Category Archives for "Malpractice"

2 Medical Negligence in Birth of Octuplets?

Fertility experts, bioethicists and medical attorneys are speaking out against the doctors responsible for the octuplets recently born to a single woman in her 30s – One expert called it a “medical catastrophe” and another referred to it as professionally negligent.

The problem for medical and legal specialists is the inherent risk involved in carrying multiples. Not only does the mother face serious health risks such as seizures and gestational diabetes, but the babies also face great risks.

Multiple birth pregnancies almost inevitably result in preterm delivery, which puts the infants at a greater risk of cerebral palsy, developmental delays, respiratory problems and other health issues. Those risks increase with higher numbers of multiples.

So you can imagine that a professionally responsible doctor would be reluctant to transfer eight embryos to a woman’s womb after considering these risks. A doctor’s professional obligation is first to “do no harm,” which in the fertility community seems to translate into a more cautious approach to IVF transfer.  In fact, the accepted range of embryo transfer seems to hover between two and four per IVF cycle.

It is still unknown exactly how many embryos the woman received; nor is it known where her procedure was performed. Her doctor has yet to speak publicly on the issue. What is known, however, is that despite being born nearly nine weeks early, the woman’s octuplets seem to be doing well.

See also: What is Cerebral Palsy

Two Million Dollar Malpractice Verdict

In Rhode Island, a Warwick man has received a $2 million verdict from a Superior Court jury.

Richard Barrett brought suit against Rhode Island Hospital and Dr. William Feng claiming that he did not receive proper care during his open heart surgery in 1998.

Richard Barrett said in his lawsuit against the hospital and Dr. William Feng that he got low amounts of oxygen to his brain during the 1998 operation.

His lawyer says Barrett’s brain damage erased some memories of his children, affected his ability to form new memories and impaired his ability to communicate.

David Carroll, representing the hospital and Dr. Feng, says that Mr. Barrett got excellent care.  He plans to file for a new trial and pursue an appeal to the Supreme Court if the new trial is denied.


11 Air Force Settles – $5,000,000

In 2004 William Duckworth was working as a civilian employee at Kadena Air Base in Japan.  His daughter Aubrey was born at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Okinawa in September of 2004.

Because her mother’s uterus ruptured during birth Aubrey was not  receiving oxygen and, as a result, is severely disabled.  She must be fed through a tube implanted in her stomach, suffers from blindness and spastic cerebral palsy. 

Spastic Cerebral Palsy, the most common type, is a disorder in which certain muscles are stiff and weak.  The stiffness can occur mainly in the legs (diplegia), only in the arm and leg of the same side (hemiplegia) or in both arms and both legs (quadriplegia).  A wide-based, staggering, or "scissors" gait is characteristic of this type.  

According to Patrick Malone, the family attorney, the family brought a claim under the Military Claims Act alleging that a nurse midwife, Laura A. Bennett, was grossly negligent and guilty of malpractice for trying to manage a complex and high-risk delivery without calling in an obstetrician.

Last month, Secretary of the Air Force, Michael Wynn approved the settlement.  Most of the money will be set aside to pay for Aubrey’s continuing medical and nursing care.  The Air Force is responsible for the settlement because it has “single service authority” over injury claims at all U.S. government facilities in Japan according to federal regulations.

We were involved in a case similar to this many years ago.  One of the interesting parts is that in these overseas’ cases there is often no right to a jury trial, so the often the only way to resolve the military malpractice at all is to work up the case as best you can and settle.



$2.5 Million Illinois Erb’s Palsy Verdict

In Illinois a two million plus dollar award was given to a four year old by a Lake County jury.   His permanent disability was caused when the doctor pulled too hard on the baby’s neck during delivery.  As a result the boy suffered severe nerve damage.    He has had two surgeries so far and several physical therapy sessions.   His mother says he may need yet another surgery later this year.

In addition to Dr. Thakar, the lawsuit also named Dr. Thakar’s employer, Greenleaf Obstetrics and Gynecology Associates in Gurnee.

"The award will provide for the physical and occupational therapy the child needs for the remainder of his life," Attorney Joe Kolar said. "The jury verdict will help pay for any future surgeries he may need and compensate him for the pain and suffering he will experience for the rest of his life."

SOL for Minors Upheld

The Oregon Supreme Court has upheld a five-year statute of limitations on medical malpractice lawsuits involving minors. Kelly Christiansen had filed suit against the Providence Health System because it was alleged that their doctor did not recognize fetal distress and perform an emergency c-section.

Her son had been diagnosed with various developmental disorders and partial epilepsy that other doctors blamed on fetal distress causing "an anoxic event," or lack of oxygen that required resuscitation after birth.

Her son was born eight years ago but the Oregon statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases for minors is five years. Her attorneys argued that the original Oregon Territory had a provision for filing suit up to eighteen years of age and that the Oregon constitution prohibited changing that original provision.

But in a unanimous opinion by Chief Justice Paul De Muniz, the court rejected her argument.

It said it agreed with Christiansen that the five-year limitation "can lead to harsh consequences in some cases," but there is nothing in the state constitution to prevent the Legislature from setting the limit as it did.

2 No Cap — No More

A judge in Fulton County, Georgia, has struck down the cap on monetary awards in a medical malpractice case.

Superior Court Judge Marvin Arrington wrote that the cap was unconstitutional because it allowed protection to the medical profession that was not allowed to other defendants such as manufacturers of defective products.

"It is absurd to say that if you get injured by a product that the jury can decide your noneconomic damages, but if you get injured by medical malpractice, it can’t," said Trent Speckhals, one of the lawyers for Cheon Park, the plaintiff in the case.

Judge Arrington’s decision only affects this case but, if appealed, will open the door for the Georgia Supreme Court to overturn the caps for malpractice cases.  If not overturned it would effectively mean that only the wealthy could get large settlements because they have large incomes that could be lost because of malpractice.

"The statute effectively puts substantial limitations on the rights of the poor and middle class to recovery while leaving the right to virtually unlimited recoveries unimpeded for the wealthy," Arrington said. "The disabled manager of a hedge fund, a corporate CEO, an entertainer or such other person whose income is in the tens of millions of dollars has a claim under Georgia law that would dwarf the amount awarded in any case for pain and suffering."


6 Pharmacy Mistakes: Overworked Pharmacists?

Month’s earlier the pharmacist had asked for more staff.  Why?  To "decrease the pharmacist’s stress"

When Tabitha Jones picked up her stepson’s medicine at a Walgreens store near Nashville in 2004, she had no way to know the pharmacy was so busy that its manager had asked for more staffing months earlier to "decrease the pharmacist’s stress."

A USA TODAY investigation found evidence that corporate policies — such as allowing or encouraging pharmacists to fill hundreds of prescriptions daily and rewarding fast work — can contribute to errors like the one that befell Trey Jones.

Source:  USA Today:  Pharmacy Errors

2 This is just not right. Mistakes like this should not be made

You just can’t let this happen.  The hospital should have systems in place to protect against this.  The emotional trauma is extreme and heartwrenching.

Here’s the story.


FORT WORTH — A Johnson County couple filed a lawsuit Tuesday afternoon alleging negligence and gross negligence against Huguley Memorial Medical Center of Fort Worth following a July incident where hospital staff sent their newborn’s corpse to the cleaners with the dirty laundry.

According to the lawsuit, it took the hospital staff 19 hours to locate the missing body. By then the unpreserved body had been crushed and disfigured.


On July 8, Kourtney McGee of Cleburne was in her second trimester when she went to Huguley because she was bleeding. She gave birth prematurely to Jacob Dwayne Robinson, who did not survive.

Staff told McGee and Milburn "Pete" Robinson of Alvarado, the baby’s father, that the body would be taken to the morgue. However, when the funeral director arrived at the hospital, he was told the body could not be found. The baby’s body was not refrigerated when it got to the morgue. Instead it was sent to a commercial cleaner with the laundry.

The lawsuit contends that Huguley Memorial Medical Center had a duty to care for, handle, maintain and/or prepare for burial the body of Jacob Robinson. It breached its duty by "mishandling, misplacing, and disfiguring the body…"


According to the lawsuit, the family has sustained "severe emotional distress and mental anguish" and are seeking punitive and exemplary damages.

How did the baby end up in the laundry?


"That’s one of the things we want to know," said Fort Worth attorney John David Hart, who is representing the couple. "How could this happen, that these parents lost their child, lost their son, then the hospital doesn’t have a procedure or policy in place for dealing with it."

What is Huguley’s response?

"Our sympathies go to a family obviously who had a stillborn situation — everyone feels bad about that," said Dallas attorney Michael Stewart, who is representing Huguley. "As for the allegations, we deny those and we deny that the hospital has done anything inappropriate."

With pending litigation, Stewart declined to release more information on the case.

What is the difference between negligence and gross negligence?

Negligence is the failure to extend ordinary care. Gross negligence is negligence that shows either reckless conduct or conscious disregard for the rights of the family.


6 Emergency Room Wait times increasing

Tick Tock, Tick Tock.  Does it seem like it takes forever when you go to an emergency room?  You may actually be on to something there.  A study released recently shows that emergency room wait times are increasing.

Emergency room wait times across the country increased 36 percent between 1997 and 2004, according to a Harvard study published today.

The study, the first providing detailed analysis of national trends in emergency room waits, showed wait times increased to a median of 30 minutes in 2004 from 22 minutes in 1997. Such an increase likely has a negative impact on patient care and may result in more people leaving the hospital without seeing a physician, the study’s authors said.

"Patients who present to the emergency room with time-sensitive conditions may be harmed because they’re not receiving the care they need in a timely way," said the lead author, Dr. Andrew Wilper, a fellow in internal medicine at Harvard Medical School. "There’s prolonged pain and suffering."


2 Profit or Charity. Virginia is deciding

The Virginia supreme court recently heard arguments about whether physician foundations could get immunity from medical malpractice lawsuits because of their charity work.

The state Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday that pitted the rights of patients injured by negligence against the medical community’s need to preserve its financial well-being in the face of growing indigent-care demands.

Lawyers on both sides of the issue have described it as the most significant matter taken up by the court regarding medical malpractice since 1990, when the Virginia Supreme Court upheld the state’s limit on malpractice awards.

If successful, tax-exempt physician foundations in Virginia employing about 1,200 doctors and supporting the state’s three medical schools could win immunity from malpractice suits because of the charitable care they provide the poor.

Medical schools claim they are covered because of the charity work they perform while plaintiff lawyers are objecting and say that granting this immunity will shield corporations whose real motive is profit not charity.