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Mistrial may lead to new medical malpractice hearing

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Medical Malpractice on Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Many complaints that are filed in New York courts never actually go to trial. And while some might argue that coming to a settlement agreement can resolve an issue and provide closure to medical malpractice victims, liability can only be determined by going to trial in most instances. One recent case resulted in a medical physician being found guilty of malpractice; however, justice for the victim may continue to wait since the jury’s indecision resulted in a mistrial.

The case in question is only one of over 200 complaints raised against one Maryland cardiologist. Despite the fact that around 250 alleged medical malpractice victims have come forward against the doctor, the recent lawsuit was the first to result in a guilty verdict. And while the defendant argues that implanting three stents into the patient’s heart may have been what saved his life, the plaintiff in the case argues that he is the victim of misdiagnosis and unnecessary surgery.

Unlike other common mistakes such as pharmacy errors, the cardiologist is accused of misdiagnosing the plaintiff as having a serious heart condition that required surgery to place stents in his heart. According to the plaintiff, it was later determined that he never required the surgery and suffered as a result. The plaintiff asked for $50 million in damages for the financial hardship, emotional distress and medical problems he endured as a result of the surgery.

The hospital where the cardiologist worked was also identified as a defendant in the case, and while the trial jury did conclude that the defendant had committed wrongdoing, the judge ultimately called a mistrial. Apparently, the jury could not come to consensus on the amount of damages the plaintiff should receive.

Now, the case may be forced to go back to trial to determine damages once again.

Source: Baltimore Sun, “Mistrial in Midei stent case as jury deadlocks on damages,” Jessica Anderson Nov. 6, 2013


Medical errors every New York patient should know about

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Medical Malpractice on Saturday, October 19th, 2013

Thousands of patients admitted to New York hospitals every year rely on the skills and experience of nurses, physicians and other medical providers, but that doesn’t mean that mistakes don’t happen. Medical errors and negligence are responsible for causing thousands of patient injuries, illnesses and deaths every year throughout the country. That’s why it’s important to be aware of what can go wrong in the hospital.

Beware of:

Many people do not realize their medical records may be vulnerable to exploitation in the hospital. After all, who knows who may be looking at a patient’s chart besides their physician? Individuals that suspect their personal security may have been compromised while in the hospital may check their credit and monitor for fraud.

On a similar note, sometimes it’s difficult to know who is doing what in a hospital setting. It’s recommended that patients identify attending physicians and med students so that they always know who is handling their case and why.

It’s also suggested that patients pay attention to the hygiene of hospital staff. Patient infections are linked to poor hand washing techniques by medical providers, and can be very serious. Another major concern related to patient health and safety revolves around ER wait times. It’s estimated that more patients die and/or require hospital admittance because of long ER waits.

Part of the reason hospital ERs may be so congested is that many facilities contend with nursing shortages. And unfortunately, there is a correlation between staffing issues and patient fatalities. Hospital patients also suffer when they are not attended to properly. Bedside call systems are sometimes ignored by medical staff, leaving some patients in need.

Lastly, patients are encouraged to protect themselves against a major issue in hospitals: pharmacy errors. Confirming one’s prescription and dosage each time can save lives.

Source: Yahoo! Health, “Protect Yourself: Eight Common Mistakes Made by Hospital Staffs,” Cindy Kuzma, Oct. 7, 2013


Medical error leaves patient with no good options

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Medical Malpractice on Monday, June 17th, 2013

Patients put their trust—and their lives—in the hands of doctors and medical personnel every day. Fortunately, medical professionals are highly trained and competent. However, these same professionals are also human and subject to make mistakes at times. Medical errors can result from anything including birth injury, anesthesia errors, pharmacy errors and more and can lead to serious consequences for both patients and providers.

One recent situation in North Providence, RI has left a patient with a life threatening condition and serious decision to make. Years after successful completion of treatment for breast cancer, a woman has discovered that a portion of a medical port had been left in her body and grown attached to her jugular vein. Leaving the port in her body could lead to complications, including death. Surgery to remove the piece of the port also carries a high chance of death. A medical malpractice suit is underway in the case. 

The original port was implanted into the patient an easy way to take blood or provide medications via IV without the need to insert needles into her arm every time. It is a commonly used device and was removed after she had completed her treatment regimen. Unfortunately, the entire device was not removed and eventually was found when she experienced breathing problems several years later.

Because of the human nature of all medical personnel, patients should be careful to understand the procedures they undergo as well as their rights to information and recourse in the event of medical mistake or medical negligence. Talking to a medical malpractice attorney can be helpful in understanding this information.

Source: NBC 10, “I-Team: Woman sues hospital over device left in body,” Parker Gavigan, June 7, 2013

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Experience teaches young doctor about medical malpractice, Part 2

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Medical Malpractice on Thursday, January 17th, 2013

In our previous post, we introduced Dr. Elaine Goodman, who observed numerous medical mistakes while her mother was hospitalized for six months when fighting breast cancer. The second half of her story follows.

Medication Not Adjusted as Required

The mom experienced frequent medication errors that could have been avoided there been fewer doctors involved in treating her. For example, she received a drug that required frequent monitoring to adjust the dosage in relation to the patient’s nutritional status. A doctor ordered a larger dose without checking the patient’s nutritional status, resulting in a overdose that made the mom sleep for days. With fewer doctors with more awareness of the monitoring requirements of the specific medication, this might not have happened.

Wrong Chemo Drug Ordered

A similar problem arose when the mom’s oncologist was out. A covering doctor administered the regularly scheduled chemotherapy. Unfortunately, it was the wrong drug, which meant that Dr. Goodman’s mom had gone untreated for a week before the error was discovered.

Dr. Goodman learned that the incorrect drug had almost the same name as the correct drug, with the labels being almost identical.

Errors Lead to Changes in Hospital Medication Procedures

It turned out the drug that had been incorrectly administered had a name that was almost identical to the name of the correct drug, and the labels were almost identical. There were no systems in place to catch errors like this before they affected patients. Moreover, the hospital pharmacist did not have in-depth knowledge of chemotherapy drugs. Eventually, the hospital hired a new chemotherapy pharmacist, provided nurses with more training, and changed how the chemotherapy drugs were ordered and labeled.

Dr. Goodman believes that medical and hospital training and techniques have not kept up with increasingly complex treatments, medications and procedures. Moreover, nurses’ and doctors’ abilities are affected by overbooking, multitasking and functioning on very little sleep. Even the most well-trained, careful and caring provider is bound to burn out and make mistakes in such circumstances. Given the facts, it’s suprising that there are not more instances of medical malpractice.

Doctors Need Training in Patient Safety

According to Dr. Goodman, the entire system needs revamping, beginning with appropriate training in patient safety for doctors and nurses. Most medical and nursing schools, if they offer such a class at all, classify it as an elective. It should be required, she says. The culture should change to allow staff members to report events and situations that could affect patient safety – without negative consequences to the person reporting the problem.

Source: ProPublica, “What a New Doctor Learned About Medical Mistakes From Her Mom’s Death,” by Marshall Allen, Jan. 9, 2013.

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Experience teaches young doctor about medical malpractice, Part 1

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Medical Malpractice on Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

A young doctor learned some things about patient safety, not from her classes and internships, but from taking care of her mother as she spent months in the hospital fighting breast cancer. While in the hospital, her mother experienced a black eye because an stethoscope fell on her face, frequent falls, preventable drug side effects and hallucinations. Dr Elaine Goodman learned a lot about patient care, safety and medical malpractice from the experience, but she believes that those lessons came at some cost to her mother.

Caring is Not Enough to Prevent Mistakes

Dr. Goodman believes that her mother’s death came more quickly because of the mistakes made by caring, qualified staff. She believes that caring is not enough and that there should be many more standard procedures in place to prevent medical errors.

Bed Alarm Not Working Because of Lack of Electrical Outlets

The doctor believes that the medical errors that hastened her mom’s death occurred not because of the negligence of a specific individual, but because the entire medical community has not taken the steps needed to prevent mistakes. For example, her mother fell out of bed in the middle of the night. There were bed alarms that would have notified staff, but her mom’s was not plugged in, because there weren’t enough outlets in the room. Because all the cords looked alike, it was easy to mistakenly believe that the bed alarm was functioning. This is an easy problem to fix, but nothing had been done, and the patients and staff were forced to live with the situation – to the detriment of Dr. Goodman’s mother.

Read our next post to learn more about the preventable medical errors that Dr Goodman observed while her mother was in the hospital.

Source: ProPublica, “What a New Doctor Learned About Medical Mistakes From Her Mom’s Death,” by Marshall Allen, Jan. 9, 2013.

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