Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

Post #5 image. 2013-01-03.jpgPatients in Mississippi go to see their doctors because they believe that doing so is the best way to ensure they recover from what’s wrong with them. While that’s usually true, there are sadly too many cases where turning to a doctor may subject a patient to even worse conditions then when they first walked into the office.

One recent study found that in the surgical world, some 4,000 plus errors happen each year which result in more than $1 billion in medical malpractice payouts. The saddest part of the news is how easily such errors can be prevented. Every single incident was caused by a human, not the result of a tragic illness. Things like leaving a sponge inside a patient’s body or operating on the wrong part of the body may sound like tabloid fiction, but unfortunately happen almost every day, maybe even more often than that.

Statistics show that every week a doctor leaves a foreign object inside a patient’s body almost 40 times. The wrong body part is operated on 20 times and the wrong procedure is performed 20 times. Such errors are not only financially costly, but physically devastating. Nearly seven percent of cases result in death. Temporary injury occurs in 60 percent of cases while permanent injury occurs in 30 percent of such cases.

Post #4 image. 2013-01-03.jpgA recent study revealed that missing a diagnosis, often of breast cancer, is the most common reason for a medical malpractice claim brought against a radiologist in the United States. The study, published in the journal Radiology, used data gathered from 1955 to 2010 and included the malpractice histories of 8,000+ radiologists. The doctors were from nearly every state in the country and a wide variety of practices.

According to the results, 2,600 of the radiologists, 31%, had at least one medical malpractice claim filed against them at some point in their career. The most common cause for such a suit was diagnostic error. The most frequently missed diagnosis, out of 1,000 human years, are the following:

• Breast cancer, 3.57 claims • Fractures, 2.49 claims • Spinal fractures, 1.32 claims • Lung cancer, 1.26 claims • Vascular disease, 1.08 claims

Post #3 image. 2013-01-03.jpgWhen a patient in Mississippi goes to see their doctor, the hope is that they will receive appropriate treatment for the condition that is ailing them. Everyone assumes that the doctor will behave professionally and do nothing to undermine the doctor-patient trust that exists with all good physicians. Sadly, this isn’t always the case.

Though many people may believe medical malpractice only exists when there has been incorrect treatment, inappropriate care, medical errors or mistakes, the Supreme Court of New York recently ruled that there are other scenarios where doctors can be found to have engaged in medical malpractice. Specifically, the New York High Court found that affairs between doctors and a patient could constitute medical malpractice.

The doctor at the center of the New York case had an affair with a married patient. The patient was under his direct care and he treated her for severe depression and anxiety issues. The jury found that the doctor had breached his professional duty of care by engaging in repeated sexual relationships with the woman. The jury did not believe the woman was blameless though, and found her responsible for 25% of the harm she suffered. The court ultimately awarded the woman $338,000 in damages.

Post #1 image. 2013-01-03.jpgMississippi’s Governor Phil Bryant has been trumpeting the state’s tort reform laws as a major economic development according to papers filed in federal court. The governor made the claims in a filing before the court that will decide the constitutionality of the state’s $1 million cap on non-economic damages.

The case, which began in 2006, will decide whether the state’s cap on damages is unjust. The cap was put into place years ago after legislators complained that verdicts in the state had gotten too large, too fast and led to unfairly large awards for plaintiffs. The updated brief on the part of Governor Bryant filed in support of the measure was meant to inject life into the case after the 5th Circuit told attorneys for both sides that briefs needed to be updated.

The case is not expected to be resolved until sometime later this year. Attorneys have said the complexity of the case and possible further oral arguments may drag the matter out well into the New Year. It’s also possible that the 5th Circuit will ask for additional briefs on certain specific legal issues.

Post #2 image. 2012-12-06.jpgAccording to a recent article in the New York Times, Clara Marshall, an older woman suffering from dementia, moved into a nursing home after her family was no longer able to provide the care she needed. Tragically, after only five months in the facility, Clara was found dead in her room, strangled after getting her neck caught in side rails meant to protect her from rolling out of bed.

It was only after her death, once her daughter had begun writing to the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Food and Drug Administration that she discovered that both agencies had known for more than a decade about deaths associated with bed rails. She was shocked that two agencies devoted to ensuring consumer safety had failed to act despite years of warnings regarding the danger of such bed rails. After years of pushing by Ms. Marshall’s daughter the FDA and the CPSC have finally launched an investigation into bed rail deaths.

Data compiled by the government from 2003 through May 2012 shows that 150 seniors died after they became trapped in bed rails. Over the same stretch of time an astounding 36,000 older adults were forced to seek emergency room treatment for bed rail injuries. Looking further back, since the first warnings were issued back in 1995, about 550 bed rail-related deaths have occurred. Last year alone the FDA data indicates 27 people died. Though these figures were plenty high, officials say the problem is likely understated given that many doctors and coroners fail to list bed rails as the official cause of death or injury.

Post #1 image. 2012-12-06.jpgA recent article discussed a terrifying new superbug that has caused chaos across the healthcare industry, leading to deaths even in major national hospitals. The bug, known as Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, is known for fighting off doctors’ last line of defense, carbapenem antibiotics. The bacteria are causing serious concern among those in healthcare facilities, especially nursing homes, as it tends to prey on the most vulnerable patients.

The bacteria was in the news this summer after a CRE strain attacked the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center outside Washington, D.C. Seven people ultimately died as a result. Research shows that since the first case of a CRE infection was reported in a North Carolina hospital back in 2001, there have been thousands of CRE cases throughout the country, showing up as everything from pneumonia to intestinal and urinary tract infections.

The bacteria’s resistance to even the strongest antibiotics has some worried about doctors’ ability to control the illness, especially in places like nursing homes. Death rates among patients with CRE infections are around 40 percent, much worse than other common healthcare infections such as MRSA or C-Diff, which have been problems for nursing homes for decades.

Post #2 image. 2012-10-31.jpgThe recent outbreak of fungal meningitis has many in the medical community desperate to get to the bottom of the cause. Possibilities abound and everyone appears to have a theory. Could it have been some moldy ceiling tiles? What about the dirty shoes of a careless employee? How about a contaminated ingredient?

There are many ways the fungus could have gotten inside the New England Compounding Center, a pharmacy in Massachusetts that has been blamed for the outbreak. The steroid injections made by the compounding pharmacy have already been recalled after leading to the death of 14 people and sickness in nearly 200 more.

So far regulators from both state and federal agencies have been quiet about what problem may have led to the contamination. It has been revealed that inspectors found fungus growing in more than 50 vials from the pharmacy. FDA investigators remain on the scene in Farmingham, Massachusetts in an attempt to better understand what went wrong.

Post #1 image. 2012-10-08.jpgThose who suffer from chronic pain often turn to steroid shots to help ease their discomfort. Normally, this is treatment is seen as safe and effective. Sadly, that perception has now changed due to the 105 people sickened across nine states and the eight who have died from fungal meningitis. Now, reports indicate that as many as 13,000 patients may have been exposed to fungal meningitis – a fungus that attacks the brain and central nervous system – from tainted spinal steroid injections.

It appears that all of the victims who have been infected were given steroids that had been produced by one Massachusetts pharmacy that issued a recall of the drug and has since closed. The pharmacy that issued the recall is the New England Compounding Center. Given the outcry since the recall was announced some lawmakers have called for bringing certain specialized pharmacies such as the one at the center of this case under greater regulatory scrutiny.

Three lots of potentially contaminated steroid injections were sent by New England Compounding Center to 75 health facilities in 23 states from July to September, according to officials. Despite the wide reach of the facility, oversight falls under the powers of the state, not the FDA. This is because NECC is considered a pharmacy and not a manufacturer.

Post #2 image. 2012-09-28.jpgStryker, the major medical device manufacturer, issued a Class I recall of their Neptune Fluid Waste Removal Systems in early June of this year. The initial recall was issued after two patients were injured and was meant to alert hospitals and doctors that the waste removal systems should not be connected to passive drainage tubes. In one case, a patient’s passive drainage tube had been connected to the Neptune 2 system and the patient died.

Just last week, the company announced that it would be expanding the recall to the Neptune 1 Silver, Neptune 2 Ultra and a high-powered Neptune 2 Ultra waste removal system. The reason is that none of the waste removal systems had proper prior approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As such, the devices should never have been marketed until their safety and effectiveness had been assured.

Stryker has taken action to stop all further distribution of the waste removal systems. According to Businessweek, the company had the following grave statements for patients: “Customers who do not have an alternative machine available should weigh the risks and benefits of the recalled Neptune devices” and should “request a certificate of medical necessity if they plan to continue using them.”

Post #2 image. 2012-09-17.jpgIn a recent op-ed in The New York Times, Dr. Sanjay Gupta explored the relationship between the increase in treatments and tests ordered by many doctors and the possibly corresponding rise in the number of medical errors made by doctors. These medical mistakes, many of which can be life threatening to patients, might be able to be avoided if doctors simply stopped ordering unnecessary medical treatments.

Medical errors, often caused by doctor or hospital negligence, are a serious concern all across the country. In 1999, the Institute of Medicine reported that approximately 98,000 people died each year as a result of medical errors. Gupta discussed figures that are more recent and says that he believes about 200,000 people die each year because of medical mistakes. Gupta says that if those figures are accurate, it makes medical mistakes one of the leading causes of death in the United States.

Gupta points out the fact that as the number of treatments and tests performed increase, the likelihood of physician errors also rises. He says that many people would be surprised to know that doctors routinely request tests or treatments that they know are unnecessary. According to one recent survey of orthopedic surgeons, of all the tests they order to be performed on their patients, 24% are not “medically necessary.” Gupta says that the danger of such overuse of things like CT and MRI scans can lead to false positives and unnecessary operations. Along with these unnecessary procedures comes the risk of complications, including infection and bleeding.

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