Tennessee Injury Lawyer Blog

Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

I was recently interviewed about some Chiropractic Malpractice cases we handled. They involved strokes that occurred during neck manipulations. You can watch the interview below:

 

For some reason many people seem to have strong feelings about chiropractors, both good and bad. For instance my wife swears by her chiropractor. She goes to her for all types of aches, pains and other health reasons. To the contrary, others are suspicious of chiropractic treatment. At the very least some of the more skeptical people believe the treatment is unproven and unwarranted. Regardless, when we try a chiropractor malpractice case it is very important to have a very detailed vetting process when picking the jury. This helps ensure that everyone involved in the case gets a fair trial.

Whatever your personal feelings are on the subject there are certain facts that I believe everyone should agree. To begin, when someone goes to a chiropractor they are going to because they trust that person with their health. The chiropractor should not take this trust lightly. Just like a medical doctor the chiropractor has a duty to treat the patient within the recognized standard of care. Also, the chiropractor should not hesitate to refer the patient to a medical doctor if the problems go beyond his or her expertise. We have had several cases where a chiropractor failed to recognize obvious and serious neurological injuries which resulted in the patient sustaining severe injuries.

One of the more common injuries that we have handled involves strokes which resulted from chiropractic neck manipulations. Specifically, this injury can occur when the artery to the brain is blocked from a clot or even ruptures as a result of being aggressively stretched or “manipulated” . When the manipulation is too aggressive or extreme the significant wrenching of the head and rotation of the cervical spine can stretch or tear the delicate lining of the artery. As a result a blood clot can from over the inured area of the artery and can later become dislodged. When this occurs the smaller artery that supplies blood to the brain can become blocked leading to catastrophic injuries. Chiropractors will tell you that the danger is extremely remote however if it does occur the results can be life changing. If you decide to undergo this procedure I would recommend you discuss it with your doctor and weigh the benefits versus the risk. Further, make sure your chiropractor goes over the risk of any procedure he wishes to perform. The medical standard of care in Tennessee requires you be informed of any and all risk associated with your medical treatment. This includes chiropractic treatment.
Another interesting component of this type of malpractice and injury is the timing of the symptoms. We have had cases where the stroke happens almost immediately but often several days or even a couple of weeks can pass before the stroke occurs. This is because it may take some time for the blood clot to form and to dislodge. Because the time delay some injured patients do not realize the connection between the chiropractic manipulation and the stroke. Tennessee has a very short statute of limitations on medical malpractice cases so if you feel that you have suffered an injury as a result of chiropractic treatment you should contact an attorney immediately.
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In Tennessee and all across the United States, people put their loved ones in nursing homes every day, expecting that they will be well cared for. However, many patients suffer from abuse, negligent, and in some cases patients even die as a result of medical malpractice and negligence. Tennessee Wrongful Death lawsuits can be filed for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to: motorcycle or car accidents, defective products, an occupational hazard or medical malpractice or negligence. Medical malpractice is one of the most common causes for wrongful death in the United States. About 98, 000 Americans have died a wrongful death due to medical malpractice and 90, 000 of these cases filed for wrongful death claims.

According to this Nursing Home Neglect lawsuit, on December 13, 2011, a woman died after suffering a subdural and subarachnoid hematoma. Although devastated at her loss, it was a situation the family could understand. Sadly, this family was lied to, although the real facts were not revealed until they were watching the evening news. The newscaster announced that the coroner’s office ruled the cause of death a homicide because she was assaulted by an Alzheimer’s patient.
The family went to the nursing home seeking answers following the news report. They were avoided by staff members. The victim’s son doesn’t blame the other resident, but he was shocked by the lies and could not believe the lack of supervision provided by the nursing home staff. The altercation happened in the dining room, where no supervision was present.

According to the case, the family originally sought an apology and $30,000 to cover the woman’s hospital bills; however the nursing home refused to accept accountability. Now the facility is facing a wrongful death lawsuit. An inspection in January 2011 cited the nursing home for failure to provide adequate supervision to prevent a fall in the Alzheimer’s unit. In response the nursing home submitted a plan of correction and promised not to leave Alzheimer’s residents unsupervised in the dining room. The plan was never effectively implemented.
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Famous country music star Leann Rimes has filed a dental malpractice lawsuit alleging that her dentist did a bad job when he tried to correct her TMJ problems. The malpractice complaint alleges that as a result of the poor work she has had a tooth extraction, nine root canals and many other dental unpleasantness. So how will this case proceed? Well what we usually see in a Tennessee Medical Malpractice Case like this is a battle of the experts. Ms. Rimes experts will discuss what they believe would have been the appropriate path to treat her. Perhaps start with conservative care. They will have to testify that if different treatment would have been provided then the outcome would have been much better.

To the contrary, the dentist will likely find an expert that will say the treatment was fine but it was just an unfortunate bad outcome. They will likely say that Ms. Rime’s problems are related to her own genetic problems. After all, she had problems already or she would not have sought treatment in the first place. They will also parade all of the informed consent forms that she signed (but probably never read because no one does) and say that they told her there were no guarantees.

Recently, I was interviewed about this case. You can watch the interview below:

 
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The Tennessee Meningitis Litigation continues. As it does so, we have also been staying on top of litigation in surrounding states. According to information about two cases, having the cases back in the state court will give the clients involved in the lawsuits a clear advantage. According to state court rules unlike federal court rules, discovery will begin immediately which should answer some critical questions, including the amount of insurance coverage the compounding firm has. Attorneys involved in these cases including those in Tennessee have stated that the amount of insurance coverage the drug firm has will be critical in the awarding of any potential damages.

According to state and federal officials, the New England Compounding Center is responsible for distributing a spinal steroid that has resulted in thirty-six deaths including thirteen in Tennessee and sickened hundreds of other people.

In another development, lawyers for some of the plaintiffs in pending Massachusetts cases have reached a tentative agreement on an inspection of the drug compounding firm’s facilities. In a decision issued on Tuesday, December 11, 2012, U.S. District Judge F. Dennis Saylor 4th concluded that the issues in the two cases did not raise sufficient questions of federal law to justify a transfer to federal court. The cases were originally filed in Middlesex Superior Court but then moved to federal court at the request of the compounding firm’s lawyers. This ruling will not have any immediate impact on other cases in Tennessee that were transferred from circuit court in Nashville to the U.S. District court in Massachusetts. Different rules will apply because the cases were filed in Tennessee against a company in another state.
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We have been moving forward with litigation surrounding the Tennessee Fungal Meningitis Outbreak. Unfortunately, it appears that there may be more tragic cases that have yet to be diagnosed. According to Tennessee Health Commissioner, Dr. John Dreyzehner, fungal infections are up twenty-seven percent in Tennessee after rechecking new illness updates in the national outbreak after Thanksgiving. The company that had contaminated injections is continuing action to revamp and improve oversight of pharmacy labs. The total number of fungal infections and illnesses in Tennessee is now one hundred and seven, including twenty-three new cases since the Thanksgiving holiday. Eighty-one of the illnesses since the outbreak began are cases of meningitis, but almost all the new cases are localized infections. One new case was meningitis alone, while two other people were diagnosed with both meningitis and localized infections. Tennessee’s death toll remains at thirteen.

So far, known infections are linked to only the recalled steroid methylprednisolone acetate, however, Tennessee doctors are urged to look for illnesses stemming from other New England Compounding products where the contaminated injections were found. It is also possible that contaminants also have been detected in unopened vials of triamcinolone, a steroid that is injected into the eye as a treatment for a type of vision loss called age-related macular degeneration. According to Dr. John Dreyzehner, the longest period for an infection to occur after the last injection of methylprednisolone acetate has been eighty-two days in Tennessee and nationwide the longest reported incubation period has been one hundred and twenty days.

The antifungal drug Voriconazole can be prescribed for the localized infections, but the boils also have to be drained and cleaned out. In a few cases, another antifungal, Amphotericin B, has been prescribed. According to Dr. John Jernigan, who leads the nationwide response to the outbreak for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “the time is unknown for how long people will have to take Voriconazole.” Also, Dr. John Jernigan stated that, “a smaller cluster of another type of fungal meningitis also caused by spinal injections more than a decade ago had an incubation period as long as one hundred and sixty days.
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The litigation surrounding the tragic Tennessee Meningitis Cases is quickly escalating. Our office represents several families that have been impacted by what appears to be the negligent and even reckless conduct of the Massachusetts-based New England Compounding Center. As the cases move forward we all will be searching for answers as to why this behavior was not caught and how we can prevent it from happening in the future.

I recently spoke with the local NBC affiliate regarding the current status of the Tennessee Litigation and what we can expect. You can watch the interview below:

 
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Our Tennessee law office has filed and is investigating other fungal meningitis cases in Middle Tennessee. It is apparent that Tennessee has been among the hardest hit by the fungal meningitis outbreak and, by extension, Tennessee Courts will likely be among the most active in handling and addressing these types of cases. The epidural steroid injections are a product distributed in Tennessee and, even though they are used for medical purposes, the cases surrounding this outbreak will be governed under product liability laws.

Fungal Meningitis resulting from epidural steroid injections has been confirmed in 19 States according to recent statistical data provided by the Centers for Disease Control. Currently, the most cases of confirmed fungal meningitis are located in Tennessee and Michigan, with those two States accounting for nearly half of the 354 known cases. In Tennessee, 10 people have died from complications related to fungal meningitis, the most deaths from the outbreak found in any State.

Tennessee appears to have been hit particularly hard with this outbreak, with middle Tennessee being the most active area of confirmed cases in the State. Nearly 1,000 people in Tennessee may have received injections from the three recalled lots containing 17,676 vials of the potentially tainted steroid, Tennessee Health Commissioner Dr. John Dreyzehner said on October 8, 2012. He added that Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgery Center in Nashville received some 2,000 vials of the tainted epidural steroid injection, more than any other facility in the country.

Tennessee residents who have been affected by this outbreak have begun to file lawsuits against New England Compounding Pharmacy, Inc. in an attempt to recover for the damages caused by the tainted injectable steroids. The next step in the process will involve a determination of the solvency of the defendant. With the wide number of cases already identified and in some cases filed combined with the voluntary suspension of operations at defendant’s facility, there are many issues that affected victims will need to address. Insurance coverage may address some or most of the claims, but it is unknown at this early stage.

The tragic impact of the fungal meningitis outbreaks continue to touch our fellow Tennesseans.
It appears that the matter has also now developed into a national health crisis causing twenty-six people to become sick and four of them dying in five states after they received spinal injections with contaminated medicine in them. The Food and Drug Administration has now identified the New England Compounding Center which has had a history of violation as the most likely source.

The FDA Public Affairs director, Erica V. Jefferson, stated that, they are “working with several state health departments and the Massachusetts Board of Pharmacy on this issue and is still investigating the scope and cause of the outbreak of fungal meningitis.” On September 26th the New England Compounding Center voluntarily recalled three lots of Methylprednisolone (PF) 80mg/ml Injection produced at the Center. The lot numbers included in the recall are:
Methylprednisolone Acetate (PF) 80 mg/ml Injection, Lot #05212012@68 Methylprednisolone Acetate (PF) 80 mg/ml Injection, Lot #06292012@26 Methylprednisolone Acetate (PF) 80 mg/ml Injection, Lot #08102012@51
The New England Compounding Center has stated that it is, “working closely with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and other regulators to identify the source of infection.” The Center immediately recalled the product as soon as they were notified about the contaminated medicine.

We can only hope that we can get some good answers on how this tragedy occurred so similar outbreaks can be avoided in the future.

In a recent case, Daniela Griffin was admitted into the Medical Center on December 30, 2009 to give birth to her son; Christopher Griffin Jr. Obstetrician Dr. Coupet was overseeing the delivery. In the middle of delivery, a complication known as “shoulder dystocia” occurred. This means that the baby’s shoulder got stuck behind his mother’s pelvic bone which made normal delivery impossible. According to the medical malpractice lawsuit filed on February 27, 2012, Dr. Coupet in his attempt to free the baby’s shoulder has been alleged to have “negligently and carelessly used greater than gentle traction” to the head and neck of the baby which caused the baby to suffer permanent neurological injury and damage to his brachial plexus nerves.

It is alleged that doctor’s medical negligence caused, Christopher Griffin Jr. to suffer permanent and severe neurological impairment. According to the lawsuit, the child will need lifelong as well as extensive medical care, surgeries, hospitalizations, and treatments.
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In a recent case, the plaintiff claims that the defendant’s chiropractor failed to perform proper tests on the plaintiff to make sure it was safe for them to have cervical manipulations performed on them. The defendant chiropractor in this case denies that they were negligent and claims that all care given to the plaintiff was within the accepted standards.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff was under the care of the defendant for chiropractic treatment of the neck and mid and lower back. Throughout the treatment, the defendant performed cervical and lumbar manipulations on the plaintiff. In December during the treatment, the plaintiff’s medical condition was reevaluated by the defendant however, the defendant failed to perform any diagnostic testing on the plaintiff. In February the plaintiff went to the defendant for lower back pain. The defendant had not seen the plaintiff for two months but went ahead and performed cervical and lumbar adjustments. After two weeks, the plaintiff returned for an additional appointment and again had cervical and lumbar procedures performed.

During one appointment in February, one of the manipulations of the cervical spine made an unusually loud crack and caused some discomfort. The following day the plaintiff went to the hospital with a severe headache, facial numbness, and difficulty walking. The plaintiff was then diagnosed with a stroke that the plaintiff claimed was a result of the cervical manipulation. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant was negligent when they failed to perform proper testing and examinations to determine if the procedures were safe. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant’s company was also liable for the actions of their doctor.
The plaintiff suffered gait dysfunction, left vocal cord paralysis, severe hiccups, visual impairment, permanent brain damage, sexual dysfunction and headaches as a result of the stroke. The jury found the defendant not negligent.

People put their trust in medical professionals to make them feel better and to keep them safe from any further injury or harm. However, sometimes some medical professionals may fail to make sure certain procedures or medicines are safe before giving them to patients. This is known as medical malpractice or negligence and can cause serious injury or even death to many patients.
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