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August 2012 Archives

STUDY: Texas Tort Reform Did Not Reduce Health Care Costs

In 2003, Texas voters approved Proposition 12, tort reform which capped medical malpractice payouts and made it more difficult for patients to sue hospitals. Republican politicians, led by Gov. Rick Perry (R), claimed that doctors were providing less services to patients because they feared getting sued. Republicans, joined by a "Yes on 12" campaign funded by the health insurance industry, promised that the amendment would lower health care costs and bring an influx of doctors to the state. Since 2003, Republicans nationwide have touted Texas as a model for tort reform.

Causes of Medical Malpractice

Causes of medical malpractice generally involve negligence or carelessness on the part of medical professionals and other employees of the facility they practice in. However, medical malpractice may also results from a failure to take appropriate actions or follow established medical procedures fully. The following are some of the most common causes of medical malpractice seen in healthcare facilities today.

McDonald’s Hot Coffee Movie trailer

Seinfeld mocked it. Letterman ranked it in his top ten list. And more than fifteen years later, its infamy continues. Everyone knows the McDonald’s coffee case. It has been routinely cited as an example of how citizens have taken advantage of America’s legal system, but is that a fair rendition of the facts? Hot Coffee reveals what really happened to Stella Liebeck, the Albuquerque woman who spilled coffee on herself and sued McDonald’s, while exploring how and why the case garnered so much media attention, who funded the effort and to what end. After seeing this film, you will decide who really profited from spilling hot coffee.

Unaddressed Medical Negligence

While a number of cases of medical negligence are filed every year in the United States, many more injured patients may forgo such claims. For a variety of reasons, patients may not realize they were the victims of medical malpractice, leaving them to bear the brunt of the physical, emotional, and economic harm they may be suffering. Sometimes medical errors may not become apparent until days or even weeks after a procedure, while other patients may simply not connect a health problem to recent care they received.

The Importance of Doctor-Patient Communication

Each person is different, and the medical treatment a patient receives should be tailored to private needs. To achieve the best results from personalized medical care, the medical professional and the patient must be completely open with one another. However, studies show that doctor-patient relationships are still lacking in modern health care.

Patient Dumping and Medical Malpractice

Patient dumping is the practice of hospitals physically removing patients from  the hospital, usually prematurely, and almost always those who are indigent or  on Medicare. Many patients have been refused care, while others have been  transferred elsewhere. Patients on Medicare have had the right to challenge a  premature discharge after treatment since 1986 after the passage of the  Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA). While this regulation  was adopted primarily to fight Medicare fraud, you may be able to file a medical  malpractice suit if you or a family member was negligently “dumped” by the  hospital, especially if treatment was subpar or non-existent.

Monitoring Brain After Stroke Can Lead to Better Treatment

Currently, patients who have had a stroke are given tissue plasminogen  activator, a drug to dissolve blood clots. Physicians then wait for any signs of  recovery. New research suggests that measuring electrical activity in the brain  would be a better way to monitor stroke patients.

Miracle 'Morgue' Baby Survives After Being Sealed in a Coffin for 12 Hours

Veron - whose name means "Miracle Light" in Spanish - was born in April. Upon  her delivery, doctors pronounced her dead. That would have probably been the  most likely outcome: Veron was premature, born an incredible three months early.  The baby showed no signs of life. Nearly immediately, she was shipped off to the  morgue.

Thousands at Risk of HIV After Rogue Denver Dentist Reused IV Syringes for 12 Years

Thousands of people in Colorado may have been infected with HIV or hepatitis  after a local dentist was discovered to have been reusing dirty sedation  syringes and needles to some of his 8,000 patients for 12 years.

VERDICT---Procedure goes wrong, results in brain damage

Plaintiff says doctor went in incorrect order, surgery aborted intra-operatively

In a lawsuit filed in Washtenaw County Circuit Court, and consolidated with a lawsuit filed in State of Michigan Court of Claims, plaintiff Angela Smith, next friend to plaintiff Alexander Miller, sought compensatory damages from defendants Dr. Eric Devaney; University of Michigan Board of Regents; University of Michigan Health Center; and the University of Michigan Hospital, on claims of severe brain- and heart-related damage arising from cardiac surgery that had to be aborted intra-operatively. 
The intended operation on Miller, by Devaney, was a complex heart surgery designed to revise a prior heart surgery performed some 17 years before to treat a congenital heart defect.

At the outset of surgery after opening Miller's chest, there was a tear of the right atrium with resulting hemorrhage and a need to resuscitate the patient with blood transfusions. Thereafter, as Devaney then attempted to "mobilize the chest," he tore Miller's aorta, resulting in even more hemorrhage and a surgical crisis. Additional surgeons were summoned emergently to assist, and more resuscitation was required.

SETTLEMENT-Vascular, pancreatic injury during surgery leads to death

Communication failures cited for misdiagnosis, unperformed intervention

 Donna Weyek, serving as personal representative of the Estate of Mary Roush, sought compensatory damages from defendant Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) on claims of medical malpractice and wrongful death. Roush was referred to HFHS for evaluation of an "entirely asymptomatic" adrenal mass by her treating urologist. Diagnostic imaging demonstrated the mass was benign. Given the size and benign nature of the mass, no surgical intervention was warranted. HFHS urologists undertook surgery anyway, telling Roush it would be a simple robotic procedure and she would be discharged the next day.

At deposition, one of the urologists admitted that the surgery was ill advised, claiming that he undertook it because the patient insisted. The urologist's reasoning was contrary to his own operative report and records.

Medication Mistakes That Can Kill

A medical error is the sixth primary reason of death in the United States and is completely preventable. According to the American Association for Justice medical errors kill and seriously injure hundreds of thousands of Americans every year, costing approximately $29 billion. In addition, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement estimates that there are 15 million incidents of medical harm each year, and found that Medicare patients who experienced a patient-safety incident had a one-in-five chance of dying as a result.

"Patient Safety" Bills

Recently a series of sweeping proposed laws have been introduced in the Michigan Senate and Michigan House that are supposed to "reform" the law in Michigan regarding medical malpractice cases.  The stated purpose of these of these bills is to "protect" patients and keep doctors from leaving the state.

Help Avoid Mistakes in Your Surgery-SPEAK UP

Mistakes can happen during surgery. Surgeons can do the wrong surgery. They can operate on the wrong part of your body. Or they can operate on the wrong person. Hospitals and other medical facilities that are accredited by The Joint Commission must follow a procedure that helps surgeons avoid these mistakes. (Facilities that are accredited by The Joint Commission are listed on The Joint Commission's Quality Check website: Mistakes can also happen before or after surgery.

A Step in the Right Direction

WASHINGTON, August, 25, 2012 - For over 20 years, Missouri  juries, like too many other juries in the United States, were not necessarily  the last word in providing justice to civil litigants who took their claims to  court.  Damages caps have now been removed in Missouri, and those injured  due to the neglect of others will now be responsible in full, as a jury  determines.

Michigan's Non-Economic Damages Cap

On July 23, 2012, the State of Michigan Supreme Court ("Michigan Supreme Court") decided a case in which the issue was how to apply Michigan's cap on noneconomic damages when a medical malpractice jury renders a verdict but there was a settlement reached with some medical malpractice defendant(s) before the trial. In the particular case before the Michigan Supreme Court, the plaintiff had settled with two hospitals before trial in the amount of $195,000 and thereafter filed a medical malpractice case against a physician who the plaintiff claimed was also responsible for her injuries.

Doctors Petition FDA to Change Opioid Labeling

Nearly 40 doctors, researchers, and public health officials Wednesday asked the Food and Drug Administration to change the labeling used on narcotic painkillers, a move that, if approved, would make it more difficult for drug companies to market the medications for chronic, noncancer pain.

Safety upgrades at Grand Rapids Home for Veterans not enough for family of slain resident

GRAND RAPIDS, MI -- Measures to upgrade safety for Alzheimer's patients at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans aren't enough for the daughter of a resident who died after he was beaten by another resident in April.

Surgical Errors are Common

Surgical errors are unfortunately common. Although classed in the category of "never events," or types of medical malpractice that should never occur, surgical errors such as amputating the wrong body part persist.

Passage of Medical Malpractice Bills Would be "Disastrous" for Patients Attorney Says

At a time when medical malpractice claims in the state have already dramatically decreased and Michigan has among the lowest average claim payments in the country, a package of tort reform would make it even tougher for lawyers trying medical malpractice cases, attorneys say.

Bill Collectors Bullied Hospital ER Patients, Report Finds

Deb Waldin showed up at a Minneapolis-area emergency room one night last  summer with the worst pain she'd ever felt -- a kidney stone. While she waited  to see a doctor, a man rolled a computer into her emergency-room bay and asked  her to pay $750 or $800.

Atrial Fibrillation in the Elderly: Special Considerations

With aging, the prevalence of atrial fibrillation (AF) increases. In individuals aged 65 and older, the prevalence of AF is about 5%, and doubles to 10% in those aged 80 and older.1 Additionally, as the population ages, the number of people with AF is rising dramatically, with 5.6 million people in the United States projected to have AF by the year 2050. In this population, the risk of ischemic stroke is of primary concern; nonvalvular AF increases the risk of stroke by 5-fold and is responsible for approximately 24% of strokes in patients aged 80 to 89.1

FDA Warns of Deaths with Postop Codeine in Children

 WASHINGTON  -  The FDA issued a warning Wednesday of a potentially fatal risk associated with the use of codeine in children following tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy.

Pediatric patients who have undergone either procedure should receive only the lowest effective dose of drugs that contain codeine, for the shortest time, and only on an as-needed basis, the agency said.

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