When someone is severely or fatally harmed due to medical errors the first concern should always be about the patient and their families. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case as many hospitals immediately engage in the "deny and defend" model. This approach just makes the experience that much more difficult for the victims of medical errors to find out what happened. In fact, most patients never learn that they have been injured due to a medical error. This is corroborated by a recent study that found that 77 percent of 300 primary-care doctors admitted they would not fully disclose to a patient when there had been a delayed breast cancer diagnosis.
One of the most common conditions for patients who are immobile or otherwise bedridden is bedsores (also known as "pressure ulcers" or "decubitus ulcers"). Bedsores generally develop along bony areas of the body, such as the hips or tailbone, because immobile patients are constantly putting weight or pressure on that part of their body. This condition is easily preventable by simply rotating the patient to change their position or using a medical air mattress, which inflates and deflates intermittently to change a patient's pressure points. Unfortunately, even though bedsores are easily preventable, this condition is not uncommon for many patients in hospitals and nursing homes.
Last month, a neurosurgeon from Texas was convicted of harming an elderly patient in his operating room. Dr. Christopher Duntsch was indicted on five counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and one count of harming an elderly person, however the prosecution decided to only try the latter. The patient, 74-year-old Mary Efurd, was supposed to be undergoing a routine fusion of two vertabrae, but instead suffered severe pain from fusion hardware being misplaced in her soft muscle causing nerve damage. So how did this become a criminal case instead of a medical malpractice claim? Because Dr. Duntsch had done this before and he knew that his outcomes were so poor that Ms. Efurd was likely to wind up injured under his care.
Earlier this week, Gerry Leeseberg testified in front of the Ohio House of Representatives Judiciary Committee against House Bill 559. H.B. 559 is proposed legislation designed to provide even more protections to negligent doctors and hospitals. Specifically, Gerry addressed two provisions of the bill - expanding the apology statute and reducing "shotgun" lawsuits.
"It wasn't like, I'm going to lie." It was, "I'm going to support my colleague."
Last April, we posted a blog entitled "What Steps Do Hospitals Take to Avoid Retained Surgical Items?" While this remains a necessary component of patient safety in the OR, new technologies have been released in recent years to further minimize this risk. These new technologies are an important step to help prevent these surgical "never events" from happening. These technologies include computer-assisted sponge count devices, radiofrequency detection systems, and radiofrequency identification systems.
Last month, attorney Craig Tuttle of Leeseberg & Valentine settled two cases on behalf of his clients against The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. The first case settled for $75,000 and the second case settled for $125,000. Both cases, while formally filed with the Court of Claims, were able to be resolved before commencing litigation. Craig commends OSU for its willingness to acknowledge something went wrong and proactive attitude in working to reach an agreement.
The medical malpractice attorneys at Leeseberg & Valentine obtained a $1.2 million settlement against the City of Columbus for their client. This is the largest personal injury payout in city history and sets an important legal precedent that will hold public employees responsible for their egregious conduct. This settlement exceeds the prior record payment of $1 million, which was also obtained by Leeseberg & Valentine, in the case of Wagner v. City of Columbus, on behalf of a young boy electrocuted by a defective lamp post on one of the City's bridges.
There are certain things that should never happen when you go into surgery. These are aptly referred to as "never events" because of its seriousness and preventable nature. An example of this would be retained surgical items, such as sponges, needles, and components of a surgical device.
On March 23, 2016, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that any patient data kept by a health care provider, regardless of location, is a medical record that must be released to patients and families. Earlier in the year, we wrote about the dangers of letting medical providers determine what is and is not a "medical record." You can also read an in depth analysis of the court's decision from former judge and University of Cincinnati College of Law professor emerita Marianna Bettman here.