Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

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One increasingly popular therapy for treating prostate cancer is testosterone replacement therapy, or TRT. It has become quite common during the last 10 years. Until recently, testosterone hormone treatments were only given in situations in which a patient has a rare medical condition like hypogonadism.

Although the majority of men who take testosterone replacement therapy routinely do not have hypogonadism, they can access the drug as the result of a loophole in the FDA’s regulations governing TRT. This loophole authorizes physicians to prescribe certain drugs for uses that are not included on the label. So far, the FDA has only authorized TRT for men experiencing low levels of testosterone due to medical conditions limiting production of testosterone in the testicles.

Referred to as off-label uses, there has been a recent surge in the number of instances in which doctors are being fined and disciplined for permitting Low T clinics to give testosterone prescriptions to patients without ever actually meeting or examining the patient.

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In a recent case, a plaintiff filed a medical malpractice claim, alleging that the defendant negligently failed to obtain informed consent. The plaintiff suffered a lower back injury and subsequently underwent a lumbar spine surgery. Prior to the surgery, the plaintiff and the doctor talked about the risks and consequences involved in the surgery. According to the plaintiff, the doctor told him that the surgery had a 99% chance of success, that he would not have any more pain, and that he would recover in three days. The doctor denied having made these statements. The plaintiff also signed a consent form before surgery. The form he signed included an acknowledgement that he had been informed of significant risks, and it listed several potential consequences. It also stated that no result or cure had been promised.

After the surgery, the plaintiff’s lower back pain increased, and he also experienced additional symptoms, including numbness and shaking in his leg, as well as mental health issues. He also found out after the surgery from another doctor that the success rate of the surgery he underwent was actually 50% or less. He then sued his doctor for failure to obtain informed consent because he did not understand the potential consequences.

Under the state’s law, the plaintiff had to show that the risks that he suffered, particularly a worsened condition and increased pain, were material risks of the procedure. The defendant argued that the plaintiff failed to provide an expert on the issue of materiality, but the court found that an expert was not required. The treating doctor in this case testified that he discusses the risks with every patient because patients can experience further pain after this surgery. Thus, the doctor’s own statements indicated that increased pain and a worsened condition were material risks. For that reason, the court allowed the case to continue.

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Everyone has heard stories about a doctor operating on the wrong leg or giving someone the wrong dosage of a drug. These are just some examples of medical errors that occur every day in this country. Those types of mistakes can be the basis for a medical malpractice claim.

Medical Errors May Be Third-Leading Cause of Death in United States

Doctors have known for a long time that medical errors are prevalent. However, it is not a popular topic of discussion in the medical community, and no one knew how often they actually occurred. A recent study looked into the issue and found that medical errors might now be the third-leading cause of death in the United States.

The study estimated that if medical errors were accurately documented, they would account for 251,000 deaths per year. That comes out to 700 deaths per day, or about 9.5% of all deaths annually in the United States. This would put medical errors below only heart disease and cancer, and account for more deaths than those resulting from respiratory disease, accidents, and stroke.

The prevalence of medical errors had not been apparent for a long time because of the way deaths are recorded. The Centers for Disease Control uses a coding system that does not record common medical errors like communication breakdowns and diagnostic errors. The coding system counts only the “underlying cause of death,” which is the condition that led the person to seek medical treatment. However, the growing awareness in the medical community pushed researchers to find out more. Researchers noted that some errors result from careless medical providers, but others result from communication breakdowns, which can occur when a patient gets transferred from one facility to another.

 

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On TV, every case seems to go to trial. However, in the real world, most cases settle. The parties come to an agreement, and the defendant pays an agreed-upon amount to the plaintiff. There are a number of reasons parties agree to settle a case, including a faster resolution, a guaranteed amount of money, and avoiding the high cost of a trial.

But just as an experienced attorney is essential during a trial, an experienced attorney is also essential during settlement negotiations. An experienced attorney will investigate a client’s case to see how strong the claim is and advise his client about how much the claim may be worth. There are a number of factors to consider, including the strengths and weaknesses of available evidence, the outcomes of similar cases, policy limits, statutory limits, and the defendant’s resources.

In calculating damages, verdicts and settlements can also consider the value of the plaintiff’s present and future lost earnings, profits, or salaries. In Illinois, the Illinois Supreme Court has stated that expert testimony is not required to establish loss of future earning ability, so a plaintiff may be able to provide testimony about future earning ability on their own. In cases involving celebrities, damages based on a person’s future earnings can run very high.

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All surgeries carry some risk, but some carry more than others. Certain procedures carry high risks for complications and even death. But even when an injury or death occurs during or after high-risk surgeries, medical malpractice may still occur. Medical malpractice laws exist in order to protect patients from negligent medical treatment, even in high-risk situations.

Medical Malpractice Claims

Medical malpractice claims permit patients to recover damages based on negligent medical care. In medical malpractice claims, a plaintiff has to prove that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff, that the defendant failed to exercise reasonable care, and that the plaintiff suffered injuries and damages as a result of the breach of the standard of care.

In order to win a medical malpractice claim, a patient has to show that a health care provider breached the standard of care. The standard of care is what other health care providers in the same specialty would use in the same or similar circumstances. Medical malpractice cases demand experienced attorneys and medical experts who can explain what the standard of care is and how it was breached. If a malpractice claim is successful, a plaintiff may be able to recover damages, not just for economic costs such as medical bills but also for noneconomic forms of harm, including lost income and mental anguish.

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A woman was undergoing a cardiac catheterization procedure when her artery was dissected, and the woman died as a result. Her family then sued the treating physician for wrongful death. The case went to trial, and the jury found in favor of the family in the amount of almost $2 million for economic damages and $9 million for noneconomic damages. However, a Missouri state law limited the amount of noneconomic damages, reducing the noneconomic damages award to $350,000. The state’s supreme court held that the state law was permissible and left the reduction in place.

The law in question stated that in medical malpractice claims arising from a failure to render health care services, plaintiffs cannot recover more than $350,000 for noneconomic damages. The plaintiffs argued that the law violated the state constitution because it violated the right to trial by jury. However, the court rejected this argument, finding that the statute simply placed a limit on the amount of noneconomic damages that could be awarded. Thus, the court found the law constitutional, and the award limit remained in place.

Noneconomic Damages Limits in Illinois

Illinois does not have a limit on noneconomic damages. In 2006, the Illinois legislature placed caps on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases. However, the Illinois Supreme Court subsequently found that those caps were unconstitutional. Accordingly, any medical malpractice claim filed after the decision is not subject to a limit on damages, and the award amount is unlimited. The Illinois Supreme Court reasoned that judges and juries should be able to decide how much a plaintiff is owed based on the individual case. Illinois plaintiffs can receive any amount of damages that a judge or jury believes should be awarded, without being limited by an artificial damages cap.

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Medical malpractice claims often require additional evidence, including expert testimony, affidavits, and special administrative procedures. For this reason, the first issue in any case alleging the negligence of a medical provider may be whether or not the allegations fall under medical malpractice in the first place.

In a recent case, a plaintiff filed a claim based on a hospital’s alleged failure to properly maintain equipment used to sterilize surgical instruments. The plaintiff alleged that he had developed an infection after having spine surgery at the hospital, and that the infection was the result of improperly sterilized instruments. However, that state’s supreme court had to decide whether the claims actually fell under the state’s medical malpractice act, considering the definition of malpractice. The hospital argued that the plaintiff’s claim fell under the definition of malpractice in the act.

The court decided that the hospital’s failure to properly maintain its equipment fell under the definition of medical malpractice. In addition, since the act used the term “health care provider” rather than “physician,” it included treatment related to the hospital’s capacity as a health care provider, rather than just treatment provided by a doctor there.

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Sometimes cases are appealed because a party disagrees with the court’s decision on the issue of liability. However, sometimes the liability issue is not disputed, and the issue on appeal is only the amount of damages awarded. In a recent case, a plaintiff argued that his damages award was incorrect because it did not allow him to choose his own medical provider in the future. The man sued the government after his surgery at a VA hospital rendered him quadriplegic. The government was found liable for his injuries, and the man was awarded damages of over $4 million.

At trial, the man testified that after his surgery he must use a wheelchair for the rest of his life, must use a catheter, and suffers from pain daily. The court awarded the plaintiff $500,000 for past pain and suffering, $1.5 million for future pain and suffering, and $2,469,859 in economic damages. The damages included an award for future medical care and benefits. However, the trial court offset the economic damages award for the plaintiff’s future medical care by subtracting the medical care and supplies that would be provided by the VA for free, as a veteran.

The appeals court found that the plaintiff’s future medical care award should not have been reduced as a result of free services provided by the VA. The court held that federal law did not require an offset of a veteran’s damages that could be provided at a VA. In addition, the plaintiff was not required to take advantage of free services provided by the VA. Doing so would deprive the veteran of the ability to choose where to receive his medical care. The court said that he should not be forced because of financial reasons to continue to receive medical care from the provider that was actually responsible for causing his injuries.

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Medical malpractice damages caps limit the amount of money a plaintiff can receive from a medical malpractice claim. Often, the damages caps limit only non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, mental distress, and loss of companionship. Yet, some states cap both non-economic and economic damages, which include medical bills and lost wages. Medical malpractice caps vary greatly by state and can have an enormous impact on the amount of money an individual plaintiff can receive.

The reasoning behind malpractice compensation caps is to limit the financial burden on the state and to minimize drains on the economy. In addition, some say that caps promote cost stability in the health care system and protect doctors from high insurance rates, helping to ensure that doctors are willing to practice in the state. However, those opposed to medical malpractice caps argue that legislatures should not be able to limit what courts determine that plaintiffs deserve.

Indiana Votes to Increase Medical Malpractice Cap

According to one news source, the Indiana legislature recently approved an increase to the state’s cap on medical malpractice damages for the first time in almost two decades. The state’s cap is currently limited to $1.25 million. The new law would raise the cap to $1.65 million in 2017 and to $1.8 million in 2019. Indiana’s current and proposed law encompasses both economic and non-economic damages.

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Settlements can be a useful way for parties to avoid a long, drawn-out trial and still come to what they feel is a fair agreement. However, settlements often come with conditions. One of these may be a settlement agreement that includes a release of future liability. In a recent case, a settlement release barred all future claims arising from an incident against any parties. This meant that even though the plaintiff settled with a car insurance company, she was no longer able to sue her doctor for alleged medical malpractice while treating her for the injuries she sustained in the accident.

A 15-year-old girl was a passenger in a car when the driver of the car lost control and crashed. The girl was treated by a doctor for injuries she sustained in the accident. After bringing suit against the driver, the girl’s mother signed a release in exchange for a settlement with the driver and his insurer. The release did not discuss the treating physician or the clinic in particular, but it released all other claims that might develop from the accident.

The girl and her mother then filed a malpractice suit against the treating doctor. Specifically, they alleged that the girl’s arm would have healed faster and required less treatment if the doctor had done a skin graft and told her how to properly care for her wounds.

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