Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

bellevue hepatitis infection lawyerFour hundred and fifteen patients of the Aesthetic Plastic Surgical Center in Spokane have been sent letters by the Washington state Department of Health recommending they get tested for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV because the clinic may have reused syringes and drug vials intended for single-use. See “Unsafe injection practices at Spokane clinic poses exposure risk for patients” Reusing syringes and drug vials can result in infection.

The Health Department had the clinic implement a plan of correction April and started notifying patients who were treated at the clinic between 2006 to April 2013. Patients may elect to be tested to make sure that they were not infected with any blood borne viruses.

Surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Karp denies that he or his staff reused vials and syringes and that they disposed of them properly. Karp maintains that a technician, interviewed by the Health Department, was misunderstood or there was a miscommunication.

The Centers for Disease Control sets forth standards for the safe use of single dose medication to prevent healthcare-associated infections. It is important that syringes, needles and vials containing medication be used only one time. Improper infection control, reuse of syringes, contamination of vials with unclean needles, uses single-dose vials for more than one patients has resulted in approximately 150,000 patients in the U.S. possibly being exposed to hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV since 2001. In 2009, a CDC journal reported that 33 hepatitis outbreaks were reported between 1998 and 2008 as a result of unsafe infection control practices.

A chilling statistic on the One and Only One Campaign website says:

1% to 3% of healthcare providers reuse the same needle and/or syringe on multiple patients.

In 2008, there was a scandal involving a Las Vegas clinic that reused syringes and vials for a period of four years. In that case, almost 40,000 patients were advised to get testing after it was discovered that the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada was the source of infection after their “unsafe injection practices related to the administration of anesthesia medication may have exposed patients to the blood of other patients.” At least three of the clinic’s patients were sickened with hepatitis.
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A jury in Kitsap County Superior court is deciding the outcome of a lawsuit, Estate of Fred. E. Taylor v. Intuitive Surgical Inc., filed by the widow of Fred Taylor who was seriously injured during robot-assisted prostate surgery performed using a da Vinci robotic system made by Intuitive. The jury heard five weeks of testimony before going into deliberations yesterday.

Taylor’s estate seeks $8.45M in damages from Intuitive Surgical Inc.

Taylor, who was 67 years old at the time of his surgery, suffered serious injuries during the robot-assisted surgery. His urologist, Dr. Scott Bildsten, was using the da Vinci robotic system unassisted for the first time since training when Taylor was injured. His injuries included a torn rectum, kidney and lung damages, memory loss, incontinence and a stroke. He lived for four years after the surgery but was unable to return to his normal life.

Previously, Bildsten had performed 100 prostatectomies using conventional surgery before Taylor’s botched surgery.

Taylor’s estate has already settled a medical malpractice case with the surgeon and hospital. The estate filed this lawsuit claiming that Intuitive was negligent in 10 different ways including misleading surgeons into thinking that surgery using a robot was easy and required but a day of training and providing inadequate training.

This is the first case of 26 lawsuits against Intuitive to go to trial and the outcome of the case is being closely scrutinized.

Robotic Surgery

There are approximately 400,000 robot-assisted surgery performed every year and the FDA is correspondingly receiving adverse event reports as there are more robot-aided surgeries before. Since 2012, there have been 500 adverse event reports including the deaths of five patients and reports of several patients suffering serious injuries.

A robotic surgery machine is a costly investment for a hospital. With a price tag of almost $1.5M and maintenance service agreements of $100K annually, there is an incentive for hospitals and surgeons to use the devices to recoup costs.
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medication error attorneyThis Saturday, the Seattle Police Department will be participating in the National “Drug Take Back Day”. People can bring any unused, expired or unwanted prescription drugs to one of the five Seattle Police Department precincts between 10am and 2pm.

The “Drug Take Back” day is a coordinated effort with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). It allows people to safely rid their homes of medications which could be stolen or abused.

The SPD accepts the prescription drugs on an anonymous basis and does not charge a fee for accepting the drugs. Last September, more than 2 million pounds of drugs were turned in across the U.S. at 5,200 “Take Back Drugs” sites.

Deaths to intentional and unintentional drug overdose and pharmaceutical drugs is a significant problem in the United States and has risen over the past decade. Some of the most commonly abused drugs are opiods which are contained in pain killers like oxycodone, codeine, morphine, hydrocodone and fentanyl.

In fact, prescription drug overdose kills more Americans than car accidents and is the leading cause of accidental death and in 2009, killed 37,485 people.

Accidental drug overdose are the highest in men between the ages of 20 and 64.

Ridding one’s home of unused and unneeded prescription drugs can help subvert misuse and abuse. Many of those who have died of accidental overdoses took the medication from the medicine cabinet of a friend, a parent, or a grandparent.
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A San Diego TV station reports that Marek Lapinski, 24, of San Diego died after from complications of having two wisdom teeth surgically removed.

Lapinski was undergoing a surgery that is routinely done on millions of Americans every year when he suffered cardiac arrest.

While death due to a wisdom teeth extraction is rare, deaths have occurred. Complications of anesthesia can include medication errors, oxygen deprivation during anesthesia, allergic reaction, post-operation infection and inhaling something into the lungs.

In Lipinski’s case, Fox5SanDiego.com reports that a piece of gauze was found in his airway.

Lapinski’s sister told Fox5 that she thought Lapinski’s death may have been caused by too much anesthesia.

Lapinkski’s family is reeling after the young man’s death. At the relatively young age of 24, he had already accomplished so much, including launching a high tech company called T3D which allows cameras to produce 3D images on a screen.

Anesthesia Malpractice

anesthesia malpractice lawyer bellevueAn autopsy report on Lapinski is pending which will hopefully reveal the reason why he died.

When a patient undergoes surgery, anesthesia is used so that the patient does not experience pain. However, in rare cases, some patients suffer complications under anesthesia and these can include a hypoxic brain injury or traumatic stress if the patient experienced anesthesia awareness, a condition when the patient is awake and aware of the pain of surgery but is unable to communicate with the surgical team. While anesthesia is safe in most patients, approximately 1 in every 200,000 or so patients die as a result of anesthesia complications.

Anesthesia errors can occur if the anesthesiologist, nurse anesthetist or dentist does not properly monitor the patient, administers the wrong amount of medication or improperly intubates the patient.

Medical professionals must exercise a high level of care to prevent accidents which could result in a catastrophic outcome including brain injury, stroke, or death.
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mri accident lawyerThe Oregonian reports that a teenager who was burned during an MRI exam because a technician left metal discs on his body from an electrocardiogram has filed a negligence lawsuit against Oregon Health & Science University.

The boy, Aaron Lee, who was 16-years-old in September 2011, was undergoing testing to find the source of his abdominal pains at the medical center when the accident happened.

According to the lawsuit, Lee suffered burns to his chest which required skin grafting. He also suffered post-traumatic stress disorder after the painful experience.

Lee and his mother, Sharon, are asking for $30,000 in economic damages and $2million for pain and suffering.

This is one of several incidents of people being injured during an MRI exam. In 2010, the family of a 6-year-old boy was paid $2.9M in damages after their son was killed when an oxygen tank was brought too close to the MRI’s magnetic field and struck the boy in the head. He died of a fractured skull and injuries from blunt force trauma.

MRI Exams

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) tests are commonly used to provide about problems that can not be seen using a traditional X-ray, ultrasound or CT because it provides a two-dimensional photo.

An MRI can be used to visualize the brain to look for damage after a motor vehicle accident or to look for tumors or bleeding after a stroke. It can also be used to check on problems with joints and bones as well as other internal problems.

Every year it is estimated that 10 million MRI tests are performed in the United States.

Because MRI machines use strong magnets, it is important that metal objects not come near the machines. The MRI technologist should insure that a patient does not have metal implanted on the body, that all jewelry is removed and the patient have no metal attached to their body. The technician should do a thorough screening of the patient before undergoing the test. Patients should be asked if they have a pacemaker, a cochlear implant, coronary stents and certain type of artificial joints. Patients with these devices are or even with certain types of tattoos are at risk for a burn injury during an MRI.
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The fungal meningitis outbreak that we wrote about just 9 days ago has claimed more lives. The outbreak of the rare fungal meningitis that is linked to a tainted medication has killed 14 people and 170 more have reportedly become infected.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that up to 14,000 people are at risk of the illness. While no patients in Washington state have become ill, there has been one case reported in neighboring Idaho.

Many patients who had a steroid injection in their spine, hip or knee since May are anxiously awaiting to see if they show signs of illness. According to the CDC, in some patients it takes weeks before the disease to manifest itself and “potentially contaminated injection were given starting May 21, 2012.”

Meningitis Is a disease which causes inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. In this latest outbreak of meningitis, the source appears to be steroid medication sourced from a compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts.

A lawsuit was filed this week in a Minnesota court by a woman who believes she was infected from a steroid injection she had to relieve back pain.

In all eleven states have had cases of meningitis and it is believed that 23 states have received drugs from the compounding pharmacy Continue reading

A California doctor, Dr. Hsui-Ying “Lisa” Tseng, faces 24 felony counts including second degree murder in the prescription drug overdose deaths of three young men.

According to the charging papers, Tseng provided drug seekers with narcotics such as Xanax, oxycodone, methadone, and Soma and she wrote more than 27,000 prescriptions over three years.

Prosecutors said that 12 people who were provided drugs by Tseng died of overdoses but they only charged her for the deaths of the three men’s who deaths were solely attributed to the narcotics she supplied.

Drug overdose death rates in the U.S. have more been soaring since the 1990. In 2008 alone, more than 36,000 individuals died due to drug overdoses and most of the deaths were from prescription drugs. In fact, prescription drug overdose has eclipsed car accidents as the leading cause of accidental death.

100 people die from drug overdoes every day in the United States

Prescription Drug Overdoses in Washington State

Prescription drug abuse and overdoses are an epidemic in Washington state. More people die every year from prescription drug abuse than combined deaths caused by meth, cocaine and heroin combined.

The state plays a role in creating laws which prevents “pill mills” or so-called pain clinics that operate much like Tseng’s clinic. Washington State’s initiatives seeks to control how doctors use painkillers and when doctors should refer patients to pain specialists.

The Washington legislature enacted a law (RCW 70.225) which provides for a Prescription Monitoring Program. In 2012, the law was extended to include veterinarians.
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seattle medical malpractice attorney
The family of a 8-month old baby girl has filed a negligence lawsuit against a Florida hospital and nurse after the nurse accidentally amputated half of the baby’s left pinky finger.

Veronica Olguin had taken her baby, Selena, who was three months old at the time of the incident, to Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center for treatment of a high fever and bronchitis. After a 3-day hospital stay, the baby was ready to be taken home and a nurse, Emily Anna Stutz, started cutting off a bandage off that had held the baby’s IV. Mistakenly, she cut off the baby’s finger with a pair of scissors.

Attempts to reattach the severed finger were unsuccessful due to the baby’s age.

The family filed suit for emotional and psychological damages as well as developmental challenges Selena might have as she grows older. The young mother of this baby was obviously traumatized by what happened to her baby in the hospital.

Study finds 1 of 3 hospital patients are victims of a medical mistake

The journal Health Affairs published a study of “adverse events ” — medical errors — last year which revealed that medical mistakes in the hospital setting are more common then one might think. In fact, one in three patients admitted to the hospital has been on the receiving end of a hospital mistake and medical errors are one of the leading causes of premature death and injury.

The most common hospital mistakes are foodborne illness, hospital-acquired infections, falls and bedsores. Less common mistakes include wrong-site surgeries and accidents such as this one.
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As a Bellevue personal injury law firm, The Farber Law Group read with interest an article in The Olympian about a lawsuit filed in Pierce County Superior Court against a Gig Harbor pharmacy alleging that the pharmacy twice made a mistake in filling a patient’s anti-seizure medication causing harm to the patient and requiring him to be hospitalized.

Eric and Laura Carlson’s attorney, Darrel Cochran, filed suit in Pierce County Superior Court and named Olympic Pharmacy and Healthcare Services as the defendant after the Carlson’s son was twice a victim of a pharmacy dosage error.

The Carlson’s allege that in 2009 Olympic Pharmacy put eight times the prescribed dosage of Lorazepam in a single syringe. The overdose of medication caused their son to hallucinate and become unconscious and he was hospitalized as a result.

Subsequent to the first pharmacy error, the Carlson’s decided to use Olympic Pharmacy again as they were assured that pharmacy procedures would be change to prevent errors in the future. However, in 2011, they allege the pharmacy made another mistake in dispensing anti-seizure pills and the overdose sent their son to the intensive care unit.

In the negligence lawsuit, the plaintiffs claim that Olympic Pharmacy was negligent in “hiring, training and supervising the staff members who dispensed the medications.”

Consumer Protection Act
The Carlson’s are asking for compensation claiming emotional distress and for damages under the Washington Consumer Protection Act, RCW 19.86.090.
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A former Massachusetts dentist who used pieces of paper clips instead of stainless steel posts when performing rood canal surgery has pleaded guilty to Medicare fraud among other charges; Michael Clair will be sentenced next week.

In his guilty plea, Clair also pleaded to illegal prescribing prescription drugs such as Percocet, Hydrocodone and Combunox for himself and his staff, assault and battery and witness intimidation. He faces up to 10 years in prison for the drug charges alone.

Clair’s desire to make money put his patients at risk when he used paper clip sections in the root canal procedures while at the same time billing Medicaid for stainless steel posts. Patients who were treated by Clair are at a higher risk for infection and other side effects.

The assault and battery charges stem from the improper use materials in the root canal. Besides the criminal charges, Clair could be sued in civil court by patients for the damages they suffered. Patients of Clair were advised by seek evaluation by another dentist.

It is interesting to note that before Clair began practicing in in Massachusetts he had his license to practice revoked in Florida, Maryland and West Virginia but he was allowed to practice in Massachusetts even though he was prohibited by doing Medicaid work. He got around the Medicaid restrictions, however, by hiring dentists who used their Medicaid identifications to file.

It’s hard to imagine a dentist who spent years of training to obtain a dental degree to fall so far below the standard of care.

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 dental malpractice and the family of those killed Continue reading