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MedicalMalpracticeLawyers.com Celebrates Its 1,500th Consecutive Daily Blog March 30th, 2015

162017_132140396847214_292624_nMedicalMalpracticeLawyers.com, a free website that connects medical malpractice victims with medical malpractice lawyers in the United States, celebrates its 1,500th consecutive daily blog posting.

When we began posting daily blogs more than four years ago that discuss current medical malpractice issues, medical malpractice cases, medical malpractice laws, and other relevant and interesting topics, we did not know then that the constantly changing medical malpractice arena would keep us busy on a daily basis reporting on the changes.

Perhaps the most distressing trend we have observed, and often blog about, is the diverse and constant attack on medical malpractice victims’ rights to seek and obtain fair and just compensation from those whose medical negligence (or medical incompetence) caused them to suffer catastrophic and permanent life-changing harms through no fault of their own.

As recently as mid-March, the health care industry’s well-financed and powerful medical malpractice lobbyists continue to push state legislators to pass unfair and unjust medical malpractice laws that benefit negligent medical providers and harm their victims: on March 12, 2015, the Missouri State Senate overwhelmingly passed SB 239, which redefines medical malpractice claims as statutory claims (as opposed to common laws claims for which the Missouri Constitution guarantees a right to a jury trial) in an attempt to insulate from judicial review the newly proposed cap on noneconomic damages in the amount of $400,000 ($700,000 for catastrophic injuries or wrongful death) for Missouri medical malpractice cases (in 2012, the Missouri Supreme Court held that Missouri’s then-cap on noneconomic damages violated the Missouri Constitution).

State legislators throughout the country whose successful efforts to limit and restrict medical malpractice victims from being fairly compensated for their losses have proudly and boisterously stressed the reduction in the number of medical malpractice cases filed in their states as the measure of the success of their discriminatory measures – such logic is equivalent to arguing that there is less political dissent after a dictator has jailed all of his dissidents.

Is there any evidence that medical malpractice tort restrictions and limitations have resulted in the safer practice of medicine that have benefited patients? If there was such evidence, tort reformers surely would have publicly championed such statistics. To the contrary, if medically negligent or incompetent medical providers are insulated from financial responsibility for the harms they cause to their patients, there is a disincentive for them to practice safer medicine.

Our Commitment

messing2We hereby recommit to bringing public awareness to the efforts of the health care industry in the United States that disingenuously argue for unjust laws that benefit the privileged, and harm everyone else. The fight on behalf of medical malpractice victims to be fairly treated and honestly compensated for the harms they suffer through no fault of their own is a just and important cause: if the few can impose their will and their selfish interests on the many, then no one’s rights are safe from attack and wrongful limitations — should police officers who use unnecessary deadly force be insulated from responsibility for their reprehensible wrongful acts? Should pharmaceutical companies be protected from their responsibility for marketing drugs that they know are dangerous or deadly? Should health insurance companies be insulated from liability if they wrongfully deny life-saving medical treatment for their insureds? Should religious leaders be protected from being held culpable when they abuse children?

We do not underestimate the importance of the ongoing battle for victims’ rights — medical malpractice victims are a diverse group spread throughout the country and usually have nothing in common other than they were severely harmed by negligent medical care, whereas the health care industry is well-financed, well-organized, and has a common self-interest in reducing or eliminating the personal responsibility of negligent medical providers for the avoidable medical malpractice injuries they wrongfully cause.

All of our prior 1,500 consecutive daily blog posts are searchable by word or phrase for topics and postings that may be of interest or importance to you. You may also sign up to receive our future daily blog posts by email delivered directly to you.

Thank you for your interest in our website and our daily blogs. If you or a loved one suffered serious harm as a result of possible medical malpractice in the United States, visit our website to submit a short, secure form, or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959, to find 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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Delaware Medical Malpractice Case Involved Altered Medical Records March 29th, 2015

162017_132140396847214_292624_nThe Superior Court of Delaware issued a decision on February 17, 2014 in a Delaware case where it had been previously determined that the Delaware medical malpractice defendant physician and her physician’s assistant had altered their medical records for a four-day-old patient to make them more favorable to them, once the defendant physician became aware of the medical malpractice claim against her and her physician’s assistant (“PA”) that alleged that the PA negligently failed to treat and diagnose the baby for jaundice, which resulted in the baby developing Kernicterus that led to permanent brain damage.

The Underlying Facts

On July 21, 2006, the four-day-old child was brought by his parents to a medical practice owned by the defendant physician and staffed by the physician and her PA. The PA examined the baby and noted that he was jaundiced. The PA’s handwritten medical note for the visit stated that the baby was positive for “yellow tint face/abdomen.”

Late in the morning on July 23, 2006, the baby’s mother telephoned the PA to advise her about an increased yellow tint to both of the baby’s eyes and his skin. Later that day, the baby was brought to the hospital and later that same day, he was diagnosed with Kernicterus and suffered permanent brain and neurological damage as a result of the high bilirubin level and his jaundiced condition.

The plaintiffs alleged in their Delaware medical malpractice case that on the morning of July 24, 2006, the defendant physician advised her PA regarding the baby’s hospitalization and condition. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant physician and her PA discussed the PA’s original office note, and sometime after that conversation, the PA removed the original note from the baby’s chart and then prepared a new, altered office note placed in the baby’s chart that stated that the baby’s yellow tint was limited to his face and sternum, rather than extending to his abdomen as the original note had stated.

When the PA left the defendant physician’s medical practice in September 2006, the PA took with her either a copy or the original of her original office note, a copy of the altered note, and a copy of a note that the defendant physician had made prior to the alteration of the medical record.

The defendant physician’s medical malpractice insurance company provided the defendant physician and the PA with separate attorneys to represent them in the plaintiffs’ Delaware medical malpractice lawsuit. The PA’s attorney was made aware of the altered medical records and provided the defendant physician’s attorney with a copy of the original office notes written by both the PA and the defendant physician – neither defense attorney advised the plaintiffs or their attorney regarding the original office notes that had been altered. However, both defense attorneys allegedly had advised the medical malpractice insurance company regarding the altered medical records.

The in-house attorney for the medical malpractice insurance company alleged that she thought that the original and the altered medical records had been provided to the Plaintiffs’ attorney (which was incorrect). Regardless, it was clear that the existence of the original office notes would have made the defense of the plaintiffs’ medical malpractice case more difficult.

The plaintiffs alleged that the attorneys for both medical malpractice defendants allowed their clients to perjure themselves during the medical malpractice litigation (the PA subsequently alleged that her original office note was merely a draft prepared before she was able to review and finalize the information with the defendant physician, and that the altered medical records were a result of a meeting she had with the defendant physician during which the defendant physician suggested that the PA change the term “abdomen” to “sternum” to reflect more accurately her observations during the examination of the baby on July 21, 2006).

Source

If you or a loved one may have been seriously injured as a result of medical negligence in Delaware, you should promptly find a medical malpractice attorney in Delaware 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 in the United States at 800-295-3959 to be connected with Delaware 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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Wisconsin Medical Malpractice Reforms Have Led To Injustice For Medical Negligence Victims March 28th, 2015

162017_132140396847214_292624_nThe Yiddish term “chutzpah,” which means shameless audacity, can be best explained by the following example: after a young man was found guilty of brutally killing his parents, he begged the sentencing judge for leniency, noting that he was an orphan.

Chutzpah may best describe the Wisconsin Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund (“Fund”), which was legislatively created in 1975 and whose stated mission is “to provide excess medical malpractice coverage to Wisconsin health care providers and to ensure that funds are available to compensate injured patients.”

Source

Wisconsin’s draconian medical malpractice “reforms” have led to only 84 medical malpractice claims being filed in Wisconsin during 2014 (down from 140 in 2013 and a far cry from the 294 Wisconsin medical malpractice cases filed in 1999). As a result, the Fund’s coffers have ballooned to more than $1.2 billion. The Fund’s assets have almost doubled since 2009, when its assets were $645 million. But this should not be a surprise to anyone: the Fund paid out on only three medical malpractice claims between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014, for a total of $13 million (for the remainder of 2014, the Fund paid an additional $6.3 million).

Meanwhile, the medical malpractice insurance company that issues the most medical malpractice insurance policies in Wisconsin enjoyed net profits in 2014 in the amount of $81.4 million, an increase from $72 million in net profits for 2013.

Wisconsin medical malpractice laws require that Wisconsin medical malpractice claims be initially filed for review by a medical mediation panel before a Wisconsin medical malpractice victim can file a medical malpractice case in court. Requests for panel review dropped to 118 in 2014, down from 161 in 2013 (there were 410 Wisconsin medical malpractice claims submitted for medical mediation in 1987, the first year that it was required).

Wisconsin’s medical malpractice reforms have so hindered and harmed medical malpractice victims in Wisconsin that it is almost impossible to find a Wisconsin medical malpractice lawyer to handle a medical negligence claim unless the damages are so great and the liability is airtight, leaving many other Wisconsin medical malpractice victims without legal representation (approximately one-third of the Wisconsin medical malpractice claims submitted to medical mediation panels in 2013 and in 2014 were so done without the assistance of a lawyer).

Source

Cutting Off The Nose To Spite The Face

Wisconsin’s history of medical malpractice reforms, which have financially benefited the Wisconsin medical community at the expense of medical malpractice victims in Wisconsin, are fraught with needlessly self-destructive efforts that epitomizes an over-reaction to a perceived problem that did not exist. Nonetheless, Wisconsin is still left with the underlying problem that the medical malpractice reforms did not address and did nothing to cure: Wisconsin’s medical malpractice reform efforts have failed to focus on addressing and eliminating the causes of medical negligence in Wisconsin — “reforms” that insulate bad medical providers from personal responsibility for bad medical care that needlessly harms patients do nothing to improve medical care or patient safety in Wisconsin.

Some Additional Thoughts On Wisconsin’s Medical Malpractice Reform Statistics

A recent history of fewer payments to Wisconsin medical malpractice victims does not mean that there are fewer incidents of medical negligence leading to injuries and losses.

A reduction in the number of medical malpractice claims filed in Wisconsin does not mean that the practice of medicine has become any safer for patients after medical malpractice reforms were implemented in Wisconsin.

Granting special privileges and advantages to medical providers at the expense of patients harmed by medical negligence is an attack on equal justice and blind fairness for everyone, no matter who they are, how much political power they have, or how much their lobbyists are paid to sway legislators to pass laws that protect them and harm everyone else.

If you have been seriously injured as a result of medical negligence in Wisconsin or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a medical malpractice attorney in Wisconsin or 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 in the United States at 800-295-3959 to be connected with Wisconsin 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.

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

Maryland Appellate Court Decision In Failure To Timely Diagnose Colorectal Cancer Case March 27th, 2015

162017_132140396847214_292624_nIn its unreported decision rendered on March 13, 2015, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland (“Appellate Court”) had to decide whether the Maryland medical malpractice jury’s verdict in favor of the plaintiffs should be upheld.

The Appellate Court held that it was proper for the trial court to have decided to not instruct the jury on the affirmative defense of contributory negligence because the defendants did not satisfy their burden to present additional evidence to show that a woman, whose diagnosis of colorectal cancer was delayed, was aware of the need for further medical testing, or that she negligently failed to follow a treatment plan put in place by the defendants.

The Appellate Court further held that it was proper for the trial court to grant the plaintiffs’ motion for judgment on the issue of assumption of the risk because the defendants had not established that the woman knew about the risk, appreciated the risk, and voluntarily assumed the risk (“[a]ny reasonable person when told directly by their doctor that cancer was not a concern could not assume the risk of allowing that cancer to metastasize”).

The Underlying Facts

The 26-year-old woman went to her primary care physician on February 18, 2008, with complaints of blood in her stool for two to three days, gastrointestinal pressure, bloating, and a five pound weight loss. During a follow-up appointment three days later, the woman reported to her primary care physician that she still had blood in her stool, after which she was referred to the defendant gastroenterologist for an endoscopy and colonoscopy.

On February 27, 2008, the defendant gastroenterologist performed an EGD and colonoscopy that “revealed small red lesions (angioestasias vs. petechiae vs. colitis) in the proximal, middle, and distal sigmoid colon, diverticulosis of the transverse colon, and grade 1 internal hemorrhoids.” Despite the woman’s family history of colon polyps, which could put her at a higher risk for colon cancer, the defendant gastroenterologist advised the woman that the colonoscopy had ruled out cancer, and that hemorrhoids or benign telangiectasias were causing her bleeding (however, the defendant he did not see any bleeding during the procedure so he could not determine an undisputable source).

On March 4, 2008, the woman called the defendant gastroenterologist to discuss the biopsy results, during which she reported hard bowel movements. The defendant advised her to take a fiber supplement such as Benefiber or Citrucel and a stool softener once a day, which she did.

In November 2009, the woman returned to the defendant gastroenterologist with intensified rectal bleeding, which the defendant believed was likely from hemorrhoids or another distal source. The defendant ordered a complete blood count (CBC), flexible sigmoidoscopy, CT scan, and Anusol-HC suppositories.

On December 7, 2009, the defendant gastroenterologist performed a flexible sigmoidoscopy that revealed a polyp or mass in the proximal rectum. Further testing was ordered, including a second colonoscopy on December 15, 2009. On December 23, 2009, the woman was diagnosed with stage III colorectal cancer that had already metastasized. The woman had intensive chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgical intervention to treat the cancer, and she was hospitalized for various complications. She subsequently died due to cancer.

The Maryland Medical Malpractice Verdict, And The Appeal

The Maryland medical malpractice jury awarded the woman’s parents $3,193,824.09 for their wrongful death claim and $2,584,800.15 to the woman’s estate for the medical negligence claim. The trial judge reduced the portions of the jury’s verdict for noneconomic damages awarded to both the parents and the estate, pursuant to Maryland’s cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice claims. The Appellate Court further reduced the noneconomic damages awards, finding that the trial judge had misapplied the reductions required under Maryland law, based on the cause of action that arose in 2009.

Source Metropolitan Gastroenterology Group, P.C., et al., v. Szigety, et al., No. 0025, September Term, 2013.

If you were injured in Maryland due to medical negligence, you should promptly find a Maryland medical malpractice lawyer 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 submit a short, secure form, or call us toll-free at 800-295-3959, to find Maryland malpractice attorneys, or medical malpractice attorneys in your U.S. state, who may assist you.

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

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

Recent Study Focused On Reducing Infections In Nursing Homes March 26th, 2015

162017_132140396847214_292624_nIn a study recently published online in JAMA Internal Medicine, the researchers found that a multimodal targeted infection program (“TIP”) implemented in nursing homes reduces the overall prevalence of multidrug-resistant organisms (“MDROs”) and infections in nursing home residents who have urinary catheters and feeding tubes (“indwelling devices”).

The study’s authors conducted randomized clinical trials between May 2010 and April 2013 at 12 community-based nursing homes. The participants in the clinical trials were nursing home residents who had urinary catheters, feeding tubes, or both, and were considered at high-risk for developing infections.

In order to test whether TIP reduces the prevalence of MDROs and device-related infections, the researchers used preemptive barrier precautions, active surveillance for MDROs and infections, and education for nursing home staff.

The study involved 418 nursing home residents with indwelling devices. The study involved 6,557 anatomic sites; there were a total of 34,174 device-days. While the study found no reductions in new vancomycin-resistant enterococci or resistant gram-negative bacilli acquisitions, and no reductions in new feeding tube-associated pneumonias or skin and soft-tissue infections, the rate of new methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureas acquisitions was found to be lower in the group of nursing home residents for whom the infection control precautions were implemented as compared to the control group of nursing home residents.

In short, the study found that the implemented TIP interventions reduced multi-drug resistant infections at the participating nursing homes by 23%.

The study’s authors concluded, “Our multimodal TIP intervention reduced the overall MDRO prevalence density, new methicillin-resistant S aureus acquisitions, and clinically defined catheter-associated urinary tract infection rates in high-risk NH residents with indwelling devices. Further studies are needed to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of this approach as well as its effects on the reduction of MDRO transmission to other residents, on the environment, and on referring hospitals.”

Source

The study’s finding that implementing proper infection-control precautions and techniques taught to nursing home staff who are responsible for the daily care of nursing home residents (and when the nursing home staff are properly supervised to insure that the infection-control procedures are, in fact, properly used in resident care) reduces the incidence of indwelling device infections should be no surprise to anyone — health care professionals have routinely been instructed (in modern times) that they must employ proper infection-control precautions in order to reduce the spread of infection among their patients that may be life-threatening and which burdens the national heath care system with billions of dollars in additional costs and expenses that are diverted to treat avoidable infections.

There are two important prongs to infection-control in the health care field that are critical, both individually and together, in successfully controlling the spread of infection among patients/nursing home residents: the appropriate infection-control precautions must be established and all caregivers properly educated as to the infection-control precautions and the precautions must be consistently and effectively implemented, each and every time — a momentary (or worse) lapse in implementing infection-control precautions (such as washing hands before and after each patient contact) may result in patients/nursing home residents acquiring infections that they did not previous have and suffering unnecessary pain, mental anguish, or other harm.

If you or a loved one acquired a serious infection from a health care provider, a nursing home, or another health care facility that may be due to inadequate or improper infection control, you may be entitled to compensation for your economic losses and noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, and/or disfigurement caused by the medical negligence.

Click here to visit our website, or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959, to find medical malpractice lawyers in your state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.

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

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

Cardiology Medical Malpractice Claims Statistics March 25th, 2015

162017_132140396847214_292624_nA recent review by the largest physician-owned medical malpractice insurer in the United States of 429 cardiology medical malpractice claims that closed between 2007 and 2013 found that allegations of diagnosis failure (the failure to diagnose, the delay in diagnosis, and/or the wrong diagnosis) were made in 25% of the claims.

Patient assessment issues included the failure or delay in ordering diagnostic tests, establishing a differential diagnosis, considering available clinical information, and addressing abnormal findings from echocardiograms, EKGs, vital signs, and lab results, etc.

The conditions most frequently alleged in the failure to diagnose claims included pulmonary embolism with infarction, carcinoma of the lung, acute myocardial infarction, coronary artery atherosclerosis, puncture or laceration during a procedure, and aortic dissection.

Allegations of improper management of treatment were made in 14% of the claims and included claims that patients suffered cardiac arrest during an intervention for cardiac tamponade or pericardial effusion, and the appropriateness of ordering stress tests for patients who suffered cardiac arrest during the procedure.

Allegations of improper performance of treatment or procedure were made in 12% of the claims and included hematomas, retroperitoneal bleeding, cardiac tamponade, punctured external iliac artery, aortic laceration from cardiac catheterization, and esophageal perforation during transesophageal echocardiogram.

Allegations of improper performance of surgery were made in 11% of the claims and included arterial injury during mitral valve repair, incorrectly placed leads and infections from pacemaker implantation, cardiac damage during ablations resulting in the need for a pacemaker, cardiac tamponade, and retroperitoneal bleeding from arterial punctures during coronary catheterization with stent placement.

Allegations of improper medication management were made in 6% of the claims and included improperly monitoring and managing anticoagulants leading to stroke, retroperitoneal bleeding with exsanguination, and lower extremity compartment syndrome.

The review found that the top six factors contributing to patient injury were patient assessment issues (25%), technical performance (21%), patient factors (20%), selection and management of therapy (18%), communication among providers (15%), and communication between patient/family and provider (14%).

The medical malpractice insurance company that conducted the study of its closed cardiology medical malpractice claims stated that its goal in conducting the review was to alert physicians to the most common risks of cardiology practice so that the insights will lead to system and process improvements that contribute to patient safety.

Source

If you or a loved one suffered serious injury (or worse) during or after a cardiac procedure, the injury, unexpected result, or adverse event may have been caused by medical negligence by the cardiologist or some other medical provider involved in your care. Therefore, if you suspect that medical negligence may have caused or contributed to your bad outcome from a cardiac procedure, you should promptly find a local medical malpractice lawyer in your U.S. state who may investigation your possible medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice lawsuit, 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 be connected with medical malpractice attorneys in your U.S. state who may assist you.

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

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

New Jersey Appellate Court Orders New Trial In Medical Malpractice Case March 24th, 2015

162017_132140396847214_292624_nBy its written opinion approved for publication on March 17, 2015, the Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division (“Appellate Court”) ordered a new trial for the medical malpractice plaintiff, holding that the trial judge had committed reversible error when the judge prevented the plaintiff from using a portion of the defendant surgeon’s deposition testimony in cross-examining the defendant during  trial.

The plaintiff had sued the defendant surgeon on her own behalf and on behalf of her deceased husband, alleging that the defendant’s negligence in treating her husband led to his death.

The defendant surgeon had performed a transverse colon resection to remove the man’s cancerous tumor on February 19, 2009, which included the defendant performing an open anastomosis (sewing the colon back together to close the opening) after removing the tumor. The defendant reported no complications during the surgery.

While recuperating in the hospital following the first surgery, the man suffered complications that required the defendant surgeon to perform a second surgery to repair a dehiscence (a failure of the abdominal wall to close).

During the second surgery, the defendant surgeon investigated to determine if there was an anastomotic leak (a hole or perforation in the intestine that allows intestinal contents to leak into the abdomen). While the defendant testified that he never identified a perforation, he nonetheless elected to remove the anastomosis. Following the second surgery, the man’s condition deteriorated rapidly and he died on February 26, 2009.

The man’s wife subsequently filed a New Jersey medical malpractice lawsuit against the surgeon, alleging that the surgeon negligently performed the first anastomosis, creating a leak, which led to sepsis, and that the defendant then negligently failed to address the sepsis. The plaintiff’s medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that because the defendant encountered evidence of infection during the second surgery, he should have performed an ileostomy, drained the abdomen to remove the purulent fluids, and allowed the man to heal after which the man could have undergone a re-anastomosis.

The defendant surgeon disputed the source of the man’s sepsis that caused his death, as well as the timing of the onset of the sepsis.

During cross-examination of the defendant surgeon at trial, the plaintiff sought to introduce a portion of the defendant’s deposition testimony regarding the cause of the man’s death:

Q: Why did [the man] die?

A: It appears that he got septic, though I’m not sure why he had such a rapid demise.

Q: To what did you attribute the sepsis?

….

A: I have to assume that it was related to the anastomotic leak.

The defense objected and argued that the language used by the defendant (“I would have to assume”) was speculative. The plaintiff argued that it was an admission by a party-opponent and thus admissible under N.J.R.E. 803(b)(1), regardless of any claimed speculative nature.

The trial judge ruled that the testimony was speculative and therefore refused to allow the plaintiff to use the deposition testimony to cross-examine the defendant, who later disputed that he saw evidence of an anastomotic leak during the second surgery, despite his operative report listing “[p]robable anastomotic leak” among his post-operative diagnoses.

The jury subsequently returned a defense verdict, finding that the defendant surgeon had not deviated from accepted standards of care and therefore was not negligent. The plaintiff appealed.

The Appeal

The Appellate Court stated that the questioning of the defendant during his deposition reasonably sought to ascertain his opinion regarding the timing and cause of the man’s sepsis, which were two critical issues in the case: as the surgeon who performed both operations, the defendant was arguably in the best position to make those determinations. From the defendant’s operative report, it would appear that he did, in fact, make those determinations by diagnosing a “[p]robable anastomotic leak[,]” and his statement that he “did not want to take the chance the anastomosis was leaking and would cause further sepsis.”

With regard to the issue of whether the defendant’s deposition testimony was speculative, the Appellate Court noted that N.J.R.E. 803(b)(1) provides that a “statement offered against a party which is . . . the party’s own statement, made either in an individual or in a representative capacity” is not excluded by the hearsay rule.

The Appellate Court held that while it may be possible that the testimony was speculative, the record lacked any evidence or convincing argument explaining how or why the testimony constituted speculation, and the Appellate Court concluded that the defendant’s deposition testimony regarding the cause of the man’s sepsis is admissible under N.J.R.E. 803(b)(1): the statements were made by the defendant, a party to the action, and were offered by the plaintiff against him at trial. The plaintiff’s question was not improper, and whether the defendant was speculating when he answered is irrelevant to the statement’s admissibility.

The Appellate Court held that the fact that the defendant testified at deposition consistent with his operative records but then testified differently at trial, attempting to discredit his own operative reports, clearly went to the issue of his credibility. Accordingly, the trial court erred when it did not allow plaintiff’s counsel to impeach the defendant’s credibility with his prior inconsistent deposition testimony: the existence of the anastomotic leak and its effect were the central issues at trial. While the statement is prejudicial, the undue prejudice to the defendant is minimal because the statement at issue is his, rather than a third party’s statement.

Lastly, the Appellate Court noted that the proofs in this case did not overwhelmingly favor one party or the other; hence, the improper exclusion of the defendant’s contradictory deposition testimony could have been the deciding factor in his favor (the risk that the jury was improperly influenced by the trial court’s exclusion of the defendant’s deposition testimony is particularly in this case because the defendant’s credibility was central to the outcome of the case).

The excluded deposition testimony bore directly on the issue of the defendant’s negligence and thus could readily have been outcome-determinative. Because the exclusion of this evidence could have affected the jury’s determination of whether the defendant was negligent, the Appellate Court held that a new trial is required.

Source Parker v. Poole, M.D., et al., Docket No. A-1874-12T4.

If you or a family member may have suffered injury (or worse) as a result of medical negligence in New Jersey, you should promptly consult with a New Jersey medical malpractice attorney who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a New Jersey medical malpractice case, if appropriate.

Visit our website to submit a short, secure form to be connected with New Jersey malpractice lawyers who may assist you, or call us toll-free at 800-295-3959.

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

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

Vermont Mental Health Malpractice Lawsuit Follows Teen’s Suicide Death March 23rd, 2015

162017_132140396847214_292624_nOn March 16, 2015, the mother of a teenage daughter who committed suicide while receiving mental health treatment in a residential facility in Vermont filed a mental health malpractice lawsuit against the Vermont mental health treatment facility, alleging that the defendant’s negligence led to her daughter taking her own life.

The mental health lawsuit was filed in federal court in Vermont and alleges that the plaintiff’s daughter was admitted to the defendant mental health treatment facility on April 29, 2014, for help regarding her depression and suicide ideation. One week after she was admitted, the teenager was found unresponsive in her room. She was successfully resuscitated and sent to the hospital for treatment but died on July 1, 2014 due to her injuries.

The mother’s federal mental health lawsuit alleges that the defendant failed to exercise reasonable care and skill in the care, monitoring, supervision, and treatment of the teenager’s depression and suicide ideation, which led to her suicide attempt and her death from her injuries.

The plaintiff seeks compensatory damages in excess of $75,000 for the medical expenses incurred, funeral expenses, the loss of the teenager’s earning capacity, and the deprivation of the teenager’s ability to carry on and enjoy life’s activities due to the failure of the defendant mental health facility to use reasonable care in treating and responding to the teenager’s mental health needs.

The grieving mother hopes that her lawsuit will help ensure that the defendant puts in place procedures to avoid future tragedies so that other mothers and fathers do not have to suffer her mental anguish and so that no other young person who suffers from mental illness or depression fails to receive the appropriate care and treatment necessary to properly treat their mental health conditions.

It is reported that the defendant mental health facility was the site of a suicide by a 13-year-old girl on January 3, 2014, and another suicide and an additional death during the preceding two years.

The defendant has not yet formally responded to the lawsuit but did state through a spokesperson, “This was a tragic event and the family has our deepest sympathy. Since litigation has been initiated, further comment would be inappropriate.”

Source

According to a 2010 report by the CDC regarding mortality rates among teenagers between ages 12 and 19 in the United States for the years 1999 through 2006, an average of 16,375 U.S. teenagers between the ages of 12 and 19 died every year from 1999 to 2006, which represents less than 1% of all U.S. deaths per year. The five leading causes of death among teenagers are accidents (unintentional injuries), homicide, suicide, cancer, and heart disease, with accidents accounting for almost one-half of all teenage deaths (motor vehicle fatality is the leading cause of death to teenagers among accidental deaths, representing over one-third of all teenage deaths).

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If you lost a loved one due to suicide for which faulty mental health care may have contributed to the death, you should find a medical malpractice lawyer in your U.S. state who may investigate your negligent mental health care claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a mental health malpractice 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 be connected with mental health claim lawyers in your state who may help you.

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

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7 Rhode Island OB Practices Settle Unapproved IUD Claims March 22nd, 2015

162017_132140396847214_292624_nSeven Rhode Island obstetrical practices have agreed to settle claims against them alleging that they implanted unapproved versions of the Mirena and ParaGard intrauterine devices (“IUDs”) in patients and then sought the higher reimbursement for FDA-approved IUDs.

An IUD is a small T-shaped medical device, often made of flexible plastic, that is inserted into a woman’s uterus to prevent pregnancy. The Mirena IUD also delivers small amounts of hormone to further help prevent pregnancy.

The $5 million preliminary class-action settlement reached during mediation before a special master appointed by a Superior Court judge will result in about 700 women receiving $3,800 each. The named plaintiffs will each receive an additional $30,000 from the settlement. The proposed class lawyers will receive $2 million from the settlement.

The plaintiffs had sought damages for battery, negligent infliction of emotional distress, medical malpractice, unjust enrichment, and civil conspiracy, alleging that some of the defendants had noticed that some of the foreign-obtained IUDs did not deploy in the same manner as the FDA-approved devices yet they implanted the unapproved IUDs in patients anyway. The settlement has received preliminary approval but must obtain final approval by the Superior Court judge before it becomes binding and effective.

The Rhode Island Department of Health had begun an investigation in 2010 after becoming aware that one of the largest OB practices in Providence, Rhode Island had been implanting unapproved IUDs in women that it had obtained from a foreign country through an 800 telephone number for a company supposedly located in Canada, beginning in January 2009. The foreign-made IUDs’ effectiveness had not been proven.

The OB practices allegedly were able to purchase the foreign-made, unapproved IUDs at half the cost of FDA-approved IUDs but billed health insurers at the rate for FDA-approved IUDs.

The Rhode Island Department of Health’s investigation expanded to include all of the physicians, nurse practitioners, nurse-midwives, and nurses working for the OB practices (more than 10% of Rhode Island’s OB practices were investigated). The unapproved IUDs were seized as part of the investigation.

The OB medical practices participating in the settlement reportedly are the Center for Obstetrics & Gynecology, Partners in Obstetrics & Gynecology, Marc A. Jaffe, M.D., OB-GYN Associates, The Independent Woman, Serena A. Sposato, M.D., and Bayside OB-GYN.

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Any time medical providers attempt to line their own pockets by billing for medical devices or services that they know is inappropriate or outright fraudulent, the health of patients and the financial health of health insurers, including federal health care programs financed by taxpayers, are placed at risk or harmed.

If a health care provider is willing to break the law in such a manner, is it a stretch for the health care provider to fraudulently create a patient’s medical record to hide medical negligence that harmed the patient? Is such a health care provider likely to admit to a patient that medical malpractice is the cause of an unexpected medical outcome or continuing or worsening pain and suffering?

If you or a family member may have been harmed by possible medical negligence in Rhode Island or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a Rhode Island 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 submit a short, secure form, or telephone us on our toll-free line in the United States (800-295-3959), to find medical malpractice attorneys who may assist you.

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

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

$6.6M Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Verdict For Heroin Addict Paralyzed By Hospital Negligence March 21st, 2015

162017_132140396847214_292624_nOn March 11, 2015, after five days of trial and two days of jury deliberations, a Philadelphia medical malpractice jury found a local hospital responsible for a man’s permanent paralysis following his discharge from its Emergency Department in 2010.

The man was a heroin addict when he went to the defendant hospital’s emergency room in November 2010 with complaints of severe back pain and an addiction to heroin, along with fever and nausea. The emergency department personnel administered narcotic medication to the man and conducted medical testing, which included an EKG, x-rays, and blood work that indicated that the man had an infection. The man was discharged from the hospital emergency room with a prescription for additional narcotic medications for his back pain, before the final results of blood cultures were available, which showed that the man had a systemic infection that needed prompt treatment.

The defendant hospital tried to contact the man by telephone but was unable to do so. The defendant hospital elected to send the man a letter by certified mail to his address stated in his chart but the man woke up paralyzed from the chest down before the letter had a chance to arrive.

The defendant hospital defended its attempts to contact the man about his serious medical condition that required prompt medical attention by contending that the man was responsible for his own injury due to his heroin addiction. The defendant hospital further defended against the man’s medical malpractice claim by alleging that its attempted telephone calls and certified letter to the man were sufficient to comply with the applicable standard of care, despite the defendant hospital’s own policy that required that the police be contacted under the circumstances.

The Philadelphia medical malpractice jury determined that the emergency room physician who treated the man was not responsible for his injuries but did find the defendant hospital 64% responsible for the man’s permanent and severe injury because it had failed to follow its own policies in place to protect patients who had abnormal medical test results.

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The plaintiff was fortunate that the Philadelphia medical malpractice jury sided with him inasmuch as his medical malpractice lawyer had to contend with possible jury bias against a heroin addict, which the defense focused on to attempt to shift blame to the plaintiff for his own injuries. The extent to which individual jurors were influenced by the heroin-addiction issue is unknown but fortunately for the plaintiff, the Philadelphia medical malpractice jury was convinced by the testimony and evidence produced at trial that the defendant hospital’s failure to take adequate steps to timely notify the plaintiff to return promptly to the hospital for proper medical treatment was a substantial cause of his permanent paralysis.

If you or a family member may have suffered injury or other substantial harm as a result of medical negligence in Philadelphia, you should promptly consult with a Philadelphia medical malpractice attorney who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.

Visit our website to submit a short, secure form to be connected with Philadelphia malpractice lawyers who may assist you, or call us toll-free at 800-295-3959.

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

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