Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

Published on:

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.
Continue reading →

Published on:

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.
Continue reading →

Published on:

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 Chron.com, 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 Chron.com, 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.”
Continue reading →

Published on:

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 Courant.com, 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.
Continue reading →

Published on:

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 Tennessean.com, 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 Tennessean.com 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.
Continue reading →

Published on:

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.
Continue reading →

Published on:

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 STLtoday.com, 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 STLtoday.com, 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.
Continue reading →

Published on:

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.
Continue reading →

Published on:

The family of a California woman who died three days after receiving weight loss surgery filed a law suit September 2, 2011 against the advertising firm and physicians alleged to be responsible for the decedent’s death. Although the classification of the allegations was not made known, according to the information released by DaillyBreeze.com, it is likely that the family is seeking to recover for fraud and medical malpractice. According to the complaint filed by the family’s attorney, John Blumberg, the care received by the decedent “fell below the applicable standards of care,” causing her death. Although the family is seeking damages against the doctors for medical malpractice, the amount of damages sought is unspecified.

On December 26, 2010, three days after having a Lap-Band device surgically implanted, Tamara Walter passed away. Ms. Walter underwent surgery at an outpatient clinic located in Beverly Hills, California. According to the Los Angeles Times the clinic has operated under several different names, including Beverly Hills Surgery Center. The clinic is now known as New Life Surgery Center. The family’s lawsuit is not directed against Allergan Inc., the maker of the Lap-Band device, which is a tube that is surgically placed around the stomach to discourage overeating. The targets of the lawsuit are 1-800-GET-THIN, an advertising company, and two physicians, Dr. Atul Madan and Dr. Daniel Shin.

The crux of the complaint against the advertising company is that the company fraudulently induced Ms. Walter into receiving the surgery that ultimately led to her death. The complaint alleges that the advertising company, along with another firm called Top Surgeons, LLC, solicited patients with advertising slogans such as “Top Rated Surgical Specialists,” “expert physicians, nurses and other trained personnel,” and “state-of-the-art facilities” with an “unmatched safety record.”

According to the lawsuit, these claims were fraudulent because at the time these statements were made, the firms knew that at least one of the physicians involved with Ms. Walter’s surgery was under investigation by the Medical Board of California as a result of a 2009 misdemeanor criminal conviction, and that the surgery center where the operation was performed “had a history of documented deficiencies and its accreditation had been refused or revoked by more than one accrediting agency.”
Continue reading →

Published on:

Patients should always be aware of the possibility for medical negligence or medical malpractice when visiting a hospital or any other medical facility. However, recently reviewed studies show that July may be the most dangerous month for patients in large, teaching hospitals. What has been know as the “July Effect” by many in the medical field describes the spike in medical errors seen when new resident physicians arrive at a teaching hospital.

Prior to the release of a new review of several studies on the matter, what has been known as the “July Effect” was largely unsubstantiated. However, this review, which was co-authored by Dr. John Q. Young, the associate program director for the residency training program in psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, found that medical malpractice and patient death rates did indeed increase during the summer months in teaching hospitals, especially in July. The review not only indicated an 8 % increase in patient death rates in July, but it also indicated that patient hospital stays were longer and hospital charges were higher in the month of July.

The review analyzes 39 studies that have been conducted on this issue and is published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. In their review of these studies, Dr. Young and his team focused on the findings of the larger and higher quality studies. The findings confirmed that medical errors and mortality rates in teaching hospitals do increase in and near the month of July.

“The July Effect,” as it has come to be known, is caused by the changeover that occurs at many teaching hospitals in July. During this month, 20-30% of the more experienced resident doctors leave the hospital, and these doctors are replaced with less experienced first year residents. Dr. Young told The New York Times’ Vital Signs: “This changeover is dramatic, and it affects everything. It’s like a football team in a high-stakes game, and in the middle of that final drive you bring out four or five players who never played in the pros before and don’t know the playbook, and the players that remained get changed to positions they never played before, and they never practiced together. That’s what happens in July.” Also according to Dr. Young, it is not just the new residents’ lack of knowledge that may pose risks for patients coming into hospitals in July, but the increase in medical errors and deaths may also be attributed to the new residents’ general lack of familiarity with the hospital and its systems.
Continue reading →

Contact Information