August 22, 2014

Judge Blocks FDA's Attempt to Make Generic Version of Sedative Precedex Available

by Levin & Perconti

Reuters reports that a federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order against the FDA which prevents it from allowing the sale of generic versions of a sedative called Precedex. Precedex is manufactured by a drug company called Hospira Inc. However, the court's decision has nothing to do with any sort of medication or pharmaceutical error. The order that the generic drugs not be produced had nothing to do with any kind of medical malpractice. Instead it has to do with drug company profits.

FDA Rules Generic Manufacture Okay, but Court Steps in

The FDA had previously ruled that drugmakers could sell generic Precedex so long as the labeling of the generic drugs left out information about uses that are covered by Hospira's patent on the drug. The patent covers “intensive care unit sedation.” In response, Hospira filed a lawsuit the very next day requesting a restraining order preventing the FDA's ruling from going into effect.

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August 19, 2014

How Wrong Site Surgeries Show Consequences of No Civil Justice System – Part 3

by Levin & Perconti

The American Association for Justice (AAJ) recently published a list of ways in which our society would be substantially different if we did not have a civil justice system. The civil justice system is basically our whole justice system except for the criminal system. It includes things like medical malpractice cases, nursing home abuse cases, products liability cases, and many other areas of law. So in honor of the AAJ's efforts to get out the word about the importance of our civil justice system, we are looking in depth at some of the areas of the medical profession that would be wildly different without a civil justice system. These week we are addressing a truly shocking type of surgical malpractice that would go ungoverned without a civil justice system: wrong site surgeries.

How Common are Wrong Site Surgeries?

Wrong site surgeries are one type of medical malpractice that should never happen. If everyone is doing their job correctly, and proper safety procedures are followed, it should be impossible for a surgeon to wind up operating on the wrong part of a person's body, or even worse, on the wrong person altogether. Unfortunately, it happens all too often. A report by Medscape from just three years ago found that wrong site surgeries happen about forty times a week nationwide.What is an Example of a Wrong Site Surgery?

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August 15, 2014

Levin & Perconti Wins $1.25 Million Settlement

by Levin & Perconti

The medical malpractice attorneys won a $1.25 million settlement for a client in a wrongful death case. The deceased in the case went to a hospital in July of 2009. During his stay in the hospital he ultimately died.

Sixty-Nine-Year-Old Man Dies Because of Missed Diagnosis

While the sixty-nine-year-old man was in the hospital he received an anticoagulation medication. Anticoagulation medications reduce the blood’s ability to coagulate, or change from a liquid to a semi-solid state. Then he received an MRI of his lumbar spine. That evening he suffered from multiple vasovagal episodes and low blood pressure. Vasovagal episodes involve a rapid drop in a patient’s heart rate which decreases the flow of blood to the brain and can cause fainting. The next morning the gentleman went into fatal cardiac arrest.His death was ultimately attributed to an undiagnosed retroperitoneal hemorrhage. A retroperitoneal hemorrhage is when blood accumulates in the retroperitoneal space. The retroperitoneal space is a space in the abdominal cavity. There are multiple things that can contribute to such a hemorrhage, but one of them is anticoagulation. Other causes include a ruptured aortic aneurysm, a ruptured renal aneurysm, acute pancreatitis, and malignancy.

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August 13, 2014

Illinois Officials Suspend Controversial Psychiatrist’s License to Practice

by Levin & Perconti

The Chicago Tribune reports that Illinois officials have suspended a controversial psychiatrist’s license to practice. The doctor, Dr. Michael Reinstein, prescribed a dangerous antipsychotic drug called clozapine to patients in nursing homes and mental health facilities. Dr. Reinstein prescribed to drug to over half of the patients he was treating. The drug is linked to the potentially wrongful deaths of three of Dr. Reinstein’s patients, resulting in the doctor being accused of fraud. As it turns out, the accusations are substantiated.

The Illinois medical board suspended Dr. Reinstein’s license because it found that he received $350,000 in illegal payments from the maker of clozapine while he disregarded both the drug’s life-threatening effects and the fact that there were other safer treatment options for his patients. Clozapine increases the risk of death in elderly patients and can result in inflammation of the heart wall and seizures. It also has substantial side effects that are not fatal but that seriously impact quality of life, including but not limited to extreme constipation, bedwetting, night-time drooling, muscle stiffness, sedation, tremors, and weight gain. Prescribing such dangerous drugs unnecessarily is a serious type of medication error malpractice.

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August 9, 2014

How Many People Would Die Due to Hospital Acquired Infections if there Were No Civil Justice System - Part 2

by Levin & Perconti

The American Association for Justice (AAJ) listed a wide variety of ways in which our country would be much worse off if there were no civil justice system in a recent article. We are detailing some of the ways in which health care would be affected if there were no civil justice system. Since medical malpractice law is a part of the civil justice system, eliminating that system would eliminate any recourse patients or their families have when they are hurt by medical professionals. For example, if you or your loved one contracted a severe infection in a hospital due to a hospital's error, you would have no way of making the hospital pay for your increased medical bills.

The AAJ report tells the story of Dickson Clark. Clark had back surgery in Nevada in 2005, and wound up infected with MRSA in the hospital. MRSA, which can be lethal, is a type of staph infection that is drug resistant. As a result if the MRSA infection, Clark suffered through four years of hospitalizations and surgeries, not to mention further infections. Clark died in 2010. And Clark is not alone. According to AAJ, two million hospital patients get infections each year, and as many as 90,000 of them die. These numbers are WITH a civil justice system in place.

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August 7, 2014

How Many People Would Die Due to Medical Errors if there Were No Civil Justice System - Part 1

by Levin & Perconti

In a recent article, the American Association for Justice listed a wide variety of ways in which our country would be much worse off if there were no civil justice system. Because medical malpractice law is a part of the civil justice system, hospitals would be severely impacted if there were no civil justice. Without civil courts, patients and their families would have no recourse when doctors, nurses, or other medical professionals hurt them by committing medical errors.

Medical professionals are human beings, so like all human beings, they make mistakes. And there is nothing that can be done to eliminate all mistakes—some people will wind up suffering from personal injuries or even wrongful death no matter how strong a society's civil justice system is. But there is evidence that when a strong medical malpractice system is in place, patients are less likely to be victims of medical error.
Some of that evidence comes in the form of a study by two experts from Northwestern University. Zenon Zabinski from Northwestern's Department of Economics, and Bernard S. Black, from the university's School of Law, published a study last month entitled “The Deterrent Effect of Tort Law: Evidence from Medical Malpractice Reform.” In their study the experts concluded that in states where the legislature's weakened the civil justice system by instituting caps on non-economic damages, patient safety consistently decreased when compared to control states. In other words, when the legislature guts the civil justice system patient's suffer. Without the threat of large medical malpractice verdicts, medical professionals in so-called “tort-reform” states had less incentive to be careful.

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August 1, 2014

Plan to Overhaul VA Health Care Passes in the House and Moves on to the President

by Levin & Perconti

We have been regularly covering the ongoing tragedy regarding our veteran's health care. From medical malpractice to government cover ups, the story has been heart wrenching. The proud men and women who served this country well have been regularly denied access to the health care they desperately need; health care that is sometimes needed as a direct result of their service. The federal government finally appears to be taking action to solved this crisis.

New Federal Legislation

ABC News reports that the House approved a bill on Wednesday to help veterans avoid the waits that have plagued them for years at VA facilities. The bill carries a price tag of $16.3 billion and if it becomes law, it would allow the VA to hire thousands of doctors and nurses. It would also allow the VA to rewrite its employment rules so that it would have an easier time firing high level executives in the system who are failing to perform.

Obviously it will take time to hire these doctors and nurses on such a grand scale. So the bill also includes $10 billion in emergency spending. This $10 billion would be used to pay for veterans who cannot get prompt appointments at a local VA to see non-VA doctors. It also includes funds to lease new clinics all over the country.

While this is an excellent start, the New York Times reports that the bill does not give the VA all of the resources it claims it will need to solve all of its problems. For example, Sloan D. Gibson, who was acting Veterans Affairs secretary, has said the department will need almost $18 billion for overhauls just to meet current need. Most of that money is needed for new clinic space and to hire more doctors. There are also concerns that the House bill does not include money to update the VA's flawed appointment scheduling system, which is at the very heart of the current controversy over manipulated waiting lists resulting in delayed and denied treatment for veterans.

The Washington Post reports that the Senate approved the House bill on Thursday night with a vote of 91 to 3. The bill will now go to President Obama for his signature. This move comes on the tail of other big news from the VA. Earlier this week the Senate unanimously confirmed Robert McDonald as the new secretary of the agency. Previous secretary Eric K. Shinseki retired in the wake of the scandal back in May, and Sloan D. Gibson ran the agency until a new, permanent secretary could be nominated and confirmed. Secretary Gibson is the retired Chairman, President, and CEO of Procter & Gamble. He was sworn-in on July 30, after having been nominated by President Obama for the position on July 7, 2014.

See Related Posts:

Veteran’s Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki Resigns Amid Malpractice Allegations

Reports of Secret Waiting Lists Spur Auditors to Visit Hines VA

Whistleblowers’ Claim that VA Hospital Delayed Patient Care Leads to House Subpoena

July 31, 2014

FDA Announces it will Start Regulating Medical Laboratory Testing

by Levin & Perconti

Whether a patient is simply finding out whether or not she's pregnant, or is undergoing serious life-or-death surgery, lab tests are a large part of the hospital experience. If something goes wrong with those lab tests the result can be a delayed diagnosis which in the worst cases, can result in a wrongful death. While one might assume that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) already regulated these tests, that is not the case for all tests. However, that is about to change.

New Process

The New York Times reports that the FDA announced on Thursday that it will start regulating medical laboratory testing. This move has been opposed by both some laboratories and some pathologists who claim that regulation is unnecessary and will hurt innovation when it comes to creating tests for rare diseases. The FDA has attempted to address these concerns by saying it will phase in the regulations of the tests over nine years. It will also focus primarily on regulating tests that pose a high level of risk to patients if the test result is incorrect.

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July 25, 2014

Lifesaving Hepatitis Treatment Sparks Debate

by Levin & Perconti

Prescription drugs, when properly used and administered, save lives. When insurance companies fail to provide lifesaving drugs, or delay providing the drugs, people can be seriously injured or even die as a result. Unfortunately, some of these vital drugs can carry extremely hefty price tags, which gives insurance companies and public health care providers and incentive to deny requests for their use.

One such drug is Gilead Sciences' breakthrough hepatitis C treatment, Sovaldi. Those who are prescribed the drug must take it daily for twelve weeks. An extremely large percentage of people with a particular type of the disease who take Sovaldi are essentially cured with few side effects. But here's the rub. The price for twelve weeks of drugs is $84,000. This means that just in the State of Oregon, according to the Washington Post, would have to spend $360 million to provide its Medicaid beneficiaries with the drugs. To put that into perspective, Oregon only spend $377 million on all prescription drugs for all Medicaid recipients in 2013.

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July 23, 2014

“Weekend Effect” Makes Routine Surgeries More Dangerous for Kids

by Levin & Perconti

Sometimes even healthy people need emergencies surgeries, like appendectomies. While many of these surgeries are routine, they are still scary for the patients. And they may be even scarier for parents who have to see their children through them. Medical malpractice is a possibility in any surgery. While most of these surgeries turn out just fine for everyone involved, a new study shows that these surgeries may be more dangerous for kids on weekends than on other days of the week.

Increased Risk of Death

A study performed by researchers at Johns Hopkins shows that simple emergency surgeries for children are more likely to result in complications or death if they are performed on weekends. The researchers note that deaths from these surgeries, which include things like hernia repairs and appendix removals are very rare no matter what day of the week they occur. Its just that while weekend deaths are rare, they are more common than weekday deaths. And the researchers do not know why. Senior investigator Fizan Abdullah, a pediatric surgeon at Johns Hopkins University Children's Center, says, “Numerically speaking, the number of deaths was quite small, but even a single preventable death is one too many.”

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