March 2011 Archives

Many Hospitals Ban Recordings in Delivery Rooms Due to Malpractice Fears

March 16, 2011

According to a recent article in the New York Times, more and more hospitals across the country are banning pictures and videos from being taken during birth in the delivery room. Some hospitals are even calling for all cell phones to be turned off and out of sight during deliveries. Hospitals that enforce these bans only allow photos to be taken after the baby has been delivered and permission is granted by hospital staff.

The article discusses hospital' claims that they are concerned about the health and safety of the baby and mother and that they are also concerned about protecting the privacy of the medical staff in implementing these restrictions. According to the article, thanks to Facebook and Youtube more and more doctors and hospital staff members are raising concerns over their own privacy.

However, the media has pointed out that many of these photography and video bans are being enforced to protect hospitals from malpractice lawsuits. Their concerns come against a backdrop of medical malpractice suits in which video plays a key role. One of the most prominent cases at the forefront of this movement to ban delivery room photos and videos stems from a case settled in 2007 that involved a baby that was born at the University of Illinois Hospital and that suffered from shoulder complications and permanent injury. The Chicago medical malpractice lawyer representing the family used the video in a malpractice lawsuit that was taken by the father in the delivery room. This video allegedly showed the nurse-midwife using excessive force during delivery and it led to a payment to the family of $2.3 million dollars.

According to Mike Matray, editor of "The Medical Liability Monitor", a newsletter circulated in Chicago, this issue has been getting more attention on many hospital agendas, "I have certainly heard this issue discussed more often than I ever have previously, and it' certainly true that some risk managers in hospitals are advising doctors to stop allowing video in the delivery room."

Congressional Bill Sponsor Previously Sued for Malpractice

March 14, 2011

According to a New York Times article published this month, Congressional Representative Phil Gingrey of Georgia, who is sponsoring a bill seeking to place caps on malpractice lawsuits, was involved in a $500,000 settlement in a malpractice lawsuit brought against him and several other doctors in 2007. Before being elected to Congress, Gingrey had worked as an obstetrician for thirty years. The Congressional bill sponsored by Gingery is poised to significantly cut medical malpractice awards by limiting damages for pain and suffering in malpractice cases to $250,000.

Although the case against Gingrey and the other doctors named in the lawsuit reached a settlement, details of the case allege that Gingrey and the other obstetricians at the practice had failed to properly diagnose a woman' appendicitis. According to the original lawsuit filed against the doctor, the pregnant woman alleged that inappropriate care caused the loss of her fetus. Court papers show that the woman' appendix eventually burst leading to the loss of her fetus and other health complications, including a stroke. Chicago medical malpractice lawyers have represented clients in similar cases and reached settlements for a comparable dollar amount.

According to a pretrial deposition given by Gingrey, he had been sued at least three other times over malpractice during his career. A jury found against him in one case; in another case there was a settlement; and in another case, the patient dropped the lawsuit.

In addition to placing a cap on damages for pain and suffering, this bill is also aiming to restrict fees paid to lawyers representing patients and to create alternative means to lawsuits for resolving medical disputes such as mediation. The bill would also ban awarding punitive damages in cases brought against the manufacturers of drugs, medical devices and other products that are approved, cleared, or licensed for sale by the FDA.

Congressman Gingrey' bill has gained support from several medical groups, including the American Medical Association. Opponents of the bill include the American Association for Justice and various other patients' rights groups.

Lake County Coroner Named in Wrongful Death Suit

March 12, 2011

Lake County Coroner Richard Keller has been named in a wrongful death civil lawsuit that has been filed by a Lindenhurst woman whose son died of a drug overdose. Keller had previously worked as the director of a methadone clinic and he had treated the now deceased man for addiction.

Keller is accused of improperly prescribing the drug methadone to Steve Vaughn who died in late 2008. A Chicago medical malpractice lawyer is representing the mother of Vaughn in this wrongful-death civil lawsuit which has been filed against both Keller and the now-defunct Green Dragonfly clinic. The family of the dead man is seeking an unnamed amount of damages for alleged negligence.

The woman' son died several hours after he was prescribed methadone during his second day of treatment at the clinic. According to state records, the clinic was closed in August 2009 after both state and federal inspections revealed a number of violations.

Keller is a licensed physician and he is accused of improperly prescribing methadone to Vaughn. The lawsuit alleges that Keller failed to order proper laboratory tests and that he failed to properly evaluate Vaughn and to record his medical history. According to Vaughn' mother, "I think the way they handled everything was irresponsible. I think they need to be held accountable for it."

The Lake County state's attorney has also launched a criminal investigation into Vaughn's death, but no charges have been filed as of yet. Keller, who also works as the county' coroner was also responsible for investigating the death of the man which further complicates the lawsuit. Keller concluded that the man died from mixing Xanax along with the methadone.

According to the lawsuit, Vaughn' mother contests that her son lied to Keller so that he could receive the methadone treatments after being turned down by other clinics. The mother believes that her son was using someone else' prescription for Xanax and that the clinic failed to warn him of the dangers of mixing Xanax and methadone.

Naperville Doctor Sued Over Controversial Autism Treatments

March 10, 2011

A Chicago father of a 7 year old boy with autism has filed a lawsuit against a Naperville doctor for causing harm to his child through "dangerous and unnecessary experimental treatments." The lawsuit also names a doctor from Florida that is part of the same medical movement to treat autism through alternative treatment options. This group has been mentioned in the media for its use of questionable medical treatments.

The Chicago Tribune has recently run an investigative series that examines risky and unproven treatments for medical aliments based on questionable science. One of the articles from the series has featured this family and their story.

The lawsuit has been filed against Dr. Anjum Usman of Naperville and Dr. Daniel Rossignol of Melbourne, Florida. These two doctors are prominent physicians in the Defeat Autism Now movement. This group promotes many of the alternative treatments that the Tribune has called into question. The two physicians have been keynote speakers at autism conferences and they have also trained other physicians in their approach to treating autism.

According to the Chicago medical malpractice lawyer representing the boy, the doctors prescribed "medically unnecessary and unjustified" chelation treatments, which are designed to force the body to excrete toxic metals. The lawsuit alleges that the boy did not suffer from heavy metal poisoning and these treatments carry a risk of kidney failure.

The lawsuit also alleges that Dr. Rossignol prescribed these treatments over the phone and that he had never seen the child in person. The lawsuit contends that the tests performed by Doctor' Data medical testing laboratory in St. Charles used an "improper method" of testing and that the results indicating that the boy had elevated levels of lead, aluminum, tin, and mercury were highly questionable. Both doctors named in the suit have issued statements that they can not comment on pending litigation.

Judge Awards Gurnee Family $29 Million for Medical Negligence

March 8, 2011

A group of federally employed physicians out of Northwestern University were recently found guilty of medical negligence in a case involving a Gurnee family that left their newborn son with cerebral palsy. The family was awarded $29 million dollars for negligence that resulted in both severe mental and psychical impairments in their son.

The Northwestern doctors were attending to the pregnant Gurnee woman and they ignored the fact that the woman had an infection before her son was born. That infection ultimately spread to the boy' brain and resulted in him being born with cerebral palsy. According to court testimony, the boy had showed signs of infection during the early stages of labor, but due to the negligence of the doctors it went untreated. The infection eventually made its way through the child's bloodstream and into the boy' brain.

According to the Chicago medical malpractice lawyer representing the family, "Had the federal government' doctors followed the standard of care and provided the antibiotics to Maria or Christian at the appropriate times, Christian would have been a normal baby boy." Maria Arroyo is the Gurnee mother and her son Christian is the victim of the negligence suit. The boy is now unable to walk, talk, or eat normally. He has permanent brain damage and is a quadriplegic.

The family received a previous settlement from Northwestern in 2009 for $6.5 million dollars. A U.S. District judge ruled in favor of the family and passed down an additional $22.6 million dollars for both economical needs and noneconomic loss for the boy. The Judge cited that the boy' medical needs through the course of his lifetime will be quite extensive and costly.

The family of the boy sued these federal doctors under the Federal Tort Claims Act which gives private citizens the authority to sue the federal government.

$4.6 Million Dollar Medical Malpractice Award to Minnesota Family

March 6, 2011

The recent malpractice lawsuit brought on by the surviving family members of a Wright County, Minnesota woman resulted in a $4.6 million dollar award. The wrongful death and medical malpractice lawsuit was filed against the hospital in which the woman died while giving birth and the doctors delivering the baby.

The woman died from excessive bleeding and hemorrhaging after giving birth to a son at Monticello-Big Lake Community Hospital, which is now named the New River Medical Center. The doctors delivering the baby were not able to perform a surgical procedure that could have saved her life because the hospital facility failed to provide enough blood for transfusion in time. Although the woman' doctors were initially named in the lawsuit, they were found not guilty by the jury.

The Chicago medical malpractice lawyer representing the family of the deceased woman said that it was apparent that the doctors were not at fault as soon as the trial got underway, "Her doctors needed blood to save her life. It was as simple as that." Although the doctors saw the necessity to perform the surgery, they were unable to do so because they did not have the blood required to go ahead with the surgery.

Attorneys representing the hospital alleged that the doctors were at fault and should have gone ahead and performed the surgical procedure without the blood. A jury awarded the woman' family a total of $4.6 million dollars. The award includes compensation to the victim' family for past and future economic loss in addition to the loss of her companionship. Although paperwork hasn't been filed, a representative from the hospital issued a statement indicating that the hospital is considering an appeal. The statement also declined to release any expert-witness documents supporting the defense due to the fact that they contained private medical data.

Chicago Eye Doctor Reprimanded After 50 Malpractice Allegations Filed

March 4, 2011

A state regulatory agency has reprimanded a Chicago ophthalmologist that has been sued for malpractice nearly 50 times banning home from performing any more Lasik vision procedures. Dr. Caro, an ophthalmologist that operates in Chicago, has been performing Lasik eye surgeries since the 1990' and has had nearly 50 malpractice lawsuits filed against him in Illinois in the past two decades.

The state operated regulatory board, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, has permanently barred Dr. Caro from performing anymore Lasik surgeries in addition to banning him from performing any intraocular procedures in his medical office. This ban includes: cataract surgery, corneal transplantation, and refractive lens exchange or clear lens extraction.

A Chicago medical malpractice lawyer representing one of the plaintiffs in a current case against Dr. Caro expressed relief that the state agency has taken action against him. Most of the complaints against Caro involved patients that needed to seek treatment for complications arising from Lasik surgery. In 1997, the FDA prohibited Caro from using an unapproved excimer laser system for Lasik surgeries upon inspection of Caro' practice. The laser was eventually seized after Caro purportedly continued to use it after receiving notice barring him from its use from the FDA.

This was not the first time that the agency has taken action against this Lasik doctor. There is a long list of previous disciplinary actions that have been taken against him. In 2008, the state' chief medical prosecutor, Lisa Stephens, recommended to the agency that Dr. Caro' license be suspended or revoked.

After performing an investigation, the Illinois agency concluded that Dr. Nicholas Caro had engaged in unprofessional conduct and gross negligence. The agency suspended his license for 30 days and also placed him on probation for the next three years in addition to prohibiting him from performing any Lasik procedures. Dr. Caro was also fined $10,000, which is the maximum amount of money that can be fined by the agency.

Harvard Study Finds Emergency Rooms Wait Times Dangerously Increasing

March 2, 2011

The results from a recent study performed by Harvard University concluded that hospital emergency rooms were statically more prone to medical negligence when compared to any other department within a hospital. These findings were released after scrutinizing records from over thirty thousand hospitals randomly selected across the country.

The conclusions drawn from this study strongly indicate that you are much more likely to be a victim of medical malpractice during a trip to the emergency room over any other type of medical visit. The study also found that there are a number of reasons why the emergency room is the prime breeding ground for medical error. A Chicago medical malpractice lawyer can use the findings from this study in evaluating potential cases stemming from emergency room visits.

According to the Harvard study, there are several factors that come into play during an emergency room visit which contribute to the overall likeliness of someone experiencing some form of medical malpractice. The inherent nature of having to wait in an emergency room for an indeterminate amount of time in order to receive medical attention is a major cause for concern. This Harvard study pointed out that wait times in emergency rooms has increased considerably over the past decade. These lengthy wait times can lead to a number of complications that can be attributed to negligence on behalf of the emergency room staff.

The Harvard study also concluded that addition to prolonged wait times the most common complications for patients arose from misdiagnoses and incorrect treatments being administered. Other problems occurred from an improper or an incomplete evaluation of a patient's condition, from a failure to order the right type of laboratory tests, from the wrong medications being prescribed, from complications due to medical allergies, and from a host of other claims of negligence.

While the increased wait times for patients can be viewed as the main contributing factor for many of these cases of negligence, the Harvard study also cites disorganization on behalf of the hospital staff, inexperience staff members, and a heightened sense of urgency as major contributing factors.