Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

The family of an infant child filed a lawsuit after the loss of their newborn in February of 2014 after emergency medical technicians and doctors made a series of medical errors, resulting in the infant’s death.

On January 3, 2014, Sara Keenan breastfed her newborn baby Lana and put her down for a nap; an hour later her husband, Padraig Kennan, went to check on the newborn and found her choking on her own vomit. A houseguest who worked as an EMT was able to revive Lana and the family was able to call 911; this phone call would change their lives forever.

Exchange Ambulances of the Islips transported the infant to Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, an hour away from their home; the infant could have been taken to Good Samaritan Medical Center or Stony Brook University Hospital, both closer to the family’s home and equipped with pediatric intensive care units. In addition to the lengthy transport, EMT’s failed to intubate the baby, give her oxygen or wrap her in an effort to protect her from the cold on the walk to the ambulance parked four doors away.

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The shift change is one of the most crucial times of day at a hospital or nursing home.  At its best, it is the time when nurses from the outgoing shift and the incoming shift communicate with each other to ensure they stay on the same page with respect to the patient’s needs and any changes in needs or behavior.   At its worst, it either does not happen at all or when it happens, the appropriate information is not exchanged, which can result in errors and oversights in care. The traditional shift change consisted of nurses conferring in the hallway outside of patients rooms or at the nurse’s station and in some instances, writing up a medical report for the next nurse to read; these methods can result in important information to be left out. Hospitals in Washington are implementing a new method of shift change in order to prevent these occurrences, called bedside shift reports.

bedside reporting

Studies have shown that bedside shift reports make patients feel safe, included, and satisfied. During bedside shift reports, both nurses meet with the patient to handover information from the previous shift. This method helps nurses to communicate better with one another, as well as the patient and the patient’s family. In addition, this method also helps to prevent falls and other injuries. Beverly Johnson, CEO of the Institute for Patient and Family Centered Care in Bethesda, Maryland stated this method is a simple way to ensure that accurate information is passed on and that both nurses understand the care plan for each patient. Continue reading

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced new agreements with Auburn Community Hospital in Auburn, New York and Our Lady of Lourdes Memorial Hospital in Binghamton, New York, which will assist in supporting equal access to healthcare in terms of language assistance and financial aid, as both hospitals aid diverse communities.  Implementing new policies will ensure that hospital services are available to all regardless of limited English proficiency or an inability to pay.

According to the 2013 Census, roughly two and a half million New Yorkers did not speak English as their primary language and have a restricted ability to read, write, or understand English.  Binghamton, New York has a population of 44,562 over the age of five, 13.7% of whom speak a language other than English as their primary language and 5.4% who do not speak English “very well”.  2013 Census records also suggest that 10.1% of Binghamton’s population did not have health insurance and demonstrated that between 2012 and 2013, 33.3% of Binghamton residents lived under the federal poverty level. The 2013 Census figures for Auburn, New York demonstrated that 6.9% of its residents do not speak English as their primary language and 2.8 % speak English less than “very well.” Auburn residents who had no health insurance constituted 11.3% of the city’s population, while 20.0% were living under the federal poverty level. Continue reading

Linda Masse, a Licensed Practical Nurse, pled guilty in Schenectady County Court to one count of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree, a Class D Felony, with a sentence of felony drug court.  Masse also agreed to surrender her nurse practitioners license.

Linda Masse was a licensed practical nurse at Women’s Health Care Associates in Latham, New York for a physician who specialized in obstetrics and gynecology.  It was revealed that from March 2014 to approximately April 2015, Linda Masse used eighteen forged prescriptions from her employer’s medical practice in order to obtain hydrocodone and oxycodone from various pharmacies, including Walmart and CVS. For each prescription, Masse would obtain large amounts of narcotics- varying from 40 to 180 pills.pills8 Hydrocodone and oxycodone are Schedule II controlled substances meaning that the drugs have a high potential for abuse, therefore restricting the use of those drugs. Masse obtained over 2,000 pills of hydrocodone and oxycodone, which were paid for by Medicaid. Masse committed Medicaid fraud by unlawfully issuing prescriptions in her name and forging a physician’s signature. Continue reading

The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department affirmed in part and reversed in part a trial court order for summary judgment in a medical malpractice case.

The plaintiff underwent lap band surgery in 2002, which led to complications with her pregnancy. In June 2004, after visiting her doctor’s office with complaints of nausea, vomiting, constipation, and pain in the area of the lap band, plaintiff, who was then 19 weeks pregnant, was admitted to the defendant Lutheran Medical Center. Andrade’s symptoms never subsided and a gastrointestinal work-up did not reveal a cause for them. The defendant recommended the insertion of a feeding tube to provide nutritional support to the plaintiff during her pregnancy as the preferred course of action, although doing nothing or removing the lap band also were presented as options. Continue reading

The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department affirmed a trial judge’s order that granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, dismissing a medical malpractice complaint.

The plaintiff was prescribed Lipitor and Azithromycin. Lipitor is FDA-approved to treat high cholesterol. Azithromycin is an anti-biotic used to treat bacterial infections. The plaintiff later suffered from bradycardia. Bradycardia is a slower than normal heart rate. The heart sends electrical signals between the upper and lower chambers of the heart that instruct the heart to contract. This is referred to as a heart beat. The upper chamber is called the atria, and the lower chamber is called the ventricle. When these electrical signals are blocked, the blockage is known as an atrioventricular block. Atrioventricular block can lead to fainting, dizziness, shortness of breath, and chest pain. The slowed heart beat can also lead to heart attack and death.

The plaintiff in this case suffered from atrioventricular block. He then filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the prescribing physician, alleging that the two prescription medications had caused her condition. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, alleging that the plaintiff had failed to raise a triable issue of fact by failing to meet the requirements of medical malpractice lawsuits in New York. The trial judge agreed and dismissed the case. The plaintiff appealed, and the First Department affirmed the trial judge’s decision.

Approximately 90% of practicing physicians in the U.S. are board-certified. While this is a fairly high percentage, it still shows that a number of doctors practicing in the U.S. without board certification. Receiving medical care from a qualified and competent physician is important when it comes to your healthcare. Take a look at the following information to understand what board certification means and why it is so important.

What is Medical Board Certification?

A doctor must demonstrate and meet a level of competency in the field of medicine. A medical board is an organization that has a set of minimum requirements that must be met to gain membership. By gaining membership, doctors achieve a level of competency that is respected among colleagues and patients. On the other hand, non-certified doctors are, more likely than not, deemed as less competent due to their inability or unwillingness to meet the minimum membership requirements.

After receiving a complaint in October 2013 against the Edna Tina Wilson Living Center, a 120-bed facility located in Rochester, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) fined the facility $4,450 for a medication error that caused a resident to develop a blood clot in her leg. The affected resident was admitted into the nursing home in September 2013. The resident’s medical chart indicated that she had received a heart valve replacement, had a pacemaker and was taking Heparin and Coumadin, both of which are blood-thinning medications. A physician ordered that a routine blood test be done on October 14, 2013 to ensure that the blood-thinning medication was working properly. Administration of the Coumadin was to be suspended temporarily under the lab test results came back. However, the blood test was never conducted, and for a period of nine days the resident never received Coumadin.

On October 21, 2013, the resident began complaining about pain in her lower left leg. After conducting an imaging test, a doctor determined that the patient had developed a blood clot in her lower left calf. The physician immediately ordered that the resident be placed back on Coumadin and receive Lovenox, a blood thinner that is injected in the affected area. Moreover, the physician ordered a blood test, which revealed that the patient was at risk of developing more blood clots. Staff members were also instruct to perform tests to ensure that clots did not form on the resident’s lungs.

Over the course of the investigation into the matter, DOH officials also discovered that lab tests for five other residents, including those on anticoagulants, were never conducted during the same time period. After working closely with staff members and administrators, DOH surveyors were able to trace the cause of the error to the implementation of a new computer system at the facility. Under the old paper system, nurses were required to manually fill out a lab request form and submit it to the secretary. Under the new computerized system, the nurses were not required to submit a paper lab request. The secretary stated that she was never trained or informed of this new change in policy and procedure. As a result, several lab requests were missed, resulting in actual harm to the resident.

At Terence Cardinal Cooke, a nursing home in New York, NY, Coral Quintyne, a Licensed Practical Nurse, was recently arrested and prosecuted for giving methadone to the wrong resident. As a result of the medication error, the elderly resident required hospitalization. What is more disturbing and likely the reason for the arrest is that the nurse failed to report her error and falsified documents in an attempt to cover it up. On 2/4/2011, she was sentenced to six months incarceration.

The reality is that mistakes happen. In fact, I recently gave my 2 year old son five times the amount of prescribed dose of an antibiotic (luckily with no adverse effects). In nursing home and hospital settings, medication errors can occur in an instant without indifference to residents. However, the appropriate response is to advise a physician and immediately obtain necessary care. The falsification of records and attempted cover-up is inexcusable. As it always seems, in this instance the cover-up was worse than the crime.

Long-Term-Care Community Coalition, Enforcement Actions 12/16/10-3/15/11.

A Westchester County jury returned a $2.2 million dollar verdict against Westchester Medical Center located in Valhalla, NY and one of its physicians for allowing Eric Trainor, a 30 year-old quadriplegic and former contractor, to develop bedsores (pressure sores, decubiti) that progressed to Stage IV. Mr. Trainor was involved in a car accident on the way to a construction job back in 2005, which resulted in a spinal cord injury and quadraplegia.

From the crash site, he was taken to Westchester Medical Center where the bedsores developed. The Stage IV wounds on his back and buttocks progressed all the way down to the bone. The plaintiff argued at trial that the development of the sores delayed his physical therapy and left him without the opportunity to build upper-body strength.

The attorneys at Gallivan & Gallivan aggressively represent individuals who have developed bedsores (pressure sores, decubitus ulcers) in hospitals or nursing homes. As we have discussed on the New York Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog many times before, bedsores are preventable with appropriate care in almost all circumstances. If you or a loved one has been neglected, please contact us.

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