Here are a few medical malpractice links/blog posts/stories I found of interest:
Disturbingly, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will consider approving a “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 closing argument. Plaintiffs, the parents of the lost child, are appealing the verdict because of the instruction. The Plaintiff’s are urging 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.
The Maryland Daily Record has the latest.
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 due to a shooting as a teenager, presented to a hospital in 1999, complaining of abdominal pain, protracted constipation, and vomiting. He was given pain medication and 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.
Suit was recently filed in the Superior Court in Hartford, Connecticut, alleging that a pediatrician failed to diagnose bacterial meningitis, leading the loss of a young boy’s eyesight.
The details here are so sad. The lawsuit claims that the doctor dismissed the boy’s severe headache, instead of sending him to the emergency room where a spinal tap would have been done and the meningitis would have been diagnosed. Tragically, the boy fell into a month-long coma, suffering severe brain damage along with the blindness, the suit claims.
These kinds of failure to diagnose claims are so sad because the illness could have been so easily prevented had the proper diagnostic tests been done. Instead, the boy’s complaints were disregarded and quickly brushed off. Too often, the severity of injury in meningitis cases is the result of medical malpractice. These claims usually involve an infection from a delay in diagnosis or failure to properly treat the meningitis to stop the infection. Too many doctors chalk up meningitis as simply a headache or a simple fever. Misdiagnosis or delay in diagnosis of bacterial meningitis is of great concern as early diagnosis of bacterial meningitis and treatment is key to prevent permanent damage such as brain damage, hearing loss, seizures, intracranial pressure, decreased intelligence, kidney damage, amputation, or death.
The Pop Tort rages about the certificate of merit requirement that many states have in medical malpractice cases, citing a particularly onerous Connecticut merit requirement. The Pop Tort cites a news article of an awful injustice done to a woman who had her medical malpractice lawsuit dismissed.
After a long ride to the end of the article, we find out what the grave injustice was. The plaintiff sued her doctors for alleged breach of contract and infliction of emotional distress — not malpractice – and the court decided she need a certificate of merit.
Personally, I’m fine with this. I think certificates of merit are actually a good thing. There is a knee jerk reaction: the certificate of merit makes it hard for plaintiffs and their lawyers to bring lawsuits. But not all things that are made harder are bad thing. I know that there are some meritorious cases that don’t make the cut because discovery is needed to get the information for the cerftificate of merit in the first place. But good lawyering can find a way around that problem, at least in Maryland.
- The family of a man who died at Massachusetts General Hospital has settled its case against the hospital for $850,000. The man died after nurses failed to respond to alarms on his cardiac monitor. This death has shed national attention on the dangers of “alarm fatigue’’ among hospital staff.
- A few New York courts are taking a new approach to handling the 4,000 medical malpractice suits filed each year. The approach…settling cases early. The pilot program will be using a $3 million grant to train more judges in medical issues, and has been shown to cut court backlogs and save money, while also proving to be a cost savings to hospitals and directly impacting the indemnity insurance of doctors. One of the new rules approved for the medical malpractice cases, in order to expedite things – scheduling Settlement Conferences 45 days after court papers are filed.
- The Tennessee Court of Appeals issued an opinion on its relatively new certificate of merit rule in Crawford v. Kavanaugh. Maryland has a similar rule and this opinion is a cautionary tale for both Tennessee and Maryland malpractice lawyers. The lesson: don’t take a malpractice case unless you know how to handle it.