Articles Posted in Hospital Negligence

Poor Sterilization Can Lead to OutbreakIn 2013, the Park Ridge Advocate Lutheran General Hospital experienced a harmful superbug outbreak that affected patients at the facility. Deadly bacteria was directly associated with a device use by medical staff to treat digestive conditions. Since then, the facility implemented new protocols in sterilizing procedures to minimize the potential of further contamination of its instruments.

The harmful superbug was isolated as carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae, a bacteria commonly referred to as CRE. The bacterium is considered deadly because of its high resistance to the most advanced “last defense” prescription antibiotics. Since the outbreak incident in October 2013, there have been no additional cases at Lutheran General Hospital.

Chicagoland and Other Locations

The outbreak was not just isolated in the Chicagoland area. Starting in 2012, hospitals in Pittsburgh and Seattle also experienced a CRE superbug outbreak. After the deadly scare at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Park Ridge Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, the facilities began using EtO gas sterilization processes to make sure all CRE bacteria on the facilities instruments are destroyed. The new cleaning processes are thought to completely sterilize the instruments.

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Liability on Hospital and Doctors for a Woman Hurt in SurgeryA Seattle resident has received $30 million in damages following a surgical incident which left her unable to speak or breathe without the assistance of machines. During a procedure to remove polyps found on her vocal cords, an endotracheal tube caught fire inside of her throat causing irreparable damage to her vocal chords and trachea. (For more discussion on operating room fires view page here)

The victim, Becky Anderson, named multiple parties in the lawsuit which included the hospital where she underwent surgery, two doctors and the manufacturer of the device which caught fire during the procedure. Her case is a precautionary tale about how easily things can go wrong during what may be considered a routine medical procedure.

Doctors and Medical Facility Found Liable

Becky Anderson filed a lawsuit against her ear, nose and throat specialist and the anesthesiologist responsible for sedating her during the procedure which left her with injuries so severe that she was hospitalized for three months. She brought lawsuits against Wenatchee Valley Medical Center, Wenatchee Anesthesia Associates, Central Washington Hospital, Medtronic and Doctors Donald Paugh and Linda Schatz for each of their assumed contributions to her injuries. Of those sued, Medtronic was the only party found not liable for Anderson’s injuries, despite her claim that the tube used should have included a double cuff to prevent oxygen from igniting during the procedure.

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New Guidelines in Hospitals to Help Reduce MistakesWhen most people are wronged, what they would like most is an apology and some form of restitution that will make things right. Two years ago, Massachusetts enacted a law that was meant to encourage hospitals to apologize to patients and attempt to come to a resolution when a procedure has gone awry. The thought is that the admission of mistakes will allow doctors to improve themselves and give patients the much needed closure that they desire. Coming to a resolution without first consulting an attorney can put the patient at a huge disadvantage on the other hand, and it is important not to be fooled into accepting a legally binding agreement as part of an apology.

Deny and Defend Policy Implemented to Address Medical Malpractice Cases

Prior to the passage of Massachusetts’s law it was typical of hospitals to deny any claims of malpractice regardless of whether an error was obvious and the doctor admitted responsibility internally. This practice is primarily to defend institutions against lawsuits but has resulted in a warranted lack of trust between patients and providers. It becomes extremely difficult to come to any form of resolution with an organization that acts untrustworthy and fails to accept responsibility for its failures.

Patients seeking simple answers or closure were required to file lawsuits because of hospitals’ unwillingness to disclose any information that may have painted them in a negative light or opened them up to legal recourse. Offering an apology and some form of resolution may be easier and faster than following the legal process— which can take years.

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Falls that are Preventable in HospitalsWhile it is impossible to prevent every injury from occurring in hospitals, it is estimated that about one third of all falls can be prevented. With nearly one million falls occurring each year, prevention of one in three falls is a significant accomplishment and one that every hospital can achieve if the correct measures are implemented and staff are trained on how to minimize of patient falls. Injuries caused by falls cost hospitals and patients alike— Medicare no longer covers the cost of care related to injuries resulting from falls. It is the hope that hospitals will now have the incentive needed to manage fall risk and protect their patients.

The Physical and Financial Impact of Falls in Hospitals

Fall related injuries can complicate existing conditions, extend hospital visits and create new medical concerns for the victims. Patients experiencing a fall during a hospital visit generated an average of an additional $13,000 compared to those who did not experience a fall and up to 51% of falls result in some form of injury varying in severity from bruising and contusions to broken bones, lacerations and internal damage. A fall may also further immobilize a patient, making it more difficult to recover from his or her injuries and requiring the need for additional resources and care.

Medical Workers not Properly handling medicationsAntineoplastic drugs are most commonly used to treat cancer as part of chemotherapy and have been responsible for saving many lives. In addition to attacking and destroying cancer cells, however, these medications have been known to cause serious problems in healthcare workers who have been exposed to them. The risk to workers handling these agents has prompted the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to perform a study on the handling procedures of these medications and the results were alarming. Many of the workers involved in the study had not been properly trained or failed to follow the guidelines in place for safe handling of these potentially harmful substances.

The Effects of Antineoplastic Agent Exposure

Chemotherapy drugs are effective at destroying cells and preventing the replication of new ones. This is extremely useful when fighting cancer because cancer cells reproduce at a quick pace, causing the disease to spread. When a worker who is healthy is exposed to these medications, they may cause immediate or long term medical complications. These effects can include the following.

Scary Environment in Emergency Room with EbolaWhen a Liberian man walked into Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital after arriving from a country embattled with an Ebola epidemic, the warning signs should have been apparent and CDC protocol should have been followed. When this man was released from the emergency room and allowed contact with other people for the next three days, every person who came in contact with him was put at risk.

This incident not only highlights the extreme danger that can result from medical error but it has exposed a guarded history of ineptitude on behalf of the same emergency room and calls into question whether emergency rooms across the country are doing everything that they can to provide proper— and accurate care.

Misdiagnosis a Major Concern For Medical Professionals Unaccustomed To Ebola

Checking out What you are Getting IntoNo one likes going to the hospital, but when it cannot be avoided, most people probably think they are safest checking in to a large, regionally prominent hospital, preferably affiliated with a major medical school. A recent study by Consumer Reports magazine, however, dispels that notion. The study rated safety in over 4,000 hospitals nationwide and also within states, and some of the results were surprising. Some major teaching hospitals, including in the greater Chicago area, ranked below the national average in important patient metrics such as post-admission mortality, infections contracted in-hospital, and readmission rates.

Safety Concerns in the Hospital Setting

Even if you have the utmost confidence in the skills of your physician or surgeon, there are other factors beyond the physician’s control that could impact your safety in a hospital setting. Serious risks associated with hospital admission include the contracting of drug-resistant infections, surgical complications, even excessive use of CT scans.

Hospital Errors can be found with Malpractice LawyersEasy Ways to Eliminate Malpractice in Hospitals

When you go the hospital, you likely expect that surgeons and staff will take care of you during your stay. Unfortunately, congested hospitals and inadequate staffing levels have negatively impacted the quality of care delivered to patients. Patients can no longer blindly trust that they will receive the necessary care that is required of medical professionals.

Patients can prepare for a hospital stay by learning about common-sense ways that medical professionals can do to prevent hospital errors. Campaign Zero provides checklists to patients and helps them become informed about the standards that medical professionals must meet in a hospital environment. Armed with this knowledge, patients can stay aware of any ways in which medical professionals fail to deliver the required standard of care under the law. These checklists contain information about easy ways to reduce medical errors, such as propping a patient’s bed at a 30-degree angle to prevent pneumonia or using bleach wipes to kill germs in a patient’s room. Patients can also consume high-protein snacks to ward off bedsores and develop strength in recovery.

Concerns over complications from a hospitalizationHow Complications After Hospitalizations Occur

After you have received surgery or have been hospitalized for an injury, you likely expect to receive care that will rehabilitate you. You expect that doctors will be able to administer care that will help you recover as fast as possible. Unfortunately, hospital complications can result when doctors, insurance companies and hospitals are entrusted with your care.

Statistics show that over one million people experience medical malpractice during their hospital visits every year. Some people are never able to make a full recovery after they become victims of medical errors in the hospital.

O.R. in hospitalNew release of data collected by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on the price of hospital charges from across the nation may make a few eyebrows go up. The data has never been easily accessible by the public but now as part of President Obama’s administrations efforts to make health care more affordable and accessible, it has now been released. This change to transparency in medical procedure pricing has revealed large discrepancies in what hospitals charge across the nation.

What The CMS Data Contains

The new report issued by CMS gives a breakdown of prices for common inpatient procedures performed at hospitals all across the country. The top 100 procedures are listed from over 3,000 hospitals that receive Medicare payments. The first report is from 2011 and can be accessed online at

What will make those eyebrows go up is the difference in costs from one hospital to the next, with little rhyme or reason to it all. For example, one hospital charges $127,000 for a permanent pacer maker, yet another only charges $66,000 for the same procedure. A new lower limb could cost an average of $117,000 at one hospital yet only cost $25,600 somewhere else. The difference in charges does not seem to be geographic, just randomly more or less from one place to the next.

The report also lists the average actual payout for these procedures, which is interesting as well. One place may charge less for the procedure yet receives a larger average payout than another hospital that charges much more.  The payout is only a fraction of the billed charge, often less than 20% of the bill.

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