Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

Texas’ brutal medical tort reform may have saved the Texas medical industry millions in malpractice insurance premiums and given Texas hospitals near immunity for medical incompetence but it hasn’t done anything to curb the stunning bills that Texas hospitals regular charge patients. The Government Accounting Office reports that Dallas hospital bill are among the highest in the national for some common surgeries such as hip replacements. The average charge for a hip replacement in Dallas County is $63,000, more than three times the $19,164 charge in Youngstown, Ohio.

The Texas’ so-called tort reform has become just another way for the hospital industry to line their pockets. What Texans desperately need is medical billing reform.

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A Dallas jury recently rendered a verdict for $23 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages against Boston Scientific Corporation. The case involved a defective Obtryx sling implanted in the plaintiff to treat urinary leakage. The punitive damages finding was immediately reduced to $11 million pursuant to a Texas tort reform law that protects grossly negligent defendants by limiting punitive damages to two times the economic damages. Boston Scientific and indicated that they plan to appeal.

The case of Salazar v. Lopez is the third jury trial that Boston Scientific has faced. The first two were tried in Massachusetts and resulted in defense verdicts. Venue is obviously very important in these cases. There are several transvaginal mesh products which are commonly used to treat stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. The seven manufacturers are facing thousands of claims filed by women who allege that the defects in the mesh products were known but not disclosed by the manufacturers.

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Endo International Agrees To Settle Vaginal-Mesh Defect Lawsuit

Endo International recently settled approximately 10,000 vaginal-mesh lawsuits involving their Perigee, Apogee, and Elevate mesh implants for a combined settlement of more than $400 million. The settlement averages about $48,000 for each injured victim. Endo reportedly has reserved $1.6 billion for liability arising out of its surgical mesh products.

The Food and Drug Administration considers the vaginal-mesh inserts to be high-risk devices and takes the position that the vaginal-mesh inserts should be subject to stricter safety standards. In 2010 alone U.S. doctors inserted more than 70,000 mesh devices.

Last year CMS quit reporting life-threatening conditions acquired by patients during hospital stays. CMS has now announced that they will resume posting data on their website regarding eight hospital-acquired conditions including when foreign objects are left in patients’ bodies and when patients are given the wrong type of blood. Having this information available is pivotal as otherwise the hospital with a rash of events will argue that each event is an isolated, unique event rather than being part of an ongoing pattern that needs to be addressed. Unfortunately, some hospitals have shown that they are more committed to covering up medical mistakes than to correcting their mistakes and they need the legal community to encourage them to do the right thing.

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The Texas Sunset Advisory Commission recently recommended that lawmakers pass a law revoking the licenses of nursing homes that have three serious violations within a two-year period. Changes to medical malpractice laws have made it more difficult for plaintiff’s lawyers to effectively police nursing homes thereby destroying the incentive of some nursing homes to render quality medical care. According to State Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, of the state’s 1200 nursing homes seven of the worst nursing homes would be shut down under a “three-strikes” law. Hopefully such a law would encourage Texas nursing homes to comply with minimum standards.

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Modern technology has given us the hazards of texting while driving and now sexting during surgery. A Seattle anesthesiologist was recently suspended for sexting and exchanging sexually explicit messages during surgery. The investigation revealed that he had sent sexually explicit pictures of himself and texts during multiple procedures including Cesarean deliveries, pediatric appendectomies, epidurals, tubal ligations, cardiac-probe insertions.

The ability of modern cellular phones to send text messages has given rise to texting while driving, a practice considered by many to be more dangerous than drinking while driving. The ability of cell phones to text pictures has also given rise to sexual harassment in the form of unwanted and unwelcome sexts in the workplace.

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For many years a common practice of liability insurance companies in wrongful death cases where one of their negligent insured killed a spouse was to start rumors that the surviving spouse and wrongful death claimant had engaged in an extramarital affair and then to investigate their own rumors solely for the purpose of harassing and traumatizing the surviving spouse. Widows in wrongful death cases received some much needed relief from Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code Section 71.005 which prohibits the defense from “directly or indirectly mentioning or alluding to a … extramarital relationship …”.

In simple terms, you can’t kill someone and then avoid liability to the surviving spouse by accusing the survivor of an extramarital affair.

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The parents of new physician Dr. Jennifer Sidari of West Pittston have reportedly brought a wrongful death medical malpractice claim against Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center alleging that the hospital failed to properly diagnose and treat an easily diagnosable, treatable and entirely correctable blood clot which ultimately lead to her death. One cannot help but have sympathy for the needless loss of life and the suffering of her family.

It is not uncommon to hear doctors, hospitals and other members of the medical community argue that here are too many medical malpractice claims and that there should be no medical malpractice liability for medical mistakes made in good faith. Yet when members of the medical community are the victims of medical malpractice they continue to avail themselves of the laws which they so often criticize.

It seems that a bad lawsuit continues to be one filed by someone else. Perhaps the medical community should accept the fact that the medical malpractice laws sometimes serve a legitimate purpose.

When a smoke alarm fails and a life is lost the event gives rise to a number of legal claims. Building owners and managers have to inspect, maintain, repair or replace the detector to make sure that smoke alarms are functional. When a building owner or manager fails to discharge their duty they may be subject to a Wrongful Death and Survival Claim by the family of the deceased.

Manufacturers have a duty to produce smoke alarms which are free of defects. When a smoke alarm fails due to a manufacturing defect the manufacturer may be liable pursuant to the doctrines regarding products liability.

Sometimes smoke alarms fail because they are improperly installed. In those situations both the installer and the building owner may be liable.

The Center for Justice and Democracy at the New York Law School recently published a study that conflicts with many commonly held beliefs regarding medical malpractice. The summary conclusions of the study are:

-Few injured patients file claims or lawsuits; experts agree that when cases are filed, they are not


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