2019

Top causes of medical malpractice lawsuits

When you get to a medical clinic, you naturally assume that the person who will attend to you has your best interests at heart. To this end, you expect nothing but the best treatment. Unfortunately, this is no longer a guarantee. Medical malpractice cases are unfortunately common.

While little may alleviate the pain, damage and scars, filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against the health care provider or clinic at fault may offer some reprieve and compensation. The following are some of the medical malpractices that are challengeable in a court of law.

Delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis

A delay in diagnosis may cause you to miss treatment. This may further complicate a condition if proper treatment is not offered in good time.

On the other hand, a wrong diagnosis report may lead to incorrect administration of medications. As a result, the underlying condition may worsen. To prove a delayed or incorrect diagnosis, you should demonstrate that your healthcare provider did not uphold proper care standards.

Lack of informed consent

Before surgery, you should have all the details about the procedure and any side effects you are likely to experience. A physician’s failure to provide adequate information on what he or she is doing constitutes a violation of your rights. If an undesirable outcome arises from the procedure or the drugs administered, you may successfully sue.

Surgical errors

These constitute a third of the malpractice cases against healthcare providers. Common surgical errors include:

Conducting surgery on the wrong surgical site or patient
Nerve and organ damage
Use of unsanitary tools
Most of these errors should be preventable if a surgeon exercises appropriate caution when conducting a procedure.

Childbirth injuries

A majority of childbirth injuries occur because of a relaxed safety protocol and failure to pick up problems beforehand. These injuries, unfortunately, can lead to long-term disabilities. Negligence lawsuits for childbirth injuries encompass mistakes from the prenatal care period through to delivery time.

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Be aware of these types of surgical errors

The medical industry holds some of the most trusted professionals in the nation. People place their lives in the hands of physicians, nurses and surgeons on a daily basis when taken into the operating room to have procedures performed.

What people may not realize is that medical professionals are human and make mistakes that may put patient lives in danger. Surgical errors, negligence and other factors come into play when evaluating this type of medical malpractice. According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 4,000 medical errors, including surgical mistakes, occur every year in the United States. Many of these errors are preventable and put lives at risk.

Factors that lead to surgical errors

Miscommunication is one of the many factors involved in surgical mistakes. Surgeons may operate on the wrong body part, perform the wrong procedure or operate on the wrong patient altogether. Miscommunication may occur with the following:

  • Between medical professionals, such as physicians, nurses, surgeons and medical assistants
  • Errors involving electronic health care records
  • Between patients and the operating professionals

Another catalyst for surgical errors involves surgeons leaving instruments in patients’ surgical sites. While physical counts help to locate all surgical instruments before, during and after the procedure, simple mistakes may lead to items left inside a patient. These instruments are often surgical sponges, which when saturated with blood and bodily fluids, can disappear next to body organs. Retained surgical items can lead to serious infections that endanger the lives of patients.

How do we prevent surgical errors?

It is critical that surgeons speak with patients beforehand to verify the patient’s personal information as well as details about the procedure. Medical professionals must document all interactions involving patients and surgical procedures. New technology that helps surgeons account for all equipment and minimize the risk of something getting left behind is being introduced in more healthcare facilities across the country.

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4 tips for safe driving around commercial vehicles

You will constantly be around commercial vehicles on Tennessee roadways. As part of being a safe driver, it is essential to understand how to drive around these large vehicles. They are not simply just bigger than your vehicle. There are many different aspects of a commercial vehicle that make them perform differently from yours. In addition, the drivers have limitations that you do not have.

While every driver is responsible for driving safely and obeying road laws, it is also important that you are aware of those drivers and vehicles around you. Understanding how to safely drive around large vehicles can help you to prevent or avoid accidents. Here are four tips to always keep in mind when you are on the road.

1. Make contact with the driver

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration suggests that you always try to make eye contact with the driver of a commercial vehicle or at minimum make sure you can see the driver in the side mirror before maneuvering around the vehicle. This will help you to ensure the driver knows you are there or can see that you are there.

2. Give them space

Large vehicles need more room. If there is a sudden stop, it will need more room to stop. It needs more room to turn. You need to give it that room. Do not crowd a large vehicle by riding too close or driving too close.

3. Know physical limitations

Large vehicles have many physical limitations that your vehicle does not. For example, you can stop pretty fast if you recognize a danger up ahead while a large vehicle cannot do so. It is heavier, so it takes longer to stop. Maneuvering the commercial vehicle also takes more room. When you turn, for example, you take very little space to do so, but a large vehicle needs additional space because of its design.

4. Recognize visual limitations

The large size of the vehicle also means minimized visuals from the driver’s seat of a commercial vehicle. While you can see almost completely around your vehicle, a large truck, for example, cannot see directly behind it nor can it see right up beside its bed.

Commercial vehicles have several blind spots where the driver cannot see. If you are hanging out in a blind spot, you subject yourself to a potential collision.

Commercial vehicles serve important roles in our society, so we need them on the roads. However, they also pose huge safety risks to others on the roadway in an accident situation. To avoid getting into an accident with one, you need to learn how to drive safely around them.

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Birth control pills recalled due to mistakes in packaging

If you’re a woman on birth control, it might be wise to take a look at your latest prescription and make sure that it hasn’t been recalled.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a national recall on March 4, 2019, of birth control tablets produced by Apotex. Apotex voluntarily recalled four lots of Ethinyl Estradiol tables and Drospirenone tablets because of missing or incorrectly arranged pills.

Typically, birth control packets contain 21 active doses with the actual medication and 7 inactive pills that function as placeholders so that patients have an easier time tracking their doses. The packaging mistakes could leave patients without protection from unwanted pregnancies. It could also negatively affect others who use birth control to treat various other medical conditions, including things like migraines and hormone disorders.

If you use either of these types of birth control, check the lot number on the packaging. The defective lots were distributed throughout the nation, so people should look for the following identification numbers on the packages:

  • 7DY008A
  • 7DY009A
  • 7DY010A
  • 7DY011A

In addition, all of the affected pills have an expiration date of August 2020.

If you’re one of the people affected by this recall, you’re urged to get in touch with your doctor as soon as possible in order to get a replacement prescription. You can also contact Apotex directly if you have further questions.

Defective drugs are more than a mere inconvenience for many people. While there have been no reports (so far) of unwanted pregnancies, that’s a real possibility. Depending on what they are being treated for, other women may also suffer complications from the disruption in their medication that can last for quite a while.

If you’ve been harmed by a defective drug or a prescription error, it’s smart to find out more about your potential right to compensation. An attorney can help you learn more about your options.

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Why are medical product recalls constantly increasing?

When your health care provider treats you with a drug or medical device, you expect it to be safe. Unfortunately, there are many dangerous medical devices and pharmaceutical drugs. In fact, the number of recalls for medical products is steadily increasing. In 2013, the number of recalls was 2,303, compared to 3,202 in 2017.

Half-a-million pacemakers with hazardous software errors and contaminated valsartan blood pressure drugs exposed thousands of people to impurities that cause cancer. Dangerous medical products are not only life-threatening, but they also cost millions of dollars for the health care industry. Here are some of the main contributing factors to the steady increase in recalls reported to the FDA.

Complacent inspectors

The FDA inspects plants every two years to ensure quality. While this may sound like a good practice, it does not always go according to plan. When inspectors become familiar with plants, their inspections are more likely to be inaccurate. This is because repeat inspections can result in complacency. The FDA should use new inspectors to improve this problem.

Excessive competition

Competitiveness in the health care industry can lead to good outcomes, such as lower costs, better quality and increased access. Unfortunately, too much competition can backfire. Competition can result in firms cutting corners in quality control practices to be as profitable as possible. This leads to an increase in dangerous drug defects and recalls.

Biased managers

Of course, one of the main issues is with who makes recall decisions. Interestingly, managers at firms make almost all recall decisions voluntarily. Without the FDA mandating recalls, things can go wrong. The fact that most recalls are voluntary gives managers too much discretion.

There are plenty of other reasons why recalls are an ongoing issue, but these are some of the clearest ones. More research is necessary to ensure consumers are not exposed to harmful products.

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Why is the FDA Hiding Data on Defective Medical Devices?

Do you trust the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to keep you informed about the dangers that crop up with medical devices, products and drugs?

You probably shouldn’t.

It’s no secret that medical product manufacturers don’t like recalls on their products. They’re public relations nightmares. They’re expensive. They can deeply damage a company’s stock prices and cut into corporate profits. When given the discretion to make a recall or even an announcement to warn consumers, most companies would prefer to sit on their proverbial hands — even as reports of complications keep rolling in.

And, unfortunately, the FDA may be helping them do just that. A recent investigation by Kaiser Health News showed that the FDA gave out numerous exemptions to medical device manufacturers that allowed them to avoid public disclosure of complications with their products. In fact, a program that started almost two decades ago allowed medical manufacturing companies to file mere summary reports about their products’ malfunctions in a database that couldn’t be accessed by either medical researchers or doctors — let alone the public!

While many of those “alternative summary” exemptions were revoked in 2017, most of the hidden reports remain hidden. Some of the devices that have hidden reports, including implantable defibrillators and medical staplers. While about 100 reports of patient injuries were publicly linked to these devices in 2016 alone, nearly 10,000 reports of malfunctions were actually quietly filed with the FDA that didn’t become public.

If you ask the FDA for more information, most likely you’ll be told to make a request under the Freedom of Information Act — which can take almost two years to process.

Issues like these are why it is so important to have an attorney who is experienced with litigation over defective medical devices on your side if you or a loved one suffered an injury. Find out more today about your rights.

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Asbestos faces new restrictions under EPA ban

After mounting criticism regarding its asbestos policy, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has tightened the rules on the importation and use of products containing asbestos in the United States.

The new rule stops just short of a complete ban on all asbestos products and is the most restrictive in the EPA’s history. It closes a loophole that had been widely considered dangerous and irresponsible. Under the agency’s Significant New Use Rule, which was proposed last year, the prohibitions on asbestos were very narrowly defined, and it would have been fairly easy for manufacturers and importers to find ways to obtain an EPA permit for their products.

The EPA maintained that it didn’t have the authority to flat-out ban all asbestos products, claiming that the Significant New Use Rule was the best that the agency could do. However, the agency reconsidered after obtaining significant feedback from activists, industry groups like the American Chemistry Council and even retired EPA officials.

The new restrictions on asbestos will force companies to get the EPA’s approval before importing items containing asbestos for commercial sale or manufacturing processes. A total of 19 products that contain asbestos, including sealants, roofing felt, adhesives, pipeline wraps, millboard, reinforced plastics and floor tiles will be specifically restricted without going through an EPA risk assessment. In addition, a “catch-all” category of items was established to require the review of any other products with asbestos that aren’t already specifically addressed in the law.

Even so, not everyone is happy with the EPA’s actions. The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization called the new rules “deeply disappointing” and has asked Congress to enact a complete ban of asbestos products.

Diseases caused by asbestos exposure are related to at least 3,000 deaths per year. Even minimal exposure to asbestos can lead to disease years down the line. If you believe that asbestos is linked to your illness, it’s important to find out more about your rights and the legal resources available to you.

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Misdiagnosis is the major cause of malpractice involving children

When you’re a parent, you hate it when your child is sick. You turn to a doctor you trust to make sure that your child gets whatever they need to get better.

Unfortunately, doctors seem to have a particularly difficult time diagnosing illnesses in young children with accuracy. In fact, the younger the patient, the more likely it is that your doctor will make a diagnostic mistake that could lead to a serious injury.

According to recent studies, infants between a month old and one year in age are the most vulnerable to misdiagnoses. They’re also the most likely to die from malpractice, with a mortality rate of 30%. However, all children seem to be at some elevated risk of misdiagnosis regardless of age.

Doctors and insurers tend to attribute the problem to the fact that small children are unable to describe their symptoms, and parents may or may not be able to provide useful information. On the other hand, there’s also the possibility that some doctors tend to be overly dismissive of parental concerns — essentially downplaying a parent’s fear as “nervous parenting” and not something medically significant.

Older children and teens may have their symptoms dismissed as nothing more than a case of nerves or outright attention-seeking. Therefore, voicing their complaints might not be helpful.

Insurers and physicians admit that sometimes there are simply failures in the overall medical system that lead to misdiagnoses. Missed lab results, overlooked family histories and misread x-rays can also be at fault.

Whatever the reason for the problem, parents should be aware that misdiagnoses happen far too often with children. If you’re not satisfied with the answers your getting from your child’s doctor, insist on a second look — or a second opinion from another doctor.

If your child has been the victim of medical malpractice, find out more about your legal rights as soon as possible.

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Why your electronic health care records aren’t making you safer

The odds are very high that you haven’t seen a physician with a paper chart in a very long time.

Back in 2009, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) pressured physicians and hospitals to adopt electronic health records. The idea was partially to move patient care into the digital age.

Unfortunately, it may have actually set things back. The rush of new systems being developed and presented for use hasn’t been carefully handled or well-regulated, and that’s led to a mishmash of electronic programs that may be confusing to use and overwhelming for doctors and nurses to handle.

Patient care is sometimes suffering as a result. Many patients feel like they spend more time dealing with the electronic records at each doctor’s visit than they do actually talking to their doctor. Physicians say that the systems they’re forced to work with are “clumsy” and counterintuitive. Transferring data from one facility or physician’s office to the next is a nightmare (something electronic health records was supposed to make easier) because there are 700 different vendors producing systems that aren’t capable of interacting with each other.

Patient records still get mangled together, critical orders for tests never get transmitted, test results don’t make their intended recipient — and patients are suffering irreparable harm or dying as a result. The systems can be so confusing to use that important data gets lost in all those electronic pages. Sometimes, doctors and nurses are simply so preoccupied with filling out the pages in an electronic health record they fail to notice something with the patient that should be obvious. Some experts say that it’s hard to tell when an accident happens where human error is involved and where technology is at fault.

The reality is this: Electronic health records have not made medical care safer. If anything, they may be increasing the number of mistakes that happen in hospital emergency rooms and doctors’ offices. If you suspect that an error in your health records led to an incident of medical malpractice, you may be absolutely correct — so find out more about your legal options.

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A Federal Jury Finds Cook Medical IVC Filters Defective

If you have an intravenous filter in your body, you will likely find the latest lawsuit about defective devices of interest.

A federal jury in Indianapolis, IN, has found the IVC filters Cook Medical makes to be defective and a danger to patients.

About IVC filters

An inferior vena cava, or IVC, filter is a small medical device shaped like an umbrella. A doctor implants the device in the inferior vena cava, which is a vein that leads directly to the heart. The purpose of this device is to catch any blood clots that travel from the lower body toward the heart or lungs.

About the case

On February 5, 2019, a federal jury found the IVC filters made by Cook Medical, Inc., to be defective. An award of $3 million went to a woman in Georgia who experienced medical problems when her implanted IVC filter deteriorated. This is the first time a jury has reached a verdict concerning an IVC manufacturer. However, thousands of similar lawsuits against this manufacturer and others are pending.

Potential medical problems

IVC filters are intended for short-term use, but they can move within the body, and doctors have to tell some patients that removal is not possible. If a problem with an IVC filter develops, a patient may have symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath. The filter could fracture, become embedded in an organ or perforate the heart or lungs. Surgery to remove the device may be possible in some cases, but not in others due to the possibility of life-threatening complications.

Seeking help

Further investigation into defective IVC filters has shown that some manufacturers have failed to provide appropriate warning labels, but other reasons for filing a lawsuit concerning a defective device exist. If you are among those who have an IVC filter, have experienced medical problems or are aware the device cannot be safely removed, consider your options. The federal jury in the case against Cook Medical has opened the door to legal remedies.

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