January 29, 2015

Newly Approved Obesity Treatment is Risky

by Levin & Perconti

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

FDA Approves New Obesity-Treating Medical Device

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

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January 27, 2015

“Tort Reform” May be on the Horizon for Illinois

by Levin & Perconti

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

Governor's Transition Report Supports Tort Reform

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

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January 23, 2015

FDA Warns Against Keepsake Ultrasounds

by Levin & Perconti

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

FDA Warns Against Keepsake Ultrasounds

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January 20, 2015

A Risky Situation: FDA Drug Approvals at 18-Year High

by Levin & Perconti

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the agency responsible for determining whether drugs are safe enough to be used in the United States. On one hand, a speedy approval process is good in that it can provide people who may otherwise die or suffer with life-changing treatments. On the other hand, speedy approval can mean approval for medications that are not actually safe which can cause serious injuries or even deaths. This dichotomy is extremely important to consider in light of the news that FDA drug approvals are at an 18-year high.

FDA Drug Approvals Reach 18-Year High

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January 15, 2015

Wisconsin Lawmaker Trying to Undo the Damage of Tort Reform

by Levin & Perconti

The people of Wisconsin have been some of the nation's most serious victims of tort reform. They have had their rights to recover in medical malpractice cases severely curtailed, particularly in wrongful death cases. Fortunately it appears that at least one Wisconsin lawmaker is finally willing to stand up to the powerful insurance lobby and do something about this travesty of justice.

Wisconsin Lawmaker Takes Steps to Change Medical Malpractice Laws

Radio station WSAU reports that Milwaukee's Senator Nikija Harris Dodd is fighting to let more family members sue for wrongful death in medical malpractice cases. She started the fight last year, but this year she is taking a more measured approach. Wisconsin has a particularly draconian wrongful death statute in place that makes it so only spouses, minor children, and parents of minor children can sue for wrongful death. These leaves some of the most deserving survivors of wrongful deaths out in the cold. It creates a situation where the parent of a college freshman killed by medical malpractice has no recourse whatsoever. The Senator's proposal would fix this problem, allowing parents to sue over the deaths of their children killed by malpractice before the age of 27. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel quotes the Senator as saying, “A parent should not have to suffer having lost a child without having their day in court.”

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January 12, 2015

Colorado and West Virginia are in Danger of Suffering from “Tort Reform”

by Levin & Perconti

While courts in states as varies as Illinois, Missouri, and Florida continue to hold tort reform measures designed to rob injured plaintiffs of their rights to recover for their personal injuries unconstitutional, legislators continue to push these measures in states that have not yet enacted them. Colorado is the next state to face the possibility of draconian tort reform measures this legislative term. Caps on medical malpractice damages are just one type of law that the insurance lobby is pushing for this year. West Virginians are also in danger.

Colorado Legislators Push for Tort Reform

Denver's News 9 reports that the Colorado legislature has already introduced 111 bills this session. Tort reform efforts are among those bills and apparently the effort is at least partially bipartisan. The Denver Business Journal reports that the efforts are large scale.

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January 9, 2015

FDA First: Panel Approves Generic Copy of Expensive Biologic Drug

by Levin & Perconti

Most people who either take prescription drugs or care for someone who does are familiar with generic drugs. These medications are supposed to be the same as the name brand medications but they are made by a different manufacturer who did not have to front all of the costs for marketing and research and development, so they are substantially cheaper. Most drugs eventually wind up with a generic equivalent when the name brand drug maker's patent expires. But one class of drugs has, up until now, been isolated from the generic market. That era, however, appears to be at an end.

FDA Panel Approves Generic Version of Biologic Drug

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the agency responsible for approving generic drugs. CNBC reports that a panel of the agency has unanimously voted to support the approval of Novartis AG's copy of Amgen's cancer drug Neupogen. Neupogen is an injectable biologic that prevents infections in breast cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy. Biologics are drugs made from living cells rather than being made from chemicals. A biosimilar is a biopharmaceutical drug designed to have active properties similar to one that has previously been licensed. While the panel's recommendation is not binding on the ultimate agency decision, it is rare for the agency to not follow the panel's recommendations.

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January 5, 2015

Dallas Doctor in Initial Ebola Case Acknowledges Diagnosis Error

by Levin & Perconti

Earlier this year we wrote about how the ill-advised medical malpractice laws in Texas will likely prevent those responsible for failing to diagnose the initial Ebola patient in America responsible. Despite the missed diagnosis, harsh tort reform laws will likely prevent any civil recovery against those responsible. Now the doctor involved in the case has admitted that his diagnosis was erroneous, but the doctor still insists that his care was appropriate under the circumstances.

Hospital Acknowledged that Nurses and Doctors Had Access to Patients Travel Information

Back in October The New York Times reported on Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital's response to its failure to diagnose Thomas E. Duncan with Ebola. Mr. Duncan was a Liberian national visiting who had just traveled to the United States to visit loved ones when he visited the hospital and was sent home. He was later diagnosed with Ebola, which caused his death. The hospital that originally sent him home released a statement blaming an error in its electronic health records system for the missed diagnosis. It initially claimed that the doctors involved did not receive information that Mr. Duncan had traveled from Africa. However, the hospital then back tracked and claimed that there was no electronic records flaw and that “the patient's travel history was documented and available to the full care team in the electronic health record...”

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January 4, 2015

Understanding Possible Victoza Litigation

by Levin & Perconti

When we are sick or injured we go to the doctor in hopes of getting better. Unfortunately sometimes the treatment winds up being worse than the original problem. Particularly dangerous treatments can result in personal injury or even wrongful death. It appears this may be the case with a drug called Victoza. This means that if you are taking or have taken Victoza and the medicine caused serious side effects, you should contact us as soon as possible.

What is Victoza?

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Victoza is an injectable prescription drug that might improve blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes. It is manufactured by Novo Nordisk and was approved back in 2010. When the FDA approved the drug, it claimed that “the benefits of this drug to patients with [type 2 diabetes] outweigh potential risks associated with its use.” As it turns out, this decision may have been wrong.

What are the Problems with Victoza?

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January 2, 2015

Massachusetts Study Shows Medical Errors Shockingly Common

by Levin & Perconti

Again and again studies have shown that the number of instances of medical malpractice in America is shockingly high. Health care provider errors take lives and injure real people on a regular basis. This is why we need to fight against the insurance lobby's self-interested quest for so-called tort reform—a system of laws designed to strip regular people of their rights to hold those who injure them responsible. Yet another study, this time out of Massachusetts, shows how serious the problem of medical malpractice is.

Nearly One out of Four Massachusetts Resident Either are or Know a Medical Error Victim

The Boston Globe reported on the new Massachusetts study that shows almost 25% of Massachusetts residents say either they or someone close to them “experienced a mistake in their medical care during the past five years.” Half of those people say the medical error resulted in serious health consequences. That means that approximately 1.2 million adults would report an error, and that 600,000 of them would report serious health consequences as a result if every resident of the state were polled. These are the results of a survey of 1,224 Massachusetts residents by the Harvard School of Public Health..

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