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Bergen County Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Doctor could spend life in prison for overdose deaths

At a time when prescription drug abuse is an epidemic in New Jersey and throughout the U.S., one recent criminal case on the other side of the country has made history. A former Southern California doctor is the first physician in that state ever to face a murder charge for prescribing drugs to patients.

The 46-year-old doctor was convicted of second-degree murder last fall after three patients, all in their 20s, died from overdoses of prescription painkillers back in 2009. Early this month, a judge sentenced her to serve a 30-year-to-life sentence.

Study shows the importance of nurses in surgical recovery

Most of us, whether we're at our doctor's office for a routine visit or in the hospital, spend more time with nurses than we do with doctors. Therefore, the results of a study of how a good nursing environment at a hospital improves surgical patient outcomes shouldn't come as a big surprise. However, it's nonetheless telling.

The study looked at almost 26,000 surgical patients over 65 in hospitals considered to have good nursing environments. It compared their outcomes with a comparable number of people in the same age group in almost 300 hospitals not considered to have good nursing environments. The study controlled for things like race, insurance, type of surgery and severity of illness.

Study: Race impacts level of compassion for dying patients

We all know that racism, both overt and subtle, still exists. Nonetheless, the results of a study published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management are disturbing.

In the study, 33 doctors interacted with actors portraying dying patients and family members in a hospital setting. Although the doctors knew they were part of a study, they weren't told what researchers were looking at.

Medical testing leaves a lot of room for error

One of the keys to receiving the medical treatment you need in a timely manner is getting the proper tests and having those tests read accurately. This includes X-rays, MRIs, CT scans and ultrasounds as well as tests like mammograms, EKGs, angiograms, biopsies and blood tests. With some diseases, such as cancer, a delayed diagnosis can mean the difference between life and death.

If the proper tests are not ordered by your physician in a timely manner, if the technicians who perform the tests make an error or if the medical professionals who read them miss something or fail to consult with a specialist, a disease or injury can worsen or even become fatal. Patients can end up not receiving necessary treatment or being treated for the wrong condition. Sometimes something as seemingly simple as taking an X-ray from the wrong angle can caused a missed diagnosis.

Can medical residents' depression affect your health care?

If you've watched any hospital-based television shows in recent years, you've seen the kind of long hours that medical residents put in. While there is a limit on the hours per week they can work, that limit is 80 hours. Couple those long hours with the stress of dealing with life-and-death situations in a difficult and competitive learning environment, and it shouldn't be surprising that physicians in training suffer a much higher rate of depression than the average person.

Research recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that almost 30 percent of these doctors suffer either from depression or depressive symptoms. That's considerably higher than the average 8 percent of people in the general population suffering from depression.

New Jersey Supreme Court rules on medical malpractice case

In a 5 to 2 ruling, the New Jersey Supreme Court determined that an underwriter doesn't have to pay out on a malpractice insurance policy that was cancelled because the physician who was insured lied on his application. The decision has provoked controversy over what this means for New Jersey residents who are the victims of medical malpractice if their doctor's policy doesn't cover them.

The case that made it to the high court involved a 55-year-old Lakewood man who underwent surgery in 2010 that left him with a foot that is inverted. He says that he has undergone two surgeries to correct the effects of the botched surgery, but they have not helped. He says that he is "miserable with pain" and is forced to have injections to reduce the swelling.

Women taking legal action for 'obstetric violence'

The term "obstetric violence" used to be associated with countries like Argentina, Mexico and Venezuela. However, some American women say that they have experienced it here in U.S. hospitals and that it turned what should one of the happiest days of their life into a traumatic experience from which they've yet to recover.

One of those women is suing an Alabama hospital as well as Tenet Health, which is its parent corporation, for what happened to her during the 2012 birth of her fourth child. According to the plaintiff, she chose a different hospital than she had used for her previous children because it advertised a less-medicalized approach to childbirth that allowed women to have their own "personalized birth plan." Hers included a birthing tub.

Is digital technology in the operating room good or bad?

Of all the work places that should remain free of distractions, hospital operating rooms are high on the list. Some of the technology present in the operating rooms of today includes smartphones, tablets, pagers and computers. While medical personnel rely on these items to perform their duties, when does it represent a risk of hospital negligence?

Distraction in the operating suite has become a hot topic in the digital age. While patients undergoing a medical procedure cannot always know what the surgical team is doing, they deserve to have confidence that they are receiving the complete attention of team members. Anesthesiology professionals have recently addressed the subject of operating rooms and the presence of technology.

Medical malpractice and never events

If you have never heard the term "never events" you are not alone. However, if you believe you have suffered from a surgical error, this is a term with which you should become familiar.

Never events are clearly wrong and often shocking surgical errors that should never occur in surgery situations. In other words, no properly educated and trained surgeon would ordinarily make such horrible mistakes. Some examples of never events include wrong-site surgery, treatment delays, medication errors and post-operative complications.

What can patients do to avoid a misdiagnosis?

A failure to diagnose an ailment correctly puts the patient's life and health at great risk. While no one is infallible, medical personnel have a duty to practice medicine in as safe a manner as possible. This means remaining up-to-date with illnesses, conditions, treatments and diagnostic tools.

Many New Jersey residents want to take a proactive approach to diagnostic procedures, perhaps to avoid a misdiagnosis whenever possible. Fortunately, you can do your part to ensure your diagnosis is as accurate as possible.

$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.