Recently in Medical Malpractice Category

Atlanta Medical Malpractice Retrial Worth a Potential $50 Million Commences in Cobb County

January 8, 2014

According to the Daily Report, at the center of a medical malpractice retrial in Cobb County, Georgia, is whether an obstetrician will be held liable for a baby born with brain damage in 2008. The baby in question, Tucker Sutton, also called "Mighty Tuck" by his loved ones, sustained the injuries when he became trapped in his mother's birth canal for 1 minute and 58 seconds - what would have been a death sentence to most. Baby Tucker, however, survived--although he is likely to deal with the resulting health complications for the remainder of his life. In what the news medium has dubbed a "battle of expert witnesses," experts are expected to debate whether severe brain damage could have been avoided if the defendant obstetrician had delivered the child sooner and by cesarean section.

The previous case, which was tried in 2011, ended in a mistrial "with jurors reportedly favoring the defendant hospital and hung on the defendant obstetrician." In that first trial, the plaintiff parents requested damages of $50 million - estimated lifetime costs associated with the child's care. The hospital settled for an undisclosed amount, leaving the doctor as the only defendant in this case. Despite the settlement, and at the insistence of the obstetrician's counsel, however, the jury will be allowed to apportion fault to the hospital, resulting in a decrease in the amount of any damages the doctor might have to pay.

According to the defendant, the plaintiffs' birth plan called for a vaginal delivery and there was no viable medical reason to change the plan. The plaintiffs, on the other hand, believe a cesarean section could have mitigated their son's injuries. Upon hearing this, Georgia Medical malpractice attorneys immediately recognize that the crux of the problem is that C-sections in and of themselves, are not inherently risk-free. In fact, the defendant's attorney did not hesitate to point this out, telling the jury that the doctor did his part. ""C-sections are not risk-free," the defendant's attorney stated. "They carry with them their own complications, especially when infection is present like with this mom." Plaintiffs argue, however, that after the vaginal birth commenced and it became clear there would be complications, the defendant's inaction and purported negligence increased the risks for injury, which is why the doctor's actions are being called into question in the form of a medical malpractice claim.

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Deadly Infection in Medical Malpractice Case Wins Georgia Man $6.7 Million Verdict

November 25, 2013

The medical malpractice case of Muscogee County former cotton mill worker, Thomas Jackson, lasted for an agonizing eight days, but the resulting $6.7 million jury verdict against a local surgeon may not be as cut-and-dry as it seems. The jury awarded the plaintiff $5.2 million for his medical malpractice claim, and an additional $1.5 million was to go to his wife, Linda, for her loss of consortium claim. A policy limit of $2 million, however, means the man and his wife will likely collect no more than that amount for a hernia repair surgery that culminated in a deadly bacteria infection which almost claimed Mr. Jackson's life in 2002--all of this according to the Daily Report.

The plaintiffs' medical malpractice attorney attributes the enormous verdict to fact that the doctor who performed the surgery, absolutely absolved himself of any responsibility. "The doctor's refusal to accept any responsibility got the jury's attention, and I don't think they liked it," he told the Daily Report. Plaintiff Jackson alleged that the doctor nicked his intestines during surgery and then failed to "adequately inspect Mr. Jackson's bowel for signs of bowel perforation, specifically including areas of the bowel that he admits were injured during the surgery."

To make matters worse, it wasn't until four days after the initial surgery that the doctor returned Jackson to the operating room to repair the injury and even then, it was only at the insistence of a Morehouse medical student who suspected the source of plaintiff's infection might be his stomach. By then, however, it was too late and the infection had firmly set in. In its own defense, the hospital where the surgery took place, the Medical Center of Columbus, claimed that the doctor's actions constituted recognized risk on the part of Mr. Jackson, as opposed to medical malpractice, yet it went on to settle with the plaintiffs prior to trial for an undisclosed amount. The doctor stubbornly refused to settle and denied liability up until the very last day of trial. Jackson credits the Morehouse student with saving his life.

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Meningitis Scandal Sparks Conversations about Regulation Reform in the Medical Arena

October 10, 2012

The United States has recently seen one of the most distressing and deadly outbreaks of fungal meningitis in years. While not contagious, fungal meningitis is an infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord with symptoms include headache, fever and nausea, and even death. This particular outbreak has gradually morphed into a medical scandal of sorts, with multiple media outlets covering the story after the source of the disease was traced back to one U.S. company that, unfortunately, had a wide-reaching arm. In the wake of the health scandal, the New England Compounding Center (NECC), the Massachusetts-based company responsible for distributing hundreds of contaminated vials of steroids across the country has finally recalled the product.

Unfortunately, despite these corrective measures, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the number of reported cases has continued to increase at an alarming rate, with approximately 205 incidents reported across 14 states. Of those cases reported, fifteen deaths have ensued, with Tennessee being the hardest-hit state. Even more cases may soon emerge, since an estimated 14,000 people were in receipt of the vials.

For medical malpractice attorneys, the outbreak has brought attention to the possible need for reform in the medical malpractice arena. At the same time, in engaging in conversations about it, many of us are aware that all too often regulation changes do not come until after a large scale incident like this one has already occurred. So where exactly did the problem stem from, and were there warning signs that this might happen?

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Missouri Supreme Court Upholds State's Cap on Non-Economic Damage

May 17, 2012

As you may have read, I recently wrote regarding lawsuits that are currently pending in Mississippi, where the proponents of the suits are seeking to have the stat's cap on tort damages overturned. However, it seems that Mississippi is not the only state that is currently facing this issue. In Missouri, after winning a recent lawsuit challenging the state's noneconomic damages cap, Missouri doctors continue to fight another battle threatening to overturn the recovery limit, while Plaintiffs' attorneys continue to seek to overturn the limit.

According to, the Supreme Court of Missouri ruled on April 3rd in Sanders v. Ahmed that the state's noneconomic damages cap for medical malpractice or medical negligence cases was constitutional. The cap, adopted in 1986, impacts cases in which the alleged negligence happened before 2005. The limit was enacted at $350,000 but is now at more than $600,000 due to inflation. The second suit, which the state high court has yet to decide, centers on Missouri's latest $350,000 award limit. The cap impacts all medical liability or medical malpractice lawsuits starting in 2005. A decision in the case, Watts v. Cox, is expected by the summer, said attorneys involved in the case.

In Sanders v. Ahmed, a patient's family said the cap used to reduce their jury award from $9.2 million to $1.2 million violated the Missouri Constitution. The family had filed a wrongful death claim on behalf of Paulette Sanders, who died in 2005. Relatives claimed neurologist Iftekhar Ahmed, MD, failed to recognize and treat a fatal side effect resulting from a medication he prescribed to Sanders. Dr. Ahmed denied wrongdoing.

After winning at trial, the family filed a motion fighting the award reduction. A trial court upheld the reduction, and the family appealed. In their opinion, Supreme Court justices said the Legislature has the authority to enact damages caps.

"The remedy available in a statutorily created cause of action is a matter of law, not fact, and not within the purview of the jury," the court said. "To hold otherwise would be to tell the Legislature it could not legislate; it could neither create nor negate causes of action and in doing so could not prescribe the measure of damages for the same. This court never has so held and declines to do so now."

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New Senate Bill May Make Medical Malpractice Suits More Difficult to Prove

April 18, 2012

Hospital representatives and trial lawyers clashed Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee over a bill that would give patients an alternative method for resolving medical malpractice claims. Senate Bill 406 was passed by a wide margin in the Senate last month. Now, both House and Senate leaders are eager to get the committee's endorsement and have the measure approved by the full House.

According to Union, the bill would establish an "early offer" program in which a patient could voluntarily seek a settlement with a medical provider. The settlement would be based on medical costs and lost wages, plus a severity of injury payment ranging from $1,700 for minor harm to $117,500 for grave harm or death. Should both parties agree to participate in the process, the settlement would be reached in a matter of months.

If patients are dissatisfied with the medical provider's offer, they still could pursue a traditional lawsuit. Although allowing injured patients more than one way to seek justice and recovery may seem positive, it is not in this case. If a patient was dissatisfied with the offer, they indeed could proceed with a traditional lawsuit, but the case would be judged under the standards for gross negligence, which is much more difficult to prove than malpractice. Bill supporters say it would significantly reduce the expense and time of malpractice cases, which take, on average, nearly four years to reach resolution in New Hampshire. More broadly, they say the bill would help reduce medical costs.

As reported by the Union, trial lawyers are staunchly against the bill, which they say favors insurers and hospitals. "The people who will end up using this system will be the poor, the uneducated and the uninformed," said Maureen Raiche Manning, the president of the New Hampshire Association for Justice, which represents trial lawyers.

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Failure of Pharmacists to Heed Computerized Drug Warnings May Lead to Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

April 11, 2012

After visiting our physicians, we trust our local pharmacist to accurately fill our prescriptions. In order to do so, most pharmacists rely on computerized warning systems which alert then if there are potentially dangerous effects or conflicts with the drugs that they are prescribing to a particular patient. However, a recently conducted study revealed that the vast majority of computerized drug warning alerts generated in hospitals are overridden, suggesting that these systems need refinement. Not only do the systems need refinement, but medical providers should be more alert, otherwise more and more patients will be put at risk, which will likely lead to those providers being held liable in medical malpractice lawsuits.

According to, among 40,391 medication orders issued during a one-year period, only 4% were accepted, reported Amy Knight, MD, of Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore. Computerized provider order entry (CPOE) systems have been developed to generate warnings when there is the possibility of allergy, adverse events, interactions, and duplications, with the intent of increasing inpatient safety.

"However, the problem with these computerized warning systems is that providers develop 'alert fatigue' and end up overriding many potentially important warnings," Knight said at the annual meeting of the Society of Hospital Medicine.

These study results dovetail with research published this week, which found that medication alerts generated by an electronic medical record system were frequently frustrating to prescribers. For this retrospective study, Knight's group sought to clarify the factors associated with accepting or overriding a warning, with the goal of providing data for developers of these systems to improve their efficacy and utility.

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Proposed Tennessee Legislation May Infringe on the Privacy of Medical Malpractice Victims

March 28, 2012

As a result of their injuries, medical malpractice victims often face a lifetime of pain and suffering, whether it be physical or emotional, as the result of the damage they suffered at the hands of a negligent health care professional. And now, a proposed piece of Tennessee legislation threatens to add to that suffering, and possibly infringe on the privacy of the victim, and may also make it harder for medical malpractice victims to prevail in their lawsuits.

If House Bill 2979 passes the Tennessee legislature, and is enacted into law, Tennesseans who file a medical malpractice suit against a doctor or healthcare facility could find themselves opening up their lifetime's medical records to scrutiny. According to The Murfreesboro Post, House Bill 2979 is currently being considered by the state House Judiciary Committee. If it is passed, the bill would permit healthcare providers to give open access to the medical records of a victim of medical malpractice who files a claim in court.

The bill would supersede federal HIPAA laws and allow an attorney, representing a healthcare provider, to get access to a plaintiff's lifetime of medical history, including any and all mental-health and past drug or alcohol-abuse treatments, whether or not the information pertains to the medical malpractice claim.

Attorney Matt Hardin, a partner with a Tennessee law firm, says that while the committee appears ready to pass the bill, there may be further issues ahead. According to Hardin, "I believe the bill is in violation of federal law because it effectively is less restrictive than what the federal law is. HIPAA was drafted to protect the privacy of patients. When looking at this issue I found that 34 other states currently have strong restrictions in place that don't allow this type of communication."

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Filthy Surgical Instruments may lead to Patient Infection, which may in turn lead to Medical Malpractice Suits against Hospitals.

February 22, 2012

In 2009, John Harrison, a then 63 year old oil industry sales manager in Mission, Texas, had surgery to repair the rotator cuff in his right shoulder, a routine procedure that usually requires at most a single night's stay in the hospital, followed by physical therapy. For Harrison, however, there was nothing routine about the ordeal that ensued, which eventually led to Harrison filing a medial malpractice lawsuit against the hospital that rendered his treatment.

According to the Center for Public Integrity's iwatch News, in the weeks following the surgery, his scar turned bright red, hot to the touch, and oozed thick fluid that looked "like butter squeezed from a bag." Alarmed, Harrison's wife, Laura, called The Methodist Hospital in Houston, where the surgery was performed, to inform them of the problem. That night, surgeons opened up Harrison's shoulder and found that infection had eaten away part of his shoulder bone and rotator cuff. After Harrison underwent surgery to remedy these issues, he imagined his nightmare was over. But in reality, it had just begun. Since then, what began as a simple operation has turned into a lengthy struggle that left him suffering from personal injuries for months at a time, dependent on hired nurses, unable to dress himself, take a shower, or work, and afraid for his life.

Harrison at first blamed himself, thinking he had not taken proper care of his surgical wound. The truth was much worse: Harrison was one of at least seven joint surgery patients at Methodist who acquired dangerous infections during a two-week period. The outbreak led Methodist to close operating rooms and cancel knee and shoulder surgeries while hospital and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigators searched for the cause.

They found two likely sources in unlikely, yet terrifying, spots, deep inside a handheld power tool called an arthroscopic shaver, which surgeons use to shave away bone and tissue during surgery, and inside a long narrow metal tube called an inflow/outflow cannula, which is used to irrigate and suction the surgical site.

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Are Hospitals Doing all they Can to Ensure Patient Safety and Decrease Instances of Medical Malpractice and Wrongful Death Suits?

February 6, 2012

Are hospitals doing all they can when it comes to patient safety? The February issue of Washingtonian magazine addresses that very question in an article entitled "Minor Mistakes, Deadly Results." The story presents some alarming data when it comes to this issue. Despite touting stringent procedures in the operating room and on the floor, medical malpractice certainly isn't a thing of the past: In 2010 alone faulty medical care contributed to the deaths of 15,000 Medicare patients per month. The author writes that hospitals "are hierarchical organizations resistant to change, they haven't done enough to create environments in which patient safety is a priority." 15,000 deaths per month is a rather hefty number, and it may just get at the core reason why hospitals have been reluctant to publicly share patient-safety data. The Institute of Medicine has estimated preventable errors resulted in as many as 100,000 deaths annually in US hospitals.

In many cases, hospital mistakes are easily avoidable - a fact which raises key questions for wrongful death attorneys about internal structure and methodology. Washingtonian recants one instance in 2009 where the hospital staff's failure to follow physician orders resulted in an elderly woman contracting an infection in her leg. The woman was taken to another hospital where her leg was amputated, but five months later she died from complications. An investigation the DC Department of Health revealed that staff had only to take off the patient's compression stockings after each shift for at least 30 minutes.

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Medical Neglect Leaves Elderly Man Subject to Insects Crawling Inside of his Trachea Tube - Medical Malpractice Claim Likely

January 26, 2012

Having a parent in an assisted living arrangement is hard for the entire family. It is difficult for the parent who may not be able to interact with their family as often as they would like, and it is also difficult for the children who worry whether their parent is being taken care of in a way that respects their parent's dignity. However, in the case of two brothers in Houston, Texas, the facility that was charged with the care of their father failed to ensure that he was cared for properly.

According to the, two brothers were visiting their sick father at a west Houston hospital last year when they noticed ants and gnats crawling through a trachea tube and into his larynx, according to a medical malpractice and negligence civil lawsuit filed in Harris County District Court.

As reported by, the two brothers were visiting their father, Willie Lee Simmons, 69, who was being treated at Select Specialty Hospital-Houston West for severe respiratory problems before he died last year, said Derek Deyon, an attorney representing the man's estate. The family alleges that workers at the hospital were negligent when they allowed insects to crawl into the tube, among other instances of negligence, he said. The lawsuit was filed January 12, 2012.

According to a spokesman for Select Medical, which owns the facility, the company had not been served with a lawsuit, and the spokesman went on to say that "the allegation of negligence is simply not true." The spokesman, Edwin Bodensiek, defended the facility by stating "They keep their rooms and their equipment clean and sanitary. We would take complaints extremely seriously and we act immediately to correct them and that was done in this case."

Select Medical, the defendant in the law suit filed by Simmons' family and his estate, operates 110 long-term acute care hospitals and 952 outpatient rehabilitation clinics nationwide. And, according to Bodensiek "[Select Medical is] obsessed with quality and I would say our patients' well-being is our top priority."

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Young Boy Left Blind as a Result of Doctor's Malpractice

January 17, 2012

It is always potentially dangerous when a physician misdiagnoses a condition, because the misdiagnosis could lead to the lack of treatment, or the patient receiving the wrong treatment. Unfortunately, according to The Hartford, a Connecticut boy and his parents know firsthand the damage that can be caused by a doctor's error. It is the contention of the young boy's family, who has sued his pediatrician for medical malpractice , that the child's physician failed to diagnose his bacterial meningitis, resulting in his losing his eyesight.

According to the complaint filed by Katherine Mlodzinski earlier this year, the mother of Adam Mlodzinski, the complainits of the then 7 year old Adam were not heeded when presented to Healthwise Medical Associates, doing business as Vernon Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, and Dr. Judy Huang-Bulger, who has a Manchester office. The complaint alleges that instead of recognizing that Adam had life-threatening bacterial meningitis, an inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord as a result of a bacterial infection, Huang-Bulger first diagnosed Adam with an ear infection.

According to the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of bacterial meningitis is critical. However, according the Mlodzinski family attorney, Joel Faxon "The doctor blew off basically the severe headache that Adam had. That delay in treatment caused the meningitis to worsen, the brain infection to worsen, and now Adam is blind."Also according to the CDC's website, "If symptoms occur, the patient should see a doctor immediately." In this case Adam did that, but unfortunately, he and his family maintain it didn't help.

The family alleges that Adam, who is now 9, fell ill on Halloween 2009. Despite several visits to Huang-Bulger, his condition worsened over the next couple of days. After Dr. Huang- Bulger diagnosed Adam with and ear infection, his parents were dissatisfied with the diagnosis. So, the boy's parents called the doctor again for yet another appointment, the lawsuit states. But a receptionist sent Adam away.

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Tennessee Doctor Sued for Leaving New Born Baby for Dead in Hospital

January 12, 2012

The birth of a child is an event that for the mother should be one of the most cherished memories of her life. However, for one Tennessee mother, this date of her child's birth marks one of the most terrible and devastating days of her life. This is so, because according to the mother, instead of providing her and her new born child with the necessary care that was required, the doctor who delivered her baby neglected giver her new born baby any care at all.

According to the, a Robertson County, Tennessee mother, Jennifer Marie Marlin, acting on behalf of her child, is suing the doctor that delivered him for medical malpractice. The lawsuit claims that Matthew Allen Marlin, who is now a toddler, was left for dead in a plastic bin for more than four hours before a nurse noticed he was alive and gasping for breath. Marlin's mother filed the lawsuit in late December 2011 against Dr. John W. O'Donnell III in Robertson County Circuit Court. According to the lawsuit, baby Marlin was born early June 13, 2009, with irregular gasping breaths and heart rate. Also according to the lawsuit, a nurse noted that he "made a small cry at delivery and had movement of arms and legs."

The lawsuit, which claims that Dr. O'Donnell is guilty of negligence, goes on to state that "The baby was fighting for his life and Dr. O'Donnell decided on his own - without any consultation from anyone else - that the baby had no chance of living." The reports that Marlin was put in a plastic bin and left on a counter "until the family could decide what to do with the body," but a nurse who passed the area noticed he was gasping for breath a few hours later.

After a nurse discovered that baby Marlin was indeed alive and struggling to survive, baby Marlin received resuscitation therapy and was transferred from NorthCrest Medical Center in Springfield, Tennessee to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. Baby Marlin remained at Vanderbilt University Medical Center for three months where he received specialized care for the brain injuries and other injuries he had sustained.

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Mississippi Malpractice Insurer Says More Tort Reform is Unnecessary: Plaintiffs' Attorneys Foresee "Loser-Pays" Will Curb Frivolous Litigation

December 8, 2011

Texas Governor and presidential hopeful Rick Perry has publicly touted the success of his state's "loser pays" law and it appears that quite a few elected officials are taking heed. In fact, Mississippi's Governor-elect, Phil Bryant, may just have his eye on similar tort reform, and there's a high probability that such legislation would pass, reports Jackson, Mississippi's Clarion-Ledger. This comes as no surprise to Mississippi medical malpractice attorneys, who know tort reform like this will be a hot-button topic in the upcoming election, and it's something that potential plaintiffs want to keep an eye on. It has made its way back to the forefront of discussion as concerns about government spending and health-care costs have incited lawmakers to explore cost-saving measures.

This particular law is intended to be a blow to trial lawyers and curb instances of frivolous lawsuits by requiring the loser of a lawsuit to pay the attorney's fees of the victor. Currently, in the U.S. each party bears the brunt of its own legal costs in court. Medical Assurance Company of Mississippi, which provides medical malpractice coverage to half of Mississippi's physicians, says such reform is in itself frivolous since the state, which was once labeled a "poster child for lawsuit abuse," has already seen a marked decline in lawsuit filings, approximately 73 percent in eight years.

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Physician Profile Database similar to the one restored in Illinois may be Helpful to Georgia Patients

November 18, 2011

Knowledge is key, especially when it comes to making healthcare and medical decision. The more information a patient has on his or her perspective physician, the better decisions that patient can make regarding their medical care. Giving patients more access to information about physicians may lead to less medical malpractice, and would keep dangerous doctors, who have committed malpractice in the past, or have been censured in some other way, from harming future patients.

According to, in an effort to protect its state's patients and to provide them with much needed information, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation launched the physician profile website in 2008. This profile gave patients access to information about the physicians and surgeons licensed to practice in the state, which total around 46,000. This database included information regarding physicians disciplinary, criminal and malpractice records. Patients could also learn how many years a doctor has practiced, what medical school they attended, where they have hospital privileges, whether they accept Medicaid or offer translation services and if they have published research papers.

This resource aided several patients in Illinois. The website where this database could be found receiving around 150,000 weekly hits prior to its removal in 2010. According to the Chicago Tribune, the database, which could be found on the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation's website, operated between 2008 and 2010, but was removed after a decision handed down by the Illinois Supreme Court. The State Supreme Court decision which led to the dismantling of the site was regarding medical malpractice reforms.

In response to the actions of the Illinois Supreme Court, the Illinois Legislature enacted the Patients' Right To Know Act, which was signed into law by the Governor of Illinois, Pat Quinn, in August. This Act, allowed for the reinstitution of the physician profile website, which again can be found at the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation's website. According to both the Chicago Tribune and, State Representative Mary Flowers, a co-sponsor of the bill, said that it was important for patients to have as much information about their doctors as possible to make informed decisions about their health care, and that the measure could help protect patients from seeking treatment from shady doctors who put lives at risk.

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The Recently Emerging Trend of Criminalizing Medical Malpractice may change how Doctors Practice Medicine

September 27, 2011

Normally, when a patient, or a patient's family, believes that the treating physician may have been negligent in some case, the remedy is the pursuit of a civil medical malpractice case with the aid of a medical malpractice attorney. However, according to Reuters U.S. News, there has been an emerging trend over the past few years of punishing medical malpractice with criminal charges and convictions, instead of, or in conjunction with civil proceedings and civil remedies.

This trend of criminalizing medical malpractice has come as the result of the increase in fatal overdoses on prescription medications seen throughout the nation. Prosecutors in states such and Georgia and Florida believe that in order to quell this trend, it is more effective to prosecute the doctors, who grant access to the medications, rather than the patients.

The increased attention prosecutors have been giving this phenomenon recently may be warranted. Between the years 1999 and 2006, fatal overdoses on prescription painkillers more than tripled to 13,800 in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In response to this disturbing trend, law enforcement agencies thought out the U.S. have stepped up their efforts to seek out and punish doctors who over prescribe prescription medications. According to information from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), in 2003, the DEA reported 15 physician arrests that resulted in convictions. However, by 2008, the most recent year with comprehensive data, the number had increased to 43.

Some of the cases brought against physicians are brought through the controlled Substance Act, or other similar state statues. To establish guilt under this act, which was passed in 1970, a prosecutor must prove that the physician knowingly and intentionally prescribed the medication outside "the usual course of professional practice" or not for a "legitimate medical purpose." In the alternative, in cases that prosecutors feel are extreme and deserving of harsher penalties, a prosecutor may seek to bring involuntary manslaughter charges against an offending physician.

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