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New York City Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Nursing home abuse on the rise

New York City residents who have a relative living in a nursing home may be concerned with the rising rates of serious abuse in those facilities around the country. A study conducted by the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee found that 30 percent of nursing homes were cited for nearly 9,000 such incidents over a two-year period.

The abuse was serious enough to place residents at risk for death or serious injury, or cause physical harm in 1,601 cases. Some common issues were inadequate hygiene and sanitation, preventable accidents, malnutrition, dehydration, insufficient medical care and untreated bedsores. The report documented incidents in which residents were kicked, choked, punched or slapped by other residents or staff members. Injuries to residents included lacerations and broken bones. The report indicated that the percentage of nursing homes receiving citations for violations has risen each year since 1996.

Benefits and risks when forceps are used during childbirth

Although most expectant mothers will not have to deal with forceps being used during delivery, it is helpful to be aware of this tool in case the need arises. A New York physician may discuss a variety of situations if a baby's weight is significant or if a mother has had a prior difficult delivery because of positioning issues or baby size. Even if these scenarios are not discussed as the due date draws near, an understanding of the process may help with stress if the need arises.

Forceps appear much like salad spoons and are used to guide a baby's head if progress is impeded. A tired mother might reach the point at which she can no longer push. A medical issue could make further pushing risky for the mother or for the child. Signs of stress in the baby might indicate the need for intervention with forceps. An extended period of pushing may also indicate the need for forceps to be used.

BENICAR MAKER FINED FOR MAKING FALSE PAYMENTS TO INDUCE SALES

The US seller of Benicar, Daiichi Sankyo, Inc., on January 9 agreed to pay a massive fine for paying kickbacks to doctors to induce them to prescribe the drug. The company will pay $39 million to settle claims brought under the Federal False Claims Act, with the money going both to the federal government and various states whose Medicaid program paid for Benicar.

How vicarious liability works in medical malpractice suits

When patients file medical malpractice lawsuits in New York, they could seek compensation from more than just their physicians under the common law theory of respondeat superior. This means that hospitals could be deemed vicariously liable for the negligence of the physicians that they employ. The theory may apply to other negligent employees as well.

For the respondeat superior theory to apply, the employees have to have acted negligently within the scope of their employment. Hospitals could be sued for vicarious liability if the patients were injured while their employees were being paid for time worked, while their employees were doing what they were hired to do, and while the hospitals were benefiting from their employees' actions.

Safety of outpatient surgical centers

Ambulatory surgical centers have grown in popularity in New York and throughout the country in the past decade. Patients perceive them as providing a friendly, less crowded atmosphere to undergo surgery. However, with the death of Joan Rivers last September at one such center, some prospective patients are voicing concerns over their safety.

Officials report the surgical center did not weigh Ms. Rivers or respond to changes in her vitals for a quarter of an hour, and a procedure was performed without her consent. Due to these and other deficiencies, the clinic may be unable to participate any longer in the Medicare program. According to a board member of an ASC accreditation organization, however, the centers are largely safe. The ASC Quality Collaboration reported that the centers scored well on indices used to monitor safety issues. The incidence of wrong-site, wrong patient or procedure in ASC was .033 per 1,000 patients. Another index such as the timely administration of prophylactic antibiotics was 99 percent.

What is the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur?

Patients who are treated in New York hospitals may wonder about how to approach possible medical malpractice situations, especially in cases involving difficulty in establishing wrongdoing on the part of a medical professional or health care provider. Proving wrongdoing can be challenging in some cases because of the medical issues involved. Medical reports are typically created by the very individuals who might be sued in a medical malpractice case. The details recorded may leave room for doubt about whether malpractice has occurred as a report protects a potentially guilty individual. The doctrine of res ipsa loquitur may be appropriate if clear proof of medical malpractice is not available.

The Latin phrase means that a situation speaks for itself. When provider or hospital negligence cannot be clearly proven, this doctrine may be helpful for demonstrating that a condition or injury would not have otherwise occurred. Although the cause of a medical injury may not be clear, the involvement of a medical professional in one's treatment might reasonably be connected to the condition.

Recent declines in hospital errors

New York residents may benefit from learning more about statistics related to fatal medical errors. Researchers have found that when physicians adhered to a standardized checklist and improved communications, the number of hospital errors declined by 25 percent. Since 2010, the number of hospital acquired conditions has been 1.3 million less than the previous annual average. The declines in the number of avoidable hospital-acquired conditions was led by fewer bed sores, pressure ulcers and adverse drug events.

A federal review released on Dec. 2 reported a 17 percent decline from 2010 to 2013 in preventable errors, including bed sores, drug mistakes and infections. According to the reports, less than 50,000 patients were killed, resulting in a $12 billion savings in health care costs. The report identifies some potential contributing factors, but the direct causes of the recent decline remain largely unknown. Some of the incentives provided by the Affordable Care Act, including financial penalties, public reporting on errors and technical help, were credited for the decline.

Understanding nursing home abuse and neglect

New York residents may benefit from understanding more about the statistics concerning nursing home neglect and abuse. Researchers found that nursing home staff are not the only perpetrators, as some abuse is inflicted by roommates or other residents. Studies found that 20 percent of the residents experienced some degree of abuse within the last month. The incidents under consideration could be considered hostile, disruptive and invasive. Physical and sexual abuse were committed in some cases.

Overall, there are nearly 1.4 million people in the country living in nursing homes. Researchers found that the frailty of the residents made the high-rate of altercations, violence and hostility even more detrimental than in normal circumstances. Incidents between residents may result in fractures, bruises or lacerations. Researchers discovered that people most likely to suffer hidden abuse are often those who share housing together.

An overview of stillbirth

A stillbirth can be devastating for a New York family, and there may be many questions about the reasons for the intrauterine death of a child. A delivery of a child who has died in utero after at least 20 weeks of gestation occurs in approximately one pregnancy out of 160. Most instances occur before labor has begun although some cases coincide with the labor process.

One of the most effective ways to pinpoint a cause of stillbirth is an autopsy, but not all hospitals include this as standard procedure. A family dealing with a stillbirth may need to request an autopsy if this action is desired for understanding more about the situation. It is also helpful to understand some of the more common issues that can contribute to stillbirth. Placental abruption, the tearing of the placenta from the uterus, can result in oxygen deprivation that might lead to an in-utero death or other pregnancy-related injury. Women with high blood pressure during pregnancy face twice the risk of stillbirth as those whose blood pressure remains stable.

Nerve damage due to use of Avalox, Levaquin and other fluoroquinolones

Lawsuits are being filed for muscle weakness, pain, loss of feeling, and numbness injuries associated with fluoroquinolones. Our litigation team has sued for tendon injuries caused by Levaquin, and now doctors in leading medical journals are describing peripheral neuropathy injuries in users of these drugs, some so severe that there are permanent injuries.

The three most prescribed drugs involved with causing this damage are Avalox, Levaquin and Cipro. These drugs may also be prescribed under their generic names (moxifloxacin, levofloxacin, ciprofloxacin). These are popular drugs because of the wide range of infections they can treat with short-term use.

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