Tag Archives: Hospital Negligence

Proving Negligent Hospital-Acquired Infection Through Bacterial Genes

Imagine you are a medical malpractice attorney. Your client, in the hospital for surgery or childbirth or some other invasive procedure, developed an nasty infection, resulting in permanent injuries or death. You order their medical records and their billing records, and you notice that their insurer (it can be a private insurer or Medicare) refused to even pay for treatment of the infection as a “never event.”  You settle on two negligence theories to investigate: whether the hospital-acquired infection was preventable and whether the infection was properly treated.   (Let’s make this hypothetical easy and assume the infection is one ... Continue Reading

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Defense Lawyer Sanctioned For Expert Witness Intimidation In Medical Malpractice Case

It's no secret that patients and their lawyers have a lot of difficulty finding physicians to serve as expert witnesses in medical malpractice cases. A large fraction of doctors refuse to ever testify in a patient's favor, regardless of how negligent, reckless, or reprehensible the care provided by the defendant-doctor was. Among the doctors who do testify on behalf of patients, most will only testify against doctors in other jurisdictions, adding difficulties in communication and scheduling as well as travel costs. It also makes it harder for plaintiff's lawyers to find qualified, credible experts, because we don't know them by ... Continue Reading

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NEJM Study On Malpractice Risk By Physician Specialty

The New England Journal of Medicine released a new study in today's issue, Malpractice Risk According to Physician Specialty, which concluded: There are few recent estimates on the likelihood of malpractice claims and the size of payments according to physician specialty. Using physician-level malpractice claims from a nationwide liability insurer, we found substantial variability across specialties in each of these descriptors of liability risk. Specialties in which the largest proportion of physicians faced a claim were not necessarily those with the highest average payment size. For example, physicians in obstetrics and general surgery — both fields that are regarded as ... Continue Reading

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Medical Malpractice, Errors in Judgment, and The Beginner’s Mind

Last month the American Journal of Medicine published a new study (“Longer Lengths of Stay and Higher Risk of Mortality among Inpatients of Physicians with More Years in Practice”) with the unexpected conclusion that hospitalized patients were more likely to die or stay long in the care of an experienced physician than in the care of a recent graduate from residency: According to findings in the American Journal of Medicine, patients whose doctors had practiced for at least 20 years stayed longer in the hospital and were more likely to die compared to those whose doctors got their medical license ... Continue Reading

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The Burden Of Proof: A Matter Of Life And Death

When I was in law school, I took Federal Courts, a notoriously difficult and complicated class, with Laura Little, who taught it with grace and style. (Law students, take note: she wrote a commercial outline with rave reviews.) Afterwards, I told her how much I liked the class, and asked her what I should take next (law students, again take note: great way to get recommendations for classes) and she pointed me to Michael Libonati, whom she said was "probably the smartest teacher on the faculty." With a recommendation like that, I dutifully took his State and Local Governments class, ... Continue Reading

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Massive Emergency Room Malpractice Award For Noncompliant Patient

I’ve written several times before about where multi-million dollar jury verdicts come from, like in A Look Behind The Scenes Of A Multi-Million Dollar Personal Injury Verdict and Strange Birth Injury Award: $21M Medical Expenses, $0 Pain and Suffering. There’s no secret recipe. Facts win cases; outrage at the defendant’s reckless conduct makes the damage awards larger. Another example was published yesterday in The Legal Intelligencer: A Philadelphia jury awarded $21.4 million on Friday to a diabetic man with brain damage over the care he received in the emergency room of Temple University Hospital. …   The defense argued in ... Continue Reading

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Strange Birth Injury Award: $21M Medical Expenses, $0 Pain and Suffering

It's conventional wisdom among trial lawyers and insurance lawyers that few plaintiffs are as sympathetic as a brain-damaged baby. The baby plainly did nothing to contribute to their harm, but has nonetheless been deprived of many of the basic joys of their infancy, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. It's thus presumed that, if a jury finds liability in a birth injury lawsuit — like a negligent hospital or obstetrician that failed to observe fetal distress, leading to hypoxia, or failed to treat jaundice, leading to kernicterus — they'll inevitably award a substantial amount of non-economic damages for pain and suffering. Indeed, that was the ... Continue Reading

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Proving Bacterial Infection Injuries Through Circumstantial Evidence

A tragic story: SIOUX CITY -- A Sioux City bank has filed a personal-injury lawsuit on behalf of a Sioux City girl against the maker of a powdered infant formula, claiming the girl got seriously ill from drinking the reconstituted formula days after she was born in 2008. According to court documents, Security National Bank alleges the girl, Jeanine Kunkel, now nearly 3 years old, contracted neonatal Enterobacter sakazakii meningitis from the Similac formula made by Abbott Laboratories and suffered permanent brain damage. The bank, as the child's conservator, seeks monetary damages for her care, suffering and fear of future ... Continue Reading

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Medical Malpractice Filings in Pennsylvania Are Dwindling, Taking Civil Justice And Patient Safety With Them

Today's Legal Intelligencer tells us what we already know: in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, patients' right to compensation for injuries caused by medical malpractice is dying. Not a quick death, mind you, like the death of patients' rights in Texas (a punishment insurance companies and medical associations are trying to inflict upon New York), but a slow death. I use the word "death" because that's what it often what it takes to qualify for a medical malpractice lawsuit these days. If a patient wasn't killed or permanently injured by the malpractice, then often it doesn't matter how outrageously negligent or reckless the ... Continue Reading

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It’s Legal Malpractice Not To Sue Hospital Residents For Medical Malpractice

It may sound strange coming from me, but I don't like suing people, particularly not in personal injury or professional liability actions where the real target of the suit is not even the company that employed the negligent person, but really the employer’s insurance company. But I often end up suing everyone I can, including employees, for one reason: I don’t have a choice. If, years down the road, some hospital or law firm or bank or construction company wants to claim that the negligent employee was an "independent contractor" or "outside this course and scope of their employment," or ... Continue Reading

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