Articles Posted in Medication Malpractice

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This week, a Baltimore City, Maryland jury in a medical malpractice lawsuit awarded $10 million to the estate and surviving family members of a pastor who died after treatment for liver and kidney problems at a Baltimore City hospital.  The sixty-three year-old man presented to the hospital for dialysis and treatment of rhabdomysolysis, a condition that is caused by the death of muscle fibers and release of their contents into the bloodstream which often causes kidney failure.  During his admission to the hospital, the man experienced heart problems as the result of elevated potassium levels causing his physician to administer the medication “Kayexalate.”

The lawsuit alleged that the Kayexalate resulted in irreversible colon damage and that the physician who prescribed it was unaware of the risks of that medication.  The defense took the position it was the man’s comorbidities – including his underlying kidney and liver problems – that caused his death, not the administration of the medication.

Unfortunately for the family, the significant $10 million award handed down by the Baltimore City jury will be reduced to just over $900,000 under Maryland State Law that caps recovery for non-economic damages for pain, suffering, mental anguish and emotional distress.  If you or a loved one were the victim of a medical mistake, call our experienced Maryland medical malpractice lawyers for a free consultation at 410-385-2225.

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A Chicago jury has awarded $3.3 million to the family of a man who died less than two weeks after a pharmacy error resulted in him being administered ten times the appropriate dose of the medication that he was supposed to receive. The patient, who was 55 years old at the time, presented for treatment of an infection that he was suffering from as the result of having received a bone marrow transplant to treat his cancer. As part of the treatment for the infection, doctors ordered him to receive 2,400 milligrams of the antiviral medical known as Foscarnet, a drug usually used with patients who have compromised immune systems.

Instead of receiving the prescribed 2,400 milligrams, the patient accidentally was administered 24,000 milligrams in a single hour. Immediately upon administration of the toxic levels of this drug, the patient began to feel numb, got cold and tried to vomit. In the days thereafter, his kidneys began to fail. He was placed on kidney dialysis for 12 days but eventually passed away. The defendants eventually admitted to making the error and defended the case on the theory that due to his comorbidities, the error was not what actually caused his death.

The jury rejected that theory, awarding $2 million to the man’s estate for the conscious pain, suffering and emotional distress that he experienced between the time of the mistake and the time of his death. The jury also awarded $1 million to his wife for her pain and suffering and $300,000 in economic damages suffered by the family as the result of his passing. If you or a loved one may have been the victim of a medical mistake, call us today for a free consultation at 410-385-2225.

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A Missouri jury has awarded $2.6 million in compensatory damages and $15 million in punitive damages to a husband and wife after the husband became severely addicted to opioid pain medications. According to the lawsuit, the man had gone to see his primary care physician for back pain and immediately was prescribed highly addictive pain medication. At trial, evidence was presented that the man was prescribed more than 37,000 opioid pain pills – including OxyContin, Vicodin and Oxycodone – between 2008 and 2012 and that the dosages being prescribed were well above the levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The man’s life was turned upside down by his addiction. He ended up checking in to a drug rehabilitation facility, his wife filed for divorce and his relationship with his daughter was severely damaged. His lawyers framed the case as the start to a movement in the United States to curb an “opioid addiction epidemic” and save lives stating that this problem starts with the doctors who are too quick to prescribe such powerful medications, not with the patients.

The medical malpractice attorneys at Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White have decades of experience successfully pursuing complex medical malpractice cases. If you or a loved one were the victim of a medical mistake, call us today at 410-385-2225.

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A nearly-two-week jury trial in Pennsylvania has culminated in a more than $44 million verdict for a woman who suffered a catastrophic brain injury that left her paralyzed. The woman, who was 57 at the time, underwent surgery in 2011 to remove a mass on her brain. After that surgery, she was placed on Heparain, an anticoagulant drug. While in the intensive care unit, hospital personnel measured the woman’s coagulation using an aPTT test and found that it had risen from 19 seconds to 32 seconds.

Nevertheless, according to the woman’s attorneys, hospital staff then stopped the regular aPTT testing for at least 48 hours. During that time, the woman experienced a brain hemorrhage and, when she finally was tested again, her aPTT rate was 61. The positions of the lawyers at trial was that if the aPTT numbers are changing, that is an indicator to continue testing, not eliminate it from her post-surgical plan of care and that upon seeing those test results, Heparin should have been discontinued. The defendants’ main position/theory at trial was that the woman’s brain bleed were the result of complications from the surgery unrelated to the heparin.

The hemorrhage resulted in a brain injury which left the woman unable to walk, or otherwise care for herself on a daily basis. Her husband now spends the majority of his time caring for her basic needs.

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This week, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals upheld the dismissal of a medical malpractice and wrongful death action filed against a board-certified anesthesiologist and critical care physician at the University of Maryland Medical Center. STSW attorneys were not involved with the prosecution or appeal of this case.

The drug Heparin is an anticoagulant used to prevent blood clotting and is often given to patients who are undergoing dialysis. Once of its side effects is that it can decrease the blood platelet level. For this reason, Heparin is not administered to a patient whose platelet level falls below 50 because a condition called “heparin-induced thrombocytopenia” (“HIT”) can result. HIT interferes with the ability of the blood to clot and is a serious condition which can prove fatal.

On December 22, 2008, and notwithstanding the fact that the patient’s platelet level was at a dangerously low level of 1, the patient was given two doses of Heparin. It was alleged in the lawsuit that the patient developed HIT and essentially bled to death the following day. The defendant-doctor denied ordering or administering the Heparin. During the discovery phase of the litigation, the defense lawyer was successful in getting the plaintiffs’ liability expert to admit that the only way that the defendant-doctor could be considered to have acted negligently (in other words, in violation of the standards of acceptable medical care) was if: (1) the defendant-doctor himself administered the Heparin or ordered it to be administered; or (2) if a resident physician acting under the defendant-doctor’s supervision had ordered the Heparin and the order was not corrected by the defendant-doctor in his capacity as the attending physician.

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Physicians have known for decades that persons with decreased renal (kidney) function or kidney failure have a reduced ability to process and metabolize certain drugs such as opiate pain medications. If due to decreased kidney function, the body is unable to metabolize and pass these drugs, the patient can overdose and die. These risks are increased in patients who, in addition to suffering from diminished kidney function, also suffer from liver dysfunction.

When a patient with decreased kidney function or kidney failure presents to a hospital in pain, that pain should be treated as conservatively as possible. Moreover, if the doctor decides that opiate pain medication is appropriate, that doctor must carefully monitor the patient for signs of drug toxicity, including confusion, disorientation, hallucinations and a deterioration of vital signs.

Our firm has evaluated and successfully pursued multiple medical malpractice cases involving the negligent administration of prescription pain medications to patients with decreased ability to metabolize them due to kidney dysfunction. Due to their complexity, it is important that such cases be evaluated by a skilled and qualified medical malpractice attorney.

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It is every medical patient’s worst nightmare. You go to the doctor to have routine tests performed. To your relief, everything comes back negative. You are in the clear. But, a few months later you begin to experience some health problems. Another doctor’s visit is scheduled, and more tests are done. This time the news is much worse. It’s cancer, and it has spread significantly. If you had received treatment earlier the options might be better, but now things look bleak.

Unfortunately, many families find themselves in this situation, and it is often connected to diagnostic errors. Medical tests are only as worthwhile as the work of the doctors reading and interpreting those tests. When those medical professionals make mistakes, patients may suffer serious injury or even death. That is particularly true in cases involving cancer diagnosis, because time of of the essence.

Fixing the Problem

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A New York jury has awarded $1.7 million in damages to a woman in a medical malpractice case, to compensate her for permanent nerve damage that was caused by an improper injection given to her following the delivery of her baby. The woman was given an intramuscular injection several hours after delivery, while in the recovery room, to try to stop her vomiting. But the nurse improperly administered the injection too low, damaging the woman’s sciatic nerve. The woman now has lower back problems, difficulty sitting and standing for any significant period of time and limitations on her physical activities. The condition is expected to worsen. A copy of an article regarding the case can be found here.

This is an interesting case because of the severe and permanent damage that the improper injection caused. Usually, injections do not cause significant damage but when they do there may be a medical malpractice case if the damages are severe.

There are a number of guidelines on the proper administration of an injection. In this case, the guidelines clearly were not followed.

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A Missouri woman has settled a medical malpractice lawsuit for $2.5 million. The woman was treated at University Hospital in early 2005 for dehydration, which was the result of a gastrointestinal condition. Apparently, doctors infused her with nutritional supplements through an IV in her subclavian artery, just below the collarbone, instead of the subclavian vein, where it was supposed to go. This caused fatty blockages to travel to her brain for five consecutive days, causing severe strokes and neurological and mental impairment. She is mentally and physically handicapped as a result. A copy of the article regarding this case can be found here.

As an experienced Baltimore, Maryland medical malpractice lawyer, I have handled a number of medical malpractice cases involving the incorrect administration of mediation or nutrition through IVs. These cases usually involve clear medical negligence as the wrong product (medication or nutrition), dosage or entry point is used. In one case, a hospital gave the wrong medication dosage to a patient causing the patient to die. The error was clear from the medical records. In another case, a woman was given 5 times the proper dosage of nutrition supplement causing her to go into cardiac arrest and die. These are terribly upsetting cases because they can easily be prevented with just a little care and attention. To see some of the cases I have handled, click here.

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A Texas jury has awarded a man $10 million in a medical malpractice case. The man had an allergic reaction to the blood thinner Heparin. During surgery, he suffered what’s called Heparin Induced Thrombocytopenia or H.I.T., which is a complication where the blood clots instead of thinning, stopping the blood flow to the extremities. As a result, the man lost his leg from thigh down, part of his right foot and a several fingers.

I have successfully handled a number of medical malpractice cases in Baltimore and other counties in Maryland involving use of blood thinners. In fact, I successfully handled a similar case to this, where a woman developed a clotting disorder after delivering a child, resulting in the woman losing her uterus.

Interestingly, the man may be the last to receive this kind of award in Texas. He filed his case before a new law took place which caps pain and suffering awards at $250,000. These type of cap are draconian, as they prevent seriously injured people from recovering the true value of their case, and also severely limit the number of attorneys who can afford to lay out $100,000 in expenses only to recover a fee of about that amount.