Nursing Home Negligence

By Thomas Smith

September 14th, 2017

Those who cause personal injuries, or make chronic illnesses worse due to nursing home neglect, need to be held accountable.   That includes directors, administrators, owners, and those charged with the day-to-day responsibilities of keeping our beloved elder parents, grandparents, friends and others both safe and well.

Personal injuries such as bedsores or ulcers, chronic diseases, and death often arise due to nursing home negligence.  These victims, and their families, are entitled to be compensated for any harm or loss suffered by this neglect or carelessness while residing in a nursing homes or rehabilitation facility.

Following Hurricane Irma six patients of a Florida nursing home died after spending days without air conditioning and failing to otherwise receive proper care.  Those responsible will not only be held accountable for money damages for these wrongful deaths, but a criminal investigation is also likely.

If you , a loved one, or someone you know has been injured as the result of nursing home negligence, you should contact an attorney skilled in holding such facilities accountable, or with personal injury trial experience, to discuss and protect your legal rights

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Nursing Home Preparedness During Natural Disasters

By admin

August 30th, 2017

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey … but especially those within our most vulnerable populations, such as residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

In 2016 the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized a new rule establishing emergency preparedness requirements for healthcare providers participating in Medicare and Medicaid. The new rule is aimed at increasing patient safety during emergencies and establishing a more coordinated response to natural and man-made disasters.

Despite this ruling, gaps continue to exist in nursing home emergency preparedness and response during disasters:

http://time.com/4917743/la-vita-bella-nursing-home-dickinson-texas-photo/

While this story has a happy ending many do not.  We must always hold facilities responsible for the care and treatment of nursing home residents.  Few people think to ask about disaster preparedness when selecting a nursing home – but they should.

If you or your loved ones have questions please call our offices at 609-520-0900.

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Concurrent Surgeries – What You Don’t Know Could Hurt You

By admin

August 1st, 2017

A recent article by Sandra G. Boodman published in Kaiser Health News, a national health policy news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, explored a topic unknown to many surgery patients.

Known as “running two rooms” or double-booking, senior attending surgeons delegate trainees — usually residents or fellows — to perform parts of one surgery while the attending surgeon works on a second patient in another operating room. Sometimes senior surgeons aren’t even in the OR and are seeing patients elsewhere.

The controversial practice has been standard in many teaching hospitals for decades, its safety and ethics largely unquestioned and its existence unknown to those most affected: people undergoing surgery. Patients who signed standard consent forms said they were not told their surgeries were double-booked; some said they would never have agreed had they known.

But over the past two years, the issue of overlapping surgery has ignited an impassioned debate in the medical community, attracted scrutiny by the powerful Senate Finance Committee that oversees Medicare and Medicaid, and prompted some hospitals, including the University of Virginia’s, to circumscribe the practice.   Critics of the practice, who include some surgeons and patient-safety advocates, say that double-booking adds unnecessary risk, erodes trust and primarily enriches specialists.

It doesn’t do any good to check out your surgeon if they’re not even going to be in the room,” said Lisa McGiffert, director of Consumers Union’s Safe Patient Project. “We all know about the dangers of multitasking. This adds a layer of danger if you have the most expert person coming in and out.”

Indiana orthopedic surgeon James Rickert regards double-booking as a form of bait-and-switch. “The only reason it has continued is that patients are asleep,” said Rickert, president of the Society for Patient-Centered Orthopedics, a doctor group.

For more information about this controversial practice please see the full article here:  http://khn.org/news/double-booked-when-surgeons-operate-on-two-patients-at-once/

If you or a loved one has been harmed by medical neglect or malpractice please call our office to discuss your legal rights.

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New Ruling Bans Using Arbitration Clauses To Bar Class Action Law Suits

By admin

July 14th, 2017

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Monday issued a final rule banning companies from using arbitration clauses to bar consumers from filing class action lawsuits.

The Bureau said that mandatory arbitration clauses with class action litigation regulations stop consumers with similar problems from banding together against credit card companies and other lenders to dispute small fines and charges.    Individually many consumers think they are unable to pursue small-dollar disputes or do not think that the ultimate payout would be worth the trouble, allowing companies to wrong consumers with little consequence, the CFPB said.

“Arbitration clauses in contracts for products like bank accounts and credit cards make it nearly impossible for people to take companies to court when things go wrong,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a statement.

While we at PR&A believe this is a step in the right direction we would like to see the ban widen to include arbitration clauses in general.     Forced arbitration is requires parties to resolve their conflict without a trial; by an arbitrator often chosen by the corporation, and the arbitrator’s decision is almost always impossible to appeal.    This process denies people their right to a fair hearing and often tips the scale towards the protection of the corporation.  We find this exceptionally problematic for our nursing home clients who often find themselves facing these clauses as part of their admission agreement.

For more information on the ruling please visit the site below:

https://www.law360.com/articles/942749/cfpb-rule-blocks-class-action-bans-in-arbitration-clauses

 

 

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Sepsis Rates On The Rise in NJ Hospitals

By admin

June 30th, 2017

According to an article in the Morristown Patch, sepsis kills nearly 2,000 Garden State residents a year and the state’s overall sepsis mortality rate has been on the rise since 2010.  New Jersey’s sepsis death rate is 1.5 times that of the nationwide norm and according to NJ Spotlight for nearly one in three patients in New Jersey, the condition is fatal.

In 2010, 16.5 per 100,000 New Jersey residents died of sepsis.   That number climbed to 17.9 in 2015, says the State Department of Health. “While sepsis protocols have been an increasing focus of New Jersey hospitals, we know early identification and prompt treatment of sepsis is critical to survival,” reported Health commissioner Cathleen D. Bennett.

For more information on how New Jersey could become one of a handful of states to require hospitals to follow strict protocols for addressing bacterial blood infections follow the link below:

https://patch.com/new-jersey/morristown/blood-infections-n-j-hospitals-are-climbing-heres-where

For more information on what to do if you or a loved one has experienced a sepsis infection please call Sherri Warfel, Esquire at 609-520-0900 or visit our website at www.pralaw.com.

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New Jersey Offers Free Use of Micro-Surveillance Cameras to Monitor Nursing Home Treatment

By admin

May 11th, 2017

New Jersey Attorney General, Christopher Porrino, and the Division of Consumer Affairs announced recently that they are expanding their safe care cam program.  The program which was designed to protect those living in nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, residences for the developmentally disabled and other care facilities will now allow individuals to borrow a micro-surveillance camera to keep a hidden eye on loved ones.  Prior to this ruling the cameras were only available for use in private home situations.

Residents who want to borrow a hidden camera should call 973-504-6375 and leave a message or call 800-242-5846. There is no requirement you provide evidence of abuse to obtain a camera.

In another initiative to improve patient safety, the state will no longer allow home health aide applicants to begin working in homes until the Board of Nursing reviews the results of criminal background checks.

For more information please visit the following links:

http://www.courierpostonline.com/story/news/local/new-jersey/2017/05/09/nj-expands-safe-care-cam-program-nursing-homes/314220001/

http://hackensack.dailyvoice.com/police-fire/nj-offers-hidden-cams-to-monitor-loved-ones-nursing-home-treatment/710087/

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Should My Doctor Lose His/Her Medical License? What Types Of Medical Malpractice Ought To Be Reported To Disciplinary Authorities?

By admin

April 18th, 2017

One of my clients recently lost her husband to the needless, excessive prescription of narcotics.  She was asked to testify by a prosecution team investigating the doctor for a pattern of alleged over-prescribing of CDS.  A victim can easily become confused about how the civil and criminal justice systems seek to redress wrongful conduct on the part of medical providers.  For the victims of substandard medical or nursing care, the best way to chart the appropriate course is to consult with an attorney experienced in the field of medical malpractice.

Opioid addiction is in the news nationwide and especially in New Jersey.  On 3/1/17, New Jersey’s attorney general announced that a record number of our state’s physicians were disciplined in 2016.  Disciplinary action against doctors last year reached a record pace.

In large part, this phenomenon was the result of sanctions against 31 physicians charged with over-prescribing painkillers and other potentially addictive narcotic drugs.  This type of discipline can mean a revocation, suspension or other restriction upon the doctors charged.  The indiscriminate prescribing of controlled dangerous substances (CDS) is an issue which has reached the front pages in the Garden State.  New Jersey’s Consumer Affairs Division operates a State Board of Medical Examiners.  That board carried out the attorney general’s disciplinary measures.

There are many circumstances of medical negligence which give rise to a potential lawsuit.  Still other medical negligence events are better handled through the State Board of Medical Examiners.  Some medical malpractice conduct warrants both a lawsuit and a board investigation.  Examples of medical malpractice, which may implicate a civil lawsuit include, but are not limited to the following:

 

*   Failure to immediately refer patient to retinal surgeon, resulting in diminished vision

*   Failure to immediately diagnose and treat severed tendon

*   Undiagnosed heart disease

*  Undiagnosed cancer

*  Undiagnosed cauda equina syndrome

*  Undiagnosed blood clot, leading to preventable pulmonary embolism

*  Negligently administered anesthesia

*  Negligence during childbirth

*  Surgical equipment, including sponges, carelessly left inside patient

*   Mistakes involving wrong medication

*  Inaccessible medical records as a result of unsatisfactory database back-up, causing serious consequences

*  Operating room negligence causing burns

*  Dropping of surgical patient during transport in hospital

*  Failure to properly treat infection causing organ or tissue damage

 

For those matters which do not translate into a viable medical malpractice case, the patient may want to consider lodging a complaint with the State Board of Medical Examiners.  The necessary forms in which to file a compaint can be found at the following link:

http://www.nj.gov/lps/ca2/bme/complaintform/complaints.htm

Such complaints are investigated by the board in a confidential manner.  If the attorney general identifies the consumer’s complaint as one in which an enforcement action should be initiated, documents supplied by the consumer could be utilized as evidence.  Likewise, the consumer may be needed to testify.

Ultimately, my client, suddenly widowed, was able to chart the right course for her family.  The criminal justice system and the civil justice system made sense to her precisely because she received legal advice early on.  Discipline upon the doctor’s professional license and a civil remedy was exacted upon the physician in the appropriate measures.

 

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Claims Involving Birth Defects

By admin

December 1st, 2016

Over the years, many have come to me about their children not performing or progressing normally. Their reaching out was based on the belief something was done incorrectly during pregnancy, labor and delivery, or after birth.

These are almost always difficult and complex birth defect claims, needing evaluation of the parents’ medical and medication history,  sometimes genetics, obstetrics and gynecology, and the conduct of the pediatrician and after birth caregivers. At some point, other specialists might need consulting to discuss why this particular child has his or her specific problem, birth defects or disabilities.

Human nature and the reflex reaction of someone who has done something wrong, make these difficult cases to seek out the facts and separate them from excuses and accurate medical investigation. The problem in finding the truth can often be connected to the fact that the script, in the form of the important medical records, were authored by those involved in the care through pregnancy, labor and delivery.

Put more directly, there is rarely an “oops, I messed up” in the medical records. It is often easier to point to some other explanation than it is to uncover the inconsistencies, and perhaps, true causes of what happened. Major portions of the care that leads up to and includes the birth of a disabled child, are not observed or recorded, other than in the chart that is supposed to record what was done.

Sometimes that chart can be a script written after the fact, describing what the textbooks say is to be done, rather than what was done. Therein lies the mystery to be solved by the birth defect attorney and the resources he must use and know how to find.

The pain and heartache is real and obvious. The facts are often not.

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Doctor Confesses: I Lied to Protect Colleague in Malpractice Suit

By admin

October 4th, 2016

While we frequently hold the medical community on a pedestal and believe they always act in our best interest, we are reminded that they do sometimes make errors or do something wrong.   If you suspect your medical care professional or facility is not being up front with you, or suspect there is negligence in your care or the care of your loved one please contact our office.

https://www.propublica.org/article/doctor-confesses-i-lied-to-protect-colleague-in-malpractice-suit?utm_source=pardot&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=dailynewsletter

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Ovarian Cancer and Talc

By admin

May 31st, 2016

Ovarian cancer is uncomfortable to talk about, but a reality of modern day life. Yes, it does happen, but when it occurs as a result of the uncaring conduct of a manufacturer, camouflaged by the seemingly innocent conduct of daily hygiene, it is even more upsetting.

If you, or someone you love had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, there are questions that need to be asked to determine if either of you has been unnecessarily victimized by a preventable and avoidable cause.

You would want to know from the doctor certain things about the cancer to determine if it is the type known to be caused by pro-longed talc use. That information is known and knowable. If you or your loved one have been a pro-longed TALC user for at least four years, you may be one who has been its victim.

Genetic testing has known results that would tell whether or not you or your loved one are genetically susceptible to the disease.  If you do not have this specific genetic susceptibility, that might be another element of proof, connecting the ovarian cancer to the pro-longed use of talc. In addition, it would be important to know whether or not the diagnosis of ovarian cancer was at a certain age or younger.

There are attorneys who have made themselves familiar with the relationship of talc to ovarian cancer and will know the questions that need answering in order to determine if the connection between the talc and the ovarian cancer can be established and proven.

You should know that talc has been found to be carcinogenic. How often and how it is used can create a very real risk to a seemingly simple daily attempt at hygiene. One company is believed to produce an overwhelmingly major portion of the talc sold in the United States. When it was sold to that company, it had an MSDS warning affixed to the plastic packaging bags, warning that certain exposure can cause ovarian and lung cancer.

The path to victimization started when the company selling it, removed the talc from it’s original plastic bags containing the cancer warnings, added fragrance, put it in the plastic container and marketed it under its brand names.

Regrettably, with long-term use, typically for feminine care and personal hygiene, the fibers in the talc make there way up into the ovaries and have been shown to cause ovarian cancer.  It has also been shown that once cancerous ovaries are removed, talc fibers can be seen on the pathology specimens.  However, when the pathology slides are interpreted for the diagnosis for cancer, the pathologist reviewing them to make the diagnosis would not normally be looking for the talc fibers. If the pathology slides were positive for ovarian cancer, then the tissue block used for the slides would probably need further testing to confirm that they are, in fact, talc fibers.

If you want to see whether or not this product has victimized someone, whether or not that person has had a talc use history of at least 4 years would be significant.  It has been shown that those that have used talc only a few times, are less likely to have a provable claim against the manufacturer or distributor.

There are multiple medical studies confirming the connection between the pro-longed use of talc and ovarian cancer.  The American Cancer Society has indicated that there is a 30 to 40% increased risk of ovarian cancer associated with or connected to regular talc use. By way of example, tampon manufacturers removed talc from their products some years ago, due to the increased risk of ovarian cancer.

If you have been unfortunate to have been diagnosed with cancer, you may want to seek a medical malpractice attorney to see if the likely cause, is other than genetic or from some other reason. There are several factors that should be discussed with an attorney you trust, who is familiar with the problem and the connections between talc and ovarian cancer, to see if your family has a sound basis to seek compensation from the manufacturer of the talc.

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