Monthly Archives: May 2011

Study Shows Tort Reform Decreases Medical Malpractice Claims


Journal of the American College of Surgeons Study Shows Decrease in Prevalence and Cost of Surgical Malpractice Lawsuits after Comprehensive Tort Reform

It is well known that rising medical malpractice premiums have reached a crisis point in many areas of the United States, and the economic and emotional costs of these claims are driving physicians and surgeons away from high-risk specialties. However, according to the authors of a study published in the April issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, implementation of comprehensive tort reform has been associated with a nearly 80 percent decrease in the prevalence of surgical malpractice lawsuits at one academic medical center. This decrease in lawsuits also resulted in a significant decrease in malpractice-associated costs. 

As a part of comprehensive tort reform in 2003, Texas Proposition 12 placed a $750,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits, and limited an individual physician’s … (Continued...)

$58 Million Malpractice Award Record in CT [VIDEO]


HUFFINGTON POST~ In what is being called the largest medical malpractice verdict in state history, two Connecticut parents have been awarded $58 million on behalf of their eight-year-old son, reports ABC 7’s Eyewitness News.

Attorneys for the family say that Daniel D’Attilo now has cerebral palsy because of brain damage resulting from a delayed delivery by their obstetrician. “It’s an overwhelming victory for the parents,” one of the family’s lawyers, Kathleen Nastri, told the Associated Press. “He is profoundly, profoundly disabled and the parents have gone through hell.”

The case was filed in 2005, after Daniel’s birth on February 2, 2003, reports the Connecticut Post. According to attorneys, Cathy D’Atillo’s amniotic fluid dropped by half on January 31, but her physician waited days to perform a Caesarian section — they also say that even once the surgery did happen, it was done improperly.

According to the NIH, … (Continued...)

Federal Jury Awards Anesthesiologist $8.8M


He was labeled an incompetent drug user. And this was from the physicians he worked with and the medical center that employed him.

Dr. Charles Williams was an anesthesiologist at University Medical Center of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas NV in 2005 when he was providing the anesthesia care for a kidney transplant patient in thier operating room. Complications with the patient ensued, and according to Williams he was “thrown under the bus” when he was assigned the blame instead of the surgeon, Dr. Gary Shen, in a move he said was to protect their fledgling transplant program.

He contends that the medical staff, the hospital and the board of trustees destroyed his medical career when they suspended his privileges in 2005 and labeled him a drug user without any proof. And a jury in Nevada Federal District Court agreed wholeheartedly after an 8 day trial awarding him $8.8 Million … (Continued...)

$260K For Retained Surgical Sponge


On March 26, 2008, Justin Bartle, 26, underwent a resection of a portion of his bowel. The procedure was performed by a colorectal surgeon, Dr. Fred Boehmke, at Sisters of Charity Hospital, in Buffalo, NY. Boehmke was assisted by another surgeon, Dr. William Heyden. A surgical pad was left in Bartle’s abdomen and caused an infection, and required additional surgery for removal.

In a medical malpractice action Bartle sued Boehmke; Boehmke’s practice, Amherst Colon & Rectal Surgery; Heyden; and the hospital. Bartle alleged that Boehmke and Heyden failed to properly perform the surgery, that nurses failed to properly assist the surgeons, that the failures constituted malpractice, that the hospital was vicariously liable for the actions of Heyden and its nurses, and that Amherst Colon & Rectal Surgery was vicariously liable for Boehmke’s actions.

Bartle’s later dropped the claim against Heyden. The matter proceeded to a trial against the remaining defendants, … (Continued...)

$550K Awarded in Failure Communicate Lung Mass From CT

Medical Malpractice

In April a Pennsylvania jury awarded $550,000 in a medical malpractice case against a radiologist for failing to properly report a lung mass that showed up on a chest CT scan. The mass, on the right lung of Irene Doherty of Scranton, turned out to be cancerous. Another scan 23 months later revealed that the mass had doubled in size and had spread to the woman’s lymph nodes. At that point, the mass was too large for surgical removal. Lawyers for Doherty, now 79, said radiologist Earl Detrick, MD,  in January 2007, failed to properly report to Doherty or her physician his conclusions regarding a computerized tomography (CT) scan of Doherty’s chest.

Dr. Detrick practiced in Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and is now retired. The plaintiff claimed the 23-month delay in diagnosis caused unnecessary pain and anxiety and decreased life expectancy. The trial took place in Lackawanna County Common Pleas … (Continued...)

Lack of Surgeon’s Experience Cited in $4.4M Verdict

med mal

San Bernardino County CA  Superior Court documents say Richard Kangah MD, a general surgeon with Redlands Community Hospital and Beaver Medical Group, was “negligent in the diagnosis or treatment,” and his negligence was a “substantial factor in causing damage” to Dirk Hansen, whose wife Kathy died May 8, 2009, after undergoing surgery to remove part of her pancreas (a Whipple procedure) at Redlands Community Hospital.

A “major vein” was torn and repaired during Hansen’s surgery, and she was taken in for a second surgery because of resultant complications. Hansen subsequently died later that evening.

“This patient went in for a very complicated procedure with no knowledge or information that she may be safer in the hands of a more experienced surgeon, and died as a result of Dr. Kangah’s negligence during the procedure,” said Redlands attorney Jeffrey Raynes, who represented Hansen.

The defense asserted that 42 percent of Whipple surgeries … (Continued...)

Law Med Blog Targeted In Federal Lawsuit By Righthaven

state bar

In an email received from a Las Vegas Sun reporter on May 6 The Law Med Blog was informed that a federal lawsuit had been filed against us claiming copyright infringement. Our first reaction was ‘nice try but jokes like this can’t fool us’ (not everyone likes what we blog about here as strange as that seems). But the email included a link to a NY Times story entitled “Enforcing Copyrights Online for a Profit” that stopped our laughter.

Indeed such a lawsuit has been filed, though we have yet to be served with the complaint. With the clear awareness that anything the Law Med Blog says or does going forward is potentially admissible as evidence in the case, including this post, our response is “Bring it on”. We have all seen defendants in lawsuits offer up the pat answer of “no comment” due to “pending litigation” which … (Continued...)

Laney v LSU Hazing Case Update


We previously reported that John Laney RN is suing the Louisiana State University Nurse Anesthesia program and a number of faculty for ‘hazing’. Laney alleges a Nurse Anesthetist faculty member physically and verbally assaulted him over a period of days and the administration failed to take action when he complained. The former student now claims that he voluntarily withdrew from the program but was then ‘re-enrolled’ by the program director so that he could then be dismissed.

Laney, since our last update, has filed a number of ‘motions’ to the following intended effect: He asked that the Court grant a trial before a jury, that two paragraphs be amended into the complaint, and that the Court appoint an attorney to represent him. The short version is: a jury trial is granted, the complaint is amended as requested, and the appointment of counsel is denied without prejudice and may be … (Continued...)

Former Anesthesia Student Ordered to Court


We previously reported that John Laney, a registered nurse and former student nurse anesthetist at Louisiana State University, had filed a “hazing” lawsuit in federal court naming the university and several faculty members back on February 22, 2011. Law Med has been watching the case for progress….and not much has happened. Until now.

On April 28th the federal judge as signed to the case issued an order that all pre-trial matters be assigned to and heard by  a magistrate judge, a common procedure in many federal court cases. On May 2, 2011, the magistrate issued an Order commanding Laney to either serve the summons and complaint on the defendants  by May 18, or appear in court on that date and show cause as to why he has not done so. So it appears that while the summons for each defendant was approved and stamped by the clerk of the court … (Continued...)

Cedars Sinai Must Pay Whistleblower Surgeon $4.7 Million


When will administrators ever learn that their whistleblower employees cannot be retaliated against for exposing unsafe or illegal practices? $4.7 million dollars should be an education, but don’t count on it.

From Outpatient Surgery by David Bernard

Surgeon Wins $4.7M Settlement in Long-Running Dispute With Hospital

Legal battle with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center involved concerns about instrument care and restriction of operating privileges.

A surgeon who complained about the safety of reprocessing practices at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the subsequent restriction of his privileges there is entitled to the multi-million dollar arbitrated settlement the hospital agreed to pay him in 2009 but later attempted to reverse, a California appeals court has ruled.

Read the rest of the story HERE.(Continued...)

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