German Doctor Convicted of Egregious Medical Malpractice

January 21, 2010

Medical malpractice doesn’t happen only in the United States.  On the contrary, cases of doctors’ negligence occur even more frequently in countries abroad, due in part to less stringent safety regulations, poor conditions and more lax medical practices.  A recent case in Germany, however, has nothing to do with unsanitary conditions.  It’s a shocking case of blatant medical malpractice – for which the doctor responsible has been charged criminally.

Arnold Pier, director of a small private hospital in Wegberg, is being charged with causing bodily harm resulting in death for using lemon juice instead of sterile solutions to clean and disinfect his patients’ surgical wounds.  There are 64 counts against him involving 18 patients.

On Friday Pier was found guilty on one of those counts and sentenced to 15 months for the death of an unnamed woman who died as a result of a severe infection from the use of lemon juice in her wound.  The court found that the woman was not given informed consent about the unconventional treatment and therefore did not know the risks involved.

Court documents revealed that Pier regularly instructed hospital staff to use lemon juice, which was not properly sterilized, in the treatment of wounds as a way to cut costs for the struggling medical facility.  Prosecutors also allege that Pier conducted several unnecessary surgeries including kidney and gall bladder removals, as a way to make more money.

The judge presiding over the case called the acts committed a clear case of medical malpractice.  There are several additional cases pending against Pier regarding other patients who lost their lives due to his negligence.

4.6 Million Medical Malpractice Verdict

January 12, 2010

A jury has deliberated in the medical malpractice case brought by Buddy Hackney against his urologist and awarded the plaintiff and his wife a settlement totaling over $4.6 million.

Hackney claimed that his wound was bandaged for six days following a surgical procedure he underwent, during which time Dr. Mark Swofford failed to check the dressing.  Had he properly monitored the wound, he would have found that the dressing was impeding the patient’s blood supply, but because this went unchecked Hackney developed gangrene.

Several subsequent surgeries have still left Hackney permanently disabled.

After deliberating for just three hours, the jury found in favor of the Hackneys awarding Buddy $3,867,612.99 and $750,000 to his wife Geneva.

Surgical errors should never be taken lightly.  If you have been harmed at the hands of a negligent doctor you have the right to seek compensation.  Your best course of action is to discuss your situation with an experienced medical attorney.

Woman Sues Hospital for Amputating Legs

December 24, 2009

A young Pennsylvania woman is suing Uniontown Hospital for medical malpractice claiming that doctors overlooked an acute medical condition due to her intoxication.  As a result, the 20 year old underwent partial amputation of both of her legs.

According to the medical lawsuit, Shanna Hiles had consumed a large amount of alcohol while celebrating her birthday and subsequently lost consciousness.  She remained unconscious, seated on the floor with her legs tucked under her for over 12 hours before she was discovered by a relative the following day.

As a result of the position she had been in, she was experiencing tremendous pain in her legs, and was taken to the hospital.  It is there that Hiles’ medical attorney claims that doctors were negligent in failing to promptly and accurately diagnose the condition she was suffering from, known as acute compartment syndrome.  The condition is reversible with timely surgical intervention.

Hiles was not treated promptly, however, and was instead left unattended for nearly six hours because she was intoxicated.  She was finally air lifted to another hospital where it was necessary that both legs be partially amputated.

Hiles medical lawyer claims that his client would never have had to undergo such drastic surgery had she been properly monitored and treated.  She is seeking an undisclosed amount in damages.

HMO Ordered to Pay 5 Million in Medical Malpractice Case

December 5, 2009

Kaiser Permanente, one of California’s largest HMOs, has been ordered to pay $5 million to a patient who is now permanently disabled after doctors misinterpreted the signs of a possible stroke.

The medical malpractice case went to arbitration where a panel of three arbitrators heard the case and found the Kaiser doctors negligent for not properly diagnosing the patient, Timothy Howard’s symptoms of headaches, episodic blindness and other complaints.

Howard was diagnosed with a migraine.  What he was really suffering from was a tear in his carotid artery which went untreated for weeks and eventually led to Howard suffering a major stroke on Thanksgiving Day a few years ago.

Howard’s medical attorney claims that had the carotid dissection been properly diagnosed, and treated promptly with medication, it would have repaired itself.  Instead, the 48 year old former middle school administrator has been left partially paralyzed and has had to have both of his legs amputated after he suffered an infection following the stroke.  He is unable to work or care for himself.

Kaiser acknowledged the incorrect diagnosis and apologized with the following statement:

“We all agree that this is a terrible tragedy for Mr. Howard and his family, and all of them have our deepest sympathy.”

They did not, however, issue any disciplinary actions to the physicians involved in the medical malpractice.

Perhaps the $5 million settlement will encourage the doctors involved to pay closer attention and always rule out the worst case scenario first in their future diagnoses so a tragedy such as this doesn’t happen to someone else.

How to Increase your Chances of Success in your Birth Injury Lawsuit

November 29, 2009

Dealing with the aftermath of a birth injury can be stressful, discouraging and overwhelming to say the very least.  Things such as cerebral palsy, brachial palsy and shoulder dystocia are all common types of injuries that can occur before, during and immediately following birth, and any of them can have life-altering results.

So, what should you do if you think your child has been a victim of a birth injury due to a doctor’s negligence?  Certainly the term “lawsuit” will have been mentioned to you, but aside from the general term, there are certain things that you should do to properly prepare and increase your chances of being successful in your claim.

  • Seek treatment immediately to have your child properly evaluated.  You will need strong medical evidence that the injuries your child is suffering from are as a result of negligence.
  • Be proactive.  Dealing with a birth injury can take up all of the time and energy of the parents of the child but it’s important to remember that there is only a certain time frame in which you are allowed to file suit.  As difficult as it may be, getting the ball rolling on your lawsuit right away will give you the best chance of being successful in court.
  • Hire a birth injury attorney.  Don’t just pick a general personal injury lawyer – you want to be sure that the person representing you has in-depth experience specifically with birth injury lawsuits.
  • Keep a journal.  As soon as you begin to suspect that your child may have suffered an injury at birth, you should begin keeping detailed notes about any signs, symptoms and developmental progress notes that you can document.  Being able to show this type of evidence in court can make your case that much stronger.
  • Be prepared for the possibility of a long, daunting experience once your lawsuit has been filed.  Birth injury cases are not always cut and dry, and the process can take months, sometimes even years.  Preparing yourself and your family for this from the start will make the process a little easier to bear.

Realizing that your baby may have been a victim of a birth injury is an extremely emotional experience, but once you’ve come to grips with what occurred, it’s important to focus on doing the right things in order to successfully obtain compensation for the losses you and your family have suffered.  Following the steps above can get you on the road to justice for your child.

Persistence Pays off for Family in Medical Malpractice Case

November 18, 2009

The family of a woman who died in 2004 after a misdiagnosis of cervical cancer was persistent in their efforts to get justice for her in their medical malpractice lawsuit.  The case was originally dismissed for lack of substantial evidence, but they refused to give up.  They recently presented new evidence of fraud on behalf of the negligent doctor and won another day in court.

Parminder Kaur Bhatia was a patient of Dr. Anuradha Kollipara for several years, dating from 2000 through 2004.  The final time Bhatia was treated by Dr. Kollipara in April 2004, she was complaining of fatigue and an irregular menstrual cycle.  Her husband and daughter were present and they claim that at no time was Bhatia advised to have a Pap smear, a test designed to detect cervical cancer.

She was later diagnosed with the condition, but by then it was too late.    She died a few months later at the age of 46.

The original lawsuit was dismissed mainly because medical charts submitted by Dr. Kollipara showed that on several occasions she had recommended that the patient schedule a Pap smear.  Based on this evidence, the original judge overseeing the case felt that the doctor was not at fault for Bhatia’s death.

Bhatia’s family refused to give up, however, and hired a forensic document examiner to take a closer look at the medical records in question.  Shockingly, it was discovered that a different pen had been used on three of the six reports where the Pap smear recommendations were referenced, indicating that the physician had tried to alter the documents to make it appear that she had, in fact, suggested the patient be tested.

Because of the persistence of Bhatia’s family, the evidence was enough for a judge to grant them a new trial.

If you have tried in the past to file a medical malpractice lawsuit but have been unsuccessful, it may benefit you to discuss your situation with a skilled medical attorney to determine if you still have a chance to seek justice for yourself or your loved one.

New Bill May Eliminate Feres Doctrine

October 13, 2009

Two politicians are working hard to get a new bill passed that would essentially overturn the outdated Feres Doctrine and allow members of the military to sue for medical malpractice if they are injured by a military medical professional.

The Feres Doctrine, which has been mentioned here several times in past posts, was passed in 1950 and prevents service members from suing the government for medical malpractice related injuries.  It is widely argued that this has made military hospitals and medical centers more dangerous than private facilities because it gives military personnel less motivation to implement higher standards of care and gives them a free pass to act negligently without the fear of being sued.

Representative Maurice Hinchey and Senator Charles Schumer are both working to help pass the Military Medical Accountability Act so that those bravely serving our country will have the same rights as every day citizens and be able to sue for medical malpractice if they are harmed as a result of a military doctor’s negligence.

It is a huge step in the right direction.

Record Judgment Awarded in 33 Year Old Birth Injury Case

October 9, 2009

An Israeli court has awarded a record high settlement to a 33 year old man who suffers from cerebral palsy.  The plaintiff will receive 16 million NIS – equivalent to approximately $4.3 million USD – for his damages after he suffered a birth injury as an infant.

In 1976, the plaintiff’s parents brought him to the Clalit health maintenance organization clinic when he was just three months old because he was suffering from severe diarrhea.  After four visits to the facility, the family was referred to Sharon Hospital and then to Rokach Hospital.

Doctors at Rokach conducted several tests on the child and then released him with a prescription for antibiotic and a referral to a family doctor.  The following day he became unconscious and was rushed to a different hospital for treatment.

The baby was suffering from severe dehydration which caused him to go into cardiac arrest.  He had to be put on an iron lung and remained unconscious for several months, during which time he suffered multiple lung infections and other developmental problems.

Now a grown man, the plaintiff suffers from cerebral palsy as a result of the failed diagnosis and subsequent medical issues and will require constant care for the rest of his life.

It has taken 9 long years of legal battles and several trips to court after the case was appealed more than once.  The family is happy that the plaintiff is finally getting justice for what he has had to endure throughout his life.

Here in the US it is highly unlikely that a case this old would yield any results as most states enforce a statute of limitations, or timeframe in which a person is allowed to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.  That’s why it’s critical to contact a medical attorney as soon as possible if you suspect your child has suffered a birth injury due to a doctor’s negligence.  If you wait too long, it may be too late.

Charlotte Plastic Surgeon Loses License

September 26, 2009

The North Carolina state medical board has suspended the license of Dr. Paul Drago indefinitely following dozens of accusations of medical malpractice for botched plastic surgeries he performed.

Drago is trained as an ear, nose and throat doctor but was actually performing cosmetic procedures and, judging by the number of complaints being lodged against him, was in way over his head.

In addition to his lack of training, according to board documents, Drago was operating on patients while he was suffering numbness in his hands and feet.  So far there have been ten medical malpractice lawsuits filed against him, and several more pending.

Perhaps most concerning, though, is that although Drago’s been stripped of his license in North Carolina, he is still able to practice in South Carolina.  He is restricted, however, to only being able to practice the medicine he’s trained in: ear, nose and throat.

Drago is denying all allegations of medical malpractice.

This story helps to reiterate the importance of researching and doing your due diligence when selecting a doctor.  Just because someone is licensed to practice medicine doesn’t mean you should automatically put your trust in them.  If you were unfortunate enough to be harmed by a doctor’s negligence, talk to a medical attorney right away to learn about your rights.

Another Victory in Failure to Diagnose Case

September 10, 2009

Last week a jury in Los Angeles ruled in the favor of the plaintiffs in their medical malpractice lawsuit after a doctor’s negligence left their child permanently brain damaged.

The parents of Paris Campen, now 5 years old, sued Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on behalf of daughter because they claimed that doctors at the medical facility failed to properly diagnose her with meningitis when she was a baby.

The delay in diagnosis and subsequent delay in treatment resulted in Paris suffering from severe brain damage.

The lawsuit was originally filed in 2005, and finally came to an end last week when the jury awarded the Campens $7.3 million for past and future medical expenses.  The money will be placed in a trust for Paris.

Failure or delay in diagnosis can have devastating results, as evidenced in this case.  If you or someone you love has suffered injury because a doctor didn’t diagnose an illness or condition in time, you may have the right to seek compensation for your losses.  An experienced medical attorney would know for sure.

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