Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a rare “black box warning” on power morcellation devices for laparoscopic surgery to remove uterine fibroids or to perform a hysterectomy.

The warning cautions women considering undergoing fibroid removal surgery with the devices. The warning tells women that they may wish to choose an alternative type of surgery because surgery with the device could inadvertently spread undetected cancer.

The Wall Street Journal answers five questions about the device warning. You can read more here: 5 QUESTIONS ABOUT THE FDA WARNING ON MORCELLATORS, UTERINE FIBROIDS

According to the FDA, it is estimated that one in 350 women who undergo hysterectomy or fibroid removal surgery has a uterine sarcoma, a kind of cancer. Morcellators are devices that dissect the uterus or fibroids using a spinning blade. However, if the blades come into contact with a malignant cancer, cancer cells can spread in the pelvis and abdomen worsening a person’s likelihood of surviving.

If you or a loved one has had an onset of cancer after power morcellation surgery, you should contact a faulty medical devices attorney about the possibility of filing a lawsuit.

The Farber Law Group, a personal injury law firm in Bellevue, Washington, has represented cases involving faulty medical devices. Call us today for a free and confidential case evaluation.

Contact The Farber Law Group at 1-800-244-9087 or to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation. Our Bellevue office is here to assist you.
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A mammogram technician has pleaded guilty to 10 misdemeanor charges of “reckless conduct” and a single charge of computer forgery after it was discovered that she faked mammogram test results for more than 1,300 women.

Rachael Michelle Rapraeger’s malfeasance was discovered after nine women, who had previously gotten “all clear” mammogram reports, discovered that they had breast cancer. There are reports that two women’s deaths were as a result of the negative test results.

Rapraeger was a lead radiological technologist in a small community in Alaska. She entered negative results on 1,289 mammograms at the hospital where she worked. These tests were never reviewed by a radiologist.

Rapraeger purposefully filed erroneous test results of a false negative which prevented, in some cases, a correct diagnosis and early treatment of breast cancer.

Once it was discovered that Rapraeger falsified test results, she confessed to her crimes and was fired.

She faces up to six months in detention as well as $12,5000 in fines.

Technician and Hospital face civil lawsuits

Victims of Rapraeger’s fraud have filed more than 30 civil lawsuits against her and Houston Healthcare System, the parent company for the hospital where she worked. Some of the suits reportedly have been settled.

One wonders where the checks and balances were in the healthcare system? Did the doctors who ordered the mammograms ever check back on the results when Rapraeger became back logged? Were there any supervisor’s checking Raprager’s work? Where their compliance reports required on the radiologist who were presumably being paid for work that they never did?

Many of the mammography patients are understandably furious with Rapraeger and a healthcare system that apparently did not have checks and balances. Many are also furious with a court system that allowed her to enter a plea agreement that amounted to no more than a slap on the wrist.

This information is provided by Washington Injury Attorney blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We represent people who have been seriously injured by medical malpractice and the family of those who have died as a result of medical negligence.
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attorney medication errors and mistakesIn 2012, the U.S. Federal Drug Administration warned that medications containing Codeine should not be given routinely to children because of the possibility of adverse reactions and concerns about the drug’s safety and efficacy.

Despite the FDA’s warnings and guidelines written by the American Academy of Pediatrics, a study shows that medications containing codeine are still being prescribed to hundreds of thousands of children in hospital emergency rooms across the United States.

Concerns about Codeine and children

There are several concerns about giving children Codeine, an opioid pain reliever. Codeine is often prescribed to children along with other medications to control coughing or to control pain. The problem with giving Codeine to children is that between one and seven of every 100 people rapidly metabolizes the drug and in this case, the child can overdose. Children often do not metabolize the drug the same as an adult patient.

Why do Doctors continue to prescribe Codeine to children?

While many doctors have taken heed of the FDA’s black box warning on medications containing codeine, some doctors are still prescribing the medication to children despite the risk. One wonders why? The reasons may be that some ER physicians may not be up on information regarding prescribing to pediatrics. The other reason may be that physicians may have themselves taken the medication as a child, prescribed it for years and it is their “go to” medication.

Information for Parents

If your child has just had tonsils and/or adenoids removed, make sure they are not prescribed medications that contain Codeine. If your child is prescribed a medication with Codeine as an ingredient, ask their doctor to prescribe a different medication for pain.

If your child is taking Codeine for a cough or tooth extraction or for some other reason, be vigilant and make sure they don’t experience side effects of Codeine overdose including excessive sleepiness, disorientation, labored breathing and blueness of the lips and mouth. The child can experience breathing problems which can prove fatal.

This information is provided by Washington Injury Attorney blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We represent people who have been seriously injured due to medication errors and pharmaceutical malpractice. If you have questions about a serious medication error, contact us for a free and confidential case evaluation.

Contact The Farber Law Group at 1-800-244-9087 or to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation. Our Bellevue office is here to assist you.
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The Wall Street Journal just published an article, “Doctor’s War Against a Common Surgery, Morcellation.” What came to light in the article is that one of the most common hysterectomy procedures, in relatively rare cases, may actually spread undetected cancer in some patients. The procedure is called morcellation.

Morcellation surgery allows surgeons to remove large masses of tissue during laparoscopic surgery, allowing for less invasive surgery, leaving smaller scars and presumably allowing a quicker recovery time. The surgery is done using medical devices designed especially for morcellation .

The WSJ article highlighted the campaign by Dr. Hoorman Noorchashm, whose wife (also a physician) — Dr. Amy Reed — is battling an advanced cancer after a routine laparoscopic hysterectomy for a diagnosis of fibroids. The morcellation procedure, in Dr. Reed’s case, appears to have spread a rare and undetected cancer, leiomyosarcoma. When fibroids or other tissue is cut into small pieces, there is a risk that previously undetected malignant cells can be left in the abdomen can spread. An article on NEJM Journal Watch quotes one study:

Two of seven patients with undiagnosed stage I uterine leiomyosarcoma and one of four with undiagnosed stage I smooth muscle tumors had disseminated intraperitoneal disease after morcellation.

Dr. Noorchashm’s campaign, according to the Wall Street Journal, takes on the “medical establishment” and takes to task hospitals and physicians who do not provide informed consent of the potential spread of cancer.

Until there is a reliable way to identify patients with uterine sarcoma before surgery, they may not be enough data to allow patients predict benefit-to-harm of the surgery.

This information is provided by Washington Injury Attorney blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We represent people who have been seriously injured by medical malpractice due to the negligence of another. For more information on medical malpractice and surgical malpractice, please contact us.

Contact The Farber Law Group at 1-800-244-9087 or to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation. Our Bellevue office is here to assist you.
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Seattle Children’s hospital has notified the parents of 100 children that their child may be at risk for infection after the hospital discovered that some equipment used in colonoscopies was not properly sanitized.

Citing a “cleaning process lapse,” the hospital’s medical director Dr. Danielle Zerr, said that the risk of infection was low but that the hospital is recommending screen for hepatitis B and C and HIV which are infectious diseases..

The patient calls came after a “cleaning process lapse” was discovered on two auxiliary channel scopes according to The Seattle Times. Apparently technicians were not properly trained in cleaning procedures.

Patients who underwent colonoscopy testing prior to early November should contact the hospital’s information line at 206-987-5193.

It may be of little comfort to parent’s whose children may have been exposed to a potentially serious disease that the chance of infection is “low.”

One study of five hospitals nationwide found that 3 of 20 endoscopes used in colonoscopy exams were contaminated with fecal matter from previous patients. Any biological material on equipment such as an endoscope which is inserted into the rectum can pass on infection such as hepatitis and HIV.

Colonoscopies are procedures that most people dread regardless of age. Not only is the preparation for the exam not very pleasant but the thought that equipment is not 100% sterile is frightening.

One factor in non-sterile endoscopy equipment is the nature of many colonoscopy clinics. Clinics often schedule one patient after another and this puts stress on the staff to completely sanitize equipment in preparation for the next patient. One solution to this problem is for the clinic to purchase sufficient equipment.

Hospital-acquired infections are a concern for any patient . Failure to wash hands, failure to control the spread of microorganisms in sinks and wash basins, contaminated surgical instruments and failure to properly dispose lab waste can all result into a hospital-acquired infection.

Bellevue Hospital Infection Lawyer

Herbert Farber, the founder of The Farber Law group, is a Washington hospital infection attorney with 40 years experience in medical malpractice claims. Call our office to evaluate the circumstances of your injury or a loved one’s death after a hospital-acquired infection.

Contact The Farber Law Group at 1-800-244-9087 or to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation. Our Bellevue office is here to assist you.
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seattle medical malpractice lawyerA woman from North Central Washington has been awarded $30 million after she was seriously injured while surgeons at Wenatchee Valley Medical Center were removing polyps from her vocal cord reports The Wenatchee World.

Becky S. Anderson, 55, suffered serious burn injuries to her throat during laser surgery. Her injuries were so severe that she was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle and has undergone nearly 100 surgeries and is on a ventilator and requires nursing care.

Central Washington Hospital settled Anderson’s malpractice claim for $12 million. King County Superior Court awarded $7.65 again Wenatchee Valley Medical Center and $4.35 million against Wenatchee Anesthesia Associates.

Confluence Health CEO Dr. Peter Rutherford apologized publically for the accident. Quality Medical Directory , Dr. Randal Moseley, of Confluence Health cited several things that went wrong before the fire which he called a “catastrophic event.”

Surgical Malpractice Lawsuits

A surgeon may be held liable for a mistake related to a surgery. Surgical malpractice can be attributed to the surgeon, the anesthesiologists, nurses or other medical professionals that care for the patient. For a successful medical malpractice claim, the patient must prove that that the medical professional lacked the standard of care and their professional conduct directly caused an injury.

At The Farber Law Group, we have seen many times of medical negligence that resulted in a malpractice lawsuit. These cases include:

  • Wrong site error — in which a surgeon mistakenly operates on the wrong side or on the wrong organ. For example, operating on the left eye instead of the right.
  • Medication error — in which a patient is administered the wrong dosage of medication. This type of mistake can result in death.
  • Surgery on wrong patient — in which a surgeon mistakenly performs surgery on the wrong patient.
  • Sponge or other foreign object left in the patient.
  • Burn caused by medical equipment.
  • Treatment for misdiagnosis.

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washington medical malpractice attorneyUW Medicine is busy contacting 90,000 patients of Harborview Medical Center and University of Washington Medical Center after a malware attack compromised their personal information reports KOMO News.

From KOMO News:

Early last month, a UW Medicine employee opened an email attachment that contained malicious software. The malware took control of the computer, which happened to be storing personal information from approximately 90,000 UW Medicine and Harborview Medical Center patients, according to a UW Medicine news release.

The compromised patient data included names, phone numbers, addresses, medical record numbers and Social Security numbers, among other information.

UW Medicine is now reaching out to the affected patients and has also set up a call center to work with victims.

You can read the letter that UW Medicine sent to patients here.

University of Washington apologized to patients for the inconvenience that exposing their personal information including name, address, services and Social Security Number, date of birth and Medicare number may have caused.

Now that the UW Medicine has notified patients who may or may not be potential identity fraudvictims, what are the patients supposed to do? Monitor their credit reports?

This information is provided by Washington Injury Attorney blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We represent people who have been seriously injured by medical malpractice and the family of those who have died.
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David Kwiatkowski, 34, a cardiac technologist who bounced from one hospital to another despite being fired from at least four hospitals, has been convicted of stealing painkillers and infecting 46 or more people with hepatitis C.

Kwiatkowski stole painkillers from syringes and replaced the medication with saline. The syringes became tainted with his own blood which in turn infected the patients he was supposed to be caring for. Patients in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Kansas were infected by hepatitis C of the same strain as Kwiatowski.

Kwiatkowski pleaded guilty on August 16 and was sentenced to 39 years in prison.

Hepatitis C is a blood borne disease that causes inflammation of the liver. It can spread when a person is exposed to the blood of a person who has the virus. Of those exposed to the hep-C virus, 75%-85% suffer chronic hep-C. Hepatitis C symptoms do not appear until the infected person suffers serious liver damage including cirrhosis, liver failure or liver cancer. The infection can result in death.

Some people, like the victims in this case, can become infected to hepatitis C in a healthcare setting. Blood transfusions and organ transplants as well as tainted hospital equipment including reuse of needles,syringes, and infusion bags can transmit infection.

Are the hospitals at fault?

The victims in this case may file civil suits against the hospitals where they were infected claiming that the hospitals were negligent in hiring for failing to investigate Kwiatowski’s background.

Drug abusing medical care workers can do a lot of harm to the patients that they are charged with caring for. Just last month in nearby Kirkland, Washington, a plastic surgery patient suffered a seizure after a registered nurse substituted the Fetanyl medication the woman should have been given with a stimulant. While the patient did not become infected with hepatitis, the seizure could have been life threatening.

Contact The Farber Law Group for More Information

If you have more questions about hospital acquired infection, the experienced medical malpractice and medical negligence attorney at The Farber Law Group can help you today.

Please Contact our firm to schedule a free consultation.
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bellevue medical malpractice attorneyAn unidentified Kirkland plastic surgery patient had a severe reaction to medication and suffered a seizure while she was about to undergo surgery after a registered nurse, Angela Huffman, apparently substituted the Fetanyl medication the young woman should have received with a stimulant.

Federal investigators are investigating Huffman and she faces multiple for stealing liquid painkillers and replacing the drug with other solutions including saline. Huffman faces losing her nursing license as well as charges in criminal court.

Huffman, who was licensed as a nurse in July of 2012, was fired from a Bellevue plastic surgery clinic in August 2012 after she was caught forging prescriptions. She then was hired to work at a Kirkland plastic surgery office where she began stealing drugs.

Over the years, we have seen a number of instances where medical professionals, including nurses, have been caught stealing medications such as narcotics from patients. Sometimes one will see a euphemism, “drug diversion” to refer to the theft of medication from patients or clinics but this euphemism does not describe the potential or actual harm to patients that can be done be stealing or adulterating drugs.

We have seen convictions of nurses from stealing drugs from patients, including one case in which a nurse was convicted of stealing morphine from a dying patient. In Colorado, a nurse, Kristen Diane Parker, 26, gave patients Hepatitis C with dirty needles after she used syringes with painkillers meant for patients for herself and then filled those same syringes with saline and injected patients.

How do nurses steal drugs?

Drug addicted nurses have several schemes which enable them to feed their addictions. In some cases, nurses will choose to work in a surgery center or in a cancer ward where narcotics are used. Often, an addicted nurse will volunteer to care for a patient who is on pain medications based on looking a their charts. They will often give the patient some other drug like Ativan, Benadryl or Vistaril instead of the narcotic and secret the narcotic for themselves. When addictive drugs like Ativan, Oxycontin, Oxycodone, Xanax, Valium or Vicodin is in pill farm, they will palm the drug and drop it into a pocket to use later.
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Fifty Americans die every day in the United States due to prescription pain killer overdose. This is a major health problem and is the number one cause of injury death. In fact prescription drug overdose has overtaken car accidents as the leading cause of accidental death.

Since 1999, 16,000 Americans have died from prescription drug overdose, outnumbering the overdose deaths of heroin and cocaine.

In Washington state, the drug overdose mortality rate in 2010 was 13.1 per 100,000. To combat this problem, Washington state has the following programs in place.

To combat this problem, Washington state has the following programs in place:

  • Prescription drug monitoring program – an electronic database which tracks prescribing and dispensing of controlled drugs.
  • Doctor shopping law – a practice in which a patient visits multiple doctors and/or pharmacies to obtain controlled substances. Doctor shopping laws allow for the prosecution of people who obtain multiple prescriptions from different healthcare providers.
  • Substance abuse treatment – expands Medicaid to cover substance abuse treatment and services.
  • Prescriber education – provides medical student education about the risk of prescription drug misuse.
  • Good Samaritan law – provides immunity from criminal charges or mitigating of a sentence for helping someone who is experiencing a drug overdose.
  • Support for Rescue Drug Use – provides access to and use of Naloxone which is a prescription drug that can save the lives of drug overdose victims.
  • Physical exam requirement – requires a patient to obtain a physical exam and have a genuine patient-doctor relationship prior to the obtaining a narcotic.
  • ID Requirement – requires or permits a pharmacist to ask for an identification card prior to dispensing a prescription of a controlled substance to reduce fraud.
  • Pharmacy lock-in – requires high users of controlled substances to use only one pharmacy or medical office.

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