Articles Posted in Hospital Negligence

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A large study published August 6th in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) has connected higher heart attack survival rates to women patients treated by a female doctor. Heart attacks are the leading cause of death for both men and women in this country. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), a woman dies every 80 seconds from a heart attack. Women are also more likely to die from a heart attack than men, the reasons for which have never been proven.

Women MDs Linked to Heart Attack Survival

The study, entitled “Patient-physician gender concordance and increased mortality among female heart attack patients,” relied on hospital records of 582,000 heart attack patients in Florida hospitals over the nearly 20 year period between 1991 and 2010.

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“Today, this is the most dangerous place in the developed world to give birth.”                                                                          -USA Today: “Hospitals know how to protect mothers. They just aren’t doing it.” (July 27, 2018)

Last Friday, USA Today published a report with findings from their investigation into hospital records and personal stories and has concluded that hospitals are failing mothers by missing symptoms that indicate serious maternal complications. The report, entitled “Hospitals know how to protect mothers. They just aren’t doing it.,” shared the CDC’s statistic that 50,000 women a year in this country suffer a serious complication during delivery. Around 700 mothers die a year.

These statistics alone might not sound significant given that there are nearly 4 million births a year in the U.S., but the frightening part is that despite being a wealthy, industrialized country, our maternal death rate is getting worse and is the WORST of any developed country. We are the only country besides Sudan and Afghanistan whose maternal death rate is on the rise, despite the belief by many that we have the best care in the world.

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A recent study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings reveals that 54% of American physicians report feeling burnt out at work. Lead study author, Stanford pediatric physician Daniel S. Tawfik, and his team found that those experiencing burnout were TWO times as likely to have made a major medical error in the last 3 months. Study authors also believe that based on this information, 1/3 of all American physicians are experiencing burnout at any given time.  Researchers describe burnout as “emotional exhaustion or cynicism.”

The study questioned 6,586 physicians in active practice at an American hospital or clinic and asked them to report feelings of burnout, excessive fatigue, recent suicidal thoughts, their thoughts on patient safety on the unit in which they primarily work, as well as those who had made a major medical error. The authors found:

  • 54.3%  of physicians admitted feeling burnt out
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The Center for Justice & Democracy, a consumer rights advocacy group out of New York Law School, has compiled a review of medical malpractice incidents and has publicly shared their findings. Entitled “Medical Malpractice: By the Numbers,” the briefing examines recent medical studies and investigations of both inpatient and outpatient groups and facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, and hospice organizations.

The data brings deficiencies in medical care into the spotlight, specifically the care Americans receive within hospitals. Below is a summary of information from the report our medical malpractice attorneys think is particularly informative and worth sharing. All data sources can be found in the CJ&D briefing. We have included the page number of the report that contains the source for each statistic.

HOSPITALS:

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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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Ratings from the annual Hospital Safety Grade Report from Leapfrog Group are now available and 15 Illinois hospitals have lost their ‘A’ rating since last year. This year, Illinois has 30 hospitals who received an A, down from 45 just last year. The Hospital Safety Grade Report “scores hospitals on how safe they keep their patients from errors, injuries, accidents, and infections.” According to the Leapfrog Group, the focus is to bring patient safety information to the public and reduce the number of hospital mistakes and injuries, incidents that are responsible for 440,000 deaths each year.

Data is collected from hospital surveys, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and secondary sources, including the American Hospital Association’s Annual Survey. In all, 27 different patient safety measures are evaluated, the data is weighted and then each hospital is given a rating (A-F). It is important to note that free standing pediatric hospitals, long term care facilities, and specialty centers (such as cancer treatment hospitals) are not included in Leapfrog’s annual Hospital Safety Grade Report.

Of the 27 measures, 12 related to Process and Structural Measures (everything from ‘Hand Hygiene’ to ‘Identification and Mitigation of Risks and Hazards’) and 15 related to Outcome Measures (from MRSA and CDiff infections, all the way to death during surgery). To view the 27 measures, please click here.

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“‘With our technology, every single time a woman dies [in childbirth], it’s a medical error.'”

In May of this year, ProPublica joined forces with NPR to tell the story of Lauren Bloomstein, a NICU nurse at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, New Jersey.  After years of taking care of thousands of new babies, Lauren and her husband, orthopedic trauma surgeon Dr. Larry Bloomstein, were finally about to bring their own child into the world. 20 hours after delivering their daughter, Hailey, Lauren Bloomstein was gone. Her cause of death was complications due to HELLP syndrome, a rare pregnancy-related condition considered to be a severe variant of Preeclampsia. In the hospital where she had tirelessly worked to save others, physicians and nursing staff ultimately failed her. A first-time mother who had lost her own mom as a child was dead at just 33 years old.

HELLP Syndrome & Preeclampsia: What Are They?

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America’s medical malpractice system may have its flaws, but it serves an extremely important purpose, especially in the case of wrongful death cases. Unfortunately, in some countries, there are laws that not only can prevent families from recovering financially after their loved one’s death, but that can actually force the family to pay the costs of the doctor who caused the death.

Doctor Responsible for Father’s Death Sues Son

The Telegraph reports that Rory Gray, a man whose father was killed by doctor, has been ordered to pay thousands of pounds in court costs in Germany. The doctor, Daniel Ubani, is from Germany. Dr. Ubani traveled the the U.K. and treated Gray’s father, ultimately giving him a massive (and lethal) drug overdose. He injected Mr. Gray’s father with a dose ten times greater than a safe amount of diamorphine. The overdose was due at least in part to a language barrier due to the doctor’s not speaking English well.
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The goal of a medical malpractice lawsuit is often an emotional one: to hold a negligent medical provider accountable for their actions or failure to act that caused an injury or death of a patient. Nothing can reverse what has been done, but victims or their families nevertheless seek justice. In addition, victims or families also seek to be compensated for the injury or loss. While this too will never change what happened, it is a necessary element for plaintiffs to seek redress in the form of damages in order to maintain a legitimate claim. What potential litigants should understand, however, is the scope of possible damages they may seek, and what specific damages are possible in the state of Illinois.

As has been publicized in the world of personal injury law, the 2010 case of Lebron v. Gottlieb Memorial Hospital significantly altered the landscape of medical malpractice law by finding the cap on the recovery of non-economic damages in such actions unconstitutional. This cap had been legislated in 2005 until its invalidation by the highest court of the state. This grounds for such action rested in a classic separation of powers argument, in which the Illinois Supreme Court determined that it was not up to the legislature, but rather up to the judiciary (either judge or jury) to assess damages on a case-by-case basis.

Non-economic effectively differs from economic damages in that economic damages focus solely on making the victim economically whole again, or at least as much as possible. Lost income, loss of potential income, medical expenses, and other hard and more easily calculable figures make up the category of economic damages. Non-economic damages on the other hand include awards for pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and other similar damages that cannot be so easily quantified, but nevertheless are quantified if a judge or jury determines a case merits such an award to further compensate a victim. Punitive damages also exist as a means of punishing defendants for their acts. However, punitive damages are not allowed against medical providers for medical malpractice in the state of Illinois.

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Trust. It is at the center of your relationship with so many people that you interact with everyday. A relationship based on trust is perhaps most evident when it comes to medical care. Nothing is more important that your health, and with the complexities of modern medicine, patients are often at the whim of their medical caregivers. While patients can ask questions about their options, in the vast majority of situations, patients simply do whatever their doctor tells them is necessary.

After all, you are visiting the doctor because they have supposedly spent years learning and training in order to provide the very specialized advice and care that you need. But mistakes happen all the time. Sometimes the errors are unintentional, at other times they are influenced by a doctor (or facility’s) desire to increase profits. In all cases, those unreasonable mistakes are unacceptable and patients deserve compensation when harmed.

Unnecessary Care