Articles Tagged with medical negligence

There are many hidden and unknown dangers in the very places we expect to heal; for example, hospital beds. Many of these hospital beds have rails, typically made of metal, that run along the side of the sleeping space. These bed rails operate to prevent someone from rolling off accidentally.

Several months ago the Consumer Product Safety Commission released a review of bedrail deaths and injuries of adults. Using data from hospitals, the report cited 155 deaths involving bed rails from January 2003 to September 2012. In that same period, almost 37,000 people were injured in bed rail accidents and treated at hospital emergency rooms. According to this report, the deaths and injuries most commonly occurred when the victim became stuck in the bed rails, mainly with his or her head or neck getting caught. These alarming numbers triggered the CPSC to move forward in addressing bed rail safety.

Last week, the CPSC “merged” two petitions related to bed rail safety. Combined, the two petitions offer the CPSC an array of options: it can decide to do nothing, ban the use of bed rails entirely, or choose any various steps in between. Safety advocates are insistent that no intermediary step will eliminate all harm, suggesting that a ban likely is the best and safest option. The prevalence of these beds and bed rails in residences, nursing homes, and hospitals suggests that it is likely this petition will gain deep collective interest among a number of organizations.

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

In late March, a Maryland teen died at Johns Hopkins Hospital after she was deprived of oxygen during routine wisdom tooth surgery. Her parents have since brought a medical malpractice suit against the oral surgeon and anesthesiologist who performed the dental procedure.

At the outset of the surgery, the teen was administered a standard dose of anesthesia. This dose was not sufficient to perform the surgery and an additional dose was administered. Shortly afterwards, the teen’s heart rate began to slow.

The medical malpractice suit, brought in Howard County, alleges that the doctors were negligent in their care of the teen. The suit states that they committed a serious medical error when, during the course of the surgery, the teen’s heart rate slowed to 40 beats per minute and her oxygen level began to drop, but doctors failed to resuscitate her. By the time emergency personnel arrived, the teen had no pulse and had suffered permanent and irreversible brain injury.

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.

Dr. Mark Midei, the cardiologist accused of implanting unnecessary cardiac stents in over five hundred people, has been administratively charged by the Maryland Board of Physicians, according to the charging document made public today. The charges include “gross overutilization of health care services” and “willfully making a false report or record in the practice of medicine.”

The charges stem from an investigation by St. Joseph Medical Center, which began after a St. Joe employee claimed that Dr. Midei was fraudulently implanting patients with cardiac stents. St. Joe’s investigation, which examined only a two year time frame during which Dr. Midei performed 2000 stent procedures, found that approximately one in four cardiac stents that he emplaced (over 500 patients) were unnecessary.

In my opinion, the charges are certain to be sustained in this high-profile instance of medical malpractice. It is one thing for a patient or a patient’s lawyers to accuse a doctor of malpractice, but when Dr. Midei’s former employer and peers on the medical board accuse him of widespread malpractice, common sense dictates that it has merit.

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