Articles Posted in Staffing Issues

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So a doctor does not do what he should, breaches standards of care, and a patient is harmed. This is medical malpractice. Whether it is providing a wrong dose of medication, failing to catch a change in condition, or anything in between, when standards of care are not met and harm results, then a patient (and their family) can hold the negligent party accountable.

One complexity that exists in many medical malpractice cases relates to determining all parties which may have played a role. Medical care today is complex, there are different layers of oversight, specialists, and many different caregivers providing various services. When something goes wrong, many of them may have breached reasonable care standards.

Supervising Doctors Held Liable

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Some legal researchers have identified that misconceptions about injury cases–including Illinois medical malpractice lawsuits–are often rooted in the way that the suits are covered by the media. In particular, the only time that a lawsuit reaches a mass audience is when the plaintiff wins the case, usually for a large amount. Other than that, most community members who do not file a suit themselves have little understanding of the overall dynamics of the legal system or the usual outcomes.

All of this leads to skewed public perceptions, with many thinking that most cases end with plaintiff’s winning millions of dollars after jury verdicts at trial. That is not at all the case. Instead, defendants are just as likely to win in these matter when brought to trial (the burden of proof is in their favor). And even when plaintiffs do win, the judgements are often nowhere near as large as those that make headlines.

Each Chicago medical malpractice lawyer at our firm understands the need to break those stereotypes. After all, false assumptions about the civil justice system has led many community members to mistakenly support legislative changes which take away rights of injury victims. The first step in reversing those misguided actions is presenting an honest picture of the civil justice system and its operation.

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It is a story out of a mother’s nightmare. A woman gives birth to a healthy child. As is customary, the nurses take the child and eventually let the mother bond with her new addition for the first time. They wrap the baby in blankets and place her in her mother’s arms. This is a one of those moments that a mother never forgets…cuddling her newborn for the first time, dreaming about where life will take the little bundle in the years and decades ahead. Exhausted after the grueling labor, the mother slowly drifts into a sleep while holding her baby.

She awakes later to horror. The child is still in her arms, but the young girl is not breathing. She died as a result of co-sleeping–being smothered without the ability to breathe.

This tragedy seems like something from a movie, but a similar story has lead to a recent medical malpractice lawsuit filed against a team of nurses.

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A common assumption is that medical mistakes involve poor care by doctors at hospitals that lead to patients suffering physical and emotional pain. Thousands of Chicago medical malpractice victims are proof of that reality.

However, as California Watch explained in a story this weekend, there is another area in the medical industry where costly mistakes are often made-the autopsy room. The problems of autopsy errors appear to be growing as coroners begin hiring private firms to assist with the workload. Those firms are often shown to make ghastly errors. The mistakes include dissecting the wrong body and giving inaccurate testimony about their findings at trials.

The investigation into the private autopsy world has shown that rushed caseloads are a primary reason for the problems. The situation highlights the danger of a focus on profit maximization. Some private autopsy companies conduct three autopsies in a single hour, with some employees performing nine in a single shift. Experts in the industry explain that those numbers are very high, leading to rushing and mistakes.

In addition there are concerns about the type of employees that work at these locations. Some of the employees include physicians who were fired from pubic autopsy agencies for poor work. Their hiring by private companies provides these substandard physicians with more opportunities to make mistakes and harm lives.

One expert explained, “They [private medical group employees] are not being vetted in terms of their backgrounds, their skills, their ability. You hire a company, and you take the company as a whole. And you never know what you’re getting.”

The concerns about these autopsies have important ramifications on many areas. Judges, juries, lawyers, and family members all rely on the actions of these groups to help piece together the causes of many deaths. If the findings of these autopsies are the product of poor medical expertise, than there is much cause for concern.
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A woman went to a hospital expecting a normal vaginal delivery. However after 10 hours of labor she needed a cesarean section and began bleeding internally after her uterine arteries were torn or cut during the surgery. According to her medical malpractice lawsuit she bled to death after the attending physician and obstetrician argued as to how to treat her. They could not determine whether the victim was bleeding internally and whether they should reopen her abdominal incision to evaluate. The victim had lost more than 3 quarts of blood during the surgery which accounted for 60 percent of the total blood volume in her body. The medical malpractice lawsuit claims that the doctors and hospital botched what should have been done in a routine birth. When the victim entered the hospital she was healthy and had a problem-free, full-term pregnancy. The doctor’s were quoted in an affidavit stating that there was understaffing in the surgical care unit. Both the hospital and doctors deny any medical malpractice. To read more about the mother’s death, please click the link.

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A woman is filing suit against a doctor and Rush University Medical Center in Chicago alleging that the obstetrician who delivered her baby was verbally abusive and deliberately tried to hurt her. The suit claims that the doctor stated that the mother “deserved to feel pain because she had not called before coming in and that ‘sometimes pain is the best teacher.'” The suit additionally alleges that the doctor told the mother to “shut up, close your mouth and push” when she tried to ask question. He also told her that she might hemorrhage during birth and that the baby might die, causing both mother and father great emotional distress. Rush University has placed the doctor on indefinite probation following an internal investigation. The mother delivered a health baby girl. To read the full story, click here.

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A recent New York Times article examined recent programs calling for lightened hours for medical residents. The Times piece says that for the standards to be enforced, they need regulations. The panel proposed that residents or no more than 16 hours straight and that every 30-hour shift needs a five-hour sleep break after 16 hours. Such regulations would be great and likely lower rates of medical malpractice and surgical error.

For the full article.

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The widow of a man who died following gall bladder surgery at the Marion VA Medical Center has accepted a settlement of almost $1 million. The medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that the hospital was negligent in treating the man and that it failed to perform an adequate background check prior to hiring Dr. Jose Veizaga-Mendez, the surgeon who performed the operation, resulting in the man’s wrongful death. The Chicago Tribune reported last year that Veizaga-Mendez had been operating on veterans at the Downstate hospital for more than a year after surrendering his license in Massachusetts in a disciplinary proceeding that accused him of providing “grossly substandard care” that caused his patients to suffer serious complications and death.

The Veterans Health Administration medical inspector and the inspector general of the Department of Veterans Affairs have reported that, during a 2-year period ending September 2007, 9 patients have died from substandard care at the Marion VA Medical Center, while 34 others have been seriously injured. Disciplinary actions have been taken against 6 of the facility’s surgeons and several other employees.

To read the full story, click here.

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A hospital and their employee is the center of a lawsuit which alleges he fondled and touched the genitals of two male patients. The employee has pending misdemeanor battery charges after he informed the patients that his actions were necessary for medical purposes when in fact they were sexual in nature and outside his job description. The hospital is accused of being negligent. It was the state agency who issued an order for an emergency suspension of Collins’ license. According to the lawsuit, the hospital didn’t take “reasonable or prudent steps” to investigate the first patient’s claims and did not remove the employee from interacting with patients. Since the lawsuit, other patients have reported sexual misconduct by the hospital employee. To read the full story, click here.

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Maternity wards across America are closing, causing those that remain open to incur a deluge of new patients. This causes a strain on their ability to meet the needs of those individuals. The combination of both is putting women and children at risk. There are three major factors for there closures: low medical insurance and reimbursements to hospitals for maternity care; the high cost of medical liability insurance for OB-GYNs, and retiring OB-GYNs. Medical Centers are losing money for maternity patients because of the low reimbursement rates from Medicaid. Retiring OB-GYNs cause women to search for qualified specialists. These factors leave women and children at risk. Women need to have close maternity wards in order to ensure safety for both mother and child. To read the full story, click here.