Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

Legal News GavelAfter a jury awarded over $35 million to a woman in a medical malpractice case (later reduced to $32.5 million), the defendant appealed the verdict on a number of grounds. This case involves a woman who was a marathon runner and exercise class instructor who complained of dizziness. An MRI revealed that she had a “venous varix” in her brain, which is similar to an aneurysm. However, this was not found to be the cause of her dizziness. Her primary care doctor, an employee of the defendant, received a copy of this MRI but never noted the venous varix on her problem list.

A few years later she became pregnant. Since her obstetrician did not know about her venous varix, and she had no way of knowing it was relevant, she did not have a Caesarian section as recommended for people with the condition and instead gave birth naturally. Some hours after giving birth she suffered a debilitating headache and went into a coma for a month. After the coma her left side was paralyzed and she now has difficulty chewing, swallowing, and speaking. She will most likely need 24/7 care for the rest of her life. Based on these facts, at the initial trial the jury awarded her $35 million which was later reduced due to a calculation error. The hospital appealed.

If you or a loved one have been a victim of medical malpractice, you should contact an experienced Massachusetts medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. They can help you to understand your rights and any recovery you may be entitled to under the law.

Legal News GavelThe Massachusetts Supreme Court recently decided a case about the duty of care that psychiatrists and psychiatric hospitals have to people who may be harmed by current or former patients. Specifically, in this case a man was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital after acting bizarrely and making threats of violence toward family members. After he was released from the hospital he murdered his neighbor. This claim was brought as a wrongful death claim by the family of the neighbor. The neighbor’s family alleged that the hospital and the man’s psychiatrist were liable for wrongful death by negligently letting the man leave the hospital. If you have been injured or a loved one was killed due to the acts of another, you should contact a knowledgeable Massachusetts wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. You may be able to hold the wrongdoers accountable for their actions.

Involuntary Hospitalization

Massachusetts law allows physicians to hospitalize patients against their will if they have a reason to believe that without hospitalization the person would create a likelihood of serious harm due to their mental illness. The initial period for these hospitalizations is up to three days. However, the superintendent of a psychiatric hospital can initially petition for someone to be held up to six months against their will if they present a risk of harm. This involuntary hospitalization can be renewed if necessary.

A plaintiff, in his capacity as the personal representative of the estate of a victim, brought a Massachusetts nursing home negligence action against Park, Marion, and Vernon Streets Operating Company, LLC d/b/a Brookline Health Care Center (BHCC), and John Doe Physicians and Jane Doe Nurses. As alleged in the complaint, as a result of the defendants’ negligence, the victim choked to death when she was left unsupervised to eat in the dayroom of the assisted living facility in which she resided.

Legal News Gavel
The victim was admitted to BHCC in April 2012 for nursing care and rehabilitation after a hospitalization for seizures and falls, and she remained there until her death in May 2014. Throughout this period, she was deemed to be at risk for falls. Her medical records also indicated that she was on a soft diet, customized for her diabetes, and at variable times during her residency at the facility, she required continual supervision while eating, since she was at risk for aspiration. On the morning of May 7, 2014, a resident in the day room alerted the nurses to help the victim, who was holding her chest and in distress. A nurse’s note later in the day said that the victim was seen holding her neck and tapping on her chest and that she became unresponsive as she was being assessed by staff.

When ambulance personnel attempted to insert an endoctracheal tube, they had to remove a silver dollar-sized piece of food before they were able to successfully intubate her. The victim was pronounced dead upon her arrival at Beth Israel Hospital. The cause of death was respiratory distress, secondary to aspiration.

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.

Legal News Gavel
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.

Legal News Gavel

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.

Continue reading

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.

Legal News Gavel

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.

Continue reading

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.

Legal News Gavel

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.

Continue reading

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.

Legal News Gavel

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.

Continue reading

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.

Legal News Gavel

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.

Continue reading

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. Legal News Gavel

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.

Continue reading

Contact Information