Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

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In every profession, most people are caring, honest, and trustworthy. The medical profession is no different.  Most doctors uphold the Hippocratic Oath, to which they swear to “do no harm” to their patients.  However, a small percentage of doctors do not.  Because of these doctors and medical professionals, medical error has become the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States.  Your doctor is one person who you believe you can trust.  There are too many instances where this is just not true.

Early this year, there was another gross example of medical malpractice in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  The following information was taken from a January 3, 2017 article in the Albuquerque Journal.

“In one set of cases, patients were told they could alleviate their lower back pain by an injection of untested and unauthorized hot bone cement. In another set, patients agreed to unnecessary implants of pacemakers and other medical devices after being told their conditions were so serious they might die on their way home.”

tr-pacemaker-300x232The two sets of medical malpractice cases were the biggest in decades in New Mexico and involved so many alleged victims that lawyers had to turn potential clients away.

Both sets of cases were rooted in southern New Mexico and involved smaller hospitals that allegedly allowed rogue doctors to take advantage of unwitting patients. Both included major out-of-state corporations as defendants.

The lawsuits involving an Alamogordo pain specialist who performed unorthodox spine treatments that harmed dozens of patients continue to drag on in the courts. However, the other litigation against a Las Cruces osteopathic cardiologist, Demosthenes Klonis, who was accused of implanting unnecessary pacemakers in patients, ended in 2016 with a series of secret settlements worth millions of dollars.

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Many Republications believe a malpractice crisis is threatening health care in the United States.  However, experts say this is not the case and that there has been no such “crisis” in more than 10 years.  “It’s a wonderful time for doctors looking for coverage and it’s never been better for insurers,” said Michael Matray, editor of Medical Liability Monitor, a trade publication. Doctors are, in fact, paying less for malpractice insurance than they did in 2001 — without any inflation adjustment and the rate of claims has dropped by half since 2003.

Despite these facts, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Rep. Tom Price, the incoming Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, want to boldly reform the malpractice system, saying hundreds of billions are wasted on “lawsuit abuse” and defensive medicine.

As top Republicans see it, frivolous lawsuits are driving up malpractice insurance premiums and forcing physicians out of business.  They claim doctors and hospitals live in fear of litigation, ordering excessive tests and treatments that make health care unaffordable for Americans.  In order to lower insurance premiums and costs, proponents of Tort Reform want to set caps on the amount an injured patient is able to recover if they are successful in a medical malpractice case.  This means that no matter how badly a patient is hurt, or even if the patient dies because of medical malpractice, the plaintiff could only recover a limited amount of money, which in many cases does not fully compensate them for their injuries.TR-stethscope-300x207

More than 30 states across America have some form of cap on damages in malpractice lawsuits to control litigation and awards with helping to contain costs.

As we wrote here last July, “(Here in Indiana) Governor Pence signed a bill approving an increase to the state’s cap on medical malpractice damages.  The new law would raise the cap to $1.65 million in 2017 and $1.8 million in 2019. Indiana’s new law continues to cover both economic and non-economic damages.”

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If you have had heart surgery between 2010 to 2016, you may be at risk of a life-threatening infection linked to a medical device used during your procedure.  The device is the Stockert 3T heater-cooler which is commonly used to heat and cool a patient’s blood during the operation.

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Before you panic, government health officials say the risk of infection is generally very low and is not contagious.

Still, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Centers for Disease Control have received at least 91 reports of patients who developed a nontuberculous mycobacterium (NTM) infection linked to the heater-coolers. Worldwide, the infections have resulted in at least 12 patient deaths, according to the FDA.  A total of about 600,000 patients in the United States who have had heart operations involving the machines are at risk.

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In an article published here on September 12th, we reported on a claim that Indianapolis Fertility Doctor may have used his own sperm to impregnate patients.

On November 22 WTHR Channel 13 in Indianapolis has broadcast a follow-up report.  The following transcript of the report is courtesy of WTHR News.

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) – Three Indianapolis area mothers and their children are speaking out as a unified front about their fertility doctor’s alleged betrayal.

“It’s devastating. It’s changed my entire life. I’ve cried every day for the past two months,” Julie Manes said. Manes is one of a dozen people who are named in court documents as being the biological child of Indianapolis fertility doctor Donald Cline.tr dr cline

Manes received her DNA test results in mid-October. She has since met others who claim the same.

“To know that a doctor took advantage of that situation is unimaginable,” said Cline’s reported biological son, Matt White. “It’s wrong on so many different levels.” White also recently discovered his connection to Cline.

Another one of Cline’s biological daughters is Jacoba Ballard. It’s been an emotional roller coaster for her entire family, too.

“I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy,” Ballard said. “Never. Never.”

 

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WTHR (NBC Indianapolis) has reported that 77 year old Dr. Donald Cline of Indianapolis allegedly used his own sperm to artificially inseminate patients without their knowledge.

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Donald Cline – Photo Courtesy WTHR-TV

 

Now retired, Dr. Cline was charged with two felony counts of obstruction of justice for statements he made to investigators.  He appeared in court Monday (9-12-16)

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918333_u_s__capitol_building sxchu username sloneckerA bill that was overwhelmingly passed by the United States House of Representatives in March would provide physicians in Indiana and throughout the country with additional and likely unnecessary protections against medical malpractice claims. Under the bill, patients would be prohibited from introducing evidence in a malpractice lawsuit regarding a doctor’s federal performance ratings that are now required under the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, and Medicare. Interestingly, the language of the bill is almost identical to that advocated for by medical professionals and their insurers.

Currently, physicians are required to report information used to evaluate the quality of care they provide to federally insured patients based on a scale of zero to 100. Sample questions include how many patients receive smoking cessation counseling or become infected following a surgical procedure. Those performance measures are then used to calculate the rate at which each medical professional is paid by a federal insurer. In addition, some private insurers have transitioned towards using a performance-based payment system as well. The nation’s Secretary of Health and Human Services recently announced that her goal was to ensure all Medicare payments would be tied to the treating doctor’s quality measures within the next three years.

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Stethoscope 3 morguefile dodgertonskillhausIt is vital for a patient who was hurt as a result of medical malpractice to file his or her lawsuit in the appropriate jurisdiction. In Portee v. Cleveland Clinic Foundation, an Indiana woman underwent elbow replacement surgery in Ohio. According to the woman, the surgeon who operated on her severed her ulnar nerve. As a result, she filed a medical malpractice case against the doctor, the hospital where her surgery was performed, and other medical professionals in the Southern District of Indiana. In response to the woman’s complaint, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the case for lack of personal jurisdiction or to transfer the case to the state where the hospital was located. In general, personal jurisdiction refers to a court’s power to decide a case and enforce its decision over the parties to a lawsuit.

After stating the woman failed to establish that the court had jurisdiction over the defendants, the Southern District of Indiana granted their motion and dismissed the lawsuit. Because the one-year statute of limitations expired before the woman’s case was dismissed, she asked the Indiana court to transfer her lawsuit to the Northern District of Ohio in lieu of dismissing her claims. A statute of limitations is the time frame during which an injured party may file a lawsuit with a court. If the hurt person fails to file a complaint within the allotted time, he or she is typically permanently barred from recovering damages regardless of fault. According to the federal court, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1404 and 1406 allow a court to transfer a case to a different venue “in the interest of justice.” Still, any transfer is at the discretion of the court.

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1381283586mxllq morguefile username DodgertonSkillhauseAbout 120,000 people across the State of Indiana are currently suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. According to an Indianapolis physician, some over-the-counter medications taken for long periods of time may increase a patient’s likelihood of developing the debilitating disease. In fact, some doctors believe daily doses of ibuprofen, aspirin, certain antihistamines, and other common drugs may increase a person’s risk for developing Alzheimer’s by more than 50 percent.

A neurologist at the Indiana University Health Aging Brain Clinic stated patients should thoroughly evaluate the potential side effects of any medication, but especially those that might be taken for more than 30 days. He added that individuals should carefully weigh the potential benefits against the risks. For example, being unable to sleep may be a small price to pay when compared with avoiding dementia symptoms.

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Fun Medical MGD© morgiuefile mgdbostonMedical providers in Indiana have a duty to provide a standard level of care to each patient they treat. Individuals in the healthcare field are also required to comply with a number of state and federal laws. For example, medical professionals who fail to obey patient privacy laws can face serious consequences. A former Indiana dentist has reportedly agreed to pay a hefty fine over alleged patient privacy violations.

According to the Office of the Indiana Attorney General, the former Kokomo dentist improperly disposed of more than 60 boxes of unredacted patient records in an Indianapolis dumpster in violation of Indiana privacy laws and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”). The boxes apparently contained patient names, addresses, social security numbers, birth dates, and insurance information spanning a period of at least five years. In response to concerns from the owner of the dumpster, the Attorney General’s Office recovered the boxes.

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