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Detroit Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Work with experienced counsel after serious surgical error

In our last post, we mentioned a recent study which highlighted the benefit of returning to the facility that performed a surgical operation when post-op complications arise. As we mentioned, it is important for any patient who experiences serious complications after an operation to consider whether the providers who performed the operation did so in accordance with accepted standards of care.

When a patient suffers life-threatening complications following a surgery, the costs can be significant, depending on the nature of the complication, how it must be addressed, and any long-term consequences, such as lost earning capacity and pain and suffering. In cases where a surgical complication is fatal, of course, there are not only these costs, but lost earnings from the deceased family member, as well as funeral expenses and emotional damages. 

Surgical operation complications: study says return to original provider/facility

According to a recent study led by a researcher from the University of Utah School of Medicine, patients who suffer from complications after a surgery do best to return to the hospital where the surgery occurred rather than having the problem addressed somewhere else. The study said that returning to the facility where the surgery occurred reduced the risk of death over the following two months.

The basis for the finding makes sense: the providers who performed the surgery are going to have more familiarity with the area operated on and how the procedure turned out, specifically whether there were any complications, and how to best address these when they arise. Physicians who don’t understand the factors connected to a surgical complication are not always going to be able to address the issue as well, which can affect patient’s outcome. 

Doctors have responsibilities in prescribing risky drugs, P.2

In our last post, we began speaking about the risks associated with the Fentanyl spray Subsys and the fact that it is often prescribed for off-label uses, some of which are actually contraindicated by the manufacturer. Because of the toxicity of the drug, as well as the risk of addiction and overdose, there is a very tight system of control around the drug.

But, at the same time that Subsys is highly regulated, doctors are compensated handsomely for prescribing the drug. As with other prescription drugs, pharmaceutical companies compensate physicians for disseminating information about Subsys and attending seminars for the promotion of the drug.  All of this brings up ethical and legal issues concerning how much physicians are allowed to benefit from promotion of prescription drugs. 

Doctors have responsibilities in prescribing risky drugs, P.1

Physicians have a big responsibility when it comes to the promotion and prescription of medications for the benefit of their patients. Because of the way medical care is delivered, patients rely on their doctors to recommend the most beneficial course of treatment, without reference to personal gain. Unfortunately, the system doesn’t always work that way.

A good example of this can be seen with Subsys, a commonly used medical spray containing the pain killer Fentanyl. The drug is manufactured by Insys Therapeutics Inc., and is the only spray version of Fentanyl available on the market. Subsys is indicated only for cancer pain, but is often prescribed to manage other forms of pain, such as back pain. This is problematic, given the risks associated with the drug and its intended use. 

Study looks at relative risks of vaginal and Cesarean breach delivery

Childbirth, though a very natural process, can involve various risks for both the baby and the mother. The desirability of managing these risks, of course, is why most women choose to deliver in hospitals with the help of skilled nurses and doctors rather than at home. Not only are the risks of delivery decreased this way, but patients are able to hold negligent providers accountable for serious mistakes.

One potential risk in childbirth is that the child will be flip upside down prior to delivery, such that a vaginal delivery would cause the infant to be born in the breech rather than head fist. Providers manage this risk by monitoring the position of the infant up to the delivery date and determining the best mode of delivery based on positioning, whether vaginal or Cesarean section. 

Government-run physician tracking database useless, in many cases

A federal database designed to help Americans better track the performance of physicians contains so many accuracies that it cannot be considered reliable. The database, which is run by the federal Centers for Medicine for Medicare & Medicaid Services, is supposed to track physician performance by a 10-digit number assigned by the government, but in many cases, those numbers are wrong, making it impossible for patients to research a physician’s performance history.

In some cases, the inaccuracies may be due to typos when entering the information in the system. In other cases, though, the entire number is incorrect, suggesting more than a typo. Whatever the case may be, the inaccuracies in the database are unfortunate, because it is the only government-run database allowing consumers to look into a physician’s record when researching which provider they should see. 

Patients seek relief in cases against unethical Michigan doctor, P.2

Last time, we spoke about the conviction of former hematologist and oncologist Farid Fata in Michigan for defrauding patients. As we noted, Fata is facing potential civil liability for his misdeeds, but plaintiffs do face challenges in seeking relief from the disgraced doctor.

For one thing, the medical field is not as transparent as it should be when it comes to disclosing problem physicians. Here in Michigan, for example, entities which conduct reviews of a medical care are not allowed to disclose to the public the identity of those involved in the investigation. This makes it harder for plaintiffs to identity negligence by individual physicians. 

Patients seek relief in cases against unethical Michigan doctor, P.1

When we talk about medical malpractice on this blog and in general, we are very often speaking about decent doctors who, for one reason or another, had a lapse of judgment and made a mistake that ended up harming a patient. In some medical malpractice cases, a doctor may have a history of violations due to lack of skill or carelessness, but generally mean well toward his patients.

Then there are those cases where the doctor is just a bad egg. That would be the case with Dr. Farid Fata, former hematologist and oncologist who was sentenced to 45 years of imprisonment earlier this month for health care fraud. Farid was convicted last fall after pleading guilty or no contest to a total of 23 counts of health care fraud, conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks, and money laundering. 

Study: preventable surgical errors are rare, but causes remain unclear

Although we live in a country that offers some of the best health care services in the world, many of us don’t think too much about the possibility that we could be injured by our doctors. Mistakes in medical care do happen, though. In some cases, mistakes are just part of the risk of a course of care. In surgery, for instance, there is the possibility that a patient will have a bad reaction to anesthesia, or that he or she could develop an infection, despite proper care from providers.

 Aside from these sorts of mistakes—which are probably better called risks—there are also mistakes that are preventable. Here we are referring to mistakes which do not occur unless a doctor is failing in their duty as a physician. When it comes to surgery, serious errors are rare, but they can still occur.

Transparency in health care and patient compensation

A recent article on the blog Health Affairs made an important point about the current situation with the health care system when it comes to dealing with medical errors: transparency can significantly improve the outcome of cases in which medical errors occur, even when those errors result in death, but transparency is not the norm, unfortunately.

Transparency in health care, according to advocates, has multiple benefits. These include: increased accountability from physicians and health care providers; motivating providers to improve patient safety in their delivery of care; encouraging trust between providers and patients; and helping patients to make better decisions about the health care providers they with whom they choose to work. These are all obviously good things that could really help improve the functioning of the health care system. 

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