May 30, 2010

Medication Look-Alikes Can Cause Problems in Patients

MSNBC is reporting a case of medication error. This story involves a 62-year-old woman who was supposed to receive one kind of pain medication but instead was given an epilepsy drug. This drug was also administered to her in a dose that was far higher than any doctor would ever recommend. Within days of taking this pill, the woman committed suicide. While this may seem to be a strange reaction to a epilepsy drug, suicidal actions are a known risk of Lacital. An autopsy confirmed that the drug was in her system. This woman’s death is one of more than 5 million wrong-drug errors that occur each year. Oftentimes this occurs because the drugs have similar sounding names. The Institute of Medicine believes that 7,000 people die each year in the U.S. from medication errors.

A report by U.S. Pharmacopeia found that 1,500 drugs have names that are so similar that they are oftentimes confused with one or more medications. Due to these alarming facts, the FDA has launched a “Safe Use Initiative” which is aimed to curb the number of medication errors. The international drugmaker Takeda agreed to change the name of a heartburn drug Kapidex after there were reports that it was being confused with a prostate cancer drug. This is a positive reaction to these reports and other companies will follow suit. To learn more about this medical malpractice study, please check out this link.

About 325,00 medicine errors are serious enough to cause harm to patients. These include long-lasting injury or death. Many of these pharmaceutical errors include bad handwriting, workplace distractions, inexperienced staff and worker shortages. Pharmacy technicians are often involved in these look-alike errors, with almost 38 percent of these workers implicated in initial reports. If you have been a victim of medical error that caused serious injury, please consult a Chicago medical malpractice attorney.

May 26, 2010

Language Barriers Create Medical Errors

The Huffington Post is reporting that a Spanish-speaking patient had the wrong kidney removed during surgery after a clear communication error. This showcases that the medical community has an obvious problem when it comes to communicating with patients who are not fluent in English. There is a need for interpreters not only for major surgery, but all medical communication. Statistics have shown that language is one of the major factors in cases of misdiagnosis and can lead to delays in service. These studies show that patients who have limited English proficiency are almost twice as likely to suffer medical error in U.S. hospitals. This can lead to temporary harm or even death.

These studies prove that the medical system is failing when it comes to addressing the needs of those with limited English skills. Studies show that those individuals with limited English are at a much greater risk for medical error than those who are native to English. Census data shows that over 47 million speak a language that is not English at home. Of that 47 million people, 23 million are considered to be limited English proficient (LEP). There are more than 176 different languages and dialects are spoken across the country. It appears that a qualified medical interpreter is the bridge to saving the lives of LEP patients. Take a look at the medical malpractice study to learn more about these errors.

While interpreters have become commonplace in government entities, courtrooms and classrooms, it is remarkable that hospitals do not have a requirement for translators. In large cities like Chicago, there need to be interpreters in all major hospitals. This would help decrease the kinds of medical error as the study has shown. The independent National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters has launched a program to make certain that there are not only medical interpreters in hospitals, but that they are well versed in medical terminology. If you have been a victim of a medical error caused by a language barrier that led to serious injury, please consult a Chicago medical malpractice attorney to discuss your legal options.

May 24, 2010

Medical Malpractice Suit Claims that Spinal Cord Condition Not Treated in Timely Fashion

The Madison St. Clair Record is reporting that a woman sustained severe and debilitating injuries after a doctor did not attend to her spinal condition in a timely fashion. The medical malpractice lawsuit was filed in Madison County Circuit Court in Illinois. The woman claims that she went to the doctor on October 8, 2009 to receive a physical examination. At this visit, the doctor ordered an MRI of the woman’s lumbar spine. This MRI revealed that the victim was suffering from cauda equine syndrome. This is a syndrome that will cause a significant narrowing of the spinal canal that will compress nerve roots. If this is not treated, it can lead to a permanent loss of bowel and bladder control. It may also lead to paralysis of the legs.

After the doctor learned of this woman’s condition, he negligently failed to admit the victim in to the hospital in a timely fashion. The medical malpractice lawsuit also claims that he failed to conduct spinal surgery in a timely fashion thereby failing to treat her cauda equine syndrome quickly enough. Finally, the medical malpractice lawsuit claims that the doctor should have ordered the MRI on an emergent basis. The medical malpractice lawsuit seeks a judgment of more than $50,000. To read more about this medical error, please check out the link.

Failure to treat a medical condition in a timely manner is a common medical malpractice claim. If a doctor or a healthcare provider delays either your diagnosis or your treatment, he is putting your health at a great risk. A once treatable condition can now escalade into a serious condition. That is why it is imperative that all x-rays and test results are completed in a timely fashion. If you believe that your healthcare provider has committed a medical error by delaying your treatment, please consult a Chicago injury lawyer.

May 22, 2010

Patient Safety Movie Released

The Wall Street Journal is reporting about the release of “Chasing Zero: Winning the War on Healthcare Harm” at the International Forum on Quality and Safety in Health Care. The movie stars actor Dennis Quaid, whose twin children were victims of medical malpractice. In 2007 his newborn twins were accidentally given an overdose of the blood thinner heparin at a hospital in Los Angeles. Thankfully, both children survived and Quinn became a passionate advocate for patient safety. He has appeared on Oprah to raise awareness of the large number of medical mistakes and he discusses different strategies that can prevent them.

Quaid has merged his Quaid Foundation with TMIT, a non-profit research concern run by patient safety expert and physician Charles Denham. This company oversaw the production of the hour-long documentary. After the documentary airs on TV, the company will distribute copies of the movie to all 5,700 hospitals in the U.S. This will hopefully reinforce the importance of adopting safe practices developed by the National Quality Forum. This company develops voluntary safety guidelines for the hospital. The head of the company stated that since there are an estimated 100,000 deaths each year from hospital infections and an estimated 100,000 deaths each year from medical error the message is extremely important.

While talking to Quaid, he stated that his twins are doing well. However, he noted that last week a toddler died from a heparin overdose linked to an infusion pump setting error. This is just one of the many examples of medical error throughout the country. To read more about this groundbreaking movie, please click the link.

May 20, 2010

Illinois Veteran’s Hospital Aims to Lessen Medical Malpractice

The Commercial News is reporting that Illiana Healthcare, a Danville, Illinois Veterans Affairs healthcare system, has changed its level of impatient surgeries it will offer in order to reduce the risk of medical errors and to protect patient safety. Instead of performing intermediate procedures, such as colon resections or joint replacements, the hospital will only perform standard procedures, such as foot surgery or ear, nose and throat surgery. If a veteran has to receive an intermediate surgery, he or she must be transferred to the VA hospital in Indianapolis or another facility. This comes after the VA announced a new initiative to designate which veteran's hospitals will perform certain levels of surgeries. The goal is to perform each surgery under the safest possible conditions at facilities that have the resources to support them. The Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti commend the VA for its efforts to decrease medical error. Learn more about the changes to the Illinois hospital system by clicking on the link.

Despite the efforts to decrease medical errors in VA hospitals, medical malpractice still occurs. The Federal Tort Claims Act governs medical malpractice lawsuits against veteran’s hospitals. Before your Chicago medical malpractice attorney can sue, he or she must make an administrative claim against the hospital for the full damages. Once that administrative claim is filed, the VA only has six months to review and investigate it. Then they are given the choice to accept and pay, settle the claim for less, or reject the medical malpractice claim. The statute of limitations under the FTCA is a standard two years after discovering your medical injury; however you have to factor in the six month timeframe for administrative claims when filing. To learn more about these FTCA claims, please check out this link.

May 16, 2010

Jury Awards Victim $3.5 Million Medical Malpractice Verdict

The Sun is reporting a large medical malpractice verdict involving a woman who lawyers say is now a paraplegic. A 53-year-old victim won a $3.5 million medical malpractice verdict against the two surgeons and their business. The woman had underwent surgery for blocked arteries three years ago and had disastrous results. After the surgery she filed a medical malpractice lawsuit. The jury found the two doctors responsible for the victim’s injuries.

The medical malpractice trial focused on the fact that the doctors used an improper grafting technique. The victim claimed that this medical error led to blood loss and other injuries which included damage to her spinal cord. This left her as a paraplegic and unable to walk. Although she still has some feeling in her legs, she is in constant pain. The medical malpractice verdict has given her some sense of security. She has not been able to resume her lifestyle since the medical error. The jury awarded the victim $1.3 million for noneconomic damages, $2 million for future medical bills, and more than $200,000 for prior bills. As a paraplegic, this victim will experience many future medical bills for ongoing treatment and rehabilitiation.

In cases such as this, noneconomic damages oftentimes include lost wages. The mistakes of medical providers can leave victims unable to return to their normal work life. When this occurs, it is important to seek compensation for lost earnings. If you have experienced lost wages as a result of medical malpractice, consult a Chicago medical malpractice attorney. To read more about this specific medical malpractice case, please click the link.

May 14, 2010

Disciplining Doctors Over Medical Error is Not Occurring Enough

A new report is showing that state medical boards are not living up to their obligations to protect patients from those doctors who are practicing substandard medicine. Although the rate in which states took disciplinary action against doctors rose slightly in 2009, this is still 18 percent lower than the highest rate which occurred 5 years ago. The Public Citizen Press Room is reporting that if the rate stayed constant at the peak rate, there would have been an additional 653 serious disciplinary actions taken against U.S. physicians.

The director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group stated that there is mounting evidence showing that medical boards are under-disciplining physicians who commit medical error. He believes that most states are not living up to their obligations to the general population to protect those patients from doctors who are not practicing safe medicine. It is imperative that serious attention be given to improving how state medical boards hold physicians accountable. To ensure this, legislative action must but pressure on the medical boards. There needs to be legislative oversight of medical boards in order to decrease the amount of medical errors. While Illinois does not land in the states with the worst records of disciplining physicians, it also does not land in the best. They have worked towards improving the amount of disciplinary actions taken. Illinois must make sure that their medical boards are closely watching all medical errors committed by physicians in order to protect patients. To learn more about the medical malpractice study, please click the link.

May 13, 2010

Case Law Update: Damages in Medical Malpractice

Thornton v. Garcini, No. 107028 (4-22-10) affirmed a case stating that expert testimony is not required to prove negligent infliction of emotional distress. Based on personal experience alone, jury could reasonably find that circumstances caused emotional distress, when plaintiff's deceased infant remained partially delivered for one hour ten minutes while plaintiff waited for defendant physician to arrive at hospital. This Illinois case will impact damages in medical malpractice law.

May 12, 2010

Translated Prescriptions Cause Medical Error

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that half of all automated Spanish versions of prescriptions have errors. They base this on a study that found that pharmacies that print prescription labels that translate into Spanish oftentimes have inaccurate or confusing instructions. These prescription errors can be potentially hazardous to a patient’s health. These researchers looked at over 70 medicine labels to come to the conclusion that the margin of error on translated prescriptions is 50 percent.

One example is that an anemic patient was placed on iron supplements. It was discovered after the patient had no improved iron levels that he had only been taking one drop of the supplement instead of the amount the doctor had prescribed. The patient was not taking the right amount because he was confused by the prescription instructions. One common problem in translated prescriptions is that once in Spanish means eleven. It can cause great problems when a prescription says take once a day, and a patient takes 11. Another problem is that English prescription instructions are not standardized. Since the same instructions can be written in multiple ways, it is difficult to translate every word to match the doctor’s wishes. These medical errors take place in Chicago pharmacies and hospitals throughout the city’s Spanish speaking neighborhoods.

These problems highlight why doctors and pharmacists need to go over all instructions with their patient’s to explain to them what doses and drugs need to be ingested. To read more about the medical error study, please click the link.

May 11, 2010

Case Law Update: Motions in Limine in Medical Malpractice

Pavnica v. Veguilla (No. 3-09-0065) is a third district case which affirmed that a medical malpractice action filed against two ER physicians, claiming negligence in their choice of certain antibiotic to treat toe infection of diabetic patient; verdict for Defendants. Defendants' experts refuted Plaintiff's experts as to standard of care and causation, thus evidence did not so overwhelmingly favor Plaintiffs that jury verdict cannot stand. Court properly denied motion in limine which sought to exclude physicians' testimony as to their military service. Even though military service as physician in Iraq occurred after his treatment of Plaintiff, it was experience relevant to his qualification as expert at trial; and reference to military service was limited, and nature and timing of service was described. This Illinois case will impact medical malpractice law.

May 11, 2010

Case Law Update: Expert Evidence in Medical Malpractice

Hardy v. Codero, No. 3-09-0109 (4-8-10) affirmed a medical malpractice case against oncology nurse, as to administration of IV chemotherapy, proceeded to jury trial 10 months after filing, with verdict for Defendant. Defendant nurse's testimony refuted Plaintiff's expert's assertion as to breach of standard of care, thus question of fact to be resolved by jury, rather than directed verdict or judgment n.o.v. Not error for court to have excluded testimony of occurrence witness nurse as to what she personally would have done. This Illinois case will affect medical malpractice law.

May 10, 2010

Report Questions Whether the Employment of Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners Increase Liability

The Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants is reporting that a report has been gathered to assess whether physician assistant and nurse practitioner utilization increases liability. This study comprises of 17 years of data that was used to compare and contrast malpractice incidence, payment amount and other measurers of liability among doctors, Pas and advance practice nurses.

Most of this study concerns liability in comparison to salary. There was a significant differences were found in liability reports among doctors, PAs and APNs. While physicians made malpractice payments double that of PAs, their payments were less than that of APNs. No matter the level of medical malpractice payment, missed diagnosis was the leading reson for the malpractice report. It was also reported that female providers incurred higher payments than males. A trend analysis found in the study shows that the rate of malpractice payments for physicians, Pas and APNs has been steady and consistent with the growth of the number of providers.

The ending conclusion of the study is that the incorporation of Pas and APNs into American society has been a safe and beneficial undertaking when compared with that of doctors. It is obvious that the more employees that are in a hospital, the less medical errors are made. The chances of paying a medical malpractice award was 1 in 62 physicians and yet 1 in 563 for PAs. This leads to a medical malpractice risk for PAs to less than 9.1 times the risk for physicians. To learn more about this medical malpractice study, please click the link.

May 8, 2010

Ex-Dolphin football Star Wins $11.5 Million in Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

The New York Times is reporting that a jury has awarded former Dolphins player O.J. McDuffie a $11.5 million medical malpractice verdict. This medical error was committed by a prominent physician and ended the football player’s career. The medical malpractice trial lasted for 2.5 weeks and discussed the career-ending toe injury. The doctor was a former Miami Dolphins team doctor.

The medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that there was negligence and malpractice after the football player received treatment for his toe injury. This injury was originally suffered in 1999. The Dolphins doctor had told the player that he could continue to play football despite MRIs that said the toe had tendon damage. He also had several other medical malpractice settlements with other doctors. To read more about the medical malpractice verdict, please click the link.

When people become victims of medical malpractice, they are entitled to receive compensation for future medical care and pain and suffering. These medical malpractice victims are also entitled to receive compensation for lost wages that they may have incurred due to the medical malpractice. This verdict reflects that lost wages can vary from patient to patient. Since this medical malpractice victim was an NFL football player, he was entitled to larger wages, which made his medical malpractice verdict quite high. The jury had awarded the player $10 million of lost earnings. McDuffie was a first-round draft pick with a sizable professional career. If you have been a victim of medical error, please consult a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer.

May 6, 2010

Family Awarded $18 Million in Cerebral Palsy Medical Malpractice Case

NJ.com is reporting that a family has been awarded an 18.5 million medical malpractice verdict against a hospital and an obstetrician. The medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that he doctors were not quick enough to perform an emergency C-Section on the boy in 1998. This then resulted in birth delay which caused the victim’s cerebral palsy. Medical experts testified that if this baby had been delivered just eight minutes earlier, he would not have been inflicted with cerebral palsy. This small timeframe resulted in a medical error that is going to change this young boy’s life forever.

The boy’s mother also had a legal suit against the doctor and hospital, but unfortunately she died from unrelated causes six years ago. The medical malpractice lawsuit will help take care of the victim for the rest of his life. His new adopted mother is pleased with the medical malpractice verdict. The jury deliberated for two days before handing down the verdict. The boy is now 12 years old. He will need extra care to help with his cerebral palsy.

When physicians fail to perform c-sections in a timely manner, birth injuries can occur. One possible birth injury is cerebral palsy, which the person will suffer from for life. Cerebral Palsy is an encompassing term that groups disorders that appear during the first few years of a baby’s life. It affects a child’s muscle systems and leaves them either weak and floppy or rigid and stiff. If your child is a victim of cerebral palsy, please consult a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer.

May 6, 2010

Couple is awarded $1.5 million in Medical Malpractice Case

Cleveland.com is reporting a $1.5 million medical malpractice jury verdict awarded to the victim of medical malpractice and his wife in a case against two doctors. The couple has been waiting for more than two years to receive the justice they so rightly deserved in this case. The jury found that the doctors committed medical malpractice when they botched the victim’s bone marrow biopsy. During the procedure, the physician nicked the victim’s nerve and an artery in his hip. This medical error went unnoticed for five days when another surgeon had to remove two softball-sized hematomas from the man’s hip and pelvis. A fellow doctor was called two days after the procedure, but he did not to examine the victim. As a result, the man lost the use of his right leg below his knee. The medical error has also caused him chronic pain. To read more about this medical malpractice case, please click the link.

Trauma is the most common cause of a hematoma. They usually occur after car accidents and head injuries. When a blood vessel is damaged, blood leaks into the surround tissue. This man did not endure a trauma so to say, but the medical error caused the blood vessel damage. There are many complications of hemotoma, including a risk of infection. Doctors must be sure to adequately conduct medical procedures so as to avoid such drastic results. Also, doctors must acknowledge mistakes and act upon them quickly. In this case, if the doctor had examined the patient quickly after the procedure, the man may have the use of his leg. Instead, these problems went unnoticed for another three days. If the medical error was spotted early, less damage would have occurred. If you believe that you have been the victim of a surgical error, please consult a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer.

May 4, 2010

Case Law Update: Medical Malpractice Damages

Happel v. Walmart Stores, Inc., No. 07-2264 (4-19-10) found that the plaintiffs were entitled to new trial on damages in action alleging negligence and loss of society under circumstances where defendant-pharmacy knowingly filled prescription of medication to which it knew that plaintiff-wife was allergic since Dist. Ct. gave jury form that provided only single line for jury to make $465,000 verdict in favor of both plaintiffs. Verdict form should have contained separate lines to distinguish damage awards for plaintiff-husband's loss of society claim, as well as wife's negligence claim. Error was not harmless where: (1) Dist. Ct. was required to offset jury award with $150,000 settlement from wife's primary physician: and (2) full off set was not appropriate since record did not indicate that jury assessed wife's and husband's claims at more than $75,000 each. This seventh circuit case will have an impact on medical malpractice cases.

May 3, 2010

Electronic Medical Orders May Reduce Medical Malpractice

The Washington Post is reporting that a California children’s hospital has found evidence that their electronic communication system may decrease the number of patient fatalities. The hospital introduced the system in 2007 and since has seen a 20-percent drop in the mortality rate of their patients. This equates to less than 36 fewer deaths over a year and a half. The lead doctor has stated that this is the lowest rate of decreased medical errors in a children’s hospital. A 1999 Institute of Medicine report stated that medical errors were responsible for 98,000 deaths per year in the United States. Since this study, many hospitals have introduced so-called computerized physician order entry to lower the number of preventable medical errors and protect patient safety and well-being.

These systems will allow doctors to relay the prescriptions of the patients to the pharmacists without delay. This also helps with the problem of a pharmacist’s inability to decipher doctors’ scrawl, thereby helping to reduce the likeliness of medication errors While many hospitals have been using this new system, this was the first study that was able to show an actual decrease in medical errors. The hospital is showing that the average mortality rate has dropped more than one death per 100 hospital with the introduction of the electronic medical errors. The Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti support any new technologies that can help to prevent or decrease medical error. In addition to helping to reduce the occurrence of medical malpractice, the system may also help to save patients' lives. President Obama has called for a rapid implementation of the electronic system. To read more about the electronic medical system, please click the link.

May 1, 2010

Chicago Doctor Continues to Practice after Being Accused of Rape

A 19-year-old went to Chicago’s Kennedy Medical Service Corporation for what she believed was a routine pelvic disease diagnosis. However, according to her recent medical malpractice lawsuit, she was raped by her physician while her legs were in stirrups. The Chicago Tribune is reporting that the young victim broke down crying to nurse, who immediately called the police. She then went to South Shore Hospital to have a rape exam performed. She provided the police officers with a narrative of the rape. These officers later shared this testimony with the state agency responsible for licensing doctors.

According to the report, the victim felt violated by a person she believed she could trust. Testifying during a 2008 state hearing she stated that she hopes this never happens to someone she loves. However, this victim is not the only one. Two more of the doctor’s patients would claim he raped them and four others claimed sexual misconduct to law enforcement or the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. It took all seven complaints for someone to take action against these egregious interactions.

Many are alarmed at the gross negligence of the Illinois licensing board in the delay it took to punish the doctor. It took seven years after the first complaint was filed for them to seek any disciplinary action. Still there was another two years before the doctor was actually punished, leaving him able to practice medicine for nine years. It is unclear as to how many women were victims of sexual medical malpractice during that timeframe. He was finally disciplined for “unprofessional and immoral conduct.” In order to protect patients, it is essential for medical licensing boards to take quicker action to ensure that negligent and harmful physicians are not allowed to continue to practice if they have committed harms against patients. Action should be take to prevent providers from continuing to practice, thereby lessening the risk of further malpractice. To read more about this Chicago medical malpractice lawsuit, please click the link.