Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

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It’s long been known that medical mistakes lead to serious harm, resulting in terrible injuries and even death to unsuspecting patients. Though families might expect harm to occur due to unexpected health emergencies, it’s often hard to accept that a family member was harmed at the hands of trained medical professionals, the very people entrusted to help. Just how bad the problem was has been difficult to ascertain, though researchers at Johns Hopkins say they think they might have some idea.

According to a recently published study by experts at Johns Hopkins School Medicine, medical errors deserve to be deemed the third leading cause of death for those living in the United States. If that’s true, then that places medical errors behind only heart disease and cancer as the biggest killers of Americans. Both heart disease and cancer are responsible for taking the lives of about 600,000 people each and every year. Researchers estimate that medical errors were responsible for killing 250,000 people each year. The fourth leading cause of death (formerly third) is respiratory disease, which kills more than 150,000 people each year.

Though all deaths are tragic, what makes medical errors different than cancer, heart disease or respiratory illness is that medical errors are preventable. Cancer, despite its horror, is no one’s fault. The same cannot be said for medical mistakes. Medical errors are by their very nature the result of someone’s ignorance, carelessness or negligence. If nurses, doctors and hospitals were more rigorous about tackling these problems, by providing training, insisting on accountability and becoming better listeners, then potentially hundreds of thousands of lives could be saved each and every year.

Post #1 image. 2013-10-23.jpgIn an alarming bit of information for those families in Mississippi with loved ones in nursing homes, the state recently earned a “D” on its nursing home report card issued by a national patient advocacy group. Families For Better Care said that the state has a long way to go to improve the quality of care offered to Mississippi seniors.

According to data collected by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Mississippi sees an average of about eight violations per nursing home. Since 2010, Mississippi nursing homes have amassed a total of 4,542 health and safety violations. The trouble is so serious in fact that not a single one of the 205 licensed nursing home in Mississippi made it through without at least one violation.

Though some of the violations are technical and do not jeopardize the health of residents, it is not uncommon to see violations involving the use of unnecessary restraints, needless sedation, physical punishment as well as incidents of theft or emotionally painful isolation. In fact, CMS data shows that there were 255 such serious reports spread across 135 nursing homes in Mississippi in only the past three years.

Post #6 image. 2013-04-19.jpgA recent press release from the Food and Drug Administration left many consumers worried about the safety of their medications. The FDA revealed that over the course of the last few months, an investigation has uncovered possibly life-threatening safety issues at more than 30 compounding pharmacies across the country. The issues were discovered after the deadly fungal meningitis outbreak prompted closer scrutiny of the nation’s specialized pharmacies.

An especially scary example of the problems present in the nation’s compounding pharmacies was found in Florida where the FDA said it discovered medicine with floating black particles. At a different pharmacy, inspectors with the FDA discovered rust and mold in supposed “clean rooms.” Dozens of facilities had problems with their sterilization procedures, including allowing workers into rooms with medicine despite having tears in their gloves. All these violations are serious and could be responsible for yet another deadly outbreak like the one started in Massachusetts.

The series of inspections took place across the country over the last two or three months, the result of a major enforcement effort by the FDA that targeted compounding pharmacies in the wake of the deadly fungal meningitis outbreak. That horrible incident was caused by unsterile conditions at the New England Compounding Center and led to more than 50 deaths and serious injuries to some 700 patients.

Post #2 image. 2013-04-19.jpgHospitals have done a lot in recent years to curb the thousands of unnecessary deaths and injuries that take place in medical facilities each year. Hand-washing campaigns and fancy germ fighting equipment have been used to try and prevent some of the avoidable medical complications that occur each year. One troubling detail that has recently been brought to light is how lucrative such complications can be to a hospital’s bottom line.

In a very grim report, researchers from Harvard Medical School published a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association which found that surgical complications from infections and procedure-related strokes were typically twice as lucrative as operations that went smoothly.

The study was meant to highlight how it might be difficult to continue to push for safety reforms in the medical industry when hospitals have a vested financial interest not to do so. The study focused on 34,000 surgeries performed at Texas Health, a large hospital network in Dallas.

Post #1 image. 2013-04-19.jpgThe use of da Vinci robotic surgery systems has exploded in recent years according to one report, with 400,000 procedures being performed with the help of the robot last year. The corresponding growth in adverse events reports filed with the FDA has resulted in increased scrutiny by the agency over how safe the robots really are.

Use of the robotic surgery systems, namely da Vinci, the only system approved by the FDA for soft tissue operations, has increased threefold in only four years. Recently, the system has been linked with several deaths and a few troubling incidents in the operating room. The question that the FDA must now decide is whether the benefits of robotic surgery outweigh the obvious risks.

For years now hospitals have been advertising the supposed benefits of robotic surgery, in brochures, billboards and online. The goal is to attract new business and some claims used by hospitals have been misleading, citing unsubstantiated reports about the safety of such devices. As hospitals have fought for market share, particularly for lucrative surgeries, many have gone on a robotic buying spree. Numbers indicate that nearly four in ten hospitals have at least one such machine, a costly investment of nearly $1.5 million plus an additional $100,000 or more each year in service agreements. To help pay for the major investment hospitals have a huge incentive to bring in customers for the service, even if there may be no reason to use a robot at all.

Post #6 image. 2013-03-18.jpgA 69-year-old man from Gretna, MS has filed suit claiming an especially horrific incident of medical malpractice. The disturbing story claims that the man awoke during an eye surgery to discover that his mouth had been taped shut by doctors.

The man, Hector L. Alonso, sued Tulane University Medical Center and two doctors that performed the surgery, Franklin Rawlings and Shehab A. Ebrahim. The court filings also claim that Alonso is now blind in his right eye after the botched surgery.

Papers describe the surgery as “torture.” Alonso claims that after he awoke, he insisted that doctors stop his procedure. He claims that the surgeon then placed tape over his mouth to stifle his protests and that other medical staff in the room held him down and gagged him, apparently using enough force that one of his teeth was knocked out and later swallowed during the procedure.

Post #7 image. 2013-03-18.jpgDuring the middle of March 2013 a jury in Los Angeles decided that a former prison guard from Montana, Loren Kransky, was entitled to $8.3 million in damages for harm caused by Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy subsidiary’s metal hip implant.

The jury found that the ASR XL implant caused metal poisoning and other health problems for Kransky and were severe enough to cause the man to undergo painful revision surgery to remove the defective device. The jury found that DePuy knowingly marketed a faulty device and owed the injured patient millions as a result. However, the jury did not find that the company had acted with malice. This is important because it prevented Kransky from colleting punitive damages.

The major suit was the first of the more than 10,000 filed against J&J since the hip recall was issued two years, impacting more than 100,000 of the all-metal implants. The recalls were issued after studies showed unusually high rates of failure for the implants and incidents where patients had been left with metal poisoning, painful joints and other internal injuries due to metal shavings in the bloodstream released when the joints would rub against each other.

Post #4 image. 2013-03-18.jpgThe CDC recently warned about the potentially deadly new superbug that poses special problems for hospitals and nursing homes in Mississippi. The bacteria, known as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), cannot be killed by most antibiotics.

The worry among health providers is that CRE poses a special threat to patients across the country because, in addition to its antibiotic resistance, the bacteria is incredibly deadly, with an unusually high mortality rate. The final factor that makes CRE so troubling to doctors is that the bacteria has a habit of spreading its antibiotic resistance to other bacteria, like E. coli. This could make treating other common illnesses much more difficult.

CRE is part of a very common and generally harmless family of bacteria that live in the stomach. However, CRE can cause extremely serious problems for those that develop CRE infections of the bloodstream. In fact, CRE death rates are estimated at between 38 and 44 percent, a significantly higher level than is typically seen in similar infections.

Post #8 image. 2013-03-18.jpgThe first of more than 3,000 cases filed against Takeda Pharmaceuticals over it’s once popular diabetes drug, Actos, is now underway. A witness recently testified that the pharmaceutical giant put sales ahead of consumer safety and allowed marketing concerns to trump patient health worries.

The witness, Howard Greenberg, was a clinical pharmacologist who had experience in the industry and based his testimony off emails sent between Takeda executives. The emails discussed the company’s possible response to a warning by regulators across Europe and the U.S. that warning labels might be applied to Actos that described the possible risks associated with the development of bladder cancer.

The executives who were discussing the matter did not appear terribly concerned about the potential health consequences of their drug, instead, worrying only about protecting the earning potential of the medication. The emails offered fairly clear evidence that the company only cared about protecting profits, not protecting the welfare of patients.

Post #2 image. 2013-01-27.jpgA surgery patient in Germany has filed suit against the doctor and hospital responsible for a horribly botched surgery that left the man with 16 objects in his body. The man was in the hospital to have surgery for prostate cancer when everything went wrong.

The man’s attorney, Annette Corinth, says that doctor had to go in later to remove a needle, compresses and surgical strips from her patient after his wounds had failed to properly heal from a surgery that took place in 2009.

The innocent patient was a 77-year-old who died last year. The man’s family is now suing the doctor and hospital for $106,000 for damages related to his pain and suffering as well as medical expenses. So far the organization that runs the hospital has said they reject the claim and have admitted to no wrongdoing. The hospital has also said that the lawsuit asks for an unusually large amount of money, a statement that might shock many people who hear about the medical malpractice suit.

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