New York Senator Lobbies To Get Rid Of Caps On Lawyer Malpractice Fees

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Posted on 27th March 2011 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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The hot-potato topic of medical malpractice is stirring up controversy in New York State.

In this instance, the brouhaha is over an alleged conflict of interest on the part of state Sen. John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, who is chairman of the Finance Committee as well as serving “of counsel” for a medical-malpractice law firm, DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, according to the New York Post,   

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/lawyer_pol_bids_for_higher_malpractice_0uP9h1C93p5NNF6H9wXe7O

DeFrancisco has been supporting a bill that would abolish a cap on legal fees in medical malpractice cases, the Post reported.

Some watchdog groups claim that putting an end to limits on attorney contingency fees will cause malpractice-insurance premiums to skyrocket and will mean smaller payouts to patients. I think this is a kneejerk reaction.

New York Gov. Cuomo is advocating that there be  $250,000 cap on “pain and suffering awards,” which he claims will reduce malpractice costs by $700 million. Right now New York lawyers have caps on how much of their clients’ award they can keep.

Currently attorneys can get up to 30 percent of judgments below $250,000, the Post reported, but not any more than 10 percent of awards that are larger than $1.25 million. The bill that DeFrancisco supports would throw out those limits.    

It’s Time To Address ‘Alarm Fatigue’ At Our Hospitals

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Posted on 19th March 2011 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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So-called “alarm fatigue,” the phenomenon where nurse are so inundated with various alarms that they tune them out, has allegedly led to brain damage and death for some hospital patients. It is a growing, and frightening, trend.

The ECRI Institute, a nonprofit health care research group, teamed up with The Boston Globe for an investigation into alarm fatigue. The story, “Patient Alarms Often Unheard, Unheeded,” was published in February by The Globe, and it did an analysis based on Food and Drug Administration data. It attributed 200 hospital-patient deaths to problems with alarms that monitor the heart and breathing.     

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2011/02/13/patient_alarms_often_unheard_unheeded/

Simply put, the problem is that there are so many alarms that nurses are supposed to be paying attention to in hospitals that they become desensitized to them, tuning them out.

Therefore, patients who have flatlined or are suffering some other fatal malady are left to die, even as their monitors beep and signal the nurses’ station. 

In one case the family of Richard Chamoun is suing. He sustained serious brain damage, and died a month later, while he was in the hospital recovering from a quadruple heart bypass. He had been taken off a cardiac monitor for a half hour while nurses bathed him, and they did not realize he was in ventricular fibrillation, according to the American Association for Justice.   

http://www.justice.org/cps/rde/xchg/justice/hs.xsl/14739.htm

The ECRI Institute put out its own press release in March about “alarm issues,” citing The Globe story, that have “resulted in patient harm and death.” The release called alarm fatigue “a pervasive problem at most hospitals,” and the institute is apparently suggesting some ways to solve the problem.   

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/clinical-alarm-issues-inhibit-the-delivery-of-safe-healthcare-117517308.html

Let’s not wait too long to address this issue.

 

West Virginia Hospital Overradiated CT Brain Scan Patients, Report Says

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Posted on 13th March 2011 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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It appears that a hospital screwed up doing CT brain scans, even after federal regulators put out warnings telling medical facilities to be more careful performing that very procedure. 

Cabell Huntington Hospital in West Virginia is the facility that overradiated patients during CT scans for more than a year after the Food and Drug Administration had already issued an alert after uncovering similar incidents regarding that particular scan, according to The New York Times. 

 http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/06/health/06radiation.html?scp=1&sq=overradiated%20brain%20scans&st=cse

 The Times dug up records that disclosed that the West Virginia hospital had allegedly been overdosing patients with radiation until the end of November.

At least 20 of the patients, who were overradiated as they were checked for strokes, have retained a lawyer. These patients got a letter from the hospital saying that they had been given too much radiation.

The procedure in question is a CT brain perfusion scan, and issues with it first came to light in summer 2009 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to The Times. The FDA launched a study on why some patients were getting too much radiation during the procedure.

The FDA issued its report on the matter last November, finding that manufacturers needed to better train medical staff to use the complex equipment used in the CT scans. The report also recommended that the CT machines have a better sysem to tell technicians when the radiation they are dispensing is at too high a level.

In one case in West Virginia cited by The Times, Marcie Iseli, 36, lost sections of her hair after having a CT procedure in November. She went for the CT because she had been feeling numbness on one side of her face. According to The Times, Iseli had been given 10 times too much radiation, and felt nauseated after her CT.

The manufacturer who made the CT equipment is G.E. Medical Systems. And it’s doubtful this is the last time we’ll be hearing that name.