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Articles Posted in Transplant Error

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.

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Preventable deaths in hospitals are not limited to people without access to health care and victims of medical mistakes and medical malpractice. People with insurance can still be effected by their insurer and the doctors advising the company. A teenage girl with leukemia was recently denied a liver transplant by her insurance company, who claimed that the procedure was too experimental. The teen’s doctor, however, stated that people in a similar situation have a 65% chance of survival after similar procedures. The insurance company, at the last minute, decided to grant the transplant but after the delay the girl’s parents decided to remove life support and it was too late. The girl’s family is planning to sue the insurer for what they believe to be their daughter’s wrongful death.

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Multiple lawsuits were filed after 32 liver transplant patients at UCI Medical Center who were allegedly misled about the availability of surgeons were denied transplants and died. After the wrongful death claims, the University of California recently reached a $7.5 million settlement on behalf of the families of patients that died while waiting for transplants they were never going to receive.

A recent study reviewed almost nine hundred medical malpractice claims to find that 27% of those cases involved errors by residents, interns, or fellows. The result of these errors frequently resulted in substantial personal injuries or death, despite the fact that many of the errors occurred in the outpatient setting.

Researchers also looked at how these errors by residents, interns, or fellows could have been prevented. They noted that errors in their judgment resulted in 72% of the medical malpractice claims. More than half of these medical trainees errors were due to a lack of supervision. The study concluded that there is a relationship between poor teamwork to preventable errors and quality of care.

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A transplant surgeon is facing charges in connection with the death of a California man in a severe case of medical malpractice. The doctor is accused of administering a harmful substance to the victim, adult abuse, and unlawful controlled substance prescription. The victim’s mother has filed a wrongful death lawsuit and a medical malpractice lawsuit.

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The mother of a 26-year-old man has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the doctor and others she alleges prescribed overdoses of medication to speed up his death. The claim alleges that the doctor prescribed overdoses of morphine and Ativan and injected a topical antiseptic into the man’s stomach. As a result of the alleged medical malpractice, the man had suffered irreversible brain damage and was put on a respirator. When his mother gave approval to donate his organs, the California Transplant Donor Network sent a surgical team to handle the transplant. In California, however, it is illegal for transplant doctors to treat potential organ donors before they are declared dead. The doctor is charged with felony counts of dependent adult abuse, administering a harmful substance and unlawful prescription of a controlled substance.

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The UCI Medical Center will spend $7.5 million to settle 35 claims from patients who waited to receive livers from a facility that couldn’t provide the transplants. The UCI Medical Center frequently had to turn down livers that it was offered because it didn’t have the staff to perform the liver transplant procedures. In one case, a 65 year old man who died, even though he was in the hospital, ready for surgery, and had an organ specifically donated to him. Although the hospital records indicated that he was too sick to have the operation, the actual reason he did not receive the transplant was because there was no surgeon available to perform the procedure. When the liver transplant program was closed in 2005, the facility had not had a full-time liver surgeon on site for over a year.

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A recent report regarding medical malpractice in Pennsylvania, focusing on surgical errors, was recently released by the Patient Safety Authority. 175 errors were made in the state during the past two and a half years, not including 253 close calls. These errors can lead to serious physical and financial strain, or even wrongful death. “Wrong-site” surgeries are a persistent problem and are clearly avoidable. Pennsylvania is a leader in public accountability for medical and surgical errors. In an effort to reduce the costs of health care, the Governor proposed that the state should cease to pay for care involving hospital-acquired infections, wrong-site surgeries, and other instances of medical malpractice. It is also the only state that requires hospitals to report near-misses.

The report cited wrong-site surgeries including the removal of a patient’s healthy thyroid and incorrect cancer diagnosis as the result of a laboratory mix-up, an incorrect incision on the wrong side of a brain injury patient’s head, and a surgeon inserting a needle into a patient’s right knee when the surgery was planned for the other leg. In 83 reported cases of wrong-site surgeries in the state, the procedure was completed before the mistake was detected.

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John J. Perconti and Patricia L. M. Gifford of Levin & Perconti recently settled a medical malpractice lawsuit for $4,000,000 involving conduct by an unidentified defendant to a liver transplant recipient causing a liver transplant rejection necessitating a second liver transplant causing end-stage renal disease and hemodialysis.

In 2002, the National Quality Forum created a list of adverse medical malpractice issues and in 2006, they updated it. This list contains serious medical malpractice events that are easily preventable and have dire consequences.

1. Switching donor eggs or sperm, resulting in paternity mixups.

2. Leaving of sponges or instruments inside a surgery patient.

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