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New York City Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Study finds diagnosis mistakes lead lawsuits against ER doctors

Emergency room doctors in New York and across the country face a number of challenges, including lack of staff, insufficient medical records and language barriers. A new study from The Doctors Company, a medical malpractice insurance provider, identified the difficulties of ER medicine and cited diagnosis problems as the top reason for lawsuits against ER doctors.

Looking at information from 332 claims against ER doctors between 2007 and 2013, the study showed that 57 percent of the claims arose from diagnosis issues. This category includes failing to make a differential diagnosis and not taking into account available clinical information about a patient. The likelihood that an ER doctor does not know a patient contributes to the errors made in assessing the patient's condition.

Software may help surgeons with spine operations

New York patients may be interested to learn that researchers at Johns Hopkins reportedly developed a software program that helps surgeons identify the different vertebrae. This program, which labels the different vertebrae in X-ray images, could potentially reduce the risk of wrong-level spinal surgery.

Before patients undergo the spine surgery, surgeons take a CT or MRI scan of the spine in order to plan the surgery. When the patient is brought into the operating room, the surgeon usually finds the damaged vertebra by counting from the base of the skull or from the tailbone. Pins are placed at the surgery site; an X-ray is then taken to ensure that the vertebra in question has been properly located. However, the scan used to plan the procedure is often not available during the actual surgery, potentially leading to mistakes.

Xarelto Lawsuits Filed

A press release yesterday announced New York City law firm of Rheingold, Valet, Rheingold, McCartney & Giuffra LLP (RVRMG) commenced two wrongful death lawsuits against the makers of Xarelto. Each suit involved the death of a user of the blood thinner Xarelto. As reported by Reuters, CBS MarketWatch and over 200 other business and news organizations, each Xarelto lawsuit alleged that the drug is misleadingly marketed as a "one size fits all" for patients, and without a disclosure that there is no reversal agent available to arrest bleeding once it starts. You can find the press release in its entirety here.

Complications associated with laser surgery

As many New York residents know, laser surgery is used extensively in a variety of areas. Both physicians and non-physicians perform laser procedures, and uniform training requirements are lacking on a federal level with regulation left up to individual states. One study in 2013 analyzed the types of skin injuries related to laser surgery through an examination of a legal database.

Laser surgery is used in plastic surgery and dermatological procedures, hair removal, vascular surgery and in other areas. The database, spanning 1985 to 2012, showed hair removal as a top causative factor in cutaneous injury. Overall, the injuries were manifested as burns, scars and changes in the skin's pigmentation.

Committee Votes to Change Labels for Onglyza and Nesina

A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee met Tuesday to discuss diabetes drugs made by AstraZeneca and Takeda Pharmaceutical. Although the Endocrinologic and Metabolic Drugs Advisory Committee found the drugs' cardiovascular risk within acceptable limits, it suggested the FDA add data from trials on the heart effects to the labels of Onglyza and Nesina (made by AstraZeneca and Takeda respectively). The votes in favor of changing the labels of both drugs were casted by an overwhelming majority of the committee members.

Zofran and Hypospadias: Possible Link Indicated in 2004 Medical Journal

As we have written about previously, the Zofran litigation against GlaxoSmithKline is rapidly developing. The drug maker marketed Zofran, an anti-nausea medication, for use during pregnancy without having tested its possible effect on fetal development.

Onglyza May Increase Death Rate According to FDA

According to a preliminary report by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Onglyza, AstraZeneca's diabetes drug, could possibly be associated with an increased rate of death. The report, which was published on Friday, just a few days before an FDA advisory meeting, that will deliberate the safety of Onglyza, as well as Nesina, a similar drug produced by the Takeda Pharmaceutical Company.

Recall of Zimmer Persona Knee Implant

Our firm is now reviewing Zimmer Persona Knee Implant cases for litigation. The FDA demanded a recall because of an unusually high failure rate from loosening implant parts. We are currently litigating Zimmer NexGen LPS Flex cases, which is the predecessor implant to the persona.

Unnecessary medical tests have potential to harm patients

Although doctors order extra tests in an effort to avoid missing a diagnosis, unnecessary medical tests could impose risks as well as higher costs on New York patients. Unnecessary testing appears to be prevalent, especially in emergency rooms. A survey of 435 ER physicians showed that 97 percent of them admitted to ordering advanced imaging scans like an MRI or CT scan even though they thought it was not needed.

The lead author of the survey report published in the journal Academic Emergency Medicine said fear of medical malpractice lawsuits drives physicians to order tests when any doubt exists. He added that this attempt by physicians to be thorough overlooks the potential harm to patients. Tests that are not needed might deliver a false positive, he said. Inaccurate diagnoses based on unnecessary tests sometimes result in people getting biopsies and other treatments they never needed.

Despite Record Settlement GlaxoSmithKline Continues to Deny Zofran May Cause Birth Defects

A record setting settlement of $3 billion was signed between the Department of Justice and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in 2012. Among the accusations of the lawsuit, the Department of Justice alleged that GSK marketed Zofran to pregnant women suffering from morning sickness, and paid kickbacks to physicians who prescribed Zofran during early pregnancy. Despite the massive settlement, GSK continues to deny it illegally marketed Zofran, and that there is a possible link between Zofran and birth defects.

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