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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
In Tennessee and all across the country, many people may experience pain or discomfort in their necks and they often seek treatment from a chiropractor for these injuries. As treatment often chiropractors will perform a "neck manipulation or neck neck adjustment" This process often includes "cracking the patients neck". We have handled chiropractic malpractice cases where we believe this procedure caused a stroke and permanent damage to the patient. There is now additional studies which appears to support the link between chiropractic neck manipulation and a stroke.
Specifically, according to recent reports, over five hundred people have had a stroke after cracking their necks or having neck manipulation. A study that was conducted in the past hints that neck manipulation can cause vertebral arteries connected to the brain to tear causing a stroke. Additional research has discovered that patients who were less than sixty years of age who suffered strokes due to vertebral arteries being torn are six times more likely to have received manipulative therapy in the thirty days prior to the stroke. Other recent research studied thirteen patients who had arterial tears after a couple hours or days after seeing a chiropractor. According to the study, thirty-one percent suffered a permanent disability or even death.
Over an estimated eighteen million people in this country receive care from chiropractors according to a survey conducted in 2007. Wade S. Smith, MD, PhD, lead author of the UCSF study from 2003, stated that, “The incidence of stroke from all causes is only 10 per 100,000, so we're not talking about large numbers of victims. But rare incidences do happen, and physicians and patients should be aware of spinal manipulation therapy as a rare but potentially causal factor in stroke.”
A bill introduced in the Tennessee legislature specifically allows hospitals and doctors to provide negligent medical care in Tennessee emergency rooms. Unless a patient could prove gross negligence, a standard just short of criminal behavior, there would be no accountability or protection. The legislation is sponsored by Rep. Glen Casada and Sen. Jack Johnson, both from College Grove.
“For example, if you go to the ER with chest pains and the doctor carelessly misdiagnoses you with bronchitis and you go home and have a massive heart attack and die, under the proposed legislation there is no recourse for this kind of sloppiness,” stated Keith Williams, President, Tennessee Association for Justice. “In effect, a doctor would have no responsibility for careless errors that could ultimately cost you your life.”
The current standard for medical negligence already affords protections to ER doctors. ER doctors are protected as long as they deliver care consistent with standards set by their peers—other ER doctors. Only if they fail to meet those standards and harm a patient will they rightfully be held accountable under the present law.
The immunity goes one step further and covers doctors in surgery and the OB unit if the patient is admitted through the ER. This means a patient who goes to the ER will have very little, if any protection from negligence during their entire hospital stay.
This legislation has an unfair impact on pregnant women, children and low-income families since they are more likely to use the ER. Kids in sports go to the ER for injuries, pregnant women often go to the ER whey they are in labor, and the elderly frequently rely on the ER for respiratory illnesses. These vulnerable citizens would be without any protection when seeking needed medical care.
HB 174/SB 360 also places a financial burden on the taxpayers. If recipients of TennCare, Medicare and the uninsured are harmed due to carelessness in the ER, Tennesseans will end up paying the bill for a person’s medical care and treatment resulting from the doctor’s careless error. Medical errors cost the Nation approximately $37.6 billion per year, and this legislation would only add to that cost.
“Should a law be passed allowing ER doctors to commit negligent acts on patients in Tennessee? That’s exactly what this bill does.” said Williams. “With 98,000 people dying each year from medical errors, clearly the answer is NO. The focus should be on improving the quality of care – not on lobbyists seeking to pass a license to harm patients.”
The people of Tennessee and all across the United States, expect that when they go into the hospital for any kind of treatment or care that they doctors and medical staff will treat them and their family members with the proper medical care and that they will be doing better by the time they leave the hospital. Unfortunately, however, this is not always the case. In a recent lawsuit, Matthew Allen Marlin was born early on June 13, 2009 and suffered irregular breathing and an irregular heart rate. A nurse noticed that he “made a small cry at delivery and had movement of arms and legs.” The baby was considered by this nurse to have been fighting for its life and Dr. John W. O’Donnell III made the decision on his own without first consulting anyone that the baby would have no chance of living. Marlin was then placed in a plastic bin and left on a counter until the family decided what to do with the body. A nurse who was passing by however, noticed the baby was gasping for breath a few hours later.
Marlin then received resuscitation therapy and was transferred to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville where he stayed for three months in order to receive specialized care. This lawsuit is claiming that Dr. O’Donnell was negligent and that Marlin suffered a brain injury as well as other injuries due to the doctor’s failure to provide timely and appropriate medical care and treatment. According to the case, a pediatrician should have been called immediately to resuscitate the baby, and the baby should have been sent to a neonatal intensive care unit. The lawsuit seeks undetermined compensatory damages.
According to a recent medical malpractice lawsuit, two year old Malyia Jeffers was brought to the emergency room by her parents, Ryan Jeffers and Leah Yang, in November with a constant fever, skin discoloration, and weakness. The malpractice lawsuit claims that her parents begged for attentions from doctors and nurses as Malyia’s condition worsened. After five hours, Malyia was seen by a doctor and was flown to Stanford University's Lucile Packard Children's Hospital for lifesaving care. Doctors at that facility discovered that Streptococcus A had reached Malyia’s blood and organs and as a result her feet, her left hand and part of right hand had to be amputated.
The doctors at Stanford said that Malyia’s condition could have been related to genetics and they are unsure whether quickness would have saved her limbs. Court documents provide details of the settlement in which emergency room has agreed to pay $9 million and the other $1 million will be paid by the Emergency Physicians Medical Group. The money will be used to repay expenses already paid by the state’s health care plan and for attorney fees. The rest of the money will be used for a “special needs trust” for the girl’s needs.
In Tennessee and all across the country, our loved ones sometimes need more care than we can provide for them. This usually means that they have to enter a nursing home. However, when we choose a nursing home for our loved ones we expect that they will be properly cared for. Unfortunately, many nursing home patients can be seriously injured or die due to the nursing home neglect. This may be because many nursing homes are understaffed or improperly trained. Whatever the reason, if you or one of your loved ones has been seriously injured or died as a result of nursing home medical malpractice then you should talk to a Tennessee nursing home and medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. They will hear your case and make sure you get the compensation you are entitled to.
According to this case, a jury awarded Dorothy Douglas’ family $11.5 million in compensatory damages and $80 million in punitive damages after finding the nursing home indirectly responsible for causing the woman’s death. The family claims that Douglas died from complications from dehydration after being transferred to the nursing home three weeks before her death. During the trial, the lawsuit claimed that the nursing home did not have enough staff members and this claim was confirmed by former employees that stated because of the poor working conditions, they could not properly care for patients.
The lawyers for the nursing home are claiming that the $11.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages should be reduced according to the state’s medical malpractice law. In 2003, the state amended the law to place a cap of $500,000 plus inflationary adjustments, on non-economic damages for medical negligence. The Supreme Court ruled that the cap was constitutional. The lawyers for the nursing home also state that the $80 million in compensatory damages far exceeds what the facts justify in the case.
The lawyers for Douglas family claim that the law does not apply to nursing homes and nursing home aides.
When Tennessee residents and people all over the United States have to decide to place their loved ones in the care of a nursing home, they expect that their loved ones will be treated with respect and receive proper medical care and attention. Unfortunately, however, many nursing homes are understaffed and improperly trained and this leads to infections and serious injuries for the nursing home patients. If you or someone you care about has suffered from a medical condition or injury while in a nursing home, then you should talk to a Tennessee nursing home neglect lawyer right away. They will hear your case and help make sure you get the compensation you need.
According to this lawsuit, attorneys for a fifty-five year old woman claimed that a home care nurse failed to a report a bacterial infection in the woman’s feeding catheter. The woman was being treated for complications from Crohn’s disease and the delay in treatment for the infection led to a near fatal bloodstream infection in October of 2008 resulting in the woman losing portions of both of her legs.
The jury found the nurse and the St. Luke’s Miners Memorial Home Care liable and awarded $23.1 million for medical expenses, lost earnings, and pain and suffering to the woman. The attorneys for the woman stated that the woman hoped that, “the verdict would result in St Luke's redoubling its efforts to help prevent such infections during home care.”
St Luke’s spokesman, Ken Szydlow conveyed sympathy for the woman but stated that the jury award was, “excessive” and that the nurse "provided appropriate care and practiced within applicable standards of care."
In Tennessee and all across the country when people enter any type of medical facility seeking treatment for an illness or problem, they expect to be feeling better by the time they leave. Unfortunately, however, sometimes careless mistakes are made by physicians and other medical staff that can cause additional injury or even lead to the death of a patient. If you or someone you love has received treatment at a medical facility and then suffered serious injury or even death after receiving the treatment, then you should talk to a Tennessee medical malpractice and wrongful death lawyer right away. They will hear your case and help to make sure you get the compensation you deserve for what you have suffered.
In this case, The New Life Lodge Rehabilitation Center faces its second multimillion dollar lawsuit by a woman whose son died last year two days after entering the facility. The rehabilitation center, New Life, and its former lead doctor, Dr. Jonathan W. Butler are being accused of medical malpractice, negligence, and wrongful death in the death of Patrick Bryant who died on his twentieth birthday.
According to the lawsuit, Penny Lynn Bryant claims that her son Patrick was given medications including Phenobarbital, phenergen and suboxone. He was also prescribed the antihistamine vistaril, despite being allergic to other antihistamines. Bryant cause of death was determined as a hypoxic brain injury; however no autopsy was performed at the family’s request. Also according to the lawsuit, Bryant was not on hourly supervision despite the fact that he had been vomiting, was over-sedated and had labored breathing or was asthmatic. Finally, according to the mother, Penny Lynn Bryant’s claims her son was unresponsive for an estimated four hours before he was found by the New Life staff. According to claims by several patients and their family members over medication is a frequent problem for the rehab center. The New Life rehab center claims that Bryant’s medical records would show no malpractice or negligence but that they could not release the records because of patient confidentiality laws.
Patrick Bryant’s mother, Penny Lynn Bryant is seeking a total of $13 million in compensation and damages.
According to a recent lawsuit, Lawrence Dixon, 59, died in May of 2007, two days after suffering from a pelvis fracture after a fall. When the lawsuit was first filed it included the Montgomery General Hospital and other medical staff but finally was limited to Dr. David Harding, Dixon’s primary care doctor. The lawsuit claims that Dr. David Harding failed to note Dixon’s internal bleeding during his examination. Dixon’s family who filed the lawsuit claim that if Dr. Harding had noted the internal bleeding that he would have been able to save Dixon’s life and that his failure to diagnose the bleeding led to Dixon dying from multiple organ failure.
The lawsuit also claimed that Dr. Harding should have seen multiple signs that could have made him aware of the problem and one of those signs included that Dixon had failed to produce urine in twenty-four hours. Some of the other signs included a rapid heartbeat, low blood pressure, and a loss of lucidity.
The defense for this case claimed that Dixon died due to a medication called kayexalate. It is a thick drink that causes a reduction to potassium levels. They claimed that Dixon drank the shake and it went into his lungs cutting off his oxygen. However, Dr. Harding failed to state this anywhere on Dixon’s death certificate. The jury awarded Dixon’s estate and his wife each $1 million in non-economic damages and also awarded $250,000 to each of Dixon’s children.
In Tennessee and all across the country, when people go into doctors’ offices or hospitals, they expect to receive the proper medical tests and treatments in order to make them feel better. Unfortunately, sometimes physicians and other medical staff fail to properly test for certain illnesses or conditions and this may lead to serious injuries or even death. If you or someone you care about feel that you have failed to receive proper medical treatment or care while at the doctor or in the hospital, then you should speak with a Tennessee medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. They will hear your case and make sure you receive the compensation you deserve.
According to this lawsuit which claimed that medical professionals at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital at the Tennessee-Kentucky state line, failed to test Staff Sergeant Adam Cloer’s wife for rectal cancer despite constant symptoms. Also, according to the lawsuit her cancer spread and even with multiple surgeries she died in May of 2010 at age fifty-three.
Based on information from the lawsuit, Melodee Cloer went into the Ft. Campbell Hospital with symptoms in 2006 complaining of pain, blood in her stool, and constipation. The lawsuit also stated that she went to the hospital several times with symptoms but received a hemorrhoids diagnosis. A bariatric surgeon recommended that the hospital perform a colonoscopy but the hospital failed to follow up on the recommend or perform any rectal cancer screenings.
In 2007, her husband received orders to move to a New Army Installment in Missouri where his wife learned that her cancer had spread. She received chemotherapy and radiation treatment as well as had multiple surgeries to remove some of her organs. Following her death in 2010, Staff Sergeant Cloer filed an amended complaint claiming that the hospital’s negligence when diagnosing and treating his wife’s cancer resulted in her death.
The federal government denied the malpractice claim and claimed that the lawsuit was filed too late under Tennessee’s medical malpractice statues. Both sides agreed to a settlement of $2.15 million before the July trial was set to begin. This settlement is subject to final approval by the U.S. Attorney General.
When Tennessee residents and people all across the country go to the doctor or the hospital, they expect that the doctors and other medical staff will do everything they can to make sure they are feeling better by the time they leave. Unfortunately, sometimes mistakes and errors are made and this can cause serious injuries and medical problems for many patients. If you or someone you love feels that you have been the victim of medical malpractice while seeing a physician or in the hospital, then you should speak to a Tennessee medical malpractice lawyer right away. They will hear your case and make sure you receive the compensation you need.
In this case, Erin Webster filed a lawsuit against Lower Bucks Hospital, Dr. Richard Turner and Nurses Megan Blatcher and Laura Tedesco, claiming that the medical staff was negligent when they left a laparotomy sponge inside of her in March of 2004. According to the lawsuit, Webster claims that because of surgical malpractice she suffered from severe abdominal pain, a severe infection, bowel perforation, bowel obstruction as well as digestive problems. The sponge was found two months after the surgery when Webster complained about stomach pain. She had to have additional surgery to remove sixteen itches of her small bowel which still did not eliminate all of her medical problems.
A jury awarded Webster $525,000 and found the hospital as well as Blatcher and Tedesco liable. According to the lawsuit, the two nurses failed to a proper count of medical equipment during and after the procedure. The jury did not find Turner liable. Webster is also seeking an additional quarter million dollars in damages for interest fees since the lawsuit was first filed in 2005.
This week Governor Haslam signed a bill limiting non-economic damages to $750,000.00 for people injured by the neglect or even intentional acts of others. It is strange to me that a man who ran for office on promises of making government small has decided that the voters are not smart enough to sit on a jury and determine a fair verdict for the lose of a life. I realize that this blog can sound self serving because my business is pursuing these cases but my feelings are sincere. I truly believe the system works. A juror brings to the system a life of experiences that allows them to determine the difference between a tragic case and a person who is just looking for a windfall. This Tennessee legal system has worked for over 100 years but now our government has decided it is more important to protect a corporation that it is our citizens.
The other bizarre thing about the tort reform law is that it caps punitive damages at $500,000.00. Sure that would be plenty to punish your average small company but do you really think a fortune 500 corporation would care if they lost $500,000.00 if they new the could profit millions on a dangerous drug or product? Throughout history we have seen this happen with asbestos, defective cars & drugs. This law has crippled the one system we had that would allow your average citizen to stand toe to toe with a giant corporation. It is wrong
In Tennessee and all across the country, when we go to the emergency room for care, we expect to be treated properly and feeling better or on our way to feeling better by the time we leave. However, sometimes doctors, nurses, and other medical staff miss something or make a mistake and this leads to improper and negligent care. When this happens, we expect to be able to hold the emergency room accountable for what happened. However, a bill that is going to be introduced into Tennessee legislation would allow hospitals and physicians to provide negligent medical care without holding them accountable for these actions. If you have questions about this bill or your own medical negligent case, you should speak with a Tennessee medical malpractice lawyer right away. They will hear your case and see if you are entitled to compensation.
This legislation would allow a patient to go into the Emergency Room with something as serious as chest pains and if the doctor were to mistake these symptoms for bronchitis and send you home, and then you were to have a heart attack and die, the doctor who saw you would not be held accountable or considered negligent for this treatment. This legislation also will protect physicians in surgery or in the OB unit if the person is admitted through the emergency room. A patient will have little protection from negligence while in the emergency room and also during their whole hospital visit.
This bill is unreasonable for women, children, and lower income families that are more likely to use emergency room services and care. These Tennessee residents will have little to no protection when they seek medical attention in the emergency room. This bill will also affect taxpayers by having them pay the bill for people without insurance after they receive negligent care. Negligence already adds up to 37.6 billion a year for the nation and this bill would add to that cost.
In Tennessee as well as all across the United States, people expect that when they enter a medical center or hospital for a problem that they will receive the proper care and treatment. However, in many cases, patients leave and still have the same medical problem or different and worse medical problems than they had before. If you or someone you love feels that you have received inadequate care in a hospital or medical center, then you may have a malpractice claim and should speak with a Tennessee malpractice lawyer right away. They will work with you and help to make sure you get the compensation you need.
Justin Owen, of the “Tennessee Center for Policy Research” has recently claimed that “Tennessee needs more jobs, not more lawsuits.” Mr. Owen went on to claim that a $19 million judgment last year represents a growing trend of lawsuits in our civil justice system. However, the number of lawsuits filed in Tennessee last year was lower than any other year over the last five years. Ten years ago, approximately 1,000 lawsuits were tried each year compared to only three hundred and eighty four last year.
Mr. Owen went on to claim that, "a staggering 47 counties do not have an emergency room physician.” However, there are only fifteen counties in Tennessee that do not have emergency rooms and this is because these counties are in rural areas that do not have hospitals. The remaining eighty counties have emergency rooms with a physician and provide twenty-four hour care seven days a week.
In 2008, the Tennessee Association for Justice worked with and the Tennessee Hospital Association and the Tennessee Medical Association to help lower the number of lawsuits against Tennessee health care providers and still hold negligent health care providers accountable for their actions. Since 2008, malpractice lawsuits have been lowered by forty-four percent. Tennessee juries have also proved themselves to be reasonable and trustworthy because they must all agree on the amount of the verdict.
Tennessee residents and people all across the country want to be able to walk into a doctor’s office or hospital except to get treated fairly and with no problems or concerns. Unfortunately, however, sometimes doctors and medical professionals make errors and mistakes and this may lead to more injuries for the patient. This is why being able to file malpractice lawsuits are so important. However, there have recently been some new bills that are proposing limiting malpractice lawsuits. If you or a loved one have suffered from malpractice or are concerned about how the changes may affect you, then you should speak with a Tennessee malpractice lawyer right away. They will work with you and answer any questions you may have about the new changes and your case.
According to recent news, it has been shown that Republicans in Congress have offered very few new health care proposals. In fact, they have received an old failed measure that would really limit lawsuits brought against doctors for negligence, drug companies, and companies that make defective medical products. The Republicans state that limiting malpractice lawsuits will cut spending costs but what it would really do is protect those medical professionals that end up doing harm to people by practice bad medicine.
It has been discovered and reported by the New York Times that one of the congressman supporting the bill, Rep. Phil Gingrey who is a doctor, actually settled a $500,000 case involving a pregnant women and her appendicitis who Gingrey and other doctors failed to diagnose correctly. This failure caused her appendicitis to burst, resulting a severe infection to the unborn child and the women suffered a stroke and was partially disabled. Dr. Gingrey was also involved in three other malpractice lawsuits.
Anderson County, Tennessee has found itself with two lawsuits for $1.5M. This is in response to the dismissal of a medical malpractice suit due to improper serving of legal action. The dismissal claims that a notice of legal action was not given personally by the deputy serving the papers to the doctor that was being sued, instead it was left with a office manager.
The doctor was being sued for leaving a twelve inch retractor in Paul Koczera's abdomen and sewing it up. The retractor was allegedly left in the man for four days.
Koczera and his wife have brought suits against the county and the Sheriff's deputy who served the papers. Another complaint was filed against the office manager who accepted service.
Unfortunately, items left in the body after a surgery are not as rare as one would hope. Often they cause severe infections that can in themselves be life threatening.
It would be difficult to think of anything more traumatic than the injury of your child. Too often that injury occurs at birth due to incompetent or uncaring medical care. When this tragedy occurs it often causes lifelong implications for both the child and its family. Along with the injury comes an untold number of medical and care bills.
The last thing a grieving and bewildered family wants to think about is legal proceedings. All that is often on their minds is the uncertainty of the future, the prognosis of their baby and how life will never be the same. With not only the parents but the whole family suffering intense psychological pain, they can be reluctant to drag everyone through the emotional turmoil that they think a trial would entail. However, if those responsible are not brought to justice it is entirely likely that they will ruin the lives of an untold number of families.
The full implications of injuries sustained at birth are almost impossible to determine. It is imperative that families obtain the necessary monetary funds to pay what could be a lifetime of bills. Having an experienced attorney can make the difference between getting the care your baby needs and your child never receiving the proper care. A good attorney will handle most of the details of the proceedings and let you give your baby the attention it deserves
Medical malpractice laws in many states and here in Tennessee are put in place to help protect the patient and their rights. When something goes wrong in a hospital or during a visit with a doctor, these laws allow the residents of Tennessee to file a claim of medical malpractice and to be compensated appropriately for any pain and suffering, the error or medical negligence caused them. Now, the state of Tennessee is considering making some changes to these laws. If you have questions about these changes or have suffered due to medical malpractice, you should consult a Tennessee medical malpractice lawyer right away to have your case heard and find out if you are entitled to compensation.
Tennessee legislature is considering two bills that would change medical malpractice claims. The first bill is about changes to the liability standard from negligence to gross negligence in cases that concern doctors and other medical staff treating patients in the emergency room. The liability standard that is in place now is for regular negligence which means that the medical staff failed to proper care to a patient according to the standard of care for their profession, and these actions or lack of actions, resulted in an injury of the patient. Gross negligence is considered more difficult to prove and it has been defined as a “negligent act done with utter unconcern for the safety of others.” Other states have defined it as “the failure to exercise even the slightest care”. If these changes are made, it will make it harder for patients claiming medical malpractice to file a claim and successfully sue the medical staff of an emergency room.
The second bill being considered is one that would place a $1 million cap on non-economic damages in these particular cases. Non-economic is described as damages “for pain and suffering as well as inconvenience, discomfort, physical impairment, mental anguish, disfigurement, loss of the enjoyment of life, loss of society and companionship, loss of consortium, injury to reputation, and punitive damages”. However, in Tennessee each year, less than seven cases ever even reach the $1million mark or higher.
Losing a loved one is difficult in the best of circumstances. To believe that the doctor failed to recognize signs of an illness and not diagnose is agony. The late comedian Bernie Mac's widow is suing his dermatologist for at least $50,000 for allegedly failing to recognize his symptoms of double pneumonia and keep him in the office for nine hours rather than sending him to the hospital.
Mac's doctor, Rene M. Earles, claims that Mac was in the office with a rash and wheezing. When Mac was questioned he admitted that another doctor had given him a shot for a cold. Earles says he called that doctor and upon being told Mac had been diagnosed with double pneumonia sent him to the hospital in a chauffeur driven car.
If you feel that a tragedy occurred due to a doctor's failure to diagnose a loved one there are a few things you should know. First you must be able to prove that the lack of diagnosis caused the harm or made it significantly worse. Secondly negligence on the doctor's part must also be proved. You must show that a doctor should have been reasonable able to make a diagnosis based on the symptoms.
Proving these cases can be difficult. If the harm suffered would have occurred whether or not the doctor diagnosed the problem then there is no claim for negligence. Another issue is misdiagnosing one set of symptoms for another condition. If the misdiagnosis was made reasonably and treatment was made, even though incorrect, no negligence or malpractice was committed.
When we are sick or in need of medical care, and treatment, we except doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals to help deliver the best care possible. Unfortunately, in many cases, malpractice occurs and serious injury and even death can be the result. Malpractice cases can occur anywhere, even to the residents of Tennessee.
In this case, Michael Scarpa, a 55 year old retired Long Island Rail Road Worker of Tunkhannock, died on April 16, 1999, two days after coming into the Tyler Memorial Hospital’s emergency room with complaints of chest pains and vomiting for three days. The doctors told him to take cough medicine, rest, and see his family doctor in two days.
After his death, the autotrophy showed that he had suffered from an ulcerated esophagus and the cause of death was sepsis, or blood poisoning, caused by a perforated esophagus that allowed food to enter his pleural cavity. His widow then decided to file a malpractice lawsuit against the hospital and the two doctors that he saw. The attorney for the case said that his “agonizing" death was caused by negligence and carelessness on the part of the hospital and the doctors.”
The jury found the hospital to be forty percent responsible and Dr. Lubin one of the doctor’s 30 percent responsible, Dr. Coster twenty percent responsible and Mr. Scarpa himself to be ten percent responsible. They found the victim to be ten percent responsible due to the fact that he failed to tell Tyler Memorial Hospital about his esophageal surgery two years before.
The jury awarded Mr. Scarpa’s widow 1.2 million, but the attorney is intending to file for “delay damages” which could bring the total awarded amount to 1.9 million. Before retiring, Mr. Scarpa bought a home in Lackawanna County.
When we leave a hospital or medical clinic, we expect to be feeling better than when we arrived. Unfortunately, sometimes this is not the case. Doctors and nurses make mistakes and medical errors occur every day, leaving us or our loved ones suffering from further injuries and pain. When this happens, many of us want whoever is responsible to pay for the suffering and medical malpractice they caused, but many of us may not know how to find a good Tennessee medical malpractice attorney that will hear our case and get us the treatment we deserve. Here are some tips to finding the best Tennessee medical malpractice attorney for you and your loved ones.
It may be a good idea to first ask friends and family for any references they may have. If they have suffered from a similar problem, they may be able to recommend the best Tennessee medical malpractice attorney for you and your case. If this is not helpful, you should contact your Tennessee Bar Association. They will be able to provide you with a referral and a maybe even a specific firm or law that specializes in the area you need.
Once you have a few possible attorneys or firms in mind, it is a good idea to research them. Go on the internet and look at their website. See what type of experience they have in handling cases like yours and how long they have been handling similar cases. It also may be a good idea to look at any articles on their website that may show their medical malpractice knowledge and experience. It is also a good idea to contact the firm and ask any questions you may have.
When meeting with the Tennessee medical malpractice attorney, it is important that you ask them about their experience and if they can recommend any other clients to you that may be able to offer a reference. It is also important to discuss any costs or fees that would be involved if they would be handling your case. They should treat you with respect and genuinely care about your case.
The medical malpractice attorneys at the Higgins Firm are experienced and caring. We listen to our clients, care about their needs, and strive to get them the care they deserve for the pain and suffering they have been caused.
Jacksonville, TN's Hopital Corporation of America (HCA)
Faces Lawsuits for Patients' Bedsores, Negligence
Families of six patients allegedly suffering from negligent hospital care have filed lawsuits against Nashville-based Hospital Corporation of America (HCA). The hospital where the injuries and negligent care occurred was Memorial Hospital in Duval County, Florida.
Hospital neglect is said to be the cause of bedsores in five patients. Another patient was nearly blinded.
A Jacksonville, TN-based personal injury law firm has taken up the medical malpractice lawsuit, stating, “It’s about putting profits ahead of patients’ interest.”
Nashville, TN-based HCA is the U.S.’s largest for-profit hospital company. It claims the hospital did no wrong.
Following 5 deaths and 27 confirmed instances in which defective electrical wires in their heart pump implant lead to serious injury and death, Thoratec Corp is requesting all patients with the HeartMate II mechanical heart pump have their implants checked.
Of the 2,000 potentially fatal heart pump put into patients since November 2003, the 5 fatal instances occurred when the defective medical devices could not be replaced. These defective heart pump devices were distributed worldwide, including 87 U.S. hospitals. The chance of wire damage necessitating a replacement increases with time, with three-years showing a one-in-ten likelihood of needing immediate replacement.
Death and injury caused by the defective heart pumps are from insufficient blood flowing to and from the patient’s heart. The purpose of the recalled HeartMate II Thoratec heart pumps is to assist weak hearts in pumping blood throughout the body. Many patients with defective Thoratec heart pumps are in that long wait for a heart transplant.
The heart pump recall affects those Thoratec devices with catalog numbers 1355 and 102139. If you or a loved one has a Thoratec HeartMate II heart pump with these catalog numbers, consult your Tennessee healthcare provider immediately for the best course of action. If you have suffered injury from this defective heart pump, contact our Tennessee defective medical device lawyers for a free consultation.
Tennessee Firefighter Awarded $1.5 Million Compensation after Amputation to Madison County Doctor's Malpractice
The Jackson Sun reported this weekend on the conclusion of a Tennessee medical malpractice trial that awarded a former Henderson County volunteer firefighter $1.5 million in compensation for a Tennessee doctor's post-operation negligence that lead to the amputation of his left leg. The Madison County jury found in favor of Michael Derrick, who lost his leg to amputation to prevent the spread of infection contracted during bypass surgery in the leg.
Dr. George E. Thomas and his employer Madison Clinic Corporation will be responsible for reparations--which is not to say that they will replace the lost limb taken by their negligent and repeated oversights but that their insurance will have to cover the financial compensation for Mr. Derrick's loss of limb.
Dr. Thomas performed the bypass surgery in January 2006. Mr. Derrick saw the doctor eight more times during the next month in follow-ups where he complained of fevers and chills. Dr. Thomas told him it was the flu; a week after the eighth visit, Derrick was told by an emergency room doctor that a bacterial infection had spread throughout his left leg and that Derrick had a choice: He could be minus one leg or lose his life.
Now, two years after the amputation from an infection that should have never been allowed to spread, Mr. Derrick will have some justice, though not his leg. As Derrick said to the Jackson Sun last Friday, “Money is not going to replace my leg. I’m just hoping that I can get the word out (so) that it doesn’t happen to anyone else."
Thousands of Tennesseans put their health and trust in medical professionals every day. When this trust is betrayed by medical incompetence, those injured have the right to sue under Tennessee malpractice law. Just as no limit exists for the horrors--including birth injuries, brain injuries, paralysis, organ failure, aneurysms, blindness, organ failure, infection, amputation, coma, and death--a Tennessee patient might suffer from malpractice, Tennessee law placed no limit to damages the injured may be awarded. These medical injuries can be caused by incorrect diagnosis, delayed treatment, incorrect procedures performed, correct procedures performed incorrectly, or performing procedures without a patient’s consent.
If medical malpractice or negligence has tragically left you or your loved one injured, incapacitated, or worse, give the personal injury attorneys at HHP's Nashville law offices a call at 615.353.0930 or toll free at 800.705.2121 to speak with a Tennessee malpractice attorney. Or fill out our Tennessee malpractice lawyer form.
For years the medical and insurance lobby in Tennessee has been trying to place financial caps on medical malpractice cases. In attempting to sell this legislation the lobbyist argued that it would stop "frivolous" lawsuits. Our legislature, however, realised that a cap would do nothing to prevent frivolous cases. It would just give the medical community and insurance companies a privileged status in society to avoid responsibility for their actions. Large verdicts are not given for frivolous lawsuits. However, large verdicts only correspond with large damages and reckless conduct.
The Tennessee legislature now has passed legislation that will help prevent frivolous medical malpractice suits. At the same time it will not put artificial limits on valid medical malpractice suits. The bill requires attorneys to give all medical providers who may be named in a malpractice suit at least 60 days notice before filing a lawsuit, and to file a "certificate of good faith" that the claim has merit. The certificate is to be filed within 90 days after the lawsuit is filed. It is based on an evaluation by an independent medical expert. Judges could sanction plaintiffs and their attorneys who they feel have acted in bad faith.
As a lawyer that represents medical malpractice victims, I applaud this legislation. Any responsible lawyer will gladly comply with this new law.
FDA Recalls Medtronic Infusion Pump (SynchoMed EL Implantable) – Dangerous Device Causes Injury or Death
Medtronic, a medical device manufacturer who has formerly warranted a dangerous device warning in the pages of this Tennessee Law Blog, has been issued a FDA Class I Recall for a series of its defective infusion pumps.
(For explanation of why defective infusion pumps are dangerous, check out Tennessee Law Blog’s defective device article on the dangerous Alaris Pump modules.)
A Class I Recall is the most severe action FDA officials take. Class I Recalls are reserved for drugs and dangerous medical devices for which there is a reasonable probability that use will cause serious injury or death.
Medtronic’s defective implantable infusion pumps have been subject to a series of sanctions. On August 3, 2007, Medtronic sent notification letters describing the problems of these defective devices manufactured before September 1999. In these Medtronic infusion pumps, a defective pump motor has been known to stall, which means the delivery of vital drugs will suddenly stop without notice. The lack of vital drugs can result in the return of a patient's symptoms, injury to the infusion pump’s user, and, reportedly, death in cases of drug withdrawal from Intrathecal Baclofen (ITB) therapy (injections into the spine).
The models of SynchroMed EL Implantable Infusion Pump Models subject to recall are as follows:
- Infusion Pump Model 8626-10
- Infusion Pump Model 8626L-10
- Infusion Pump Model 8626-18
- Infusion Pump Model 8626L-18
- Infusion Pump Model 8627-10
- Infusion Pump Model 8627L-10
- Infusion Pump Model 8627-18 Infusion Pump Model 8627L-18
Most patients who use the infusion pump are sufferers of cancer or of severe pain.
Consumers with questions may contact Medtronic Neuromodulation Patient Services at 1-800-510-6735.
Consumers in the State of Tennessee seeking compensation for the injuries caused by Medtronic’s defective devices can call my Nashville law offices at (615) 353-0930 or use HHP’s quick dangerous and recalled medical products form.
Cardinal Health, an $87 billion global manufacturer of medical equipment, announced today the voluntary recall of all Alaris Pump modules shipped prior to September 27th. These Alaris Pump modules (also known as the Medley Pump module) have dangerously defective spring mechanisms which can make these defective medical devices dangerous and deadly.
The purpose of infusion pumps is to introduce fluids (medication, saline, blood, etc.) into the body with regular, repeat precision. These machines can administer as little as 0.1 ml per hour, which is much smaller than a drip or injection by nursing staff can deliver--when these devices work.
The Alaris Pump module is used for all age groups, including infants, and for any number of fluid infusions. The danger of this medical device is in its defective occluder springs. Defects in the devices' occluder springs were caused by springs being misassembled (bent, broken, or missing); these little coils of metal regulates how much fluid is administered. Already two people have died allegedly from these defective medical devices.
These Alaris Pump modules were distributed to 46 states (including Tennessee), to Canada, and overseas. Overinfusion caused by defective springs may be difficult for medical personal to detect because these misassembled springs may operate with varying degrees of regularity. Serial numbers for defective devices can be found at Cardinal Health’s defective Alaris Pump recall page.
If you have suffered injury from an Alaris Pump or other
With the Vanderbilt bacterial meningitis scare, debates about banning smoking in Nashville's parks, cancer studies linking Tennesseans' cigarette smoking to our rising number of cancer deaths, nationwide recall after Medtronic defibrillator deaths, and a marathon run through Tennessee to raise awareness about Ataxia-telangiectasia--this is already a hefty health news week in Nashville. I want to piggyback on that health news by updating this Nashville law blog's section on medical malpractice.
Medical malpractice, as it's commonly known, is when a doctor or other medical professional injures a patient, such as the Long Island woman who had a double mastectomy after a lab misdiagnosed her with a breast cancer she never had. What isn't so commonly known is that doctors and other health professionals are liable for injuries caused by those decisions they did not make as well as for decisions they waited too long to make. Figures vary, but some respectable studies attribute over 150,000 deaths a year to avoidable hospital errors. About half of these are patients who die as a result of hospital-acquired infections. Infections can lead to permanent disability if not death. Medical science has provided us a wealth of antibiotics and sterilization processes, which work great, if no one forgets or makes a mistake.
In addition to infections, another common injury seen in court but many medically injured patients overlook while suffering from its effects, is failed diagnosis. Though the attending doctor did not physically harm you, if he or she may have failed to diagnose a life-threatening disease or ailment that soon after causes you serious injury (such as an undiagnosed heart attack), then that doctor is responsible for malpractice damages. The same goes for being transferred without your assent, especially if transportation time furthered an injury or caused a new one in the process of getting you from Point A to B.
There are, of course, many other instances of medical malpractice ourattorneys see and try. As a fellow white-collar professional, what's perhaps the hardest to understand about the whole thing is how few doctors admit their mistakes. Tennessee Rules of Evidence exclude "expressions of sympathy" from the courtroom. In other words, a doctor's telling a patient or survivors that he or she is sorry and made a mistake is not admissible in court.The doctor's words of apology cannot be used against him or her in a court of law. Over 30 states other than Tennessee have passed these"apology laws," but few doctors will admit to error, often because of their medical malpractice carrier's pressure to reduce lawsuits, that is, payment for permanent or life-threatening or unnecessary injuries the insured doctor has caused.
Recently, my good friend F. Davis Morse at the Consumer Justice Group had an honor even greater than the day he passed the bar exam, his winning multimillion dollar settlements, or his Supreme Court victory: He became a father.
But what should have been the happiest day of his life was overshadowed by the hospital’s mechanized medical apparatuses in place for birthing mothers, a frightening array of unnecessary procedures and forced practices. Davis blogs about it at blogspot.com.
What’s particularly interesting for me is other people’s similar reactions whenever I talk about my or another lawyer’s blogs. They seem suspicious, like I’m having them on. Maybe it’s like how children imagine their elementary school teacher sleeps in the classroom: it’s hard for laypeople to imagine lawyers having a private life or being affected by the world outside the courtroom.
But at the day (and despite the jokes), lawyers are people, live in the same world and are subject to the same injustices and horrors as we write about here and fight against in trials.
For the past few years, the insurance industry has claimed that there is a medical malpractice litigation crisis in Tennessee. However, after reviewing the statistics on medical malpractice lawsuits, it appears the “crisis” is a myth. According to a recent article in the Tennessean, most medical malpractice claims closed in Tennessee last year resulted in no payment of damages to patients and their families.
The answer most advocates advance to fix the alleged “crisis” is to put caps on medical awards. When you review the statistics, however, it appears that caps would do almost nothing to affect the total costs of the system. Of the 2,827 claims that closed in 2005, 461 of them were settled without jury verdicts. Slightly more than 83 percent of the closed claims resulted in no payout. Of the jury verdict awards closed in 2005, five resulted in jury verdicts for the plaintiffs, with the judgments totaling a little more than $6 million.
Perhaps the industry should look more at the insurance industry to determine why the premiums are so high. Is the system out of control or working just fine? I realize the justice system is far from perfect, but it seems to be working in Tennessee. Claims that have no merit are dismissed. Claims that have merit are presented to a jury for a determination on an appropriate outcome.
Joseph Palanki was eleven months old when he underwent surgery to reduce scrotal swelling. Along with taking away the inflammation, the Vanderbilt University Medical Center surgeon removed 90% of the infant’s bladder. Joseph Palanki has undergone several treatments since and still cannot urinate without a catheter. Unwilling to go unremunerated for the malpractice, Joseph’s West Tennessee family sued the hospital and was awarded $16 million by a jury after a trial in May, 2005. Soon after the trial, however, Walter Kurtz, a Davidson County Circuit Court Judge, reduced the verdict to $6.5 million. The Palankis appealed, but on Monday the Court of Appeals upheld Judge Kurtz’s decision.
No amount of money could have adequately compensated that little boy for the life he will lead with only 10% of his bladder, but the original jury-awarded sum could have more easily defrayed the costs his surgeon’s mistake will incur throughout his lifetime. While it is unfortunate that the lesser award was upheld by the court, cases like this send a strong message to our health care providers that our lives, and thus doctors’ diligence, have great worth. It is up to all of us to reinforce that message by taking action any time we or someone we know has been treated carelessly by a physician.
One example of birth injuries caused by trauma to the newborn is Erb's palsy (sometimes called Brachial Plexus palsy). In essence The brachial plexus is a nerve bundle located in the shoulder region that controls muscles in the shoulder, arms and hands. Sometimes during delivery a child’s should can become lodged on the mother’s pubic bone. If a physician uses to much force on a child’ head during the deliver process in an effort to dislodge a shoulder damage can occur to the nerve bundles located in this shoulder region.
A child that is born with brachial plexus palsies such as Erb's palsy can suffer paralysis and a loss of sensation and muscle control in their shoulders, arm and hands. They may also suffer from disfigurement of the shoulder or arms. This often results in the child being unable to lift their arms above their head and not being able to have appropriate strength and fine motor coordination. Treatment options include extensive physical therapy and surgery.
Obviously, the primary concern of the parents is to care for the child and not the possibility of pursuing a claim. However, the long term costs of caring for the child can be extraordinary. Admittedly, the delivery of a child is a complicated process, and the potential for complications is always present. However, some complications like birth injuries can be presented, and it is the responsibility of the treating medical care providers to provide adequate medical care for the fetus and mother during pregnancy, labor and the delivery. Unfortunately, parents often do not discover that a cause of the problem can be medical malpractice for a significant period of time. In Tennessee the family now has only three years to bring a claim. This may sound like a long time but when the sole concern is your child the three years passes very quickly.