August 27, 2015

New Canadian Technology Could Reduce Anesthesia Errors and Deaths

by Levin & Perconti
LinkedIn

The prospect of undergoing surgery is terrifying for many patients. While some fear the prospect of never waking up afterwards, some also harbor a very real fear of waking up too soon, while the surgery is still ongoing. While this sort of anesthesia error is not one of the most common types of medical malpractice, when it does happen it is truly horrifying. Fortunately, a new technology developed in Canada may one day almost eliminate these errors and make anesthesia much more personalized to the patient, and thus, more effective.

Do Patients Actually Wake up During Surgeries?

Patients do currently actually wake up during surgeries. Sometimes this is because of a patient’s unique body and there is nothing that an anesthesiologist could have done differently to prevent it from happening. But other times it is due to an anesthesiologist’s having done something wrong, having made an improper calculation, or having just not paid close enough attention to the patient. When this happens it is called “accidental awareness during general anesthesia” and it can lead to severe psychological trauma and even cause post-traumatic stress disorder.

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August 25, 2015

Family of Woman Killed by Missed Diagnosis Faces a Tough Fight for a Recovery Because of Texas Tort Reform

by Levin & Perconti
LinkedIn

In our healthcare system the only method a patient has to hold a doctor or hospital responsible for botched medical care is through the medical malpractice system. Because the medical field in the United States is a profit-based system, only substantial financial judgments that make malpractice more costly than proper care can reduce the number of avoidable healthcare provider errors. Unfortunately, due to the efforts of powerful lobbies for the insurance and medical fields, many states have enacted so-called “tort reform” laws that severely limit the rights of patients who have been injured by their medical providers. One such law is making it difficult for a Texas man and his two children to recover for the death of his wife that was allegedly caused by a missed emergency room diagnosis.

Texas Woman Allegedly Died Because ER Did Not Properly Diagnose Her

News Channel WFAA reports that two young boys are growing up without a mother because an emergency room failed to properly diagnose her. The two boys were only two and seven years old when their mother went to the emergency room at Arlington Memorial Hospital in 2013. According to her husband she had suffered a seizure and was incoherent. She underwent a CT scan which shows clearly defined dark spots on her brain. According to the family’s attorney it should have been obvious to anyone that there was blood on her brain. But the emergency room doctors sent the woman home after diagnosing her with a possible sinus infection. Her husband claims to have argued with hospital personnel, and that he pointed out that he watched her have a seizure. Five hours after the woman was discharged she had another seizure. According to her attorney her brain aneurism could have been treated if the ER had properly diagnosed it, but instead the mother of two lost her life. According to CBS Dallas-Fort Worth, her family is now suing, but they have a tough road ahead of them. Because unlike most medical malpractice cases in most states, they do not just have to show that the ER doctors were negligent in their treatment of the woman. Instead they have to prove that the doctors were “grossly negligent” thanks to a Texas tort reform law.

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August 20, 2015

University Sued for Medical Malpractice Over Football Head Injuries

by Levin & Perconti
LinkedIn

Medical malpractice lawsuits usually involve suing doctors or nurses or businesses like hospitals or clinics. Sometimes, however, medical care can be provided by other sources, which can broaden malpractice liability. Universities are one example of an institution that can find itself facing medical malpractice accusations, particularly when student athletes are injured. A suit in California provides an example.

An Ex-Football Player is Suing a California University for Medical Malpractice

The Los Angeles Times reports that a former player for the University of California football team has filed a lawsuit against the university. The suit is for medical malpractice, and it is related to the concussions that he suffered while he was on the team. He suffered the concussions both during practices and during games, and as a result of the head trauma he claims to suffer from “permanent and debilitating” neurological injuries. His alleged symptoms include depression (including suicidal ideation), dizziness, memory issues, and vision problems.

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August 18, 2015

Despite Increasing Heroin Problems, FDA Approves Use of Strong Opiates by Children

by Levin & Perconti
LinkedIn

Medical malpractice involving prescription drugs can come in many forms. For example, the large number of pharmacy errors happening each day have received a lot of attention in the media lately. These errors, along with dosage and other administration errors in hospitals are what patients often think of when they think of pharmaceutical errors. But there are other types of drug-related malpractice. For example, issues may arise when a doctor fails to properly advise a patient regarding the risks and rewards of a medication. Doctors can also at times prescribe unnecessary medications that can have life altering effects. A new drug-use approval has made this type of error more possible when it comes to certain strong opiate drugs and children.

FDA Approves Use of Strong Opiate in Children

USA Today reports that the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved OxyContin for use by kids as young as 11 years old. There are some children, particularly those suffering from certain types of severe cancer, who may benefit greatly from this approval. However, the approval also comes with extraordinary risks for some patients due to the addictive nature of the drug.

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August 14, 2015

Fred Meyer Pharmacy Error May have Significantly Hurt Woman’s Chances at Pregnancy

by Levin & Perconti
LinkedIn

Medical malpractice always has sad results. The injuries these patients suffer can be life altering. One of the most life-altering injuries a patient can suffer at the hand of his or her medical care provider is a loss of fertility. Many people dream their whole lives of becoming parents, and treatment errors can rob those people of that dream. A Fred Meyer pharmacy is accused of doing just that in a case of pharmaceutical error.

Fred Meyer Accused of Pharmacy Error

A woman has filed a $680,000 lawsuit against Fred Meyer claiming that one of their pharmacy employees gave her the wrong prescription drug which led to her being rushed to the emergency room and hurt her chances of ever having a baby. According to a report by The Oregonian, she presented the pharmacy with a prescription for a fertility drug called clomiphene. Instead of giving her the drug her doctor prescribed, she claims the pharmacy gave her a different drug with a similarly spelled name. This caused a serious reaction which led to her being taken to the emergency room. While she recovered from the drug reaction she had to quit fertility treatments. She says this makes it substantially less likely that she will ultimately be able to become pregnant.

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August 11, 2015

Medical Malpractice is an International Issue

by Levin & Perconti
LinkedIn

Medical malpractice is not just an American problem. Serious medical errors including surgical errors happen all over the world. The severity and frequency of these errors depend in part on the medical resources of a country, but they also depend on the regulatory framework and what sort of process a country has for holding negligent medical professionals accountable for their actions.

Serious Surgical Errors Exposed

The South China Morning Post reports that five cases of surgical instruments being left inside patients have been reported in Hong Kong, as have six other serious medical errors. Each of these errors occurred in public hospitals during the first quarter of 2015. One case involved a fourteen-inch feeding tube being left inside a patient’s abdomen. It had to be removed through a colonoscopy. Another case involved a piece of gauze being left in a patient’s vagina.

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August 6, 2015

Florida Court Decision Bad for Patient Privacy

by Levin & Perconti
LinkedIn

Medical malpractice law is constantly evolving. As courts strike down unconstitutional measures like damage caps the insurance and physician lobbies convince legislators to pass different laws to limit patients rights and prevent negligent healthcare providers from being held responsible for their actions. One route these lobbies have taken is supporting laws that force injured patients to choose between pursuing their malpractice claims and protecting their own privacy. Unfortunately a Florida appellate court just upheld one of these laws.

Florida Court Deals Blow to Patient Privacy

The Palm Beach Post reports that a Florida appellate court just upheld a Florida law that strips injured patients of some of their privacy rights. This decision deals with a law that the state legislature passed back in 2013. This law deals with what lawyers call “ex parte communications.” These are communications that representatives in one side of the lawsuit have without representatives of the other side being present. The specific ex parte communications covered by this law have to do with patients’ private medical information.

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August 4, 2015

Doctor Sentenced for Administering Chemo to Healthy Patients

by Levin & Perconti
LinkedIn

A cancer diagnosis can change your whole life. Between chemotherapy, radiation, and surgeries the treatments for various cancers can be extremely grueling. Some terminal patients choose to forgo these treatments if they will not be life-saving due to the extraordinary effect they can have on a patient’s quality of life. That’s what makes the story of Dr. Farid Fata so horrifying. This doctor has pled guilty to fraud for fraudulently administering chemotherapy after leading them to believe they were sick. This case of extraordinary medical malpractice shows how much we rely on medical professionals to be competent and honest and how severe the consequences of health care provider error or intentional misconduct can be.

Treating Healthy Patients for Serious Illness

NBC News reports that Michigan doctor Farid Fata was misdiagnosing patients with cancer and then administering unnecessary treatments costing the patients both their savings and their health. The doctor told the patients that they had life threatening cancers that they did not actually have. For example, the doctor diagnosed sixty-two-year-old Robert Sobieray with a rare blood cancer and then administered both chemotherapy and radiation treatments. These treatments caused Sobieray to twitch uncontrollably and caused him to lose his teeth.

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July 30, 2015

Back to the Basics - Litigating a Surgical Mesh Injury

by Levin & Perconti
LinkedIn

Surgical mesh is a medical device that is used to treat a number of health complications in female patients. The material is inserted into the pelvis for the purpose of strengthening its walls. This prevents the bladder and reproductive organs from slipping down into the vaginal area. Though this material is commonly used, it's come under extensive scrutiny. According to a report by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the surgical mesh has been a safety concern for more than three years. Thousands of women report painful side effects and complications with the device, resulting in numerous lawsuits.

Adverse Reactions to Surgical Mesh

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July 27, 2015

Doctors and Hospitals Still Wary of Power Morcellator

by Levin & Perconti
LinkedIn

Power morcellators are essentially small power tools that can be used to remove fibroids in the uterus by cutting uterine tissue during surgery. They are manufactured by several companies, including Olympus, Karl Storz, Blue Endo, and Ethicon (a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson).

However, there is a concern that, in the process of cutting the tissue, they could end up spreading tumor parts to other areas of the body if that tissue contains cancerous cells, resulting in leiomyosarcoma, myelosarcoma, and uterine sarcoma.

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