August 31, 2010

Doctor Inserts Unnecessary Stents Into Patients' Bodies


Last year, St. Joseph Medical Center, located outside of Baltimore, sent a letter to nearly 600 former patients letting them know that stents that were inserted into their arteries by cardiologist Mark Midei were unnecessary. The letter suggested that they should go see a doctor to check on the status of the stents to determine the effect of the unneeded medical device on their body.

However, according the Baltimore Sun, now that hospitals officials realize that they are likely going to have to pay for the damages caused by these medical mistakes, they are refusing to admit that their error caused patients any damage.

Stents are small mesh tubes that help open clogged arteries to restore blood flow. They are also intended to help prevent the artery from bursting. Any patient who has been forced to undergo the medical procedure to have the stent inserted is likely to confess that it was an experience that they would otherwise not have wanted. Besides the emotional toll that these medical issues always take on individuals, many patients are also required to spend over $2,800 a year in annual blood-thinning drugs following the insertion. All patients with stents also have an increased risk of sudden blood clotting among other complications.

Mark Midei, the doctor charged with starting all of these problems by inserting the unnecessary stents was ultimately found to have altered information in some patients’ medical files. For example, in one case tests revealed that a certain patient had 40% blockage in their heart artery, but the doctor wrote in the medical file that the patient had an 80% obstruction and was in need of a stent. Money was the likely motivation for the negligent doctor. The more procedures he performed, the more money he earned—almost $1.3 million last year alone.

Instead of owning up to the mistakes and providing patients with the necessary costs for what they endured, the hospitals officials and their lawyers are dragging out the process. It is exactly for that reason that it is important to contact an attorney any time you feel you have been the victim of a hospital error. Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti have decades of experience fighting on your behalf against negligent doctors and hospitals. These legal battles require experience, legal skill, and persistence—something our attorneys possess in unlimited quantities.

August 31, 2010

Doctor Inserted Unnecessarily Stents In Patient Hearts


Last year the St. Joseph Medical Center sent a letter to nearly 600 former patients letting them know that stents that were inserted into their arteries by cardiologist Mark Midei were unnecessary. The letter suggested that they should go see a doctor to check on the status of the stents to determine the effect of the unneeded medical device on their body.

However, according the Baltimore Sun, now that hospitals officials realize that they are likely going to have to pay for the damages caused by these medical mistakes, they are refusing to admit that their error caused patients any damage.

Stents are small mesh tubes that help open clogged arteries to restore blood flow. They are also intended to help prevent the artery from bursting. Any patient who has been forced to undergo the medical procedure to have the stent inserted is likely to confess that it was an experience that they would otherwise not have wanted. Besides the emotional toll that these medical issues always take on individuals, many patients are also required to spend over $2,800 a year in annual blood-thinning drugs following the insertion. All patients with stents also have an increased risk of sudden blood clotting among other complications.

Mark Midei, the doctor charged with starting all of these problems by inserting the unnecessary stents was ultimately found to have altered information in some patients’ medical files. For example, in one case tests revealed that a certain patient had 40% blockage in their heart artery, but the doctor wrote in the medical file that the patient had an 80% obstruction and was in need of a stent. Money was the likely motivation for the negligent doctor. The more procedures he performed, the more money he earned—almost $1.3 million last year alone.

Instead of owning up to the mistakes and providing patients with the necessary costs for what they endured, the hospitals officials and their lawyers are dragging out the process. It is exactly for that reason that it is important to contact an attorney any time you feel you have been the victim of a hospital error. Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti have decades of experience fighting on your behalf against negligent doctors and hospitals. These legal battles require experience, legal skill, and persistence—something our attorneys possess in unlimited quantities.

August 30, 2010

Baby Dies After Alcohol Injected Into His Heart


A heartbreaking story about a medical error that took the life of a 7-month old baby is being reported at KTLA News.

Tressel was the only child for Emilie and Scott Meinardi. Since birth, Tressel had heart issues; however, they knew that with surgery, the issues could be corrected. Last week the scheduled surgery date finally arrived, and the family headed to Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital for the operation.

Tragically, Tressel would not make it out of the facility.

In the middle of the procedure, a technician made a terrible medical mistake. During the open-heart surgery, instead of flushing the baby’s system with saline, the medical staff member used alcohol. Of course, sending alcohol into the fragile baby’s body instead of the sterile saline solution had devastating effects on the child, eventually leading to Tressel’s death.

The medical error is similar to the one we reported on last week involving the baby who was accidentally given morphine. In addition we wrote recently about the problem with hospital tube manufacturing that makes these types of mistakes all too common. Hospitals, doctors, and manufacturers of these devices need to take a close look at these errors, understand exactly how to prevent them in the future, and ensure that no other patient falls victim.

Words cannot describe the devastation that family and friends suffer upon learning that a medical mistake took the life of their loved one—the pain is only compounded when an innocent child is lost. Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti have worked with families involved in these tragedies for decades. We offer sincere condolences to all those sufferings from this hospital mistake.

August 29, 2010

Drug Trials May Make Patients Worse


A New York Times article recently discussed an important issue is medical experimentation—what to do when new medical trials don’t work. Headlines are often littered with news of medical breakthroughs and new drugs that are supposed to help patients deal with previously untreatable problems. However, before reaching those important milestones, potential new treatments must go through various trial stages to test their usefulness.

Entire businesses have developed around finding patients to enroll in clinical trials for new drugs. Many patients and their families are very eager to join these projects, willing to do whatever it takes to find cures for their ailments. But hidden behind the glamor of new medical cures is the reality that many of these trials simply do not work. In fact, at times the new test drugs actually make patients worse.

Last week Eli Lilly, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, announced that it was halting two trials on what was previously a promising Alzheimer’s drug. Not only were the trial drugs not improving the test patients—it was actually making their condition worse. This is disappointing news and a sobering reminder of the risks associated with these new drug tests. It is extremely important for all patients who agree to take part in these trials to understand the potential for harm that exists any time medical professionals venture into uncharted waters.

These medical trials are important and necessary steps in improving the quality of healthcare. However, patients need to be fully informed about what they are getting into with these tests. Informed consent in this context should be the same as with any other medical procedure. Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti have fought for many victims of medical errors who did not give informed consent before the procedure that led to their harm. We fully support the same rights for those involved in medical drug trials.

August 28, 2010

Veterans Affairs Hospital Fined for Medical Errors


We have previous posted the news of radiation violations which affected thousands of patients at Veterans Affairs hospitals across the country. Last week, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission finished its investigation into the incidents, and ultimately decided to fine the Department of Veterans Affairs $39,000 for the medical mistakes.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the fine was levied after radiation safety violations were uncovered at 12 VA hospitals. This particular fine resulted for two separate incidents connected to the Department’s brachytherapy program. Brachytherapy is essentially the use of radiation to attack tumors in the body. It involves implanting dozens of radioactive seeds into certain glands in an effort to kill cancer cells over a period of months.

Radiation treatment obviously poses unique risks to those who need it. Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys have fought for many patients who have suffered at the hands of radiation errors in various forms. The risk of mistakes in radiation is high, so obviously extreme care should always be used by medical professionals. However, The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission discovered that the VA failed to have any pre-operative procedures in place and failed to notify patients of errors following a failed procedure.

This is not the first punishment handed out to the Department for problematic radiation medical care. Earlier this year, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission hit the VA with a $227,500 fine after it was discovered that residents received incorrect doses of radiation over a six year period as part of their prostate brachytherapy treatment.

The repeated issues connected to the brachytherapy treatment vividly demonstrate that problems existed right from the start of the program, and doctors repeatedly failed to fix them. The medical mistakes affecting hundreds of our nation’s veterans have been noticed by many concerned with proper patient care. As Congressman John Adler argued, “The NRC has found widespread medical misconduct throughout the VA’s brachytherapy program. It is time the VA acknowledges and fixes their mistakes.”

August 27, 2010

New Study Suggest Doctors Overexposing Patients to Radiation


The New York Times discussed a pair of studies that were recently released by the journal “Radiology.” The research suggests that physicians should take a new approach to limiting the exposure of patients to potentially dangerous doses of radiation during screenings for breast exams.

It is common knowledge that radiation can be harmful in large doses. Of course patients are exposed to lower levels of it during routine testing—x-rays and ultrasounds being some of the most common. However, problems arise when more complex testing is used that involves increased exposure to radiation. In particular, a few nuclear-based breast imaging tests used to screen for breast cancer involve injection of large amounts of radioactive material in patient bodies. These tests—known as breast-specific gamma imaging and positron emission mammography—are supposed to compliment regular tests but are often used liberally. They offer much more radiation exposure than regular mammograms. Specifically, experts believe that just one of these exams exposes a patient to the same radiation as the total they would get from a lifetime of yearly mammograms.

The radiation exposure ultimately increases some patients’ risk of getting other cancers, like those in the kidney and bladder. The risk for some patients of getting these cancers may be 30 to 40 times greater with the high exposure tests compared to the regular tests. Considering the side effects, the Radiology study indicated that it would be wise for physicians to more fully consider whether the test is actually necessary before ordering it.

Unfortunately changes are slow-going. Asa Mayo Clinic researcher noted, “This is something that isn’t well understood, not just by the public but by physicians who order the tests.” Physicist R. Edward Hendrick explained that this is caused by a misconception among doctors that all of these tests have similar radiation exposures, even though that is unequivocally wrong.

While exposing patients to the risks of excessive radiation is sometimes unavoidable, doctors need to do a better job of fully understanding the risk of the test before administering it. Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti have watched as doctors have refused to consider the risks of certain medical decisions that ultimately injure and kill innocent patients. We encourage all patients to pay close attention to each facet of their medical care to ensure that it is meeting the standards to which they are entitled.

August 26, 2010

Illinois Advocacy Groups Speaks Out For Patient Rights


The Morris Daily Herald recently posted a series of letters from advocates discussing the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision that found arbitrary caps of damage awards in certain lawsuits to be an unconstitutional abuse of the state legislative power. The state Supreme Court in that recent high-profile case, Abigaile Lebron v. Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, found that a small girl could not be limited in her damage recovery following a medical error that caused devastating injuries.

Travis Akin, executive director of the group Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch (I-LAW) published an article attacking the judges on the Illinois Supreme Court who made the decision. In criticizing the judges he postulated that they have “potentially reopened the floodgates, causing Illinoisans to worry if their doctors will be there when they need them.”

In response to Akin’s position, leaders of the largest public interest organization in Illinois, Citizen Action, wrote into the publication to express support for the state judges and to counter Akin’s misleading statements. As the group points out, far from being “activists"—basing new legal decisions off personal policy preferences—the 4 justices in the majority in the Lebron decision were following a long line of legal precedent dating back thirty five years. The legal principle separating the functions of the legislative branch of the state government and the judicial branch are well-established and important parts of the legal tradition. The law overturned in the case is simply not in compliance with the Constitution created by our state delegates and voted in by the public. We cannot allow one of the three co-equal governing branches infringe on the powers of the other.

Besides the foundational misunderstanding, Citizen Action also pointed out the quantitative evidence which undermines Akin’s position. Far from re-opening so-called “floodgates” of lawsuits, the striking down of the law is unlikely to have any effect other than preserving fairness in the justice system. Before the arbitrary cap was put into place in the state, medical malpractice lawsuits were actually decreasing.

Finally, Citizen Action mentioned the one group often forgotten in talks about medical malpractice—insurance companies. Unlike the unconstitutional law recently struck down by the state high court, a 2005 law that finally required insurance reform has been shown to be working exactly as intended. The law shone light on the rate-setting and payout figures of these companies, which spurred competition and lowered premiums.

Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti understand the emotions involved in the debate about medical malpractice caps. However, our decades of experience fighting for victims of medical errors has made clear that the real danger is not in driving away qualified doctors, but in insulating negligent doctors from taking responsibility for their mistakes. The justice system’s role in helping victims of those mistakes should never be limited by arbitrary legislative actions.

August 25, 2010

Infant Given Morphine By Hospital—More Details Emerge


Last week we reported on a particularly troubling medical error, where a newborn baby was mistakenly given a dose of morphine by negligent medical professionals. Good Morning America did a segment on the incident yesterday that explains more about the near-fatal hospital mistake.

Jessica Blischke had just delivered triplets, all girls, when her doctors prescribed her morphine to help her recover from the painful C-section surgery. However, a nurse mistakenly mixed up the IV lines with that of one of her just-born daughters, Taylee. In an instant the infant received a dose of the powerful opiate 400 times more potent than is usually given to a child her size. As a result, Taylee stopped breathing, going slack and becoming blue in the face while her mother was holding her. Doctors were able to revive the newborn, and she clung to life on a breathing tube.

The medical professionals were befuddled as to the cause of Taylee’s condition, until they finally performed tests which revealed the opiates in the child’s system. However, instead of considering whether a hospital error had caused the problem, officials instead pointed the finger at Jessica. Medical staff assumed that Jessica must have been taking drugs, with the morphine entering Taylee’s system through her breast milk. Doctors may never have believed Jessica’s repeated denials, except for the fact that the other two infants (also breast fed) had no traces of drugs in their system.

Eventually the truth was revealed. The nurse who made the error was overworking—making the mistake at the end of a 12- hour shift.

Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti continue to be saddened by the thousands of families who are forced to endure the heartache of these medical errors. Luckily, doctors were able to save Taylee’s life following the incident. Almost 100,000 patients each year are not so lucky and die from these mistakes. There is simply no excuse for medical professionals to destroy lives in that way. Please contact a medical malpractice lawyer if you have suffered from a similar mistake.

August 24, 2010

Medical Tube Mix-Ups Affect Hundreds of Patients Each Year


The New York Times published an eye-opening story last weekend on an all-too-common medical device error that continues to injure and kill hundreds of patients in hospitals across the country each year. The problem involves medical tubes. Many patients have several tubes used throughout a single stay at a hospital. Each tube has a unique function, delivering certain things into the body of the patients—some into a patient’s nose others through a vein, arteries, the stomach or even lungs. Different fluids, medicine, blood, or nutrition are delivered through these tubes directly to the appropriate part of the body. If a mix-up occurs, however, and a substance is delivered into the wrong tube and the wrong part of the body, the results are often deadly. The similarity between the tubes makes the problem a common medical error

The mistakes ultimately take a variety of forms. In one example, a twenty four year old mother and her unborn child were killed when a nurse accidentally placed a liquid food bag directly into the vein instead of into the stomach through the nose. In another case, a spinal anesthetic was accidentally slipped into a vein, killing the sixteen year told patient.

Even though the problem continues, little is being done to correct it. The manufacturers of the tubes, hospitals, and medical regulators all claim that one of the others is responsible for the problem. Accountability is few and far between. The medical device industry has been reluctant to make any changes. The industry is unlikely to make design changes to improve safety unless the regulators force these makers of medical devices to improve their safety.

However, U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval processes are often slow, adversely affecting safety-related changes. Dr. Robert Smith, a former F.D.A. device reviewer explained that the “F.D.A. could fix this tubing problem tomorrow, but because the agency is so worried about making [the] industry happy, people continue to die.”

These mistakes represent egregious breaches of basic care that should never claim another innocent life. Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti will continue to advocate for the rights of those affected by these medical errors until the appropriate steps are taken to ensure that no future patient falls victim. We have personally fought for many victims of mistakes made with medical devices. Even one error is too many when simple prevention steps could eliminate the problem entirely.

Please click here to read more about this alarming medical malpractice problem.

August 23, 2010

Illinois Patients Lose Ability to Check Doctor History


The Chicago Tribune reported last night on a troubling new development in Illinois that will keep patients from accessing important information about their doctor. This development is another step backward in open, honest medical care—it is another blow to all those interested in patient safety.

For two years, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation maintained online profiles of all doctors in the state. The profiles contained detailed information about the healthcare providers’ career to help patients when they were making choices about who to seek for care. The information also listed crime convictions, hospital firings, and medical malpractice payments that affected each doctor as part of the open information provided to patients. These profiles were very popular in the state, receiving over 130,000 clicks per week. Clearly Illinois consumers were finding the information extremely valuable.

However, as of this week, Illinois patients no longer have access to the profiles.

The open information was a casualty of legislative maneuvering in Springfield, where state legislators had initially passed the bill which required the profiles be made available. The Illinois State Medical Society is the lobbying organization for Illinois doctors, and the group has pushed to ensure that the profile stay locked up and hidden from Illinois patients.

A bill has been introduced which will return the profiles, but it is unclear if the General Assembly will take action on the legislation. Considering the political influence exerted by the Illinois State Medical Society, legislation which seeks openness for patients is often difficult to turn into law.

As of now, the information that patients can access on their doctors is limited. Even blatant doctor misconduct cannot be found on these doctors’ public profiles. For example, the Chicago-area surgeon Nercy Jafari was found guilty of sexually abusing a patient in his care. For the last two years, if a potential patient of Dr. Jafari had checked at the online registry they would have learned that information. But now the doctor’s conviction is kept hidden.

Todd Smith, president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association confessed, “That anyone would want to keep that information from the citizens of Illinois is appalling to me. Patients deserve to know whether their doctor poses any dangers to them.”

All medical patients deserve truth and honesty in the care they receive. That begins by allowing medical care consumers the option of knowing basic information about the physician that they are entrusting with their life. That is why our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti support all measure that help patients make more fully informed medical decisions. The costs of medical errors are simply too high. Patients deserve to know if their doctor has a history of these mistakes or misjudgments.

August 22, 2010

Doctor Fails to Diagnose Brain Hemorrhage That Kills 20 Year-Old


A medical malpractice lawsuit was filed recently after a terrible medical mistake led to the sudden death of a young 20 year old woman.

As reported in the Mankato Free Press, Elizabeth Moen was 19 years old when she made her first trip to a local clinic in late January 2008. Elizabeth was admitted to the hospital following the visit after reporting severe headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, and stiffness in her neck. These are all common symptoms of subarachnoid hemorrhage. According to Medline Plus, these hemorrhages involve bleeding between the brain and the tissues surrounding it.

However, regardless of the symptoms, the doctor at the clinic failed to test for the hemorrhage and instead diagnosed Elizabeth with migraine headaches. After leaving the hospital, Elizabeth went to visit the doctor again after continuing to suffer from the same problems. The doctor’s solution was more pain medication. At no point did the health care professional order follow up visits or warn Elizabeth that anything other than migraines could have been involved in her health issue.

Eventually, about three weeks after her first visit, Elizabeth was back in the hospitals after her headaches had increased in severity and involved convulsions. It was only then that a CT scan was performed revealing a brain hemorrhage. She was airlifted to a hospital to attempt emergency procedures, but it was too late to save her. She was pronounced dead, and was kept alive for a short time so her organs could be donated.

Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti are intimately aware of the many medical mistakes made in cases like Elizabeth’s. The doctors failed to diagnose the obvious hemorrhage symptoms, failed to perform any tests that would have shown the problem, and did not even ask Elizabeth about a history of migraines before erroneously concluding that she had them. No family should have to suffer the tragedy that the Moens endured in losing their daughter. If you suspect that you or someone you know suffered a similar loss that could have been prevented, please contact our medical malpractice attorneys today and learn about your rights.

August 21, 2010

Patient Dies After Falling Off Surgical Table


Medical malpractice lawsuits often involve complex medical errors that would be difficult for any non-professional to sort through. That is why expert medical professionals are often used as witnesses in these cases to help explain what the negligent doctor did compared to what the reasonable doctor would have done in any situation. The nuance and complexity of these cases is an important reason to seek out experienced medical malpractice attorneys, like ours at Levin & Perconti, to help navigate the confusing legal and medical processes. Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers have decades of experience developing relationships with experts across the country and understanding what care patients should have received in various medical situations.

However, sometimes a case comes along that is an obvious example of a hospital mistake even to someone with no medical training. Of course, the healthcare provider often refuses to admit the mistake and so victims must still use the legal system to seek some redress for the error.

A particularly troubling example of this gross medical malpractice was discussed last month by KARE 11. Max DeVries was 61-years old when he went into the St. Joseph’s Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota to undergo what was supposed to be a routine procedure to drain fluid from his back. A few weeks earlier Mr. DeVries had suffered a stroke and had part of his skill removed to reduce brain swelling. The back fluid was a byproduct of the brain swelling.

The beginning preparatory stages of the surgery proceeded as planned. Mr. DeVries was put into a gurney and slowly administered the appropriate anesthesia. However, laying limp in the surgery room, just before doctors were about to begin the process, he was allowed to roll off the bed and hit the hard tile of the floor. As a result of the fall, Mr. DeVries suffered massive bleeding of the head. He went into a coma-like state shortly after and died a month later.

This egregious example of hospital negligence is a prime example of how much patients are forced to depend on medical professionals in these critical surgical times. Mr. DeVries was under total anesthesia, unable to use or protect his body in any way. Hospital failure to ensure his physical safety in that setting is totally inexcusable.

August 20, 2010

Medical Mistakes Cause 32 Deaths in Oregon Last Year


A medical study was released this week which again emphasized the need to improve patient care at hospitals across the county. As reported in Oregon Live, an analysis of self-reporting by the state’s Patient Safety Commission recently identified thirty two patients who died in their hospitals last year alone due to preventable medical errors. These represent thirty two individuals with an extended network of suffering family and friends who all would have been spared extreme heartache and pain if only the hospitals they visited would have given them the basic standard of care they deserved.

A closer look at the medical errors in the report indicates even more troubling news. On nine different occasions a surgeon operated on the wrong body or the wrong patient. Twenty one times doctors performing surgery left physical objects inside the patient after the procedure. These two types of medical errors in particular represent an egregious failing of the medical professional to provide even the most basic components of proper medical care.

Simple safety checks would eliminate these types of mistakes completely. However, the problems persist. For example, the number of surgeries where doctors leave objects in the body has remained steady for nearly the last eight years. The head of the commission that issued the report noted, “There is no indication that it’s [the mistake rate] going down, which is frustrating. Oregon is not unique there. It’s a stubborn problem.”

The records indicate that these numbers of medical mistakes are about equal to the national average based on percentage of patient load. That means that the number of these mistakes increase dramatically in states with bigger populations, like Illinois.

On top of that, the numbers released in this study are likely to be far lower than the true number of preventable medical errors, because the study represents only the mistakes admitting openly by the hospital. A neutral outside analysis of medical mistakes virtually always finds more problems than are self-reported. For example, while hospitals in the state admitted nine hospital borne infections last year, a neutral state commission found seventy five infections. That means that the hospitals themselves reported only one in every eight mistakes.

Decades of experiences in legal battles fighting for patient rights have made clear to our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti that hospitals will refuse to admit their problems or provide a legal remedy to patients that they injure. Because of that, the only way to truly hold hospitals accountable for their medical mistakes is to utilize every legal step available to force negligent professionals to recognize their substandard care.

August 19, 2010

Newborn Baby Accidentally Given Morphine


Justice News Flash is reporting on a recent egregious medical mistake out of Mission Viejo, California.

Jessica Blischke gave birth to premature triplets in a Caesarean section pregnancy at a local hospital in early April last year. To ease her physical pain following the complex pregnancy, Blischke was prescribed morphine. However, for reasons still unclear, the medical professionals somehow switched Blischke’s IV with the IV of one of her newly born infants, Taylee. Instead of the mother receiving the strong pain medication, 4 milligrams of morphine were actually deposited into the veins of the premature infant. Taylee’s heartbeat immediately dropped to dangerous levels following the medical error. Doctor’s were forced to rush to incubate her so that her body could return to normal breathing levels.

Following the incident doctors were clueless as to the cause of Taylee’s sudden heartbeat drop. Tests were performed which revealed the presence of opiates in the newborn’s system, but that still was not enough to convince the doctor that a mistake had been made. In fact, the local doctor had the gall to suggest that Blischke herself must have done something to the newborn to create the problem.

Eventually the truth was revealed when the opiate levels in Taylee’s body were compared to that of her two sisters—each of whom had no opiates at all.

The state department of health eventually fined the hospital $50,000 when they became aware of the mistake. Blischke has also retained counsel and has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital.

Medical errors that affect newborn children are often the most emotional and costly mistakes a healthcare provider makes. Young children are the most helpless patients in any hospital—they cannot ask questions and are entirely dependent on the medical professional to receive proper care. Also, their bodies are less developed and therefore more prone to complications following medical errors. No medical mistake that harms a newborn should be tolerated.

Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti have decades of experience helping the families of newborns protect their legal rights and receive necessary redress for the errors. If you or someone you know has similarly suffered, please contact our offices today.

August 18, 2010

AMA Study on Medical Malpractice Is Misleading


These days it is often impossible to talk about medical malpractice without instigating an endless political debate about whether these lawsuits cause healthcare costs to increase, whether reforms are needed, and, if so, what form they should take. However, the debate too often delves into irrational name-calling and exaggeration, instead of focusing on reaching the best balance between the rights of patients to receive standard care and the doctor’s need to avoid frivolous claims.

Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti do not ignore the debate; we fully recognize and believe in our role as important advocates for injured patients. Our experience in the field has emphasized that knee-jerk reform efforts (like generic medical malpractice caps on award amounts) bear no logical connection to the basic sense of fairness of responsibility in the patient-doctor relationship. Attempts to impose “caps” on damages is nothing more than a politically organized group (healthcare administrators and medical doctors) attempting to skim away at the rights of a smaller, more diverse, less politically active group (victims of medical errors).

Fortunately for us in Illinois, our Supreme Court recently struck down a state cap on parts of these damages, recognizing the law’s unconstitutional violation of the role of judges and juries in our system.

What is frequently forgotten in these medical malpractice debates is the fact that large medical malpractice awards are only given after the time-tested protocols of our legal system play out: each party in a dispute presents their side of the case in a fair, impartial setting in front of an outside jury of their peers that impartially deliberates and collectively decides the correct outcome.

This legal system was literally written into our nation's founding documents as the premier method to dispense justice in our society. The bedrock of our entire system of government should never be wiped away merely because a particular political advocacy group wants special protection for themselves.

Yet, even after courts reject medical malpractice caps, the healthcare community continues to produce studies that attempt to skew the “problem” of medical malpractice lawsuits. Parts of the medical community are attempting to manufacture an inter-professional war by claiming that trial lawyers are constantly assaulting doctors with lawsuits. Instead, the medical community should recognize that a certain number of particularly negligent doctors are causing a large proportion of the errors, and the system helps to weed out these negligent practitioners so that they harm fewer patients.

On top of that, as American Association of Justice spokesman Ray De Lorenzi pointed out after reviewing the latest AMA study from AMED News, critics seeking to strip away victim rights seem to forget that 98,000 patients die every single year from errors that should have been prevented. Treating medical mistakes cost consumers nearly $20 billion each year. And those numbers have not been decreasing. If reform is needed, it should focus on stopping medical mistakes and saving lives, not limiting the legal rights of the innocent victims of those errors.

August 17, 2010

County and Family Agree On $5.5 Million Medical Malpractice Settlement


When hearing the words “medical malpractice,” many people immediately think of drawn out legal battles and high courtroom drama involving diagrams of complex medical performances and experts testifying about unique medical procedures. However, in reality, when medical malpractice occurs many parties often never step foot into a courtroom for a trial. Instead, with appropriate legal help to negotiate the dispute, the victims of these mistakes often receive their compensation as a settlement.

For example, a recent medical malpractice settlement explained in the Silicon Valley Mercury News highlights an amicable agreement that is often reached by victims of medical mistakes and the facility that made the error. Fifteen year old Elizabeth Nicks was performing a high-school cheerleading stunt when she fell. She was rushed to the nearby hospital where she was treated for bleeding on the brain. After five days of care the hospital released her. Unfortunately, she should have never been allowed to leave the close supervision of medical professionals at the hospitals. The very next day she was rushed back to the hospital. The complications were too much for the doctors to fix completely. She now suffers from permanent brain damage, retardation, and paralysis.

Elizabeth will need close medical care for the rest of her life because of the complications from the fall. In order to pay for that, her family has agreed to a $5.5 million dollar settlement with the county which operates the hospital that negligently released her too early. In that way, the Nicks family was able to receive the proper compensation for their suffering without having to go through the ordeal of a trail.

Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti have similarly negotiated countless settlements with victims of medical mistakes. In one case, we successfully negotiated a $5.35 million settlement against a hospital that had failed to diagnose postpartum cardiomyopathy that led to the death of an 18 year old first time mother.

Victims of harmful medical mistakes and their families typically want to receive equitable compensation for their losses in as timely and efficient manner as possible. That is where skilled legal teams are vital. With the appropriate lawyers with settlement experience, injured victims are able to reach a fair conclusion to their ordeal without the burden and stress that prolonged legal battles bring.

August 16, 2010

Illinois Finally Begins Reporting Hospital Infection Rates


We have often mentioned on this blog the growing problem of hospital borne infections. These are illnesses that a patient contracts while they are at the hospital to be treated for another medical problem. These infections are almost always the result of medical errors and negligent conduct that can be prevented. Proper hand washing, sterilizations, and other cleanliness protocols have been shown to decrease these infections significantly.

As we reported last week, the problem is estimated to cost medical care consumers over $30 billion each year and take the lives of upwards of 100,000 patients.

Those staggering costs should obviously have translated into a concentrated effort to fix the problem. However, the remedial actions have fallen far short. In fact, even the basic task of compiling and making data available on the total number of these infections has taken years to accomplish.

Illinois has just recently begun the task of informing its citizens on hospital performance with regard to these infections. As reported in St. Louis Today, Illinois officials have finally posted their first hospital “report card” that includes initial data on some hospital generated infection rates. This initial reporting does not include the bulk of infections. Only central line associated bloodstream infection rates are available in the latest report. These are infections caused by catheters that deliver fluid and other medications into the body.

While the initial data is small, the information is clearly a step in the right direction. Any public reporting that shines a spotlight on medical errors is a good development. The Illinois General Assembly sought to address this reporting problem six years ago. However, drafting errors in the legislation and funding errors in later years delayed the implementation of the report until now. A spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Health insists that even more hospital infection data will become available in the future. She explained, “We are in the process of trying to get some additional data. We’re hoping to have surgical-site infection data by the end of the year.”

Click here to check out the latest Illinois medical report card, including information on hospital infection rates. You can look up your own nearby hospital by name or zip code.

Our medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti encourage all patients to take advantage of this new information to help inform their healthcare decisions. Our decades in practice have made clear the risks associated with seeking medical care at a substandard facility. Personal health is too important to risk on any facility that consistently allows patients to get sicker while they are there than before they even arrived.

August 15, 2010

Doctor Sued For Failing To Diagnose Cortisol Problem


The Madison-St. Clair Record recently discussed a new medical malpractice lawsuit filed in southern Illinois. The suit involves two doctors from St. Elizabeth’s Hospital for their actions that contributed to the death of Sean O’Bonnon. Mr. O’Bonnon rushed to the hospital’s emergency room on Christmas Eve 2008 for severe strep throat.

Besides the strep throat, Mr. O’Bonnon’s body had actually stopped producing cortisol. According to the Mayo Clinic, cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands; insufficient production of it can be life threatening.

However, the two emergency room doctors failed to notice the cortisol-production problem, a condition known as “adrenal crisis.” In fact, the doctors negligently failed to even treat his strep throat, take a proper medical history, or admit him to the hospital for further observation. Instead, Mr. O’Bonnon was sent home, where he died the following day, Christmas Day 2010.

The doctors’ failure to diagnose life-threatening problems with their patients is one of the more egregious forms of medical malpractice. Patients have the reasonable expectation that when they visit a doctor with medical concerns, the doctor will be able to properly diagnose their problems if possible. All too often however, especially in emergency room context, patients are sent away before receiving the proper care. This shuffling of patients can have deadly consequences, as the O’Bonnon family discovered after their tragedy.

As our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti know, failure to for doctor’s to recognize and identify problematic conditions can have deadly consequences.

Please contact our attorneys if you know of anyone who has similarly suffered at the hands of a failure to diagnose a serious medical problem.

August 14, 2010

Jury Awards $2 Million in Medical Malpractice Case


A medical malpractice case involving the tragic death of three year old twin brothers recently ended with a verdict for the plaintiffs, reports the Columbus Dispatch.

The terrible trauma that still haunts the Legge family occurred in April 2006, when two of the family’s twin boys visited a Maryland otolaryngologist to perform basic tonsillectomies. The procedures were supposed to be routine operations without too much risk. In fact, hundreds of thousands of these procedures occur every year across the country without any complications. Following the surgery the doctor discharged the brothers with a note indicating that everything was normal. The boys, A.J. and Joshua were prescribed pain medication and were home in the afternoon.

However, the very night that they arrived back home following the surgery, one of the twins, A.J., stopped breathing. Shortly after midnight his parents called 911, and an ambulance arrived to rush him to the hospital. The emergency room doctors did everything that they could, but A.J. died shortly after arriving.

At the same time, back at their home, the other twin, Joshua had stayed with a neighbor while A.J. was rushed to the hospital. Just about the time that the emergency room doctor was informing the family that A.J. could not be saved, Joshua had also stopped breathing. Another ambulance was called, but it was too late for him as well. He died shortly after arriving at the hospital.

The unbelievably tragic loss of both children hours from one another was eventually discovered to have been caused by a cerebral edema, or fluid on the brain. The medication prescribed for the children after the surgery had caused the fatal stoppage of breath. The children had a pre-existing condition that made it impossible for them to properly process the pain medication.

The risk of the boys breathing was made clear to the doctor before the procedures, because their mother had informed him of the kids history of snoring and breathing trouble while asleep. However, even knowing that, the doctor did not request for the children to stay overnight in the hospital following the surgery, which was a standard process for patients under three years old—especially those with a history of breathing trouble.

After hearing all of the evidence, a jury in the medical malpractice case found that the doctor had been negligent in his treatment following the surgery. That negligence had directly led to the children’s death.

The Legge family tragedy serves as a reminder than even routine medical procedures involve inherent risk that should be carefully monitored. That risk is even more pronounced when the medical professionals charged with the task fails to follow basic security protocols to ensure the patient’s safety. If you or anyone you know has suffered similar tragedy that could have been prevented, please contact our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti today.

August 13, 2010

Negligent Hospital Misidentifies Infant Remains


This week the Houston Chronicle discussed an unfortunate hospital mistake that led to additional suffering for an already devastated family.

Amy Ramos was five months pregnant when she began have physical problems related to the pregnancy. She rushed to the hospital only to discover that the fetus was without a heartbeat. There was nothing that could be done to save the child. Mrs. Ramos was forced to undergo a surgical pregnancy the next day to remove the fetus. Amy and her husband Richard held a funeral service three days later with what they thought were the remains of their five month old fetus.

However, shortly after the service, the hospital discovered that they had never given the proper remains to the funeral home. Instead, an unidentified big toe was actually delivered and placed into what the family thought was the burial container.

Of course, news of the mix up only further agonized the grieving couple. The burial container had to be exhumed. The couple was then forced to have another service three days later with the proper remains, undergoing the painful process for the second time.

Patients and their families place immense trust in hospital employees to handle the most delicate and important parts of their lives. Besides quality health care, these medical facilities should also be held to a basic standard of responsible administration of affairs following tragic deaths. No family should have to endure the pain felt at losing an expected child. It is especially unconscionable for the suffering family to have their grieving processes upended by this careless hospital error.

Please contact our medical malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti any time that you have suffered at the hands of negligent conduct by hospitals aides, nurses, doctors, staff, or administrators. We are committed to putting our decades of legal experience in this area to ensure that your rights are protected.

August 12, 2010

Jury Awards $2.35 Million in Medical Malpractice Case


A medical malpractice trial recently ended involving a terrible medical misdiagnosis of a kidney problem in a young 24 year old mother of two.

As reported in the Washington Post, Yesenia Rivera went to her local emergency room several years ago complaining of pain in her left side. The doctors incorrectly believed the pain was cause by kidney stones. They gave her medication and sent her home. Two days later, however, Rivera was again suffering for extreme side abdominal pain. She rushed back to the emergency room to seek help. ER doctors believed that she was suffering from either a gallbladder problem or ectopic pregnancy.

It was until twelve hours later that it was finally discovered that Rivera was in fact suffering from a kidney infection. The delay in diagnosis allowed the infection to spread. Eventually gangrene set in, leading to severe amputations. Ms Rivera ultimately lost part of her left leg and her right foot. In addition, in a syndrome called “autoamputation” the several injured tips of her fingers literally fell off on their own.

The debilitating injuries have costs hundred s of thousands of dollars in medical bills and lead to month of physical therapy. On top of that, Rivera now uses prosthetics and has been unable to work since the complications from the delayed diagnosis.

Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti have fought for decades for the rights of victimized patients like Ms. Rivera. The mismanagement of her care by the physicians at the emergency room that treated her is an unacceptable breach of the care all medical patients deserve.

Often forgotten in cases discussing these medical errors are the other innocent victims when these mistakes are made, like Ms. Rivera's two young children. All the suffering that their mother endured affects their day to day lives. Our medical malpractice attorneys are committed to pursuing justice both for the patients hurt by medical negligence and the suffering family who was also scared by the mistake.

August 11, 2010

$19.5 Billion Worth of Medical Mistakes Each Year


The Wall Street Journal Blog recently posted on the staggering cost of medical errors each year in hospitals across the country. The Society of Actuaries commissioned the study into the cost of these errors on the U.S. economy, using an admitted conservative estimate of 1.5 million errors in a year.

All told, the cumulative amount spent on these medical errors including actual healthcare costs, lost productivity, and increased mortality rate is slightly less than $20 billion. Other studies have attempted to measure to true cost of the preventable doctor mistakes, but this latest study offers the largest sample size, using neutral data, and with better control measures. In other words, these study results represent the best analysis to date on the true economic cost of medical malpractice.

Interestingly, the costliest error is bed sores. These sores (also known as pressure sores) are almost always caused by negligent medical care and involve patients developing deep skin lesions caused by constant pressure bone prominences on the body. They develop when a patient (or nursing home resident) is not given the proper care while spending large amounts of time in bed.

As these figures indicate, the financial cost of medical errors alone should be enough to prompt drastic efforts to ensure that they occur less frequently. Of course these economic figures do not factor in the terrible emotional, mental, social costs caused by preventable hospital mistakes. As our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti are fully aware, entire families are often torn apart by doctor mistakes that could easily have been prevented.

Renewed energy and effort should be placed on identifying troubled hospitals and doctors, holding them accountable for their errors and ensuring that they do not injury other patients.

August 10, 2010

Hospitals Should Do More to Prevent Infections


A Las Vegas Sun editorial last week blasted the inadequate measures taken by most hospitals to prevent the spreading of hospital borne infections.

As the paper explains, while these infection rates--which are almost always preventable--should be dropping as hospital administrators become more aware of the problem, the rates are actually increasing. In fact, in just the area sampled in the investigation, MRSA cases (one of the most common types of hospital infection) rose by nearly 34 percent in 2009.

The rise in infection rates is all the more disappointing because the methods of eliminating the problem are widely known. It is not too much for patients to ask that their hospitals be clean and safe. The only thing needed is for doctors, nurses, aides, hospital administrators and all other medical personnel to step up and follow the well-known prevention procedures. Too many healthcare workers, however, refuse to follow simple steps and risk the lives of all patients instead. As the editorial reports, "among the most egregious of these practices are when patients with contagious infections are placed in rooms with uninfected patients, rooms are not adequately cleaned between patient stays and medical professionals fail to wash their hands".

The problem is made even more urgent by the seriousness with which the complications affect patients. These infections have the potential to cause complicated harm and even death to those unfortunate patients who happen to fall victim. For example, the investigation found one patient who went into the hospital to undergo hip surgery only to die later from an infection he received at the hosptial.

Overall, estimates suggest that the hospital infections cost Americans up to $30 billion a year in medical bills and claim the lives of over 100,000 individuals. These stats alone should be enough to jolt the medical community into finally doing what is right.

Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti have decades of experience acting as tireless advocates on behalf of patients who received substandard care at hospitals. Inadequate medical treatment is never acceptable. Please contact our offices if you or someone you know has faced similar complications following a hospital visit.

August 9, 2010

Girl Suffocated To Death At Hospital


St. Louis Today recently discussed the tragic suffocation death of a sixteen year old girl at the SSM DePaul Health Center. As the newspaper uncovered, the death was only one of a string of error-riddled incidents at the hospital over the last several years.

Alexis Evette was a foster child at the facility who had an emotional fit and began hitting, biting, and scratching staff members at the hospital. In an attempt to restrain her, two aides grabbed Alexis's arms and held her face down into a bean bag while a nurse injected what was supposed to be a calming sedative. Alexis continued to scream and kick for a short while after the injection before eventually going limp.

After she stopped moving, the aides all left the room without checking on her in any way. It wasn't until another ten to twelve minutes that another nurse saw Alexis, noticed that she clearly looked askew, and rushed into the room to check on her. The nurse discovered that Alexis was not breathing and only had a faint pulse. There was nothing that could be done, however, and Alexis died shortly after. The medical examiner ruled the incident a homicide, noting that the girl suffocated to death in the bean bag where she was held face down.

The improper restraint that killed Alexis is unfortunately an too-common occurrence. Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti have witnessed similar forceful conduct with troubled patients at hospitals, leading to serious injuries and death. Obviously, it is imperative that aides at these facilities understand that patients not be held down in a way that constricts their breathing. Besides that, it is a basic staple of care that a patient be checked after being given a sedative. There is simply no excuse for the complete lack of concern with Alexis's care that led to her death.

The abuse of Alexis was just the latest in a string of problems that SMM DePaul. Investigators were already looking into an incident where a urologist at the facility removed the wrong kidney of one patient. Besides that, there are 28 other reports of inadequate medical care and complete disorganization at the facility from other wrong-site surgeries to baby abductions.

The continuing errors at the hospital are enough to shock any patient. Yet, authorities remain unclear on whether they will seek to close the facility or impose other sanctions. The inaction of state officials makes it all the more important for patients themselves to hold abusive and dangerous hospitals accountable.

Please Click Here to read more about the extent of the dangerous medical errors at this single hospital.

August 8, 2010

New Medical Malpractice Case Involving Improper Device


The West Virginia Record published a story at the end of this week regarding another medical malpractice case.

Diana Boerke sought medical care at the St. Mary's Medical Center to treat a pelvic prolapse. The painful problem occurs with the weakening of the pelvic muscles that allows the pelvic organs to slip out of place. The problem occurs only in woman and requires close care to ensure that no more serious complications arise.

Mrs. Boerke's physician, Dr. Mitchel E. Nutt told her that she needed to implant a medical device as part of her treatment, specifically a Ugytex polypropylene mesh, a component of the Avaulta Anterior and Posterior BioSynthetic Support Systems. The device is made by well-known manufacturer C.R. Bard.

Unfortunately for Mrs. Boerke, however, the newly implanted medical device caused her much more harm than good. As the complaint she filed in the malpractice lawsuit indicates, she has suffered severe physical pain from the accident. Since the implant, Mrs. Boerke has suffered the loss of her pelvic organ system as well as severe deformity of that part of her body. All of this does not even include the mental and emotional toll that she and her family has endured throughout this medical nightmare.

Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti are experienced in fighting for the rights of those harmed by the medical devices that were supposed to help them. Medical devices come in all shapes and sizes and are used to treat a wide range of medical problems and ailments. However, their use is a delicate process that involves precision and skill to implant. Any time a foreign object is used on the human body, it may lead to severe complications when not properly inserted or maintained. That is why all patients should remain vigilant to their symptoms to ensure that they catch problematic medical devices as soon as possible.

No patient should have their health worsen because of devices that are supposed to improve their health. If you or someone you know has been a victim of this type of medical malpractice, please contact a medical malpractice attorney to better understand your legal rights.

August 7, 2010

Lab Mistakes Lead to False Cancer Diagnosis


Many people are aware of the deadly consequences of doctors who fail to diagnose a medical problem or wait too long before giving an official diagnosis. A similar medical mistake that is less discussed but with just as harmful consequences is when doctors tell a patient that they have a deadly condition only to later discover that the patient was healthy all along.

The Boston Globe recently discussed an example of that type of medical malpractice. Manuel Barros's life was turned upside down when, after receiving a biopsy, he was told by his doctor that he had prostate cancer. Willing to do whatever it took to get his health back, Mr. Barros endured a painful surgery to help eliminate the supposed cancer. As a result of the surgery, Mr. Barros suffers from incontinence (forcing him to wear adult diapers) and erectile dysfunction.

However, shortly after his surgery, Mr. Barros doctor informed him of a serious mistake: Mr. Barros never even had prostate cancer. As part of the laboratory process following his biopsy test, the lab had switched Mr. Barros slides with that of another patient. The other patient, Thomas Cloutman, actually had the cancer instead. Mr. Barros was cancer-free all along.

That meant that the months of mental exhaustion, emotional trauma, and the physical toll of the surgery was all for naught. If the lab had only correctly handled the testing materials, Mr. Barros would never have needed to endure any of it.

On the other hand, Mr. Cloutman is facing a similar roller coaster of problems. The mistake meant that he has to endure the flip side of emotions, learning that his negative diagnosis was wrong, that he was indeed suffering from cancer. It is unclear how much the eight-month delay in diagnosis will affect the chances of his full recovery.

Basic healthcare errors like this one involving misdiagnosis are reminders of why advocates need to carefully monitor medical officials to ensure they meet the standard of care patients deserve. Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti act as watchful advocates holding hospitals, labs, and other medical providers accountable for the grievous errors they sometimes make. Patients like Manuel Barros have no option but to trust that their medical information and testing materials are handled properly. There is nothing he can personally do to monitor the process.

Please contact our medical malpractice offices if you or someone you know has been similarly affected by medical errors.

August 6, 2010

Doctor Failure to Wash Hands Kills 100,000 Patients a Year


A new op-ed in the Lexington Herald-Leader discusses the vast consequences for patients of even simple mistakes by medical providers. Hand washing is known by all to be an important step in providing a clean, sterile environment at all hospitals in the country. However, most people are not aware that many healthcare providers fail to wash hands as frequently and properly as necessary, ultimately leading to patient complications and death cause by contractions of hospital acquired infections (HIAs).

Overall, this preventable doctor negligence kill a staggering 100,000 patients each year and increases medical costs by $30 billion per year. As these numbers indicate the problem is reaching near epidemic proportions. The scope and detail of the HAI problem is not well known because many hospitals have no reporting requirements. In other words, there is no way for any individual patients to learn about a particular hospitals infection-rate in making the decision to attend one facility over another.

MRSA has long been known as the most common and dangerous HIA, but that has recently changed. As the article discusses, clostridium difficile (C. diff) is now considered the most common hospital acquired infection. Clostridium difficile is a bacterium that often causes life-threatening diarrhea.

Hand washing has long been known to curb the problem drastically. Frequent use of alcohol based rubs are also sometimes claimed to have improved the cleanliness at many hospitals. However, alcohol does not kill C. diff because it is spread by sores. Old –fashioned scrubbing hands with soap and water is the only way to properly fend off its advance. Healthcare providers are still failing to do it sufficiently, however, leading to rising rates of C.diff and MRSA infections at many local hospitals.

Patients enter hospitals in order to improve their health. No one should contract a deadly and costly illness while seeking care because of preventable hospital mistakes. Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti remain constant advocates for all patients and their families who suffer at the hands of hospital negligence. Please contact a medical malpractice lawyer if you or someone you know was a victim of these deadly errors.

August 5, 2010

Inadequate Supervision Leads to Medical Errors


The Dallas Morning News reported on a problem in many hospitals that pose a real danger to many patients: lax supervision of new doctors.

Many hospitals are considered “teaching hospitals” where residents (doctors-in-training) treat patients under the care of experienced doctors before going out to practice on their own. New research has added more weight to the well-known problem of medical errors caused by these inexperienced medical professionals. In fact, nearly one in four medical residents admitted to treating complications in patients caused by their own errors.

Those complications were not insignificant, with many leading to serious patient harm, including death. Many factors are involved in creating the errors, but inadequate supervision by advising doctors was cited as playing a key role in the medical mistakes. The report indicated that as much as half of complications created by medical residents were caused directly by improper supervision.

In other words, new doctors are sometimes allowed to use innocent patients as testing bodies while experienced doctors fail to properly ensure the patient’s overall safety. This fact is on display most vividly by the reported “July Effect.” Each year, there is a 10% increase in patient death from medication errors in the month of the July. The reason is because July is the month when new residents begin their first rotations.

Obviously everyone understands the need for new doctors to learn the ropes over time in order to develop the skills necessary to provide proper medical care. However, no patient gives up their right to proper medical treatment merely because they seek care at one hospital over another. To balance these interests, it is imperative that new residents be closely and critically monitored by experienced supervisors. In that way, new doctors can be trained effectively without sacrificing the care of any patient.

However, research consistently confirms that the balance is not being met. Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti have witnessed this problem first-hand. Our lawyers have protected several patients who were harmed in ways that could have been prevented in proper oversight had been provided when new medical residents were making mistakes. Don’t allow yourself to become a similar victim. Contact our offices if your suspect inadequate medical treatment.

Please click here to read more about this troubling medical malpractice situation.

August 4, 2010

Radiation Overdose Is Common Medical Mistake


The New York Times recently profiled a growing problem of medical error, radiation overdoses. Radiation treatments are often used at hospitals to test for strokes in a procedure known as a CT brain profusion scan.

Radiation always contains some risks, but doctors are supposed to protect against exposing patients to harmful levels of radiation that are unnecessary. Recent investigation, however, have uncovered that the true extent of the problem. Many doctors are negligently exposing patients with too much radiation than necessary. A quick investigation discovered, for example, that the well-known and respected Cedars-Sinai hospital had over 269 cases of extra-radiation.

The total number of patients exposed to unnecessary levels of radiation is unclear, but the number continues to rise as more injured patient come forward. Food and Drug Administration officials admit that the total number of patients affected is not known but likely higher than initial estimates suggested.

Even when performed properly, CT scans deliver a dose of radiation to the skull that is 200 times stronger than an x-ray. The problem exists when that already high amount is inflated unnecessarily. Some experts believe that the radiation overdoses were as high as 13 times the amount of a normal CT scan. That is equivalent to a single patients getting 2600 x-rays in a single day.

The Food and Drug Administration is still investigating the overexposures. They have yet to determine a conclusive cause of the rash of increased radiation problems. Possible causes include improper manufacturing of equipment, inadequate training of medical professionals taking the images, and an unnecessary need to get clearer images.

Hair loss is the most common sign of an overdose, but symptoms also include headaches, memory loss, and confusion. The complications could be even more far reaching and include increases in risk of cancer and brain damage. Patients exposed to the unnecessary doses often have trouble identifying the cause of their problems. For many, the symptoms start with a band of hair missing around their head. For others red welts begin to form on parts of the body including the arms, legs, and back.

No patient should be forced to go through the physical, emotional, and mental struggles caused by overexposure to radiation. Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti continue to fight for the rights of all patients who suffer at the hand of medical errors that should have been prevented. Be sure to contact a medical malpractice lawyer if you suspect that you or someone you know may have been overexposed to radiation or suffered any other complications caused by medical mistakes.

Please click here to learn more of the dangerous problem of radiation overdose at hospitals.

August 3, 2010

Nurses Admit that Hospitals Errors Are Frequent


The Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune recently published an article that discusses a shocking new survey of acute care nurses. The survey was published as part of “Pulse Report 2010 – Employee and Nurse Perspective on American Health Care.”

The results of the report reveal that even nurses believe that problems and medical errors are prevalent at the hospitals where they work. An inner turmoil between employees at many hospitals is rampant, say many nurses. This turmoil ultimately affects the care provided to residents.

The large survey involved more than 230,000 hospital employees. The results indicate that virtually half of nurses are unhappy at their jobs, feeling disempowered and disengaged. These feelings affect patient care for the worse. Because of this, many nurses report that they would not recommend their hospital as a care center.

The survey reveals was general hospital reporting does not: big and small errors occur at hospitals every day. The mistakes include medication errors, missed dressing changes, pressure sores, allergic reactions, among many others.

Most hospital administrators are oblivious or ignore the problem.

As the article mentions, too much attention is paid by high level administrators to “risk management” in an effort to cut financial corners. Instead of doing everything possible to provide the best care possible, hospitals “maximize profits by calculating the financial risk of allowing "little" things to occur, like an excruciatingly painful stage three pressure ulcer (vs. a reportable stage four). It is a system that operates on the backs of nurses' professional ethics, valuing profit over care, seriously challenging every nurse's core value of caring for patients in a safe environment.”

Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti remain committed to protecting the rights of those victimized by medical error. Please contact our offices if you or someone you know suffered at the hands of inadequate medical care.

August 2, 2010

Patient Awarded $1.9 million in Medical Malpractice Lawsuit


A Virginia woman will be awarded nearly $2 million following a jury verdict which found her gynecologist guilty of medical malpractice reports the Winchester Star.

Thirty nine year old Shannon Taylor had a hysterectomy performed at the Winchester Medical Center operation room by Dr. Katherine Averill. The procedure is supposed to involve the simple removal a woman’s uterus. However, Dr. Averill made several mistakes during the operation, lacerating Ms. Taylor’s rectum and placing sutures connecting her vagina to her rectum.

Ms. Taylor began to experience rectal bleeding upon returning home from the surgery. When the mistakes were eventually discovered several surgeries and a colonoscopy were needed to fix the problem. But that wasn’t all. Ms. Taylor’s abdomen had been operated on in half a dozen occasions by the time all of these surgeries had been completed. The repeated abdominal surgeries eventually led to her suffering a hernia, which required even more medical care to correct.

On top of all the medical complications, Ms. Taylor eventually had to leave her job because she required so much medical attention. So often in medical malpractice cases like this, the health problems caused by the medical mistakes are only half the story. Personal and professional lives are often destroyed by the errors.

Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti understand the medical errors affect all areas of a victim’s life. From medical bills and lost wages to strains on relationships, the consequences of these mistakes are far reaching. Our lawyers are committed to pursuing all avenues to fully compensate the losses caused by these grievous healthcare errors.

August 1, 2010

Twist In Fraudulent Cosmetic Surgery Case


CBS2 News is reporting on the latest developments in a medical malpractice situation out of California. Last month we reported on this blog about the charges filed against two sisters, Guadalupe and Alejandro Viveros for operating an unlicensed cosmetic clinic.

Many of their clients ultimately informed authorities of problems that they had encountered following the cosmetic surgery performed by the sisters. For many clients the substances injected into them during surgery had hardened into a solid plastic. The hardened material often became infected, leading to serious health consequences for the former patients.

The case took another turn this week as one of the former patients died, purportedly as a result of the complications from the unknown substance injected into her by the sisters at the clinic.

Following the death, the sisters failed to show up to a scheduled court arraignment. It is believed that they may have fled to Mexico. The elder sister, Guadalupe, claimed to be a medical doctor in Mexico, though she was not licensed to practice medicine in the United States.

These and similar stories recount the shocking and all too prevalent forms that medical malpractice may take. While most patients will fortunately be spared the complications caused by medical professionals who are not legally allowed to practice medicine, too many will still become the victims of more nuanced forms of medical error. Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti are committed to fighting for the rights of all victims of medical error. If you or anyone you know may have been injured due to mistreatment or negligence by a medical professional be sure to contact a medical malpractice attorney today.