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Florida Appellate Court Holds Cap On Noneconomic Damages Unconstitutional In Medical Malpractice Cases July 3rd, 2015

162017_132140396847214_292624_nIn its opinion filed on July 1, 2015, the District Court of Appeal of the State of Florida Fourth District (“Appellate Court”) held that the caps on noneconomic damage awards in personal injury medical malpractice cases are unconstitutional, extending a prior Florida Supreme Court case that held that caps on noneconomic damages in wrongful death cases were unconstitutional (“the cap on wrongful death noneconomic damages in section 766.118, Florida Statutes, violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Florida Constitution”).

The Underlying Facts

The plaintiff went to the defendant hospital in 2007 for outpatient surgery to treat carpal tunnel syndrome in her wrist that required general anesthesia. During intubation, one of the tubes perforated the plaintiff’s esophagus. When the plaintiff awoke in recovery, she complained of excruciating pain in her chest and back. The anesthesiologist was unaware that the plaintiff’s esophagus had been perforated and ordered medication for the chest pain, concluding that there was no issue with the plaintiff’s heart. The plaintiff was discharged from the hospital later that afternoon.

The plaintiff’s neighbor checked on her the following day and found the plaintiff unresponsive. The neighbor brought the plaintiff to the emergency room of a nearby hospital, where her perforated esophagus was diagnosed, followed by life-saving surgery to repair her esophagus. Plaintiff was maintained in a drug-induced coma in the intensive care unit for several weeks. The plaintiff required additional surgeries and had intensive therapy in order to begin eating again and regain mobility. The plaintiff continued to suffer from pain throughout the upper half of her body and from serious mental disorders as a result of the traumatic incident and the loss of independence because of her body’s physical limitations following the incident.

The plaintiff subsequently filed a Florida medical malpractice lawsuit that resulted in a jury verdict in her favor in the amount of $4,718,011, which included noneconomic damages in the amount of $2 million for past pain and suffering and $2 million for future pain and suffering. The trial judge reduced the noneconomic damages awards by the caps provided in section 766.118, Florida Statutes (2011), after applying the increased cap for the finding of catastrophic injury, thereby reducing the noneconomic damages awarded by the jury from $4 million to close to $2 million. The noneconomic damages awards were further reduced by about $1.3 million because the defendant hospital’s share of liability was capped at $100,000 by virtue of the hospital’s status as a sovereign entity. § 768.28, Fla. Stat. (2007). An appeal followed.

The Appellate Court noted that the Florida Constitution states, “All natural persons, female and male alike, are equal before the law . . . .” Art. I, § 2, Fla. Const. Accordingly, “everyone is entitled to stand before the law on equal terms with, to enjoy the same rights as belong to, and to bear the same burden as are imposed upon others in a like situation.” The Appellate Court stated because the damage caps do not implicate either a suspect class or fundamental right, the rational basis test applies to discern the caps’ constitutionality: to maintain constitutionality under the rational basis test, “a statute must bear a rational and reasonable relationship to a legitimate state objective, and it cannot be arbitrary or capriciously imposed.”

The Appellate Court referenced the prior Florida Supreme Court decision that held that caps on noneconomic damages in wrongful death cases were unconstitutional in holding that the section 766.118 caps are unconstitutional not only in wrongful death actions, but also in personal injury suits as they violate equal protection. It makes no difference that the caps apply horizontally to multiple claimants in a wrongful death case or vertically to a single claimant in a personal injury case who suffers noneconomic damages in excess of the caps. Whereas the caps on noneconomic damages in section 766.118 fully compensate those individuals with noneconomic damages in an amount that falls below the caps, injured parties with noneconomic damages in excess of the caps are not fully compensated.

Source North Broward Hospital District, et al., v.  Susan Kalitan, Nos. 4D11-4806, 4D11-4833, and 4D11-4834.

If you have been injured as a result of medical malpractice in the United States, you should promptly contact a local 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.

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West Virginia Supreme Court Upholds Punitive Damages Award In Medical Malpractice Case July 2nd, 2015

162017_132140396847214_292624_nIn its wide-ranging opinion filed on June 16, 2015, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia (“West Virginia Supreme Court”) upheld and affirmed a West Virginia medical malpractice jury’s verdict in favor of the plaintiff that included an award of punitive damages in the amount of $500,000 against the defendant doctor.

The jury had awarded the plaintiff $500,000 in noneconomic damages and $500,000 in punitive damages, which was reduced to $810,000 to reflect the off-set from the non-economic damages awarded by the jury for the amounts of all pre-trial settlements.

The Underlying Facts

The 65-year-old decedent had a history of chronic health problems that included obstructive sleep apnea, COPD, and chronic hypercapnia that caused him to retain excess carbon dioxide (CO2) in his blood and to become confused and agitated.

In October 2008 and in March and June 2010, the decedent was admitted to the hospital with acute respiratory distress caused by excess CO2 retention that caused decreased mental and respiratory function. During the June 2010 admission, the defendant doctor was listed as the decedent’s attending physician. The decedent was successfully treated and discharged to home with a BiPAP portable ventilator to use at home to treat his hypercapnia.

On September 3, 2010, the decedent returned to the hospital with an exacerbation of the same chronic lung problems for which he had been treated during his June 2010 visit. The defendant doctor was again listed as the decedent’s attending physician. The Admission History and Physical on admission to the hospital noted the decedent’s allergies that included Seroquel, Ativan, and Aldactone (during a previous hospitalization, the decedent became excessively sedated when he was given 50 mg of Seroquel and therefore was determined to have an adverse reaction to the medication – sedation was hazardous to his lung function and mental function).

Nonetheless, the decedent was given two different anti-psychotic sedatives during his September 2010 admission because of his confusion and altered mental state, including Seroquel that was ordered by the chief resident despite the admitting records noting the decedent’s prior adverse reaction to Seroquel. After the administration of Seroquel, the decedent became more disoriented, agitated, and combative, and subsequently became very sedated. The defendant doctor signed off on the chief resident’s order for the administration of Seroquel and she took no further action.

The following day, a neurological consult was ordered due to the decedent’s altered mental status, and the neurologist ordered that the decedent be administered 25 mg of Seroquel that afternoon. The decedent remained sedated most of the day and night of September 4, 2010, and never fully awakened.

Although the decedent’s initial ABG’s revealed that he had excessively high CO2 levels in his blood, no follow-up ABG studies were ordered to continue to monitor his CO2 levels once he was admitted. The record further reflected that a pulmonologist was not consulted at any point during the decedent’s admission.

Although the decedent required a BiPAP when he slept, the record revealed that a BiPAP was not ordered until 10:00 pm on September 4, 2010, despite the fact that he was heavily sedated during the course of his hospital stay. During the early morning hours of September 5, 2010, the decedent developed tachyarrhythmia, QRS widening, bradycardia, and asystole, and he died at 7:00 am.

The personal representative of the decedent’s estate filed the West Virginia medical malpractice lawsuit that alleged that the defendant doctor and others deviated from the standard of care by prescribing and administering excessive doses of Haldol and Seroquel to the decedent, ignoring documented allergies, contraindications, and black box label warnings, and by willfully and recklessly failing to take any measure to investigate or rectify the reasons for the decedent’s prolonged state of unconsciousness, which proximately caused his death. The allegations of medical malpractice against the defendant doctor further alleged that the defendant doctor became aware that the decedent had been given Seroquel by other physicians but failed to take any countermeasures.

The Appeal

After the defendant doctor lost at trial, she appealed the jury’s verdict, raising many issues, including the appropriateness of an award of punitive damages by the jury.

The West Virginia Supreme Court held that upon its review of all of the evidence presented at trial, there was sufficient testimony presented for a jury to be convinced that willful, wanton and reckless conduct occurred warranting punitive damages, stating that the punitive damages definition of malice has grown to include not only mean spirited conduct, but also extremely negligent conduct that is likely to cause serious harm.

The West Virginia Supreme Court held that the plaintiff had presented sufficient evidence that the defendant doctor’s care of the decedent was dangerous, and at the very least highly reckless.

Source Delilah Stephens, M.D. v. Charles Rakes, Personal Representative of the Estate of Gary Rakes, No. 13-1079.

If you were harmed as a result of medical negligence in West Virginia, you should promptly find a West Virginia medical malpractice lawyer who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a West Virginia medical malpractice case, if appropriate.

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 find medical malpractice attorneys who may assist you.

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$3M Connecticut Medical Malpractice Verdict Against Cardiologist July 1st, 2015

162017_132140396847214_292624_nOn June 24, 2015, a Connecticut medical malpractice jury found in favor of the medical malpractice plaintiff and against a primary care physician and a cardiologist, awarding $3 million in compensatory damages. The Connecticut medical malpractice trial lasted six days and the jury deliberated for five hours before the verdict was rendered.

The defendant cardiologist was found to be 40% responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries, and therefore will be liable for $1.2 million of the jury’s award of damages (the plaintiff’s primary care physician, who was not a defendant at the time of trial, was found by the jury to be 60% responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries – it was not reported if the plaintiff’s primary care physician had settled claims against him before the trial).

The Underlying Alleged Facts

The plaintiff was 66-years-old and suffering from aortic stenosis when his primary care physician referred him for an echocardiogram in January 2008. The physician who interpreted the results of the echocardiogram reported that the man’s aortic stenosis appeared to look more severe in the images than the measurements suggested. Therefore, the primary care physician referred the man to the defendant cardiologist, who ordered a cardiac stress test. The results of the stress test indicted a reduction in heart function although it did not show any cardiac defects.

According to the plaintiff’s medical malpractice lawsuit, the defendant cardiologist did not review the echocardiogram images himself or order a new echocardiogram, but rather referred the plaintiff back to his primary care physician, recommending medication but not recommending treatment for aortic stenosis.

The plaintiff’s medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that in early 2009, the plaintiff began having breathing problems and edema in his leg for which his primary care physician prescribed larger dosages of diuretics. In late April 2009, the primary care physician ordered a new echocardiogram that showed worsening aortic stenosis. The plaintiff’s medical condition worsened, he was hospitalized during which a balloon was inserted to widen the aortic value, but the plaintiff was deemed to not be a candidate for aortic valve replacement at that time and he died in May 2009.

The Medical Malpractice Allegations

The plaintiff’s Connecticut medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that both the plaintiff’s primary care physician and the cardiologist should have reviewed the images from the January 2008 echocardiogram themselves and ordered a new echocardiogram at that time, which, had they done so, would have resulted in the plaintiff being properly diagnosed and treated at that time, and their failure to do so resulted in the plaintiff’s untimely death.

One of the tactical decisions by the defense during the medical malpractice trial was to call the plaintiff’s primary care physician to testify during the trial that he accepted responsibility for the plaintiff’s injuries, although the defendant cardiologist continued to deny his liability to the plaintiff.

Source

If you or a loved one suffered serious injury (or worse) as a result of medical malpractice in Connecticut or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a Connecticut medical malpractice lawyer or 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.

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 find medical malpractice attorneys who may assist you.

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Misdiagnosis Of Ectopic Pregnancy June 30th, 2015

162017_132140396847214_292624_nAn ectopic pregnancy is a life-threatening condition in which the pregnancy occurs outside of the uterus (the womb). In a normal pregnancy, the fertilized egg travels through the fallopian tube to the uterus. However, if the movement of the egg is slowed or blocked through the fallopian tube, an ectopic pregnancy may result (the most common site for ectopic pregnancy is within a fallopian tube (over 90%) but may occur in the ovary, cervix, or abdomen). There are over 100,000 ectopic pregnancies reported in the United States every year.

The failure of the egg to move to the uterus may be caused by endometriosis (when cells from the lining of the uterus grow in other areas of the body, which can cause heavy bleeding, pain, bleeding between periods, and infertility); scarring after a ruptured appendix, from a past infection, or from surgery; a birth defect in the fallopian tube; or a history of a previous ectopic pregnancy.

There is an increased risk of an ectopic pregnancy for women over 35 or under 20, women who have had tubal ligation (especially two or more years after the procedure), women who have had surgery to reverse tubal litigation in order to get pregnant, pregnancy while having an IUD, women who have had many sexual partners, and as a result of some infertility treatments.

Symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy may include nausea, breast tenderness, abnormal vaginal bleeding, low back pain, mild cramping on one side of the pelvis, lower belly or pelvic area pain, lack of periods, and, if the area around the ectopic pregnancy ruptures and bleeds: feeling faint or fainting, low blood pressure, intense pressure in the rectum, pain in the shoulder area, or sudden, sharp, and severe pain in the lower abdomen.

Source

Ectopic pregnancies occur in about 2% of all pregnancies (about one in 40 pregnancies) but represent 9% of all deaths in pregnancy. About one-third of women who have had an ectopic pregnancy have a normal pregnancy later but have 9 times the risk of having a second ectopic pregnancy. Less than 1% of women who have had a tubal sterilization procedure have an ectopic pregnancy. About 50% of women who have ectopic pregnancies receive outpatient treatment.

Source

In a medical study to evaluate the accuracy of the diagnosis of presumed ectopic pregnancy, it was found that the diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy was inaccurate in nearly 40% of cases. The study suggested that a D&C was necessary to differentiate an ectopic pregnancy from a miscarriage before a woman is presumptively treated with methotrexate (methotrexate is drug often used in chemotherapy (a folic acid antagonist) that may be given to women with unruptured, early ectopic pregnancies that kills the doomed fetus without harming the woman’s fallopian tube).

Source

The Practice Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine has stated that “the timely diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy is important to reduce the risk of rupture and to improve the success of medical treatment. Diagnosis of all women at risk for ectopic pregnancy should be prompt but is not always an emergency and should occur before rupture in a hemodynamically stable woman. Any woman of reproductive age experiencing abnormal vaginal bleeding with or without abdominal pain is at risk for ectopic pregnancy. Such women should be followed closely until a diagnosis is made.”

Source

If you or a loved one suffered injury (or worse) due to the misdiagnosis of ectopic pregnancy (the late diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy, the failure to diagnose ectopic pregnancy, or the failure to properly treat an ectopic pregnancy), you should promptly find a medical malpractice lawyer in your U.S. state who may investigate your ectopic pregnancy medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a medical malpractice case involving an ectopic pregnancy, if appropriate.

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Four Michigan Hospitals Sued for Alleged Unlawful Agreement To Limit Their Marketing June 29th, 2015

162017_132140396847214_292624_nOn June 25, 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan against four Michigan hospital systems, each of which were the only hospitals in the Michigan counties they served, alleging that they unlawfully agreed to allocate territories for marketing, thereby depriving consumers and physicians of important information about competing providers and other benefits of unfettered competition.

Three of the hospital systems have agreed to settle the charges filed against them (the proposed settlement agreements were filed at the same time that the federal lawsuit was filed, which must be approved by a federal judge), but one of the hospital systems – W.A. Foote Memorial Hospital D/B/A as Allegiance Health (“Allegiance”) – has not agreed to settle at this time.

Hospitals compete to attract patients by advertising, direct mailings to patients, outreach to physicians and employers, conducting health fairs, and by offering free health screenings. The federal charges allege that one of the hospitals had curtailed its marketing competition by entering into agreements with Allegiance and the other two hospitals to limit the marketing of competing healthcare services that deprived patients and physicians of information needed to make informed healthcare decisions, and that patients in one county in Michigan were also prevented from receiving free medical services that they would have received from Allegiance in the absence of its unlawful agreement with the hospital located in that county.

The proposed settlement with the three hospitals would prohibit them from agreeing with other healthcare providers, including hospitals and physicians, to limit marketing or to divide any geographic market or territory, and would prohibit communications among them about their marketing activities (subject to limited exceptions). The settling hospitals would also be required to implement compliance measures intended to prevent the recurrence of anticompetitive practices in the future.

An Assistant Attorney General in the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice stated in a written statement issued shortly after the federal lawsuit was filed, “These hospitals conspired to deprive consumers and physicians of important health information and education. Instead of putting patients first, these hospitals secretly agreed not to compete. This action will terminate the agreements limiting marketing and make sure the citizens of south-central Michigan will have access to the facts they need to make informed healthcare choices.”

Source

Allegiance issued a statement on June 25, 2015, stating in part:  ” … despite our cooperation with the Justice Department and the Attorney General’s Office in their investigation, these regulators have misinterpreted Allegiance’s conduct … facts will show that despite the regulators’ contention that Allegiance agreed with Hillsdale Community Health Center to reduce competition by limiting its advertising in Hillsdale County, the number of patients from Hillsdale County seen at Allegiance has significantly increased over time across our entire spectrum of services. Additionally, Allegiance’s approach to Hillsdale has also made critical services not available in Hillsdale County, including Allegiance’s open heart program, much more accessible for those citizens. Ultimately, Allegiance’s marketing strategy has greatly benefitted consumers.”

Source

If you were seriously injured as a result of hospital malpractice in Michigan or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a Michigan medical malpractice lawyer (or 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.

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 find medical malpractice attorneys who may assist you.

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Maryland Appellate Decision Regarding Informed Consent In Medical Malpractice Cases June 28th, 2015

162017_132140396847214_292624_nIn an unreported case from the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland (“Appellate Court”) filed on June 22, 2015, one of the issues the Appellate Court had to decide was whether the trial court abused its discretion by admitting evidence of informed consent in a medical malpractice case where there was no separate cause of action pled for informed consent.

Claims for medical malpractice and breach of informed consent are separate theories of liability that must be pled separately, although both sound in negligence. An action for medical malpractice alleges that a medical professional failed to use that degree of care and skill which is expected of a reasonably competent practitioner acting in the same or similar circumstances, whereas an informed consent claim alleges that the healthcare provider failed to explain the procedure to the patient and warn him of any material risks or dangers inherent in or collateral to the therapy, so as to enable the patient to make an intelligent and informed choice about whether or not to undergo such treatment.

The Underlying Facts

On February 12, 2010, the decedent arrived at the emergency room of the defendant Maryland hospital, suffering from painful and infected decubitus ulcers on her lower buttocks that were a complication of multiple sclerosis. The decedent also suffered from osteomyelitis, loss of bladder control, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder.

The decedent was admitted to the defendant hospital and remained hospitalized for approximately two and a half weeks. The initial treatment involved the administration of antibiotics and narcotic painkillers, but the decedent’s condition deteriorated nonetheless. On the afternoon of February 26, 2010, the defendant hospital informed her family that the prognosis was poor and that she was a candidate for hospice care. Later that day, the decedent’s doctors initiated hospice care by discontinuing her antibiotics and administering increased doses of painkillers (the family denied that they consented to the change to hospice care). The decedent died on March 1, 2010.

The decedent’s family filed a wrongful death and survival action against the defendant hospital in September 2011, alleging that the hospital breached the applicable standard of care in the administration of pain medications to the decedent (i.e., the rapid upward increase of pain medications administered to the decedent was in violation of the standard of care and caused her death).

On August 7, 2013, the Maryland medical malpractice jury returned a verdict in favor of the three wrongful death beneficiaries and awarded each $300,000 in noneconomic damages, $50,000 in noneconomic damages to the decedent’s estate, and $8,238.05 in economic damages. The jury’s verdict for noneconomic damages was subsequently reduced pursuant to Maryland’s cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases. The defendant hospital subsequently appealed on various issues, one of which was whether it was proper for the trial court to have allowed the plaintiffs to present testimony regarding informed consent when an informed consent claim was never pled.

The Appellate Court noted that evidence of informed consent is usually not relevant in a medical malpractice action but in this case, the testimony and argument regarding the lack of consent to hospice care was relevant to the claim of medical malpractice: in order to prevail on their medical malpractice claim, the plaintiffs were required to prove that the defendant’s conduct breached the appropriate standard of care, and the circumstances of the doctors’ conduct are relevant to both establishing the standard of care and evaluating whether the standard has been met.

The key issue was whether the dose of narcotic painkillers administered to the decedent between February 26 and March 1, 2010 was excessive under the circumstances and outside of the standard of care, and whether the dose was excessive requires consideration of the circumstances of the case, including the goals of treatment (the administration of a large dose of narcotic medication to a recovering patient may be negligent while administering an identical does to a hospice patient may be within the standard of care).

Therefore, the Appellate Court held that the treatment goal was critically important and relevant to the jury’s determination of the applicable standard of care in this case — the evidence presented by the plaintiffs to establish that the goal of the decedent’s care had, to their knowledge, never changed to hospice care was highly relevant to their claim that the hospital breached the standard of care by administering doses of medication that were inappropriate for a patient who was not in hospice care; the challenged evidence was not offered to support an unpled informed consent claim but rather it was offered to assist the jury in making its finding as to the applicable standard of care and to establish a prima facie case of medical negligence.

The Appellate Court stated that nothing in its prior cases would prohibit evidence of a patient’s lack of consent to treatment in a medical malpractice case when that lack of consent is relevant to prove an element of the medical malpractice claim.

Source Upper Chesapeake Health Center, Inc. v. Frank Gargiulo, et al., No. 2157, September Term 2013.

If you or a loved one suffered serious injury (or worse) as a result of medical malpractice in Maryland, you should promptly find a medical malpractice lawyer in Maryland who may investigate your Maryland medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a Maryland medical malpractice case, if appropriate.

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 find malpractice attorneys in Maryland or in your state who may assist you.

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Anesthesiologist Who Bad-Mouthed Sedated Patient Held Accountable By Jury Verdict June 27th, 2015

162017_132140396847214_292624_nA patient who was scheduled to undergo a colonoscopy decided that he would record the gastroenterologist’s post-procedure instructions so that he would not forget what was told to him. The patient therefore pressed record on his smartphone’s audio recorder. What the patient did not know until later was that his smartphone was placed in his pants and his pants were placed under the procedure table during the procedure, thereby inadvertently recording the conservations of the medical personnel who were participating in his colonoscopy procedure. One of those whose comments were recorded was the anesthesiologist assigned to his care.

When the patient pressed play to listen to his gastroenterologist’s instructions on the way home from the procedure, the patient was shocked to hear the outrageous comments and insults that the anesthesiologist stated about him during the procedure, while he was sedated.

According to the plaintiff’s Virginia medical malpractice lawsuit filed against the anesthesiologist and the medical practice that employed her at the time (the gastroenterologist was also sued for his comments during the procedure but he was dismissed on the first day of trial), the anesthesiologist stated to the sedated patient, “After five minutes of talking to you in pre-op, I wanted to punch you in the face and man you up a little bit.” In response to a medical assistant’s comment during the procedure that the patient had a rash on his genitals (which the man had advised the medical personnel before the procedure), the anesthesiologist reportedly told the assistant to not touch the rash because she might get “some syphilis on your arm or something,” adding, “It’s probably tuberculosis in the penis, so you’ll be all right.”

The defendant anesthesiologist also allegedly mocked the patient for attending a college that had previously been an all-women’s college, stating aloud that she wondered if the patient was gay. The anesthesiologist further allegedly stated, “I’m going to mark hemorrhoids [in the patient’s medical records for the colonoscopy procedure] even though we don’t see them and probably won’t.” The defendant anesthesiologist allegedly wrote in the patient’s medical records that he had hemorrhoids, which the plaintiff alleged was a falsification of his medical records.

The plaintiff alleged in his lawsuit that he was verbally brutalized and that he suffered embarrassment, anxiety, and loss of sleep for several months after listening to the derogatory remarks made about him by the anesthesiologist. The defendant countered that the man did not suffer any physical injury as a result and that he did not miss any time from work as a result.

The Virginia medical malpractice jury awarded the plaintiff $500,000.00 ($50,000.00 for the comment about having syphilis, $50,000.00 for the comment about having tuberculosis, $200,000.00 for medical malpractice, and $200,000.00 in punitive damages, for which the defendant anesthesiologist is responsible for $150,000.00 of the punitive damages awarded by the jury and the medical practice that had employed her is responsible for the balance).

After the jury rendered its verdict, one of the jurors reportedly stated that the $500,000.00 verdict was a compromise verdict (one juror wanted to award nothing and another juror wanted to award in excess of the $1.75 million sought by the plaintiff): “We finally came to a conclusion that we have to give him something, just to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.”

Source

If you or a loved one may have suffered serious injury (or worse) as a result of medical negligence in Virginia or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a local medical malpractice lawyer in Virginia or in your U.S. state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.

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 find malpractice attorneys in Virginia or in your state who may assist you.

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Maryland Nursing Home Negligence Lawsuit Filed For Resident’s Painful Death June 26th, 2015

162017_132140396847214_292624_nA Maryland nursing home negligence lawsuit was recently filed by the grandson and daughter-in-law of an 85-year-old resident of a Baltimore nursing home who suffered an unexplained fracture of her left arm and an unexplained dislocated right arm while she was a resident of the defendant nursing home, that left her in excruciating pain that her family claims in their nursing home negligence lawsuit was ignored by the nursing home staff.

The resident’s daughter-in-law was so concerned about the lack of attention that the Baltimore nursing home staff showed toward the resident’s moans of pain that she began taking a video of the resident to document her pain and the nursing home staff’s utterly failure to respond to the call light that requested assistance. Despite the family’s repeated requests for the nursing home staff to address the woman’s pain, the staff disregarded its responsibility to provide timely and appropriate care to the resident. After nearly an hour of continuous videoing, the exasperated daughter-in-law ceased her recording when it became obvious to her that no one intended to offer the resident assistance with her pain.

Thirty hours later, the resident died in her nursing home room.

Despite the video evidence of the resident moaning in pain, the Baltimore nursing home’s medical records for the resident during the period depicted in the video stated that the resident was resting well in her bed, without sign of pain, according to the Maryland nursing home negligence lawsuit.

A spokesperson for the defendant Maryland nursing home responded to the family’s complaint about how their relative was left unattended and without assistance by stating that the Maryland nursing home staff is sympathetic to the residents’ healthcare problems and the nursing home has high standards for its staff and the level of care the staff provides.

The resident’s family complained to the Maryland State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene regarding the lack of care and attention that their relative received but an investigation by the Department reportedly found no evidence of wrongdoing by the Baltimore nursing home or its staff. However, the Department did not have a copy of the video during its investigation and the family’s nursing home claim lawyer subsequently provided the Department with a copy of the video and requested that the Department re-open its investigation.

The family has indicated that they intend to seek $30 million in compensatory damages from the defendant Maryland nursing home.

Source

If you or a loved one suffered injury (or worse) due to nursing home abuse, nursing home neglect, or nursing home negligence in Maryland or elsewhere in the United States, you should promptly find a nursing home claim lawyer in Maryland or in your state who may investigate your nursing home claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a nursing home case, if appropriate.

Visit our website to submit a short, secure form, or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959, to find nursing home attorneys in your state who may assist you.

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California Lawsuit Alleges Counterfeit Spinal Hardware Used During Surgeries June 25th, 2015

162017_132140396847214_292624_nLawyers in California filed a lawsuit in February 2015, which was unsealed on May 28, 2015, alleging that 15 spine surgeons, 17 hospitals, and many others engaged in a health care fraud scheme and in a conspiracy by knowingly implanting counterfeit spinal hardware into patients in California, Maryland, Nevada, Texas, and Wisconsin that were not FDA-approved.

The lawsuit reportedly alleges that the surgeons, who were paid illegal kickbacks, agreed to use the fake spinal hardware in surgeries, including a spine surgeon in Maryland who allegedly received $458,962 in illegal kickback payments pursuant to what was described as a sham agreement, by arranging to have the unapproved spinal hardware implanted in patients in a Baltimore-area hospital that paid over $1 million for the counterfeit medical products. The lawsuit further alleges that the company that provided the counterfeit products went so far as to use a private jet to deliver the counterfeit hardware to insure that the fake products would be used in surgeries.

The lawsuit further alleges that two Nevada spine surgeons received illegal kickbacks as part of the scheme in Nevada – the fake spinal hardware was also delivered by private jet to the Nevada surgeons, according to reported allegations.

A Wisconsin spine surgeon, who had served a prison sentence for an unrelated health care fraud conviction, allegedly received illegal kickbacks for implanting the fake spinal hardware into patients at two hospitals in Wisconsin before he lost his medical license.

Nine California spine surgeons and a Texas spine surgeon have also been named in the California lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges that the spine surgeons named as defendants received cash payments, vacations, meals, free flights, as well as other forms of entertainment in exchange for referring patients to certain hospitals where the counterfeit spinal hardware would be implanted. The hospitals named as defendants in the lawsuit allegedly turned a blind eye to the scheme.

The California lawsuit seeks to have a fund established to pay for medical monitoring for patients who had non-FDA approved medical products implanted in them as well as to compensate patients who had unnecessary surgeries. Nonetheless, it may be difficult to identify those patients who had counterfeit medical products implanted in them due to the documentation regarding their surgeries.

A separate lawsuit filed by a whistleblower against the company that allegedly manufactured and distributed the non-FDA approved medical products alleges outrageous mark-ups for spinal hardware. In one example referenced in the whistleblower lawsuit, six screw caps provided by the company cost $2,850, yet hospitals were charged $17,370 and the hospitals billed a health insurance company $49,260 for the screw caps.

Source

If you have knowledge of medical fraud in the United States, you may become a whistleblower and if your whistleblower claim/lawsuit results in a settlement with or judgment against the wrongdoer, you may be entitled to share in a portion of the amount recovered.

Click here to visit our website or call us toll-free at 800-295-3959 to be connected with whistleblower lawyers (false claims lawyers or qui tam lawyers) in your state who may assist you with your whistleblower claim.

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Largest Medicare Fraud Sweep Involving $712M In Alleged Medicare False Billings June 24th, 2015

162017_132140396847214_292624_nOn June 18, 2015, the U.S. Attorney General and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the largest nationwide sweep led by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, resulting in charges against 243 individuals, including 46 doctors, nurses, and other licensed medical professionals, for their alleged participation in Medicare fraud schemes involving approximately $712 million in false billings. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) also suspended a number of providers under the Affordable Care Act.

The sweep was the largest in the history of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which is part of the Health Care Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) that focuses on efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws throughout the United States. Since March 2007, the Strike Force’s efforts in nine locations have resulted in charges against over 2,300 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for over $7 billion. This most recent sweep was the largest in terms of the number of defendants charged and the amount of the losses.

The defendants, which include doctors, patient recruiters, home health care providers, pharmacy owners, and others, have been charged with health care fraud-related crimes, including conspiracy to commit health care fraud, violations of the anti-kickback statutes, money laundering, and aggravated identity theft, based on a variety of alleged fraud schemes involving various medical treatments and services, including home health care, psychotherapy, physical and occupational therapy, durable medical equipment (DME), and pharmacy fraud.

More than 44 of the defendants are charged with fraud related to the Medicare prescription drug benefit program under Part D, which is the fastest-growing component of the Medicare program.

The government alleges that the defendants participated in schemes to submit claims to Medicare and Medicaid for treatments that were medically unnecessary and often never provided. The government further alleges that in many cases, patient recruiters, Medicare beneficiaries, and other co-conspirators were paid cash kickbacks in return for supplying beneficiary information to providers so that the providers could then submit fraudulent bills to Medicare for services that were medically unnecessary or never performed, conspiring to submit a total of approximately $712 million in fraudulent billing.

The Miami Sweep

Seventy-three defendants in Miami, Florida were charged with offenses relating to their alleged participation in various fraud schemes involving approximately $263 million in false billings for home health care, mental health services, and pharmacy fraud. In one case, the administrators in a mental health center billed close to $64 million (of which Medicare paid approximately one-half) between 2006 and 2012 for purported intensive mental health treatment to beneficiaries and allegedly paid kickbacks to patient recruiters and assisted living facility owners throughout the Southern District of Florida.

The Texas Sweep

Twenty-two defendants in Houston and McAllen, Texas were charged in cases involving over $38 million in alleged fraud. In one case, the defendant allegedly coached beneficiaries on what to tell doctors to make them appear eligible for Medicare services and treatments and then received payment for those who qualified (the company that paid the defendant for patients submitted close to $16 million in claims to Medicare – over $4 million was paid by Medicare).

Seven defendants in Dallas, Texas were charged in connection with alleged home health care schemes. In one case, six owners and operators of a physician house call company submitted nearly $43 million in billings under the name of a single doctor, regardless of who actually provided the service. The same company also allegedly exaggerated the length of physician visits, often billing for 90 minutes or more for an appointment that lasted only 15 to 20 minutes.

The Los Angeles Sweep

Eight defendants in Los Angeles, California were charged for their alleged roles in schemes to defraud Medicare of approximately $66 million. In one case, a doctor is charged with causing almost $23 million in losses to Medicare through his own fraudulent billing and referrals for DME, including billings for over 1,000 expensive power wheelchairs and home health services that were not medically necessary and often not provided.

The Detroit Sweep

Sixteen defendants in Detroit, Michigan were charged for their alleged roles in fraud, kickback, and money laundering schemes involving approximately $122 million in false claims for services that were medically unnecessary or never rendered, including home health care, physician visits, and psychotherapy, as well as pharmaceuticals that were billed but not dispensed. In one case, three owners of a hospice service allegedly paid kickbacks for referrals made by two doctors who defrauded Medicare Part D by issuing medically unnecessary prescriptions.

The Tampa Sweep

Five defendants in Tampa, Florida were charged with participating in a variety of alleged schemes, ranging from fraudulent physical therapy billings to an alleged scheme involving millions in physician services and tests that never occurred. In one case, a licensed pain management physician sought reimbursement for nerve conduction studies and other services that he allegedly never performed for which the defendant was paid over $1 million by Medicare.

The Brooklyn Sweep

Nine defendants in Brooklyn, New York were charged in two separate alleged criminal schemes involving physical and occupational therapy. In one case, three defendants were charged for their alleged roles in a previously charged $50 million physical therapy scheme. In the other case, six defendants were charged for their alleged roles in a $8 million physical and occupational therapy scheme.

The New Orleans Sweep

Eleven defendants in New Orleans, Louisiana were charged in connection with $110 million in alleged home health care and psychotherapy schemes. In one case, four individuals who operated two companies (one in Louisiana and one in California) that mass-marketed talking glucose monitors (TGMs) throughout the United States allegedly sent TGMs to Medicare beneficiaries regardless of whether they were needed or requested, for which the companies billed Medicare approximately $38 million for the devices (Medicare paid the companies over $22 million).

Source

If you have knowledge of Medicare fraud that has cost the Medicare or Medicaid health care programs money and you become a whistleblower, your information and efforts in assisting the U.S. to recover the illegal payments may entitle you to monetary compensation.

Click here to visit our website or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to find whistleblower lawyers in your state who may investigate your whistleblower claim for you and represent your interest in a whistleblower matter that may result in you receiving monetary compensation, if appropriate.

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