Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

Recent findings from the Trial Assigning Individualized Options for Treatment (Rx), also known as the TAILORx trial, show that chemotherapy is not beneficial to the most commonly found form of breast cancer. Sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), researchers found that chemotherapy does not benefit 70 percent of women with estrogen receptor-positive, HER2-egnative, axillary lymph node-negative breast cancer. Hormone therapy combined with chemotherapy is not more beneficial than treating breast cancer with hormone therapy alone. Researchers released this data at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual meeting this year in Chicago.

Details of the study

vaginal mesh tragediesBeginning in 2006, researchers conducted this study to examine the effectiveness of hormone therapy alone compared to using both hormone therapy and chemotherapy in treating breast cancer. The study divided women into two groups. The groups were based on the individual woman’s genes that determine their risk of cancer recurrence. This would be determined by a molecular test that examines their tumors. It is known as the Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score. The test examines 21 genes associated with breast cancer recurrence. Each participant’s tumors were analyzed using this test. They were each assigned a risk score that was on a scale from 0-100. The higher the score, the higher the recurrence risk. Women who had a score of 0-10 received hormone therapy only. Women who had a score of 26 and above were considered high-risk and given chemotherapy. Women who had a score of 11-25 were randomly assigned to receive just hormone therapy or hormone therapy and chemotherapy.

The Washington Post wrote an article Monday underscoring fact that is well-known to lawyers handling malpractice cases in Maryland: doctors struggle to accurately read tests that determine medical conditions. Unfortunately for patients, this can have serious long-term consequences.

Most of these errors do not lead to malpractice cases because they show false positives.  Sometimes these are malpractice cases because the unnecessary test is the harm — we tried that very case in Baltimore County last year and our client received a $1.45 million verdict.

Below are a few examples that I think really highlight the consequences of this problem.  Each of these following examples and studies highlights the need for us to find a path to help doctors to improve their ability to assess tests more accurately.

Our law firm handles medical malpractice cases around the country.  These are some of the questions we are most commonly asked by people who have suffered or lost a loved one because of the medical malpractice of a doctor or other healthcare provider.

What is the Average Settlement for Medical Malpractice?

If you have a potential medical malpractice claim, you may be wondering how much it could be worth or what the average settlement value is for malpractice cases.  Nationwide, the average value of a medical malpractice settlement or verdict is roughly $250,000.  (Our law firm’s average in recent years is in the millions.)  Of course, this is a macro scale number that doesn’t necessarily tell you very much about the potential value of your individual case. For a better understanding of how to value your own case, there are a few things to keep in mind.  First, the value of a claim is driven not by how badly the doctors messed up, but by how serious the resulting injuries were.  In other words, malpractice values are based on the level of injury not the level of negligence.  No matter how egregious or grossly negligent the doctors were,  if it only results in minor injuries the case will not be worth very much.  When the malpractice results in a serious, permanent injury or death the case will be worth much more.

The state of New York agreed on Friday to settle a lawsuit filed by former heavyweight boxer Magomed Abdusalamov for $22 million.  It is thought to be the largest amount ever paid by the state of New York in a settlement.

gavel-300x199Facts in Abdusalamov

Abdusalamov, now 33, fought at Madson Square Garden.  He lost the fight but was not knocked out.  He was evaluated by a New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) doctor after the fight.  Instead of sending him to the hospital after showing symptoms consistent with an acute blood clot in his brain, they released him. He took a cab later to the hospital himself.  The ER doctors immediately diagnosed his blood clot and he had immediate surgery.

Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers among women throughout the world. In the United States, it is estimated that approximately 75% of women will contract human Papillomavirus (“HPV”) infection, a sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer. Carcinoma of the cervix is one of the most common malignancies in women.  It accounts for 5,000 deaths in the United States each year.

concerned-girl-300x200Cervical cancer begins in the cervix, which is at the bottom of the uterus. The cervix connects the body of the uterus to the vagina. The part of the cervix closest to the body of the uterus is called the endocervix. The part next to the vagina is the exocervix (or ectocervix). The 2 main types of cells covering the cervix are squamous cells (on the exocervix) and glandular cells (on the endocervix). The place these 2 cell types meet is called the transformation zone. The transformation zone is the area located in the cervix where precancerous and cancerous changes are most likely to occur.

There are two main types of cells covering the cervix: flat, scale-like squamous cells (on the exocervix) and rectangular columnar glandular cells (on the endocervix).  These cell type meet in what is called the transformation zone. Most cervical cancers begin in the cells lining the cervix in this transformation zone.  Initially, precancerous lesions are confined above the basement membrane of the surface of the cervix.  But if they progress, these cells can migrate to healthy cervical tissue as invasive carcinoma.

Cauda Equina Syndrome is a neurological disorder that stems from an injury to the bundle of nerve roots that exit the spinal cord. Cauda equina frequently leads to medical malpractice lawsuits.

cauda equina settlements

The treatment for Cauda Equina Syndrome is generally immediate surgical decompression. The sooner this can be achieved the better. You usually have a 48-hour window of opportunity with which you can reverse the symptoms. The malpractice lawsuits in these cases occur when the symptoms were there to be seen during that window but were missed, usually in the ER or by a primary care doctor or by the surgical staff after spinal surgery.

Symptoms

Doctors frequently miss the clear symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome which include:

  • Low back pain
  • Sciatica (particularly at L5/S1)
  • Loss of sensation in the butt or genital sensory disturbance
  • Bowel, bladder or sexual dysfunction (bladder complications are a particular hallmark of cauda equina).

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chiropractor2There are not that many chiropractor malpractice cases.  Is it that chiropractors are particularly competent health care providers?  No. Chiropractors’ negligence usually does not result in serious injury.   Most of the cases we get calls on are negligent manipulation cases where the injury is not particularly serious by viable malpractice case standards and proof of what caused what is usually an exacerbation of a preexisting condition and is a challenge.

That said, there are sometimes significant claims to be made against chiropractors and, because they do not have the halo effect that doctors have, there is a very level playing field for plaintiffs filing suit them.  Stunningly, chiropractors are trusted less in most communities than lawyers (but ahead of Congress, of course).  Which really is saying something.

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pregnant womanA doctor’s failure to properly handle uterine rupture symptoms during childbirth can lead to the death of the child, and injury or death to the mother.   This article discusses these cases and addresses: 

  1. The acts of a physician that lead to vaginal rupture cases.
  2. The types of accidents that lead to large settlements and verdicts.

The husband of a woman who died in June 2012 has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and a former physician for failing to monitor or perform testing on a known liver lesion from 2008 through May 2011.

The deceased was originally referred to the Defendant physician in 2005 after the liver lesion was discovered during an evaluation for a blood disordered. After a few tests were performed, the physician recommended “watchful waiting” and planned to do additional tests sometime the following year. After failing to perform follow-up tests, the lesion ultimately became a malignant tumor that grew to the size of a grapefruit. It was eventually diagnosed in 2011 at the Mayo Clinic.

Sadly, chemotherapy failed, and cancer spread to other organs causing her eventual death in 2012.

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$6.4 Million Verdict

A jury awarded a Maryland Heights man and his wife $6.4 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit against the man’s physician after the he suffered a stroke in 2007. The plaintiffs alleged the stroke could have been prevented if the physician had properly diagnosed and treated a bacterial infection on the man’s heart valve.

The physician had diagnosed the plaintiff with mitral valve prolapse (a condition in which a heart valve does not close tightly, resulting in a blow flow backward into the heart) in 1996. The condition continued to show up on tests until 2001.