Medical Malpractice – Misread Tests and Radiographic Studies

Medical Malpractice, do I have a case

Medical Malpractice Call

Almost once a week I get a call regarding a potential medical malpractice case involving a misread test or x-ray. A patient can suffer serious personal injury or even death because of misread x-rays or tests. In Pasadena, California the Law Offices of Richard M. Katz are all too familiar with such medical malpractice claims in which patients suffered personal injury or death.

 

Brain Cancer Study

Brain MRI Showing Cancer

I got a call yesterday from a possible client who is a patient at Kaiser Permanente. He believes he may have been a victim of medical negligence because of a misread radiographic study, resulting in at least a three year delay in treatment.

I also got a call from another potential client, yesterday, who believes mammograms may have been misread resulting in three and a half year delay in treatment.

When we have medical testing and in particular x-rays or other radiographic studies as a patient you expect to receive a correct reading of the study or test and a correct diagnosis of any health problems that you may have. Studies and tests are done to evaluate, guide treatment decisions and give you information about your health. As well, provide the opportunity for you to receive care for any problems that may affect your health and well-being.

Medical Malpractice if fine needle aspiration cytology is misread

Misread ultrasound can have devasting consequences.

Unfortunately, things can go wrong and medical malpractice happens. The failure to do proper testing or properly read an X-ray or other radiographic study (medical malpractice) can have devastating consequences. You may lose the opportunity for early intervention. When that opportunity is lost, you may experience a worsening of your medical condition. Sometimes, you may need more complicated, dangerous or expensive treatment as a result. In the most tragic cases, a person may even die from injuries or an illness that otherwise may have been treated or preventable. Severe personal injury or death can happen becasue of medical malpractice.

 

Medical Malpractice Misread Study

MRI Studies life saving if read correctly

Medical testing and x-rays or other radiographic studies are some tools that doctors use to diagnose patients with many different illnesses and injuries. Some examples of testing / procedures patients may undergo are X-rays, MRIs, CT-Scans, PET-Scans, Bone scans, Ultrasounds and Mammograms to name a few.

Some examples of tests or diagnostic work ups include Pap smears, Cancer screenings for cervical cancer, prostate cancer or other common cancers, Biopsies to detect if there is a malignant tumor or cancer cells in the body, Blood pressure tests, Allergy test, Cholesterol tests, Allergy test, Blood tests, Amniocentesis to detect fetal abnormalities, STD testing, including testing for HIV/AIDs, Fertility testing.

These studies and tests are done to figure out what is wrong with you. From broken bones to cancers to other life-threatening illnesses. Prenatal tests can tell you whether your baby is going to be born with a serious or fatal condition. Allergy tests can determine if whether you are allergic to anything that could cause a fatal reaction or whether your cholesterol or high blood pressure are putting you at risk of a heart attack. When a mistake is made on any of these studies or tests, the consequences may be far-reaching. Bad medicine can seriously adversely affect one’s health as a result.

The Law Offices of Richard M. Katz has handled many medical malpractice cases involving misread tests and misread X-Rays and other radiographic studies. Some of the cases we have handled resulted in serious injury or death as a result of an internal bleeding or leak going undetected or misread. Because of mammograms being misread, the progression of cancer spreading throughout the body. Worsening of cardiac problems from failure to see the signs of trouble in an artery. Brain damage because of an internal brain bleed being missed. As a result of the improper pap smear cervical cancer went undetected. The examples go on and on.

These and other consequences of medical malpractice can be devastating or fatal. One report found that 28 percent of 583 diagnostic mistakes were life threatening or had resulted in death or permanent disability. Another study estimated that fatal diagnostic errors in U.S. intensive care units result in 40,500 deaths each year.

Healthcare professionals make many different types of mistakes in reading tests and X-rays. Tests can be lost, patient sample mix ups have known to happen. There also situations where a doctor or other healthcare professional never follows up with a lab to see what became of the results or the results come into the office and no one ever reads the report. These are all examples of medical malpractice.

It is devastating when the healthcare providers who were supposed to protect and treat you make mistakes that cost you your health or the life of a loved one. Negligent healthcare providers must be held accountable.

Getting help from a personal injury lawyer who has a deep background in medical malpractice law is important. I have more than thirty-five years of experience. My office has a superb track record in handling medical malpractice claims. To learn more about how I can assist you with your case, please give me a call. My office serves clients throughout Pasadena, Los Angeles and California. Please give me, Richard M. Katz, a call at 626-796-6333.

HOSPITAL INFECTIONS – MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE ?

Patient InfectionAlthough the United States is improving on preventing hospital infections and healthcare-associated infections, greater diligence is needed – particularly in fighting antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Far too many patients are getting antibiotic resistant infections from health care providers including hospitals, doctors and nurses. As well as HMOs such as Kaiser Permanente.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest Vital Signs report urges healthcare workers to use a combination of infection control recommendations to better protect patients from these infections.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. said according to a recent posting that “New data show that far too many patients are getting infected with dangerous, drug-resistant bacteria in healthcare settings. . . Doctors and healthcare facilities have the power to protect patients – no one should get sick while trying to get well.”

While hospitalized antibiotic-resistant bacteria threaten patients while they are being treated in healthcare facilities for other conditions, often post surgery. These infections can lead to sepsis and/or death.

Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria

Pretty But Deadly ! – Hospital Infections

In acute care hospitals, catheter- and surgery-related HAIs can be caused by several antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In long-term acute care hospitals, which treat patients who are generally very sick and stay, on average, more than 25 days the rate of infection is greater.

The six antibiotic-resistant threats examined are:
Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE)
ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae (extended-spectrum ß-lactamases)
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
Multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter
Multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa
Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE)

Deaths Result from Blood Strem Infections

Hospital Infections – Deaths Result from Blood Strem Infections

The most common hospital acquired infections according to the C DC are in central line-associated bloodstream infections; surgical site infections; catheter-associated urinary tract infections. A central line is a catheter that doctors place in a large vein in the neck, chest, or groin to give medication. Infections occur when bacteria or viruses enter bloodstream through the central line.

C. difficile

Clostridium Difficile – Hospital Infections

 

 

 

 

 

The most common type of bacteria responsible for infections in hospitals is Clostridium difficile (C. difficile). C. difficile caused almost half a million infections in the United States in 2011 alone.

 

 

 

Congress has recognized the urgent need to combat antibiotic resistance. In fiscal year 2016, Congress appropriated $160 million in new funding for CDC to implement its activities listed in the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-resistant Bacteria. With this funding, CDC will fight the spread of antibiotic resistance by: accelerating outbreak detection and prevention in every state; enhancing tracking of resistance mechanisms and resistant infections; supporting innovative research to address current gaps in knowledge; and improving antibiotic use.

If you or a loved one has injured as a result of medical care you received you may have a claim for medical negligence. You should contact a medical malpractice / personal injury attorney to review your matter.

As an experienced Pasadena medical malpractice / personal injury attorney, I can assist you should you have any questions. Please feel free to call Richard M. Katz, Esq., am right here to address your concerns and offer you assistance. For a complimentary assessment, call me at 626-796-6333 or contact me through my website https://www.lawyer-personal-injury-law.com/.

Hospital Infections Leading Cause of Death

Los Angeles Times Outbreaks

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times “OUTBREAKS SHROUDED IN SECRECY” addresses the spread of infections at hospitals and how investigations are confidential keeping other patients in the dark. Almost every week I get a call from a potential client about how they or loved got an infection following a surgery, procedure or hospital stay. I am asked “Do I have a claim for medical malpractice” or “Do I have a claim for medical negligence.”

The CDC healthcare-associated infection (HAI) prevalence study shows that an estimate of the overall problem of HAIs in hospitals in the United States. Hospitals in the study included private hospitals, hospitals such as those operated by organizations such as Kaiser Permanente, government run hospitals. Based on sampling a large number of acute care hospitals in the United States, the survey found that about 1 in 25 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection every day. The CDC estimates that there were 722,000 HAIs in hospitals in 2011. About 75,000 hospital patients with HAIs died during their hospitalizations. More than half of all HAIs occurred outside of the intensive care unit. We are talking hospitals here in the United States. 75,000 deaths a year is equal to over 205 deaths from hospital-acquired infections every day of the year.

According to the CDC the infections acquired by patients in hospitals are
Infection                                                                         Estimated Nos. Per Year
Pneumonia                                                                     157,500
Gastrointestinal Illness                                                123,100
Urinary Tract Infections                                                93,300
Primary Bloodstream Infections                                  71,900
Surgical site infections                                                  157,500
Other types of infections                                               118,500

Other infectious diseases can also easily spread in medical settings, where those who are actively ill mingle with others who have compromised immune systems.

The organization known as the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA), estimates that, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, (MRSA) kills more Americans each year than the combined total of emphysema, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, and homicide. MRSA is generally a hospital acquired infection.

The CDC estimates that about 331/3 % of nosocomial (hospital acquired) infections are considered preventable. The most common nosocomial infections are pneumonia, gastrointestinal, urinary tract and surgical sites.

If you get an infection following a surgery, procedure or hospital stay does than mean you have case? The answer is maybe.

Medical findings show that almost all surgery, procedure and hospital infections are preventable if healthcare providers are correctly trained in and follow sterile procedures. However, the fact is that
“Despite the overwhelmingly large number of people who die of hospital-acquired infections each year, there are virtually no instances of successful litigation against doctors or hospitals.” Pamela Nolan, Unclean Hands: Holding Hospitals Responsible for Hospital-Acquired Infections, 34 Colum. J.L. & Soc. Probs. 133, 136 (2000).

In my experience in nosocomial (hospital/healthcare acquired infection) cases, the most success is achieved in situations that there were was a failure to properly diagnose and treat the infection, rather than causing the infection in the first place.

There of course issues related to whether prophylactic (pre-surgery) antibiotics should have been given. Whether post surgery antibiotics should have been given. Whether the patient was properly prepared for the procedure (injection, surgery, etc. . . . ). Whether the patient had a particular susceptibility for infection. Whether there was breach of sterile protocol.

In any claim involving infectious disease issues there are many issues the needs to looked into.

Retaining An Attorney

Nevertheless, despite the challenges infectious diseases case present, your or your loved ones claim should be looked into. You should contact a qualified medical malpractice lawyer immediately to learn your legal rights. However, understand the challenges that an infectious disease claim presents. Most medical malpractice attorneys offer at least an initial free consultation. Avail yourself of this valuable service. If you wish, please give me, Richard M. Katz, a call. Our office is ready to help you. Please call 626-796-6333.

Medication Errors: Don’t Let Them Happen to You

Medication errors like happen frequently. According to the well respected 2006 report “Preventing Medication Errors” from the Institute of Medicine, medication errors injure 1.5 million Americans each year and cost $3.5 billion in lost productivity, wages, and additional medical expenses.

We have all seen that almost yearly there is an announcement of some new wonder drug to treat a condition or disease. We have all seen the drug commercial and the all important disclaimer. No drug or medication is without some adverse risk or reaction. The increase in the number of drugs available and in the number of drugs the average person takes has led to an explosion in the number of errors made in prescriptions.

These errors can take all kinds of forms and can occur in many different ways. Sometimes a drug other than the one prescribed is provided, or the correct drug is provided in the wrong dosage. Sometimes a drug is prescribed that interacts negatively with another drug the person is taking and the patient is not warned of the danger. Sometimes the mistake is made by the doctor prescribing the drug, sometimes by the pharmacist filling the prescription, sometimes by the person administering the prescribed drug. Mistakes can occur in hospitals, nursing homes, and the corner drugstore. Regardless of the many different ways that prescription problems can occur, they all share one thing: They can be serious and potentially deadly.

In 2008 it was estimated by researchers that preventable adverse drug events kill 7,000 Americans annually. The researchers also concluded that medication errors that result in harm are the number-one cause of inpatient fatalities. Experts believe at least one medication error occurs per hospital patient every day. However, error rates vary widely among facilities. It has been found that medication errors pose the greatest risks and consequences in critical care settings, the reason for this is that usually patients in such settings are quite ill and do not have the resilience to respond adequately to an adverse event. Further, critical care patients often receive twice as many medications as patients on general floors. It is estimated that some 20% of critical care medication errors are potentially life-threatening, and half of these medical errors necessitate
additional life-sustaining treatments.

A undercover investigation televised by ABC News in 2007 reported on errors committed at pharmacies in the United States. The report, Pharmacy Errors: Unreported Epidemic?, drew attention to a the dangers associated with the proliferation of dispensing errors. The ABC News report showed the devastating consequences that are possible when medication errors are made. The ABC News Reported implied that overworked healthcare providers (pharmacists) are prone to making medical mistakes.

In a poll conducted by the National Patient Safety Foundation, 42% of respondents had been affected by a medical error, either personally or through a friend or relative, and 32% indicated that the error had a permanent negative effect on the patient’s health. See Medical Errors: The Scope of the Problem. Fact sheet. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; 2000. Publication No. AHRQ 00-P037. www.ahrq.gov/qual/errback.htm.

According to The Quality of Health Care in America Project, established by the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine (IOM), errors committed within the health care system have significant impact on patient safety and health care costs.

Some experts in the health industry consider the primary reason for the rise in medication errors to be financial—the doctors who write the prescriptions, the pharmacists who fill them, and the nurses who often administer them are pressured to serve more patients in less time, increasing profits, but also increasing the risk of an error. Others experts feel that the alarming rise in the marketing of drugs directly to patients is partially responsible. The advertisements are directed to a diverse audience, i.e. patients. It has been found that patients that see or read these advertisements are more likely to go to their doctors and demand a prescription for some drug they read about in a magazine ad or saw on television. Such patient driven requests leads to more prescriptions being written and greater chances for error.

A recent study concluded that out of 3 billion prescriptions filled each year, 51.5 million of them contain some kind of error. Although reliable statistics are hard to come by, these errors lead to thousands of unnecessary hospitalizations and hundreds of unnecessary deaths

Many factors can lead to medication errors. The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) has identified 10 key elements with the greatest influence on medication use, noting that weaknesses in these can lead to medication errors. They are patient information, drug information, adequate communication, drug packaging, labeling, and nomenclature, medication storage, stock, standardization, and distribution, drug device acquisition, use, and monitoring, environmental factors, staff education and competency, patient education, quality processes and risk management.

Solutions to this medication error problem have been suggested. The first is also the easiest, healthcare providers should slow down and make sure the prescription is correct for the patient. Another is to install more safeguards, such as flagging a patient’s file if they are allergic to a particular medication. Another is for pharmacists to check that the prescription they are filling is appropriate some prescriptions are virtually illegible and the pharmacist is guessing. Another solution is to make sure that different drugs or different dosages don’t look similar, reducing the chance that the wrong medication will be given to or used by a patient.

Cases involving prescription errors and medication errors can involve claims of negligence, medical malpractice, and products liability, these are complex areas of the law. In my practice I have handled claims involving prescription errors and medication errors of all types. Some leading to death and serious injury. If you or someone you know has been injured or killed possibly because of a prescription error and/or medication errors please contact give me a call. Contact Richard M. Katz, Esq. at 626-796-6333 so that my office can help protect your legal rights. Visit us at our website at https://www.lawyer-personal-injury-law.com

What Everybody Ought To Know About The Kaiser Permanente Arbitration Process for Medical Malpractice Claims

It is no secret that Kaiser Permanente is the largest delivery system of its kind in the United States and has more than nine million members. In California they require all members of the organization to resolve all disputes related to claims for medical malpractice through a binding arbitration system. Members of Kaiser Permanente (Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Southern California Permanente Medical Group, Northen California Permanente Group) either directly or through their employer sign a binding arbitration agreement.

Many victims feel that somehow the arbitration process compromises their claim or ability to be compensated for their injuries. Clients often come to me and ask me “how do I get out of that arbitration system? ” Based upon my many years of experience and many victories against Kaiser Permanente, I assure them, that arbitrating a medical malpractice case against Kaiser Permanente depending on the circumstances of their claim may be beneficial.

A Brief History of Arbitrations
Our judicial system favors arbitrations. The arbitration statutory procedures are set forth in Code of Civil Procedure §1280, et seq. and the Kaiser Permanente arbitration rules. There are many state and federal court cases upholding the validity of private arbitrations, enforcement of private arbitration agreements, and enforcement of private arbitration awards.

Once arbitrations were problematic for claimants / plaintiffs because the healthcare provider / insurer had the money, manpower and volume of cases to manipulate the arbitration system to their advantage. This was especially true for Kaiser Permanente (Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Southern California Permanente Medical Group, Northen California Permanente Group). This really was a problem and the propensity to manipulate the system was discussed in the case of Engalla v. Permanente Medical Group, Inc. (1997) 15 Cal.4th 951.

In the California Supreme Court in the Engalla case found that Kaiser Permanente (Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Southern California Permanente Medical Group) was manipulating the arbitration system. The Court found they were manipulating the system. One method they used was delaying the selection of a neutral arbitrator, which made it difficult to get cases resolved timely. There were instances when the claimant died during the pendency of the claim because of delays.

In the face of having their entire arbitration system disbanded Kaiser Permanente (Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Southern California Permanente Medical Group) established the Office of the Independent Administrator (OIA). This independent law office acts as a third party overseeing the entire Kaiser Permanente arbitration system. They have established a screening process for arbitrators and require all parties to comply with the arbitration rules. I think the system is fair and equitable. However, for that to be true, you must have an attorney who is experienced with the process Kaiser Permanente arbitration process from selecting an arbitrator to presenting evidence. Frankly, it is my opinion that arbitrating a case correctly is just as demanding as going to trial.

The Skill of Your Attorney is Important
Your attorney must have the background, training and experience to understand and navigate the arbitration process. If he or she does have that experience then good results are probable. In all arbitration processes the “key” is getting a real “neutral” neutral arbitrator. In Kaiser Permanente arbitrations they pay half or all of the neutral arbitrator’s fees. The challenge is that Kaiser Permanente has hundreds of cases where a neutral arbitrator can serve. This raises the specter that a neutral arbitrator may find for Kaiser Permanente (Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Southern California Permanente Medical Group, Northen California Permanente Group) to “keep the cases coming.”

My experience with the neutral arbitrators that I have used has not shown that. I have had several cases in which neutrals have award 100s of thousands of dollars to more than 1 million dollars. It is my experience that there is many honest and honorable neutral arbitrators who will not be “unduly” swayed by the money issue. Based upon my experience and network of attorneys I know which neutrals are the truly neutral arbitrators. I generally do not have difficulty getting Kaiser Permanente to agree with the selection of a neutral to hear a case. As well, although both parties are entitled to party arbitrators, over the years I have moved away from using party arbitrators because I think it adds another layer of complexity to the case and places an adverse advocate in the room with the neutral.

If your attorney has the experience, knowledge and ability a claimant can get a reasonable neutral arbitrator and Kaiser Permanente (Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Southern California Permanente Medical Group, Northen California Permanente Group) will pay the arbitrator’s entire fees. This will save you thousands of dollars and you will get a timely fair hearing.

Arbitration v. Trial
My experience has caused me to conclude that if a claimant has a strong liability case, the claimant has a higher probability of a successful result in arbitration than before a jury. I believe this to be true because the neutral arbitrators or arbitration panels that I have used are knowledgeable professionals who understand medicine and understand the medical/legal issues and are not easily bamboozled by slick experts. Nor are they intimidated by doctors or lawyers.

With juries you are dealing with twelve lay people (in state court) whom we must educate often in complex areas of medicine. I think if they do not understand the medicine, Plaintiff loses. If they do not understand the complex and confusing jury instructions Plaintiff loses. If they do not like the Plaintiff, you will probably lose.

However, if you win the liability aspect of your medical malpractice case, with a jury, your general damages are limited to $250,000.00. So even if a jury were likely to award a larger damage award then an arbitrator, the law caps the general damages at $250,000.00. I have not personally had a situation in which we prevailed on liability in an arbitration and had the arbitrator give inadequate damages for pain and suffering. Not saying this is always true but that has been my experience.

Concluding Thoughts
There is a myriad of variables that present in all medical malpractice claims, whether against Kaiser Permanente (Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Southern California Permanente Medical Group, Northen California Permanente Group) or other healthcare provider. If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being a medical malpractice victim of Kaiser Permanente (Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Southern California Permanente Medical Group, Northen California Permanente Group) it is imperative that you choose a personal injury that has the skill training and experience to litigate in the arbitration venue. An attorney with experience and a good track record will give you the best possible chance of reaching your goal of successfully settling or winning your claim.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of medical negligence arising from the care and treatment provided to you by Kaiser Permanente (Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Southern California Permanente Medical Group, Northen California Permanente Group) please feel free to give me, Richard M. Katz, a call at 626-796-6333. We are found at 1122 East Green Street, Pasadena, CA. 91106.
My website is lawyer-personal-injury-law.com

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