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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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car manufacturer safety issuesThe recent air bag recalls have affected millions of Americans who own vehicles that contain the faulty equipment. Only one car manufacturer to date has taken its recall nationwide, despite the demand of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for others to follow suit with repairs and the hundreds of injuries that have already been reported.

The American Association for Justice (AAJ) explored how this kind of passiveness is historically common among car manufacturers. In a published report released in June 2014, the AAJ emphasizes failure on the part of these companies to take responsibility unless required to do so in court.

Among its long list of examples the AAJ names the following defective car parts corrected only after manufacturers have faced litigation:

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infant medical device recall, Chicago product liability attorneyPhilips Healthcare initially recalled its Gel-E Donut and Squishon 2 medical devices in May 2014 after visible mold was detected on the outer surface of the products. This recall was for devices distributed from July 2012 to December 2013.

As of October 2014, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported a Class I recall issued by the same manufacturing company for the same devices. These gel-filled products are used under supervision in hospitals to support an infant’s head and body. The following models have been recalled:

  • Gel-E Donut 92025-A;
  • Gel-E Donut 92025-B;
  • Gel-E Donut 92025-C; and
  • Squishon 2 91033-2.

The second recall included products manufactured from July 2012 through to August 2014. The defective devices prompted 12 new complaints of visible mold within just four months of the initial recall. Cladosporium and Penicillium Fungi were two of the molds identified, which can cause:

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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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FDA product recalls, Chicago product liability lawyerThe FDA has instituted a final guidance document in order for companies to clearly distinguish a recall from a market withdrawal. Part of the draft version of the new guidance called for reporting of any enhancement of a product, a factor critical when determining potential health risks and dangers to consumers.

Many in the medical device industry were concerned about additional paperwork rather than focusing on the importance of detailed documentation for the benefits of safety. Certain devices have been approved for market that have represented an upgrade, innovation, or correction to a previous device and have resulted in recalls.

It is a manufacturer’s responsibility to find the original source of the problem and not look at a defect as an isolated incident. One of the main intentions of the new guidance is to clarify when a change to a device constitutes a product recall. One example states, “a change to a marketed device to address false or misleading labeling or other labeling violations would generally constitute a medical device recall.”

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Chicago airbag recall lawyerHonda has become the first and only automotive company thus far to meet the demand from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to repair vehicles nationwide after the recent recall of Takata airbags.

Previously, the recall for airbags were limited to high-humidity states only. An increase in humidity was found to cause the airbags to inflate too fast, leading to an explosion, which caused shrapnel to spew out.

According to a report, Honda is expanding its repairs to over 2.6 million for a total of 5.4 million vehicles. The following models are included in this expansion:

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laproscopic surgery risk for women, FDA morcellator recallA hysterectomy ranks second behind a cesarean section ("C-section") as the most frequently performed medical procedure women undergo. In fact, the National Women’s Health Network lists statistics reporting an estimated 600,000 hysterectomies performed every year.  It is common for laparoscopic power morcellators to be used during this type of surgery as well as for myomectomies (removal of uterine fibroids). Unfortunately, nearly 1 in 350 women who undergo one of these two surgeries has unsuspected uterine cancerous tissue.

The use of laparoscopic power morcellators during either of these procedures puts women at risk of having previously undetected cancerous cells spread throughout the abdomen and pelvis. The FDA recently updated its safety alert regarding these medical devices and warns against their use during a hysterectomy or myomectomy in the majority of women. The administration emphasizes that laparoscopic power morcellators should not be used in women with suspected or known uterine cancer.

The FDA has also issued a guidance document with a manufacturer recommendation to update product labeling to include specific safety information through a boxed warning. The boxed warning advises that laparoscopic power morcellators should not be used:

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DUI accident victims, personal injury lawyer in ChicagoAccording to statistics from the Illinois Secretary of State, nearly 10,000 drivers were arrested for DUI in Cook County in 2012, leaving thousands of victims vulnerable to motor vehicle accident injuries and fatalities.

In recent weeks, the Chicago Tribune reported a man was charged with leaving the scene of an accident that left a woman trapped inside her vehicle upside down. Later the woman was taken to the hospital where her left hand had to be amputated as a result of the collision.

Police on the scene were able to capture the license plate number of the driver responsible and he was taken in and held on $100,000 bond. Investigation into the case had not yet reported alcohol-related driving as a factor, but regardless of a DUI charge, leaving the scene of an accident resulting in personal injury or death is a Class 4 felony in Illinois. It carries a possible sentence of jail time of up to three years.

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nursing home abuse, Chicago nursing home neglect attorneyTransitioning a family member into a nursing home is a decision that takes time, research, and careful thought before selecting a placement. The chosen facility needs to be safe with resources and staff available to create a suitable living environment. These expectations of proper security have been under scrutiny more recently as new research from the Gerontological Society of America has shown that nearly one in five people living in a nursing home is a victim of abuse.

Hostile and unsafe incidents among elderly residents, including physical assault, are occurring at such a common rate at long-term care facilities that staff members almost seem unaware of the growing problem. This negligence is leading to injuries, such as bruises, lacerations, and fractures, putting residents in danger in their own home.

Lead author of this latest study, Karl Pillemer, a professor at Weill Cornell Medical College and Cornell University, attributes part of the problem to crowded conditions and lack of adequate staff for the number of residents needing care. In order to shed light on this dangerous reality of nursing home abuse, he says data collection of the incidents is just the beginning.

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America medical errors, Chicago medical malpractice lawyerThe risk of medical errors is a concern for a majority of patients in the United States. According to a Wolters Kluwer Health survey conducted in 2012, 73 percent of patients expressed concern about potential medical errors. Nearly 30 percent of those surveyed reported either they or a family member had been a victim of a medical mistake.

Common causes of negligent medical care include:

  • Miscommunication among hospital staff;
  • Doctors, nurses and other medical personnel being in a hurry;
  • Staff fatigue; and
  • Staffing shortages at hospital.

People seeking medical care should feel confidence in doctors and hospitals and their capabilities to provide care in the patient’s best interest. This occurrence of medical misconduct is not acceptable and it is causing Americans to delay necessary medical procedures.  The survey lists almost one in five people rescheduling a procedure to avoid the weekend or end of the week, so that the doctor may be better rested.

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Graco stroller recall, Chicago product liability lawyerChild safety is the number one priority for all parents. They are dependent on products that have been adequately tested and approved for use. When manufacturers fail to meet these requirements, they must be held responsible for damages. Graco, a popular baby product company, recently had almost five million of its baby strollers recalled due to the threat they pose to infants.

This recall affects 11 models of Graco strollers from over the past decade. An investigation by ABC News has revealed that there have been at least 11 cases of finger injuries, including fingertip amputations and lacerations, reported to Graco so far. Millions of families remain in danger due to the availability of these strollers.

It is illegal to sell recalled products. However, baby merchandise, such as these defective strollers, are easily obtainable for resale. Graco has informed stroller owners to contact the company for a free repair kit, but where does that leave families in the meantime? They have a product unsafe for use and in some cases, they may not even be aware of the risks.

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missed diagnoses in Chicago, Illinois medical malpractice attorneyThere have been several studies published in recent years that shine light on aspects of health care that are considered increasingly unsafe. In particular, there is concern about the level of care performed by medical providers on the weekend compared to on a weekday.

A study published in the Journal of Pediatric Surgery concluded that pediatric surgical patients who underwent common urgent operations during the weekend faced a higher risk of mortality, blood transfusion, and surgical complications.  Another Johns Hopkins Medicine study revealed the same type of “weekend effect” for head trauma victims. Its review of more than 38,000 patient records reflected a higher mortality rate in older adult patients who sustain head trauma injuries over a weekend than those hospitalized on a weekday.

These findings have been previously documented in cases of heart attack and stroke, but now have been linked to head trauma care as well. Researchers surmise that there is not a medical explanation for these statistics, but rather a hospital operational insufficiency due to reduced staffing and lack of accessibility to specialists during the weekend.

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medical malpractice lawsuits, Chicago medical negligence lawyerWhen the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) ranked the consequences of medical malpractice, the DOJ listed death as the most common injury in medical malpractice cases, followed by injuries such as:
  • Organ damage/infection;
  • Brain or head injury;
  • Chronic pain; and
  • Back/neck injury.

The Institute of Medicine estimates that recorded deaths due to preventable medical errors every year exceeds the number of deaths linked to breast cancer, AIDS, and motor vehicle accidents. However, the amount of filed medical malpractice cases are significantly less.

A law review article published by the Northern Illinois University College of Law explores and debunks four myths regarding medical malpractice lawsuits:

  • Plaintiffs file frivolous medical negligence lawsuits;
  • Premiums are on the rise due to skyrocketing jury awards;
  • Access to healthcare is restricted; and
  • Doctors fear negligence liability.

Medical errors occur at a rate that is not matched by statistics of court-filed claims. The first of the listed myths is debunked by research that states that the majority of medical errors do not result in a lawsuit. The second myth is contradicted by research which shows that most victims of medical malpractice are never compensated for their injuries.

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medical negligence in Illinois, Chicago malpractice attorneyMedical negligence occurs far more often than the number of cases reported for litigation. According to research published by Northern Illinois University College of Law, an estimated 4,325 patients die in hospitals in Illinois every year from preventable medical errors. Of this number, 96 percent of medical malpractice victims never pursue a claim.

Cornell University Law School Professor, Theodore Eisenberg surmises in his 2012 paper, “The Empirical Effects of Tort Reform,” that people who do not sue as a result of a medical error do not recover costs. Prof. Eisenberg shares that a possible contributing factor to the high rate of medical errors is due to the fact that most patients victim to medical malpractice do not file a claim. Therefore, doctors do not expect they will be responsible for full costs as a result of their negligence.

Our law firm is here to help victims understand their legal rights when it involves medical malpractice. It is important to consult with an attorney as soon as possible regarding an incident in which medical error was involved due to the statutes of limitations applied by the state.

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plane crash liability, Chicago negligence attorneyThe importance of a manufacturer recall when a product is proven to cause harm is to protect the safety of public consumers. In a series of articles published by USA Today earlier this year, the investigation found repeated occurrence of defects in small airplanes and helicopters over the past five decades that have led to an estimated 45,000 deaths.

Extensive review of crash victim autopsy reports reveals that while many pilots and passengers survive the initial impact of a plane or helicopter crash, they often die from fires and smoke inhalation caused by unsafe or defective fuel tanks and exhaust systems.  While airplane and helicopter manufactures have known about the dangers of post-crash fires for decades, and in spite of the availability of leak-proof and fire-retardant fuel and exhaust systems, the manufactures have refused to install the safer fuel and exhaust systems in their aircraft.

USA Today performed an extensive review of internal manufacturer records and government documents that cited the following examples of defects leading to general aviation fatalities:

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Stryker hip implant settlement, Chicago product liability attorneyA settlement involving a minimum award of $1.43 billion has been reached in ongoing product liability litigation against Stryker Orthopedics. The 3,000-plus clients represented in the Stryker hip implant lawsuit will each receive a base amount of $300,000 with additional compensation for those who suffered revision surgery complications to remove the defective hip implant.

Stryker manufactured and promoted its Rejuvenate and ABG II Modular-Neck Hips implants as having the capability of providing longer life and greater range of motion for patients. The FDA approved Stryker’s Rejuvenate Modular hip system in 2008 as part of a 510(k) premarket application, which determined the hip implant was “substantially equivalent” to pre-approved, legally marketed medical devices.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 332,000 hip replacements in 2010. Two years later, Stryker issued a recall of its Rejuvenate and ABG II Modular-Neck Hips implants due to dangers resulting from the poor design and improper testing of the device. Studies showed that patients faced health risks including:

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Chicago medical malpractice accountability, Illinois injury lawyerAs of 2011, Illinois ranked in the top 20 of medical state licensing boards’ serious doctor disciplinary action rates. The state reported 143 cases, resulting in an average of 3.45 serious actions per every 1,000 physicians from 2009 to 2011.

Doctors called into question for medical malpractice face the possibility of having their license suspended or revoked. However, this only limits medical practice in the state they are currently licensed and a doctor under investigation can still obtain licensure in other states.

According to a Bloomberg report, a general practitioner surrendered his license in Missouri “in lieu of discipline” for violation of several drug laws as part of a settlement agreement in 2009, but secured a license to practice in Illinois as he was being investigated.

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medical malpractice cases rise, Chicago malpractice attorneyThe Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) study “To Err is Human” was published over a decade ago with medical malpractice statistics showing that between 44,000 and 98,000 patients are killed in hospitals every year as a result of medical errors, leading up to $29 billion in costs every year.

The study reported errors at different points of care, including the following examples:

  • Error or delay in diagnosis;
  • Error to act on results of testing or monitoring;
  • Error in administering treatment; and
  • Error during operation or procedure.

Fast forward 15 years and patient safety issues are still a rising concern in hospitals across the country. Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published an article summarizing that, “on any given day, approximately one in 25 U.S. patients has at least one infection contracted during the course of their hospital care.”

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car airbag defects, Chicago product liability lawyerThe rise of vehicle recalls has grown over the past few months due to defective air bags in over 14 million vehicles and 11 car manufacturers. In a published online insight by The New York Times, the article reveals that defective air bags manufactured by Takata have been a concern for the past decade with the first reported incident occurring in 2004.

In this instance, the air bag exploded, shooting out metal fragments and causing injury to the driver of the Honda Accord. There was no recall issued at the time and Honda and Takata officials identified it as an isolated incident. Injuries reported have been due to shrapnel or chemicals coming from the faulty airbags. More than 30 of these injuries have been linked to flaws in Honda vehicles.

According to Honda officials, Takata reported that its plant workers had an unreliable, handwritten system for marking which air bags might contain defective parts. Another possible “explanation” of the faulty air bags was that machine operators working in the plant in 2001 could have unintentionally switched off the function that separates out poorly made devices, a problem corrected in 2002 with systems upgrades, according to Takata records.

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