April 17th, 2014 at 1:23 pm
As complex medical procedures increase in popularity, so do the mistakes that accompany them. According to Medical News Today, the number of litigated cases involving malpractice in laser hair removal treatments has surged in recent years. In 2011, Medical News Today reports, “dermatologic surgeons carried out 1.6 million treatments” in the U.S.—one of the most common cosmetic operations performed in the nation.
The major risk with laser hair removal practices comes most often from non-physicians “who may have minimal training,” reports The New York Times. In addition to the figures compiled by Medical News Today, the Times suggests that there may be several unreported operations performed annually as well. “The percentage of lawsuits over laser survey that involved a non-physician operator rose to 78 percent in 2011 from 36 percent in 2008,” the Times reports.
Eleven states do not have regulatory laws concerning laser hair removal. According to the State of Connecticut Medical Examining Board, in 1996 such regulatory measures were approved in the state, making it illegal for any physician without a specific license to employ lasers for hair removal. “In making this ruling,” the report states, “the Board is choosing to err on the side of safety to best protect the public.”
Risks associated with laser hair removal can be permanent, though the procedure itself may not be. According to The New York Times, risks can include (but are not limited to:
- Disfiguring injuries;
- Severe burns in sensitive areas (“like the bikini line and the mustache area above the lips”);
Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery Director Dr. Tina Alster told the Times that, “there’s a perception by the public that anybody can do this. People need to remember, it’s not the laser doing the work, it is the operator.”
If you or someone you know has been injured or disfigured by a laser hair removal treatment in Connecticut, you may be eligible for compensation. The most important first step is to seek the counsel of a legal professional. Contact the law offices of Richard R. Raphael for a free initial consultation today.
April 9th, 2014 at 12:37 pm
A new study by Columbia University School of Nursing about hospital infection prevention policies has revealed some disturbing results – most hospitals fail to follow their own policies. The price of these infections is high, costing $33 billion annually for excess medical care and killing 100,000 people in this country every year.
Researchers studied the prevention policies of over 1600 intensive care units (ICU) at almost 1,000 hospitals located across the U.S. The team was especially interested in what kind of checklists were in place to prevent central line-associated bloodstream infections, ventilator-associated pneumonia and catheter-associated urinary tract infections.
Of all the ICUs studied, one in 10 still did not have any kind of checklist in place to help deter bloodstream infections. The study also found that one in four ICUs had no checklists to help prevent patients developing pneumonia while on a ventilator.
For those units that did have checklists in place, these safeguards were only followed half the time.
Past research has shown that the use of electronic monitoring systems and staff that are trained and have infection control certification can significantly reduce the occurrence of these infections. But only one-third of the hospitals actually had some type of electronic monitoring system in place. And more than one-third of the hospitals studied had no staff trained in infection control.
The research was led by Dr. Patricia Stone, who has been involved in considerable research about hospital and health-care infections. In a statement, Dr. Stone said, “Hospitals aren’t following the rules they put in place themselves to keep patients safe. Rules don’t keep patients from dying unless they’re enforced.”
Dr. Stone also added, “Every hospital should see this research as a call to action – it’s just unconscionable that we’re not doing every single thing we can, every day, for every patient, to avoid preventable infections.”
If you have suffered from complications caused by negligent medical care, contact a Westport medical malpractice attorney to find out what compensation you may be entitled to for pain and loss.
April 5th, 2014 at 12:43 pm
The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) recently released their 2014 Emergency Room Report Card and the grade is not good – the national results were a D+. The study found that, nationally, the emergency care environment had actually gotten worse since the last report card was issued in 2009.
Four of the categories the study measured include:
Access to Emergency Care – The national grade for this category was a D-. There are many issues that emergency care environments cannot seem to overcome, including the amount of time patients have to wait for emergency room care, shortages in on-call specialists and other healthcare workforce members, and the increasing costs for care. Twenty-one states received F’s in this category.
Quality and Safety Patient Environment – This category received a C for its overall grade. The study points out that there have been new systems and protocols introduced to improve life-saving treatment and promote better functioning emergency rooms. Ten states received F’s in this category.
Public Health and Injury Prevention – The overall national grade for this category is a C. There has been no improvement in this section since 2009. It is the one category where states can take the initiatives to be pro-active in implementing programs to help reduce the need for emergency care. An example of this cited by the ACEP would be immunization programs for children and senior citizens. Ten states received F’s in this category.
Disaster Preparedness – This category saw a slight decrease since the last report card and has fallen to a C-. The ACEP contributes this decrease to disparities in each state’s hospital systems when it comes to the capacity of the hospitals and how prepared its personnel are for disasters. Thirteen states received F’s in this category.
If you have suffered permanent disabilities because of a physician’s error or misdiagnosis, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your pain and loss. Contact a Westport medical malpractice attorney to find out what legal options you may have.
March 27th, 2014 at 3:51 pm
It can be difficult to determine whether or not you qualify for a medical malpractice suit. Medical malpractice, however, is an epidemic in America—according to the Journal of the American Medical Association and as reported by Forbes, “medical negligence is the third leading cause of death in the U.S.—right behind heart disease and cancer.” While it might be difficult to prove medical malpractice, payouts for these types of suits still totaled over $3 billion in 2012, amounting to one average payout nationwide every 43 minutes. This statistic can be misleading. According to Forbes, “only 15 percent of the personal-injury lawsuits filed annually involve medical-malpractice claims, and more than 80 percent of those lawsuits end with no payment whatsoever to the injured patient or their survivors.”
At its worst, medical malpractice brings to mind tools left in patients’ bodies, or infectious, deadly diseases transmitted because hospital staff forgot to wash hands. Yet the leading cause of medical malpractice is actually much more benign. According to a study out of Johns Hopkins last spring and as reported in the Village Voice, more than 30 percent of all medical malpractice payouts were for misdiagnosis. The lead researcher of the study said in a press release that, “this is more evidence that diagnostic errors could easily be the biggest patient safety and medical malpractice problem in the United States.”
To combat this, in 2006, according to the Wall Street Journal, Kaiser Permanente joined forces with the Veterans Administration to promote “system wide initiatives aimed at the most common lapses in the diagnostic process.” The most common instances of misdiagnosis arise from incidents that include (but are not limited to):
- The creation of proper follow-up care plans;
- Failure to obtain complete medical histories;
- Failure to perform physical exams adequately;
- Failure to order the correct type of tests.
If you suspect that you have been the victim of medical malpractice in Westport, the most important step is to seek the counsel of an attorney. Contact the law office of Richard H. Raphael for a free consultation today.
March 22nd, 2014 at 12:13 pm
Proving that an injury that occurred during birth is a result of medical malpractice can be a difficult and frustrating process. If you suspect that your child may have suffered an injury due to doctor or hospital negligence, the most important thing you can do is to contact a medical malpractice lawyer. According to BirthInjury.org, a non-profit that provides support to families who have been affected by a birth injury, states that the most common types of birth injury are brachial plexus injury and cerebral palsy. Birth injuries can refer to either those suffered by the mother or the baby.
The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves that beings at the base of the neck, according to BirthInjury.org. “There are two common systems used to classify or describe different kinds of brachial plexus injuries,” reports BirthInjury.org. “The simplest uses the severity of the injury from least to greatest: (1) stretch, (2) rupture and (3) avulsion.” Many times stretch injuries heal quickly and can often result in a full recovery. Avulsion, conversely, is the most serious type of brachial plexus birth injury and can result in immobility or even lack of growth in a leg. “The only known cause of avulsion injuries is extreme traction (pulling) applied to the brachial plexus,” reports BirthInjury.org.
Cerebral palsy refers to a series of brain injuries that can occur as a result of medical malpractice during the birthing process. “Cerebral palsy is a non-progressive impairment of your child’s motor functions which causes physical disability as your child develops,” BirthInjury.org reports.
According to the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP), in 2006 there were nearly 157,700 birth injuries that occurred to either the mother or baby, which could have been avoided. Injuries were more common for baby boys than girls.
If you or someone you know was affected by a birth injury in Westport, you are likely eligible for compensation. Contact Richard H. Raphael Attorney at Law today.
March 14th, 2014 at 12:58 pm
The New York Times recently reported on the enormous increase in the use of medical imaging and the impact that increase has had in the number of cancer deaths in the last two decades.
Cancer is the number two cause of death in the United States, but it is quickly catching up to and may soon surpass the leading cause of death – heart disease. Medical imaging – particularly CT scans – exposes the patient to high doses of radiation. According to the Mayo Clinic, a CT scan performs by combining “a series of X-ray views taken from many different angles and computer processing to create cross-sectional images of the bones and soft tissues inside your body.”
The radiation from a CT scan (also referred to as a cat scan) is 100 to 1,000 times higher than X-rays. Many doctors have always concluded that the benefits of using CT scans for diagnostic purposes far exceeded the risks of that exposure. Today, however, in a 2009 study, the National Council on Radiation Protection & Measurements (NCRP) reported that there will be an extra 29,000 cases of cancer caused from CT scans performed in the year 2007. And 14,500 of those cancer cases will be terminal.
In another study, the NCRP also reports that in 1980 there were 3 million scans performed. Today, there are 62 million CT scans performed annually.
The correlation between the radiation in CT scans and cancer has been documented in several studies. Just one CT scan exposes a person to enough radiation that could cause cancer and has been compared as the same amount of radiation exposure as people were exposed to in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, many who later died of cancer.
Research has also revealed that children are even more at risk than adults. They are three times more likely to develop brain cancer or leukemia from CT scan radiation exposure.
Medical experts say that better guidelines and standards need to be established on the use of medical imaging. They also say that better oversight is needed. Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is only responsible of the approval of scanners, but does not have any jurisdiction on how they are used.
If you have suffered injuries or illness brought on by medical error, contact a qualified Westport medical malpractice attorney today to find out what kind of civil options you may have for pain and loss.
March 10th, 2014 at 12:11 pm
Reuters is reporting that Biomet Inc. is going to pay $56 million to settle multiple lawsuits against them for the company’s defective metal hip replacements. Hundreds of plaintiffs across the country had filed lawsuits against Biomet for their metal-on-metal hip replacement devices known as M2a-38 and M2a-Magnum. These suits were all combined and an Indiana federal court heard the case against the company. Biomet’s headquarters are located in Indiana.
According to the lawsuit, these metal-on-metal devices are made from cobalt and chromium alloy. As grinding of the ball and cup articular surfaces takes place, the defect in the device releases an excessive amount of these two metals. Plaintiffs in the case experienced early failure of the hip replacement devices and many suffered from metallosis – elevated metal ion poisoning. This led to often painful revisions and a long rehab process.
Biomet will put $50 million into an escrow account to pay all those plaintiffs who have been forced to have the revision surgery. Each claimant will receive a base $200,000, with any more funds being determined by clinical factors in each individual case. There are at least 200 claimants who have not had the surgery yet. They will not receive any funds as part of the settlement until, or if, they have the revision surgery.
The other $6 million will go towards attorney fees.
Despite the settlement agreement, Biomet maintains that their product were not responsible for any injuries or damages suffered by anyone who received those implants. However, it was revealed that shortly after Biomet introduced the devices in 2004, hundreds of complaints of the product failure began coming in to the company. Biomet didn’t act on those complaints.
Biomet isn’t the only hip replacement company facing litigation over defective metal hip replacement devices. Other companies include the Zimmer, Stryker, Biomet, Wright and DePuy.
February 28th, 2014 at 12:04 pm
Kaiser Health News is reporting on a new Medicare program that tracks the results of hip and knee replacement surgeries. Medicare has released the names of the 97 best and the 95 worst hospitals to have these procedures at.
Over 500,000 Medicare patients have either hip or knee replacement surgeries each year. In 2010 alone, between Medicate patients and those with private health insurance, more than 332,000 patients had hip replacement surgery (costing $8 billion) and 700,000 patients had knee replacement surgery (costing $12 billion).
The tracking system looked at operations performed from June 2009 through July 2012. It looked at how often patients were readmitted within a month after replacement surgery. Serious complications from the surgery, like infections, blood clots, problems with the replacement joint or death, were also tracked. An average was determined by Medicare, and most hospitals fell in that average. Two hospitals from Connecticut fell on that list, with one falling into the best category and one falling into the worst category.
Several of the hospitals that fell in the worst list complained about the procedure that was used to determine these results. They said that the results were outdated given the time-frame that Medicare used to track results. New technologies and new treatment models were two examples of how treatments have improved over the past year or two.
Medicare is going to add the results of this tracking as part of its formula when deciding to penalize hospitals. After conducting a similar tracking on readmission rates for patients with heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia, the federal agency has already penalized more than 2000 hospitals nationwide by paying those hospitals less. Once these new figures are factored in, a hospital could lose as much as 3 percent per patient stay.
If you’ve had side-effects or injuries from joint replacement surgery, contact an experienced Westport medical malpractice attorney today to find out what compensation you may be entitled to for pain and loss.
February 21st, 2014 at 12:00 pm
In late December, Abrams Royal, a compounding pharmacy based in Texas, voluntarily recalled all products produced at its Dallas plant meant for sterile use, according to a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) press release. “Recalled products include injectable medications, intravenous (IV) injections, eye drops, pellet implants, nasal sprays, inhalation solutions, and eye ointments that were distributed between June 17, 2013 and December 17, 2013,” the FDA reports. Because these products are meant for sterile use, patients who come into contact with them face serious risk of infection or injury.
Abrams was made aware of the situation after just one adverse event. A patient in California who received a mineral IV injection “had blood cultures that tested positive for Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, a gram-negative bacterium that can cause many types of infection,” according to the FDA. Such infections range from pneumonia to meningitis.
Howard Skalmberg, director of the Office of Compliance at the FDA said in the statement that patient safety is the agency’s top priority. “Using these products puts patients at an unacceptable risk,” Skalmberg said, “and we urge health care professionals to follow recall instructions issued by the firm.”
It’s not just unsterile medications, such as those recalled by Abrams, which cause infections in the hospital, however. Dr. Peter Pronovost, director of the Quality and Safety Research Group at Johns Hopkins told CNN that about 100,000 people die every year from infections they receive at the hospital. “Take the two most deadly types of infections hospitals give their patients: infections from ventilators and infections from catheters. Together, those kill 65,000 people a year,” he said.
If you or someone you know has been infected while at the hospital in Connecticut—either from faulty or unsterile medications, such as what has been recalled by Abrams, or because of hospital conditions—the most important step is to seek legal counsel. Don’t go through it alone. Contact Richard H. Raphael, Attorney at Law, today.
February 13th, 2014 at 9:38 pm
A study by John Hopkins University reveals that the most common error made by physicians is misdiagnosis, which often leads to permanent disability or even death. The study also found that misdiagnosis is also the number one reason for malpractice claims, accounting for 35 percent of those claims. Between 1986 and 2011, there was almost $39 billion paid out to patients and their families for physician misdiagnosis.
The medical community, realizing that most of these errors are preventable, is focusing on fixing the reasons those errors occur. Computers and automation are a big component of ensuring misdiagnoses doesn’t occur. Having computers automatically analyze medical records searching for possible oversights or other mistakes by doctors is one way. Alerting doctors to make sure they follow up on questionable lab results is another way automation can help alleviate these errors.
There is also a different trend in the way doctors are being trained. Instead of deciding on just one diagnosis for a presented set of symptoms, they are now being trained to not be so quick to put a definite label on symptoms and to keep an open-mind, even as treatment is occurring. The Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine is in the process of developing a curriculum for medical schools that will help physicians in training develop their diagnostic skills. It will also help reveal to the schools whether these future doctors are competent in their field.
It is hoped that the new health care law will also curb physician misdiagnosis since the law requires all of a patient’s medical providers to coordinate his or her care.
Other solutions include running automatic queries of patient records that meet certain criteria (i.e. abnormal blood tests), utilizing electronic decision-support programs to help with diagnosis, new and improved testing apparatus and also stressing the importance of doctor/patient communication.
If you’ve suffered permanent disabilities because of a doctor’s misdiagnosis, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact a Westport medical malpractice attorney to find out what legal options you may have.