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bad drug interactions, Chicago negligence lawyerA bad drug interaction or an adverse reaction caused when one drug interacts or interferes with another drug, is an extremely common issue, particularly among those with multiple health issues. As such, the elderly population is often at the highest level of risk. However, anyone taking more than one medication – even over-the-counter drugs – can be at risk for a bad drug interaction.

So who is responsible if one happens? Is it the doctor that prescribed the medication? Is it the pharmacist that filled it? Or both? The answer is a little obscure, particularly when examining former cases involving physician liability in bad drug interaction. However, as a general rule, they may be implicated for a variety of reasons that may or may not be directly related to whether or not they have a duty to warn.

Courts Divided on Pharmacist’s Duty to Warn

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cough syrup recall, Chicago product liability attorneyA cough syrup distributed by Master Herbs, Inc. is being recalled because it contains undisclosed morphine. Made in China, the licorice cough syrup was distributed in 100 ml bottles at Chinese grocery stores in California, New Jersey, Hawaii, Illinois, Ohio, and Nevada. Although to date, no one has reported being harmed by the medication, the implications are highly concerning, particularly for those that may have an oversensitivity to morphine.

Side Effects of Morphine

Morphine, which is a powerful narcotic, can cause a battery of adverse effects, ranging from stomach cramps to respiratory problems and death. Those that suffer from oversensitivity are especially prone to severe and potentially fatal side effects. Although, typically, symptoms subside, those that are suffering from respiratory distress, severe allergic reaction, or other potentially fatal symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.

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excessive surgeries, Chicago medical malpractice attorneysAccording to recent studies, at least 91 percent of all physicians practice defensive medicine. Described as the process of ordering tests or procedures that exceed necessity to diagnose or treat to prevent a lawsuit, this new “face” of medicine can be found across all practices and specialties. But is this potentially driving factor in rising health costs really about preventing lawsuits? Or is it a method of fraud to drive up profits?

The Danger of Unnecessary Procedures

Whether it is a simple incision or a complete surgery, the performance of an unnecessary procedure puts patients at risk. Infection, complications, and the general presence of pain are all matters that may arise; in some cases, those problems can become deadly. For example, an unnecessary surgery can put the patient at risk for an anesthesia reaction, heart failure, hemorrhaging, and post-operative infection. So why do doctors do it?

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Chrysler defect, Chicago car accident lawyersTime and time again, corporations selling deadly or defective products manage to conceal their wrongdoings from the public eye. Even as more injuries, deaths, lawsuits, and settlements pile up, indiscretions are sealed and hidden through sealed court documents. It is both disturbing and disgusting. And it happens much more frequently than most people realize.

Remington, Chrysler, Trinity, AMG, and More

A power system defect that caused Chrysler vehicles to stop without warning while driving them is just one of the many examples of companies that have been allowed to seal lawsuit documents, continue to sell their products, and not issue a recall. As was the motion filed by plaintiffs in lawsuits against Chrysler—a plea with the courts to force them into notifying their customers of the danger. Yet it, along with the majority of evidence, was originally sealed. Just like in so many other cases:

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punitive damages, Chicago personal injury attorneysPunitive damages, which are awarded to plaintiffs when a defendant has acted willfully, maliciously, or fraudulently negligent, are intended to deter similar future acts. Tort reformers and the media often attack this form of compensation, however, claiming it is frivolously and excessively awarded without cause. Yet an investigation of the evidence suggests quite the contrary.

Punitive Damages Rarely Awarded

Although tort reform supporters, lawmakers, and corporations would like the public to believe that punitive damages are increasing in both award amount and frequency, the very opposite is true. In fact, when examining the data from various sources, including the U.S. Department of Justice, it would appear that punitive damages have actually decreased in frequency and inflation-adjustment amount. Moreover, the actual percentage of cases for which punitive damages are awarded has, for the most part, remained stable.

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tort reform report, common claims, Chicago medical malpractice attorneyWhen it comes to the problems in our healthcare system today—be it the increase in medical malpractice liability coverage costs for physicians, or the deterioration of the system itself—the blame often falls to “runaway juries,” outrageous award amounts for non-economic damages, and an overall increase in both the frequency and size of medical malpractice claim awards. To examine these theories, Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) commissioned a report in 2005. The information uncovered might surprise you.

Frequency of Civil Litigation Case Filings Substantially Lower

One of the main justifications in the argument for tort reform, as used by its supporters, is that malpractice lawsuits against physicians are more frequent today than they were several years ago. And, as a result, physicians are facing substantial increases in their liability insurance premiums. While the latter certainly proves to be true, the ISBA report indicates that Illinois doctors are actually being sued less.

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tort reform supporters, Chicago personal injury lawyersIn Illinois, and all across the country, people are being told that our justice system is broken and that patients are frivolously suing (and winning against) innocent doctors, nurses, and hospitals. But, like many of the stories spun by tort reformers, such claims are untrue. If anything, evidence shows that not only is our system not “broken,” only a small percentage of injured patients ever actually pursue a medical malpractice claim.

Statistics Hidden and Ignored by Tort Reform Supporters

According to recent information, anywhere from 210,000 and 440,000 patients walk into a hospital in search of care and never walk out. Determined by the Journal of Patient Safety, this information places medical errors third on the list of leading causes of death in America, just behind heart disease and cancer. Even more suffer a nonfatal injury that somehow alters their way of life—as many as 600,000 annually, according to Harvard researchers. And yet there are only about 85,000 medical malpractice lawsuits filed each year.

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tort-reformFiction can provide hours of entertainment, give us a momentary escape from reality, and encourage us to tap into our creative, youthful self. But there is a time and a place for such fanciful notions, and it is not in the legal arena. So why do tort reform supporters use extravagant, exaggerated, and sometimes even completely fabricated stories when discussing the legal system today? Bottom line: because those stories support their message.

Behind the Curtain of Tort Reform

Tort reform is backed by some pretty powerful players, such as insurance companies, manufacturers of dangerous or defective products or chemicals, and other major corporations, who use their funds to sway people in their direction. Driven by the desire to protect their assets and increase their bottom line, they want to make it nearly impossible for anyone they kill or injure along the way to receive compensation. To achieve those goals, they literally purchase the help of the keynote speakers—government officials, defense attorneys, the media, and other influencers.

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worker protection, Chicago workplace injury lawyersThe difficulty workers experience after suffering an injury on the job is not a new concept; tightening of the proverbial belt has only made matters worse. But the emersion of a middle man—one that is unseen and largely unknown by both the corporations and injured workers they serve—has complicated the system even further. Some even say that the work of these new players are actually creating further burdens for the injured.

The Struggle of Injured Workers

In the state of Pennsylvania, a widow is still fighting to receive compensation for medical bills and funeral costs after chemical exposure on the job destroyed her husband’s brain and health. It has been three years since a judge ruled that the job was to blame. Prior to that, she spent more than four years just compiling enough evidence to prove it. She’s drained their savings, tapped into college funds and an inheritance, and pulled lines of credit just to manage.

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For most parents, the birth of a new child is a joyous event, one full of promise and a long and happy future. Sadly, there are far too many other parents that go through a very different sort of experience. They are thrust into tragedy, or onto a path that they could never have anticipated or planned for. Sometimes, these experiences are the result of an unpreventable tragedy; other times, they are the result of a birth injury caused by a negligent healthcare provider. In both instances, the future can become one that appears bleak, blurry, or even frightening.

For Ted and Jennifer Hill, the future became a place of uncertainty after the delivery of their son, Ryan. Born with permanent brain damage, Ryan would need lifelong care. His parents faced concerns over how his needs would be met after they were no longer living. But even more concerning was the feeling that Ryan’s injuries could have somehow been prevented. In 2006, they pursued this possibility by filing a lawsuit on behalf of Ryan against the hospital. In late 2008, they were referred by another attorney to Hurley, McKenna & Mertz, P.C.

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residential treatment facilities, Chicago medical malpractice lawyersResidential programs are entrusted with the care and treatment of troubled or disabled youths and adults, but some of them are hiding a dirty little secret. Riddled with claims of abuse and neglect of the very people they are supposed to be helping, they are responsible for more than 100 deaths per year. Worse yet, they are buying their way out of those claims, sweeping the bad publicity under the rug, and allowed to continue operating, despite their outright mistreatment of residents.

Abuse, Neglect, and Death

Tens of thousands of teens and disabled adults are sent to residential treatment programs each year. Though considered a last resort for exhausted and overwhelmed families or schools, facilities like these have allegedly been found responsible for at least 145 deaths over the last three decades. ProPublica recently investigated these deaths to determine what, if any, responsibility might be designated to such facilities. Their results were highly disturbing.

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Click to Download PDF 4-million-verdict

By Lauraann Wood, Law Bulletin Staff Writer

A south suburban hospital cannot escape liability in a $4.7 million judgment by labeling a doctor involved as an independent contractor, a state appeals panel ruled Thursday.

The hospital pointed to a release form signed by the patient’s son while she was in a respiratory coma acknowledging the contractor relationship. But the 1st District Appellate Court’s ruling on Thursday rejected the hospital’s notion and affirmed the wrongful-death jury verdict in plaintiff Ted Fragogiannis’ case on behalf of his mother’s estate.

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wrongful death, Illinois medical malpractice lawyersWhen a patient steps into a hospital or doctor’s office, they are trusting that provider to act responsibly. Unfortunately, recent information indicates that as many as 210,000 to 440,000 people die each year from preventable causes while under the care of a physician. A 49-year-old woman who visited the St. James Hospital of Olympia Fields in 2006 tragically met this very fate while visiting the hospital’s emergency room. With the aid of attorneys Christopher T. Hurley and Mark R. McKenna of Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C., the Illinois Appellate Court recently ruled in favor of her family, and approved of a jury’s award of  $4.7 million as compensation.

Case Details: Failure to Act Quickly during an Asthma Attack Leads to Brain Death

According to court documents, the woman was transported to the hospital by a Matteson Fire Department ambulance. Suffering from a severe asthma attack, she was grasping at her throat and unable to speak upon her arrival. Trial evidence showed it took at least seven minutes to be seen by an emergency department physician. By that time, she had begun to lose consciousness, so the attending physician reportedly told a resident physician to intubate.

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On December 31, 2015, the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed a $4.7 Million jury verdict against St. James Hospital of Olympia Fields and one of its emergency department physicians on behalf of the family of a 49-year-old woman who suffered brain death in the hospital’s emergency department in 2006.

The suit alleged that on July 9, 2006, a Matteson Fire Department ambulance brought Georgia Tagalos to the St. James Hospital emergency room at 1:45 p.m. Upon her arrival at the hospital, Mrs. Tagalos was grasping her throat and unable to speak due to a severe asthma attack.

Evidence at the trial established it took at least seven minutes for Mrs. Tagalos to be seen by an emergency department physician at the hospital.  By that point, Mrs. Tagalos began to lose consciousness due to her inability to breath.  At approximately 1:56 p.m., an attending physician in the hospital’s emergency department, Dr. Perry Marshall, told a resident physician in training, Dr. Julie Mills, to intubate Mrs. Tagalos. Dr. Mills attempted to intubate Mrs. Tagalos two times over five minutes without success. Between 2:01 p.m. and 2:11 p.m., Dr. Marshall allowed four more unsuccessful intubation attempts on Mrs. Tagalos.  During this time period, Mrs. Tagalos was not receiving any oxygen, and her oxygen saturation level and pulse were dropping rapidly.  By the time Dr. Marshall requested a surgeon at the hospital to come to the emergency room and perform a successful cricothyrotomy—an emergency procedure where an incision is made to the patient’s throat to allow a tube to be passed to the patient’s lungs in order to provide oxygen--Mrs. Tagalos was nearly pulseless and had suffered brain death due to hypoxia (lack of oxygen).  She was removed from life support at the hospital on July 12, 2006.

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commonly misdiagnosed conditions, Chicago medical malpractice lawyerAccording to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), approximately one in 20 adults seeking outpatient care will receive delayed, wrong, or missed diagnosis each year. It accounts for about five percent of all patients seen annually. Though not a large number overall, over time, those numbers begin to add up. In fact, the IOM estimates that the majority of Americans will eventually experience a diagnostic error at some point in their lives. This small percentage also happens to account for 10 percent of all patient deaths.

The real problem is not necessarily that doctors misdiagnose (although this is certainly an issue); it is that, once a diagnosis is made, the doctor stops looking for one. This leads to improper treatment that, in some cases, may contraindicate with the treatment needed for the actual condition. It also leaves the actual condition untreated and, over time, that can become lethal. This can be especially true when looking at the five most commonly misdiagnosed conditions.

Heart Attacks

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dangerous toys, Holiday toys, Chicago product liability attorney‘Tis the season for remote control cars, bicycles, action figures, kitchen sets, and so much more. But how many of the toys that are purchased this holiday season present a real danger to children? World Against Toys Causing Harm (WATCH) has recently given their list of the top 10 most dangerous toys of the season, but there may be many more.

Toy Safety Requirements

According to the Toy Industry Association, every toy sold on shelves in America undergoes some of the strictest safety requirements in the world. Some are even said to go through 100 different safety tests, standards, and certifications conducted by independent, federally approved testing labs. Yet countless toys have made it through the purported filtering system, only to cause injury or death, and then be recalled after the fact. And, even though the Toy Industry Association says that WATCH does not actually test the toys it names, parents are left to wonder just how safe the toys really are.

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FDA recall, scope cleaning machine, Chicago personal injury lawyersDoctors and surgeons rely heavily on medical devices to ensure patient safety. Unfortunately, there is an alarming number of defective medical devices out there. When physicians learn the truth, they are often disturbed and upset, but it is the patients who pay the ultimate price—with their health, their wellbeing, and sometimes even their lives. Such may be the case with the FDA’s recent recalls on nearly 2,800 Custom Ultrasonics machines.

Custom Ultrasonics’ Previous Bar from the FDA

Trusted by hospitals and medical clinics throughout the United States, Custom Ultrasonics’ endoscope reprocessing devices are intended to kill the bacteria and microorganisms found on flexible endoscopes after a procedure, enabling safe re-use of the expensive and important medical equipment.

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travel safety tips, Chicago car accident lawyersThroughout parts of Illinois, winter weather has already left more than a foot of snow. Other areas of the country are covered in ice and snow, and more winter weather is expected in the months to come. All that snow and ice places drivers are at a higher risk for automobile accidents, deaths, and injuries. Stay safe on the roads, and in your car, with the “three P’s of safe winter driving” from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): Prepare, Protect, and Prevent.

Prepare for Trips

Careful planning and preparation can make all the difference when it comes to staying safe on the roads. The following are areas of extreme importance, and should be practiced by all drivers this winter:

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Megabus accidents, Chicago personal injury lawyersPublic transit is chosen by some out of necessity. Others choose it for moralistic reasons. They all come from different walks of life, and from different neighborhoods. But they all have one thing in common: they expect they are traveling safely from one destination to the next. Unfortunately, statistics on Megabus and the CTA Transit system suggest otherwise.

One CTA Accident Every 36 Hours

This past summer, a high-profile CTA crash prompted investigations by the ABC News team. They uncovered hundreds of CTA bus accidents, with an average of about one every 36 hours, and nearly 500 people injured in 2014 alone. A Bronzeville accident in which the bus crossed into the northbound lanes, hitting two parked cars and a fence; another in which a bus crashed into three parked cars and injured 14 people; and two different crashes where the drivers lost consciousness were just the highlights.

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winter weather, slip and fall, Chicago personal injury attorneyAccidental falls are one of the leading causes of injury in the United States. Colder temperatures and precipitation leads to icy driveways, sidewalks, stairways, and streets; this only further increases the risk of injury due to falls, slips, and trips during the winter months. Protect yourself from injury this season with an ounce of prevention.

Exercise Caution

When it comes to preventing slips, trips, and falls, a little extra caution can go a long way.  Whether you are on your way in or out of the house, headed for work, or simply running errands, follow these safety tips:

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