Articles Posted in Hospital Negligence

understaffed hospital

Westlake Hospital Stays Open for Now, Community Leaders Say There Are Not Enough Staff to Care for Patients 

By court order, Westlake Hospital in Melrose Park is to stay open and keep patient safety a top concern. Previously, a Cook County Circuit Court judge granted Melrose Park a temporary restraining order, prohibiting Pipeline Health (owners of Westlake) from further minimizing services or staffing after they had announced the hospital would no longer be admitting new patients and transferring others.

But local lawmaker Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch of Westchester says that despite the newest court order to stay open and treat patients, Pipeline Health is still “turning employees and staff away.”

“Safety advocates said that without access to public data, it has been too easy for hospitals to excuse poor outcomes by blaming mothers’ health problems.”

-USA Today

Hospitals Blame Mothers When Things Go Wrong

pain medication overdose

Health System, Intensive Care Doctor, Pharmacist, and Nurse All Sued for Giving Excessive Doses of Powerful Pain Medicine

An Ohio hospital system has been at the center of intense scrutiny after one of its former intensive care doctors is said to have ordered “significantly excessive and potentially fatal” doses of “comfort” pain medicine for at least 27 near-death patients over the course of several years. One family is suing the health system as well as the doctor, pharmacist, and nurse responsible for allegedly giving an improper dose of fentanyl to their 79-year-old family member even though they had asked that lifesaving measures be stopped. Fentanyl, also known as Actiq, Duragesic or Sublimaze, is an especially potent painkiller used to treat extreme pain. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), strains of fentanyl can be up to 50 times more powerful than morphine.

Although the hospital, part of the larger Mount Carmel Health System, has since acknowledged the doses in many similar patient cases were larger than needed. A legal team will now investigate as to whether the acts were intentional, and if the lethal drugs were possibly used improperly to accelerate the patients’ deaths.

“To know that this happens is our country, that’s unacceptable.” 

-Sue Sheridan, patient safety advocate, in To Err Is Human

The medical malpractice attorneys of Levin & Perconti recently watched To Err Is Human, a newly released documentary showing the frequency and impact of medical errors upon American families. To see the facts relating to the frequency and severity of medical errors combined with the heart wrenching story of a family forever changed by these mistakes has left a lasting impression on all of us.

“It would be great if the regulators of hospitals and doctors were more diligent about responding to harm to patients, but they’re not, so people have turned to other people. This is what happens when your system of oversight is failing patients.”

-Lisa McGiffert, former head of Consumer Reports’ Safe Patient Project to USA TODAY

You may be one of the many who rely on online reviews to help make decisions on everything from where to eat to what vendors to choose for house projects. How about using online reviews to decide which doctor to see? With the popularity of websites such as Yelp, Facebook, and other online platforms that allow customers and patients to post their opinion on venues, goods, and services, many are turning to the internet to help them choose healthcare providers.

In April, our blog highlighted the failure of the state of Illinois to check the National Practitioner Database (NPDB) in 2017 for ANY prior lawsuits or disciplinary action of a physician applying for a license to practice medicine. Illinois was one of 13 states in the country that didn’t use the database to query a physicians’ background a single time that year.

The news was troubling then, but is bringing up renewed feelings of mistrust and worry after information was released in a November 30th article through a collaborative investigation between the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and MedPage Today, a website dedicated to providing education and news to physicians. The investigation found that over 250 physicians who had lost their medical license in one state are now practicing in another.

Doctor Leaves Trail of Injured Patients, Now Practicing in Cincinnati

“We need to hold institutions accountable…this can’t just be a hashtag. It has to be real action and the way to do that is through changes in our legal system.” 

-Melissa Hoechstetter, victim of Robert Hadden, former Columbia University gynecologist

A civil lawsuit in New York was filed this week, accusing a top New York City gynecologist of sexual abuse.

The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit group dedicated to hospital safety, has released their biannual Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade report, showing an overall improvement in Illinois hospitals since the spring. According to Leapfrog, the survey measures hospital patient safety by the number of “errors, injuries, accidents, and infections.” Participation by hospitals is optional and this fall, 110 Illinois hospitals agreed to take part. According to the data collected, Leapfrog rated Illinois hospitals as #13 overall, an improvement from #15 this past spring.

In a time where the increasing problem of medical errors is finally being given the platform it deserves, the survey is more relevant now than ever. The Leapfrog Group, citing an often quoted 2016 Johns Hopkins study, notes that medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the United States. Patient safety and healthcare provider accountability is essential for all hospitals and healthcare organizations. Below is our analysis of the Fall 2018 Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade report for participating Illinois hospitals.


Illinois & Metro Chicago Hospital Results

child sexual abuse

Uptown Chicago Psychiatric Hospital “Called Out” After Reports of Sexual Abuse and Neglect Involving Child Patients

Although not surprised, the entire legal team at Levin & Perconti has been cringing over the recent ProPublica Illinois investigation into Chicago Lakeshore Hospital, a private psychiatric facility located in the northside of the city. The initial ProPublica findings involve both claims of sexual abuse and related disruptions grown from the ongoing neglect of young patients in the hospital’s Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Program. The allegations are horrific to say the least. Even so, dozens of children have bravely stepped forward and shared their personal stories of being raped and sexually abused by staff and patients, while others have been physically assaulted. Many of the hospital’s hotline complaints in just the last few months were triggered from laxed staff who created scenes of abusive sexual activity (most forced), and inappropriate or violent altercations between children and teenage patients.

Federal inspection reports in 2018, show the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has investigated 16 allegations of abuse and neglect, many sexual in nature, at the hospital between staff and child patients, and other hospital residents just this year. As the Chicago Tribune recently reported, some pending investigations include these sickening allegations:

The Center for Justice and Democracy (CJ&D), a consumer rights group out of New York Law School, has shared their list of 22 famous figures who have been harmed and even killed by medical malpractice.

Most of us are familiar with the high profile drug-related tragedies of Michael Jackson (2009) and Prince (2016) and even Judy Garland (1969) and Marilyn Monroe (1962). Some of us are familiar with the details surrounding the death of comedian Joan Rivers in 2014 during an endoscopy at a New York City clinic.  But it was surprising even to us to read the details of medical neglect in cases involving other beloved celebrities. As CJ&D pointed out in their report, no one is exempt from medical negligence or malpractice, not even celebrities with all the money and resources in the world at their fingertips. The report also shared several findings that now have become well known to the public. Among them, that medical errors are the 3rd leading cause of death in this country.

Each of the 22 cases highlighted in the report has resulted in a settlement or verdict (or is pending) and in many of them, grieving loved ones or the victims themselves have said that it’s not about money, but instead about enforcing a sense of right vs. wrong in the face of injustice.

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