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Bergen County Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Reduce lawsuits by addressing medical malpractice at the source

For years, influential figures in medicine, politics and insurance have worked to institute "tort reform" laws. They allege that America is too litigious, especially when it comes to things like medical malpractice. These so-called reforms promised to rein in the costs of healthcare by making it harder for patients to sue physicians/hospitals and by putting caps on damage awards.

The financial promises of tort reform have not been fulfilled, and many are now wondering if the proponents of these laws were trying to distract from the real problem. In a recent guest news article written by the president of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, Robert Weissman discusses an astoundingly simple idea that was largely left out of the tort-reform rhetoric. Instead of taking away patients' rights to sue and to be fairly compensated, why not just find ways to reduce medical errors?

Hospital sued for medical malpractice causing teen's brain damage

New Jersey readers likely remember a news story that has been resurfacing for the past year or so. It concerns a 13-year-old girl who suffered severe brain damage after a controversial surgical procedure in California.

In addition to the allegations of medical malpractice that led to the girl's vegetative state, the story made national news because of disagreements over whether she should have been taken off life support. The girl is currently being cared for at a hospital in New Jersey.

Going beyond medical mistake prevention to harm elimination

America has a culture of consumerism. In order to stay competitive (or even to stay in business), companies have to go the extra mile to give customers products and services faster, more cheaply and with a great attitude. This last aspect - the customer experience - is what truly sets great companies apart from good ones.

This willingness to go the extra mile is missing in some industries, usually those where we need a product or service and have few options for where to obtain it. One of the best examples may be health care.

Court: No more med-mal liability protection on the open seas

Medical care is becoming more sophisticated and more portable all the time. Complicated procedures that used to be available only in major hospitals can now be done in remote areas of the world if funds and trained personnel are available. At the very least, patients needing complicated emergency care can be transferred to a properly equipped hospital by helicopter.

Because high-quality medical care is now portable, this new reality should change our expectations of the medical care offered by certain companies, like cruise lines. Last November, we wrote about a medical malpractice lawsuit challenging broad immunity for cruise lines. Recently, that challenge was upheld when an appellate court refused to reconsider a ruling against Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.

How your doctor-patient relationship can reduce the risk of errors

In our last post, we discussed the idea that the majority of medical errors that harm patients are caused by miscommunication. Listening is a vitally important skill, yet one that doctors often fail to utilize.

So what can you do to protect yourself from medical negligence if you feel that you haven’t been heard and understood by hospital staff? According to a recent study from Consumer Reports, patients need to demand a certain level of respect from their doctors and set the expectation that they are partners in their own medical care.

Improving communication to prevent serious medical errors

Whether we realize it or not, most of our meaningful interactions with others center on relationships. Work is more enjoyable and usually more productive if you like your colleagues. You are more likely to keep hiring an auto mechanic who has proven himself to be honest and reliable.

Relationships used to be at the heart of health care, but that no longer seems to be the case. Doctors and hospitals often regard medical appointments and diagnoses as a service to be delivered as quickly as possible. Building trust and rapport between doctor and patient is a secondary priority at best. Unfortunately, poor or inadequate communication between doctors and patients can lead to dangerous and costly medical errors.

Failure to diagnose cancer quickly enough

When it comes to cancer, time is often of the essence, as it is a disease that spreads—slowly, in some cases, but very quickly in others—from one part of the body to the next. For example, cancer could start in the lymph nodes of the neck, but, if untreated, it could then move through the network of lymph nodes in the body. This ability to spread is what makes lymphoma—the type of cancer that attacks the lymph nodes—so dangerous.

However, the danger of cancer spreading to different organs is by no means limited to just lymphoma. It can also happen with skin cancer, lung cancer and many other varieties.

Physician drug addiction and the threat of medical negligence

Drug and alcohol addiction is a significant problem in the United States. Nearly anyone with a family history of addiction knows just how destructive alcohol and drugs can be. They also understand how difficult it is for the addicted person to seek help, to accept help and to recover.

Alcoholism and drug addiction nearly always create problems at work for the addicted person. But those problems and their consequences are exponentially higher when the addicted person is a physician. Untreated addiction is a significant cause of medical negligence, and the outcomes for patients can be devastating.

I may need to pursue a medical malpractice suit. How do I begin?

If you or a loved one suffered harm due to what you believe was negligent medical care, you may have no idea what the next steps are or what legal options are available to you. Most patients are initially unprepared to even consider a medical malpractice lawsuit because they never thought something like this would happen to them.

All of these reactions are normal, particularly when the medical outcome included serious injury or a loved one’s death. In these cases, you should first tend to whatever is immediately urgent, which could include follow-up medical care, taking time to heal or making arrangements for time off of work. When things have settled down a bit, you can then turn your attention to your legal matters.

Hurt on a cruise ship? Court delivers important med-mal ruling

When most of us think of medical care, we only think of the hospitals and clinics near our home. But what happens when you need medical care while on vacation? How about on a cruise ship out on the open sea?

Cruise ships generally have at least one medical staff member on board, and it is typically understood that treatment resources outside of a hospital setting might be limited. Nonetheless, patients who suffer illness or injury on a cruise ship have a right to expect that they will receive quality medical care or that they will be transported in a timely fashion to a hospital on land.

$7.4 Billion Medicaid Recovery

Breslin and Breslin, PA, Donald A. Caminiti, Esq., was one of six law firms selected by the Attorney General of the State of New Jersey to act as special counsel to represent it in its lawsuit against the tobacco industry to recover Medicaid and other health related costs incurred by the state resulting from tobacco related illnesses.