January 1970 Archives

Hospital staff responsible for monitoring patients, not alarms

A study released this month revealed that alarms in hospital beds designed to keep patients from getting up unattended and falling are largely ineffective. Employees waiting for alarms to go off instead of routinely observing patients could be considered a form of hospital negligence.

Wrongful death lawsuit filed against nursing home over medication error

Although this particular case did not occur in the state of Kentucky, it very well could have here or anywhere else in the country. A nursing home has been named in a wrongful death lawsuit over the death of one of its patients due to a purported overdose of prescription medication. Medication errors are all too common in hospitals and long-term care facilities and can be the result of doctor or pharmacy errors or a nurse or other healthcare provider administering the wrong dosage or drug to a patient.

Analyzing medical errors helping hospitals prevent future mistakes

At the University of Kentucky Healthcare's A.B. Chandler Medical Center, it's Paula Holbrook's job as the director of risk management and clinical risk to capture all of the "near misses, the little things that don't reach the patient" and turn it into a learning experience for the hospital and staff on how to prevent such occurrences from happening in the future.

Hospitals cutting down on surgical errors

We have all heard the phrase, "to err is human," at some point in our lives, and have found it to be true many times. While human error is inevitable, and is most often times forgiven, medical errors are preventable and unacceptable. Surgical errors have gained so much attention over the last year that new laws and policies are being implemented in an effort to cut down on these errors.

Prostate biopsy errors on the rise

Some of our Kentucky readers may be seasoned veterans when it comes to the uncomfortable topic of the annual prostate exam. Whether or not you'd had to undergo a prostate biopsy, you may still be shocked to know the rate of medical errors associated with the results.

Is there really a medical malpractice crisis?

In an article for the Boston Globe this week, a doctor discusses the problems with medical malpractice and negligence lawsuits. The article describes the sad story of a woman who gave birth to premature twins. One of the twins died, due to doctors failing to recognize a deadly condition that she developed. The misdiagnosis cost her life and when the mother attempted to find out why, the hospital was cold and seemingly indifferent.

Patients in a hospital need a checklist

Patients go into the hospital when they are sick, and unfortunately, sometimes they go to the hospital and instead of becoming well, they become sicker. A woman who had two members of her family who suffered adverse events relating to medical negligence, investigated and found that there is much "common knowledge" out there that can help patients, but doctors and nurses can often overlook these issues.

Cut and paste may be more of a risk than a surgeon's knife

Modern medicine is a complex process. No longer are you examined by your family doctor, who may have been overseeing your care for decades. Especially in a hospital, multiple specialists may see you in a short period. None of these doctors, nurses or other health care professional may speak with one another. Instead, they rely on what are known as electronic health records (EHR). In many hospitals, your chart is no longer a clipboard, but a computer screen.

Prescription drugs leading cause of overdose deaths

Deaths from drug overdoses have increased for the 11th year in a row, but the majority of those deaths were not from illegal street drugs, but instead prescription drugs received from doctors. The report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that in 2010, more than 38,000 people died from drug overdoses. Of those deaths, 60 percent involved primarily prescription drugs.

$11 million damage award in vaginal mesh implant case

In one of the first cases involving Johnson & Johnson's vaginal mesh implant, a jury awarded a woman $11.1 million in compensatory and punitive damages for injuries caused by their Gynecare Prolift mesh implant. The vaginal mesh implant was supposed to provide support to the muscles of the lower abdomen and prevent the sagging of organs that occurs in some women after pregnancy.

With surgery, there really are no "little" mistakes

It seems simple enough. During a surgical procedure, where sponges are used, one counts all of the sponges used during the procedure. Before the incision is closed up and the surgery complete, one counts the sponges that were removed from the patient. Being basic arithmetic, the sum of the addition of the sponges that were removed should equal the number that was used. Easy enough.

Disabled man receives $12 million settlement for burn injuries

We often hear of medical malpractice or nursing home negligence cases settling, and often they are characterized as if most of these cases are frivolous lawsuits and are settled by the nursing home or hospital to make them go away and save legal fees. Then there are cases like this one, where they settle to prevent the facts from going to a jury. Because they know the conduct was so horrific that a jury will be happy to return a verdict that includes millions of dollars in punitive damages.

Car accident leaves driver of vehicle a quadriplegic

We read a lot about car accidents and even though more than 30,000 people are killed every year in motor vehicle accidents, most people, we suspect never think it will happen to them. Occasional high-profile accidents, like the one that killed Princess Diana in Paris are so uncommon that they allow us to be lulled into complacency that it could never happen to us.

Dental surgery case involving death of 17-year-old settled

Few fears are greater than the dread of burying your child. You expect they will long outlive you, and the prospect of choosing a burial plot and casket for your child is virtually unimaginable for most parents. Sadly, parents of a 17-year-old girl from Maryland had that experience in 2011.

Jury hits insurer with $500 million punitive damage verdict for hepatitis infection

Sometimes the lowest bid can prove very expensive. A jury in Nevada levied $500 in punitive damages against the health insurance company, UnitedHealth Group. The punitive damages stemmed from an incident where a doctor's clinic infected at least nine patients with hepatitis C during endoscopy procedures in 2007. The jury had previously awarded $24 million in compensatory damages in the case.

Study finds hospitals make more money from medical mistakes and errors

Incentives are a strange thing. Sometimes, there are unintended consequences, ranging from schools teaching to tests, to corporate executives focusing on short-term goals to maximize their bonuses. Hospitals are reimbursed from insurance companies for providing care for patients, even when the patients are in the hospital because of medical malpractice caused by the hospital. Ironically, hospital negligence and medical malpractice can become a profit center for a hospital and improving their treatment of patients can be detrimental to their bottom line.

Surgery on wrong side of woman's brain leads to lawsuit

A lawsuit has been filed against SSM Health Care-St. Louis and a neurosurgeon for medical malpractice by the family of a 53-year-old woman. The suit alleges that a neurosurgeon employed by the hospital operated on the wrong side of the woman's brain, causing her to lose her ability to speak intelligibly.

Woman's estate awarded almost $2 million for misdiagnosis death

In July 2009, a 25-year-old woman, who was six months pregnant, sought emergency care at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for respiratory problems. According to court documents in a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital and two doctors who treated the woman, she was sent home with antibiotics and instructions to return if she didn't get any better.

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O'Brien Batten & Kirtley, PLLC

O'Brien Batten & Kirtley, PLLC
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