February 25, 2015

Are Performance Metrics Contributing to Pharmacy Error?

by Levin & Perconti

When pharmaceutical errors happen, the results can be deadly. This type of medical malpractice hurts patients in two ways. First it results in their taking a medication that may be dangerous for them and second it results in their not getting the medication that their doctors have determined they need. Despite the danger of both of these consequences and despite the years of training required for pharmacists, these errors still happen at a shockingly high rate. It is important to figure out why. A report from the Boston area indicates one potential contributing factor: performance metrics.

Do Performance Metrics Contribute to Pharmacy Error?

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February 21, 2015

Celebrity Dentist Facing Malpractice Allegations

by Levin & Perconti

Almost no one likes going to the dentist. Its uncomfortable, the drill sounds terrifying, and the lectures on why you should be flossing more often are guilt inducing. However, even though some of us fear the dentist and think that the procedures may hurt, very few people imagine that their dentist may actually cause them lasting harm. But, just like a surgeon or a primary care physician can commit medical malpractice, a dentist can commit dental malpractice. Now there are allegations that one celebrity dentist has done just that on numerous occasions.

Celebrity Dentist from “The Swan” Faces Eighty-Six Allegations of Misdiagnoses and Botched Procedures

The Orange County Register reports that dentist Dr. Sherri Worth is facing a long list of allegations from the Dental Board of California. Worth gained celebrity status when she acted as a dentist on the relatively short-lived reality show “The Swan.” Her regular dental practice is in Newport Beach, California. Back in 2012 she lost a malpractice lawsuit and was ordered to pay the plaintiff $641,542. In that case an arbitrator found that Worth had incorrectly installed a patient's crowns and that as a result the patient suffered relentless pain. The allegations from this lawsuit are included in the Dental Board's complaint against Worth.

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February 17, 2015

More Pharmacy Errors Across the Country

by Levin & Perconti

One shockingly common form of medical malpractice is pharmacy error. These errors include mistakes in filling medication prescriptions, incorrect labeling of medications, and failures to properly advise patients on how to properly use their medications. Somewhere between 30 million and 50 million prescriptions are filled incorrectly each year. Approximately 15,000 people are killed each year by prescription medication. The results of pharmacy errors can be relatively minor or absolutely devastating, depending on the details of the mistake. Recently stories have been published regarding cases of pharmacy error on both coasts.

New York Pharmacy Error Causes Teenage Girl to Lose her Hair and Have Breathing Problems

NBC New York reported recently on the story of Allyson McGuire's thirteen-year-old daughter Cheryl. Cheryl suffered from a swollen muscle. She went to a doctor who gave her a prescription, and then to the pharmacy at a local Wal-Mart. The pharmacist told Allyson that she should give her daughter four of the pills twice a day. So, she did. Soon Cheryl's hair began to fall out in large clumps. Then she started to have problems breathing and she had to go to the hospital. The dose the pharmacist had told Allyson to give Cheryl was substantially higher than the proper dosage. Wal-Mart admitted that the pharmacist made a mistake and says it will provide more training. Fortunately it appears Cheryl will not be permanently harmed, but in that she is fortunate.

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February 12, 2015

Imagery Taints “Tort Reform” Debate

by Levin & Perconti

Being injured by the negligence of a health care provider is expensive. Medical malpractice costs add up when one considers not only medical bills but also missed work, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and all of the other potential costs of a serious injury or death. Yet the innocent image of the injured patient is rarely what an average American thinks of when he or she thinks of a malpractice case. Thanks to misleading and confusing industry imaging, there is instead a false image of medical malpractice plaintiffs that needs to be challenged.

West Virginia Survey Shows People Mistakenly Favor “Tort Reform”

The Bluefield Daily Telegraph, a West Virginia newspaper, recently reported on the state of so-called “tort reform” and public opinions regarding whether it is needed. Their report cited a recent study done by an anti-plaintiff organization that showed that a majority of people in West Virginia support “tort reform.” Half of the people surveyed thought for some reason that “tort reform” would improve the state's economy, and nearly three quarters thought it would improve the job market. While its understandable that voters would care passionately about the economy, it seems wrong on its face that they would then favor tort reform. While economic improvement does require a certain level of allowing responsible businesses to make profitable decisions, that is not what “tort reform” does.

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February 10, 2015

Charges for Medical Tests Do Not Reflect Reality

by Levin & Perconti

We already live in an unfortunate situation in America where when we are sick or injured, we expect the medical bill to be shockingly high. Every test, treatment, and drug that the doctor or nurse administers drives the price higher and higher and higher. And those tests can seem arbitrary. The costs of medical treatment can sky rocket when one suffers an injury caused by the negligence of another. Sadly, this is more true than anywhere else in the medical field when it comes to diagnostic tests.

Patients can Face Different Charges When it Comes to Scans

The New York Times recently reported on the problem of patients faces repeat and often times nonsensical charges for medical tests and scans. It told the story of a retired math professor who went through two separate outpatient echo-cardiograms in a three year period. One of the tests took a mere thirty minutes. The other took an hour and a half and involved a cardiologist. The longer test was done at a high end medical facility while the shorter test was done at just a regular local hospital. Yet, when the retiree received the bills for both tests, the shorter test cost $5,500 while the longer test only cost $1,400. This really bothered him.

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February 6, 2015

FDA Shortens Experimental Drug Access Process

by Levin & Perconti

When you or a loved one is facing what appears to be a terminal illness treatment decisions can be difficult. Not only do you often have to learn a lot to truly give informed consent to the available treatments, but in the case of experimental treatments even more issues arise. The experimental nature of these treatments means that there is no guarantee that they will work and no guarantee that they will not make your situation even worse than it already is, but on the other hand such a treatment may present the only chance there is of recovery.

Some patients are pushed into these treatments and medications without truly understanding the consequences while others who know what they are getting into are denied access to potentially life saving or lengthening treatment. The red tape patients and their doctors have to go through to get access to these treatments can be prohibitive. This conflict is real and difficult to resolve. In light of it, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now announced that it will make access to these treatments easier for patients.

FDA Announces New Policy

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February 4, 2015

South Dakotans Suffering the Effects of “Tort Reform”

by Levin & Perconti

Being a victim of medical malpractice is devastating. Whether you are dealing with personal injuries to yourself or the wrongful death of a loved one, knowing that the harm was caused by a doctor or other medical professional you deeply trusted makes the situation even more difficult. In states like Illinois we have a civil justice system in place that allows you to be compensated for the injuries you have suffered. Unfortunately, victims in states like South Dakota are finding that the have no recourse against those who have injured them, and it is all because of what is popularly called “tort reform.”

Woman's Story of Injury Without Recourse

The Rapid City Journal recently reported on the case of a woman named Jennifer Eastman. Eastman had to suffer through the horrible experience of having a wanted pregnancy end in fetal death and a trip to the hospital to have the deceased fetus removed from her womb. Unfortunately, that was not the end of her pain. When she was in the recovery room after the procedure she realized something was wrong. She later learned that the doctor who had removed her fetus had perforated her uterus and she was bleeding to death in the recovery room. A second doctor who examined her missed this serious complication.

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January 29, 2015

Newly Approved Obesity Treatment is Risky

by Levin & Perconti

Obesity is associated with a host of health issues including diabetes and heart disease. Often those struggling with obesity rely on various modifications of diet and activity level to treat their condition. However, over the past few years surgical options and medications have become available. Now the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new medical device to treat obesity, but it comes with some serious risks.

FDA Approves New Obesity-Treating Medical Device

CBS News reports that the FDA has approved an implant that “curbs the appetite by electrically stimulating stomach nerves.” It is called the Maestro Rechargeable System and it is intended to treat extreme cases of obesity. The implant sends electrical signals to the nerves around the stomach which decreases hunger pangs and makes the patient feel full. The FDA has approved the device for use in adults aged 18 or older who have a body mass index between 35 and 45 and who suffer from at least one obesity-related condition like high blood pressure or diabetes. This is the first obesity-related medical device the FDA has approved since 2007.

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January 27, 2015

“Tort Reform” May be on the Horizon for Illinois

by Levin & Perconti

Illinois' Supreme Court has previously struck down tort reform measures like medical malpractice damages caps as unconstitutional because they violate our state Constitution's separation of powers provisions. This has allowed those injured by the negligence of medical professionals to receive the compensation they deserve. Unfortunately a movement is now afoot to strip the people of Illinois of their rights to receive this compensation when they are victims of healthcare provider errors.

Governor's Transition Report Supports Tort Reform

A new governor just took office in Illinois, and his transition team released a report it calls “Building a Better Illinois.” This report urges the governor to take wrong-headed actions on tort reform. In a section where it describes what the transition team believes the governor should do in his first 100 days in office, one of the recommendations is that he “Publicize the importance of tort reform and the effect of the legal system on the job market.” However, the sole source it cites that supports such a notion is a report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. While many people believe that this organization is related to their local Chambers of Commerce, it is not. Instead it is a well-funded pro-business lobbying group. The report makes no mention of the devastating effects tort reform measures have on the individual people of Illinois who have been the victims of torts.

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January 23, 2015

FDA Warns Against Keepsake Ultrasounds

by Levin & Perconti

Expectant mothers have many safety concerns to consider. During pregnancy there are all the prescriptions as to what sorts of food, drink, and behavior may have an effect on the developing fetus. Then comes concerns about the safest way to give birth and whether the risks of medical malpractice, particularly birth injuries, make alternatives to hospital birth more appealing. Now unfortunately there is one more safety concern pregnant women have to concern themselves with: the potential dangers of keepsake ultrasounds. These are not the ultrasounds performed by a medical professional as a part of prenatal care. Rather than are ultrasounds performed by private businesses to create keepsake videos or photos for expectant parents.

FDA Warns Against Keepsake Ultrasounds

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