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superbug product liability, Chicago personal injury lawyerIn the last several months, two hospitals in California have reported outbreaks of what officials are referring to as the CRE superbug. At Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, two patients died after being infected and five others continue to receive treatment. Medical officials have reached out to nearly 180 additional patients who may have been exposed at the facility. The outbreak has been traced to a particular medical device, which federal regulators are, so far, reluctant to pull from the market.

Carbapanem-resistant enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, is a bacterial pathogen which can cause infections resistant to most antibiotic treatment. Certain bacteria, such as E. coli,  which are common to the human digestive system, can evolve and become carbapanem-resistant, resulting in strains of CRE potentially producing infections that are very difficult to treat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) acknowledges the dangers inherent to CRE infections and has reported that the superbug may be fatal in up to 50 percent of infected patients.

Each of the infected UCLA patients had undergone a relatively minor endoscopic procedure utilizing a device known as a duodenoscope. More than half a million patients each year have similar procedures done with the device, which is an imaging tool used to detect and diagnose issues in the upper small intestines, gall bladder, and pancreas. A particular duodensoscope at UCLA, however, was found to be the source of the CRE exposure, according hospital officials. A subsequent CRE outbreak at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, also in Los Angeles, is currently being investigated to confirm that a similar device was to blame.

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medical device recall, medical product liability lawyerIn an executive summary of its Medical Device Recall Report, the FDA revealed that the annual number of recalls increased by a staggering 97 percent from 2003 to 2012. Over the past decade, the complexity of medical device recalls increased and 1,190 recalls were reported in 2012, almost double the amount in 2003. Manufacturers maintain product liability for devices they market and have a responsibility to the public to alert of any potential hazards.

The FDA categorizes recalls into one of three classes. Class II recalls reflected the most significant increase in the recall report with a reported 1,043 recalls in 2012, up from 460 a decade ago.

The largest single-day recall occurred last August when Customed, a surgical kit provider out of Puerto Rico, recalled 233 of its products due to sterility issues. Other medical device recalls, such as metal-on-metal hip implants, have led to thousands of patients being affected and billions of dollars in lawsuits against its manufacturers.

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medical error rate, malpractice attorney in ChicagoMedical malpractice affects thousands of Americans every year due to hospital negligence or patients suffering from some type of preventable harm due to medical error. NPR referenced a Journal of Patient Safety study that concluded between 210,000 and 440,000 patient deaths occurred as a result of  preventable harm in hospitals, making it the third leading cause of death in America.

This number is more than double the 98,000 patients previously reported by the Institute of Medicine. When it comes to hospital safety, patients may be in harm’s way more often than they realize. The American Association for Justice points out more startling statistics that further emphasize a problem the nation continues to face. Its report concludes:

  • An estimated 40 wrong-site surgeries occur on a weekly basis;
  • Up to 1,500 medical sponges or surgical instruments are left inside patients every year; and
  • The same five percent of doctors are responsible for over half of all medical negligence cases.

These statistics prove that the problem is not being properly addressed. The consistent rate of medical error is cause for concern. Patients victim to medical negligence compromise not only their immediate health, but their future quality of life and financial stability. When patients must have corrective procedures or surgeries as a result of medical error, these costs cause undue hardship and health care providers need to be held accountable.

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colonoscopy screenings, illinois medical malpractice lawyerAccording to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer ranks third as the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. A colonoscopy allows a doctor to examine the inside of the colon to detect polyps, diseases, or other abnormal results. The recommended time interval between procedures is 10 years beginning at the age of 50.

It is the responsibility of medical providers to ensure their patients are informed of the need for these types of health screenings in order to adhere to the standard of care. A recent report published by The Boston Globe refers to an Illinois gastroenterologist on the board of the American Gastroenterological Association who says there are substantiated reasons for people to have their screenings performed earlier than the recommended timeline, such as:

  • Patients may be under the guidance of their primary doctor who has recommended an earlier follow-up;
  • Patients may not have properly prepared for the screening the first time, which means a possibly skewed view of the entire colon;  and
  • Patients may fear history of colon cancer in their family.

The director of endoscopy from Boston Medical Center supports this by saying that the bigger issue is people are not undergoing these important health screenings. An estimated 40 percent of Americans over the age of 50 have not been screened for colon cancer in any way.

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Chicago medical device recall lawyerPatients rely on hospitals to ensure that safety protocols and education for medical staff are current and privy to any changes regarding medical device recalls. For over 45 years, ECRI has helped in this effort by focusing on improved patient care by studying the effectiveness of medical products, procedures, and processes. Based on an article published by Modern Healthcare, ECRI experts reveal certain hospitals are failing to update their medical device recall programs to meet today’s standards.

Over 1,000 medical device recalls were reported by the Food and Drug Administration in 2012, a figure almost doubling the number reported nearly a decade previous. The number and complexity of recalls have increased over the years, which carries concerns regarding hospital efficiency in tracking its defective products.

A Medical Equipment Management Plan issued by the Joint Commission has issued standards for hospitals to:

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