Category Archives: Medical Malpractice

Nursing Home Abuse: A Disturbing Trend

America’s aging population, which is being driven in large part by the retirement of the Baby Boomer generation, has had a significant impact on many different factors of our society, but one largely unnoticed trend has been the increasing reliance of many individuals and families on the use of nursing care facilities to help elderly Americans remain in good health throughout their twilight years. In fact, the demand for nursing home care, which has been steadily increasing for decades, appears poised to now reach unprecedented levels in the coming years.

This, unfortunately, may also prove to be problematic. As the demand for nursing care increases, so too does the overall share of nursing care facilities operated on a for-profit basis. And the reality is that these facilities often cut corners, sometimes drastically, or otherwise mistreat their residents in order to increase profit margins. A disturbing case from South Carolina demonstrates the ways in which for-profit nursing homes can cause serious injury or other forms of damage to occur to residents.

Life Care Centers of America, one of America’s largest for-profit nursing care companies with more than 200 facilities in 28 different states, is currently under investigation by the federal government for a series of abuses the company is alleged to have committed. The government’s interest in the company relates to potential Medicare and Medicaid fraud that may have occurred as a result of the company submitting residents to care and treatments which they did not need solely in order to bill the government more for services rendered. But the consequences of this unnecessary care have, in some circumstances, been devastating.

At a South Carolina facility operated by Life Care, an 80-year old woman was placed in a standing frame for well over an hour, ostensibly for physical rehabilitation and “occupational” therapy. This woman was unable to control her head or keep her eyes open, and the treatment, as described in federal documents, had no relevant purpose. Two days later, the woman died, in part because of the unnecessary treatment she had received.

In many other cases, for-profit nursing homes operate with far fewer staff than necessary to provide their residents with the care they need, choosing instead to optimize cost structures at the expense of patient safety. The results of this type of negligence can be just as devastating as unnecessary patient care, potentially causing medication errors, patient injuries, and many other possible causes of harm to occur. For this reason, for-profit nursing homes are often cited by nursing home abuse lawyers as the most dangerous care facilities in which to place elderly relatives.

Defective Pharmaceuticals: A Case Study

Pharmaceutical companies are responsible for the effects of their products. Because almost all pharmaceutical products will cause at least some form of unintended negative side effects in at diethylstilbestrol least some users, companies are often able to avoid liability by placing disclaimers on their medications, giving users the ability to make an informed decision about whether or not to take a given drug. However, in many cases, the full range of side effects which a medication may cause do not become known until years after it has been released onto the market, leaving companies liable to lawsuits for the consequences that their products have had.

A recent case in Boston is an illustrative example of the ways in which pharmaceutical companies can be held liable for negative consequences of their products years after the release of a medication. Four sisters filed a suit against Eli Lilly and Co., a pharmaceutical firm based in Indianapolis, alleging that the breast cancer which all four women developed within a six-year span of each other occurred as a result of medications taken by their mother while she was pregnant with the women.

The medication, diethylstilbestrol or DES, was prescribed to pregnant women in the 1950s and 60s to help prevent miscarriages. In the 1970s, however, the medication was linked to vaginal cancer and subsequent studies demonstrated that it had no impact on the occurrence of miscarriages. As a result, the medication was removed from the market. However, it has continued to have negative effects on the children of women who used this pharmaceutical product, with more than 51 women currently pursuing lawsuits against the makers of this medication for illnesses that they may have developed as a result.

The pharmaceutical defects attorney representing these four women was able to successfully negotiate a settlement with the pharmaceutical company during the trial, for an undisclosed amount. While the attorney charged with representing Eli Lilly and Co. denied that the medication had caused the sisters’ health problems, he acknowledged that it was in the company’s best interests to resolve the case as soon as possible, explaining the settlement as an issue of corporate expediency rather than an acknowledgment of guilt.

As this case shows, pharmaceutical companies can be held accountable for the consequences that their products may have for consumers, even decades after the product in question has been discontinued. However, it’s important to remember that the statute of limitations in these types of cases strictly limits the period in which injury or illness victims may file for compensation after becoming aware that a medication may have caused their damages.

Wrong-Site Surgery: A Pre Law Case-Based Examination

When a person undergoes a surgical procedure, they already face serious potential health risks, regardless of the type of surgery they require. Problems with anesthesia, the potential for unexpected complications to arise, and a number of other factors can all contribute to make surgery a dangerous prospect in any circumstance. However, most patients are at least able to take comfort in the fact that their medical care providers have the expertise and experience required to perform the procedure to the best possible standard.

Unfortunately, this confidence is sometimes misplaced. While the vast majority of surgeons are highly competent, dedicated professionals with the skill necessary to perform the incredibly complex Surgical Mistakeprocedures required in modern medical care, a small but substantial minority of surgeons are ill-equipped to take a patient’s life in their hands. An in-depth examination of a well-known case of surgical error can help to make this point clearer.

Dana Carvey, the comedian best known for his roles on Saturday Night Live and in the Wayne’s World movies, began experiencing severe chest pain as a result of angina. After undergoing several angioplasties to relieve the pain, all of which were ineffective, he eventually opted to undergo double bypass surgery in 1998. Unfortunately, he continued to experience chest pain even after the surgery had been successfully completed.

In an effort to determine precisely what lay behind the ongoing pain, Carvey underwent an angiogram. This test revealed that the double bypass operation Carvey had undergone had been performed on the wrong artery. While Carvey was lucky enough to have caught the problem in time (a final angioplasty procedure, performed by a different surgeon, successfully relieved Carvey’s arterial blockage, and he sustained no long-term damage to the heart muscle), the failure on the part of his initial surgeon placed his life in imminent danger. Without additional procedures, Carey may well have suffered a life-threatening medical event.

As a result of this revelation, Carvey, with the assistance of a skilled medical malpractice attorney, sued his surgeon and the facility at which the operation was performed for $7.5 million, eventually settling for an undisclosed amount, which was distributed to various charitable organizations engaged in research for preventing heart disease. Carvey had the luxury of significant financial security, which enabled him to pursue the suit solely for the purpose of holding his surgeon accountable for his errors. However, many patients who suffer from the effects of medical malpractice do not have this luxury, and must pursue litigation as a matter of necessity as much as one of accountability.

Medical Malpractice: A Faculty Case Study

Medical malpractice is a legal term, used to refer to injuries or illness that medical professionals may cause to patients by failing to comport with the standards expected of the medical profession. Medical malpractice can occur in a wide variety of different circumstances, sometimes arising as a result of a doctor’s failure to act and in other situations occurring because of careless errors or recklessness. Regardless of the cause, however, the victims of medical malpractice have a right to pursue compensation from those responsible for their damages through a malpractice lawsuit.

Determining liability for malpractice can sometimes be more complex than it may initially appear, however. Particularly when malpractice occurs at large medical institutions, such as hospitals, there is often a distinct possibility that more than one party contributed to the events resulting in an instance of malpractice. An examination of a specific case can help to illustrate the remarkable complexity of some medical malpractice cases.

The actor Dennis Quaid and his wife Kimberly were the proud parents of twins in November of 2007. However, when their children developed a staph infection, the hospital at which the twins had been delivered accidentally gave the two children an anti-coagulant medication several hundred times stronger than the medication which they were supposed to be administered. As a result, the children were rendered unable to clot blood, meaning that even a slight cut or other injury could prove fatal. For several days, the children’s lives were in imminent danger, after which the effects of the medication began to wear off and the threat gradually subsided.

Quaid and his wife, with the assistance of a medical malpractice attorney, filed a suit against both the hospital responsible for the medication error and the company which manufactured the medication. The errors on the part of the hospital were self-evident, if largely understandable, and a settlement was soon reached.

However, the lawsuit against the medication’s manufacturer, Baxter Healthcare, is more complicated. The hospital’s mistake, according to some observers, was not the first time this type of problem had occurred with this particular medication. In fact, the anti-coagulant which had been improperly administered to the Quaids’ twins had been associated with several other instances of medical malpractice, resulting in several cases of infant mortality. The problem, according to the suit, arose from the remarkable similarity between the packaging of different versions of the medication produced by Baxter Healthcare. The suit is currently still pending.

As this case should demonstrate, medical malpractice can and often does occur as the result of errors and mistakes on the parts of several different actors. In these circumstances, liability may be assessed to several groups.