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Articles Posted in Hospital Negligence

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operarting roomA fire erupted in a New York hospital operating room while a patient was having surgery. The accident happened in 2014 at  NYU Langone Medical Center but the results of the investigation were only recently released by the New York Department of Health. The report was obtained by the NY Post under a Freedom of Information Law request. In the report State investigators indicate that the hospital lacked adequate safety procedures to prevent surgical fire. NYU Langone Medical Center also was not conforming with standard practices to protect patients from these type of fires.

Additional medical malpractice was also committed by the surgeon  and the anesthesiologist who failed to communicate proprely about which instrument would be used by the surgeon and which gas would be used by the anesthesiologist to check if there was incompatibility or danger.  According to the DOH report the surgeon used an instrument that sparked a fire in presence of the oxygen used by the anesthesiologist. The patient was injured but the the extent of the injury was redacted in the report received by the NY Post.

After  the accident happened at the beginning of December 2014 the hospital didn’t act to improve safety measures to prevent patients from being injured in a similar manner. It was only after the the Department of Health inspection, at the end of the same month, that the hospital instituted new safety measures related to operating room fires. The measures included changing the oxygen delivery method for surgeries posing a high risk of fire.

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missing hospital patientTo let a dementia patient wander out of a hospital in New York constitutes medical malpractice that can result in serious injury and in some cases the death of the patient.

On Monday, Mt Sinai Roosevelt Hospital located on 10th Avenue in Manhattan called the police after they discovered that one of their patients with dementia eloped from the hospital. 58 year old Nilsaida Smiley, a hospital patient who has been there for the past year, wandered out of the hospital barefoot in a red t-shirt and blue pajama bottoms. The police are now asking New Yorkers to help them to find her. The woman is 58 years old, 5-foot-3 and 115 pounds. She is black with brown eyes and black hair. Anyone who saw her can call the Police at 800-577-TIPS. A dementia patient who gets lost in New York is at high risk of injury or death from falls, accidents and exposure.

According to a report from the Alzheimer’s Association, approximately 35% of the hospital population has some type of dementia. Wandering is a common habit for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia. It is the hospitals responsibility to keep them safe and prevent them from elopement. If a loved one suffers from dementia and needs to be hospitalized make sure that the hospital has a specific policy and rules in place. Hospitals who are effectively  protecting their most vulnerable patients will usually have the following:

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Among the various types of medical malpractice suffered by hospital patients, misdiagnosis accounts for approximately 10% of patient deaths. In a recent Opinion Page from the New York Times, Sandeep Jauhar, a Long Island cardiologist, wants to Bring Back the Autopsy as a weapon to fight misdiagnosis.

With the evolution of medicine and the proliferation of medical tests, autopsy doesn’t seem as essential these days as it was in the past to determine the cause of death of a patient. Before 1971, community hospitals were required to perform autopsies on 20% of their dead patients to earn their accreditation from the Joint Commission. This requirement was dropped after that date. Furthermore in 1986, Medicare considered autopsies financially draining and stopped paying for them. Now an autopsy is mostly considered by doctors as an educational tool.

Recent studies however have demonstrated that despite the medical technological advances autopsy can be a very effective manner to reduce the rate of hospital misdiagnosis.  In his opinion Sandeep Jauhar suggests that Medicare and private insurers pay for them again so that financial considerations doesn’t limit their use.

 

 

 

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As medical technologies are getting increasingly sophisticated so do the risks for hospital negligence and medical malpractice. The ECRI Institute recently released its 2016_Top_10_Hospital_C-Suite_Watch_List and going through this list almost feels like reading a sci-fi novel. Link to 30 page detailed report on blog.  Here is an overlook of the top 10 new medical technologies that hospitals should put on their watch list:

  1. Mobile Stroke Units are high tech ambulances specially outfitted with equipment allowing patients to be diagnosed and if necessary treated directly at their home by a specifically trained staff.  The units are also equipped with telemedecine technology that allows the mobile staff to communicate directly with remote clinical personnel. Strokes are a leading cause of death and traumatic brain injury. Timing is crucial and a reduction of time between the diagnosis and the treatment can save lives and reduce severe injuries.
  2. Medical Device Cybersecurity is a major risk to patients that hospitals have been so far unable to fully control. Medical devices such as a pace-maker or infusion pump are connected through a wire or wifi  to the Electronic Health Record of a patient. These devices can often be too easily hacked. Thieves can then use the personal data for identity theft or to invade the home of the patient when he or she is in the hospital.  In other cases it may even be a murder weapon. Dick Cheney’s doctor had the wifi disabled on his pace-maker due to fear he may be hacked to be assassinated.
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In Davis v. South Nassau Communities Hospital, Edward Davis sued this  New York hospital for medical malpractice after he was injured in a car accident caused by an impaired hospital’s patient. The patient was Lorraine Walsh. Walsh presented herself to the South Nassau Communities Hospital Emergency Room with stomach pain. The ER doctor gave her a very powerful pain medication and told her she could go home.  Because the patient was allergic to morphine, she was given Diluadid, an opioid, which is stronger than morphine and Ativan, a fast acting benzodiazepine with a 6 hour half life intravenously.  The medication that was given by the ER doctor can impair the ability to operate a motor vehicle. However the doctor didn’t warn the patient nor ask if she was indeed driving home alone.

As she was driving back home, Lorraine Walsh, impaired by the medication, crossed a double yellow line into oncoming traffic and struck a vehicle driven by Edward Davis. Edward Davis suffered personal injury caused by the car accident. Davis then filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital and the physician. The suit was dismissed by the by the trial court and by the Appellate Division. Davis then appealed to the New York Court of Appeals.

The Court of Appeals had to rule on an interesting question: can a third party injured by an impaired patient sue a medical provider under the theory that the medical provider’s malpractice was the cause of of the third party injury even though the third party didn’t have a direct relationship with the medical provider. In a 4-2 decision, the New York Court of Appeals ruled that Davis’claim was permissible.  The Court held that defendants had a duty to plaintiffs to warn Walsh that the drugs administered to her impaired her ability to safely operate an automobile.“Our decision herein imposes no additional obligation on a physician who administers prescribed medication. Rather, we merely extend the scope of persons to whom the physician may be responsible for failing to fulfill that responsibility.” Judge Stein and Judge Abdus-Salaam dissented in a lengthy opinion

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Lenox HillHospital negligence and abuse is not only related to patient care, it can also be related to how well the hospital protects the identity of its patients. Yesterday, a former employee of the Lenox Hill Hospital in New York and his wife appeared in front of the Manhattan Supreme Court because they allegedly stole the personal information of more than 80 patients and use their credit cards to charge a total of $300,000 fraudulent charges at Saks Fifth Ave in Manhattan. They tried to charge over $1 million according to prosecutors. Kyle Steed and his wife pleaded not guilty to a 193-count indictment that included, grand larceny, attempted grand larceny, identity theft and possession of stolen property charges in a scheme that targeted elderly people. Read more in the NY Daily News

 

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The family of a hospital worker is angry and wants to know how such gross hospital negligence may have been committed by the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, NYC. Anthony Luso, a worker at the Montefiore Medical Center suffered a finger injury while he was working at the hospital and went to the Emergency Room to be treated on Friday. He checked in and then went to the bathroom. He never got out. He was found dead in the locked bathroom on Monday after his family questioned the hospital and insisted on looking at video surveillance.  Read more on CBS New York

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imageFalls in hospitals can cause serious personal injury and sometimes death. Every year hundreds of thousands of people are falling in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing facilities or other healthcare facilities. 30 to 50% of them will sustain injury. Elderly people are not the only ones at risk. Medical conditions, medication, surgery, medical procedures or diagnostic testings for example can result in weakening and confusion for any patient independently of his or her age and increase the risk of a fall.

According to a recent alert from the Joint Commission, falls in hospitals are a prevalent patient safety problem. Even though it can be difficult and complex to prevent, hospital can take action to prevent them. Here are recommendations suggested by the Joint Commission:

  • Raise awareness about the risk of falls by communicating it to clinical and non clinical staff at every level as well as to patients and their family
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imageHospital medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in this country, behind heart disease and cancer.

In a recent article in the New York Times, a retired transplant surgeon explains how an unresponsive medical staff left him no other choice but to break into  into the crash cart, a box on wheels containing equipment hospitals use to resuscitate patients and pull out two liters of saline solution which he ran into his daughter’s IV Line to prevent her from dying.

Unfortunately most patients and their families don’t have the medical knowledge and the means to make things different if the staff is negligent or a medical error is being committed. Here are the reactions of some of the readers to this article.

 

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baby in hospitalTo precribe Proglycem (diazoxide) to a baby with risk factors for pulmonary hypertension can be medical malpractice leading to severe personal injury.  FDA MedWatch, the FDA Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program recently released a drug safety communication to warn that 11 cases of pulmonary hypertension in infants and newborns treated with diazoxide, the active ingredient in Proglycem, have been indentified since the drug was launched in 1973. The drug is usually used in hospital setting after the birth of the baby.

Doctors should not prescribe this drug to babies suffering from meconium aspiration syndrome, respiratory distress syndrome, transient tachypnea of the newborn, pneumonia, sepsis, congenital diaphragmatic hernia, and congenital heart disease.

Babies with no risk factor for pulmonary hypertension should be closely monitored as well. Parents and caregivers should look for signs of difficulty breathing such as flaring nostrils, grunting, unusual movement of their child’s chest, rapid breathing, difficulty feeding, or a bluish color of the lips. They should stop the medication and contact their doctor immediately if they see any of these signs.