Sixty Heart Patients v Palm Beach Garden Medical Center
The AP reported that sixty patients and families are suing the above hospital for negligence causing infections in the open heart patients. The attorney for all these said that drug resistant staph was present in 90 patients and 16 died. The hospital denies the allegations but in its last JCAHO inspection only got a 91 with infection control being one of the recommendations. The state has found now problems with the hospitals infection control.
Kansas Plaintiffs Likely to Lose in Court
The Wichita Business Journal has reported something known to most who deal with malpractice. A huge majority (80%) of malpractice suits that come to trial are won by the defendant. This is true in most states. The reason is simple. If there is a good case there is usually a pre-trial settlement. The report is an excerpt from a 29 page report and is flawed since it does not include any settlements. A commenter on the flawed report stated that malpractice settlements have risen from $15 million to $20 million in the past five years. This is to lead to an increase in premiums of between 10 and 35 %.
There has been a confidential settlement in a case of six hospital patients that died in 1999 after using a contaminated mouthwash. The Dawn Mist Mouth Wash was used at a Fargo N.D. hospital. The mouth wash was later recalled.
Top Jury Verdicts & Settlements in California for 2000 and early 2001
In 2000, the clear winner was Mejia v Community Hospital of San Bernardino for $27 million. The next closest was $7 million in Rashad v Mitchell. In the 2000 settlements again there was a clear winner. This was an unknown case that was never filed. The settlement was for $18 million. The next closest were for $4 million. For the first six month of this year the jury verdict winner is DeRungs v Scripps Clinic for $4.7 million. The best of the bunch in settlements was for $4 million.
BMF v Cigna
The Cigna urologist used bichlorocetic acid on the patient's penis instead of vinegar to check for venereal warts. The patient has 2nd and 3rd degree burns. The verdict was for $3 million but it was reduced by the judge to $1.5 million and then settled confidentially.
Meade v Trout
Meade became paralyzed after a neck manipulation by an unlicensed chiropractor under the supervision of Trout. The patient has filed suit against Trout for negligent supervision. The Kansas law states that only licensed persons may perform articulation. The actual tortfeaser probably has no insurance or assets.
Stolarz v St. Francis Medical
The 62 y/o plaintiff was awarded $8.1 million in a wrongful death action against the hospital and a supervising physician. The case involved a third year resident physician puncturing the pulmonary artery while performing a lymph node biopsy. Brown was found not negligent but was an agent of the hospital in the supervision. The problem was that the supervising physician had already done a biopsy and the resident was doing another one that the plaintiff claimed was unnecessary. The resident physician was not named in the suit. Top
The first trial for Rezulin toxicity is starting in Texas. The cause of action is wrongful death. The plaintiff may have a problem with this case. Although Rezulin was pulled off the market by the FDA for liver disease and deaths, this patient had diabetes for 10 years prior to beginning the drug. She was on 50 medications and had kidney disease that required dialysis. The death certificate listed the cause of death as renal failure due to diabetes and liver damage as one of the secondary causes. Top
Grauberger v St. Francis Hosp.
This is a reversal of a case reported on November 1, 2001. A person injured in a motor vehicle accident was treated at the hospital. The hospital billed and was paid the negotiated rate for the care. The hospital then liened the settlement between the patient and the third party for the full rate. In the lower state court the patient was granted partial summary judgment. The patient also alleged RICO against the hospital, a federal crime. The federal district court stated the RICO was not pled with sufficient specificity and threw out the claim. At the same time it stated the state court partial judgment was erroneous and threw it out as well. The whole case now goes back to the state court for more motions and trial. The attorneys should do well.
Schmidt v Prince George Hosp
Neither a sixteen year old involved in a car accident nor her parents ever paid her hospital bill. When the sixteen year old turned eighteen she was sued by the hospital for the bill. She defended on the basis that she was a minor at the time of the accident and has never given permission to sue for the payment. The Court disagreed and stated that she owed since there was an implied promise to pay if the patient was unwilling or unable to pay for the medically necessary services. As it turned out, the father used the insurance money to purchase a new car instead of paying the hospital bill. This showed unwillingness to pay and triggered the implied promise. Top
Edson v Valleycare Health
Edson was terminated for lack of communication skills. He claimed he should have been given a fair hearing since it was a quality issue. The hospital won a summary judgment in the lower court. The 9th Circ also ruled against the physician stating he has not right of due process unless he was terminated for a medical disciplinary cause or reason. This was not such a case. I disagree. If communication skills are poor it affects the quality of care and the physician is allowed a peer review process. This is bad law possibly based on bad facts.
Sithian v Staten Island Univ. Hosp.
A physician was found to have a high morbidity and mortality. Two outside peer reviews were performed. After the second one the MEC voted to uphold the suspension of performing complex vascular surgeries. While the appeal to the Board was in progress, the physician sued everybody. The defendants were granted summary judgment and immunity under HCQIA. They then asked for costs and attorney's fees. The court stated that the costs and fees could be granted if a case is frivolous, unreasonable, without foundation or in bad faith. Since the physician initiated the suit prior to the final hospital appeal, it was in bad faith and he needed to pay. Top
In re Seymour
An aide was injured when a very obese patient (400 lbs.) fell on her while she was attempting to help move the patient. The aide requested the name of the male patient seen in X-ray room 2 on the date of the accident and the hospital refused based on privilege. The court said that since the claimant was attempting to get the identity by weight and not medical treatment, privilege did not hold.
State v Sanders
A patient sought a hospital's documents regarding the renewal of staff privileges on a physician being sued for medical malpractice. The Court stated that even though the documents were generated outside the institution they are protected since they are generated only for the credential committee. Top
A federal judge has given the go ahead for prosecutors to inspect 6000 client and patient files that were seized in a raid on a physician and her attorney husband for prescribing marijuana. The prescribing is legal under California law but not under federal law. The judge's order will be appealed but the records are being culled as there is no stay of the order. Top
A federal judge has upheld the temporary injunction against Attorney General Ashcroft's threats to take away the DEA license of those Oregon's physicians who prescribe medications in assist in suicide. This order lasts until a trial in about four months.
As a follow-up to a story printed here several months ago, the British highest appeals court has declined to allow a husband to assist a terminally ill patient the right of suicide. The patient will now take this to the European Court of Human Rights. Top
The Florida case of Mendez v Blue Cross can continue states the judge. The company did not give any details to Mendez as to why he was dropped from the plan earlier this year. Mendez contends that his good care drove up costs for the insurer. The judge stated that Blue Cross was wrong by assigning the patients to new doctors and not telling them they could stay with Mendez but had to pay a higher premium. Blue Cross states what they did was common business practices. That does not make the practice right or justified. To make matters worse Blue Cross did not remove his name from the list of their physicians. Top
Haddad v Gopal
A woman sued her GYN after being treated for painful intercourse and the GYN telling her husband she had herpes. The jury verdict was for the physician. The appeal stated that since she allowed the husband to make all the appointments, be present at all the exams, and did not voice any objection to the husband's presence she had given implied consent to the disclosure. Top
State v Collier & Harmon
Two physicians signed hundreds of blank prescriptions so another physician who lost his license could continue to dispense prescriptions for OxyContin and Xanax. Collier worked for Paolino, the physician who lost his license. He did not know he was working for an unlicensed physician at the time. Harmon knew that Paolino was unlicensed and is up on 221 counts of insurance fraud. Both are up on forgery, delivery of controlled substance, helping to practice medicine without a license and criminal conspiracy. Paolino is up for practicing medicine without a license and insurance fraud. The two doctors acknowledged working in Paolino's office for several weeks. Top
Lifescan has agreed to pay $45 million to consumers who purchased their Surestep glucose meter. The meter was defective and the company did not inform anyone of the problem. The company, a subsidiary of J&J has paid $100 million to date including a $30 million fine. This like many other cases was originally a whistleblower case.
Baxter has agreed to pay $289,000 to each of 10 families in Spain was linked to their dialysis filters. There was a chemical residue on the filters. The filters have all been recalled. Top
A nurse in a substance abuse clinic in Fort Lauderdale was terminated after she spoke to the Feds, She talked about seeing the suspects in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The clinic thought she talked to the Feds as part of a investigation into fraud and abuse. Either reason is good for a wrongful termination case. The Fort Lauderdale Hospital found her talking to the FBI and order the FBI and the nurse off the premises. I hope Fort Lauderdale Hospital has a big check book.
DISCLAIMER: Although this article is updated periodically, it reflects the author's point of view at the time of publication. Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice. Readers should consult with their own legal counsel before acting on any of the information presented.