Lawyers Can’t Reform Nursing Home Industry Alone

new jersey philadelphia attorneys nursing home abuse lawyers help reform industryThe New England Journal of Medicine published an article last month that discussed research done on the correlation between a nursing home’s inspection results and it’s risk of being sued. Not surprisingly, the more frequent the deficiencies, the more likely that facility is going to be sued for nursing home abuse or neglect.

Researchers used information gathered through programs called OSCAR (the Online Survey, Certification, and Reporting System) and MDS (Miniumum Data Set) Quality Measure Indicator Report. The OSCAR system contains all survey and certification information for any Medicare and/or Medicaid certified care facility in the U.S. The MDS system contains information on the physical and cognitive functioning of nursing home residents and is recorded on a monthly basis in order to track care processes and their effectiveness. That data is then used to grade quality of care provided by each individual home.

The study also utilized information provided by five of the nation’s largest nursing home chains regarding tort claims filed against any of their facilities within the country. All information spanned the time from 1998 to 2006.

What did the Research Say?

In that time, it seems that nursing home litigation decreased, having occurred 1.5 times for every 1,000 patients in 1998, and only .3 times for every 1,000 patients by 2006. Nursing home falls and bed sores/pressure ulcers maintained the strongest relationship with the number of claims filed against a home. So, based on this research, the stronger the frequency of falls and bedsores, the lower the quality of care and the higher the risk of civil action.

Researchers stated that while there is indeed a correlation between poor care and lawsuits, the relationship is not strong enough to allow for sole dependance on litgation to reform the nursing home industry. Other steps must be taken to ensure that our loved ones are being properly cared for once that care escapes the realm of our capabilities.

Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers in New Jersey and Philadelphia

If your loved one is a resident at a nursing home or long term care facility and you believe the care they are receiving could be considered abusive or negligent, contact the the Mininno Law Office for a free case evaluation. Our team is dedicated to advocating for nursing home patient and resident safety. You may also call for a free consultation at (856) 833-0600 in New Jersey, or (215) 567-2380 in Philadelphia.

Medical Malpractice and Sleep Deprivation; Should Surgeons Disclose to Patients When They Haven’t Slept?

As a New Jersey and Philadelphia medical malpractice attorney, I found a recent article published in the New England Journal of Medicine quite interesting. It posed a question regarding surgeons and their often wearisome schedules; Should a surgeon who has been deprived sleep in the past 24 hours be obligated to do disclose such to his/her patient?

Surgeons and Surgery Schedules

new jersey philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers disclosure lack sleepSleep deprivation can affect a surgeon or physician’s clinical and physical performances as severely as alcohol intoxication, and therefore increase risk of medical malpractice. But for a hospital, the task of ensuring that it’s surgeons are not suffering from fatigue has proven quite a challenge. Hospitals are in need of 24/7 coverage of clinical procedures, and must provide continuous care. Hospital trainees currently have work regulations set forth by the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education that restrict them to a maximum of 16 consecutive working hours followed by a minimum of 8 hours off-duty. These types of regulations do not currently exist for fully trained physicians, who work multiple on-call and overnight shifts a week, strategically placing elective surgical procedures in between.

Furthermore, continuous sleep deprivation can lead to more serious problems, creating a larger concern regarding it’s effect on patients. Surveys show that patients would be very concerned if they were told that their physicians had gone 24 hours without sleep, and 80% of those surveyed said they would request new providers. Considering how important this is to so many patients, it seems informed consent should be demanded in these situations.

The Sleep Research Society has proposed legislation that would require medical providers who have been awake for 22 of the last 24 hours to:

“inform their patients of the extent and potential safety impact of their sleep deprivation and to obtain consent from such patients prior to providing clinical care or performing any medical or surgical procedures.”

Patients should be informed of the impairments sleep deprivation and fatigue can cause, as well as the increased risk of complications associated with proceeding. Patients should then be given the opportunity to proceed, re-schedule, or proceed with a different physician. Until hospitals can staff their facilities accordingly, patients will have to play a more active role in their medical care in order to protect themselves from medical malpractice and negligence.

Medical Malpractice Lawyers in New Jersey and Philadelphia

If you or a loved one have suffered at the hands of a negligent medical provider, please contact the Mininno Law Office for a free case evaluation. You may also call for a free consultation at (856) 833-0600 in New Jersey, or (215) 567-2380 in Philadelphia. The medical malpractice lawyers at the Mininno Law Office are experienced and skilled in earning victims their full and fair compensation.

Medical Malpractice Lawyers Keep Debunking Tort Reform Myths!

new jersey philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers debunking tort reform myths A key issue in the tort reform debate involves “defensive medicine.” Supporters of medical malpractice litigation reform claim that “defensive medicine,” usually in the form unnecessary and preemptive testing, is largely due to a widespread physician fear of lawsuits. They claim that these tests drive up the costs of health care, and that reducing a doctor’s chances of being sued would simultaneously reduce the occurrences of defensive medicine, and thus reduce the costs of health care. However, a recent study performed out of the University of Iowa and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted to public health) found that in states where tort reform legislation was passed, defensive medicine is still being practiced and doctors are still just as fearful of being sued.

Study Finds that Tort Reform Allegations are Simply Propoganda

Researchers achieved their results by ranking lawsuit risk on a state-by-state basis by the amount of claims actually paid by medical malpractice insurance companies. Research found that doctors who practiced in low-risk states (states that have passed their own tort reform legislation) had essentially the same amount of anxiety about being sued as doctors in high risk states (states that have not passed any type of malpractice reform). Defensive medicine is still being practiced, and therefore tort reform did not lower health care costs. The study stated:

“Overall, the study suggests that current tort reform efforts aimed at reducing malpractice risk would be relatively ineffective in alleviating physicians’ concern about lawsuits and therefore may not alter defensive medicine practices.”

Tort Reformists Ignoring Real Issue

What is alarming is that recent studies have shown that medical malpractice is not decreasing, despite defensive medicine and other efforts. A study of 10 North Carolina hospitals published in the New England Journal of Medicine (read our blog regarding this study) assessed 2,300 random patient files. Of those 2,300 patients, 39%endured some sort of medical error or patient harm. Seventeen errors resulted in permanent injury, and fourteen resulted in death.

It seems that more time and effort should be spent on correcting the horrid rate of medical errors, rather than saving HMO’s and negligent medical providers money. While tort reformists and insurance lobbyists push to limit liability and cap damages for injured patients, doctors and hospitals continue to harm patients at an unacceptable rate. It looks like priorities in this matter have been seriously skewed.

Medical Malpractice Attorneys in New Jersey and Philadelphia

If you or a loved one have suffered at the hands of a negligent medical provider, please contact the Mininno Law Office for a free case evaluation. You may also call for a free consultation at (856) 833-0600 in New Jersey, or (215) 567-2380 in Philadelphia.
Let the team at the Mininno Law Office earn you the compensation you need and deserve.

Medical Malpractice Events Not Decreasing, According to New England Journal of Medicine

The New England Journal of Medicine recently published research executed by Harvard Medical School that shows that the number of medical malpractice events (referred to in the article as patient harms) has not decreased in the last 6 years, despite numerous prevention efforts.

Medical Malpractice Study by Harvard Medical School

medical malpractice and negligence attorneys in nj and paResearchers examined 6 years worth of medical records from 10 different North Carolina hospitals. Over 2,300 admissions records were examined from 2002 thru 2007. Records were chosen at random and reviewed by teams of nurse reviewers. The study found 588 patient harms, including surgical errors, medicinal errors, and nosocomial (hospital-aquired) infections. Of those 588 medical errors, 84.4% were reported as “short-lived” and “not serious.” Fifty, however, were classifed as life threatening, with 14 resulting in death, and 17 resulting in permanent injury. Of the errors, 63.1% of them were abolsutely avoidable.

Harvard Medical School researchers explained that they chose North Carolina hospitals because of the state’s pristine history, as well as it’s dedication to preventing medical malpractice and promoting patient safety. Authors of the study said of the results:

“Though disappointing, the absence of apparent improvement is not entirely surprising.”

It seems that while certain preventative measures have been taken, there still exists an alarming lack of free-standing programs that help deter diagnostic and surgical errors. Much of the medical malpractice occurs when patients are transferred from one physician or facility to another. Patient and information transfers must be handled with meticulous attention and sometimes, in the hustle and commotion of an Emergency Room, that kind of attention is impossible to give. That is why programs and protocol should be put into place to assist in these transfers.

Medical Malpractice Attorneys at the Mininno Law Office

John Mininno, Esq. is a dedicated and hard working medical malpractice attorney practicing in New Jersey and Philadelphia. He is experienced in many different areas of medical malpractice, and is skilled at earning significant recoveries for victims of medical negligence. If you or a loved one have been victimized by neglience in an emergency or operating room, contact the Mininno Law Office for a free case evaluation. You may also call for a free consultation at 856-833-0600 in New Jersey, or 215-567-2380 in Philadelphia.

Let the team at the Mininno Law Office earn you the compensation you need and deserve.

Disclosure of Large Medical Malpractice Events Uncommon

An article published in the September issue of the New England Journal of Medicine included the results of research done, that claimed that disclosure of medical malpractice that affects individual patients is becoming more common among health care organizations.
However, the disclosure of Large Scale Adverse Events, or LSAEs, does not happen as often. LSAEs can include incompletely sterilized surgical tools, poor lab quality control, or equipment malfunctions.

new jersey philadelphia medical malpractice attorneys large scale disclosure events AHRQ LSAE mininnoThe Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, or the AHRQ, funded the research into the disclosure practices of hospitals and private practices. AHRQ director Carolyn Clancy, M.D. said of the results:

It’s clear that health care organizations face a dilemma regarding disclosure of large-scale adverse events whether these events lead to patient harm or not. It’s not always clear how to do that in a way that minimizes risk to the patient and the organization, but this research can help.

Questions arise when considering the disclosure of medical malpractice on this large scale. Is it ethical to disclose the event in a case where patients were unlikely to be physically harmed, but may be psychologically harmed by the disclosure? Based on the research, the AHRQ decided that events should always be disclosed, and offered the following suggestions for health care organizations to apply:

Develop an Institutional Policy – A health care organization should have a clear set of guidelines for disclosure management.

Plan for Disclosures – Disclosures should be made pro-actively, and patients should be told personally and simultaneously.

Communicate with the Public – Health care organizations should understand that media coverage of a large scale adverse event is unavoidable. To gain the trust of it’s public, that organization should provide a media response that shows it’s committed to honesty and patient safety.

Plan for Patient Follow-Up – Organizations should provide follow-up diagnostic tests to patients effected by the LSAE. All anxiety resulting for the disclosure of LSAE should be addressed as well. Patients who were physically harmed by an LSAE should be compensated.

Medical Malpractice in NJ or PA: Mininno Law Office

Have you been physically harmed by any form of medical malpractice at a health care organization? Did this event go undisclosed? If so, you’ll need to seek the assistance of a medical malpractice attorney. The team at the Mininno Law Office is prepared to work hard to earn you the compensation you deserve.
Contact the Mininno Law Office for a free case evaluation, or call for a free consultation at (856) 833-0600 in New Jersey, or (215) 567-2380 in Philadelphia.