Articles Posted in Transplant Error

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A joint effort by the Houston Chronicle and ProPublica has shared disturbing news of a former top heart transplant center’s failure rate. In January, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) cited Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center in Houston, Texas for having twice the expected number of deaths between 2014-2016 in post transplant patients. CMS has given the facility until August to improve their outcomes before they are deemed ineligible to receive federal funding. The citation caught the attention of the Houston Chronicle, who began asking questions of former cardiologists, transplant patients and the loved ones of those patients who had died at the facility. Investigative journalists also spoke to patients with success stories. However, despite several successes, the number of fatal mistakes and omissions of truth made by the surgical team, and in particular its lead surgeon, Dr. Jeffrey Morgan, are astonishing.


Hospital Acquisition the Beginning of Turmoil

Baylor St. Luke’s, the adult teaching hospital for Baylor College of Medicine, has long been seen as one of the best heart transplant centers in the country. Some of the first heart transplants ever performed were done at the hospital in the 1960s, and the surgeon credited with surgically implanting one of the first LVADs (Left Ventricle Assisted Device) is the founder of the heart transplant program at the hospital. For decades the facility enjoyed a reputation as one of the top heart transplant centers in the country, if not the world. Patients would travel from all over to be treated there, and the hospital’s website features their doctors bragging about the hospital’s accomplishments. But most of those were in the past.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plays a critical role in keeping consumers safe. There is a reasonable expectation that a product that is bought at a store will be safe for use. That expectation is even more secure when it comes to products that are used by medical professionals in critical health care processes. A patient does not wander through a store to select which medical products are used in their care. From hip implants and needles, to medication and IV pumps, patients rely on the choices of their doctors and care of regulatory agencies like the FDA to ensure that dangerous products are not allowed.

Our entire caregiving process is based on this trust. That is why we must be incredibly vigilant about holding designers and manufacturers accountable when products actually harm patients unnecessarily. In the aftermath of dangerous products, medical device lawsuits are common to ensure that accountability is provided and those affect receive redress.

Yet, ideally the damage would be prevented altogether. That is where regulatory agencies are in control. It is critical that the FDA act aggressively to ensure product manufacturers make choices, if necessary, so that dangerous products are pulled from use in a timely manner.

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AP News is reporting a quite bizarre medical malpractice story. A man received a transplanted kidney from a woman who had uterine cancer and was unaware of it. He was not told that there was cancer within the kidney until almost two months after the transplant. The man decided to keep the kidney after his doctor advised him that there was only a slim chance that he could be sickened by the feminine cancer. His lawyer stated that this advice is what caused the man to lose his life. The man had previously been on three-times-a-week dialysis and had been awaiting a kidney for about five years.

The medical malpractice case has gone to trial and the plaintiff is arguing that the doctor took a huge risk with the victim’s life. Though the post-op tests found nothing, the victim suffered back pain and ultimately had the kidney removed six months after the transplant. The victim died about three weeks later of the cancer that came from his donor. The widow of the victim is seeking more than $3 million in damages in her medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital. This transplant error trial is currently being conducted.

Statistics show that around 23 out of 28,000 transplants in 2007 were judged to have some sort of cancer, HIV, tuberculosis or another disease. Twelve of these patients did die. While donors are always screened for various diseases, those with active cancers are generally eliminated from consideration. However, some are not detected in the very short time from in which transplants are conducted. It is heartbreaking to hear that some people receive what are supposed to be life-saving transplants and instead become victims of different diseases. Transplant teams must be extremely careful to ensure that every organ transplanted is free from diseases. To read more about this transplant error, please click the link.

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Kaiser Permanente‘s kidney transplant program recently settled five medical malpractice cases for a total of $1 million. The program is no longer in operation. A medical malpractice lawyer who handled the case says that the state’s medical malpractice laws are to blame for the small settlement. According to the lawsuit, the program “failed to provide transplant kidneys on a timely basis” to three patients who later died as a result of this negligence. In a fourth incident of medical negligence, the program delayed one victim’s kidney transplant after improperly refusing a donor. The lawsuit also alleges that another victim’s body rejected their transplant because the program did not provide the appropriate care after the transplant. Each of the victims suffered due to negligence on the part of the transplant program. Read more about these medical malpractice cases.

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A hospital’s misdiagnosis a boy’s cancer led to his death according to his family’s complaint filed against the hospital. The hospital originally diagnosed the son with bacterial meningitis and released him. The condition later was determined to be an aggressive form of anaplastic central nervous system T-cell lymphoma cancer that killed the boy. Two of the four patients that received the boy’s organs have died from the cancer. The lawsuit also claims doctor negligence.

Read more about the hospital’s misdiagnosis lawsuit here.

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A 33 year old woman recently filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the University of Chicago Medical Center alleging she contracted HIV and Hepatitis C after receiving a kidney transplant. According to the lawsuit, the woman claims U of C failed to warn her that her donor was a gay man with multiple sexual partners. Lawyers for the transplant patient claim the hospital was negligent, because it knew the donor engaged in homosexual activity, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention label “high risk behavior.” Had she been informed of the high risks associated with a gay donor, the patient states she would not have received the transplant. Since the negligent transplant, the woman has rejected the new kidney and has stopped working because of her illness. Three other patients who received organs from the same donor have also tested positive for HIV. To read the full story, click here.

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While African Americans are diagnosed with kidney disease at a rate higher than white people, they are less likely to be referred for kidney transplants, placed on a waiting list, and to get kidneys once on the list. All of that means that African American are spending more time on dialysis, which is associated with higher death rates and lower quality of life. There are some explanations for the discrepancy, like the matching system for donors and patients. That system seeks matched based on tissue types, decreasing chances of rejection of the organ; African American people are more likely to be compatible with another person of the same race and a smaller percentage of donors are African American. A serious issue adding to the gap between the races in that physicians may be less likely to refer an African American patient to be evaluated for a transplant. This can cause a delay in receiving a much-needed transplant, which is serious. One study showed that this could be caused by a belief by doctors that African Americans are less likely to have their survival odds improved by a transplant. The reason for this belief is not clear. Read more here.

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One of the greatest organizational problems facing hospitals today is the battle over medical records. Many patients find that it can take months or years to get a hold of their own medical records after treatment. Even worse, some families of victims of medical malpractice or wrongful death have waited for years to obtain their loved one’s medical records from hospitals. Often, lost or missing records are simply part of hospital error and not a deliberate attempt to delay, but on some occasions hospitals may frustrate a patient’s records request purposefully. Patients and victims’ families must be aware that statutes of limitation often require that medical malpractice lawsuits be filed within a certain period of time after the injury occurs or is discovered. This means that patients and victims’ families must decide to file a medical malpractice lawsuit and contact their medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible and begin the medical records request process.

Read more here.

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A lawsuit surrounding the wrongful death of a patient after he received cancerous lung transplants may go to trial. Though many medical malpractice lawsuitssettle, parties in this suit may seek justice in court. The medical malpractice lawsuit surrounds a lung transplant operation that led to the patient’s death: the doctors transplanted cancerous lungs. Attorneys for the victim state that the doctors knew the lung was cancerous and misrepresented the health of the donor.

Read more of the story here.

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The Supreme Court will hear a case next term that could decide whether drug companies may escape liability for harm caused by their products and hide behind FDA approval. The issue in the case involves Johnson & Johnson’s prescription birth control patch, Ortho Evra, which delivered much more estrogen than the company originally disclosed. The Ortho Evra patch was a popular form of birth control as an alternative to the birth control pill. For women, medication dosing errors of estrogen may cause an increased risk of blood clots and strokes and has been linked to one death.

Read the full text of the original article here.
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