Articles Posted in Wrongful death

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Following up on a previous post regarding the reporting of preventable adverse events and transparency for patients choosing medical and hospital care, USA Today has today reported that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will resume reporting data on eight different “hospital acquired conditions,” including air embolism, blood incompatibility, catheter-associated infections, falls and trauma, retained foreign objects, pressure ulcers (bedsores), uncontrolled blood sugar levels, and urinary tract infections. CMS had stopped publicly reporting this data in early August of 2014, but recently changed course, demonstrating the power of the patient safety and transparency movement.

As consumers in the information age, we do research before making any significant purchase — houses, cars, schools, even refrigerators — so why not research our health care options? Choosing a doctor with whom you will have a relationship for many years, deciding whether to undergo a surgery, or deciding which nursing home to admit a loved one are important decisions that merit the same amount of investigation as other choices we make. Although information on health care quality and options is sparce, there are some sources out there, and we hope to see more of them in the coming years. For now, check out CMS’s Hospital Comparison Chart, which includes information collected by CMS regarding patient safety and quality of care at Maryland hospitals.

If you know of any other sources, share them with us!

 

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Here’s a link to Oklahoma Senator (and physician) Tom Coburn’s recent report on his investigation of Veterans’ Administration hospitals.  According to Senator Coburn, “Over the past decade, more than 1,000 veterans may have died as a result of the VA’s misconduct and the VA has paid out nearly $1 billion to veterans and their families for its medical malpractice.”

Here at SCBMA we are often asked to investigate, and do pursue cases against our local Baltimore VA Hospital, as well as at area military medical institutions such as Walter Reed.  Bringing medical malpractice claims against the VA is a highly specialized area of the law, and if you are thinking of doing so, it is critical that you hire lawyers who are experienced and knowledgeable about the legal deadlines and other special requirements in cases against the federal government and the VA.

Indeed, just last year, Paul Bekman and Michael Smith of our office succeeded in winning a $345,000 verdict in U.S. Federal Court against the VA Hospital in Baltimore.  The case involved the wrongful death of a 50 year old Veteran from acute blood loss caused by an undiagnosed aortoenteric fistula.  We successfully argued that the VA was responsible for the negligent acts of, among others, resident physicians affiliated with the University of Maryland Medical Center by virtue of a “resident agreement” in which residents treat Veterans at the VA Hospital.

 

 

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A few days ago, the Baltimore Sun reported on the under-reporting of serious medical errors, known by hospitals as “preventable adverse events,” and which, according to a recent journal article for doctors published in the Journal of Patient Safety, kill more than 400,000 Americans every year (and seriously injure 10-20 times as many).

According to the Journal of Patient Safety article: “[O]ur country is distinguished for its patchwork of medical care subsystems that can require patients to bounce around a complex maze of providers as they seek effective and affordable care.  Because of increased production demands, providers may be expected to give care in suboptimal working conditions, with decreased staff, and a shortage of physicians, which leads to fatigue and burnout.  It should be no surprise that [Preventable Adverse Effects] that harm patients are frighteningly common in this highly technical, rapidly changing, and poorly integrated industry.”

The Sun reported what we at SCBMA already know to be true: that because of the “mostly confidential” and broken system of error-reporting currently in place in Maryland and throughout our country, the truth about many patients’ injuries only sees the light of day once lawyers are hired and are able to investigate adverse medical events through our court system.  Indeed, we see this in our practice every day: patients who do not receive ordered medications, worrisome test results that are not properly transmitted or not properly acted upon, and unnecessary surgery that causes serious harm are only some examples of cases we are routinely asked to investigate.