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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 Tagged with 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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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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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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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.

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surgeonLast year a neurosurgeon was sentenced to life in prison after it was found that he committed medical malpractice and butchered 33 of the 37 patients he operated on, including two who didn’t survive. His name is Christopher Duntsch. After he was arrested in Dallas, his story was covered by all the local media who nicknamed him Dr. Death. A few days ago, ProPublica released  the result of an  in-depth investigation on his story and describes how the case had to be taken to the criminal system because the medical system wasn’t working and patients couldn’t be protected.

After an unsuccessful beginning of a career as a football player, Duntsch decided to become a neurosurgeon. He was able to get his undergraduate degree and to enroll  at the University of Tennessee at Memphis College of Medicine to get an M.D. and a P.H.D. During his surgical residency, with a few partners, he launched DiscGenics, a company that was developing and selling disc stem cells.

Duntsch also developed a terrible cocaine habit and had the reputation of being a party animal. He would often do cocaine and alcohol all night and go straight to his residency to the hospital. His partners at DiscGenics worried about it and forced him out of the business.

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Among all the States in the US, New York State has the highest rate of mothers injured while giving birth.  Many of these injuries are the direct result of hospital negligence and medical malpractice. A recent investigation by USA Today shows that not only in New York but all over America negligent medical workers skip basic safety practices that have proven to be life savers for mothers.

Weighing blood pads to track dangerous hemorrhages as well as controlling blood pressure and if necessary immediately providing medication to prevent strokes are basic procedures that protect a mother about to give birth. However in the US many nurses, doctors and hospitals continue to ignore them. As a result while in most developed countries the rate of maternal deaths and injuries dropped drastically over the last decades, it rose sharply in the US.

maternal deaths in developed countries
Excepted for California where safe practices have been implemented, hospitals in other Sates continue to ignore basic safety practices.  As a result, every day in the US, 2 mothers die from complications related to delivery. Many of them bleed to death because doctors and nurses don’t bother to quantify blood losses. Many others die from stroke because the hospital staff didn’t track their blood pressure or didn’t provide blood pressure medication on time. Most of these deaths are preventable. Experts estimate that 93% of the deaths related to bleeding could be avoided by quantifying blood loss and 60% of the deaths related to blood pressure disorder could be prevented simply by proprely monitoring blood pressure.

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A patient who has to be readmitted to an hospital may have a valid medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital or the clinicians. When a patient is discharged too early or with not enough support not only may his or her condition worsen but also the health costs related to his or her readmission can be significant. Additionally,  hospital and doctors can be liable if the patient was negligently discharged.

Patients with chronic disease such as diabetes, COPD and congestive heart failure are among those who have the highest risk of being readmitted. Chronic diseases affect 1 out of 2 adults in the US and are responsible for 86% of healthcare spending. They also rank among the top 10 causes of death in thew US.

Recent studies have demonstrated that hospital who are using remote patient monitoring (RPM) can significantly reduce the readmission rate of chronic disease patients. RMP allows patients to collect samples and answer questionnaires about their personal health from home. Data is then transmitted to the doctors who can analyse them and follow up in real time with their patients.

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Hospital watch list 2017As healthcare evolves so does medical malpractice. The ECRI Institute just published its 2017 Top 10 Hospital C-suite Watch List. Here are the top 10 issues and technical challenges faced by hospitals in 2017.

  1. LIQUID BIOPSIES

    Liquid biopsies are tests using patients liquids such as patients’ blood, urine or plasma rather than tissues. They are easier, cheaper and less risky than needle or surgical biopsy of tissues. Mostly used for patients with cancer, these types of biopsies are the new trend but they are so new that their reliability  is still questionable.Hospitals using these tests need to set up a solid genetic test clinical utilization process to  mitigate diagnosis error.