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Introduction: Liability Risks Related to Stroke

About 800,000 people in the United States suffer a stroke each year and nearly 130,000 of these strokes result in death. Stroke is the fifth highest cause of death in the U. S., with someone dying of a stroke about every four minutes. Stroke also represents both the leading cause of disability and the leading preventable cause of disability in this country.

 

Stroke-related economic impact is over $34 billion a year, which includes the costs of health care services, the costs of medications to treat stroke, and the expenses attributable to missed days of work.

 

Patient injuries related to strokes can lead to claims of malpractice or negligence against physicians, hospitals, and other health care providers. This type of litigation may be based on claims related to a stroke resulting from an injury, a stroke induced by medication, a provider’s failure to recognize or treat a person who is about to have a stroke, or the negligent treatment of a person who is having a stroke.

 

Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, and others at risk for liability should be aware of the types of litigation issues that may arise in connection with the diagnosis or treatment of stroke.

September 6, 2016 | MLP 2016 | Vol. 5, Issue. 58

Introduction: Liability Risks for Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries currently affect about 250,000 to 400,000 individuals in the U.S. More than 40% of spinal cord injuries result from motor vehicle accidents, but there are other causes. As many as 7,800 new spinal cord injuries occur in the U.S. each year.

 

The average annual cost of health care and living expenses for a person with a spinal cord injury ranges from the tens of thousands to more than a million dollars, and more than a million for lifetime expenses.

 

September is National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month.

 

A spinal cord injury can lead to litigation, and awards or settlements often are very large. Attorneys, physicians, insurers, employers, and other potential parties to litigation need to understand the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that may arise in connection with spinal cord injury litigation.

September 5, 2017 | MLP 2017 | Vol. 6, Issue. 70

Introduction: Cosmetic Surgery Liability

Almost 9.2 million cosmetic surgical and nonsurgical procedures were performed in this country in 2011. The overall number of cosmetic procedures has increased 197 percent since 1997. With this increase in popularity has come an increase in the number of injuries from cosmetic procedures.

 

Civil lawsuits involving cosmetic surgery injuries have multiplied and include medical malpractice and negligence, lack of informed consent, breach of contract or breach of warranty, and products liability.

 

It is critical for attorneys to understand the medical standard of care in this area and for physicians, insurers, and employers to learn strategies on potential malpractice liability.

September 5, 2012 | MLP 2012 | Vol. 1, Issue. 10

Introduction: Liability Issues for Physical Therapists

Over 185,000 physical therapists work in the United States, and projections by the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that this number is likely to grow by 39 percent by 2020, due in part to an aging population.

 
Physical therapists, like all healthcare providers, face liability risks in providing professional services to patients. Physical therapists increasingly work autonomously. Medical error avoidance is of significant importance to public safety, and to public perceptions of the profession.
 
Attorneys, physicians, physical therapists, insurers, employers and others must be aware of the legal risks and liability issues that may arise in connection with physical therapy services.

September 4, 2013 | MLP 2013 | Vol. 2, Issue. 22

Introduction: Liability Risks for Hepatitis-Related Injuries

Hepatitis occurs in a number of forms and affects millions of people in the U.S. About 800,000 to 1.4 million people in the U.S. suffer from chronic hepatitis B, with over 18,000 new infections occurring each year. Also, about 2.7 to 3.9 million in this country suffer from chronic hepatitis C, with 16,000 new infections occurring each year. Hepatitis is a major health concern.

 

An expensive new drug now available to treat hepatitis C costs $1,000 per pill, and about $84,000 for a typical course of treatment. Private insurers are scrambling to develop criteria to determine which patients are eligible for the drug, and state Medicaid directors are engaged in tough bargaining for rebates on the drug’s cost. Of most concern, however, may be the cost of treating even a fraction of the large population of hepatitis C infected prison inmates, which could amount to billions of dollars.

 

Litigation involving medical malpractice and other causes of action for the diagnosis or treatment of hepatitis, the diagnosis or treatment of other conditions that result in a patient contracting hepatitis, or other harm related to hepatitis has resulted in awards and settlements of the millions of dollars.

 

Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, and others potential parties to litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that may arise in connection with hepatitis-related injuries.

September 3, 2014 | MLP 2014 | Vol. 3, Issue. 34

Introduction: Liability Risks for Diagnosing and Treating Arthritis

Millions of people in the U.S., approximately one in five adults, have been diagnosed with arthritis, which is said to be the most common condition causing disability. Experts anticipate that the number of adults with arthritis will increase to 67 million by 2030.

 

There are many types of arthritis. Treatment approaches for pain and inflammation include medication, surgery, and non-pharmacologic therapies. 

 

Litigation risks related to the diagnosis or treatment of arthritis include medical malpractice for provider acts and omissions and product liability related to medication or medical devices. Awards and settlements can be high reaching into the millions of dollars.

 

Attorneys, physicians, insurers, employers, manufacturers, and other potential parties to the litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and liability issues that can arise in connection with the diagnosis or treatment of arthritis.

September 1, 2015 | MLP 2015 | Vol. 4, Issue. 46

Introduction: Liability for Injuries from Unsterilized Instruments

More than 46 million surgical or other invasive medical procedures are performed each year in the United States. Proper disinfection or sterilization of equipment used in every procedure is essential to prevent infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the failure to comply with established sterilization guidelines sometimes occurs, leading to outbreaks of infection.

 

Sterilization procedures may be inadequate, may not be completed, or might be performed incorrectly exposing the patient to injury. Without proper sterilization, use of a medical instrument may introduce bacteria, viruses, or other potentially injurious substances into a patient.

 

Early in 2015, 179 patients at a Los Angeles hospital learned that they might have been exposed to a “super bug,” a drug-resistant bacteria from contaminated medical scopes. This bacteria, which had already been linked to two deaths, has the potential to be deadly in 40% to 50% of patients in whom infection spreads to the bloodstream.

 

Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, and other potential parties to the litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and liability issues that can arise for injury from unsterilized medical instruments and equipment.

October 6, 2015 | MLP 2015 | Vol. 4, Issue. 47

Introduction: Breast Resurgery Liability Risks

The high rate of resurgery, following breast reconstruction after cancer treatment or other types of breast surgery, has been described as “epidemic.”

 

Resurgery related to complications and errors after breast surgery can cause physical and emotional injuries to patients. Not surprisingly, these injuries can lead to litigation. High awards and settlements can result.

 

In addition to claims for medical malpractice, negligence, and lack of informed consent, injuries related to breast reconstruction surgery or resurgery may result in other legal claims such as infliction of emotional distress, claims under contract law, and product liability.

 

Attorneys, physicians, insurers, employers, and other potential parties to litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that may arise in connection with injuries related to breast reconstruction surgery and resurgery.

October 4, 2016 | MLP 2016 | Vol. 5, Issue. 59

Introduction: Liposuction Risks and Liabilities

Liposuction is among the most popular cosmetic surgery procedures performed. About 222,051 liposuctions occurred in 2015, which was second only to breast augmentation at 279,143 procedures.

 

Risks and potential complications can accompany the elective procedure of liposuction. These include risks related to anesthesia and infection, as well as the risks of deep vein thrombosis and cardiac and pulmonary complications. Because of these risks and complications, injuries can result in connection with liposuction, which can include claims that a physician was negligent or failed to adequately disclose the risks to the patient. Awards to patients can be high.

 

Attorneys, physicians, insurers, employers, and other potential parties to litigation need to understand the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that may arise in connection with liposuction surgery.

October 3, 2017 | MLP 2017 | Vol. 6, Issue. 71

Introduction: Cancer Diagnosis Error

About 1,638,910 new cancer cases will be diagnosed in 2012. Approximately 577,190 Americans, or about 1,500 a day, are likely to die of cancer this year. Cancer cannot be treated or cured unless it is diagnosed as early as possible. A failure to diagnose or delay in diagnosing cancer can greatly reduce a cancer patient’s chances of winning the fight against the disease.

 

Most litigation resulting from errors in diagnosing cancer are based on theories of medical malpractice or negligence, but not all mistakes in diagnosing a patient amount to malpractice. Mistakes can be made even when the highest possible level of care is provided to a patient.

 

It is critical for attorneys to understand the medical etiology and terminology of cancer and the medical standard of care, and for physicians, insurers, and employers to learn strategies to handle potential malpractice liability.

October 3, 2012 | MLP 2012 | Vol. 1, Issue. 11

Introduction: Brain Aneurysm Diagnostic Errors

As many as 6 million people in the United States – 1 in 50 people – have unruptured brain aneurysms. Approximately 50 to 80% of all aneurysms do not rupture during the affected person’s lifetime. About 30,000 people in the US suffer a brain aneurysm rupture each year, and about 40% are fatal. Among survivors, about 66% suffer some type of permanent neurological deficit.

 

Misdiagnosis or delay in diagnosis occurs in up to 25% of patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage when the patient initially presents for medical treatment. The failure to do a scan results in 73% of these misdiagnoses.

 

When a health care provider fails to make a timely diagnosis of a brain aneurysm or subarachnoid hemorrhage, or makes an incorrect diagnosis, potential tragedy may occur. Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, and others should be aware of the types of lawsuits that may arise and how to handle the litigation.

October 2, 2013 | MLP 2013 | Vol. 2, Issue. 23

Introduction: Chronic Back Pain: Liability Issues

Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on low back pain. This is the most common cause of job-related disability, a leading contributor to missed work, and the second most common neurological ailment (after headaches) in the U.S.

 

Chronic back pain, pain for greater than three months, requires diagnosis and treatment by a physician or other medical professional. Treatment may include surgery; the use of analgesics, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, and opioids; and other forms of treatment designed to reduce inflammation, restore proper function and strength to the back, and prevent recurrence of the injury. Some forms of treatment are high risk such as complex surgical procedures, including spinal surgery, and may result in complications.

 

The cause of a patient’s chronic back pain can be difficult to diagnose, and treatment may not be effective in relieving the patient’s pain. As a result, patients suffering chronic back pain may seek compensation through the judicial system.

 

Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, and other potential parties to litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that arise in connection with chronic back pain. 

October 1, 2014 | MLP 2014 | Vol. 3, Issue. 35

Introduction: Steroid Risks and Liabilities

Steroids are used to treat patients for a variety of complaints. Different risks and potential side effects are associated with the different types of steroids and forms of administration.

 

Problems related to the use or administration of steroids can lead to litigation, which can result in high verdicts or settlements, including a $10.5 million class action and $210 million settlement for injury from contaminated steroids, a nine-year prison sentence for the actions of a pharmacy co-founder in connection with a meningitis outbreak from tainted steroids, and $3 million to a patient who was negligently treated with steroids, rather than antibiotics, for a sinus infection.

 

Attorneys, physicians, insurers, employers, and other potential parties to litigation need to understand the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that may arise in connection with the use or administration of steroids.

November 7, 2017 | MLP 2017 | Vol. 6, Issue. 72

Introduction: Liability for Disclosure of Medical Information

On July 17, 2012 Dept. of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that a national survey of office-based physicians reports that most of those who have adopted electronic health record (EHR) systems are satisfied with their system and say it has improved patient care. Federal agencies have recognized that “it is impossible to overstate the importance of confidentiality” of health information.
 
Ensuring the security of protected health information (PHI) in an entity’s health IT system requires instituting measures to guard against unauthorized use and disclosure of PHI.
 
Lawsuits involving the unauthorized disclosure of confidential medical records are on the increase. It is critical for attorneys to understand the potential theories of liability and defenses, and for physicians, insurers, and employers to be aware of their exposure to liability.

November 7, 2012 | MLP 2012 | Vol. 1, Issue. 12

Introduction: Liability for Diagnosing or Treating Heart Attacks

Every year approximately 715,000 Americans have a heart attack. The rate of misdiagnosis of heart attacks has been shown to be high, with about 1 in 50 heart attack victims sent home from emergency rooms with a mistaken diagnosis.
 
It is not surprising that medical malpractice claims involving heart attack misdiagnosis are among the most common malpractice claims made. In addition to diagnostic errors, mistakes in the treatment of heart attacks also may give rise to medical malpractice or negligence claims. Healthcare providers and hospitals also may be subject to other types of liability related to the diagnosis or treatment of heart attacks.
 
Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, and others who may be affected should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that may arise in connection with the diagnosis or treatment of a heart attack and how to handle this litigation.

November 6, 2013 | MLP 2013 | Vol. 2, Issue. 24

Introduction: Skin Cancer: Liability Issues

Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. Because most cases are preventable, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a call to action to prevent skin cancer. Annual costs for treating skin cancer have been estimated at $8.1 billion, with about $3.3 billion of skin cancer treatment costs attributable to melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. A recent study indicates that the number of skin cancer cases due to indoor tanning is higher than the number of lung cancer cases due to smoking.

 

More than 63,000 cases of skin cancer are diagnosed every year. Early diagnosis and treatment can be vital in achieving the best possible outcomes, but as many as 9,000 deaths result from skin cancer annually.

 

Failure or delays in diagnosing skin cancer, along with mistakes in treating skin cancer, frequently lead to litigation. Lawsuits can result in high awards or settlements.

 

Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, and other potential parties to the litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that arise in connection with the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer.

November 5, 2014 | MLP 2014 | Vol. 3, Issue. 36

Introduction: Alzheimer's or Dementia: Liability Risks

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, currently affecting more than five million Americans. Other forms of dementia affect millions more. Estimates suggest that the number of Americans afflicted by Alzheimer’s will double by 2050.

 

There is no cure for most forms of dementia. Caring for people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease will cost an estimated $226 billion in 2015, and these costs are expected to increase to $1.1 trillion in 2050 unless an effective treatment can be found.

 

Injury prevention for those suffering from dementia impairments can be difficult, since the person’s cognitive deficits may impede preventative action. Preventing injury from falls and wandering is a significant concern as these injuries have been found to occur frequently.

 

Dementia impairments represent serious health problems that affect many patients and the health facilities providing care. The diagnosis, care, and treatment of dementia patients can give rise to litigation for patient injuries. Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, and other potential parties to the litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that arise in connection with injuries related to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

November 3, 2015 | MLP 2015 | Vol. 4, Issue. 48

Introduction: Hearing Disorder or Loss Liability Risks

Almost 50 million people in the U.S., including one in five teenagers, suffer from hearing loss, and the number is growing at an alarming rate. Noise exposure, aging, heredity, and illness are among the factors that most commonly lead to hearing loss.

 

Societal costs for persons affected by a hearing disorder or a hearing loss run into the billions of dollars.

 

Hearing disorders and hearing loss can lead to litigation, often involving claims for medical malpractice. Other types of litigation, including claims against employers for workers compensation or claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act, also frequently arise. Large awards and settlements in litigation related to hearing disorders or hearing loss have resulted.

 

Attorneys, physicians, insurers, employers, and other potential parties to litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that may arise in connection with injuries related to hearing disorders or hearing loss.

November 1, 2016 | MLP 2016 | Vol. 5, Issue. 60

Introduction: Liability Risks for Diagnosing and Treating Diabetes

Diabetes occurrence is skyrocketing in the United States. Nearly 26 million Americans already have diabetes, although as many as 7 million are undiagnosed. In addition to those currently affected, approximately 79 million adults are at risk of developing diabetes. Predictions indicate that as many as one in three Americans may have diabetes by 2050.

 

The economic cost of diagnosed diabetes in the U.S. is estimated to be $245 billion annually, which includes direct health care costs and indirect costs such as disability, work loss, and premature mortality. Diabetes is the primary cause of death for more than 70,000 Americans each year and contributes to the death of more than 230,000 annually.

 

Litigation for medical malpractice involving the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes and its complications can result in high awards and settlements, some in the millions of dollars.
Other types of litigation also may occur, including actions for products liability or employment-related issues.

 

Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, and others who may be affected should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that may arise in connection with the diagnosis or treatment of diabetes and related complications.

May 7, 2014 | MLP 2014 | Vol. 3, Issue. 30

Introduction: Liability Risks for Chemotherapy

More than half of all cancer patients receive chemotherapy. Patients who are receiving chemotherapy face risks for developing infection and other injuries such as leakage of the drug into surrounding tissue, use of the wrong chemotherapy drug, and administration of chemotherapy based on an erroneous diagnosis of cancer, which may be serious enough to result in hospitalization or even death.

 

Injuries related to chemotherapy may give rise to medical malpractice or negligence claims, which can result in high settlements and awards. Patients bring malpractice actions against physicians, but other parties, such as hospitals, nurses, and pharmacists, face potential litigation risks.

 

Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, and others at risk for liability should be aware of the types of litigation issues that may arise in connection with a chemotherapy injury.

May 6, 2015 | MLP 2015 | Vol. 4, Issue. 42

Introduction: Liability Risks for Vector-Borne Diseases

Zika virus and its devastating results are currently in the news, but Zika virus is not the only disease transmitted by mosquitos or other vectors, such as ticks. West Nile virus is also a concern, as are other forms of vector-borne illnesses such as dengue fever, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, malaria, and others.

 

Vector-borne diseases account for more than 17% of all infectious diseases, causing more than one million deaths annually. Global trade, rapid international travel, and environmental changes such as climate change and urbanization are causing vectors and vector-borne diseases to spread.

 

Injuries related to vector-borne diseases may give rise to claims of medical malpractice or negligence in the diagnosis or treatment of the illnesses. Other liability risks also may arise in connection with vector-borne diseases, such as claims against employers by employees who work in environments infested with mosquitoes or ticks. 

 

Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, and others who may be parties in litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that may arise in connection with vector-borne diseases.

May 3, 2016 | MLP 2016 | Vol. 5, Issue. 54

Introduction: Autopsy Liability Risks

The national autopsy rate in the U.S. has fallen to about 8.5% of the nearly 7,000 deaths that occur each day, a rate that a research group working for the Department of Justice called “miserably low.” Because of the decline in the rate of autopsies performed, cause-of-death determinations for a number of important disease conditions and for deaths of persons over age 65 are now primarily based on diagnoses and examinations, not on autopsies.

 

Although autopsies are considered crucial in determining the cause of death for a deceased person, particularly in cases of homicide, the report of the Scientific Working Group for Medicolegal Death Investigation noted a critical shortage of experts trained to conduct autopsies and death investigations. In addition to a shortage of forensic pathologists, the study also noted that “many hospitals have basically abandoned the use of … autopsies” as a result of changes in hospital accreditation standards and reduced funding for autopsies.

 

Despite the decline in autopsy rates, hundreds of thousands of autopsies are still performed each year, and some of these lead to litigation. Attorneys, physicians, insurers, employers, and other potential parties to litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that may arise in connection with injuries related to autopsies.

May 2, 2017 | MLP 2017 | Vol. 6, Issue. 66

Introduction: Liability of Physicians When Prescribing and Administering Drugs

More than $259 billion was spent on prescription drugs in 2010. Projections indicate that this amount will double over the next decade. When the Affordable Care Act is fully phased in, drug spending growth is likely to grow more than 6% a year in the years 2015 through 2021.

 

Potential liability for negligence or malpractice in prescribing or administering drugs presents a risk for physicians in all practice areas and, as the use of pharmaceuticals continues to rise, so also will the risk of lawsuits related to their use.

 

Attorneys, physicians, insurers, employers, and others who may be affected should be aware of the damages in litigation involving the negligence or malpractice of a physician prescribing or administering drugs. It is critical to know the strategies and techniques to employ and understand the issues involved.

May 1, 2013 | MLP 2013 | Vol. 2, Issue. 18

Introduction: Liability for Multiple Concussion Injury

Nearly two million people end up in emergency rooms for concussion every year. The cumulative effects of multiple concussion injury and Second Impact Syndrome can result in cognitive deficits, personality changes, migraines, and a myriad of other impairments.

 

It is essential for plaintiff and defense attorneys and in-house insurance and hospital professionals to stay abreast of all that is happening in brain injury litigation and who is and isn’t being found liable.

May 1, 2012 | MLP 2012 | Vol. 1, Issue. 6

Introduction: Introduction

Chronic kidney disease affects about 14% of the U.S. population, with 660,000 people suffering kidney failure. About 468,000 of those afflicted receive dialysis, while another 193,000 live with a functioning kidney transplant. Medicare spending for patients age 65 and older with chronic kidney disease exceeded $50 billion in 2013.

 

Kidney disease is considered a “silent disease.” Often it has no symptoms in its early stages and can go undetected until it becomes very advanced. More people die from kidney disease each year than from breast or prostate cancer. An injury related to a kidney disease or disorder can lead to litigation.

 

Attorneys, physicians, insurers, employers, and other potential parties to litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that may arise in connection with injuries related to kidney diseases or disorders.

 

March is National Kidney Month.  

March 7, 2017 | MLP 2017 | Vol. 6, Issue. 64

Introduction: Cataract and Vision Impairment Liability

Cataract surgery accounts for more than 1,000,000 operations in the United States annually. Although the National Eye Institute calls cataract surgery "one of the safest and most effective types of surgery," complications can arise, mistakes can occur, and injuries or even death can result.

 
When complications or problems occur, malpractice and negligence claims may follow. Cataract surgery accounts for more malpractice claims against ophthalmologists than any other type of surgery they perform.
 
Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, and others who may be affected should be aware of the types of lawsuits that may arise after an injury occurs in connection with the treatment of cataracts, what strategies and techniques to employ, and what concerns and issues are critical to know.

March 6, 2013 | MLP 2013 | Vol. 2, Issue. 16

Introduction: Liability for Off-Label Use of Prescription Medications

With over 150 million prescriptions written off-label for 160 or more common drugs physicians face potential malpractice for injury from the off-label use. In addition, the pharmaceutical manufacturer is exposed to liability for any over-promotion of the use of its drug.

 

BONUS: Because the liability of the pharmaceutical manufacturer is important in any litigation involving injury from prescription use, this perspective has been discussed in addition to the perspectives of the attorney, physician, insurer, and employer.
 

March 6, 2012 | MLP 2012 | Vol. 1, Issue. 4

Introduction: Blood Draws, Testing, Transfusions: Liability Issues

Blood draws, tests, and transfusions are among the most common medical procedures performed. More than 41,000 donations of blood, all requiring blood draws, are needed every day. Blood tests are routinely performed and evaluate how well specific organs (such as the kidneys, liver, thyroid, and heart) are performing; are used to diagnose specific medical conditions (such as cancer, diabetes, or anemia); or help assess other specific medical issues (such as how well medications are working). An estimated 5 million patients receive blood annually, resulting in 14.6 million transfusions per year.

 

As with any medical procedure the risk of injury from a blood draw, test, or transfusion exists. A blood draw can cause a puncture or nerve injury, blood test results can be inaccurate or untimely, leading to injury, and transfusions can cause infections or allergic reactions. Adverse consequences can lead to litigation.

 

Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers and others who may be involved in litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that may arise in connection with blood draws, tests, and transfusions.

March 5, 2014 | MLP 2014 | Vol. 3, Issue. 28

Introduction: Liability Risks for PTSD

PTSD affects about 7.7 million American adults, and frequently is accompanied by depression, substance abuse, or other anxiety disorders. It may lead to erratic or criminal behavior, or even suicide.

 

Although PTSD may be associated most often with veterans, it affects a broad spectrum of the population. PTSD is one of the most common mental health conditions in the U.S. as more than half of the population in America has been exposed to the kind of traumatic event that can give a person PTSD. Events precipitating PTSD include assault, car accidents, domestic abuse, natural disasters, prison, sexual assault, terrorism, and war. Chronic PTSD, resulting from multiple traumas, is difficult to treat.

 

Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, and other potential parties to litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that arise in connection with failures in diagnosing or treating PTSD.

March 4, 2015 | MLP 2015 | Vol. 4, Issue. 40

Introduction: Liability Risks for Sleep Disorders

More than 25% of people in the United States report an occasional problem getting enough sleep. Sleeping difficulties have been associated with the development and management of chronic diseases. Insufficient sleep also can lead to injuries and disability resulting from motor vehicle or machinery-related accidents.

 

Chronic insomnia affects almost 10% of the population. Other disorders that affect the amount and/or the quality of a person’s sleep include sleep apnea, narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome, hypersomnia, and parasomnia.

 

Sleep apnea has become more common with the aging of the population and the increased incidence of obesity, but not all sufferers get diagnosed. Many members of the medical community have concerns about the health risks for patients with undiagnosed sleep apnea. Others, including insurers, worry about the costs and extent of unnecessary sleep testing and treatment.

 

Injuries related to sleep disorders may give rise to legal claims, including claims for medical malpractice or negligence, which can result in high settlements and awards. Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, and others at risk for liability need to be aware of the types of litigation issues that may arise in connection with a sleep disorder injury.

March 1, 2016 | MLP 2016 | Vol. 5, Issue. 52

Introduction: Liability for Healthcare-Associated Infection

Despite the significant progress that has been made in preventing some types of healthcare-associated infections, on any given day, one in 25 hospital patients is likely to contract a healthcare-associated infection, according to recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics. More than 648,000 people develop infections during a hospital stay each year in the United States. Of these, about 75,000 die.

 

Infections associated with hospitals and other health care providers pose a major threat to patient safety that is often preventable. Overuse of antibiotics and the growth of so-called “superbugs” contribute to the problem. Eight hospitals in Maine recently incurred fines because their incidence of patients contracting avoidable infections fell into the bottom 25 percent of hospitals across the country.

 

When patients contract an avoidable infection in a health facility, or when health care providers fail to treat or improperly treat these infections, litigation is likely to result. 

 

Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, and other potential parties to the litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and liability issues that can arise in connection with healthcare-associated infections.

June 7, 2016 | MLP 2016 | Vol. 5, Issue. 55

Introduction: Dental Malpractice Risks

Almost 20,000 medical malpractice payment reports and adverse action reports against dentists and oral surgeons and three thousand reports relating to dental hygienists and assistants were made over a ten-year period.

 

Injuries related to dental procedures or oral surgery can lead to litigation. Claims often involve medical malpractice or negligence, but can also involve fraud, battery, statutory violations, and other wrongful acts.

 

Attorneys, dentists, oral surgeons, insurers, employers, and other potential parties to litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that may arise in connection with injuries related to dental procedures or oral surgery. 

June 6, 2017 | MLP 2017 | Vol. 6, Issue. 67

Introduction: Liability Issues for Independent Medical Evaluations

Billions are paid out in workers’ compensation, social security, and disability benefits every year in the U.S. Insurance companies, government disability programs, employer-sponsored disability plans, and parties to litigation often find it necessary to request an independent medical evaluation (IME) or seek a court order granting an IME before starting or continuing to pay benefits.

 

Unlike the examination of a patient by a treating physician, an IME is limited in scope and performed for the purposes of the party or entity ordering it. The physician performing the IME may be found liable under several theories even when, it is argued, a traditional physician-patient relationship has not been established.

 

Attorneys, physicians, insurers, employers, and others who are involved in litigation concerning an IME must be aware of the types of lawsuits that may arise from an injury incurred during or associated with the IME, what strategies and techniques to employ, and what issues are critical to know.  

June 5, 2013 | MLP 2013 | Vol. 2, Issue. 19

Introduction: Liability for Pain Pump Injuries

Numerous pain pump adverse events have occurred, many resulting in serious injuries and deaths, according to the FDA. During the years 2005 through 2009 alone, 87 infusion pump recalls identified safety problems.

 

Liability issues for physicians and other health care providers can arise in a variety of contexts, including the surgical implantation of a pain pump or a component of a pain pump system, the administration of pain medication through the pain pump, or obtaining informed consent to the use or implantation of a pain pump.

 

Causes of action against manufacturers may be brought under theories based on strict products liability, which include actions for design defect, manufacturing defect, failure to warn, and failure to test adequately. Claims also may be based on theories of negligence.

 

Attorneys, physicians, manufacturers, insurers and others that may be affected by injuries related to the use or implantation of pain pumps must understand the liability issues, defenses, and medical aspects of these injuries.

June 4, 2014 | MLP 2014 | Vol. 3, Issue. 31

Introduction: Liability Risks for Bariatric Surgery

Weight-loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, includes procedures such as gastric bypass surgery, gastric sleeve surgery, and lap band surgery. These procedures can produce many benefits for patients, but they also carry a high level of risk.

 

A variety of complications are associated with these procedures. Complications can result in serious health conditions or, in extreme cases, death.

 

Litigation may occur even when the care provided by physicians and other medical providers satisfies high standards. When providers deviate from the standard of care and provide substandard treatment to patients, litigation frequently results. Damage awards in lawsuits involving injuries resulting from weight-loss surgery can be high.

 

Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, and other potential parties to the litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and liability issues that can arise in connection with weight-loss surgery.

June 2, 2015 | MLP 2015 | Vol. 4, Issue. 43

Introduction: Risks and Benefits of CT Scans; Ionizing Radiation Injury and Other Litigation

CT scans deliver much more radiation than previously thought, contributing to as many as 29,000 new cancers each year and as many as 15,000 deaths annually. CT scans expose patients to ionizing radiation, causing change at the cellular level. Overexposure may result in cancer and other injury. Patients also may suffer injury from the failure to perform a CT scan or a delay in ordering a scan, however, as the diagnostic benefits often outweigh the risks.

 

The disclosure of patient overexposure at several hospitals has prompted the recent filing of a number of lawsuits. The FDA announced on May 9, 2012 new efforts to protect children from unnecessary radiation exposure as part of its ongoing Initiative to Reduce Unnecessary Radiation Exposure from Medical Imaging.

 

It is critical for plaintiff and defense attorneys and in-house insurance and hospital professionals to understand CT scan liability.

June 1, 2012 | MLP 2012 | Vol. 1, Issue. 7

Introduction: Liability Risks for Organ Transplants

More than 7,000 organ transplants were performed in the period January through March 2015 in the United States, but approximately 123,000 people were still waiting for lifesaving organ transplants in June 2015. An average of 21 people die every day while waiting for a transplant.

 

Medical advances, including methods of tissue typing and the use of immunosuppressant drugs, have enabled physicians to perform successful transplants and allowed organ recipients to survive longer. Organ transplants, however, remain complicated surgical procedures.

 

Complications can arise in connection with an organ transplant, or in treating a patient who has or needs an organ transplant. Accidents and injuries can arise, including the possibility of a patient contracting a disease, such as cancer, from an infected organ. Other types of errors can occur, such as the accidental disposal of an organ viable for transplant. When these problems occur in connection with a transplant, litigation can result.

 

Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, and other potential parties to the litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and liability issues that can arise in connection with organ transplants.

July 7, 2015 | MLP 2015 | Vol. 4, Issue. 44

Introduction: Liability Risks Related to Genetic Information

The role of human genetics in healthcare has profound implications for physicians and patients. Genetic testing now is recognized for its role in the prevention, management and treatment of disease. The identification of genetic disorders has enabled physicians to predict which patients may be likely to develop a disease or condition, to prevent the development of the disease or condition in some cases, and in others to use genetically targeted medication to fight these diseases.

  

Although many benefits may be associated with the advances in genetic testing, there are also some risks. These include physical risks associated with the testing process as well as risks associated with the emotional, social, or financial consequences of the test results. Other risks may be associated with negligence of healthcare providers related to genetic testing or counseling. Risks may arise in the context of privacy rights related to the confidentiality of genetic information.

 

Injuries related to genetic testing or counseling, or the use or misuse of genetic information, may give rise to legal claims, which can result in high settlements and awards. Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, and others at risk for liability should be aware of the types of litigation issues that may arise in connection with genetic information, testing, or counseling.

July 5, 2016 | MLP 2016 | Vol. 5, Issue. 56

Introduction: Liability Risks for Asthma

Asthma currently affects more than 18 million adults and 6 million children in the U.S. It accounts for about 6.5 percent of all physician office visits, leads to about 1.6 million visits to emergency rooms, and results in 3,500 deaths each year.

 

Asthma-associated medical expenses increased to $50.1 billion in 2007. Indirect economic costs of asthma, which include lost work and school days, add to the economic burden of asthma.

 

An injury related to asthma can lead to litigation. Claims may include allegations of medical malpractice or negligence, workers’ compensation claims, and others.

 

Attorneys, physicians, insurers, employers, and other potential parties to litigation need to understand the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that may arise in connection with asthma-related injuries.

July 4, 2017 | MLP 2017 | Vol. 6, Issue. 68

Introduction: Liability Issues for Hip and Knee Replacement

Hip and knee replacements are among the most common surgical procedures performed in the United States. These surgeries, along with revision surgeries that are performed to correct problems that develop after the original procedure, are increasing in part due to new implant devices. The advancing age of the baby boom generation indicates that the incidence of these procedures, most often performed in older patients, will continue to rise.

 
Most procedures are completed without complication, restoring relatively pain-free mobility to the patient. Sometimes serious complications arise, which may result from physician medical malpractice or negligence. Other complications may result from manufacturer defects in the prosthetic hip or knee implanted in the patient during the surgical procedure. Continuing controversies over metal-on-metal and ceramic-on-metal implants have brought these surgeries to the forefront of the news.
 
Relief may be sought on a group basis in a class action or mass tort litigation. Damages awarded in successful litigation have been high.
 
Attorneys, physicians, manufacturers and others affected by injuries related to hip or knee replacements must understand the critical liability issues and medical aspects of these injuries.

July 3, 2013 | MLP 2013 | Vol. 2, Issue. 20

Introduction: Foodborne Illness Impact and Liability

According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year approximately 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) becomes ill, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases. The most deadly pathogen in 2011 was salmonella, which resulted in an estimated 378 deaths.

 

Recent foodborne illness outbreaks include: a salmonella outbreak affecting a total of 390 persons in 27 states and the District of Columbia, resulting in 47 hospitalizations, with illness onset dates ranging from January 1, 2012 to June 3, 2012; and an outbreak of listeria that affected a total of 146 persons in 28 states, resulting in 30 reported deaths. Litigation for these and other food poisoning situations is on the rise as concern for our food safety is in the news.

 

BONUS: Because the liability of the “food company” (including the food grower or manufacturer, importer, distributor, and retailer) is key in this litigation, the perspective of the food company has been discussed in addition to the perspectives of the attorney, physician, insurer, and employer.

July 3, 2012 | MLP 2012 | Vol. 1, Issue. 8

Introduction: Liability Risks for Injury from Laser Procedures

Lasers are used in many types of medical procedures. Millions of people around the world have had the procedure known as laser-assisted in situ keratomeleusis (LASIK) eye surgery to improve their vision. Laser procedures, whether elective or medically necessary, are not without risk.

 

Lawsuits based on laser surgery have become more frequent in recent years. Plastic surgeons and dermatologists face litigation more than other types of physicians, but actions have been brought against physicians specializing in ophthalmology, obstetrics, gynecology, and radiology, and other specialties, as well as non-physician providers, including nurses, aestheticians, and spa and beauty salon technicians. Damages awarded in this type of action have exceeded $2 million.

 

Injuries also can arise because of problems or defects in medical laser equipment. The federal government regulates manufactures of medical lasers. The manufacturers must comply with a variety of safety standards.

 

Attorneys, physicians, insurers, manufacturers and other parties that are involved in actions related to medical laser procedure injuries should understand the liability issues and medical aspects of this litigation.

July 2, 2014 | MLP 2014 | Vol. 3, Issue. 32

Introduction: Painkiller Risks and Liability Issues

Physicians have increased their prescription of powerful opioid analgesics in recent years to the extent that tens of millions of these medications are now being prescribed. The widespread use of prescription pain medication has led to abuses and such adverse health consequences as increases in emergency department visits, substance abuse treatment admissions, and unintentional overdose deaths.

 

In 2010, it was estimated that 16,651 people died due to inappropriate use of prescription opioid drugs, which was a 313 percent increase over the past ten years. The Food and Drug Administration has initiated efforts to curb the abuse of prescription painkillers.

 

Attorneys, physicians, insurers, and others should be aware of the types of lawsuit that may arise, and the defenses available when an injury related to the prescription or administration of pain medication occurs.

January 8, 2014 | MLP 2014 | Vol. 3, Issue. 26

Introduction: Liability Risks for Labor and Delivery

Although childbirth is a “joyous and safe experience” for most mothers in the United States, the U.S. lags behind other industrialized nations in healthy births, and the reasons are not clear.

 

There is no guarantee of a perfect outcome in childbirth, even with excellent medical care. Up to 90% of obstetrician-gynecologists have been sued at least once, and obstetrician-gynecologists on average are sued 2.7 times during their careers.

 

A recent study in Britain indicated that labor and delivery at home with a midwife or at a birthing center had better outcomes than those at a hospital, where there was a higher incidence of epidurals, cesareans, and complications.

 

Attorneys, physicians, midwifes, nurses, hospitals, insurers, and other potential parties to the litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that arise in connection with injuries occurring to a mother or infant during labor and delivery.

January 7, 2015 | MLP 2015 | Vol. 4, Issue. 38

Introduction: Liability Risks for Thyroid Disorders

Thyroid disorders or conditions affect as many as 20 million people in the United States, but more than half of those affected are not aware they have a thyroid problem. Twelve percent of the population will be affected by a thyroid disorder or condition at some point in their lives. January is National Thyroid Awareness Month.

 

Complications can arise in the diagnosis or treatment of thyroid disorders or conditions. Treatment options for thyroid disorders and conditions include medication, hormone replacement, and surgery, all of which present risks. Studies indicate that complications related to thyroid surgery are less likely to occur if the surgeon performs at least 25 of these surgeries per year. 

 

Injuries related to the diagnosis or treatment of thyroid disorders or conditions may give rise to medical malpractice or negligence claims, which can result in high settlements and awards. Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, and others at risk for liability should be aware of the types of litigation issues that may arise in connection with a thyroid-related injury.

January 5, 2016 | MLP 2016 | Vol. 5, Issue. 50

Introduction: Glaucoma Liability Issues

Even though more than three million Americans have glaucoma, only about half of those suffering from glaucoma are aware of it. The most common type of glaucoma has virtually no symptoms to warn of the disease, which can cause blindness if left untreated. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness around the world. January is Glaucoma Awareness Month.

 

Glaucoma accounts for about 10 million visits to doctors each year. Although the disease cannot be cured, and vision lost as a result of glaucoma cannot be regained, patients may be able to prevent further loss of vision with medication and/or surgery.

 

Experts project that the incidence of glaucoma will increase by more than 50% by the year 2030. Economic costs to the U.S. government alone related to glaucoma may be more than $1.5 billion annually.

 

Injuries related to glaucoma can lead to litigation. Claims may include allegations of medical malpractice or negligence, disability discrimination, product liability, and others. Attorneys, physicians, insurers, employers, and other potential parties to litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that may arise in connection with injuries related to glaucoma.

January 3, 2017 | MLP 2017 | Vol. 6, Issue. 62

Introduction: Prevalence of Hospital-Acquired Infection; The Difficulty of Determining Source

With over 250 deaths per day and the economic impact in billions, and because determining infection source is difficult, hospitals and physicians may be found liable for hospital-acquired or nosocomial infections.

January 3, 2012 | MLP 2012 | Vol. 1, Issue. 2

Introduction: Vaccine Injury Liability

Deadly diseases the modern world considered close to eradication have appeared with new force in recent years. Religious groups opposed to the polio vaccine have prevented the complete eradication of polio. Samples of smallpox preserved after the proclaimed eradication of the disease now pose a terrorist threat.

 

Even though vaccines are designed to prevent serious diseases and minimize their potentially catastrophic medical consequences, as with all forms of medical intervention, vaccines can cause serious adverse effects.

 

Vaccine recipients who suffer serious vaccine-related injuries may turn to the legal system for compensation from the physician or other health provider who administered the vaccine, or from the manufacturer that produced the vaccine product.

 

It is critical for attorneys to understand the procedures of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, and for physicians, insurers, employers, and manufacturers to be aware of their liability exposure and what strategies to employ in vaccine injury litigation.

January 2, 2013 | MLP 2013 | Vol. 2, Issue. 14

Introduction: Risks Related to Parkinson’s Disease

Although roughly 60,000 cases of Parkinson's disease are diagnosed in the United States each year, thousands more cases are not detected. About one million people in the U.S. currently live with Parkinson's disease.There is no cure, and its debilitating and immobilizing effects are not reversible.

 

Estimates indicate that the combined direct and indirect cost of Parkinson’s, including medical treatment, social security payments, and lost income, is almost $25 billion per year.

 

The diagnosis, care, and treatment of Parkinson’s patients can give rise to litigation for injuries. Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, and other potential parties to litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that arise in connection with injuries related to Parkinson’s disease.

February 7, 2017 | MLP 2017 | Vol. 6, Issue. 63

Introduction: Prevalance of Oral Contraceptive Use

The new oral contraceptives, including Yaz and Yasmin, are a major component of the pharmaceuticals industry. Women choose to use these synthetic hormones for their additional benefits, such as acne control, but many adverse consequences have been reported including stroke, cardiovascular events, clotting, and other problems.

 

BONUS: Because the liability of the oral contraceptive manufacturer is important in any litigation involving injury from oral contraceptive use, this perspective has been discussed in addition to the perspectives of the attorney, physician, insurer, and employer.

February 7, 2012 | MLP 2012 | Vol. 1, Issue. 3

Introduction: Emergency Responders: Liability for Aid

Recently, a jury awarded over $5 million to the family of a boy who died after 911 dispatched two firefighter/paramedics, two policemen, and one lieutenant fireman. Without examining the drug-overdosed teen, they left. The teen died later that night.
 
Emergency medical services care will affect most people in this country at some time. According to the Emergency Medical Services arm of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2009 an estimated 28,004,624 EMS patient transports occurred nationwide, or about 952 for each 10,000 people in the United States.
 
It is critical for attorneys to understand the liability facing emergency medical care providers whether the provider is medically trained, an ambulance transporter, or a Good Samaritan. It is also important for EMTs, paramedics, firefighter, and others providing aid, as well as insurers and employers, to be aware of liability exposure and what strategies to employ in litigation.

February 6, 2013 | MLP 2013 | Vol. 2, Issue. 15

Introduction: Congenital Heart Defects: Liability Issues

About 40,000 infants born each year in the United States have congenital heart defects. Congenital heart conditions are a leading cause of infant illness and death associated with birth defects. Studies indicate that nearly one million adults in the United States are currently living with a congenital heart defect. Nearly 10%  of congenital heart defects are not diagnosed until adulthood.

 

The cost of these heart problems is high. In one year, severe congenital heart defects accounted for about $511 million, or about 37%, of all hospital costs associated with congenital heart defects.

 

Any step in the diagnosis and treatment of congenital heart conditions, including both actions and inactions by medical professionals, can potentially result in adverse consequences and lead to litigation. Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers and others who may be involved in litigation concerning a congenital heart condition should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that may arise in connection with the diagnosis or treatment of a congenital heart condition.

February 5, 2014 | MLP 2014 | Vol. 3, Issue. 27

Introduction: Heart Disease Litigation

About 600,000 people in the United States die of heart disease every year, which is one in every four U.S. deaths. It is the leading cause of death for both men and women. The most common type of heart disease – coronary heart disease – kills nearly 380,000 people each year and costs $108.9 billion annually. A recent study indicated that more than half of all men and women over the age of 45 will develop heart disease during their lifetimes.

 

Even though heart disease is so common, mistakes can be made in diagnosing and treating this ailment. These mistakes may give rise to medical malpractice or negligence claims, which can result in high settlement and awards.

 

Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, and other parties to litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that may arise in connection with the diagnosis or treatment of heart disease.

 

February is National Heart Month. The American Heart Association and other organizations encourage everyone to live a heart healthy life.

February 4, 2015 | MLP 2015 | Vol. 4, Issue. 39

Introduction: Diagnosing or Treating Infertility: Liability Risks

Infertility affects about 12% of women between age 15 and 44 and about 7% of sexually experienced men younger than age 45 in the United States. 7.3 million U.S. women, or their husbands or partners, have sought treatment for infertility.

 

A variety of factors, including disease or trauma to reproductive organs, can cause infertility. Errors or negligence by health care providers treating other medical conditions may in some cases cause patient infertility. In addition, errors or negligence by providers in performing medical procedures to diagnose or treat infertility sometimes can result in injuries to patients.

 

Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, and other potential parties to litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that arise in connection with the diagnosis or treatment of infertility.

February 2, 2016 | MLP 2016 | Vol. 5, Issue. 51

Introduction: Liability Risks for Gastrointestinal Disorders

Gastrointestinal diseases and other digestive disorders affect 60 to 70 million people in the U.S. More than 21 million of those affected require hospitalization each year, and more than 245,000 die annually. Medical costs per year related to digestive disorders amount to more than $141 billion.

 

Special risk factors must be considered when treating specific patient populations with gastrointestinal disorders, such as the elderly and children.

 

Other illnesses and conditions and their treatment can result in gastrointestinal complications. Damages awarded in lawsuits alleging a drug manufacturer failed to provide adequate warnings of these serious gastrointestinal risks associated with one medication exceeded $53 million.

 

Medical negligence can occur in the diagnosis and treatment of digestive disorders resulting in physical and emotional injuries to patients. These injuries can lead to litigation and high awards and settlements.

 

Attorneys, physicians, insurers, employers, manufacturers, and other potential parties to litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that may arise in connection with injuries related to gastrointestinal diseases or disorders.

December 6, 2016 | MLP 2016 | Vol. 5, Issue. 61

Introduction: The Difficulty of Subjective Medical Proof

Self-reported, or subjective, impairments are difficult to diagnose and treat, and difficult to litigate. Determining whether insurance coverage is provided compounds the difficulty.

 

Generally, there are no objective tests to prove this type of impairment or disease, and pain, fatigue, sleep loss and other subjective complaints are the only symptoms. It is critical to have the right medical knowledge and see each party's perspective for success before and during litigation.

December 6, 2011 | MLP 2011 | Vol. 1, Issue. 1

Introduction: Emergency Medicine Liability

According to the CDC, more than 136 million people visit emergency departments in the United States each year. Most of these visits are for urgent health problems; 45 million of them are related to injuries.

 

Emergency rooms can be overcrowded, delays can occur, complications can arise, and mistakes can be made. The number of patients sent home from emergency rooms in the United States each year who have to return within 72 hours because of medical errors has been estimated at between 600,000 to one million.

 

It is critical for attorneys to understand the potential theories of liability and defenses, and for physicians, insurers, and employers to be aware of their exposure to liability and what strategies to employ in emergency medical care situations.

December 5, 2012 | MLP 2012 | Vol. 1, Issue. 13

Introduction: Blood Clot Liability Issues

Estimates of the number of patients with blood clots occurring annually in the U.S go as high as 600,000, with the estimated number of annual deaths as high as 300,000. The National Center for Health Statistics data indicate that blood clots would be ranked as either the third, fifth, or eighth leading cause of death by disease.
 
Blood clot disorders such as deep vein thrombophlebitis or thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE) rank among the top health concerns in the country. Experts agree that the failure to diagnose and treat these conditions is not uncommon, and can lead to serious injury and death. It also can lead to litigation and potential liability for medical malpractice.
 
Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, and others who may be involved in litigation involving blood clot injury need to understand the liability issues and medical aspects to handle these cases properly.

December 4, 2013 | MLP 2013 | Vol. 2, Issue. 25

Introduction: Depression Patients: Liability Risks

More than 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression, which is the leading cause of disability worldwide according to the World Health Organization. Fewer than half of those affected by depression get treatment, sometimes because of a missed or incorrect diagnosis. Some patients are incorrectly diagnosed as having depression and inappropriately treated with antidepressants.

 

Many people believe that depression, anxiety, and suicide rates increase during the holiday season, although some studies indicate this may be more myth than fact.

 

Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, and other potential parties to litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that arise in connection with the diagnosis and treatment of depression.

December 3, 2014 | MLP 2014 | Vol. 3, Issue. 37

Introduction: Risks in Diagnosing or Treating Pneumonia

Pneumonia results in more than 50,000 deaths in the United States every year, with approximately 3.4% of hospital inpatient deaths being attributable to pneumonia. On a global basis, pneumonia is the leading cause of death for children under five years old.

 

Awards and settlements in malpractice lawsuits involving pneumonia can amount to millions of dollars.

 

Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, employers, insurers, and other potential parties to the litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and liability issues that can arise in connection with the diagnosis or treatment of pneumonia.

December 1, 2015 | MLP 2015 | Vol. 4, Issue. 49

Introduction: Surgical Identification Errors

An estimated 80,000 surgical "never events" occurred in U.S. hospitals during a recent 20-year period, averaging 4,000 per year. These estimates have been described as probably on the low side. The estimates indicate that surgeons perform the wrong procedure on a patient 20 times a week and operate on the wrong body site 20 times a week.

 

Surgical misidentifications are not the type of injury that triggers frivolous lawsuits or settlements made to avoid jury trials as they are fairly unambiguous injuries. Judgments and settlements over the 20-year time period indicate amounts paid out for surgical never events totaled $1.3 billion.

 

Attorneys, physicians, insurers, employers, and others who are involved in litigation concerning surgical misidentifications must be aware of the types of lawsuits that arise from these types of injuries, which strategies and techniques to employ, and which issues are critical to understand.

August 7, 2013 | MLP 2013 | Vol. 2, Issue. 21

Introduction: Anesthesia Error Liability

Approximately 20 million patients receive anesthesia annually in the United States, and even though most encounter no problems some experience serious incidents. Each year, 2,000 or more deaths occur that can be attributed primarily to the induction of anesthesia, with the majority of these deaths considered to be preventable.

 

In 2012, the International Anesthesia Research Society reported that more than 80% of the anesthesiologists surveyed had been involved in a “fatal or serious incident to a patient during a surgical procedure.”

 

Almost 70% of the medical negligence claims brought against anesthesiologists that result in success for the claimants are based on the improper administration of anesthetic agents.

 

It is critical for attorneys to understand the medicine in this area and for physicians and insurers to learn about potential malpractice liability.

August 7, 2012 | MLP 2012 | Vol. 1, Issue. 9

Introduction: Liability Risks for Epilepsy and Seizures

Epilepsy affects about 2.2 million, one in every 26 people, and ranks as one of the most common neurological problems. Epilepsy, in combination with other seizure disorders, is an important health concern. The death rate from epilepsy and seizures exceeds the death rate from breast cancer or from HIV and AIDS.

 

Medical malpractice litigation arising in connection with epilepsy and seizure disorders may involve claims that a physician or health care provider was negligent in diagnosing or treating these conditions. Diagnosis and treatment of these conditions often is challenging. Litigation has resulted in awards and settlements in the millions of dollars.

 

Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, and other potential parties to litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that arise in connection with the diagnosis or treatment of epilepsy and seizure disorders.

August 6, 2014 | MLP 2014 | Vol. 3, Issue. 33

Introduction: Liability Risks for Pediatricians

Children often contract common infections including upper respiratory infections, ear infections, sinus infections, and conjunctivitis, which can lead to complications. Vaccines are effective in preventing the occurrence of serious infectious diseases, avoiding the complications that can be associated with these diseases, and improving mortality rates in children. However, the use of vaccinations also may result in complications.

 

Complications, such as fever, rash, diarrhea, dehydration, and organ injury, can result in serious health problems or even death of a child.

 

Litigation may occur even when the care provided to a child by a pediatrician satisfies high standards. When providers deviate from the standard and provide substandard care, litigation frequently results. Damage awards in lawsuits involving injuries resulting from complications of childhood diseases or conditions can be high.

 

Attorneys, pediatricians and other providers, hospitals, employers, insurers, and other potential parties to the litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and liability issues that can arise in connection with pediatric injuries related to diseases or conditions of childhood.

August 4, 2015 | MLP 2015 | Vol. 4, Issue. 45

Introduction: Multiple Sclerosis Liability Risks

Multiple sclerosis affects about 2.5 million people worldwide. About 400,000 of those suffering from multiple sclerosis live in the United States, where about 200 new cases of MS are diagnosed each week.

 

The causes of multiple sclerosis are not known, and no cure is currently available. What is known is the high cost that caring for a person with multiple sclerosis involves.

 

Because multiple sclerosis can be hard to diagnose, misdiagnosis may result, which can lead to litigation. Also, issues related to the treatment of MS, including drug-related issues, also may result in litigation.

 

Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, manufacturers, and others who may be parties in litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that may arise in connection with the diagnosis and treatment of multiple sclerosis.  

August 2, 2016 | MLP 2016 | Vol. 5, Issue. 57

Introduction: Liability Involving CTE

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a degenerative condition linked to repeat head injury. Although CTE was first identified in boxers, later studies found the same condition in persons with other forms of head injury.

 

Health care experts currently recognize that it is the sustained or repetitive brain injury, rather than the sport or other activity in which the brain injury occurs, that increases the risk of developing this condition.

 

Litigation involving a CTE injury can assert claims of negligence, including medical negligence, negligence in coaching and supervision, and negligence related to sports equipment and facilities. Issues under product liability, labor and employment law, and workers compensation also arise.

 

Attorneys, physicians, insurers, employers, manufacturers, and other potential parties to litigation need to understand the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that may arise in connection with chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

August 1, 2017 | MLP 2017 | Vol. 6, Issue. 69

Introduction: Autism-Related Liability Risks

About 3.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Worldwide, it has been said that about one percent of the population is “on the spectrum.” The diagnosis and treatment of ASD is often challenging. 

 

The financial and personal costs related to these disorders pose a major burden to the families of those struggling with an ASD as well as to society as a whole. The impact of the condition is expected to grow as many more people are being diagnosed with these disorders.

 

The diagnosis, care, treatment, and related injuries of persons with an autism spectrum disorder can give rise to litigation. 

 

Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, and other potential parties to litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that arise in connection with injuries related to autism spectrum disorders.

April 5, 2016 | MLP 2016 | Vol. 5, Issue. 53

Introduction: Liability Risks for Gestational Diabetes

Every year, gestational diabetes affects more than nine percent of pregnancies in the United States, and the prevalence of the condition has been rising. Both the expectant mother and the infant can suffer injuries related to the condition.

 

An injury related to gestational diabetes can lead to litigation. Claims may include allegations of medical malpractice or negligence, pregnancy or disability discrimination, and others.

 

Attorneys, physicians, insurers, employers, and other potential parties to litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that may arise in connection with injuries related to gestational diabetes.

April 4, 2017 | MLP 2017 | Vol. 6, Issue. 65

Introduction: Liability for Injury from Complementary or Alternative Treatments and Techniques

Americans are increasingly using the techniques, therapies, and approaches of complementary and alternative medicine. We now make more visits to nontraditional healers than to family doctors and spend almost as much (out of pocket) on alternative medicine ($27 billion) as on unreimbursed physician services ($29 billion).

 

Sales of dietary supplements in the U.S. reached $21.3 billion in 2005: vitamins were $3 billion, herbs $4.4 billion, minerals $1.8 billion, sports nutrition products $2.2 billion, multivitamins/minerals $4.2 billion, and other supplements totaling $5.7 billiion.


Attorneys, physicians, insurers, employers, and others who may be affected should be aware of the types of lawsuits that may arise from injury due to complementary or alternative medicine, what strategies and techniques to employ, and what issues are critical to know.

April 3, 2013 | MLP 2013 | Vol. 2, Issue. 17

Introduction: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Liability

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 15 million Americans have been diagnosed with COPD, and that chronic lower respiratory disease, which primarily includes COPD, was the third leading cause of death in the United States.

 

Smoking is the most common cause of COPD. Twenty-five percent of COPD patients, however, have never smoked.

 

Failure or delays in diagnosing COPD, as well as misdiagnoses of COPD and mistakes in treating COPD, can lead to litigation.

 

Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, and other potential parties to the litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and liability issues that arise in connection with the diagnosis and treatment of COPD.

April 2, 2015 | MLP 2015 | Vol. 4, Issue. 41

Introduction: Lyme Disease: Liability Issues

Although approximately 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported to the CDC each year, this number does not reflect every case of Lyme disease that occurs in the U.S. every year. The actual number of cases may be five to ten times higher than the number of reported cases, or as many as 300,000 annually.

 

Early treatment can be critical in curing Lyme disease. The condition can be difficult to diagnose, however, as its symptoms often resemble other types of disorders. Confirming that a patient has Lyme disease generally requires laboratory tests, but these tests can be inconclusive.

 

The treatment of Lyme disease also raises controversial questions. Physicians and other medical professionals disagree on testing methods, treatment methods, and long-term implications of the disease. Health insurers may refuse to pay for controversial methods of treatment.

 

Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers and others should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that may arise in connection with the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease.

April 2, 2014 | MLP 2014 | Vol. 3, Issue. 29

Introduction: Liability for Off-Label Use of Medical Devices

Since 2009, over $2.4 billion has been awarded for federal health care fraud in False Claims Act actions, including actions for the illegal marketing of medical devices not approved by the FDA.

Medical device manufacturers and physicians face significant liability for the off-label use of medical devices, potentially facing claims of malpractice, overpromotion, products liability, fraud, and more. This is dangerous territory that must be navigated with precise care.


BONUS: Because the liability of a device manufacturer is important in litigation involving injury from the off-label use of a medical device, this perspective has been discussed in addition to the perspectives of the attorney, physician, insurer, and employer.

April 1, 2012 | MLP 2012 | Vol. 1, Issue. 5