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Gair, Gair, Conason, Rubinowitz, Bloom, Hershenhorn, Steigman & Mackauf is a New York Plaintiff's personal injury law firm specializing in automobile accidents, construction accidents, medical malpractice, products liability, police misconduct and all types of New York personal injury litigation.

Articles Posted in Hospital Negligence

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Surgery at HospitalWhile too many hospitals in the US are sacrificing patient safety for profit, a small number of them are dedicated to focus on healthcare safety and quality.

NYU Langone Hospitals in New York, NY, Gouverneur Hospital in Gouverneur, NY, White Plains Hospital in White Plains, NY and NYU Langone Hospital Long Island in Mineola, NY are the only 4 hospitals in New York state that have been included in the Best Hospitals in America compiled by Money and the Leapfrog Group.

The Leapfrog Group is a nonprofit organization helping consumers to make informed decision. To be part of the list, hospitals that previously received a A grade from a previous assessment went through an additional assessment of  39 performance measures in the 7 following categories:

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cyber attack can arm patientsHospitals are one of the favorite targets of ransomware hackers because hospitals simply can’t afford to have their IT down as it can cause severe harm or even death to patients. As a result when a hospital  has its systems blocked by hackers it might be more willing to pay a ransom than any other type of organization in order to get their systems working again.

Recently, a debt collection company working with 657 healthcare providers announced that it had been the victim of a cyber attack. Hackers were able to obtain patients information including their name, address, social security number and medical information. It is unclear so far how many patients have been affected but this might have been of of the largest healthcare data breach of 2022.

CISA warns hospitals and healthcare providers of Maui ransomware

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NYC Medical Malpractice Attorneys Jeff Bloom and David LarkinOur NY Medical Malpractice attorneys Jeffrey Bloom and David Larkin settled a wrongful death case for $3 Million for the death of a man overdosed with narcotics

Our client, a man in his fifties, walked into the emergency department of his local hospital with complaints of abdominal pain.  He was dead within hours.  He left behind a wife and three grown sons.

The nurse receiving the telephone order from the pain management specialist transcribed it incorrectly and raised the dose for Dilaudid to a deadly amount

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hospital patientEvery year the ECRI institute releases a list of top main concerns that may lead to patient harm and medical malpractice. While cybersecurity was one of the main concerns in the previous years, the ongoing Covid 19 crisis put a lot of pressure on hospital staffing and “staffing shortages” is now at the top of the concerns  followed by worker’s mental health and racial disparity in treatments.

The pandemic emphasized concerns that were already latent in the American healthcare system but that have worsened during the pandemic:

  1. Staffing shortages: the registered nurses median age is 52 year old with 20% of them being older than 65 year old. Young nurses are needed but nursing schools are missing proper resources such as faculty, clinical sites, classroom spaces and budget. As a result 80,407 nursing school applicants were turned down in 2019.  In the coming years, staff shortages will be experienced at all levels of the healthcare system from nursing assistants to technicians such as laboratory technicians as well as critical care doctors, hospitalists, pharmacists and respiratory therapists.
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Infusion pumps are at risk of cyber attacks75% of infusion pumps used by hospitals and other healthcare providers are at risk of being compromised by hackers and as a result can cause harm to patients or expose sensitive data.

Infusion pumps are some of the most commonly used medical devices and some big hospitals are managing thousands of these devices. A recent study by Palo Alto Networks’ Unit 42, looked at 200,000 infusion pumps manufactured by 7 different companies and being used by multiple hospitals and healthcare organizations that are all using IOT Security to monitor their medical devices.

Researchers found that an alarming number of these devices were highly vulnerable to cyber attacks with 40 known security gaps identified among the devices. Additionnally, 70 types of alert messages received from  these devices through the IOT security network where identified as messages related to security issues.  Most vulnerabilities identified were leakage of sensitive information and unauthorized access causing the device to become unresponsive.

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Hospital PatientMost medical devices used by hospitals are legacy devices that are still operating on Windows 7 that Microsoft no longer supports.  Manufactured at a time when cybersecurity was not a preoccupation, these devices can now easily be hacked and potentially be dangerous to patients. As a result, on top of safeguarding traditional IT assets, hospitals now have to figure out a way to secure tens of thousands of legacy devices from hundreds of manufacturers connected to their network.  It is a real headache for most hospitals and healthcare organizations as many of them do not even keep an inventory of their medical devices. According to a recent study only 36% of healthcare organizations know where their medical devices are.

While some devices that can cause fatal injuries, such as insuline pumps or pacemakers, are being actively monitored and recalled by the FDA, it is estimated that all other medical devices have an average of more than 6 vulnerabilities per device and that 40% of devices used by hospitals are at the end-of-life stage and do not have security patches or upgrades available.

Not surprisingly, FDA regulations in this field are lagging with the agency only saying both hospitals and manufacturers are responsible for protecting devices from cyber attacks. Hospitals are pointing fingers at manufacturers for not providing the necessary support and want the FDA to mandate lifetime support of medical devices by manufacturers.  So far, the further the FDA went was to publish post-market guidance for medtechs on what they should do to secure their products. This is not enough as hospitals find themselves dealing with thousands of devices that they are supposed not only to track but also patch to prevent cyberattacks. With the ongoing Covid19 crisis, hospitals are unable to handle this task and as a result they become increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks that could injure or kill patients.

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hospital readmission can be negligenceExcessive patient readmissions is usually a sign of hospital negligence. Not only can it worsen the patient’s condition and extend recovery time but it also increases the patient’s bill.

In order to curb readmission rates and make sure hospitals pay more attention to patients after their departure, the Hospital Readmission Program (HRRP) was created in 2010 as part of the Affordable Care Act. It took effect in October 2012 and since then, bad players with high readmission rates are being penalized by Medicare and get their payment for each of their Medicare patients reduced by up to 3%.

A total of 3,046 hospitals in the country are included in this program while hospitals treating children, veterans and psychiatric  patients are excluded.

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FDA-logoAfter a recent study pointed fingers at the mismanagement of medical device recall by the FDA (see previous blog),  further investigations are confirming an outdated and broken system that leaves patients at risk of serious injury and death as unaware doctors continue to use defective devices on their patients.

A recent example of this outdated process is the recall of a sleep apnea ventilator device manufactured by Philips. It is not clear so far as to when exactly, Philips executives found out that the foam used to dampen the noise of the machine was breaking down and could potentially be inhaled or ingested by patients, exposing them to carcinogenic or toxic effects. However, the company announced publicly, on April 26th, while reporting Q1 earnings that it was creating a provision of 250 million Euros to cover costs related to possible risks to users in some sleep and respiratory care machines. While the company had probably already identified that the defective devices were the ones manufactured between April 2007 and April 2021, it waited almost two other months to initiate a recall and warn consumers of potential carcinogenic and toxic effects.  After the issuance of the recall, the FDA issued a safety communication on June 30. It took until July 22nd for the FDA to classify the recall as class I event and publish a public notification.

Does this mean that all patients have been contacted and had their ventilator changed? Not at all. In the actual process, the customers of the manufacturer, such as the hospitals, the providers, the retailers or the distributors are in charged of contacting the patients and they usually don’t do it.  Instead, doctors wait for the patients to come in with symptoms.

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metal in mask MRIThe FDA recently received a complaint from a patient whose face was burned after wearing a facemask with metal during a MRI. The patient was undergoing a 3 TESLA MRI scan of the neck. The burns were consistent with the shape of the mask.

It is clearly negligent to allow a patient to enter an MRI without checking for metal in a face mask. Anyone who is being scheduled for a MRI procedure must be checked for metal placed in or on their body including in their face mask.

Typically, patients undergoing an MRI are submitted to a metal checklist during which they are asked if they are wearing electronic devices, had metal in their eyes, have implants, had previous surgery on their head or ears or are wearing items such as jewelry, hearing aids, medication patches and obviously these days, a mask that doesn’t contain metal.

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nursing home abuseVictims of nursing home abuse , hospital neglect or medical malpractice in New York State not related to Covid-19 can legally hold healthcare professionals responsible for their negligence again.

Yesterday, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law that rolls back the legal immunity that nursing homes and hospitals were granted during the coronavirus crisis

Since yesterday these institutions can again be held liable in criminal prosecutions and lawsuits.