Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

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The number of surgical centers in the U.S. has ballooned in recent years to more than 5,600. These facilities started several decades ago as a low-cost alternative for patients undergoing minor surgeries. However, these centers now outnumber hospitals, and federal regulators are approving them for an increasing number of complex procedures. The goal is to reduce federal health care costs. However, it seems many patients are paying the price, according to a new report by Kaiser Health News and USA Today.medical malpractice

The report indicates that staffers at these centers are calling 911 thousands of times annually with complications that range from minor to deadly, but we don’t know exactly how big the problem is because there is no national authority that tracks these incidents. The journalists’ analysis, based on legal filings, autopsy records and medical reports contained in more than 12,000 federal and state inspection records, as well as interviews with physicians, patients and health policy experts, indicates that at least 260 of these patients have died in the last five years as a result of in- and out-patient surgeries at these centers. Some patients were as young as 2-years-old, with some undergoing routine surgeries, like tonsillectomies and colonoscopies. Others are undergoing complex operations like spinal surgeries.

These centers and physicians share in the reward for these surgeries because doctors can earn their own fee plus a cut of the facility fee when they own shares in the center. However, the biggest risk to patients occurs with the fact that while Medicare requires surgical centers to be within 15 miles of an emergency room, it can still mean up to a half hour can pass between the time a 911 call is made and the time one arrives at the ER. Some critics and medical malpractice attorneys argue that certain patients with underlying medical issues or those undergoing serious procedures should only be treated in a hospital in the first place – if they should have these operations at all. Many of these facilities lack the kind of lifesaving training or equipment needed to address a potentially serious complication. These can include simple things like tools necessary to open an airway or training necessary to stop a patient from bleeding to death. At least two dozen patients reportedly died within minutes or days of undergoing surgical center operations. Continue reading →

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Plastic surgery, like any surgery, carries risks. While it is not typically as dangerous as something like open heart surgery in most cases, patients are trusting the skill, experience, and professionalism of their surgeons and anesthesiologists to not only do an aesthetically good job, but also to perform the operation in a safe manner so as not to result in serious personal injury or death. If a doctor fails to adhere to the requisite standard of care, plaintiff may need to file a medical malpractice lawsuit to obtain compensation for the damages caused.

medical malpractice LawyerAccording to a recent news article from the Miami Herald, a woman died due to complications involving what is known as a “Brazilian butt lift” operation. Specifically, the medical examiner found that clots of fat from the surgery entered her heart and lungs causing an embolism resulting in her death. In the past four years, six women, including her, have died in Miami-Dade County from complications arising from this procedure. Continue reading →

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Medical malpractice lawsuits in Florida are an indication to the state’s Department of Health that a doctor may be a potential danger to current and future patients. Regardless of the outcome of the case, the state is required by law to review those cases, identify problem doctors and take appropriate action on their license to practice medicine. Doctors could receive an emergency suspension order, probation, long-term suspension or revocation.medical malpractice lawyer

However, a recent investigation by journalists at The Sun Sentinel revealed that of the 24,000 closed state and federal medical malpractice lawsuits in Florida over the last 10 years, disciplinary charges were filed by the state only 128 times. That breaks down to one-half of 1 percent. A majority of medical malpractice lawsuits in Florida are settled prior to trial, but reporters discovered even those that ended in a jury verdict for the plaintiff rarely resulted in any action from the state board.

What this means is doctors who have been proven to place their patients’ well-being and lives and jeopardy are continuing to practice without sanction, restriction or oversight. Medical malpractice insurance typically covers the monetary damages as determined, and the physician continues on without further action.  Continue reading →

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According to a recent news article from the Orlando Sentinel, the Florida Supreme Court has just ruled that the existing damages cap on medical malpractice lawsuits is unconstitutional.  The bill in question was signed into law by then-Governor Jeb Bush in 2003.  It was very controversial at the time and is no longer the law in our state.

medical malpractice Lawyer The judges held, through their majority opinion, that caps on noneconomic damages are arbitrary, serve only to reduce a plaintiff’s recovery in the case of serious injuries, and are only for the benefit of the insurance companies.  The state officials and Bush originally justified the law on the basis that we were facing what they called an insurance crisis. Continue reading →

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A new analysis by Harvard Medical School researchers indicates that while the number of successful medical malpractice claims in the U.S. has fallen – dramatically so – the average payout in successful claims has risen.doctor

Between 1992 and 2014, the number of medical malpractice claims nationally that resulted in a damage award to the plaintiff fell by a stunning 56 percent, researchers reported. However, the average amount that was paid out for claims that were successful climbed by almost 25 percent, from an average of $287,000 between 1992 and 1996 up to $353,000 from 2009 to 2014.

There are a few things going on here. The first is the very obvious effect of tort reform on medical malpractice lawsuits. Lawmakers across the country, under intense pressure from big industry lobbyists, have steadily carved away at plaintiff access to the courts for claims of negligence by medical professionals. Continue reading →

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In most medical malpractice lawsuits, plaintiffs have to prove “but-for” causation. What this means is but for the negligence of the medical professional, plaintiff would not have suffered an adverse outcome. doctor

However, this burden of proof would leave those who already had terminal conditions or residual chances of survival or existing serious illnesses with little or no chance of recourse for their doctor’s medical negligence. Enter the “loss of chance” doctrine. It’s generally used in medical malpractice lawsuits involving a plaintiff who can’t prove “but for” causation because he or she was likely to die from the condition even before the doctor was negligent. In these cases, the doctor’s negligence usually involves the failure to diagnose or treat, which causes plaintiff a loss of chance to survive or have a more optimal outcome.

In a recent case before the Washington Supreme Court, justices were asked to review two questions in a “loss-of-chance” medical malpractice lawsuit:

  • Should the court use a “but for” or “substantial factor” standard of causation in these types of claims;
  • Should evidence relating to contributory negligence be excluded based on plaintiff’s failure to follow a physician’s orders.

Continue reading →

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The Florida Supreme Court late last month ruled in favor of a plaintiff fighting the enforcement of an arbitration agreement following a dispute regarding the care of her infant son, who was stillborn.baby

In the case of Hernandez v. Crespo, the state high court ruled the arbitration agreement between the child’s mother and the women’s clinic from which she was receiving treatment was invalid. Had the court upheld the agreement as binding, plaintiff would have been forced to handle her dispute through a private arbitration process, rather than the public courts.

Given that there are many downsides to the arbitration process for plaintiffs, this ruling is likely to have a positive effect for medical malpractice plaintiffs in Florida. Arbitration agreements have become the center of numerous types of civil disputes, from nursing home abuse to product liability. Companies are increasingly requiring customers enter into these agreements that are often unfair. In many cases, customers (or in this case, patients,) may not understand what exactly they are giving up. Continue reading →

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There is a lot of anxiety that comes along with being a new parent. One of those sources of anxiety shouldn’t be the doctors and nurses trusted to take care of your baby.pregnant

Unfortunately, severe birth injuries and infant deaths caused by medical malpractice are more common than some people think. The Florida Department of Health Bureau of Vital Statistics reports that between 7 and 8 of every 1,000 births in Florida results in fetal death. In the U.S., 27 out of every 1,000 births results in a birth injury. That means three babies born every hour suffer a birth injury, which amounts to 2,000 a month nationally.

Recently, the parents of one of those children have filed a lawsuit against a hospital, a doctor, two medical service providers and a nurse – all of whom they allege are liable for injuries to their newborn son, who was delivered 10 weeks early in 2015. This was the couple’s third child, and the mother developed a medical condition that resulted in her being forced to have the baby boy delivered by emergency Cesarean. Being premature, the boy suffered from digestive issues. According to WYFF NBC-4, the baby was transferred to a hospital in Greenville. Doctors recommended he be transferred to another location in Charlotte, but the family wanted him to be treated in Greenville because it would allow them be closer to their other two children until the boy was strong enough to go home. Continue reading →

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Florida’s 2nd District Court of Appeal has joined the 4th DCA in its finding that damage caps in medical malpractice injury lawsuits are unconstitutional. These damage caps, enacted by a 2003 overhaul of state law by then-Gov. Jeb Bush, limit the amount of money injury plaintiffs can receive for pain and suffering when medical malpractice results in a serious personal injury. doctor

The Florida Supreme Court is still reviewing the 4th DCA’s finding in a similar case, North Broward Hospital District v. Kalitan, in which the hospital is appealing the court’s finding that damage caps shouldn’t apply to injury lawsuits stemming from the breach of care acceptable care standards by doctors, nurses and other health care workers.

This conflict between the appeals court rulings and the law come after the Florida Supreme Court’s 2014 decision in McCall v. U.S., in which justices ruled non-economic damages in medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuits are not constitutional. So the sticking point in the current cases is whether that also extends to injury cases, where plaintiff did not die. Continue reading →

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A jury in Illinois has awarded a near-record $53 million to a young boy born with a serious brain injury after his mother says he suffered 12 hours of fetal distress during her full-term delivery.pregnant

The damage award was announced following a month-long trial in which the boy’s mother and legal guardian sued the hospital and several doctors for not sooner recognizing and acting on the obvious signs of fetal distress her unborn child was experiencing. The appropriate course of action, she contended, would have been an emergency c-section as soon as she was admitted to the hospital. This should have been clear, she said, as soon as she was hooked up to the fetal monitoring unit after she reported that her child had stopped moving inside her womb.

Unfortunately, it was around 2 a.m. when she arrived at the hospital and only student residents were on staff to care for her. Plaintiff attorneys presented evidence indicating those residents were either occupied, sleeping or unable to fully grasp or adequately respond to the severity of her situation. For 12 hours, her lawyers explained to jurors, her son was slowly suffocating. Continue reading →

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