Dental Malpractice Is More Common Than You Think

A visit to the dentist’s office is something most people don’t look forward to with great anticipation. It is something you have to do for routine care, to relieve oral pain or because you just want to improve your appearance.

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What You Need to Know About Nursing Home Care

Family caregivers are sometimes forced to admit that they can no longer provide the level of care at home that an elderly loved one requires. They face a difficult decision to move the person in their care to a nursing home community. Finding a reliable and reputable facility can be emotional, stressful and financially difficult for many.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), the state has roughly 1,200 long-term care facilities to serve 100,000 residents of all ages. The IDPH licenses, regulates and inspects these facilities at least once a year.

One annual inspection may not reveal the true conditions of the facility or the treatment the staff actually provides. So, once you decide where your elder should reside, you are basically putting your trust in that staff and facility management to deliver the best level of care possible.

Many nursing homes are excellent. Residents are treated with compassion and respect. However, some are not. Elderly residents are unfortunately easy targets for abuse and neglect. The Illinois Department on Aging research shows that:

  • 22 percent claim physical abuse
  • 39 percent claim active or passive neglect
  • 43 percent allege emotional abuse
  • 58 percent of elder abuse reports allege financial exploitation

It’s up to you to monitor the facility when you visit and look for any of these signs of abuse. If your loved one becomes a victim, it’s time to take action. Obviously, notify the facility management immediately. If that does not get results, it becomes your responsibility to consider legal action to force compliance, protect your loved one, and alert the public to abusive behavior.

Consult an Illinois lawyer experienced at defending people who can’t defend themselves. Knowledgeable about the laws on nursing home abuse, your Illinois elder care attorney can investigate the home’s operating procedures and use other legal resources to construct a winning case on your behalf.

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.

Generic Drugs: A Closely Watched Case

In 2005, Karen Bartlett visited her doctor complaining of shoulder pain. Her doctor prescribed Sulindac, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug used to relieve pain and address symptoms of arthritis. Ms. Bartlett was dispensed the generic form of Sulindac, manufactured by Mutual Pharmaceutical Company. Her life was never the same.

Ms. Bartlett suffered a rare but life threatening drug reaction related to Stevens-Johnson Syndrome called toxic epidermal necrolysis (TENS). TENS is diagnosed when 10 percent of the outer layer of human skin is catastrophically damaged or destroyed. Ms. Bartlett suffered burns and skin loss affecting 60 to 65 percent of her total skin area.

Spending months in a medically-induced coma, Ms. Bartlett suffered two septic shock episodes, was treated in five different hospitals, and was left with external and internal burns and disfigurement that rendered her legally blind, unable to eat normally, have sexual relations or exercise. Once active, independent and gainfully employed, Ms. Bartlett, only 53, is almost blind and unable to read or drive.

A trial court awarded Ms. Bartlett $21 million dollars in her action against Mutual Pharmaceutical and the decision was upheld by an appeals court. Mutual has requested the Supreme Court to determine if a generic drug manufacturer should be held liable for injuries caused by an exact replica of a drug as it was created by the originating company.

About 80 percent of prescriptions in the United States are filled using economical generic drugs. In a case that could have far-reaching legal consequences, the Supreme Court recently agreed to hear the case and decide whether a generic drug manufacturer can be held liable for injuries caused by a defective drug.

In the past, the Court held generic drug manufacturers cannot be held liable for labeling deficiencies over which the generic manufacturer has no control — this case questions the inherent safety of the drug itself, not the labeling. The findings in this case may decide if injured patients can legally challenge generic manufacturers of dangerous, defective drugs. Time and the Supreme Court will tell.

If you have been injured by a reaction to a drug, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit to receive compensation for your injuries. Contact a product liability lawyer at our office to find out more.

Ongoing Fungal Meningitis Outbreak Investigation

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of March 11 of 2013 the number of reported cases of injury from contaminated steroids produced by the now-defunct Massachusetts company New England Compounding Center (NECC) stands at 722. Hard hit states include Michigan, Indiana, Tennessee and New Jersey. Illinois currently has two reported cases.

Meningitis and spinal infection are the two most common consequences suffered by those who received steroid injections from drug lots contaminated with Exserohilum, a common black mold capable of causing serious human infection, according to the CDC investigation.

Of the 14,000 people who received direct injections of the contaminated drugs into the area around their spines, 50 have died. A sudden rise in meningitis cases led to initial identification of the outbreak late last summer and was followed months later by rising numbers of dangerous spinal abscesses in those known to have received the tainted drugs.

With claims of defective drugs and improper medical treatment, hundreds of patients have filed lawsuits for damages. In the U.S. District Court in Boston, the federal bankruptcy Trustee for NECC is supporting a move to consolidate the claims. To some attorneys representing plaintiffs in the case, creation of a large settlement pool funded by all possible defendants would provide compensation for damages caused by NECC, now in bankruptcy with limited assets.

In the latest outbreak update issued by the CDC, the agency outlines considerations for the management of central nervous system infections with anti-fungal medications and surgical intervention. Spinal infections are deeply rooted, dangerous and often impossible to detect with a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test. Surgery and anti-fungal medications are dangerous and damaging too.

Initially seeking relief from chronic back pain, these patients continue to face physical threat and fear as a result of their medical treatment. If injured by bad medical advice or a defective product, always seek help from an experienced product liability attorney.

When Improper Medical Treatment Warrants a Call to Your Lawyer

A study published by the Institute of Medicine reports that 98,000 people die every year from medical negligence. Medical malpractice is strictly defined by the law as providing medical care that does not meet professionally accepted standards or acting negligently by failing to provide the proper care.

Medical malpractice lawsuits are accepted and filed by experienced attorneys after the information has been vetted through several steps. The first of these steps is determining whether medical malpractice was the cause of the injury. If you have experienced any of the following situations, then it is in your best interests to discuss your case with a medical malpractice attorney.

Extended delay in diagnosis

Doctors should be able to perform an accurate diagnosis within an acceptable timeframe. If your doctor does not diagnose your medical condition in a timely manner, then it may progress and cause injuries or symptoms that could have been avoided.

Improper diagnosis

The medical community grants that some conditions are very difficult to diagnose, but all other possibilities must be rejected before a diagnosis is accepted. If your condition is diagnosed incorrectly, you could be given the wrong treatment.

No warning of procedural risks

Most treatments and diagnostic procedures are not without risks. However, patients have a right to be informed of all the known risks and options. Failing to provide such a warning is known as negligent nondisclosure, and doctors can be held liable for injuries if patients do not have this information before consenting to treatment.

Improper treatment

Doctors are required to follow currently accepted treatment procedures. Using outdated or otherwise improper procedures means that you are not receiving care on par with medical standards.

Mistakes by healthcare professionals

Many mistakes made by doctors and other healthcare professionals could have been avoided by adhering to the proper procedural standards and checking twice before performing any treatment.

A Scary New Trend: Dental Malpractice

As if medical malpractice wasn’t enough to worry about, dental malpractice is also becoming a widespread problem. ABC News recently brought this issue to the public’s attention by the grandmother of a young girl who died as a result of dental treatment. The cause of her death was an unsafe level of sedation before a dental procedure, a practice that is apparently growing. Some unscrupulous dentists are motivated by the extra money they can charge by administering more sedation than the patient requires. To date, 12 children have died at the hands of greedy dentists who gave them more sedation than their bodies could handle.

Insufficient training on dental sedation

There is an entire training industry that promises current and future dentists that they can quickly learn how to sedate patients. In the worst cases, this training was offered over the course of just one weekend. Fortunately, there are far more ethical dentists than unethical ones. These are the professionals who are pushing for legislation that requires more extensive training in order to keep children safe during dental procedures that require sedation.

If you or your child incurred serious injuries as a result of a trip to the dentist, Phillips Law Offices in Chicago can help. We assist clients in the Chicago area and beyond get their lives back together after a case of serious dental or medical malpractice. Some of the other dental malpractice cases that we are familiar with include failure to diagnose or treat oral cancer; permanent injuries to the jaw, teeth or tongue; infections following dental surgery and more. Our attorneys hold your dentist responsible for malpractice and work to get you the compensation you deserve.

Can You File A Pradaxa® Lawsuit?

Pradaxa is a prescription medication that thins the blood of people who have been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. This is a heart condition that leads to an irregular heartbeat. Atrial fibrillation is not caused by problems with the valves of the heart. Doctors prescribe Pradaxa to patients in order to reduce the risk of stroke and blood clots. In December of 2011, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about Pradaxa in response to numerous complaints it had received about its serious side effects. Major side effects of Pradaxa include:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Frequent nosebleeds
  • Heavier than normal menstrual flow
  • Discolored urine
  • Discolored or tarry stools
  • Coughing up blood
  • Vomiting blood or producing vomit that looks like coffee grounds
  • Unknown bruises

If you were prescribed Pradaxa by your doctor and he or she failed to warn you about the potential dangers, you may be eligible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. Since the official FDA warning, people have come forward to sue the manufacturer of Pradaxa for defective drug design and insufficient drug warnings. However, there are no pending class action lawsuits at this time.

Phillips Law Office has helped victims of medical malpractice for more than 65 years, including victims of pharmaceutical injuries. Although our office is located in Chicago, we are available to help clients across the country. Despite the fact that medical malpractice claims 98,000 lives per year and injures more than a million people, proving a claim can be difficult. The medical product liability attorneys at Phillips Law Office are dedicated to obtaining fair compensation for those who have suffered due to a medical or pharmaceutical error. We are available now to evaluate your case at no cost to you.

How to Know If You Have a Case for Medical Malpractice

Of all types of personal injury cases, medical malpractice can be one of the most difficult to prove. The burden of proof is entirely on the patient to show that the doctor had a duty to treat him or her and failed in that duty. Medical malpractice is also subject to the professional liability standard, which means that the actions of the treating doctor are measured against someone who has similar training and experience. If that doctor would have behaved in the same manner, you may not have a case. You should also keep in mind that a poor outcome for a medical treatment or procedure doesn’t automatically mean that medical malpractice was committed.

Although medical malpractice takes many forms, the following are the most common:

  • Failure to diagnose a condition that another doctor would have diagnosed
  • Surgical errors, such as operating on the wrong body part
  • Improper diagnosis
  • Birth injuries and defects caused by incompetence
  • Pharmaceutical errors
  • Dental malpractice
  • Lab and test result errors

While these mistakes can happen in seconds, they have the ability to impact you for the rest of your life. Mistakes by doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists and other medical professionals end up killing nearly 100,000 people every year.

Phillips Law Offices in Chicago has more than 65 years of experience assisting victims of medical malpractice get the compensation they deserve. Our lawyers interview expert witnesses and do whatever else is necessary to prove that your injuries happened the way you said they did. Attorney Stephen Phillips is the head of the Medical Negligence Committee of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association and is eager to put his experience to work for you. We invite you to contact our office to schedule a free case evaluation as soon as possible.