Articles Tagged with medical malpractice lawyer

The Post-Gazette reported recently on serious allegations of malpractice against a pathologist for misreading Pap smear slides and missing the presence of cancer in a patient. According to the story, a young woman was shocked when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer shortly after giving birth to her son. She had diligently received annual testing in the past which, she assumed, would have identified the cancer earlier. A lawsuit eventually filed in the case claims that for five years the pathologist in charge of decisions about the test reading told the women that everything was fine. The doctor did not identify the presence of any abnormal cells or order more testing to clarify ambiguity.

The woman in the case had several other pathologists review the slides. They found that the tests showed a clear progression of cells from “pre-cancerous” to invasive carcinoma. In fact, the very doctor named in the lawsuit admitted upon further review of the slides afterward that those test should have raised red flags. There is also some confusion about whether the defendant-doctor did in fact indicate suspicious signs which were ignored by obstetricians and gynecologists.

Of course all of this raises the question of whether other woman may have similarly had slides read incorrectly. That fear has led the hospital, along with various private groups, to investigate the entire work performed by the doctor and his lab in the facility. Five hundred sample slides were pulled and are being examined by other pathologists to see if other misreadings can be identified. If so, then all those who relied on negative test results from the lab might need to be reevaluated to ensure they do not have undiagnosed cancer.

Numerous Maryland hospitals are currently in the process of testing almost 2,000 patients who may have been exposed to hepatitis C, a viral disease that typically affects the liver.

David Kwiatkowski, an employee at as many as eleven hospitals nationwide, was arrested in July 2012 after authorities learned he had been injecting himself with syringes filled with stolen narcotics at the hospitals where he worked, and then leaving the contaminated needles to be used on other patients. Investigators believe Kwiatkowski may have had hepatitis C since at least June 2010, increasing the likelihood that he infected patients who came in contact with these syringes.

In Maryland, Kwiatkowski is known to have worked at four hospitals including Johns Hopkins Hospital, Maryland General Hospital, Baltimore VA Medical Center and Southern Maryland Hospital. At Johns Hopkins Hospital, three people have tested positive for a hepatitis C strain the same or similar to Kwiatkowski which indicates their cases may be related.

In early 2010, the family of a 17-year-old girl with a rare genetic disorder brought a medical malpractice suit against the Johns Hopkins Hospital alleging that the Johns Hopkins doctors and nurses provided inappropriate treatment to the disabled girl.

The Baltimore City jury that heard the medical malpractice suit found the staff at Johns Hopkins negligent in restraining the girl in a manner that caused extensive bruising. The girl, a long-time patient at Johns Hopkins Hospital, was extremely frail as a result of her condition and required special treatment. The girl’s father alleged that following an overnight stay at Johns Hopkins Hospital on March 12, 2007, he noticed “numerous bruises” on the girl’s body in addition to a “large lump on her forehead.” Johns Hopkins Hospital staff provided no explanation for the bruises other than “spontaneous bruising” caused by her disorder. The girl’s father was not satisfied with this response, and brought the medical malpractice suit against Johns Hopkins Hospital. Ultimately, the jury found that Johns Hopkins Hospital was negligent and committed malpractice for the bruises awarded the girl $250,000.00.

We handle cases like these all of the time in my practice.

A couple in Pennsylvania has filed two medical malpractice lawsuits following, what should have been, a routine organ transplant.

The couple alleges that the organ transplant went awry when, despite test results indicating the donor-spouse had hepatitis C, the hospital transplanted her kidney into her husband. Hepatitis C is an incurable infectious disease that attacks the liver causing a wide range of problems including damage, cirrhosis, cancer or failure.

The first lawsuit was filed against the hospital and various staff members. The suit, filed by the donee and the donor, alleges negligence. The couple states that the donor’s blood results were available months before the organ transplant, but that the hospital and physicians missed them. The organ transplant, which took place in April, was preceded by a blood test on January 26 which indicated that the donor had hepatitis C. The hospital never notified the donor of these results or disqualified her as an organ donor. Another test, which occurred weeks after the organ transplant, also indicated the presence of the infection. It was not until a month after the kidney transplant had taken place when the donor was notified of these results.

In early 2003, a Pennsylvania pharmacist died of a heart attack while at work. In 2009, a jury found his family doctor negligent and awarded the man’s widow $4 million. Later, after determining the delay in the conclusion of the case was improper, the presiding Judge awarded the man’s widow an additional $1.2 million in damages. Last month, the Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld that $5.2 million award in the medical malpractice case.

This case is an example of the catastrophic results of a doctor failing to correctly diagnose and treat his patient. The man went to see the doctor four days before his death as a result of unexplained chest pain, jaw pain and anxiety. The doctor advised him that these symptoms were the result of anxiety. However, the man’s attorneys argued that the the doctor made a critical error by failing to take into account the following: the man was overweight, he had high cholesterol, he had high blood pressure and he had a history of heart disease in his family. On the day of his death, the man again contacted the doctor as a result of his symptoms persisting. By the time the doctor returned his call, the man was already in cardiac arrest.

Ultimately, jurors agreed that when the doctor analyzed the man’s complaints in light of the risk factors he had, the doctor should have immediately sent the man to an emergency room because the mans’ symptoms were suggestive of a heart attack. The autopsy results further confirmed this determination as it showed heart damage, specifically indicating that the man had a heart attack a few days before his death.

A woman in Pennsylvania was recently awarded one of the highest sums ever recorded in a medical malpractice suit after an infection went unnoticed and nearly killed her. The lawsuit was based upon medical negligence and medical errors committed by a home nurse that was treating the woman, who was suffering from Crohn’s disease. The woman was receiving care from a home nurse when the R.N. failed to recognize that she had an infected catheter. As a result of the nurse failing to refer the patient to a physician to treat the infected catheter, both of the woman’s legs were amputated below the knee. This was a result of the infection spreading to the bloodstream.

The jury in this case awarded the woman $23.12 million after hearing about the failure of the nurse to treat the bacteria-infected catheter and found both the nurse and the employer negligent. The damages were based on compensatory awards of economic damages for medical expenses and lost wages, as well as non-economic damages associated with pain and suffering. A medical malpractice case requires a plaintiff to establish that a health care provider undertook care of a patient, and thus had a duty to the patient; the duty was breached by the health care provider upon their failure to perform at the standard level of care; and that damages to the plaintiff resulted. A finding of negligence means the jury thought that the evidence showed that the woman’s health care provider committed a medical error resulting from an omission which deviated from the standards of practice generally accepted in the medical community, and found that this failure caused injury to the patient.

We handle cases like these all of the time in my practice.

Earlier this month the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Office of Health Care Quality published a report regarding medical malpractice in Maryland hospitals. The report is a review of the safety and care provided to patients in Maryland hospitals. The report compiles information collected by the OHCQ in 2010 relating to serious adverse events that affected patients or their families.

The adverse events that hospitals are required to report include a rather long list of mistakes that are possible because of hospital error, medical malpractice (negligence), or inattention. Patient falls are the most frequently reported event. In 2010, there were 88 reported cases resulting in serious disability or death. Of these 88 reported cases, 10 resulted in loss of limb or function of limb, 52 required surgical interventions, 20 required medical intervention and 6 resulted in death of the patient.

Hospital-acquired pressure sores / ulcers, which are associated with high morbidity (medical complications) and mortality (death) once they reach Stage 3 and 4, were reported 59 times in 2010 making it the second most frequently reported event. However, none of the reported cases in 2010 resulted in death.

The mother to a son born with cerebral palsy will eventually receive the full judgment of $10 million awarded to her by a Florida jury for medical malpractice, but she’ll have to wait for half of it. In 2003, while six months pregnant, the woman was to be transported after one hospital determined it didn’t have the right equipment to handle a premature baby and another said it lacked specialists for extremely premature births. Both of those hospitals, and doctors from each, were originally involved, but settled for a total of $1.4 million. Ultimately, however, the woman gave birth on the way to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando while in an ambulance. The child survived but suffered severe brain damage as a result of a lack of oxygen. In a medical negligence case, a jury found the Florida ambulance provider, EVAC, negligent for both the care they provided and for accepting the initial transport order.

After the $10 million judgment was handed down in the malpractice case, EVAC asked a judge to throw out the verdict or, alternatively, reduce the judgment amount. EVAC argued they could not refuse an order given by a doctor in the emergency room. A settlement was ultimately reached whereby EVAC will pay $5 million immediately (their insurance cap) and then sue its insurance company for bad faith and have it pay the rest.

Medical mistakes are not always the result of physician negligence. As an experienced Baltimore, Maryland medical malpractice lawyer, I have handled a number of cases involving medical errors attributable to other sources. To see some of the cases I have handled, click here.

A Connecticut jury has awarded more than $1.3 million in a medical malpractice case. In the case, the plaintiff sued her oncologists alleging that they treated her for years for the wrong form of cancer, which led to the removal of part of her intestines and colon.

What makes the case especially unusual is that the case included a claim for damages on behalf of the woman’s longtime partner who had joined the woman in a civil union . In the litigation, a judge threw out the partner’s claims, holding that while the woman had been partners for more than 20 years they were not legally joined at the time of the alleged negligence.

If such a case is brought in Maryland, it will be interesting to see what the result is. Maryland’s wrongful death statute, section 3-904 of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, a copy of which is below, allows claims for by a parent, spouse or child of the deceased person. The claim is for emotional distress and financial loss due to the death of family member. These are the most common type of wrongful death claim, as there is frequently a parent, spouse or child of the deceased alive to pursue such a case. The term “spouse” is not defined in the section where the statute is contained, so one certainly could argue that a person who participates in a lawful civil union ceremony is a “spouse” for purposes of the wrongful death act. If that argument doesn’t work, the Maryland wrongful death act includes a provision to allow for economic losses by certain people if there is no parent, spouse or child of the deceased. Those claims are for people related to the deceased by blood or marriage. Again, it can be argued that “marriage” is not defined, so that could cover a person who participates in a lawful civil union ceremony. It’s only a matter of time before this is tested.

As an experienced Baltimore, Maryland medical malpractice lawyer, I have handled many wrongful death cases on behalf of parents, spouses and children of the deceased.

We handle cases like these all of the time in my practice.


Contact Andrew G. Slutkin with further questions or inquiries at 410-385-2786

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A South Carolina jury has awarded $3 million in a medical malpractice case to the family of a 25-year-old woman who died after medical treatment in 2002. The woman died from an infection due to a kidney stone. After the treatment at a local emergency room, the woman was discharged and due to check-up with a urologist the following Monday. However, before she could see the doctor, she died from an infection. The jury found that the emergency room and hospital did not meet the standard of care when they failed to take appropriate vital signs and perform basic testing, which would have resulted in proper diagnosis and treatment of the infection.

This sounds like a very good case. It is important for all health care providers to obtain baseline vital signs on a patient and perform reasonable tests that can diagnose serious problems that are likely. In this case, the doctors diagnosed a kidney stone but did not do the routine blood testing that would have revealed that the woman actually was very sick. Instead, she was sent home with the false assurance that she could wait a few days to be seen. It is tragic.

As an experienced Baltimore, Maryland medical malpractice lawyer, I have handled many medical malpractice cases failure to timely perform appropriate medical tests that would have revealed a serious illness. It is always a shame when a simple and routine test is not performed, resulting in a serious injury or death.

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