Families Call for Hospital Safety

June 14, 2007,

"When her 18-month-old daughter Josie died after a series of medical mistakes at Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore six years ago, Sorrel King was consumed by grief and anger, wanting to destroy the hospital and even end her own life. But with three other children to live for, she and her husband Tony decided they had to help fix a broken system.
"We had to do something good that would prevent this from ever happening to a child again," Ms. King says. When the hospital offered a financial settlement, Ms. King, a former fashion designer who had become a stay-at-home mom, asked Johns Hopkins to take some of the money back to start a children's safety program. She also created the Josie King Foundation to fund safety initiatives at other hospitals.

Now, to take the message to a broader audience of both consumers and medical professionals, she is launching a new Web site, josieking.org, with her own blog on patient safety; an online community where families can post their medical-error experiences and provide emotional support; advice from medical and legal experts on how to avoid error and deal with it when occurs; and resources for hospitals seeking to improve safety."

Read the full article on the Wall Street Journal Online.

More Concerns With Contact Lens Infection

June 12, 2007,

"FDA issued a Preliminary Public Health Notification to inform healthcare professionals of a recent increase in reported cases of Acanthamoeba keratitis in soft contact lens wearers. The infections are potentially related to the use of Complete MoisturePlus Multipurpose Contact Lens Solution."

Read the FDA's full release here.

Hospital Nightshift Nightmare

June 10, 2007,

"It's midnight in Charleston, South Carolina, and something has gone terribly wrong in room 749 of the Medical University of South Carolina Children's Hospital. The patient, Lewis Blackman, is a 15-year-old boy recovering from surgery to correct a relatively common birth defect called pectus excavatum, or sunken chest. The condition is not life-threatening and never seemed to slow Lewis down. A whiz in every school subject, he acted with the South Carolina Shakespeare Company and, at age seven, appeared in a long-running TV commercial for Sun-Drop soda with Dale Earnhardt. But a sunken chest can sometimes lead to respiratory difficulties, so Lewis and his parents decided to go for a minimally invasive surgical correction: inserting a metal strut to support the breastbone.

Three days after the surgery, Lewis should be feeling better. Instead, despite doses of a powerful painkiller called Toradol, the boy is racked with agonizing pain -- "five on a scale of five," he pantingly tells his mother, Helen Haskell, an archaeologist. Oddly, the pain seems centered in his abdomen, not his chest. Nurses are certain the boy is suffering from gas, a diagnosis reinforced earlier that evening by Dr. Craig Murray, the chief resident on call. Dr. Murray had stopped by and prescribed a suppository for what he believed was probably constipation, a common problem after surgery."

Read the full article from the Reader's Digest

More Truth To The Medical Malpractice "Crisis"

June 6, 2007,

"The study ("No Basis for High Insurance Rates") shows that the med mal insurers are gouging doctors, padding their pockets with excessive premiums and driving up the cost of health care. These same insurance companies have of course been blaming high premiums on a so-called "malpractice crisis" that doesn't exist. We have an insurance crisis, not a medical malpractice crisis – and this report sets the record straight."

Read the full report here.

WTC Dust From 9/11 Blamed For Attorney's Death

June 4, 2007,

"New York City’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Charles S. Hirsch, has for the first time directly linked a death to exposure to dust from the destruction of the World Trade Center.

In a letter made public yesterday, Dr. Hirsch said that he was certain “beyond a reasonable doubt” that dust from the twin towers contributed to the death of Felicia Dunn-Jones, 42, a civil rights lawyer who was engulfed on Sept. 11 as she ran from her office a block away from the trade center.

She later developed a serious cough and had trouble breathing, and she died five months after the terrorist attack.

Dr. Hirsch said he had decided to amend Mrs. Dunn-Jones’s death certificate to indicate that exposure to trade center dust “was contributory to her death.” The manner of death will be changed from natural causes to homicide."

Read the full article in the NY Times.

JAMA Study Emphasizes Crucial Role of Lawsuits For Drug Safety

June 2, 2007,

No great surprise to the readers of this blog, but a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reveals that litigation serves an important role in protection American from dangerous drugs.An excerpt is found below:

"In the past decade, several widely used prescription medications have been observed to cause life-threatening adverse effects, and some have been removed from the market. When an approved medication is found to be unsafe, the courts are sometimes called on to determine fault and allocate remedies for injured parties. But in modern prescription drug cases, litigation has taken on additional significance. There are often important gaps in the ascertainment and reporting of adverse effects associated with prescription drugs, and the balance of information presented to physicians about the risks and benefits of medications may understate the former and inflate the latter.1 However, once it approves a drug, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has limited authority to mandate further collection of data to better define adverse effects or to ensure compliance with suggested alterations in marketing practices."

You may buy the full article here.

Lawsuit Loan Lending Companies

May 31, 2007,

A relatively new area of consumer lending has sprung up, in the wake of big insurance's often used tactic of 'delay, deny, defend'.These 'Lawsuit Loan' lending companies extend loans to plaintiffs in injury cases as a way to not only financially assist the plaintiff, but to fight back against insurance company's delay strategies.

Many times plaintiffs in injury actions are unable to work, and have medical bills that pile up and remain unpaid.This may force a plaintiff to take a settlement that is far less than what his/her case is worth.The 'lawsuit loan' allows the plaintiff to financially survive while his/her claim is brought to a full, and just, resolution.

There are many companies out there, but be careful.Many of these lending companies have very high interest rates and fees.Our firm recommends Preferred Capital Lending in Chicago.They are a licensed lending company in Illinois and offer fair and reasonable rates.

Fighting Back Against State Farm

May 29, 2007,

Below is an ad found in Bloomington, Illinois, the corporate headquarters of State Farm Insurance.It was paid for the the Scruggs Katrina Group, who is helping Katrina victims put their lives back together.The ad is in response to a marketing campaign by State Farm along the Gulf Coast, flying their 'Like A Good Neighbor' slogan while denying thousands of Katrina related claims.

Illinois Judge Wants To Light Up Dimissed 'Light' Cigarette Case

May 26, 2007,

"EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (AP) -- A judge whose $10.1 billion judgment against Philip Morris USA in a lawsuit over light cigarettes was thrown out on appeal is asking a court whether he can revive the case.

Madison County Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron asked the Mount Vernon-based 5th District Appellate Court of Illinois this month to rule whether he has authority to reopen the lawsuit. Byron cited potentially new evidence stemming from a separate tobacco case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Byron ruled in favor of smokers in March 2003, saying that Philip Morris -- now the nation's biggest cigarette maker -- had misled customers into believing they were buying a less harmful cigarette....

But the attorney in that suit, Stephen Tillery of St. Louis, now says his original argument is supported by the U.S. solicitor general in a separate case before the nation's high court. Paul Clement -- the Bush administration's top Supreme Court lawyer -- said in the new case that the FTC had never authorized or ordered Marlboro Lights to be labeled as "lights" or use the words "lower tar and nicotine."

Read the full article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

$2.8 Million Settlement for Illinois Bed Sore Case

May 24, 2007,

"CHICAGO - A $2,325,000 settlement was reached April 19 in a pressure sore and wrongful death action against Senior Lifestyle Maplewood's Kingsley Place nursing facility, a woman's treating physician and a home health agency (John Mozenter, Personal Representative of the Estate of Marilyn Mozenter, v. Senior Lifestyle Maplewood Ltd. Partnership, d/b/a Kingsley Place At Lincoln Square, et al., No. 2 L 16293, Ill. Cir., Cook Co.)."

Read more at Lexis.com

Avandia Linked to Heart Attack Risk

May 22, 2007,

A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine reported a studyindicating a 48% increased risk of heart attack with the diabetes drug Avandia.Avandia is taken by more than over 1 million people and generated sales of over $3 billion for GlaxoSmithKline last year.

Could this be another Vioxx?Well, not to the same scale, but the author of the recent study, Dr. Steven Nissin, was one of the main critics of Vioxx.We will have to wait to see just how much Glaxo new before this study came out.

Read more at WSJ.com.

3 Docs Caught In Health Insurance Scam

May 20, 2007,

"Likened to "body snatchers" by Orange County's top prosecutor, three doctors were arrested Wednesday for their alleged roles in an elaborate insurance fraud scheme in which hundreds of patients across the U.S. were recruited to undergo unnecessary procedures in exchange for money or low-cost cosmetic surgeries.

The arrests bring to 17 the number of people named in the "rent-a-patient" scam allegedly operated out of Unity Outpatient Surgery Center in Buena Park.

Michael C. Chan, a Cerritos obstetrician, William W. Hampton, a Seal Beach surgeon, and Mario Z. Rosenberg, a Beverly Hills gastroenterologist on staff at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, are accused of performing more than 1,000 unneeded procedures on 940 patients, then billing insurance companies an estimated $30 million for the work."

Read the full article in the LA Times.

TYCO Settles Investor Class Action for $3 Billion

May 16, 2007,

"Tyco International, whose two top executives were imprisoned for fraud, has agreed to pay almost $3 billion to settle class-action lawsuits brought by investors, the company announced yesterday.
The settlement, described as the largest payment ever by a company in such litigation, seeks to help put to rest one of the nation’s most notorious cases of fraud. Tyco investors may be in a position to recover even more money because they would also share in any proceeds from litigation still outstanding against L. Dennis Kozlowski, the former Tyco chief executive, and two other former executives, and against the company’s former auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers."

Read the full article in the NY Times.

Putting A Price On Life

May 14, 2007,

Here is a moving story printed at cbs2.com:

"In a shocking report, more people die from medical mistakes each year than from highway accidents, breast cancer or AIDS. And in California, a little known law puts a price tag on what the state says your life is worth. Now, a Simi Valley family blames a local hospital's errors for robbing their daughter of her young and innocent life.

"She died in my arms," Jodi Gonzalez said. "The doc kept coming over and putting the stethoscope to her heart. 'Why do you keep doing that?' She said, 'The heart is still beating and we have to record the time of death.' See, she didn't want to die."

In the very same UCLA hospital Delaney Lucille Gonzalez was born in, just 16 months later, the toddler would die in.

"The next thing you are at the mortuary, you are picking out little coffins for your daughter… little coffins for your daughter," said Delaney's father Daniel Gonzalez.

Delaney was with Treacher Collins Syndrome, a rare disorder that causes physical abnormalities of the head and face.

The Gonzalez family never treated their bouncing baby girl, they lovingly nicknamed "Laney the ladybug," any different."

Purdue Pharmacuetical Settles Oxycotin Claims

May 11, 2007,

"Purdue Pharma has agreed to pay $19.5 million to 26 states and Washington, D.C., to settle claims that the company promoted its painkiller OxyContin for off-label uses, the company announced on Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reports (Wall Street Journal, 5/9). According to Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and state Consumer Protection Commissioner Jerry Farrell, Purdue also allegedly violated FDA rules by promoting OxyContin for use every eight hours, rather than the approved dosage of every 12 hours (Hathaway, Hartford Courant, 5/9).

The states allege that Purdue violated FDA rules by promoting the drug as the painkiller "to start with and the one to stay with" for a variety of pain, including from surgery and broken bones, even though the drug was approved by FDA for limited use in people who need long-term pain management. In addition, the states allege that Purdue tied the pay of its sales representatives to how much OxyContin doctors prescribed, while playing down the addictive properties of the drug (Jadhav, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 5/9). The cumulative effect of such practices has led to "misuse, diversion and abuse" of OxyContin by increasing the amount of the drug in circulation, according to Blumenthal."

Read the full article at MedicalNewsToday.com