Prescription drug Singular linked to suicide and behavioral changes

Pharmaceutical giant, Merck, has come under investigation yet again- this time concerning the asthma and allegory drug Singular. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) announced on March 27th that it will be working with Merck to determine if there is link between Merck’s asthma and allergy drug, Singular, and suicide. Singular is marketed as a drug used to treat asthma and the symptoms associated with allergies such as sneezing, runny nose and itching of nose. The drug is also known to be used to prevent exercise induced asthma.

The FDA was moved to begin the investigation after receiving numerous reports of mood and behavior changes, suicidal thinking and actual cases of suicide that were reported in several patients who took the drug.

Located in Whitehouse, New Jersey, Merck is the same the pharmaceutical company who brought the drug Vioxx to the public. Vioxx was removed from shelves after the company admitted that the medication was linked to heart attacks and strokes in thousands of people. This past summer, Merck agreed to pay 4.8 billion in settlements for patients who had documented injuries linked to the drug.

Ironically, this settlement seemed to be a bargain to Merck as Vioxx accounted for 2.5 billion of Merck’s 2003 profits and many billions of dollars over the life of the drug. Merck was forced to pull the Vioxx off the market in 2004 after its own studies showed that the pain killer doubled the risk of heart attack when taken for at least 18 months.

Similarly, the drug Singular, has accounted for 4.3 billion dollars of Merck’s sales last year. The FDA has asked the company to do a deeper analysis into its data and disclose any possible links to suicide. Merck’s officials have agreed to cooperate in the investigation.

In the meantime, patients that are currently using Singular should monitor and document any unfavorable side effects associated with its usage. In addition, if you are a patient currently experiencing suicidal thoughts or behavioral changes, contact your doctor immediately to discuss alternative treatment options.

Free Legal Advice: Medical Malpractice

Expectant Mothers Beware– New Studies Show Premature Births Linked to Increased Childhood Death Rates and Barrenness

The Journal of the American Medical Association released a study which found that premature children have higher death rates during childhood, and these risks continue to increase with age. In addition, the study showed that these preemies were more likely to be childless in adulthood.

The study followed 1.2 million Norwegian’s births over many decades. More than 60,000 of these Norwegian children were born premature. These findings emphasize the importance in preventing premature birth. Dr. Alan Fleishman of the March of Dimes states that “in the United States, there is an epidemic of pre-term birth, and prevention is absolutely critical. ” Research shows that the prevention of premature birth includes hormone treatment for women with a history of premature delivery, prenatal care and nutrition, and careful OB/GYN monitoring of patients. In addition, doctors should avoid the inducing of labor unless medically necessary. Finally, the reduction of In Vitro pregnancies will also reduce the risk of premature birth.

Expectant mothers should also be proactive before and during pregnancy to protect their unborn babies. Recent studies show folic acid reduces the chances of pre-term labor. Pregnant women are encouraged to take pre-natal vitamins that include folic acid and eat foods such as cereal and whole-grain products. In addition, expectant mothers should avoid recreation, as well as unapproved prescription drugs during pregnancy. Finally, it is important for all expectant mothers to keep regular appointments with an OB/GYN during pregnancy. In most cases, regular visits to a doctor will allow for early detection of medical problems or complications that could contribute to premature birth.

Free Legal Advice: Birth Defects or Injuries

Hey Abington Hospital: Stop Blaming Patients For Increase In Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Abington Hospital wants to send medical malpractice victims to mediation to keep them out of court (listen to report on ABC News). Sounds good right? Don’t be fooled. “Sue happy” people aren’t driving the doctors out of town. That’s only what they want you to believe.

Lets face the facts. The Institute of Medicine released a study which states 98,000 people DIE each year from medical errors. That doesn’t even account for the other patients that are permanently disabled or disfigured by the hands of doctors.

To add insult to injury, the medical community has a longstanding tradition of covering up medical mistakes. As a patient, if my doctor screwed up, I want some answers. I want you to be honest and I want you to tell me how your gonna fix it. When you pretend like my suffering isn’t your fault, i’m gonna get mad and i’m gonna call a lawyer.

And to be honest, that’s the consensus among 99% of our clients. However, according to Abington, mediation will solve all of these problems. After all, the doctors will all come back to town, the “sue happy, money hungry” patients get their settlement and we all call it a day. Does anyone else feel like Abington is shifting some blame here on the patient without addressing the real problem that doctors are hurting patients at an alarming rate?

I have a better idea for you Abington Memorial Hospital– why don’t you take some of the money that you are spending on mediators and hire some more doctors? Studies clearly show that medical errors are caused by sleep deprived doctors who work “marathon” shifts of 24 hours or more. Its also common knowledge that going 24 hours with no sleep is equivalent to having a .10 blood alchol level (which either meets or exceds the legal limit in all 50 states).

Quite frankly, I am reminded of that old saying “you made your bed, now lie in it“. If you want to unleash sleep deprived doctors into the operating room, so be it. But at the same time, be prepared to face lawsuits when they make mistakes.

That’s just one of many ways that hospitals can do something constructive to fix this problem. Let’s stop blaming the victims for “our good doctors leaving town“. Step up and take some real responsibility Abington. That’s the only real way to bring the doctors back to town.

Free Legal Advice: Nursing Home Abuse

The Mininno Law Office Blog Joins the Technorati Community

Mininno Law Office has joined the Technorati Profile community to keep you up to date on current legal news in the areas of Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice, and nursing home abuse.

Check out our blog and more.
We hope you find it to be a great resource. We currently have a RSS feed and an email newsletter, so we encourage you to subscribe to them. To subscribe to our newsletter, please enter your email address in the box to the left.

Patient’s advocate to preventing bedsores

Whenever a patient is in a nursing home, that patient is at risk of developing a bedsore. Although there are both and federal and state guidelines specifically designed to prevent bed sores, many nursing homes and hospitals have failed to follow these guidelines. As a result, nursing home patients are developing bedsores at an alarming rate. This article is designed to help patients and their families prevent bedsores when in a nursing home.

First, some background. What is a bedsore? A bedsore is skin and tissue that has died because it has not received sufficient oxygen from the body. Since blood carries oxygen to all parts of our body, a bedsore is developed when the blood vessels that feed the skin are compressed or damaged in some manner.

The compression or damage prevents the blood from reaching the skin and the skin cells begin to die. If the blood supply continues to be damaged or compromised, more tissue will die. Eventually, the blood supply compromise can infect the underlying tissue, bones and joints. It takes as little as two (2) hours of sustained blood flow compromise to begin this process.

Bedsores are common in the lower back, buttocks and on other boney protrusions that routinely come in contact with a patient’s bed. Although every patient in a nursing home is susceptible to bedsores, the majority of cases are easily preventable. The United States Department of Health and Human Services has published clinical guidelines for bedsore prevention since 1992.
These guidelines can be found at this website

In addition, all nursing homes are required to enact, publish, and follow similar guidelines to prevent bedsores. Despite longstanding published guidelines, why is it then that nursing home patients continue to develop bedsores resulting in hospitalizations, medical complications and, in some instances, death?

Basically, the failure of healthcare facilities to employ enough qualified staff members is the primary reason for the high incidents of bedsores. Typically, licensed practical nurses that work in a nursing home setting are less experienced and cheaper to employ when compared to registered nurses. Furthermore, the resident to nurse ratio is very high. The nurses are simply unable to spend the necessary amount of time with each patient to ensure that the guidelines are being followed. Sadly, understaffing at nursing homes is a serious problem that leads to patient neglect.

For example, many residents are immobile and unable to regularly reposition themselves while lying in bed. The guidelines require nurses and aides to physically move these patients every few hours to prevent bedsores. Unfortunately, by the time an overwhelmed nurse gets around to checking on the resident, the two-hour time frame in which a bedsore can develop has already expired.

Similarly, bedsores are also caused by prolonged exposure of the skin to moisture. It is no wonder then that patients who are left to sit for hours in urine soaked diapers and sheets quickly develop bedsores in places that go unnoticed by the nursing home staff and family members alike. Sadly, the situation spirals out of control and the resident suffers because the staff could not make time to provide them with dry diapers and sheets.

So, what should patients do to prevent these devastating injuries? Fortunately, nursing homes fear the civil tort system where juries can hold them financially accountable for failing to follow the guidelines. Family members should not hesitate to seek legal advice if their loved one develops a bedsore. In addition, family members should go to the web, print up several copies of the guidelines and bring them to the nursing home. Family members should sit down with the nursing home’s medical director to ensure that the guidelines are being followed with respect to their loved one. They should leave a copy of the guidelines prominently displayed on the resident’s bedside table. Finally, family members should follow-up in writing asking the director of medicine and nursing if the guidelines are being followed on an every other-day basis.

The real key is involvement. Family members cannot sit back and blindly trust that their loved ones are in good hands. Most residents are already in poor health when they enter a nursing home facility. Therefore, any neglect can have serious physical consequences. It is only by being a patient advocate in the manner set forth above that family members can ensure that their loved one is receiving the federally and state mandated required bedsore prevention care.

In order to prevent other potential abuses in nursing homes go to our nursing home abuse or our bed sore prevention web pages.

John R. Mininno, Esq. is a New Jersey and Pennsylvania trial lawyer representing clients in medical malpractice, defective products and other serious injury claims. He also writes about issues concerning patient safety. His offices are in Collingswood, NJ and Philadelphia, PA.

More Defective Products From China Being Recalled

On St. Patricks’day, 2008, Mega Brands Inc. recalled about 2.4 million Chinese-made defective product/toys, because small magnets could fall out and cause personal injury such as internal damage. A week later, the same defective product manufacturer recalled 1 million Magtastik and Magnetix Jr. preschool toys. These toys also contained magnets in the small flexible parts of the animals, vehicles and building sets can detach. Since magnets attract, if more than one magnet is swallowed, the magnets can attach to one another and cause personal injury such as additional intestinal perforations or blockages, which can be fatal. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has received 19 reports of magnets falling out of these toys. In one case a 3-year-old boy needed medical treatment to remove a magnet from his nasal cavity.

Click here for the complete list of defective product recalls.
In order to prevent other defective product personal injuries go to our defective products website.

John R. Mininno, Esq. is a New Jersey and Pennsylvania trial lawyer representing clients in medical malpractice, defective products and other serious injury claims. He also writes about issues concerning children’s safety. His offices are in Collingswood, NJ and Philadelphia, PA.

Good seats still available in America’s worst nursing homes

Imagine opening up the newspaper and learning that your grandmother was resting comfortably in one of the nation’s worst nursing home. That’s right, your elderly loved one’s savings and insurance dollars going to paying for care at a facility noted for offenses involving unnecessary use of medication, bed sores, unlawful use of restraints, and inadequate safeguards to protect patients from day-to-day hazards in the nursing home.
After initially resisting their disclosure to the folks who paid for the survey- the taxpayers- the Bush administration finally published the names of 131 nursing homes with poor inspection records.

While any nursing home can make mistakes in elder care, the listed nursing homes have institutional deficits that have been ignored far too long. If your loved one is a patient at one of these facilities you should demand to know what steps are being taken to improve. Better yet, move your love one to a better facility – or at least to a facility that is not one of the worst in the country. Click here for the complete worst nursing home list.

In order to prevent other potential abuses in nursing homes go to our nursing home abuse page.

John R.Mininno, Esq. is a New Jersey and Pennsylvania trial lawyer representing clients in medical malpractice, defective products and other serious injury claims. He also writes about issues concerning patient safety. His offices are in Collingswood, NJ and Philadelphia, PA.

23 Facts About Medical Malpractice

Doctors and politicians like to blame attorneys for the high cost of malpractice insurance but the truth is that doctors make severe errors that hurt or kill thousands of patients each year. Here are the facts.

  1. 98,000 deaths each year are due to medical errors. – Institute of Health, National Academy of Sciences (1999)
  2. Deaths by medical errors each year exceeded the number of deaths due to motor vehicle accidents, breast cancer and AIDS. – Institute of Health, National Academy of Sciences (1999)
  3. More than 10% of common surgical procedures are unnecessary or inappropriate. – USA Today(7/24/02)
  4. In the year 2000, the Center for Disease Control found that there were 90,000 deaths due to hospital infections.- Chicago Tribune (7/21/02)
  5. In West Virginia, 40 doctors were found to account for 25% of all of the 2,300 cases of malpractice reported to the West Virginia Board of Medical Examiners since 1993. – West Virginia Gazette Mail
  6. Full and prompt disclosure of medical errors to the patient followed with fair compensation for the injury caused has reduced litigation costs in Veterans Hospitals. – United States Department of Veteran Affairs
  7. Medical errors kill more people each year than auto accidents. – Paul C. Weiler, A Measure of Malpractice: Medical Injury, Malpractice, Litigation and Patient Compensation (1993), Harvard University Press
  8. Medical errors produce more permanent disabilities than do workplace accidents. – Paul C. Weiler, A Measure of Malpractice: Medical Injury, Malpractice, Litigation and Patient Compensation (1993) – Harvard University Press
  9. In New Jersey if a physician has been sanctioned by the Board of Medical Examiners, consumers can find out nothing about the complaints or disciplinary action. – Asbury Park Press (1/31/02)
  10. Getting a formal hearing with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and its Board of Medical Examiners can take a member of the public up to 2 years. – Asbury Park Press (1/30/02)
  11. Doctors disciplined for gross negligence received on average 3 month suspensions. – Asbury Park Press (1/28/02)
  12. An Asbury Park Press Review of 483 disciplinary records since 1995 showed the Board of Medical Examiners issued reprimands to 3 doctors in 3 cases court. – Asbury Park Press (1/30/02)
  13. 20,000 physicians, or 5% are alcoholics, drug addicts, senile, criminals or are incompetent and should not be practicing medicine. New England Journal of Medicine (10/5/87)
  14. Only 1,974 doctors out of 623,000 doctors nationwide were disciplined as a result of their actions. This represents .32% or 3.2 doctors out of 1,000. – Public Citizen Health Research Group Report, September 1993
  15. States do not have the resources available to adequately investigate claims and discipline doctors. 53.6% of the doctors disciplined by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and 44.6% of the doctors disciplined by Medicare were not disciplined by the states in their disciplinary process. – Public Citizen Health Research Group Report, September 1993
  16. In the year 2000 nearly 3/4 of the deadly infections found in hospitals-or about 75,000-were preventable, the result of unsanitary facilities, germ-laden instruments, unwashed hands and other lapses. – Chicago Tribune (7/21/02)
  17. Deaths linked to hospital germs represent the fourth leading cause of death among Americans, behind heart disease, cancer, and strokes. – Chicago Tribune (7/21/02)
  18. Hospital infections kill more people each year than car accidents, fires and drowning combined. – Chicago Tribune (7/21/02)
  19. Strict adherence to clean-hands policies in hospitals cold prevent the deaths of up to 20,000 patients each year. – Chicago Tribune (7/21/02)
  20. Since 1995, more than 75 percent of all hospitals have been cited for significant cleanliness and sanitation violations. – Chicago Tribune (7/21/02)
  21. About 2.1 million patients each year, or 6% will contract a hospital-acquired infection. – Chicago Tribune (7/21/02)
  22. The deaths of 2,610 infants in the year 2000 were linked to preventable hospital-acquired infections. – Chicago Tribune (7/22/02)
  23. Diagnosis of breast cancer was delayed in 9% of patients in a recent study because physicians wrongly ascribed a benign status to a palpable mass. – Archives of Internal Medicine (6/24/02)

If you or a loved one has been harmed by medical malpractice, you may have a claim for damages. For more information, please go to the New Jersey Medical Malpractice Attorneys page.

John R. Mininno, a New Jersey and Pennsylvania trial lawyer representing clients in medical malpractice, defective products and other serious injury claims. He also writes about issues concerning patient safety. His offices are in Collingswood, NJ and Philadelphia, PA.

Fentanyl Patches Recall

In the month of February, Fentanyl prescription patches were recalled for the second time because of a product defect that could cause patients to overdose on the potent drug inside.

Actavis South Atlantic, the manufacturer admitted that several lots of the patches sold nationwide might have a defect. The dosages are 25-microgram-per-hour, 50-microgram-per-hour, 75 microgram-per-hour and 100 microgram-per-hour. The patches have expiration dates of May through August 2009. A contract manufacturer, Corium International Inc., manufactured the patches for Actavis.

Similarly, in January of 2008 Johnson & Johnson and Novartis AG’s Sandoz voluntarily recalled a version of Duragesic that also contains Fentanyl. Again, these manufacturers admitted that certain defects might cause leaks that can lead to fatal overdoses. Those recalled patches, manufactured by Alza Corp. on behald of Sandoz Inc. in the U.S have expiration dates on or before December 2009. The defect is an opening that could result in release of the gel made of the drug Fentanyl inside.

Fentanyl is an opioid-based analgesic. High dosages of Fentanyl can lead to severe cardiac and respiratory arrest especially in the elderly and other chronically ill patients. This patient population uses Fentanyl frequently thus increasing the risk of overdoses and death.

Unfortunately, other than the recall, these manufacturers have provided little else in the way of information as to the dangers associated with these patches. Many patients have no way of knowing whether their patch is defective or harmful. More should be done to warn the elderly and other patients before they are harmed.

If you or a loved one has been harmed by an overdose of Fentanyl after using this patch, you may have a claim for damages. For more information, please go to the New Jersey Medical Malpractice Attorneys page.

Avoiding Medical Malpractice

Every day, attorney John Mininno encounters at least one case of medical malpractice that could have been avoided by greater patient involvement. With medical errors at an all-time high, patient advocacy has come to the forefront of national concern. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has even dedicated the first week of March to national patient safety and awareness in hopes of curbing this trend. In response to these growing concerns, Mininno offers five practical tips to avoid becoming the victim of medical malpractice.

1. Actually read the consent form and ask questions: Fighting the temptation to skim the consent form and get on with the show? Think again. “A safe patient is an informed patient,’ says Mininno. Although medical forms can be overwhelming, Mininno encourages patients to get involved in the process. “Find out exactly who will be performing the surgery, what are the risks or possible side effects and if there are any alternative treatments. More importantly, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor how many times he or she has actually performed the surgery that you are about to undergo.’ If you are not satisfied with the answers you receive, Mininno suggests postponing the procedure until you find a doctor who can answers these questions.

2. Do not assume your doctor has a crystal ball: By providing a very clear and detailed medical history, you will avoid becoming the victim of inappropriate medical treatment. “Prior medical conditions can affect your doctor’s choice of treatment. This is especially true in an emergency room setting where you do not have a relationship with the particular doctor treating you,’ says Mininno. This is also true regarding primary care physicians who see hundreds of patients on a daily basis. “Don’t assume your doctor remembers everything about you and your medical history. It’s just not possible.’ To ensure you are prescribed the appropriate medication and given the right treatment, Mininno suggests compiling a list of your current medications and their doses (including over the counter drugs and vitamins). “Having a list prepared ahead of time ensures that you will not forget to tell the doctor something that could be a key to your treatment options.’

Check (and double check) all prescription labels: Whether it’s a pharmacist that can’t read the doctor’s handwriting or a misplaced decimal point, statistics show that millions of patients each year are affected by simple medication errors that can easily be avoided. Mininno insists that increased awareness can solve this problem. “While the doctor is writing the script, ask exactly what you are being prescribed and what dose will you be taking. Then when you get to the pharmacy, make sure the label matches what you have been told.’ Mininno also advises that you become familiar with the section of the label that describes what the pill should actually look like. “If you don’t feel that the pill you have in the bottle matches the label, call your pharmacist immediately.’

3. Physically mark the site of your surgery: Although this suggestion sounds silly, doctors are actually supposed to mark with a pen the site you will be operated on. “Unfortunately, many doctors ignore this rule and patients end up losing the wrong limb or getting a totally different surgery than what they signed up for,’ says Mininno. Instead, Mininno strongly urges that you take matters into your own hands and physically designate with a pen or a marker the site of your operation and the intended location of the incision.

4. Honesty is the best policy. Mininno encourages patients to remember that doctors are there to help you, not judge you. Therefore, he insists that it’s important to be open and honest with your doctor in every situation. “Sometimes patients are embarrassed to tell their doctor if they are taking medications not prescribed to them or if they have a substance abuse problem. Or it could be as simple as failing to tell your doctor that you never went on that diet program from the previous month.’ Either way, Mininno states that you are setting yourself up for a problem. “If your doctor can not assess the true nature of the situation, you may be prescribed a deadly medication combination or be given treatment for the wrong issue.

Attorney John R. Mininno, Esq