Friday, 27 of April of 2018

Tag » NC

Patients Can Present Evidence From Electronic Health Records During Malpractice Suits

EHRs document doctor errors in treatment and diagnosis.

By Jim Lewis, VA Medical Malpractice Lawyer

My colleague John Cooper reported recently on our firm’s Virginia personal injury attorneys’ website that electronic health records can assist plaintiffs in medical malpractice actions against health care providers. John discussed how EHRs document doctor errors in treatment and diagnosis.

LC

About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton is a law firm whose Virginia/Carolina attorneys focus on injury and accident law and have experience handling medical malpractice cases involving hospital and doctor mistakes and nursing home abuse and neglect. Check out our case results to see for yourself. Though not every case meets our criteria, we offer free initial consultations. Give us a call at (800) 752-0042. If you can’t get through due to high call volume, leave a message so we can return your call. Also be sure to check out our free special report Top 10 Tips From a Medical Malpractice Insider. Our primary office is in Virginia Beach, Virginia (VA), but we also have offices in Hampton, VA, and Elizabeth City, North Carolina (NC). Our lawyers hold licenses in VA, NC, South Carolina (SC), West Virginia (WV), Kentucky (KY), Florida (FL) and Washington, DC. Rick Shapiro and James Lewis were included in the 2011 issue of Best Lawyers in America. They, along with fellow attorney John M. Cooper, were also named 2011 Virginia Super Lawyers for Personal Injury Law, an honor which fewer than 5 percent of outstanding lawyers receive. We also host an extensive injury law video library on Youtube. Further, our lawyers proudly edit the Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard blogs as pro bono public information services.


North Carolina Hospital Ordered to Pay $25 Million for Failing to Notice Child Abuse

A private out-of-court settlement was reached after the verdict in which the hospital agreed not to appeal the ruling.

By James Lewis, Carolina Medical Malpractice Attorney

Medical malpractice lawsuits are not just about incorrect treatment or medication misadministration at hospitals. They can also be brought for a failure to recognize abuse or ill treatment of someone who is admitted to a hospital.

On October 4, 2011, a jury ordered Cape Fear Valley Health System in North Carolina (NC) to pay nearly $25 million to a severely injured boy and his father in a medical malpractice lawsuit, the Fayetteville Observer reported. However, a private out-of-court settlement was reached after the verdict in which the hospital agreed not to appeal the ruling. The settlement amount may vary from the verdict which said the boy should receive $20 million and his father should receive $4.87 million.

The boyfriend of the child’s mother had been abusing the youngster, according to evidence that was brought in the case. When he was 6 years old, the boy was admitted to the hospital in an unconscious state, with a fractured skull and brain damage. The boyfriend was convicted of misdemeanor child abuse as a result.

The boy is now 14 and he is unable to control his body or talk or walk. He lives with his father in Charleston, WV, and requires constant care.

As experienced North Carolina and Virginia (VA) medical malpractice attorneys, my colleagues and I are horrified by this tragic case. Had the hospital picked up on the warning signs earlier on, this boy may still be living a normal life today.  Sadly all too often hospitals show negligence that amounts to medical malpractice. In 2010 we noted a case in which a Granville, NC, woman sued a hospital for negligence over the death of her son.

Bernice Allen said she told Granville Medical Center not to release her son until she arrived. Her son, William, suffered from epileptic seizures and was disabled. She told hospital staff that he was unable to make it home alone. When the mother arrived to pick up her son, however, he was gone. His body was recovered in a ravine seven months after his disappearance.

We have represented a number of clients who have been unnecessarily injured or who have died as a result of medical malpractice. In 1999 we represented the estate of a 56-year-old retired FBI agent whose doctor failed to diagnose an aortic aneurysm. A jury at Suffolk Circuit Court in Virginia returned a $700,000 verdict against the emergency room physician.

DM

About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton is a law firm whose Virginia/Carolina attorneys focus on injury and accident law and have experience handling medical malpractice cases involving hospital and doctor mistakes and nursing home abuse and neglect. Check out our case results to see for yourself. Though not every case meets our criteria, we offer free initial consultations. Give us a call at (800) 752-0042. If you can’t get through due to high call volume, leave a message so we can return your call. Also be sure to check out our free special report Top 10 Tips From a Medical Malpractice Insider. Our primary office is in Virginia Beach, Virginia (VA), but we also have offices in Hampton, VA, and Elizabeth City, North Carolina (NC). Our lawyers hold licenses in VA, NC, South Carolina (SC), West Virginia (WV), Kentucky (KY), Florida (FL) and Washington, DC. Rick Shapiro and James Lewis were included in the 2011 issue of Best Lawyers in America. They, along with fellow attorney John M. Cooper, were also named 2011 Virginia Super Lawyers for Personal Injury Law, an honor which fewer than 5 percent of outstanding lawyers receive. We also host an extensive injury law video library on Youtube. Further, our lawyers proudly edit the Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard blogs as pro bono public information services.


$5M Malpractice Jury Verdict in Norfolk Spinal Cord Injury Case Reduced to $1.85M Due to VA Damages Cap

The man needed surgery to correct a sunken breastbone condition. The doctor gave him a thoracic epidural catheter, and the procedure allegedly caused permanent damage to the man’s spinal cord.

By Jim Lewis, Norfolk Medical Malpractice Lawyer

A Norfolk, Virginia (VA), jury awarded $5 million to a 20-year-old man and his parents in their suit against an anesthesiologist and the Norfolk Children’s Specialty Group, according to court records and published news reports. The amount was reduced to $1.85 million because of an unfair and arbitrary cap imposed by Virginia law on medical malpractice lawsuits.

Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters, known for pediatric care, is located in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina.  Patients actually travel there from the Outer Banks, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Virginia Beach and beyond for special pediatric care.  The young man went to this Norfolk hospital for the surgery because of its strong reputation, only to suffer a needless spinal cord and paralysis due to anesthesiology malpractice.

According to the lawsuit, the man needed surgery to correct a sunken breastbone condition. The doctor gave him a thoracic epidural catheter, and the procedure allegedly caused permanent damage to the man’s spinal cord.

After the operation, the man could not move or feel his legs and feet due to paralysis. He regained his ability to walk but continued to have pain and difficulty controlling bodily functions.  The defense for the doctor and hospital claimed the doctor and Children’s Specialty Group did not deviate from the proper standards of medical care.  As Virginia Beach-Norfolk medical malpractice attorneys, we are saddened to see a reputable hospital make a negligent surgical mistake like this.  It’s also tragic that the doctor and hospital forced the victim to go through a public trial to get justice and we note it’s far in excess of the unfair VA medical malpractice “cap” which forced the judge to reduce the 5 Million dollar verdict the jury returned to only 1.85 Million.  Attorney for the victim Lisa O’Donnell did a tremendous job helping the victim and his family.

To learn more about Virginia medical malpractice and doctor mistakes, check out our Frequently Asked Questions devoted to the subject. Our VA medical malpractice lawyers wrote a free consumer report providing a list of tips for victims who were hurt by a doctor’s carelessness. Feel free to download it here.


Medical Malpractice Damages Cap Considered in North Carolina (NC)

Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said GOP colleagues will file a bill this week to limit noneconomic damages in malpractice cases and divide such trials into two parts for questions of liability and monetary damages.

By Randy Appleton, North Carolina Medical Malpractice Attorney

North Carolina lawmakers are seeking to bring in a medical malpractice cap in the state like the one in Virginia. The new Republican majority is attempting to advance a policy that has been talked about for years in the state: Medical malpractice reform that they claim would bring down costs for doctors and other businesses, CNBC reported.

Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said GOP colleagues will file a bill this week to limit noneconomic damages in malpractice cases and divide such trials into two parts for questions of liability and monetary damages.

The NC Medical Society, which represents 12,000 licensed physicians, or about 70 percent of the state’s practicing doctors, praised the Legislature for being willing to take up medical liability issues.

But North Carolina Advocates for Justice, the state’s leading trial lawyer lobbying group, said malpractice premiums and lawsuits are down and caps have been found to be unlawful in some states. The Georgia Supreme Court ruled unanimously last year that a $350,000 cap on noneconomic damages was unconstitutional.

In contrast, Virginia (VA) has a medical malpractice cap that’s been frozen at $2 million for the last two years. Although the cap is likely to be raised by $50,000 a year beginning in 2012, our firm has argued it’s an arbitrary law that gives special treatment to healthcare companies at the expense of the victims.

In Virginia, if a physician or a nurse causes a permanent injury and your spouse can never work again as a result, for example, the most he or she can ever receive is $2 million dollars because of the cap, even if an economist estimates that over their work-life expectancy, your husband or wife would have made $5 million dollars.

Notwithstanding the limitations of the cap our attorneys are committed to fighting for the highest awards possible for those who have been injured by acts of medical malpractice. In 2007, one of our own attorneys, James Lewis was recognized by Virginia Lawyers Weekly for obtaining one of the state’s largest verdicts that year. Jim’s case involved a medical malpractice claim for injuries inflicted upon the plaintiff, an infant, during a difficulty delivery. The delivery resulted in permanent injury to the plaintiff’s shoulder and arm. A Virginia Beach Circuit Court jury awarded $1.75 million, the medical malpractice cap at the time of the injury to the plaintiff and an additional $137,224 to the plaintiff’s mother.

DM

About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper Lewis & Appleton is a law firm whose attorneys focus on injury and accident law, and we have experience handling medical malpractice cases involving hospital and doctor mistakes, nursing home abuse and neglect. Check out our case results to see for yourself. Though not every case meets our criteria, we offer free, initial consultations. Give us a call at (800) 752-0042. If you can’t get through due to high call volume, leave a message and we will return your call promptly. Also be sure to check out our free special report Top 10 Tips from a Medical Malpractice Insider. Our primary office is in Virginia Beach, Virginia (VA), but we also have offices in Hampton, VA, and Elizabeth City, North Carolina (NC).  Our lawyers hold licenses in NC, SC, WV, KY, FL and DC. We also host an extensive injury law video library on Youtube . Furthermore, our lawyers proudly edit the Virginia Beach Injuryboard and Norfolk Injuryboard as pro bono public information services.


Sentara Mergers Raise Concerns for Patient Safety

Medical mistakes, misdiagnoses, surgical errors and patient neglect can increase when hospital staff are compelled to care more about their facility's bottom line than about caring for patients.

By Jim Lewis, Virginia Medical Malpractice Lawyer

When you hear the word “merger,” you probably, like I do, also hear words like “layoffs,” cost-cutting” and “new management.” Those last three words in hospitals can mean fewer doctors, nurses and other health care staff. They can also mean putting pressure on every employee of one or both merged hospitals to do more with less — less time with patients, less time- and equipment-intensive surgical procedure, less attention to monitoring bed-bound patients or maintaining antiseptic conditions to prevent hospital-acquired bedsores and infections … .

In short, medical mistakes, misdiagnoses, surgical errors and patient neglect can increase when hospital staff are compelled to care more about their facility’s bottom line than about caring for patients.

Sentara, based in Norfolk, Virginia (VA), will soon have nine other hospitals within its system throughout Virginia and North Carolina (NC). Just since 2009, Sentara has completed or announced mergers with private community facilities in Woodbridge, VA, Rockingham County, VA; and Charlottesville, VA.

That latest deal involves Martha Jefferson Hospital, and Sentara promised no layoffs when announcing the planned merger in late September 2010. The hospitals’ chief executives also assured that management would remain local and the decision to combine operations with Sentara represented the desire to provide improved care through the wider use of technologies such as electronic health records and broader access to medical specialists.

For the sake of Martha Jefferson patients, I hope they was correct. Health care providers — be they physicians, surgeons, nurses, technicians or pharmacists — can never find themselves in a situation of putting profits before patients.

EJL

About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper Lewis & Appleton is a law firm whose attorneys focus on injury and accident law, and we have experience handling medical malpractice cases involving hospital and doctor mistakes, nursing home abuse and neglect. Check out our case results to see for yourself. Though not every case meets our criteria, we offer free, initial consultations. Give us a call at (800) 752-0042. If you can’t get through due to high call volume, leave a message and we will return your call promptly. Also be sure to check out our free special report Top 10 Tips From a Medical Malpractice Insider. Our primary office is in Virginia Beach, Virginia (VA), but we also have offices in Hampton, VA, and Elizabeth City, North Carolina (NC).  Our lawyers hold licenses in NC, SC, WV, KY, FL and DC. We also host an extensive injury law video library on Youtube . Furthermore, our lawyers proudly edit the Virginia Beach Injuryboard and Norfolk Injuryboard as pro bono public information services.


Failing Grade: Medical Error Deaths in Teaching Hospitals Spike in July

Shifting a decimal point from 3.5 milligrams to 35 milligrams on a medication can mean the difference between life and death. Given the protracted shifts medical students and doctors work at teaching hospitals, this type of medical error may be more common than at a non-teaching hospital.

By Jim Lewis, Medical Malpractice Attorney

July is the worst month for fatal medical errors in “teaching hospitals” with an average 10 percent spike in mistakes when compared to the entire calendar year, according to a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine

What is a teaching hospital? Well, it a hospital that provides clinical education and training to future and current doctors, nurses, and other health professionals, in addition to delivering medical care to patients. For pop culture context, the TV show’s ER and Grey’s Anatomy feature teaching hospitals.

The Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Virginia (VA) and East Carolina University School of Medicine in Greenville, North Carolina (NC) are both real-life teaching hospitals featuring medical students and doctors taking care of patients.

Is the fact that teaching hospitals feature new and inexperienced medical professionals the reason behind the spike?  No one can say for sure. The higher-than-average July medical error rate, also referred to as the “July effect,” has been questioned by other studies.

Nevertheless, the studies do point out how even the slightest error can have deadly consequences. For example, shifting a decimal point from 3.5 milligrams to 35 milligrams on a medication can mean the difference between life and death. Given the protracted shifts medical students and doctors work at teaching hospitals, this type of medical error may be more common than at a non-teaching hospital.

Another common cause of medical errors is when a shift-change occurs. This is important at both teaching and non-teaching hospitals. Critical information about your injury and/or medication needs may be overlooked or not mentioned to the new personnel. If you encounter a change in personnel at a hospital, don’t be afraid to ask questions and try to take notes about what was recommended by the first doctor, nurse, or other medical professional you spoke to.

To learn more about common medical mishaps, surgical mistakes, and doctor mistakes, check out these articles and free consumer reports:

About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper Lewis & Appleton is a law firm which focuses on injury and accident law and our attorneys have experience handling medical malpractice cases, which includes hospital/doctor mistakes, and nursing home abuse and neglect. Check out our case results to see for yourself. In addition, check out our FREE special reports on the Top 10 Tips from a Medical Malpractice Insider and the top 5 surgical errors you must know about. Our primary office in based in Virginia Beach, Virginia (VA) and we also have a North Carolina (NC) law office.  Our lawyers hold licenses in NC, SC, WV, KY and DC. We are ready to talk to you by phone right now—we provide free initial confidential injury case consultations, so call us toll free at 1-800-752-0042. Our injury attorneys also host an extensive injury law video library on Youtube . Furthermore, our lawyers proudly edit the Virginia Beach Injuryboard and Norfolk Injuryboard as a pro bono public information service. PA


Misdiagnosis a Common Medical Mistake

By Jim Lewis, Medical Malpractice Lawyer

We get a lot of calls about medical malpractice claims that arise from a doctor’s misdiagnosis of a serious medical condition. Misdiagnosis is where the physician doesn’t realize that the patient has a particular medical problem and sends them home with the wrong diagnosis and the wrong treatment plan. Sometimes, the patient may die or suffer some other catastrophic injury like the loss of a limb or amputation because they did not get the necessary medical treatment in a timely fashion.

Misdiagnosis of medical problems can occur in your family doctor’s office, a pediatrician’s office, an internist’s office, an urgent care facility, or even in a specialist’s office. A common setting is the emergency room at the local hospital. Part of the reason that emergency rooms are the location of misdiagnosis has to do with the nature of the practice of emergency room doctors. A crowded, busy emergency room particularly in a city like Virginia Beach, VA or Elizabeth City, NC can be very stressful. Emergency room physicians often get frustrated by the fact that some people, particularly those without health insurance, are forced to come to the emergency room to treat chronic problems rather than the kind of acute emergency situations that those hospital emergency rooms are really designed for.

The standard method for diagnosis is called differential diagnosis. Using differential diagnosis, the doctor is trained to figure out what are the possible problems with the patient and rank those in terms of the severity of risk to the patient’s health. Unfortunately, sometimes the rushed emergency room doctor will not take the time and get the differential diagnosis right. They may fail to think of and rule in or out a particular problem like appendicitis, or inflamed appendix, ignoring the symptoms which match up with that diagnosis.

Another way that emergency room misdiagnosis occurs is where the doctor or the hospital triage or intake nurse does not listen carefully enough to the patient to get all of the relevant history and symptoms. For example, the hospital emergency room may not recognize that there is some kind of mental or cognitive problem that is a sign of a stroke, by assuming that the patient is slow for some other reason. We have handled cases where the emergency room doctors treated folks who were in car accidents like second-class citizens not giving enough attention to some of the serious, but more subtle, effects that can happen like moderate traumatic brain injury.

Sometimes, a misdiagnosis in the emergency room will not result in a catastrophic injury to the patient because the correct diagnosis will be picked up later by a doctor who spends more time with the patient. However, it is unfortunately far too common that a loved one, whether a son or daughter, husband or wife, mom or dad, is sent home from the emergency room told that they just have the flu or a stomach bug only to have them find out days later that they have something much more serious and life threatening which went untreated because of a medical mistake.

About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper Lewis & Appleton is a law firm which focuses on injury and accident law and our attorneys have experience handling medical malpractice cases, which includes hospital/doctor mistakes, and nursing home abuse and neglect. Check out our case results to see for yourself. In addition, check out our FREE special reports on the Top 10 Tips from a Medical Malpractice Insider and the top 5 surgical errors you must know about. Our primary office in based in Virginia Beach, Virginia (VA) and we also have a North Carolina (NC) law office.  Our lawyers hold licenses in NC, SC, WV, KY and DC. We are ready to talk to you by phone right now—we provide free initial confidential injury case consultations, so call us toll free at 1-800-752-0042. Our injury attorneys also host an extensive injury law video library on Youtube . Furthermore, our lawyers proudly edit the Virginia Beach Injuryboard and Norfolk Injuryboard as a pro bono public information service. PA


Safe Surgery Check List Could Help Reduce Surgical Mistakes and Medical Errors

By Shapiro, Lewis, Appleton and Favaloro, VA/NC Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Surgeons could reduce patient complications, medical mistakes and loss of life by following a “safe-surgery checklist,” according to a study recently published by the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

The “safe-surgery checklist” mandates that surgical teams stop at three critical points pre- and post-surgery to ask essential questions concerning the operation.  Questions might include: “Is there enough blood on hand in case of severe bleeding? Have antibiotics been administered? What are the anesthesiologist’s and nurse’s main concerns?”

The “safe-surgery checklist” has proven effective at the hospitals and medical centers that utilize it. The study shows that approximately one third of patient complications and deaths were reduced when surgeons followed the “safe-surgical checklist.” Despite the effectiveness of this checklist, only 20 percent of hospitals have adopted it.

In Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), tens of thousands of surgeries take place every year and it is estimated that one in every 5,000 patients will unfortunately have a surgical object left inside them (nationwide). This is a preventable medical mistake that the checklist helps address.  Maybe if more hospitals implemented such a checklist, the quality of patient care would increase significantly and the number of surgical mistakes would decrease. Surgical errors like this are considered “never events,” meaning that with the execution of proper procedures, they should never occur.

USA Today noted “that help can come from a checklist, much like one routinely used by pilots before every flight.” Just as pilots refer to a checklist to ensure the efficiency of a flight so to should surgeons to ensure the efficiency of a surgery. The checklist in both instances serves as a guide and is ultimately beneficial for everyone (doctors, patients, loved ones) involved.

About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper Lewis & Appleton is a law firm which focuses on injury and accident law and our attorneys have experience handling medical malpractice cases, which includes hospital/doctor mistakes, and nursing home abuse and neglect. Check out our case results to see for yourself. In addition, check out our FREE special reports on the Top 10 Tips from a Medical Malpractice Insider and the top 5 surgical errors you must know about. Our primary office in based in Virginia Beach, Virginia (VA) and we also have a North Carolina (NC) law office.  Our lawyers hold licenses in NC, SC, WV, KY and DC. We are ready to talk to you by phone right now—we provide free initial confidential injury case consultations, so call us toll free at 1-800-752-0042. Our injury attorneys also host an extensive injury law video library on Youtube . Furthermore, our lawyers proudly edit the Virginia Beach Injuryboard and Norfolk Injuryboard as a pro bono public information service. PA


State Courts Overturn Medical Malpractice “Caps,” VA and NC Should Follow Suit

By Jim Lewis, VA/NC Medical Malpractice Injury Lawyer

The Supreme Court in Georgia and Illinois have ruled in favor of victim rights by striking down limits on medical malpractice “caps,” according to the New York Times. These caps are arbitrary limitations on the amount of compensation a victim can receive in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Medical Malpractice caps, instituted by state legislators (many of whom who were influenced by health insurance lobbyists), were an attempt to help control health care costs. In most cases, this has been a complete failure.  For example, Texas enacted medical malpractice caps in 2004 and within six months, the largest medical malpractice insurer in the state increased their premiums by 19 percent. The insurance company said, “Non-economic damages are a small percentage of total losses paid. Capping non-economic damages will show loss savings of 1.0 percent.” This means caps would account for no more than a 1 percent savings in costs; a drop in the bucket compared to a 19 percent premium increase.

Even with this evidence, there was a lot of talk in the recent health care reform debate about a need for drastic tort reform and members of Congress even submitted proposals to set a national cap on malpractice awards. Fortunately, these proposals never garnered any serious consideration since they were vastly overreaching and based on scoring political points, not advancing a serious substantive discussion on tort law.

Proponents of restricting victim’s rights fail to recognize that arbitrary medical malpractice caps weaken the foundation of our Republic – the right to have your case decided by a jury of your peers. I echo the sentiments of Georgia Chief Justice Carol W. Hunstein who wrote, “The very existence of the caps, in any amount, is violative of the right to a trial by jury.”

Unfortunately, Virginia (VA) still features caps in medical malpractice lawsuits. The law, Va. Code Ann. §8.01-581.15, limits the amount that any victim can recover from an at-fault healthcare provider, regardless how much appropriately is awarded by a jury or judge at trial. Virginia’s cap has been fixed at $2 million since July 1, 2008. So even if someone suffers a serious injury that is estimated to require $5 million worth of care, $2 million is the maximum amount that can be awarded.

In North Carolina (NC), the law states  that “punitive damages will be limited to three times compensatory damages or $250,000, whichever is greater.” N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1D-25 (1995).

I hope more states start to mirror the decisions made in Georgia and Illinois. For all of the families who lost a loved one due to a surgical mistake and the victims who’ve had their lives altered forever because of medical negligence, I hope these changes happen sooner rather than later.

About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper Lewis & Appleton is a law firm which focuses on injury and accident law and our attorneys have experience handling medical malpractice cases. Check out our case results to see for yourself. In addition, take a moment to review out our free consumer reports on the Top 10 Tips from a Medical Malpractice Insider and the Top 5 Surgical Errors You Must Know About. Our injury attorneys also host an extensive injury law video library on Youtube .We have offices based in Virginia Beach, VA and Elizaberth City, NC but we’ll come to you.  Our lawyers hold licenses in VA, NC, SC, WV, KY and DC. We provide this blog as a pro bono service.