March 12, 2014
It’s unbelievable. A heart surgeon, who is practicing today, has a history of walking out on patients in the middle of open heart surgeries, according to a hospital administrator who filed a whistleblower lawsuit. The lawsuit follows a state report which found that a 72 year old patient is in a persistent vegetative state after the surgeon failed to close his chest cavity and told an unqualified physician assistant to finish the surgery. The doctor reportedly went out to lunch.
Allegations in the patient and whistleblower lawsuits point to alcohol abuse and repeated misconduct by the physician covered up by the hospital.
January 3, 2012
We have heard so many tales of woes about how medical malpractice lawsuits are ruining the medical health of this country by making healthcare expensive for all and by causing the exodus of doctors from the so-called “judicial hellholes” (of which Illinois is supposedly one) toward States where there are limits on justice that a victim of a doctor’s carelessness can hope to obtain.
The problem with that proposition is that it is simply not true. What causes medical malpractice lawsuits are not patients and/or juries and their verdicts or lack of caps on those verdicts, but medical malpractice. The best way to prevent a lawsuit based on medical malpractice is to not commit carelessness.
Note that here, we are not talking about things that may go wrong in the natural progression of a treatment: there are times when a treatment goes wrong through no fault of the medical provider and/or the attending physician. Things may go wrong because Medicine is an art. What we are talking about here are actual damages caused to individuals that are the direct result of carelessness–that is different from simply not getting the intended result. For example, damages that could cause for failure of a doctor to simply read objective tests that are performed and that are ready to be reviewed but the doctor simply decides not to avail himself f the useful information those tests provides him. That is when medical malpractice lawsuits may be expected.
Nearly 4,000 tests for heart disease performed over the last three years at Harlem Hospital Center – more than half of all such tests performed – were never read by doctors charged with making a diagnosis, hospital officials acknowledged Tuesday.
The echocardiogram tests, a type of ultrasound used to evaluate heart muscle and valve functions, were ordered by doctors at the hospital. The tests were stored on a computer and basically forgotten, officials said. The lapse occurred because the cardiology service at the hospital had developed a system by which technicians were given the responsibility to scan all tests and flag any that looked abnormal, so that they would be given priority when doctors read them.
It appears, officials said, that the tests that were not flagged were put aside and forgotten.
The city’s Health and Hospitals Corporation, which runs the public hospital system, including Harlem Hospital, and Columbia University, whose medical school supplies the cardiologists who work at Harlem Hospital Center, acknowledged the problem in a joint statement on Tuesday, after being asked about it by The New York Times.
“While the process the doctors followed may have alerted cardiologists to those echocardiograms that were most likely to be abnormal, the failure to read the echocardiograms in a timely manner is inexcusable and may have placed patients at risk,” Alan D. Aviles, hospitals corporation president, said in the statement. It was unclear who developed the screening system, hospital officials said.
December 28, 2011
Patient Evangeline Semark Lemoine is coping with frustration. She says until about a year ago, she was a healthy person. But now, even simple activities with her family can be challenging.
“I don’t have the carefree lifestyle that I had,” she said.
The 32-year-old mom says she’s now on a powerful blood thinner after developing a dangerous blood clot called a deep vein thrombosis in her leg.
Evangeline says it left her unable to walk, and after a phone call, resulted in her doctor advising her to get to an emergency room.
“The first thing out of her mouth was, ‘Are you on a birth control pill?” and I said, ‘Yes,’ and she said, ‘You need to get to the ER right now.'”
Lemoine, now a plaintiff, and her attorney say dangerous clots were also found in her lungs. They’re suing Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, blaming her health problems on the birth control pill Ocella, which is the generic form of Yasmin.
January 13, 2011
I have heard, I do not know, that trial attorneys are the ones most at risk to fall victim of depression, drug abuse and/or alcoholism. What I do know, is that I have heard of many trial lawyers suffering from this sort of diseases. It appears to be that it is simply a by-product of the type of work we do. This work is highly adversarial, highly contentious, petty and small things can get center-stage and become huge, anxiety about missing deadlines and due dates is ever present, errors that can occur as the result of being human consumes many attorneys into lying awake at night thinking about cases and on and on…
Once I was in the Daley Center, many years ago. I had recently graduated law school and I got onto the elevator going up. There was one other rider with me in the elevator and his body language told me that something was wrong, He was stooped forward, his head down, his clothes looked like he had slept in them… He did not look good. While pressing the button to the floor of his destination, he looked at me with eyes that were about to cry, and told me:”If I knew… I would have never chosen this profession.”
Steps to wellness: Lawyer launches Web site, support group for lawyers with depression (From The Buffalo Law Journal) “Lukasik has started the Web site www.lawyerswithdepression.com, and he also coordinated a support group for lawyers with depression that met for the first time June 1. Both resources are believed to be the first of their kind in New York state, and perhaps farther afield.”
We need something like this here in Illinois as well.
March 16, 2010
For every injury or illness, there are a range of possible treatments. The (very crude) drawing below represents that range. At the left end of the scale is to “do nothing” and see if the injury gets better on its own. At the far right end of the scale is immediate surgery to try and correct the problem. The bracket in the middle represents treatment within the permissible standard of care for a hypothetical injury. For this hypothetical injury, it would be inappropriate to do nothing, and it would also be inappropriate to take the patient to surgery immediately. Medically appropriate treatments might include administering drugs, ordering an inexpensive diagnostic test, and ordering an expensive diagnostic test. Doctor Smith may be conservative with his treatment and decide to order an inexpensive diagnostic test, while Doctor Jones may be aggressive and order the administration of drugs and the expensive diagnostic test. While both doctors treated the same injury in different ways, neither doctor committed malpractice. More importantly, if Doctor Smith is afraid of being sued and orders the expensive test, we cannot say that his fear of being sued led him to order a medically unnecessary test. The worst we can say is that the tort system nudged the doctor towards being more cautious.
January 26, 2010
Tort law defines what a legal injury is and establishes liability. All tort reform limits the circumstances under which injured people may sue and limits how much a jury may award the injured.
Is tort reform good or bad? That depends on who benefits and who loses out. It benefits the insurance companies in a big way. It benefits for-profit hospitals and clinics. It hasn’t reduced our medical bills.
The big loser is the patient who is injured or killed by bad medical practice. Tort reform makes Florida’s health care system less safe and effective. It limits victims’ access to the courts and costs taxpayers money in order to care for injured victims. If you’re injured by bad medical practice, you will have a near-impossible time finding a lawyer who will represent you because of the 2004 Florida tort reform. It effectively gives bad doctors a license to kill.
November 19, 2009
Consumption of alcohol in almost any quantity is associated with a nearly one-third reduction in the incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD) — at least in men, a large Spanish study confirmed.
Reporting online in Heart, Larraitz Arriola, PhD, of the public health department in San Sebastian and colleagues wrote that a multivariate analysis determined the following reductions of CHD risk at these consumption levels:
* Low levels of alcohol (0 to 5 mg/day), HR 0.65 (95% CI 0.41 to 1.04)
* Moderate levels (5 to 30 g/day), HR 0.49 (95% CI 0.32 to 0.75)
* High levels (30 to 90 g/day), HR 0.46 (95% CI 0.30 to 0.71)
* Very high levels (more than 90 g/day), HR 0.50 (95% CI 0.29 to 0.85)
No significant associations were seen for women, however.
Many studies have examined the association between alcohol use and CHD. Most have suggested that moderate intake reduces the risk, with effects on high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, clotting factors, insulin sensitivity, and inflammation providing biologic plausibility for the observation.
However, scientists still debate whether the the association is truly causal, and whether the studies have been marred by “abstainer error.”
Abstainer error refers to classification of participants who had recently stopped drinking — usually because of declining health, frailty, or disability — as nondrinkers.
October 8, 2009
Orthopedic surgeons who received payments from device makers often failed to follow disclosure policies required by their chief professional society, researchers said.
Nearly 30% of manufacturers’ payments to board and committee members of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) and to presenters at its 2008 annual meeting, went unreported, according to Kanu Okike, MD, MPH, of Harvard University and colleagues.
Some 20% of payments directly related to presentation topics went undisclosed, as did half of indirectly related and unrelated payments, Okike and colleagues found.
The group’s written policy requires disclosure of all payments — including non-cash remuneration such as travel, gifts, entertainment, and meals — from companies selling products related directly or indirectly to presentation topics.
The researchers suggested that, in light of their findings, the current disclosure system based on physician self-reporting may soon be replaced by mandatory reporting by companies making such payments.