Articles Tagged with medical malpractice

Stem cells have been on the forefront of exciting new research in recent years. However, it seems some clinics have gone too far in promising what stem cell treatments can offer. Of the more than 550 known stem cell clinics nationwide, a significant number offer relief for everything from sports injuries to autism to Alzheimer’s disease to multiple sclerosis. In reality, there is scant evidence these treatments offer any beneficial outcomes for these patients, and worse, in some cases the treatments may result in serious and life-altering harm. lab work

Recently, The Washington Post reported on three incidents at a south Florida clinic that was offering unproven stem cell treatments as a “clinical trial.” Three female patients with visual impairment agreed to participate, in the hope the treatments might help improve their vision. Instead, it rendered them all three completely blind.

This was reported in a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine, which outlines this as one of the most egregious instances of personal injury involving a stem cell. There are at least a handful of stem cell clinics here in North Carolina, including in Charlotte and Cary. The services of one were recently detailed in The Charlotte Observer, with the clinicians promising non-surgical relief for sports injuries and chronic joint pain. Stem cell injections were touted as a “regenerative” alternative to hip replacement or knee replacement surgery. Continue reading

A series of bills aligned with the so-called “tort reform” agenda have been introduced and are working their way through the civil justice system. These measures, long advocated by doctors, and large corporations, would fundamentally alter key protections for plaintiffs in injury lawsuits. supreme court

This “tort reform” moniker makes it sound as if such measures would be fixing major flaws in the civil justice system. In reality, these actions would make it tougher for those injured to obtain justice. Tort reform ideals are predicated on the notion that courts are overburdened with a flood of frivolous lawsuits. Greedy plaintiffs and injury attorneys are simply out to take advantage of businesses and physicians to make a buck. Health care costs and other expenses are out of control, they say, due to litigious patients and customers.

Here’s the truth: The burden of proof to bring any claim is already substantial. For example, it’s not enough that you slipped and fell in the store and were hurt. You have to show you had the right to be there. You have to show the store owed you a duty of care. You have to prove the staff either created the dangerous condition on the floor or had actual knowledge of it or should have learned of in the course of regular options and failed to address in a manner deemed timely or else warned of it. Oh, and if the condition was open and obvious, there is an expectation you should have seen it an avoided it. In North Carolina, if you are found to be even slightly responsible for the incident (a legal theory known as comparative negligence), you can’t win your case.  Continue reading

As the opioid epidemic has swept the country, some doctors and pharmaceutical companies are finding themselves on the defendant’s side of the table in personal injury and wrongful death suits related to abuse of these drugs. pills

Historically, there is some precedent to hold physicians liable for causing addiction by negligently prescribing certain controlled substances. In some cases, doctors have even been found criminally responsible for overdose deaths.

Now, the latest physicians to find themselves accused of wrongdoing are those associated with the National Football League. According to court records contained in a federal lawsuit filed by former players, NFL teams allegedly violated federal statutes regarding prescription drugs, disregarded guidance from the Drug Enforcement Administration on how to store, track and transport these drugs and plied players with highly addictive painkillers during the season. These records are under seal, but were reviewed by The Washington PostContinue reading

A $12.7 million verdict in an injury lawsuit has been voided and a new trial ordered, unless the executor of the plaintiff’s estate agrees to a reduction to $1.45 million.knees

Bigler-Engler v. Berg, Inc. involves a cold-therapy device that was prescribed to and used by a 15-year-old female student athlete after she suffered a sports-related injury and had to undergo knee surgery. The cold therapy device was supposed to help speed her recovery. The device, “Polar Care 500,” is intended to deliver cold therapy to the site of the surgery, similar to what might be accomplished with an ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables. It operates continuously for 11 hours, until the ice has to be refilled. The girl’s parents were told it would decrease her risk of infection. But the plaintiffs alleged the doctor, his employer, and the manufacturer failed to disclose the risks of using this device, even though they were aware of those risks. The medical group and the doctor both benefited from the sales and rentals of these devices, but they did not disclose that fact to the plaintiff or her parents. (It was also later revealed the doctor was a shareholder in his employer’s medical group, and he was friendly with the cold-therapy device manufacturer executives, who took him on golf outings, dinners, and other events.)

Although the surgery was initially successful, her use of the cold-therapy device reportedly resulted in severe pain and ultimately resulted in dead tissue around her knee that required immediate and specialized surgery. After that, she needed nine additional surgeries to clean and close the wounds. These procedures were extremely painful and left her with permanent, extensive scarring. Scar reduction surgeries followed, for which the plaintiff paid out-of-pocket. She also continued to suffer from weakness, pain, and other functional limitations.

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The North Carolina Court of Appeals recently ruled that a medical malpractice lawsuit stemming from the latent discovery of a surgical sponge was properly dismissed for a failure to file within the statute of limitations period. surgery

Normally in medical malpractice lawsuits, patients have just three years to file a lawsuit from the date of the alleged medical error. However, if the injury could not have been discovered right away, the plaintiff may have one year to file a lawsuit from the date the injury was discovered – or reasonably could have been discovered, assuming that is within four years of the alleged medical malpractice. Even so, cases involving retained surgical sponges – as with all other foreign objects unintentionally left in one’s body after surgery – are unique. In those instances, the lawsuit has to be filed either within:

  • One year of the date on which the object was discovered, or
  • Within 10 years of the date the surgical error was made.

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The state of North Carolina recognizes the importance of timely filing a medical malpractice lawsuit to recover for damages. North Carolina General Statute 1-15 holds that one has just three years from the date a medical mistake was made to file a claim against a health care provider. However, one has up to two years from the date the mistake was discovered (up to four years) if there was no way to have immediately discovered the injury. In claims that involve objects left inside one’s body during surgery, plaintiff may have one year from the date of discovery and up to 10 years from the date of the surgery to file the claim. Those who were children at the time of a medical malpractice injury have up to their 19th birthday to file a claim for injuries sustained when they were minors. doctor5

This “discovery rule” allows patients some leeway when they aren’t immediately aware that some medical negligence has occurred. Often, the question of when a plaintiff knew or had enough information to raise the issue is a factual determination and it will dictate how much time a person has to file the claim.

In the recent case of Moon v. Rhode, the Illinois Supreme Court was asked to consider a case where the discovery rule was central. Plaintiff, executor of his mother’s estate, alleged his 90-year-old mother received improper care when she was hospitalized for rectal prolapse. During her period of hospitalization, she suffered a host of complications and ultimately died. That was in May 2009. In April 2011, after asking a medical consulting firm to review his mother’s medical records, he received an opinion that the doctors were negligent in treating her following her admission to the hospital. A written report submitted by the firm soon after was critical of delayed oxygen treatments and infection control. In May 2011, plaintiff filed a complaint against the doctors, alleging they had failed to timely treat his mother’s pneumonia and respiratory distress.  Continue reading

The North Carolina Court of Appeals has reversed a summary judgment favoring a medical doctor, deciding the patient/plaintiff did present enough information to indicate a question of material fact on the issue of whether her surgeon should have performed more testing prior to a second surgery to remove a cancerous mass in her arm. arm1

Plaintiff alleged the doctor violated the accepted standard of medical care for his type of practice when he failed, following an initial, failed surgical procedure to conduct further testing to ascertain exactly what type of mass he was operating on. Plaintiff alleges that because it was a specific type of mass in which the complex system of roots spread out across nerves and an artery – and not a simple lipoma, as the doctor reportedly assumed – the second surgery was botched. She suffered nerve damage that affects her daily life, she said, and had to undergo yet another surgery to actually have the mass fully removed.

In Seraj v. Duberman, the appellate court ruled the trial court should not have granted summary judgment to the defendant doctor. Instead, there is sufficient evidence for the case to go to trial.  Continue reading

In many negligence lawsuits, there are theories of direct liability and theories of vicarious liability. Direct liability occurs when a named defendant has engaged in negligence. Vicarious liability occurs when a named defendant may not have acted with negligence, but may be held liable for the negligence of another due to a special relationship with that person. nurse2

For example: A parent could be vicariously liable for the actions of a minor child. A vehicle owner could be vicariously liable for the actions of the person driving the car. An employer could be held vicariously liable for the actions of an employee acting in the course and scope of employment.

In medical malpractice lawsuits, this issue of vicarious liability can be used to take a hospital to task for the negligence of staffers that result in harm to patients. However, many of those who work in hospitals are not employees, but rather independent contractors. This can apply to doctors, nurses, aides and others.  Continue reading

Medical malpractice is not only the mistakes that are made in doling out medicine or performing a surgery. It can involve what isn’t done. More specifically, missed diagnosis. xrayanalysis

Of course, medicine is not an exact science and there is no law that says a doctor has to be right every time they make a diagnosis or that they have to catch every condition before it advances. What is necessary to prove medical malpractice is a showing that a physician breached the standard of care given the circumstances. It could mean neglecting to review a patient’s medical history. It could be failing to order the appropriate test. It could mean not recognizing the obvious symptoms of illness.

Diagnostic delay or missed diagnosis is one of the top allegations in medical malpractice lawsuits in South Carolina. One recent case before the South Carolina Court of Appeals, Marshall v. Dodds, serves as an example. Continue reading

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