Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

Pitocin and Syntocinon are commonly brand names for the drug Oxytocin, a synthetic hormone used to help start or expedite childbirth.  This intervenous drug increases the intercellular concentrations of calcium in the middle layer of the uterine wall, which promotes uterine contraction.  While there are other methods of expediting delivery such as amniotomy or stripping of the membranes., nipple stimulation and soap suds enema, Pitocin and Syntocinon are the go-to therapies to initiate or accelerate delivery.

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.

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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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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 the 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.

A 66 year old man and his wife have filed suit against a Missouri hospital and two physicians claiming that they failed to provide emergency treatment to prevent the spread of flesh-eating bacteria.

Plaintiff was seen in the hospital emergency room with complaints of perirectal abscess and cellulitis. He was given a painkiller and oral and intravenous antibiotics, and discharged an hour and a half later. He was told to follow up with the doctor’s office the next day. When he tried to get an appointment for the following day, the office would not agree to an appointment until four days later.

Plaintiff’s expert has testified that one of the physicians made “egregious errors” by failing to immediately order lab tests and radiology procedures that would have determined the severity and extent of the Plaintiff’s infection. He further claims that a surgical procedure should have been performed within 24 hours, that Plaintiff needed immediate attention.

robotsurgeryThe Da Vinci Robotic Surgery System has had its fair share of the limelight lately, and we have told you a whole lot about it. In summary, we have a very cool new product to help surgeons. But it has had more than its fair share of problems on the path to becoming a game changing medical advance.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently approved a new robotic surgery for certain gynecological procedures. The oophorectomy, removal of an ovary, is only the second FDA approved, robotic single-site gynecological surgery, with the first being a hysterectomy.

The procedure is performed through a one inch hole in the belly button and takes about an hour. In most circumstances a patient can go home that day or the next, and back to work in a week or two.

I’ve written quite a bit lately about complications with the da Vinci Surgical System. Let’s be honest, I’ve had a lot of material to work with. This time though, it might be a bit of good news that could be another important step towards the promise of what these robots could someday do.
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A small life life raft for Da Vinci?

A new report suggests that a number of serious and potentially life-threatening complications from robotic surgery may be avoidable with the use of a safety checklist, before and during an operation. Sounds simple, but true.

A study published this week in Patient Safety in Surgery, researchers from the Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine found a decrease in problems stemming from robotic surgery when checklists were used during lengthy procedures, a time of “time out” before and during the surgery.

Including things such as checking pressure points to prevent nerve damage, checking for corneal abrasions, and checking patient positioning, doctors have found a decrease in the number of complications with the robotic surgery.

Now we know that checklists help doctors. This is not exactly breaking new ground. The Checklist Manifesto, a great book, showed us the stunning studies that show just how often patients are better served when doctors override their judgment in favor of an old school checklist. But it appears that with da Vinci surgeries, the need for a checklist is particularly acute.

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A settlement has been reached in the medical malpractice case against St. Joseph Medical Center and the doctor that allegedly placed unnecessary heart stents in patients between 2007 and 2009. A federal investigation and hospital review found hundreds of cases where stents were placed in patients’ arteries that were not medically necessary.

The medical malpractice case began in court in early April and was expected to last about three to six months. But, an attorney for the twenty one Plaintiffs involved in the suit said that a successful resolution has been reached. The details of the settlement have not been disclosed yet.

St. Joseph has had its fair share of trouble. In late 2010, St. Joseph Medical Center agreed to pay the United States $22 million to settle allegations under the False Claims Act that it paid kickbacks and violated the Stark Law when it entered into a professional services contract with MidAtlantic Cardiovascular Associates. The settlement resolved allegations of the payment of kickbacks under the guise of professional services agreements in return for the group’s referrals to the medical center. The settlement resolved issues related to 11 professional services agreements which were being investigated for being above fair market value, not commercially reasonable, or for services not rendered.

A Missouri lawsuit has been filed against a hospital and neurosurgeon for allegedly operating on the wrong side of a woman’s skull and brain.

Approximately five years ago, after a series of mini-strokes, 53 year old Plaintiff began having health issues. Plaintiff was scheduled for a “left-sided craniotomy bypass” – instead, she received a “right-sided craniotomy surgical procedure.” The second, and correct surgery, was performed six days later. The craniotomy bypass surgery was intended to prevent further strokes.

Her speaking ability had previously been affected, but prior to the recent surgeries, her speech was understood by family members. Now, she is unable to speak intelligibly. It is alleged that before the incorrect surgery, Plaintiff was mobile, cognizant, and able to care for herself. She now requires around-the-clock care for her basic needs. Just an awful story.