November 30, 2006

How to survive your hospital visit series: While you’re in the waiting room

Your attentiveness to your care should continue when you’re sitting in the E.R. in order to ensure the safest hospital visit.

1. Stay on their radar. Earlier this summer, a 49 year-old victim of Illinois medical malpractice complaining of chest pain died in an E.R. waiting room. Bring a friend who can speak up for you.
2. Do not read the magazines. If you have kids with you, do not let them play with the toys. British researchers recently found toys in an ICU swarming with various strains of bacteria.

For the full article.

November 30, 2006

How to survive your hospital visit series: When you speak with the Triage Nurse

Another step in ensuring survival in your hospital visit is knowing how to talk to the triage nurse. When you first enter the E.R., you will probably be told to talk to the triage nurse on duty. The triage nurse signs all of the patients in, takes their blood pressure and temperature, and sets the order in which they’re seen based on severity of symptoms. Because of hospital overcrowding, triage nurses are very busy. When speaking to the nurse, do the following:
1. Be descriptive. Pinpoint your pain’s location and describe it using analogies.
2. Be specific.
3. Be honest. Come clean about every pill you have ingested, even if it is embarrassing.

For the full article.

November 29, 2006

Immunity for FDA-banned drugs?

In April 2004, the FDA banned the diet-supplement Ephedra because of the unreasonable risk it posed to users. The decision to ban came after repeated lawsuits brought against the drug's pharmaceutical manufacturers. By the time the FDA got around to banning the drug, it had been linked to 155 deaths. The Washington Post credited the lawsuits to forcing the change in the way the ephedra companies did business.

If certain Congress members have their way, these influential lawsuits will be nonexistent. The so-called "Commonsense Consumption Act" would limit the liability of food companies and grand immunity to the makers of banned substances such as Ephedra. Without the threat of lawsuits, manufacturers of dangerous supplements will have far less incentive to keep the public safe.

Call your representative and urge them not to support this Act.

November 29, 2006

How to survive your hospital visit series: Before you head to the Emergency Room

As previously mentioned, hospitals can be a dangerous place. MSN Health & Fitness suggests that before heading to the E.R., call your primary-care physician. What you may perceive as being urgent, he may be able to treat in his office. The exception: chest pain – there is nothing an office-based doctor can do to assist in treating a heart attack. Also, if you call your physician and he meets you at the E.R., you will get must faster attention then if you went alone.

For the full article.

November 29, 2006

How to survive your hospital visit series: What to do when you’re still healthy

MSN Health & Fitness recently released an article full of tips on how to leave the hospital healed and not hurt. The tips begin with what to do while you’re still healthy. Although many view hospitals as havens from illness and accidents, hospitals are actually home to bacterial traps and medical and medication malpractice. Medication dosing errors harm 1.5 million patients each year. Infections from hospitals are now the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S.

1. While you’re still healthy, gather all of your medical data. Doctors will need a list of medications you’re taking, your medical history, immunizations, allergies, the name and phone number of your physician, lab reports, and copies of recent EKGs and MRIs. This information can help save critical seconds in a hospital visit.
2. Identify the best hospital. There are many resources available on the internet to help determine which hospital is best to suit your needs.

For the full article.

November 27, 2006

Lawsuit challenges Illinois medical malpractice caps as unconstitutional

A lawsuit filed last week alleges that the Illinois medical malpractice cap on non-economic damages is unconstitutional. The suit involves a Chicago baby who was born with birth injuries caused by a botched labor and delivery. In 2005, the Illinois legislature passed a cap on non-economic damages in Illinois medical malpractice lawsuits rather than leaving that determination up to a jury. Currently, non-economic damages in Illinois medical malpractice lawsuits are limited to $500,000 against individual doctors and $1 million against hospitals.

For the full article.

November 26, 2006

Medicaid patients with cardiac trouble less likely to get recommended levels of care

According to a new study, Medicaid patients are less likely to receive the recommended quality of cardiac care than those with HMOs and private health insurance. Medicaid patients were less likely to receive short term medications and to undergo invasive cardiac procedures. They also had higher in-hospital mortality rates and were less likely to receive recommended discharge care. Differences were fewer and smaller for Medicare patients. It is disheartening to see that the insurance status affects quality of are and clinic outcomes for cardiac patients under age 65.

For the full article.

November 25, 2006

Is surgery needed for disk injuries?

A recent study is suggesting that the answer to that question is “no.” The researchers are reporting that people with ruptured disks in their lower backs usually recover whether or not they have surgery. Patients who had surgery often reported immediate relief, but by 3-6 months, patients in both groups reported marked improvement. An estimated 300,000 Americans have surgery each year to relieve the symptoms, being told that if they delay, they may risk permanent nerve damage or even lose bowel or bnladder control. With the risk of surgical error in disk injury operations, this study is welcome news as patients can avoid unnecessary surgery.

For the full article.

November 24, 2006

Illinois AFL-CIO supports challenge to Illinois’ Medical Malpractice Caps

The Illinois AFL-CIO states that limited medical malpractice compensation places a burden on hard working Illinois families when they’re seeking retribution for medical negligence. The president of the Illinois AFL-CIO stated that workers and their families who suffer permanent physical damage or death because of medical negligence deserve their day in court where a jury of their peers can decide without limitations what the amount of damages should be. They support all efforts to challenge the 2005 Illinois medical malpractice caps.

In 2005, the Illinois legislature passed a cap on non-economic damages in Illinois medical malpractice lawsuits rather than leaving that determination up to a jury. Currently, non-economic damages in Illinois medical malpractice lawsuits are limited to $500,000 against individual doctors and $1 million against hospitals.

November 23, 2006

Public Citizen contends that Silicone gel breast implants are the most defective medical device ever approved by the FDA

Since the fall of 1988, Public Citizen has opposed the use of silicon gel breast implants. After receiving numerous documents from FDA scientists concerned about their safety, Public Citizen petitioned the FDA to ban the implants. The FDA has heightened knowledge about the adverse safety and health information relating to the implants, including the high rates of rupture, the need for repeat surgery, clear evidence of lymph node infiltration, and lymph node damage by leaked silicone. The recent approval makes a mockery of the legal standard requiring a “reasonable assurance of safety.”

Continue reading "Public Citizen contends that Silicone gel breast implants are the most defective medical device ever approved by the FDA" »

November 22, 2006

Surgical error: woman not told of suture needle left in her body

This story of medical malpractice in a surgical error should remind everyone to do their research on their doctors and hospitals before procedures. In April 2004, a 33 year-old woman was admitted to a hospital for surgery to relieve a buildup of fluid around her heart. A doctor performed a pericardial window and removed roughly 500 cc’s of liquid. After the operation, the pains continued. For the next 9 months, the 33 year-old underwent x-rays and finally learned the truth during a heart catheterization. The doctor who was performing the surgery shouted “What the hell is that?” The doctor’s assistant replied “Doctor, that’s a suture needle.”

On the video of the catheterization, the curved needle left during a surgical error is plainly visible. During the 9 months of x-rays, the 33 year-old went to five different hospitals. In each case, the x-rays should have clearly exposed the needle in her chest, but she was never told about it. Everyone hid the truth from her. The 33 year-old continues to live with a surgical needle lodged in her chest because of a surgical error. She urges others to do their research on doctors before going to a hospital for a procedure.

For the full article.

November 22, 2006

2006 Election Analysis: Americans do not support the so-called “tort reform”

Although many corporate lobbyists repeatedly stated that restricting lawsuits through so-called “tort reform” was one of the top concerns of today’s voting public, the results from the 2006 midterm election show just the opposite. For example, Senator Rick Santorum from Pennsylvania campaigned “tort reform” as part of his platform. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent over half a million dollars on ads praising Santorum for his pro-“tort reform” stance. Nevertheless, he lost by no slim margin to his opponent Bob Casey, who opposes “tort reform.” Several other congressional candidates who used attacks on trial lawyers during their election races also were defeated.

Despite the results, the day after the election, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform stated that swing voters demanded restrictions on their rights to bring lawsuits. This is contrary to both CNN's and Gallup’s Top Ten exit polls, which did not even list “litigation reform” as an issue influential in a voter’s decision. In the recent election, our predictions, that Americans really do not want to limit their ability to obtain justice through the legal system, were affirmed.

For the full article.

November 21, 2006

The insurance industry still profiting from high insurance rates and medical malpractice “caps”

An article released by the Center for Justice & Democracy recently reexamined who really wins in “tort reform.” Once again, results show that the insurance companies come out as the major winners. For example, in the period from 2000-2005, net medical malpractice lawsuit claims paid by the 15 leading insurers across the country remained flat, while the net insurance premiums for doctors surged 120%. Insurance companies will continue to profit unless they have strict oversight by insurance commissioners. The article stated that unfortunately, strict oversight is the exception and many state insurance departments do not have authority for aggressive regulation. In Illinois, medical malpractice insurance premiums continue to rise despite the civil justice restrictions that became law.

For the full article.

November 19, 2006

Survey of physician and pharmacist views on health care issues

The Kaiser Family Foundation recently released surveys of physician and pharmacist views on health care issues, including quality issues, prescription drug advertisements, doctors’ willingness to treat patients with government aid, medical errors and medical malpractice, and other health care issues.

To access the surveys.

November 18, 2006

Know your options in Medicare Part D

Are you looking for what options you have during the Medicare Prescription Drug open enrollment period from November 15 to December 31? The Kaiser Family Foundation has released website that includes resources such as state-specific information about benefit plan options, an updated version of the online consumer guide, and an updated fact sheet providing an overview of the benefits. The website was published in response to criticisms that the government-issued Medicare handbook did not provide objective information for consumers.

To access the website.

November 17, 2006

Center for Medicare Advocacy releases Medicare Part D chart

The chart, entitled “Part D By the Numbers,” provides a side-by-side comparison of the 2006 and 2007 Standard benefits, costs, and out of pocket thresholds for Medicare Part D. The open enrollment period is from November 15 to December 31. There were recent criticisms that the government-issued Medicare handbook failed to provide enough information for consumers.

To see the chart.

November 17, 2006

Medical malpractice insurers enjoying the benefits of high premiums

A recent article reported that selling medical malpractice insurance is an extremely profitable business. Last year, medical malpractice insurance companies made more than twice as much as they spent in some states, allowing the state’s largest med-mal insurer to pay it’s CEO about $300,000 per year plus a performance bonus.

The insurance companies continue to benefit from the so-called “tort reform.” Doctors continue to pay the same premiums. Severely injured victims lose the most as they are unable to obtain true justice through the legal system.

For the full article.

November 17, 2006

ATLA demands tighter recalls for medical devices by FDA

Approximately 8,000 new medical devices are marketed in the U.S. each year. The FDA receives approximately 200,000 adverse event reports received by the FDA yearly. Despite these reports, only 1,000 medical devices are recalled each year. Vital life-dependent medical devices are poorly tracked by the FDA and unnecessarily risk patients’ lives every day. The ATLA is seeking to end the disparity and is asking the FDA to be stricter with medical device recalls.

To read the full article.

November 15, 2006

Jury awards family nearly $2 million in wrongful death suit

A jury awarded the family of a man nearly $2 million in damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit for negligent treatment in failure to diagnose a cardiac condition. The man went to the E.R. for treatment of chest pain and numbness in October 2003. A doctor mis-diagnosed him as having a gastroesophageal problem and reassured the man that he had a healthy heart. Again, the hospital acted negligently when the man’s wife called the hospital in November 2003. The man was experiencing similar pains to those he experienced the previous month and the E.R. nurses who answered the call did not tell the woman to bring her husband into the E.R. He died later that day in a death that may have been prevented if the hospital would have properly diagnosed his cardiac condition.

For the full article.

November 15, 2006

Health reform and the midterm election

Last week, several panelists discussed the health issues that were on the forefront in the midterm election and what they may mean for policy in the future. Participants in the panel included a professor from George Washington University, a director of AARP, and a scholar in health care and retirement policy.

To watch the panel or read a transcript.

November 9, 2006

Health-Care industry agrees on set of rules to avoid medical malpractice

Quality groups and government agencies working with the National Quality Forum have recently decided (for the first time) to endorse a single set of 30 “safe practices” that all hospitals should use to prevent patient deaths and injuries. This agreement is in response to the landmark Institute of Medicine report that highlighted that as many as 100,000 patients each year die from medical malpractice.

For the full article.

November 8, 2006

ATLA to host a seminar on litigating injured infant cases

ATLA will be hosting a seminar on litigating catastrophically injured infant cases from February 2-3, 2007. The program will provide an in-depth understanding of the medical issues involved and a practical approach to proving negligence and obtaining damages in birth injury medical malpractice lawsuits.

To register for the Seminar.

November 8, 2006

How to survive your local ER

There are ways to minimize the risks of medical malpractice when you visit an ER and Parade magazine suggests the following:
1. Go to a primary-care physician unless it is an absolute necessity.
2. If you absolutely must go to the ER, time your visit. Mornings are best, except for Monday mornings.
3. For any life-threatening symptoms, call an ambulance. You will typically receive faster treatment when you arrive via ambulance.
4. If you arrive on your own, tell the intake clerk or triage nurse everything.
5. Know who is treating you. If you feel uncomfortable being treated by a junior resident, ask for the chief resident or attending physician.
6. Bring an advocate. Have someone who has a little more composure than you at your time of fright and pain accompany you to the ER. This person can ask questions and make requests on your behalf.
7. Speak up. If you’ve gone hours without being seen by any hospital employee, remind a doctor or nurse.

For the full article.

November 8, 2006

State's birth-injury program may bar entrants

One state has a birth-injury program that provides lifetime medical care beyond what is paid by insurance or other government programs if the infant’s family agrees to give up their right to a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, the program may be halted because of the mounting costs for the 100 children who are currently enrolled in the program. The high cost of the program which was supposed to ease the hospital’s burdens from medical malpractice lawsuits really demonstrates that medical malpractice birth injuries are a compounding problem. Additionally, perhaps now the government will see that the amount of money awarded in birth injury medical malpractice lawsuits needs to be large to address the lifetime of medical treatment the victims will require.

For the full article.

November 8, 2006

America’s emergency rooms: a dangerous place

Despite astonishing technology and armies of skilled physicians who routinely save people who would not have made it a generation ago, America’s emergency rooms are dangerous because there are not enough doctors or technology to go around. A recent Parade magazine article explored why America’s emergency rooms are so dangerous and determined that the main culprit is the chaos in an E.R. The emergency rooms are overburdened and under-funded, treating ever more patients with ever fewer resources.

The hospitals lack beds, but patients keep coming, waits increase, and the opportunity for medical malpractice increases. Emergency rooms are so crowded that 500,000 ambulances every year are diverted to other hospitals.

For the full article.

November 8, 2006

Victim of medical malpractice tells her story

Three decades after her surgeon botched a surgery on her knee, a medical malpractice victim has released a book entitled “Taking a Stand.” The surgery took place in 1977 to correct a bone defect that doctors believed would lead to arthritis. Her surgeon sliced tendons and ligaments behind the knee, which left her unable to walk. Since then, she has endured 10 surgeries. 16 years after her first botched surgery, one of the woman’s doctors finally confessed the truth: that she was a victim of medical malpractice. In 1999, the surgeon who performed the first surgery was found guilty of concealment, fraud, and malpractice in a medical malpractice lawsuit. The victim is currently a patient advocate working in the medical malpractice field.

For the full article.

November 6, 2006

Illinois nursing home to offer rehabilitation services

A nursing home in Edwardsville, Illinois will soon be expanding its services, offering a new line in rehabilitation services. The new services include the use of new electrical stimulation machines that use electrodes to treat and improve muscles suffering from injury, swelling, or atrophy.

To read the full article.

November 6, 2006

Tighter ethical constraints lead scientists to seek other jobs

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) was shocked to discover that many of its scientists had not adhered to the ethical restrictions imposed and were making outside income from private consulting deals with drug and biotechnology companies. NIH put new ethics rules in place after last year’s discovery and now ban all outside income from drug and biotechnology companies. An estimate of 40% of the scientists conducting hands-on research at NIH are now looking for alternative employment. In the enactment of the new rules, officials emphasized that the new ethic rules will boost the agency’s credibility with the public. With pharmaceutical companies attempting to exert influence on both researchers and doctors, NIH will certainly gain integrity by staying far away from such monetary influence.

To read the full article.

November 1, 2006

Persistent nursing home abuse and neglect attributed in death of detective

The 87 year-old retired detective died at a medical center after a series of hospitalizations for large ulcers that covered his body. After enduring a stroke a decade ago, the 87 year-old entered a nursing home. In March 2003, the nursing home began to persistently neglect him, failing to prevent massive bedsores from developing. At one point, the nursing home even put a shoe on the retired detective to hide a foot ulcer! During a stay at a hospital, the 87 year-old also was a victim of medical malpractice when a doctor gave him an overdose of a blood thinner. Because of this medication dosing error, the man had to undergo a blood transfusion. The victim’s daughter is holding the nursing home accountable for its nursing home abuse and neglect and also filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital .

To read the full article.

November 1, 2006

PAMM organizes patient safety demonstration today at 11:30 a.m.

People Against Medical Malpractice (PAMM) has organized a patient safety demonstration in front of Hopkins Howard County General Hospital today at 11:30 a.m. This demonstration is a “Call to Arms” for the public to speak out and demand safer hospitals free from medical malpractice. The citizens will also demand justice and accountability in the courts through medical malpractice lawsuits .

For the full article.