Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

In a medical malpractice action not unlike some Massachusetts medical malpractice cases, the defendant Emergency Medicine Physicians of New London County, LLC, appealed from the judgment of the trial court after a jury verdict was rendered in favor of the plaintiff. On appeal, the defendant claimed that there was insufficient evidence supporting the jury’s verdict and award of noneconomic damages. Specifically, it claimed that the plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence for the jury (1) to find that the defendant’s negligence caused the death of the decedent, and (2) to award $150,000 in damages for the destruction of the decedent’s capacity to carry on and enjoy life’s activities. The Connecticut Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the trial court.

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On November 29, 2008, the decedent was found unresponsive and was brought to a hospital emergency department, where she was treated for a suspected drug overdose by the attending emergency department physician. After the decedent’s vital signs improved and stabilized, she was discharged and returned to the home of a friend, where she was found unresponsive the next morning and was pronounced deceased.

The plaintiff alleged that the hospital was vicariously liable for the medical malpractice of the doctor in treating the decedent for a suspected drug overdose. The plaintiff claimed that the doctor’s discharge of the decedent after only four and one-half hours of observation was premature in that the doctor should have kept the decedent under medical monitoring for 24 hours, which is the period of time during which the fatal side effects of methadone toxicity may occur. If the decedent had remained under medical monitoring for the full 24 hours, the fatal overdose side effects she experienced after her discharge would have been treated, and her eventual death from methadone toxicity would have been averted.

A patient sued a hospital and a clinical care nurse for medical malpractice after the nurse inserted a catheter to drain his urine during and after his surgery, allegedly causing injuries. At trial, the plaintiff sought to offer the testimony of a registered nurse regarding the proper standard of care. The trial court concluded that the nurse was not a similar health care provider as required by the statute pertaining to the qualifications of expert witnesses in medical malpractice actions, and it granted the hospital’s motion to preclude the nurse’s testimony. The trial court thereafter granted the hospital’s motion for a directed verdict because the patient had failed to establish the requisite standard of care for treatment.

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On appeal, the patient claimed that the trial court erred in precluding the nurse’s testimony and directing the verdict for the hospital. The Connecticut Court of Appeals disagreed and affirmed the lower court’s decision.

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The Massachusetts Court of Appeals recently rejected arguments by a couple who lost a medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuit involving the 2009 death of their infant child. They filed suit against a doctor and a nurse in 2010 for the loss of their late daughter, who died three days after her birth.

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The mother made headlines in April 2011 after she went public with allegations that she was being discriminated against after she was notified one week after her daughter’s death that her job at the state Department of Higher Education was being eliminated. According to reports, the family’s house went into foreclosure, and the family lost their health insurance. Adding insult to injury, in April 2014, a Suffolk Superior Court jury returned a verdict for the doctor and the nurse.

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A woman in Rochester filed suit last month in Strafford County Superior Court for medical negligence and violations of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act after becoming highly addicted to the potent painkiller Subsys, which is stronger than morphine and heroin.

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Her Portsmouth attorney filed the lawsuit on Wednesday in Strafford County Superior Court. Among the defendants, the lawsuit names a physician’s assistant who treated and prescribed painkillers to the woman from the fall of 2012 to the summer of 2015. The center that prescribed the medication is also listed as a defendant. Finally, Colby is suing the drug’s maker, Insys Therapeutics.

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Gena Paretchan brought a medical malpractice action against Dr. Edward Kwasnik, a surgeon who performed a laparoscopic cholecystectomy on her, and Dr. Gaurav Sharma, a surgical resident who assisted Dr. Krasnik during the procedure. Paretchan experienced complications for a month after the procedure with repeat hospital visits, tests, and ultimately a surgery to repair a bile duct disruption. A medical malpractice tribunal determined that the offer of proof was insufficient to raise a legitimate question of liability as to both defendants. After Paretchan failed to post a bond, and judgment was entered for the defendants, Paretchan appealed. On appeal, the court reversed the judgment for the defendants.

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Before considering the lower court’s decision, the appeals court reviewed the facts of the case. Paretchan had a history of symptomatic gallstones with multiple attacks. In October 2012, the defendants performed a laparoscopic cholecystectomy to remove her gallbladder. Her worsening abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting after discharge led Paretchan to seek medical attention, including multiple emergency room visits. An exploratory laparotomy was subsequently performed, and a right anterior bile duct disruption was found. Paretchan underwent surgery to repair this injury.

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The FDA recently cracked down on three major Massachusetts hospitals–Mass. General, Brigham and Women’s, and UMass Memorial–for not adequately reporting patient deaths and injuries caused by medical devices. Federal regulators also faulted a dozen additional medical centers across the nation–including well-known hospitals in Los Angeles, Boston, and New York–as part of an effort to detect problems before they cause widespread harm.

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Regulators inspected 17 Massachusetts hospitals over a two-year period with a focus on contaminated instruments, which have the potential to spread infection. There was particular concern over duodenoscopes, which are used to view the small intestine, and the power morcellator, a surgical device that breaks up tissue and may spread uterine cancer in women.

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Five patients of Dr. Tzay Chiu at Cataract & Laser Center West in West Springfield, Massachusetts were left blinded following cataract surgery on the same day. The injuries have confounded cataract surgeons, who say that even one serious injury is rare. According to the surgery center’s investigative reports, Dr. Chiu — the anesthesiologist on each of the cases — possibly pierced the patients’ eyeballs with his needles. Dr. Chiu’s attorney has not provided comment. surgery

Five surgeries took place that morning, four within a 30-minute period. More than one patient was heard screaming as the numbing needle was administered. On the following day, four patients discovered they could not see from the eye on which the doctor operated. The fifth patient has a crescent-shaped blind spot that greatly restricts his sight. Two of the patients have filed lawsuits, and all five have hired attorneys.

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The Massachusetts Court of Appeals recently upheld the victory of the administratrix of the estate of decedent Jeanne Ellis in her lawsuit against Dr. Peter Clarke for wrongful death and malpractice. The jury determined that defendant Dr. Peter Clarke was negligent in his care and treatment of Ellis and that his negligence was a substantial contributing factor causing Ellis’s death from lung cancer. Clarke appealed from the denial of his motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and for new trial or, in the alternative, remittitur. The court affirmed.

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Dr. Clark contended that the motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (judgment n.o.v.) was improperly denied because the evidence at trial was insufficient for a number of reasons. He first argued that one of Ellis’ expert witnesses, Dr. Luchs, a radiologist, was unqualified to render an opinion on standard of care because he was not an emergency radiologist. The appeals court found that the the trial court correctly determined that Dr. Luchs was qualified; he is a diagnostic radiologist who specializes in vascular and interventional radiology. Throughout his career, he had read and reported chest x-rays from emergency departments.  Dr. Luchs had substantially similar education and training as both Dr. Clarke and Dr. Abujudeh, one of Clarke’s experts. Moreover, Dr. Luchs testified that his job often required him to read x-rays in an emergency room setting. For these reasons, the appeals court concluded that there was no abuse of discretion in admitting his testimony.

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The family of a woman who died from pregnancy complications at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton was recently given the authority to proceed with their wrongful death lawsuit. Paula Sampson, a 32-year-old Hadley resident, died while she was a patient at Cooley in 2013. The family sued shortly thereafter. surgery

In Massachusetts medical malpractice lawsuits, a tribunal made up of a judge, an attorney, and a doctor hear arguments and decide whether there is sufficient evidence for the suit to continue. (The members of the tribunal are not otherwise involved with the lawsuit.)

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