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Bergen County Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Lawsuit: Misdiagnosis of death causes woman to die alone in morgue

There are some nightmare scenarios so scary that they have endured as the premises of horror stories and urban legends. One of these scenarios involves being buried alive. For some, there would be few scarier ways to die than by waking up in a closed casket under several feet of earth.

Of course, such a scenario is nearly unheard of these days. But in one recent lawsuit alleging hospital negligence, the family of an 80-year-old woman claims that she died under circumstances that may have been just as horrifying. After suffering a heart attack and being mistakenly pronounced dead, the woman allegedly woke up in a body-preserving freezer and died while trying to “escape her frozen tomb.”

Medical malpractice cap fight: gloves off in one state

Tort reform is always a subject of core concern in the medical industry, and that is well illustrated by events currently unfolding in California. Proponents and critics in that state have squared off in a hot debate that promises to remain impassioned throughout the year and leading up to a ballot initiative this upcoming November.

Because the arguments being advanced on both sides of that debate are certainly relevant across the country, including in New Jersey, we summarize what’s going on in California and what it fundamentally means in the realm of medical malpractice.

Research focuses on easier-to-use electronic health records

A major development in New Jersey hospitals and other medical facilities across the country in recent years has been the steady -- and rapid -- implementation of electronic health record (EHR) systems to supplant paper records and handwritten patient notes.

The transformation has been often commented on within the medical community and by industry watchers, many who have pointed out both the great promise and the ample growing pains of EHR processes as they seek to gain firm traction in American hospitals.

There is considerable evidence on both sides of that coin. When designed well and interacted with by well-trained and motivated medical professionals, EHR systems can streamline communication, simplify exchanges and increase charting neatness and legibility.

Ambulatory surgery: the risks of post-procedure infections

Medical malpractice acts and omissions cover a broad gamut of possibilities in New Jersey hospitals and other medical facilities across the country.

The usual list of suspects centrally includes things like misdiagnosis (failure to properly or timely diagnose), medication errors, mistakes made in electronic health records and birth injuries caused by medical negligence.

Another common culprit: surgical errors that lead to hospital-acquired infections.

Suit: after birth, mom denied the remains of deceased infant twin

In an unusual and tragic claim, a mother has filed a lawsuit against the hospital where she gave birth. While it occurred in another state, it highlights a question of concern to any parent who has lost a child, whether the loss involved a birth injury or events surrounding the birth.

As many of our readers may know, multiple pregnancies can be difficult. Tragic complications arise in some cases regardless of the quality of care the mother and baby receive. Sometimes a child's death is unavoidable -- but sometimes it's the result of a negligent birth injury -- medical malpractice.

What happens after a child has died, though? Does the hospital still have legal responsibilities to the family?

Medical malpractice damage caps: a persistent issue

Medical tort reform has been a vigorously debated issue across the country for decades, including in New Jersey.

A central element of discussions in forums ranging from patient advocacy conferences and annual doctors’ meetings to insurance company symposiums and lawyers’ workshops is medical malpractice damages.

An oft-repeated query, which invariably results in a strong aligning of groups and polar positions, is this: Should there be a ceiling on patient recoveries? In other words, should malpractice awards be capped for victims injured by shoddy medical treatment?

Malpractice harms flow tragically from preventable medical error

As noted by a recent article on the subject, the thing about medical malpractice that is so frightening is that it is the human body that is on the receiving end of substandard treatment.

That precious housing is flatly vulnerable and, notes the writer addressing the topic, unlike a house “that can be shored up or rebuilt if the contractor gets it wrong.”

Indeed, when a doctor in New Jersey or elsewhere “gets it wrong,” the results are often traumatic in the extreme for an individual and his or her family.

Robot-assisted surgery: on the rise, but with questions attached

The use of high-tech medical devices in surgeries performed in New Jersey hospitals and other medical facilities nationally “is exploding,” notes a recent media article that is most specifically centered on robot-assisted surgery.

The medical device maker Intuitive Surgical Inc. has a virtual monopoly on robot-aided procedures, with its da Vinci robotic surgery system reportedly being used in more than 350,000 surgeries across the country last year.

A fundamental question many would-be patients and other persons might have related to such high use is obviously this: How safe is robotic surgery?

Failure to diagnose proper illness leads to death of young girl

New Jersey residents may be familiar with case of a young girl who passed away because of a failure to diagnose properly. The family of the young girl claims that the doctor diagnosed the child with flu when she actually had pneumonia. The failure to diagnose the correct illness ultimately led to the girl's death, leading to a wrongful death suit filed by the family.

The girl was brought to a Kaiser Permanente urgent care facility because she was vomiting, had a fever and difficulty breathing. The parents claim that the girl was not given a thorough examination because it was late and the doctor was almost done for the day. The doctor diagnosed the girl with a viral flu and said that she did not need antibiotics.

Focus: Medical disciplinary matter spotlights regulatory process

Doctors in New Jersey and nationally occasionally subject themselves to intense scrutiny in regard to their medical practices and treatment of patients. Sometimes that focus comes from state and federal health regulators, especially where an established pattern of medical errors and patient harm is reasonably suggested.

The process of discipline being officially administered to medical professionals by government authorities is, as many readers might suspect, detailed and process-driven.

$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.