hospital emergency room. The plaintiff’s medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that the defendant emergency room physician should have ordered blood tests that would have led to the correct diagnosis in time to treat the man’s cardiac condition, which would have led to appropriate and timely treatment that would have saved his life.

The defense experts testified at trial that the man had a stomach virus at the time of the initial emergency room visit and that the defendant emergency room physician’s care of the man was proper. The defense has not decided as of yet how they may proceed following the medical malpractice verdict.

Source

If you had chest pain for two days and were concerned enough to go to a hospital emergency room to find out if your condition was serious and if you needed advanced treatment that you were unable to receive at home, would you want to be seen and treated by the defendant’s experts in this case? (On the other hand, many people would question why the man waited for two days before going to the emergency room.)

If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries or death as a result of medical negligence in Alabama or in another state in the U.S., you should promptly seek to consult with an Alabama 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 complete a short, secure form so that we may contact you or call us toll-free at 800-295-3959 to be connected with Alabama medical malpractice lawyers (or medical malpractice lawyers in your state) who may assist you.

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