Medical Malpractice Lawyers Inform of the Dangers of Damage Caps

There has been a push in some legal and political circles to cap damages for medical malpractice cases. Usually when this is discussed, some anecdotal story is brought up about some minor injury and a multi-million dollar award. However, these misleading anecdotes do not tell the whole story. The judgments that medical malpractice lawyers get work to serve the community in several ways that, when caps are utilized, are greatly diminished in value. Attorneys help victims regain some semblance of their life, and usually a modest sum to compensate the victims. Damage caps are destructive to our legal system.

What Damage Caps Do

new jersey philadelphia medical malpractice attorneys dangers damage capsThose anecdotes you hear are often about some “frivolous” injury and a multi-million dollar award. Usually, these anecdotes are urban legends and are far from the truth. Juries are assigned with the task of fixing damages based on a number of factors, including the projected cost of continued medical care. When caps are utilized, medical malpractice lawyers can still win a judgment, but it is more likely that the judgment is not going to be enough to cover the victim’s medical costs. When the victim cannot pay their medical bills, the government will have to step in and help, help that is subsidized by taxpayers. Why should victims of medical malpractice and citizens have to bear the burden of “fixing the system” in favor of insurance companies and doctors?

Furthermore, what damage caps do is artificially allow bad doctors to stay in business and hurt other people. If damage caps are not utilized, attorneys will win judgments that compensate their clients, which are typically paid out by the doctor’s insurance company. When you lose a medical malpractice case, your medical malpractice insurance premium will increase and some of the worst doctors will be forced out of practice. However, with the caps in place, the consequences for practicing bad medicine are greatly lowered, and many of these dangerous doctors are still practicing.

Medical Malpractice Lawyers in New Jersey and Philadelphia

If you or a family member have recently undergone a surgery, and have been the victim of medical malpractice or negligence, you should contact the Mininno Law Office. You and your family deserve compensation for your injuries. Please call our experienced professionals at (856) 833-0600 in New Jersey or (215) 567-2380 in Philadelphia for a free case evaluation and consultation.

New Health Legislation may not provide Coverage for Everyone

The health legislation concerns still keep going and going. The Democrats have celebrated that the bill created in the Senate Finance Committee would not increase the deficit, but it may not actually provide coverage for every American as previously promised. Yes, the bill will cover the expensive and possibility the sickest patients, but it will pose an insurance risk to other people by making them pay even more in health care coverage. This will lead to people once again not being able to afford coverage and then again having not everyone receiving health insurance coverage. The health care reform was supposed to provide health care coverage for as many if not all Americans. This does not seem to be the case since health insurance will increase their costs for those with insurance making those with insurance unable to afford it. This means less injuries and health problems for those that are covered by the new health care reform and unaffordable insurance and more injuries and problems for people that already had health insurance. This seems like the bill will not actually be able to deliver what was once promised. Patients and proper health care should come first, but yet again, money and profits are still being put first. When will our system get up to speed to places like Europe where if you have an ehic card, that’s probably all you are going to need for coverage. We need to make sure that not only is every American able to afford coverage but that this coverage will provide proper medical care and less malpractice and injuries for patients.

For more information on the new health reform debate, you may visit: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/08/AR2009100801732.html

 

If you or someone you love feels like you have not received proper medical care, please contact a malpractice lawyer right away. They will help you advocate for your rights to receive proper medical care.

What Every Citizen Should Know About the Nursing Home Industry: A background

Deciding whether to put a loved one into a nursing home is the one of the most difficult decisions we must all face. In today’s fast paced society, however, it has become increasingly difficult to care for the elderly at home. Even more daunting, is choosing the right nursing home. Indeed, making a decision on a facility is difficult; with more and more nursing homes going up every year, the number of available options seems endless, even in some of the more remote sections of the country. Although on the surface many nursing homes may appear to be the same, there are dramatic differences between nursing homes, and unfortunately, many shortcomings. In order to have a better understanding of how nursing homes can be so dramatically different in quality of care, and to help you choose which nursing home might be best for your loved ones, you should first have a basic understanding of how nursing homes function in the United States.

First and foremost, it is important to constantly be aware that more than 80% of nursing homes in the Unites States are for-profit, publicly traded, corporations. This is in direct contrast to hospitals in the Unites States, which 87% of are non-profit operations. So how does this affect you and your family? Simple. In any publicly traded corporation, the final goal will always be profit. The Profits must come first. This is not just common practice, it is written into law. By law a publically traded corporations the most important, if not the only, obligation is to increase the profits of their shareholders. This set up has helped drive industrial and technological advancements at a staggering pace. However when it is applied to the practice of nursing homes and long term care, a problem arises.

By nature, medicine and long term care are extremely expensive. The cost to run hospitals and long term care, and nursing homes can reach staggering figures. In fact, it is estimated that at least $180 billion is spent on critical care alone in the United States each year. Although cost cutting is always a simple and desirable way to boost profits in any corporation, the nature of health care and long-term care simply does not allow for it. When dealing with the lives of human beings, there are large and unavoidable costs connected to providing their patients with the care they need to stay healthy with an acceptable quality of life. Unfortunately, this does not stop these corporate nursing homes from doing whatever they can to minimize their spending.

This cost cutting rears its ugly head in many forms in corporate nursing homes. Most apparent however, is the effect it has on the staff. Many for-profit nursing homes are dramatically under staffed, many of whom do not have the proper training to manage their positions in the first place. Lack of training, oversight, and personnel immediately translates into health risks to the patient. This includes, but is not limited to: bed sores, falls, under and over medicating, mixing up patients’ medications, unacceptable poor hygiene, physical abuse by staff, and lack of response to emergency situations. Incidents such as this are a daily occurrence. Fortunately however, you have the power to choose where to place your loved ones, and when the worst happens, you have the legal power to do whatever you can to rectify the situation.

When the worst happens to a loved one in a nursing home, contact an attorney immediately. The status quo of dramatic cost cutting in the nursing home industry will not change until it is no longer profitable to continue cutting costs and quality of care. By bringing a suit against a nursing home or long term care facility, you are demanding they change their way of business by punishing them financially for their neglect. By contacting an attorney who specializes in nursing homes, you are doing your part to make sure what terrible things happened to your loved ones do not happen to someone else.

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Don’t Let Them Fool You – Health Systems can be Held Liable for Incidents at their Hospitals

Here’s an interesting legal tactic for you: In a negligence case brought against the system, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is apparently asserting that it doesn’t run hospitals, despite describing itself as an “integrated global health enterprise” in its own press releases. – Anne Ziegler, FierceHealthCare.com

Central to what might be the most interesting negligence trial in quite some time is the untimely death of Rose Lee Diggs. Ms. Diggs, an 89 year-old woman was being treated at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Without any hospital staff noticing, and without any proper means to prevent her from doing so, Ms. Diggs got out of her bed, wondered down the hall, up the stairs, and to the roof of the hospital, where she would later be found dead. The suit, which contends that hospital staff delayed in reporting Mrs. Diggs missing and tried to remove evidence from the scene, names both UPMC Health System, and UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside as defendants.

However, in what might be one of the most interesting defense tactics I have seen yet, attorneys for the University of Pittsburgh Health System have asserted that even if there was a wrongdoing in the case of Mrs. Diggs, that the system would not be responsible. Its attorneys have taken the position that each hospital and healthcare facility within its system are independent, not-for-profit corporations which are solely liable for the negligence that occurs at their facility.

Although clever, this argument does not hold under law. In any lawsuit in which the hospital is held liable for malpractice and/or negligence, the Health System which funds, organizes, and operates that facility is also held liable. Of course, the final decision in this case regarding whether or not University of Pittsburgh Health System can be held liable will be up to the Judge hearing the case. Lets just hope she sides with the legal precedent, and common sense.

Help Pass The Medical Safety Device Act

In February 2008, the Supreme Court of the United States ignored Congressional intent and disregarded 30 years of experience under the 1976 Medical Device Amendments (MDA), during which FDA regulation and state tort law worked together to protect consumers from dangerous devices. The court’s recent decision in Riegel v. Medtronic gave total immunity to device manufacturers who fail to adequately warn consumers about device risks. The court, failing to understand that FDA approval does not mean a device is entirely safe, sided with the corporate world over the rights of its citizens, preventing the public from suing when a medical device fails and causes serious harm.

When patients with devastating injuries are unable to hold the negligent manufacturer accountable, the patient and the taxpayers are left footing the bill. For a patient with private health insurance, the health insurance would most likely cover the additional surgery. However, true to the nature of the beast, the price of that patients coverage will most likely increase, leaving that patient stranded to find a way to pay for their increasingly unaffordable health insurance, with no compensation for the physical limitations caused by the device’s failure.

For Medicare or Medicaid-covered patients, the costs of the additional medical care are passed to, that’s right, you, the taxpayers. And for patients who can no longer work, they may need additional taxpayer supported programs, such as Social Security disability. All this cost shifting does nothing to help the injured patient, drains public funds, and does not encourage the manufacturer of the faulty device to fix the problem.

So what can be done? Write to your state and federal representatives and let them know you support the Medical Device Safety Act of 2008. What will it do? The bill simply does two things:

1) It restores Congressional intent by explicitly stating that actions for damages under state law are preserved.
2) It makes the amendment retroactive to the date of enactment of the Medical Devices Amendment of 1976.

The court took the decision-making process out of the hands of Congress and of the court system and put it completely in the hands of FDA bureaucrats. State legislators and attorneys general are joining the cause of rolling back the situation to before the Supreme Court’s decision and restoring the status quo in effect for decades. An American who thinks people should have some access to the courts – any access at all – should be for the act, because right now, in these situations, there is no access, and that’s not the American way.

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Chamber of Commerce: Business As Usual at a Theater Near You

In what seems to be an endless bombardment of spin campaigns, the chamber of commerce has now cracked into the movie business, by releasing a trailer to be shown in Washington, D.C. area theatres. Titled’ “The Faces of Lawsuit Abuse,” The Chamber has once again launched an attack against the world’s best legal system in an attempt to shield their exclusive members from lawsuits.

By shamelessly exaggerating isolated issues of what some would call questionable legal practices, the chamber is attempting to invalidate the entire civil legal system of the United States. Although they insist that their goal is to protect everyday citizens from greedy trial attorneys, the truth is that this campaign is just a new phase of their longstanding credo that negligent corporations should never be held accountable. Period.

The consequences of the chamber reaching their goal would be disastrous. Throughout American history, the legal system has combated against the corporate structure and won the right to protect its citizens from the profit driven manufacturers of today’s modern society. From the food we eat, to the toys our children play with, all products sold to consumers today would not be nearly as safe as they are if it were not for the modern legal system. If the Chamber had its way, parents would have never been able to sue when a defective crib killed their child, veterans of Vietnam would not have been compensated for their exposure to deadly toxic agents, and citizens would have never been properly warned of the dangers of tobacco.

The irony of it all is, that while the Chamber doesn’t want everyday Americans to use the legal system, they are actually one of the biggest lawsuit-filers in Washington. Except in their case, Chamber sues on behalf of Wall Street banks, oil companies, and lead paint manufacturers.

Let the government know how you feel about this immoral attack on the best legal system in the world. Write to your local and state representatives and let them know that you do not want the Chamber of Commerce walking on our constitution in order to protect the wallets of its contributors.

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Legal Side Effects or Legal Remedy?

In May’s issue, Kate Wilcox stated that a recent U.S. Supreme Court’s decision left drug companies “wide open for lawsuits” because it allowed juries to hold negligent drug companies accountable for harm they cause. The principles expressed by the Supreme Court in the Wyeth decision require federal regulations to improve transparency and public participation in the FDA regulatory process. Also, the decision recognized the state civil justice system provides an additional protection against billion dollar pharmeceutical companies when government regulations fail, and therefore agencies must limit their attempt to preempt state law, except in cases when Congress has explicitly stated its intent to do so. The decision upholds laws that are much needed, especially in light of the long standing practice of pharmaceutical companies to sponsor and pay for the, “research,” of the drugs they make. This practice allows the companies to market the drug’s positive effects while concealing the dangerous side effects that harm patients. The Court’s decision upholds important constitutional rights afforded to all citizens in this country and should be welcomed by a journal that promotes scientific study.

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Supreme Court Decision Allows for Compensation

A March 4th Supreme Court decision has allowed juries to award damages for the harmful side effects of drugs, even if the drug had the proper FDA approved warning labels. This ruling comes in the wake of recent discovery that many drugs widely used on the market over the past decade were the result of falsified medical research.Thousands of cases against the makers of drugs like Vioxx, will now have a higher probabilty of settling, after the drug has been shown to cause serious heart related problems, as well as hinder bone growth.

If you or a loved one has had their quality of life decline due to the harmful side effects of a prescription medicine, then they may be entitled to compensation. Please contact an attorney immediately.

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New Jersey Senator Lends an Ear to the Victims of Insurance Company Tactics

“As far as Kia Moore is concerned, the health insurance system miserably failed her and her 20-month-old son. Xavier Hylton was born at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden with two malfunctioning kidneys and requires daily dialysis treatments as he awaits a transplant. He had grown enough to medically qualify for that transplant by March, but Moore said the procedure was delayed at least six months by a struggle over insurance coverage. Today, she said, her son should already have a functioning kidney and be on his way to living a near-normal life.” (Maryann Spoto, The Star-Ledger)

Last week, citizens of New Jersey who have fallen victim to the ruthless tactics of insurance companies were given time to fume their anger to US Senator Bob Menendez. The stories Senator Menendez would hear would appall him, and only add to his arsenal to bring to Washington with the hopes of sparking health care reform. Although invited, no representatives from the insurance agencies were present for the meeting.

“It’s no secret to anyone that our health care system is badly in need of reform,” Menendez said. “There are few things more important to the families in this state than fixing it, making sure in this great nation of ours that no one goes to sleep without health coverage, that no one has to choose between paying for heat in the winter and paying for medication that keeps them alive.”

Senator Menendez called the meeting in light of a new health care system proposal authored by Senator Max Baucus of Montana. Central to the Baucus proposal is the creation of a Health Care Exchange composed of a nationwide group of private insurance companies that would be prohibited from discriminating against pre-existing conditions.

Currently, under the existing set up, patients who visit emergency rooms due to lack of coverage end up being burdens of the tax payer. In Camden alone, more tha $460 million has been spent over the past five years on charity cases. Because the proposal would require every resident to obtain health insurance, it also provides for federal subsidies for families and small businesses unable to afford coverage through the exchange.

This new proposal has received the plaudits of Jeffery Brenner, a local Camden physician. Brenner advocates a system that brings those emergency room patients into the system for follow-ups so they can receive the appropriate care and are less of a financial drain on the system.

“Somehow we lost sight of the fact that the purpose of the home-care delivery system is to heal the sick, care for wounded and prevent illness,” he said. “It’s not to make physicians wealthy or pharmaceutical representatives wealthy or stockholders or insurance companies wealthy. The patient should be at the center of the system and indeed should be our top priority.”

Until serious reform has occurred however, the best ally a patient can have when dealing with their insurance carrier is an experienced attorney.

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THE RESEARCH RECESSION: 12 years of Anesthesiology progress in question

Over the past 12 years, anesthesiologist Scott Reuben revolutionized the way physicians provide pain relief to patients undergoing orthopedic surgery for everything from torn ligaments to worn-out hips. (Brendan Borrell, Scientific American)

Rueben’s drug studies were responsible for convincing orthopedic surgeons to move away from the first generation of non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs to a new method, known as COX2 inhibitors. He claimed that these new drugs, made popular under the names Vioxx, Celebrex, and Bextra, in combination with anticonvulsants could be effective in decreasing postoperative pain and reduce the use of addictive pain killers, such as morphine, after surgery. What seemed to be a break through, Reuben’s findings were hailed as a great step forward in redesigning anesthesiology.

12 years later however, the profession is in a state of crisis after an investigation by the Baystate Medical Center revealed that at least 21 of Reuben’s papers were entirely made up, faking the beneficial results and in some cases, masking possible dangers. The investigation found that the data in these 21 studies had been partially doctored, and in some cases, entirely fabricated by Dr. Rueben.

Although this most recent investigation has brought the wall tumbling down for Dr. Rueben, signs of cracks had leaks had begun to rear their ugly head over the past five years. In the early part of the decade, orthopedic surgeons began to distrust Rueben’s COX2 inhibitors, when animal testing found that the drugs might actually hinder bone healing. Soon there after, in 2004, Vioxx and Bextra, and Celebrex were pulled from the market because of their link to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. All the mean time, Dr. Rueben continued to present positive “findings” for the use of these COX2 inhibitors in his research.

So, even with the public at risk, what motivated Dr. Rueben continue his campaign for these drugs? Simple. Money. It was discovered during the course of the Baystate investigation that Dr. Rueben’s research was entirely funded by Pfizer; the maker of both Celebrex, and the anticonvulsants lauded by Dr. Rueben’s study to be used in conjunction with the COX2 inhibitors. Baystate however could not find any records of the payments, suggesting that the payments were made not to Dr. Rueben’s research group, but instead directly to Dr. Rueben.

Although we may think of doctor’s as always having the best intentions, one must always remember the power of money. Pharmaceutical corporations are some of the richest and most powerful companies in the world, and they need doctors on their side. It is much easier today for these drug companies to pay off a doctor to get the results they need rather than go back to the drawing table and leave behind an unsuccessful product. Because of this, remember to always remain informed when consulting with your doctor about possible medication options. An informed patient is always the safest patient.

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