April 4, 2013
Practice make perfect seems to be the idea behind a program Duke University medical students are using to train to perform certain medical procedures without risking patient safety. An article from WRAL News discussed the game-based simulator and the impact it could have on the medical industry.
The tool was developed by Applied Research Associates and is played like a video game. During the course of different simulated procedures, which can range from bleeding during childbirth to repairing broken bones, participants make choices about what types of drugs and how much of those medications a patient should receive.
Course instructors are also capable of manipulating the program to create changes that force participants to make life and death choices. Data is then collected and analyzed to instruct participants on what they did right and wrong.
Experts say the program gives medical students the chance to gain experience without the risk of harming a patient. It may also prove to be effective in reducing errors a doctor could be held liable for if a North Carolina Medical Malpractice Lawsuit were to be filed against them.
The North Carolina Personal Injury Attorneys with HensonFuerst are intrigued by this technological advancement. The firm hopes it can help reduce the number of patients harmed each year by simple mistakes that are made while under the care of a physician.
March 21, 2013
The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled North Carolina is not entitled to collect one-third of a Taylorsville girl’s medical malpractice settlement.
In 2000, the girl suffered birth injuries while being delivered by a doctor with a history of drug abuse. Her injuries left her deaf and blind, as well as unable to sit up or walk for the past thirteen years. She also suffers from a condition that leaves her subject to seizures on a regular basis.
The girl’s parents filed a North Carolina Medical Malpractice Lawsuit against the doctor and were awarded a $2.8 million settlement in 2006; however, North Carolina officials claimed they could collect up to one-third of the award under a law designed to help float the state Medicaid program. The law entitled the state to the lesser of either the total Medicaid spending on the victim or one-third of the settlement total.
The case was taken before the Supreme Court in October of last year and yesterday, a decision was reached in a 6-3 vote that the state had no right to a portion of the settlement. An opinion written by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy explained that federal laws pre-empt the state from collecting such a large portion of an award.
The North Carolina Personal Injury Attorneys with HensonFuerst hope the decision helps brings some closure to the family of the victim.
January 31, 2013
A 12-year-old girl from Taylorsville, North Carolina—who was been disabled since infancy due to a botched childbirth procedure—is at the center of a case in the U.S. Supreme Court. The Charlotte Observer explained the case revolved around North Carolina’s ability to take a portion of awards given by a North Carolina Medical Malpractice lawsuit.
When the girl was being born by cesarean section on February 25, 2000, things did not go as planned and the child was born with cerebral palsy. The girl’s parents later sued both the physician and the medical facility where the procedure occurred in 2003 and was awarded a settlement of $2.8 million; however, North Carolina law allows the state to claim either one-third of the award given to a Medicaid beneficiary in a medical malpractice case or the total amount that Medicaid spent on the patient, whichever is less.
The family is now arguing that the law goes against a federal mandate that prohibits states from putting a lien on a Medicaid Beneficiaries property or portions of settlements that do not cover medical care. Since the family’s award doesn’t specify which portion is for medical costs and which is for pain and suffering, the Supreme Court will be left with a difficult decision to make.
The North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers with HensonFuerst Injury Lawyers hope a decision will bring a sense of closure to the case for the family of the victim.
January 3, 2013
One of the major medical errors that has led to countless North Carolina Medical Malpractice lawsuits being filed is post operative or procedural infection. To help reduce the problem at one Burlington, North Carolina, hospital, the facility has agreed to participate in a government-funded study that will examine certain new methods of infection control.
According to an article published by Infection Control Today, the Alamance Regional Medical Center has agreed to take part in research being conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that will examine the effectiveness of Ultra-Violet (UV) disinfection technology over the next two-years. The study will specifically examine the effectiveness of the Tru-D SmartUVC™, which radiates a UV-C energy that has been found effective in breaking down the DNA of bacteria, spores, and viruses. Breaking of the DNA kills off the organism by preventing their ability to reproduce. The technology will be used to cleanse the rooms of patients who suffer from infections like MRSA, VRE, C. difficile and Acinetobacter.
Tru-D SmartUVC™ technology has been shown to be more effective in reducing levels of contaminates than more traditional methods of cleaning because of a patented technology that can measure and administer lethal doses of the energy in precarious locations in a room, like under a bed or in a dark corner.
The North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers with HensonFuerst Injury Lawyers are hopeful the new technology will be successful in better protecting the safety of patients undergoing medical procedures.
November 8, 2012
A settlement has been reached in the North Carolina Medical Malpractice lawsuit that was filed on behalf of a Lumber Bridge woman who died as the result of a botched surgical procedure.
The Fayetteville Observer reports that in 2005, the 56-year-old victim was admitted to a Fayetteville, North Carolina, hospital to undergo surgery to remove cancerous masses from her colon and rectum. Following the surgery, the doctor preforming the procedure left a large sponge inside the woman’s abdomen.
The sponge wasn’t discovered until nearly 10 weeks after the initial procedure and had already caused the victim to suffer illness and infection, requiring her to remain hospitalized for more than a year. These infections left the woman unable to receive the chemotherapy and radiation treatments for her cancer. She died in October 2006.
The North Carolina Medical Malpractice lawsuit that was filed two years later on the victim’s behalf alleged the doctor was negligent and provided inadequate care. The settlement states $5.1 million will be paid to the victim’s estate, while $750,000 will go directly to the woman’s husband. The doctor or her insurance company will also pay another $1 million in legal fees and interest.
The North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers with HensonFuerst Injury Lawyers believe doctors and medical staff have a responsibility to protect patients. That’s why the firm is here to answer any questions you may have if you have been harmed by a doctor.
It’s one of the worst kinds of medical stories: Contaminated products causing serious illness and deaths.
According to an article on WRAL.com, as many as 13,000 people received injections of a steroid (methylprednisolone acetate) contaminated with a fungus that causes meningitis. While that number includes all people who got injections in any location, the only patients at risk of developing fungal meningitis are those who got a shot in their spine to relieve back pain.
Currently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 105 people developed meningitis after receiving an injection with the contaminated steroid, and nine people have died. Two of the confirmed cases of meningitis are in North Carolina.
According to an article in the News & Observer, only three health facilities in North Carolina have used the contaminated product:
Representatives from the High Point and Wilson locations say that all the patients who had been injected with the recalled batches of steroid had been notified–that was 70 patients in High Point and 26 patients in Wilson.
Patients who received shots of the contaminated product but who aren’t yet sick are not necessarily safe. Meningitis can take weeks to develop, and the CDC expects more cases to develop. Symptoms may include severe headache, nausea, dizziness and fever. The CDC said many of the cases have been mild, and some people had strokes.
The company responsible for the contamination–New England Compounding Center of Framingham, MA–has recalled all lots of the steroid, and everything else it makes, too.
“While there is no indication at this time of any contamination in other NECC products, this recall is being taken as a precautionary measure,” the company said in a statement.
HensonFuerst is doing its own investigation into the extent of the contamination, and would be interested in hearing from anyone who became sick after receiving a steroid injection at one of the clinics listed above. Feel free to call us at 1-800-4-LAWMED. We’ll keep you informed as more details become available.
To read the full story on WRAL.com, click here: 13,000 got suspect steroid shots
To read the full story in the News & Observer, click here: No meningitis cases among patients at Durham clinic
Every year, about 4000 people enter the hospital for surgery and leave with a dangerous souvenir: a surgical instrument or item left behind in the body. Two-thirds of the time, the object is a surgical sponge, but sometimes the items are scissors, scalpels, or other large, metal items.
But even a sponge can be serious. An article in The New York Times told the story of a woman who had a hysterectomy. Four years later, after crushing pain in her abdomen, scans showed the sponge that had been left behind. It had adhered to the bladder and stomach, and to the walls of her abdominal cavity. It spread infection that required removal of a large segment of her intestine. The woman’s life is ruined–unable to work, in pain, and suffering from severe bowel issues.
How Can This Still Be Happening?
As remarkable as it sounds in these high-tech days, surgical teams still rely on a low-tech solution: They count the instruments. But when things get chaotic, or if the surgery is complicated or long, mistakes are made. There are newer ways to keep track of surgical items, such as tracking sponges through radio-frequency tags, at an additional cost of about $10 per procedure. But according to the article, many hospitals are resisting making the change from manual counting. That leaves patients at risk from something that seems so easy to control.
“In most instances, the patient is completely helpless,” said Dr. Verna C. Gibbs, professor of surgery at the University of California, San Francisco, who is also the director of NoThing Left Behind, a national surgical patient safety project. “We’ve anesthetized them, we take away their ability to think, to breathe, and we cut them open and operate on them. There’s no patient advocate standing over them saying, ‘Don’t forget that sponge in them.’ I consider it a great affront that we still manage to leave our tools inside of people.”
There seems no good reason why surgical patients are not routinely offered the highest standard of care possible–especially if the added cost is only $10 per surgery. Heck…charge and extra $20 and make a profit. I’ll bet most patients would be happy to hand over a couple of sawbucks to avoid the devastation of left-behind surgical items.
To read the full article in The New York Times, click here: When Surgeons Leave Objects Behind
September 27, 2012
The family of a North Carolina girl, who was injured at birth and was later awarded a medical malpractice settlement, will challenge a law that allows the state to takes as much as one-third of a settlement as reimbursement. The News Tribune says the decision reached in the case is likely to be significant, as it could potentially set a precedent for the way states across the country will handle medical malpractice settlements in the future.
Court documents show the victim was born via a difficult cesarean section on February 25, 2000, which caused the child to suffer permanent and life-altering brain injuries. A settlement was reached between the family and doctor to the amount of $2.8 million after a North Carolina Medical Malpractice lawsuit was filed; however, under North Carolina law, the family was required to pay one-third of the settlement to the state.
This particular law was enacted as a way for the state to be reimbursed for the money it paid to the doctor through Medicare, but in many cases, it allows the state to cut into awards given to victims for reasons such as pain and suffering. Other states with similar laws include Georgia and Florida.
The North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers with HensonFuerst Injury Lawyers believe that victims of medical malpractice are entitled to fair compensation for their injuries and are here to help you if you have been hurt.
August 2, 2012
Statistics from the Bureau of Justice show that between 15,000 and 19,000 medical malpractice lawsuits are filed in the United States each year, with around 600 filed in North Carolina alone.
To help reduce the number of these Raleigh medical malpractice claims, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s hospital hosted nearly 70 physicians from across the country for a surgery boot camp this past week.
According to WRAL News, the surgeons were able to perform several procedures on the donated organs of pigs, which had been “reanimated” in order to give the effects of bleeding and breathing. The hope of the program, which is in its fifth year, is to give these surgeons a chance to practice and hone their skills in a hands-on environment that is fairly risk free.
One participant, Dr. Taylor Ripley, from memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, praised the experience, saying, “It helps us refine skills that will be safer when we actually have to take care of real patients.”
The North Carolina personal injury lawyers with HensonFuerst Injury Lawyers would like to remind patients of the right to ask plenty of questions of your surgeon before agreeing to go under the knife, such as:
There’s some great news for all of us coming out of Missouri this week. The Missouri Supreme Court held that caps on non-economic damages are unconstitutional for cases involving medical malpractice.
A little background: Last year, in 2011, there was an important change in the law regarding medical malpractice cases in North Carolina and other states. The new law dramatically restricted the rights of NC residents who suffered injury due to an incompetent hospital, doctor, or nursing home.
Among the changes was a cap or limit on non-economic damages. What that means is that no matter how badly injured you are, how much pain and suffering you have gone through, no matter if your injuries are permanent and life-changing, you cannot recover more than $500,000 for the non-economic losses. This means that if a negligent doctor amputates the wrong leg, the patient won’t be able to recover for her significant pain, injury, and life changes.
The result of this and other changes in the medical malpractice law affect everyone’s ability to hold doctors and hospitals accountable for their bad acts. Aside from doctors and hospitals, the only folks who benefit from the non-economic damages caps are the insurance companies. The average person suffers…in more ways than one.
This is why we are happy to hear about the Missouri Supreme Court’s ruling that non-economic medical malpractice limits are unconstitutional. We applaud the court for exercising reason, good judgment, and compassion. And we sincerely hope that the North Carolina Supreme Court will take a similar reasoned and balanced approach when the NC laws passed last year get heard.
And on a closing note: This is why elections are so important, no matter how frustrating the process may seem. This autumn, we have the opportunity to elect people to the North Carolina Court of Appeals and Supreme Court positions. Find out what the candidates really stand for, and vote to keep your legal options open.