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Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice News

We are looking at a birth injury case in Rhode Island which has given us occasion to look at medical malpractice verdicts and settlements in Rhode Island.  This is just for general information.

  • 2019, Rhode Island: $6,000,000 Settlement. This is just a tragic maternal death. A 21-year-old woman was expecting her first child. Her prenatal course was normal, and she arrived at the hospital to deliver her child a week after the due date. Her labor and delivery team planned for her to undergo cervical ripening by administering Misoprostol before inducing labor. However, Misoprostol was not approved for cervical ripening and there could be potential for serious complications to occur. A first-year resident gave the first dose of Misoprostol to the woman. At that time, the attending physician, who was not employed by the hospital, was at home but available via telephone. The woman’s contraction patterns became more frequent and intense shortly after receiving Misoprostol. The attending physician told the resident that she could only give Misoprostol if the contractions became irregular and infrequently. Despite the woman’s contractions being more frequent and consistent, the resident administered a second dose. The woman’s uterus contracted intensely. Fetal bradycardia developed and her cervix enlarged rapidly. Her cervix and uterus tore during the delivery. The baby was successfully resuscitated. However, the cervical and uterine tears caused a significant post-partum hemorrhage. The labor and delivery team attempted to save her, but she died from shock and multi-organ failure. Her son thankfully survived without any residual injuries. The woman’s family alleged that the hospital failed to properly oversee their resident and the resident negligently administered a second dose of Misoprostol. They claim that the woman would have survived had there been no second dose. The case would eventually settle for $6,000,000.
  • 2019, Rhode Island: $36,330,000 Verdict. A 58-year-old woman visited a hospital with back pain and a recent MRSA skin infection. During her second visit, an MRI revealed signs of an infection. However, the radiologist interpreted the MRI as normal. She returned two days later, with sepsis. The woman was hospitalized for an extended period because the hospital staff failed to diagnose and treat her infection. She ultimately underwent amputations to both her legs below-the-knee and eight fingers. The woman also suffered respiratory failure, kidney failure, and a heart attack that disrupted her circulation to her brain. The jury awarded $36,330,000.

Nike has just signed their first professional athlete with cerebral palsy, cross-country runner Justin Gallegos. They signed the University of Oregon junior to a three-year contract.  A moving video posted on YouTube shows the exact moment that he had received the news, which was on World Cerebral Palsy Day. The announcement caught Justin by surprise, as he was finishing up a race.  It was a great moment for people with cerebral palsy and their families and, obviously, a nice piece of marketing for Nike.  I feel like I’m being a little manipulated by this story and I still have an urge to run out and buy some Nikes.

Justin’s Story

shutterstock_233474563-300x200-300x200Throughout his young life, Gallegos overcame significant adversity because of his condition. He learned to walk at 2 years old, with the help of a walker. However, physical therapy helped improve his stride well enough that he did not need it by the time he reached Kindergarten. Gallegos initially wanted to join his high school’s football team, but his father Brent persuaded him to join the cross-country team instead. Brent and Justin spoke to his high school’s cross-country coaches Darren James and Larry David about possibly joining the team. Brent assured both coaches that their son could run three miles needed for a cross-country race, and Justin would have a strong work ethic.

Medical errors can seriously affect patients. While mistakes made may not affect health outcomes, sometimes fatal results may occur. A Johns Hopkins study discovered that over 250,000 people die in the United States each year because of medical errors. This makes it the third-leading cause of death, after heart disease and cancer.

One of the medical errors that are harming patients pertains to medical record documentation. Below are a few examples of how mistakes in entering medical records can cause real injuries to people.

A Young Florida Woman with Headaches

If you or a loved one are taking valsartan, you may or may not know about the recent recalls or lawsuits involving it. All of them involve valsartan-products manufactured in China by the pharmaceutical company Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceutical (ZHP). They all note that ZHP-manufactured valsartan contains N-nitrodimethylamine (NDMA), which groups, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), categorized as a potential carcinogen.

Valsartan Worldwide Recalls

med-mal-300x200-300x200ZHP-manufactured Valsartan could be found in various countries throughout the world. The relatively low manufacturing costs in China made it attractive for countries such as the United States to import it. While these generic drugs may be cheaper to make in China, there are fewer regulations that ensure the safe manufacture of these drugs. This is the tradeoff you get when buying some generic drug imports. Because of the discovery of NDMA in ZHP-manufactured valsartan, the European Union, Taiwan, Canada, the United States, and South Korea announced successive recalls in July 2018.

Here are a few medical malpractice links/blog posts/stories I found of interest:

  • When doctors and hospitals don’t pay attention to recall notices and warnings, disaster can ensue.
  • An Alabama jury awarded $15 million in the case of a woman who died after a hospital administered an overdose of the anesthetic propofol.

Disturbingly, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will consider approving “a mere error in judgment” does not constitute negligence jury instruction. In other words, doctors can make mistakes as long as the jury wants to understand why the doctor made the mistake and can tolerate it.

The case on appeal involves an infant who underwent multiple treatments for what was thought to be gastroesophageal reflux after the child was fussy, wheezy, vomiting, not sleeping, and exhibiting pain while feeding. After several visits with the defendant doctor, the boy’s parents took him to the ER where doctors found him in severe respiratory distress with a low heart rate. Tragically, the boy died. The autopsy revealed the cause of death as diffuse viral myocarditis, a viral infection of the heart.

The case went to trial, and the court gave an “error in judgment” jury instruction which the defense lawyer ran with in the closing argument. Plaintiffs, the parents of the lost child, are appealing the verdict because of the instruction. The Plaintiff’s urge that the court affirm Pringle v. Rappaport, a shoulder dystocia case where the doctor was accused of excessive force when performing the corkscrew procedure in delivering the child, which abrogated the former “error in judgment rule” as a defense in medical malpractice cases.

A Baltimore County judge Susan Souder has denied disgraced former St. Joseph Medical Center chief cardiologist Mark Midei’s quest to get his Maryland medical license back.

The State Board of Physicians revoked Midei’s license in July after the St. Joseph’s hospital scandal, concluding he had engaged in unprofessional conduct, willfully made a false medical report, grossly overutilized health care services, violated the standard of care and failed to keep adequate medical records.

Plaintiffs allege in these cases that they underwent cardiac catheterizations and given completely unnecessary coronary artery stents by Mark G. Midei, M.D. because you can make a lot of money putting in stents.  These charges are grave.  The plaintiffs specifically allege that this doctor and others resorted to fraud in order to induce the unsuspecting patient to get stent and angioplasty procedures so they could charge for unneeded services as well as medical supplies used during the procedures.  After the fact, there was also fraud in an effort to conceal that the procedures were contraindicated and not medically necessary.

Amazing story here from Argentina.

After prematurely giving birth, the parents of a newborn baby, deemed stillborn, found the baby still breathing in the morgue after twelve hours. Shocked, I’m sure, to say the least.

The infant was taken directly to the morgue, after apparently being declared dead. When the parents went to the morgue to say good-bye, they opened the casket (already nailed shut), and uncovered the baby’s face. The baby let out a cry. Can you imagine?

St. Joseph Medical Center, still reeling from the stent debacle, will enter into exclusive negotiations with the University of Maryland Medical System to sell the hospital to UMMS. The Baltimore Sun says that after a year-long selection process it came down to three finalists that also included LifeBridge Health, which owns Sinai and Northwest Hospital, and Ascension Health, which owns St. Agnes Hospital in Baltimore. The hospital said Catholic Health, as well as federal, state and church authorities, will have to approve the next owner.

I don’t understand this process. You are negotiating for the rights to exclusively negotiate? Could this be one reason why health care costs are so high?

This Towson hospital was really on the rise until hundreds of patients found out that St. Joe’s head cardiologist was performing unnecessary stent surgeries. The hospital St. Joseph’s relied on to determine which stents were unnecessary? UMMS.

After a twelve year lawsuit (which includes a mistrial and appeals), the verdict is in. The estate of a thirty-nine-year-old man has been awarded $1.45 million in punitive damages.

The man, a paraplegic because of a shooting as a teenager, presented to a hospital in 1999, complaining of abdominal pain, protracted constipation, and vomiting. He was given pain medication, underwent an enema, and discharged. He returned the next day with severe abdominal pain after having vomited blood all night. Despite lab work which indicated that he was critically ill, the hospital discharged him. The man died several hours later, of peritonitis and a ruptured peptic ulcer.

The hospital, two physicians, a physician’s assistant, and three nurses were sued, accused of failing to pay proper attention to the man’s symptoms and the blood test results which indicated the severity of his illness. The hospital was further accused of “patient dumping,” the illegal practice of turning away an uninsured or under-insured person in need of emergency care. The lawsuit claimed that the man, who had a criminal record, was told that the police would be called if he returned to the hospital.