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 They said that the results were outdated given the time-frame that Medicare used to track results.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.
February 6th, 2014 at 5:49 pm
The past year was a big one regarding medical malpractice law and lawsuits. At the beginning of the year in Illinois, Gov. Pat Quinn “quietly signed a law allowing [medical malpractice attorneys] to collect higher fees,” according the Chicago Tribune, a practice that supporters say aims to protect victims of medical malpractice. Rather than Illinois attorneys being able to take sometimes up to 50 percent of their clients’ award, “the law is aimed at setting a standardized rate of pay,” the Tribune reports. While no such law has been passed in Connecticut yet—Connecticut is still one of the 15 states that “establishes a specific limit or sliding scale on contingency fees attorneys may charge clients,” according to the Connecticut State government—there were other changes made to medical malpractice procedure in the state this year.
In April, according to the Connecticut Mirror, the Connecticut State Judiciary Committee heard testimony “on a proposed change to how cases against physicians come to court.” Attorneys who were pro-change explained that unless the doctor was specifically described in state law, many legitimate cases of medical malpractice were being thrown out in court. “Since 2005,” the Connecticut Mirror reports, “a patient wanting to claim damages from a doctor for alleged negligence must have his or her case reviewed by a similar health care provider.”
According to the Connecticut Post, the legislation that “would change who could write the opinions from “similar” health care providers to “qualified” health care providers.” Several physicians and hospital officials, including the American Medical Association, “submitted testimony against the legislation,” the Post reports, “saying it would undo the 2005 reform that curbed the skyrocketing malpractice insurance rates.” After the 2005 law was passed that required this type of opinion, “the number of medical malpractice cases filed in the state has dropped about 20 percent,” according to the Post.
If you believe you have been the victim of medical malpractice in Connecticut, the most important first step you can take is to contact an experienced malpractice attorney. Don’t go through it alone. Contact Richard R. Raphael today.
January 31st, 2014 at 5:23 pm
Some of the most dangerous drugs are those sold over the counter and taken incorrectly. At the end of 2013, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning regarding the overuse of acetaminophen in hospitals and in homes. In January, a similar warning was issued stating that, “over-the-counter (OTC) sodium phosphate drugs to treat constipation can cause rare but serious harm to the kidneys and heart, and even death,” according to the FDA. The damage results from a change in the levels of serum electrolytes. This can occur if a person takes more than the recommended dose of the sodium phosphate products. “According to the reports,” the FDA states, “most cases of serious harm occurred with a single dose of sodium phosphate that was larger than recommended or with more than one dose in a day.”
According to Medscape.org, “the problem surfaced in a review… which turned up 54 cases in 25 adults and 29 children of serious adverse events associated with the oral or rectal use of OTC sodium phosphate drug products used to treat constipation.” Medscape reports that individuals who may be at higher risk when using the sodium phosphate products include (but are not limited to):
- Young children
- Individuals older than 55 years
- Patients who are dehydrated
- Patients with kidney disease, bowel obstruction, inflammation of the bowel
- Patients using medications that affect kidney function
OTC sodium phosphate medications come in several different forms. They may include diuretics or water pills, Medscape reports, inhibitors or receptor blockers used to treat hypertension, and anti-inflammatory OTC drugs. This isn’t the first time that the FDA has issued a warning regarding the overuse of such drugs, according to Medscape. The agency has previously issued a similar warning regarding the overuse of such drugs “for bowel cleansing before colonoscopy or other procedures,” Medscape reports.
If you or someone you know has been adversely affected because of a dangerous drug in Connecticut, the most important step is to seek legal counsel. Contact Richard H. Raphael today.
January 17th, 2014 at 5:20 pm
Fox News is reporting on a new study that conflicts with what many people thought were the ultimate benefits of a taking a daily dose of aspirin.
The study was conducted by a group of researchers based in the UK. According to the Fox report, the group found 27 studies that were conducted between the years of 2008 and 2012, and this is where they gathered their evidence. All research was gathered by nine randomized controlled studies.
For years, people who have had heart attacks or strokes have been told by their doctors to take a daily aspirin to help prevent blood clots. Patients who suffer from these medical conditions develop hardening of the arteries and this hardening can lead to blood clots. Past research has revealed that a person who has suffered a stroke has up to a fifteen percent chance of suffering another stroke within a year. Aspirin has been proven effective in breaking up blood clots, and that reduces that risk of another stroke by one quarter.
The UK study concluded that, in the ten year period they looked at, taking an aspirin on a daily basis stopped between 33 to 46 deaths in 10,000 people.
But the new study also found that daily aspirin use increases risks of internal bleeding. During that same ten year period, between 46 to 49 people died of major bleeds and 68 to 117 died of gastrointestinal bleeds in 10,000 people.
These numbers mean that taking aspirin on a daily basis increases the risk of stomach bleeding by 37 percent and the risk of hemorrhagic stroke by 38 percent. This could mean that the risks of taking a daily aspirin by a healthy adult far outweigh the benefits.
If you’ve had serious side-effects by treatments that were prescribed by your doctor, you should contact a medical malpractice attorney in Westport, Connecticut to find out what compensation you may be entitled to for pain and loss.