Professional Negligence Can Be Costly

It’s an almost automatic response when you hear the word malpractice — a physician, hospital or medical professional in Illinois made a mistake that caused harm or injury to a patient. Most of the time, malpractice applies to a medical issue.

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When Recalls of Medical Devices Affect Your Health

Every year, many people in Illinois are affected by medical device and product recalls. Defective products can carry a high financial cost for manufacturers. But the physical and emotional costs for patients injured by these products far outweigh any dollar value.

Women are diagnosed with with pelvic organ prolapsed (POP) fairly often. POP occurs when the tissues that hold the pelvic organs in place become weak or stretched. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 30 to 50 percent of women may experience POP in their lifetime with two percent developing symptoms.

If you received this diagnosis, your doctor may have told you that a transvaginal mesh (TVM) implant would correct the problem. So you agreed to have an operation. You had the procedure a month ago, but now you’re experiencing complications. If after the TVM implant your pain has increased, not subsided, it is important to have your physician examine you as soon as possible.

After some research, you may have found that TVM implants for individuals with POP can cause serious problems. You learned the 2011 FDA report stated that TVM products can pose serious risks for patients who receive these permanent implants. By all means, see your doctor immediately.

From a legal perspective, how do you proceed if you are in chronic pain from a TVM implant? Do you have any recourse against the medical/pharmaceutical giants that manufacture this mesh? Yes, you do!

It is worth your while to contact an Illinois attorney who is familiar with TVM product liability lawsuits involving defective devices and products. The attorney can work with you to investigate whether your injury is a result of the mesh product itself or a health care provider’s error. Together, you can develop the best approach to ensure the best road to recovery and compensation for your damages and losses.

Taking the Boat Out Today? Check the Weather Report First

Did you know that 319,559 boats were registered in the state of Illinois in Federal Fiscal Year 2011? That’s a lot of boats and a lot of people on the state’s waterways. Although the state provides free training courses to encourage boater safety, not many people attend the training and as a result, accidents occur.

Even though the number of accidents was lower in 2011 than 2010, fatalities increased. According to the Recreational Boating Report, 103 U.S. Coast Guard reportable accidents occurred in 2011 resulting in 70 injuries and 21 fatalities. In 2010, there were 105 accidents with 76 injuries and 16 fatalities. One is too many accidents resulting in personal injury and death no matter how you look at it.

If you are a boating enthusiast, you know how quickly a day of fun out on the water can turn to disaster. A sudden change in weather conditions, operators driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and excessive speed are all contributing factors to boating accidents.

Obviously, drowning is the leading cause of death in boat accidents. Injuries resulting from accidents can include:

  • Lacerations
  • Head trauma
  • Contusions
  • Broken bones
  • Back injury

If you were injured in a boating accident, what recourse do you have? Call an Illinois boating accident attorney experienced in transportation-related accidents that result in personal injury. The lawyer has a wealth of knowledge in handling all aspects of these situations from investigating what caused the accident to presenting a solid court case, if necessary. Reach out now to help ensure the most positive outcome for your case.

Hospitals: When a Resource Becomes a Danger

For most people, going to the hospital means receiving needed treatment for an illness, injury or condition that requires specialized medical care. While many people are nervous about hospital treatment, most expect to weather their situation and return to routine life. If exposed to hospital acquired infection (HAI), life may never again be normal.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of every 20 patient hospitalized will experience infection contracted during their hospital stay. HAI are among the top ten causes of death in the United States and commonly include:

  • Infections associated with intravascular or urinary catheters
  • Surgical site infections
  • Pneumonia related to use of mechanical ventilators

As personal injury attorneys, we witness the debilitating effects HAI have on our clients, especially seniors, who struggle to regain physical stability after becoming seriously ill through exposure to HAI contagion while in the hospital.

Two particularly dangerous HAI infections include:

  • Clostridium difficile (c.difficile): Contributing to the deaths of 14,000 people per year in the United States, c.difficile is commonly acquired through medical treatment in healthcare settings. Associated with antibiotic overuse, mortality related to c.difficile is estimated to have increased 400 percent between 2000 and 2007 due partially to emergence of a stronger strain of the bacteria.
  • Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE): CRE is a group of antibiotic resistant bacteria commonly found in the human gut including the well-known Escherichia coli (e.coli) bacteria. The carbapenem group of antibiotics are considered drugs of last resort against difficult infection. As the name implies, CRE bacteria have grown resistant to carbapenems, leaving the medical community with little to fight these ferocious infections

On a national and state level, HAI prevention is a public health priority. If you, or a loved one, are injured by a HAI, seek immediate medical care and then obtain legal advice from an experienced Chicago medical malpractice attorney.

Update on Transvaginal Mesh Litigation

We are at the forefront of Chicago law firms representing women injured by surgical mesh, a product used to treat pelvic organ prolapsed (POP) and Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI). Made of woven polyester, polypropylene or other materials, the mesh is permanently implanted in the vaginal wall.

Thousands of women have been seriously injured by implantation of surgical mesh to relieve and support weakened pelvic muscles. As early as 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a public health notice concerning serious complications associated with use of surgical mesh including vaginal erosion, pelvic organ and vascular perforation, neurologic damage and pain. Yet these devices remain in use.

In February of 2013, a New Jersey jury delivered the first verdict in more than 2,000 lawsuits filed against manufacturers concerning surgical mesh in the United States. Linda Gross, a 47-year old hospice nurse from South Dakota received the Gynecare Prolift mesh implant in 2006 as a remedy to pelvic prolapse. Manufactured by Ethicon, a subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson (JNJ) based in New Jersey, Ms. Gross experienced no relief from the product, and instead faced 18 additional operations to address pain and internal damage as the mesh eroded.

In her product liability lawsuit, the jury awarded Ms. Gross $3.35 million in compensatory damages and $7.8 million in punitive damages. Although the jury did not find the Ethicon product was defective, it found the company provided insufficient warning prior to use of the device by her surgeon and misrepresented risks of the product.

Although Gynecare Prolift was removed from the market in 2012, Ms. Gross must self-catheterize simply to urinate because of the damage done to her by the mesh. This first verdict gives hope to women across the country injured by mesh products.

If you have suffered harm from a transvaginal mesh implant, talk to us about your injury.

Understanding Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Hundreds of women who received mesh to treat pelvic organ prolapse (POP) are suing manufacturers and physicians for injuries suffered as a result of the procedure.  As the focus on damage caused by improper treatment intensifies, the interest in what causes POP continues to grow.  What exactly is pelvic organ prolapse?

Symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse

For women, the relaxation of ligaments and muscles in the pelvic region sometimes allows for the intrusion of the bladder, colon, or uterus into the vagina. Upper vaginal tissue can also bulge into the lower vaginal area.  By one estimate, 40 to 70 percent of all women suffer some form of pelvic floor weakness during their lives.

Symptoms of POP are varied and include:

  • A sensation of pressure, or a protrusion, in the pelvic region
  • Bulging in the vaginal or perineal area
  • Urinary incontinence, or frequency or urgency of urination
  • Straining to defecate
  • Painful intercourse
  • Pelvic or lower back pain

Pelvic floor muscles weaken with age, leaving connective ligaments to support internal organs.  When ligaments weaken, tissue presses into the vaginal wall.  POP is more likely to occur following multiple vaginal births, after menopause, or as the result of obesity.

Treatment of POP

Mild cases of POP are treated with Kegel and other exercises designed to strengthen pelvic floor muscles. A pessary, estrogen supplements, or laparoscopic surgery can reduce or resolve symptoms.

Pelvic organ prolapse is relatively common and usually treatable. If you have suffered injury from implanted transvaginal mesh treatment for POP, be sure to seek experienced legal advice concerning your legal options.

Understanding the Black Box Label on Your Meds

Whether by need or by choice, many Americans look for health in a bottle.  According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), in any given month during the three-year period from 2005 to 2008, almost 50 percent of the population took at least one prescription drug. With the steady increase in prescription drug use since that time, the percentage has risen alarmingly.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is a federal agency charged with safeguarding public health through the regulation of food, drugs, medical devices and other products affecting the physical well-being of Americans.

As part of regulating pharmaceuticals, the FDA oversees the labels affixed to prescription drug containers.  A boxed warning or black box is the strongest alert or warning used by the FDA. It indicates that a drug meets one of the following criteria:

  • Given the possibility of a serious, potentially fatal adverse reaction, the benefit of the drug must be weighed against the risk
  • The risk of a serious drug reaction can be reduced or prevented by proper use
  • The FDA concluded that the drug is safe only in restricted use

In 2007, the FDA announced a boxed warning on the thiazolidinedione category of drugs, including Avandia, Actos, and Duetact. While the 2007 warning addressed the risk of heart failure, the FDA added additional warnings about bladder cancer from Actos in 2011.

Physicians and patients should discuss side effects of newly prescribed medications, although that does not always happen. If the best health outcome for you comes from a bottle, make sure you read the label and understand your risks. If you are seriously injured as a result of prescription drug side effects, you may wish to contact a personal injury attorney at our office for more information about your right to compensation.

Dangers of Actos to Diabetes Patients

Drug manufacturers are challenged to create safe drugs that target a specific condition in the human body.  The research and development process inevitably reaps more failures than successes. When a blockbuster drug is created, it becomes a cash cow for pharmaceutical companies, while hopefully providing improved treatment options for patients.

But the challenge of creating targeted, safe drugs is not always met.  All drugs have side effects.  Drugs aimed at one medical condition often inadvertently damages another body part or system.  As personal injury lawyers, we frequently handle cases for clients injured by pharmaceuticals. In recent years, we have seen a great deal of damage caused by pioglitazone, brand name Actos®.

What does Actos do?

Insulin is a naturally-produced hormone that aids the body in absorbing glucose. When insufficient insulin is produced or absorbed, high blood sugar levels damage organs throughout the body.  By increasing insulin sensitivity, Actos was designed to help type 2 diabetics regulate their blood sugar levels.

Unfortunately, the side effects of Actos are serious and sometimes fatal.  Fluid build-up triggered by Actos contributes to the swelling of vessels in the eye, causing macular edema. It worsens congestive heart disease, leading to heart attack. Actos is also known to cause bladder cancer in some long-term users and liver failure in others.

Safety is paramount in novel drug therapies. Just as a drug affects the whole body, serious, disabling injury affects your life and the lives of those you love. If you have suffered side effects as a result of taking Actos, talk to your doctor about options. If injured by Actos, talk to us.

Adverse Effects: Anticoagulants Top the List

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) is a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing medication error and identifying unsafe practices that lead to drug injury. In May of this year, the ISMP named anticoagulants the top drug risk in 2011. Why?

In a review based on U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) data, the ISMP reported 179,855 adverse drug events across the country in 2011.  This represents a nine percent increase in serious or fatal drug events from 2010.  Further, the FDA estimates that less than one percent of serious events were reported directly.

As an established personal injury firm in Chicago, we represent clients injured in accidents, by malpractice, and by defective products and pharmaceuticals like Actos and Pradaxa.  According to the ISMP report, Pradaxa, followed by Coumadin, topped the list of injurious drugs in 2011.

The top three suspect drugs reported by the ISMP in 2011 are:

  • Dabigatran (brand name Pradaxa): anticoagulant
  • Warfarin (brand name Coumadin):  anticoagulant
  • Levofloxacin (brand name Levaquin):  antibiotic

Compelling statistics associated with Pradaxa include:

  • It was suspected in over 3,700 serious drug events and 542 patient deaths
  • It topped the injury categories for hemorrhage, renal failure and stroke, and was suspected in 15 reports of liver failure
  • Although a perennial high risk drug, Warfarin was suspected in only 1,106 cases, and associated with 72 patient deaths

Despite these injury rates, Pradaxa is still prescribed across the country.  If suffering from atrial fibrillation, ask your doctor if Pradaxa is right for you.  If already injured by Pradaxa, seek experienced legal advice.

Transvaginal Mesh: Never Tested?

Serious complications, loss of sexual pleasure, constant pain: a sad combination. Women who underwent vaginal placement of surgical mesh experience these losses daily, and wonder how this damaging procedure could have been recommended for them.

Our firm is at the forefront of Chicago attorneys aggressively pursuing compensation for victims of transvaginal mesh placement. Injuries from pelvic mesh result from failure of the medical device itself or medical error in implanting the device.

Sorting through accounts of the horrific damage done to women with implanted surgical mesh raises the pointed question of how this procedure was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In 2008, the FDA issued a public health notification that warned about these devices. In 2011, the FDA issued an update, noting that serious complications are not rare and that the benefits of the procedure are no greater than those of other less dangerous options available to treat pelvic organ prolapse (POP).

In May 2012, the non-profit organization Consumer Reports offered an in-depth article on dangerous medical devices. In discussing transvaginal mesh troubles, the authors detailed the entry of pelvic mesh kits onto the medical market by manufacturers claiming substantial equivalence to previously approved hernia repair kits.

Without recalling the product, the FDA ordered safety studies earlier this year. Since then, Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Ethicon has taken four mesh kits off the market.

In 2010 alone, about 100,000 women received surgical mesh to treat pelvic organ prolapse. The slipshod approval process that led to the unnecessary daily suffering of so many women must be changed — if not by regulation, then by litigation.  If you have suffered serious injury as a result of transvaginal mesh implantation, contact a personal injury attorney in our office to determine if you are eligible for compensation.