Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

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Throughout California and the United States, getting chiropractic care has long been viewed as a relatively safe treatment for back and neck problems as well as certain other ailments. According to The Huffington Post, however, experts in the British Medical Journal suggest that there may be some significant risks to chiropractic care. The article cited a study conducted at the Centre for Research and Rehabilitation at Brunel University that linked chiropractic adjustments to neurovascular complications, including blood clots and stoke.

“Given the prevalence of chiropractic care as a treatment for back and neck pain, it is important for patients to understand the risks of such care, as well as their rights should an injurious outcome occur,” explained California personal injury lawyer James Ballidis.

Chiropractic Malpractice

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Vaccines for Children (VFC) is a nationwide program intended to provide free vaccinations to low-income, uninsured or underinsured children in California and throughout the rest of the United States. A recent report by the Office of the Inspector General indicated that a significant segment of the medical offices administering the vaccines had failed to properly store them, eliciting concerns from officials and the public about the effectiveness of the vaccines offered through the program, explains a California personal injury attorney.

While there is some controversy among parents in regard to the safety and necessity of vaccines, many parents still comply with regular vaccine schedules for their children and many take advantage of the VFC in order to do so. In fact, approximately half of all of the vaccines administered to children in the United States are administered through Vaccines for Children. In addition, many of the VFC providers are also private clinics that administer vaccines to paying and insured children as well.

Unfortunately, while Vaccines for Children was intended to make sure that all children received the vaccines they need, an article in Time magazine indicated that a recent government report revealed that as many as 76 percent of physicians in possession of VFC vaccines had stored them at temperatures outside of the recommended temperature for at least five hours. Vaccines are required to be stored at temperatures between 37 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit, but some vaccines had been allowed to get too warm or too cold.

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A group of Veterans has been fighting to make a claim for injuries caused by medical negligence that did not come to light until after the statute of limitations had passed. Unfortunately, for those veterans litigating their cases in Tennessee, a state with no discovery rule permitting exceptions to its statute of limitations for medical malpractice, a successful settlement is unlikely, explains a personal injury lawyer in California.

According to the Greenfield Daily Reporter, in 2009, more than 10,000 veterans were notified that they needed to be tested for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV. These veterans needed to undergo this testing as a result of potential exposure to the viruses caused by improper endoscopic cleaning in VA facilities throughout Tennessee, Georgia, and Miami. As many as 90 patients who were tested discovered they had one or more of the viruses.

One such patient who tested positive was Carl Huddleston. Mr. Huddleston had contracted Hepatitis B following a colonoscopy that took place in a VA facility in 2006. However, Mr. Huddleston was unaware of his condition until he received notice of the mishandling of the endoscopic equipment in February of 2009. Upon learning of the potential danger, Mr. Huddleston responded promptly, was tested and filed an administrative tort claim against the Veteran’s Administration for damages. Because the claim is against the government, there is a different-and more complicated-process for taking legal action than simply filing a medical malpractice civil lawsuit against a private hospital or physician.

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Antipsychotic drugs are administered to approximately one out of four patients in California nursing homes, according to a report by the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform. In many cases, these drugs are prescribed for “off-label” uses, which means the powerful medications are not prescribed to treat schizophrenia or other conditions that the FDA has approved the drugs for, explains a California personal injury attorney. Instead, these medications are prescribed in order to make patients easier to manage and to help control the behavior of patients suffering from dementia.

The use of these antipsychotic medications as a treatment method is growing not just in California but also throughout the entire United States. For instance, in 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services released a report indicating that approximately 14 percent of the 2.1 million individuals living in nursing homes had been prescribed an off-label or “atypical” antipsychotic drug in 2007. The same report also indicated that in 51 percent of Medicare antipsychotic drug claims, there was no record of administration of the drugs or the drugs were not used for medically accepted reasons. This means that Medicare spent an estimated $309 million on atypical psychiatric drugs.

The losses caused by the use of these drugs are not just financial. The FDA has warned that the off-label use of antipsychotics to treat dementia patients can increase the risk of mortality. According to statistics reprinted on the Consumer Voice, the potential consequences and side effects of the off-label use of these medications can increase the risk of heart attack, triple the risk of a stroke, contribute to or cause diabetes, cause fatigue, cause uncontrolled tremors that may lead to falls, cause seizures and cause the residents to lose the ability to perform basic life functions such as bathing, dressing, eating and talking to others. Because of the serious consequences, the unnecessary and atypical use of antipsychotic medications may result in the death of 15,000 nursing home patients every year.

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The Medical Board in California is vested with the responsibility of licensing physicians as well as with investigating and disciplining doctors who fail to live up to the standards of their profession. Unfortunately, the Medical Board has failed to take action against many dangerous doctors, explains a California personal injury lawyer in the state.

In March 2011, Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of a not-for-profit public interest group in Washington D.C. called Public Citizen, wrote a letter to the director of the California Medical Board indicating that an analysis of the National Practitioner Data Bank revealed some startling information. According to the database, 710 doctors who had lost or had privileges restricted between 1990 and 2009 by a hospital or medical entity had not faced any discipline from the state Medical Board. Among these 710 physicians, 102 were considered to be an “immediate threat” to patient health and safety.

The California Medical Board, unfortunately, did not take swift corrective action in response to this alarming news. Instead, the Board responded with a letter that essentially explained why action was not taken to investigate and potentially discipline these physicians: incapable of directly disciplining doctors, the Board only opens investigations into misconduct or negligence when a peer review body reports that actions have been taken to remove the physician’s privileges or when it is notified that a medical malpractice judgment or settlement against the physician has exceeded $30,000. Doctors disciplined by other state or federal agencies would also be subject to an investigation by the Board.

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Last week an Orange County jury awarded $3.1 million to a woman who suffered a medication overdose at a skilled nursing home that left her brain damaged. Barbara Lefforge, only 57 years old was sent to St. Edna’s center for rehabilitation after a tendon repair surgery. She had only been there 5 ½ hours when the medication error occurred, explained an Orange County injury attorney.

According to court records, after her surgery her doctor recommended that she stay at St. Edna’s skilled nursing facility until she recuperated. She was mistakenly given 50mg of morphine instead of 50mg of Demerol. Since this was such an excessive dose, Lefforge’s attorney argued that medical personnel should have questioned that dosage order. Moreover the staff pharmacist even warned that the dosage was too high, but Lefforge’s doctor had doubled it, so she was given that quantity of medication.

Lefforge was left unmonitored until the next morning when she was found barely breathing due to the medication error. She had suffered from a major overdose of morphine. After being taken to the hospital, it was established that she had suffered a brain injury from the excessive morphine dose.

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