The New York State Commission on Quality of Care for the Mentally Disabled (CQC) and the New York State Office of Advocate For Persons With Disabilities (OAPwD) have merged to form a new agency, the New York State Commission of Quality of Care and Advocacy for Persons With A Disability. At the present time both web sites are still operational CQCAPD: www.cqc.state.ny.us and OAPeD at www.oapwd.org The reorganization is part of the Governor's cost savings program in New York State.
Make no mistake about it, I firmly believe that there is no malpractice crisis and that attempts to close the court house doors to patients who have suffered devastating brain injuries at the hands of incompetent physicians is not the cure to bad medical care.
Now, the US House of Representatives for the third time has again passed legislation that will limit the ability of those who have suffered life long brain damage as a result of medical malpractice from obtaining full and fair compensation for their injuries. Read the full AP story by clicking here. The House passed a bill that will cap the amount that anyone can receive for pain and suffering at $250,000. This legislation still must be passed by the Senate and I urge you to contact your Senator and urge him or her to vote no. This legislation is anti patient and is only designed to protect insurance companies. Read the editorial in the Albany Times Union entitled "Medical Malpractice Myths" which attacks the merits of this legislation by clicking here .
A medical mistake In Hawaii yesterday, where a hospital gave a new born infant carbon dioxide instead of oxygen resulting in her becoming permanently brain damaged and in a coma would be affected by this new legislation. Read the story by clicking here . Should this child be limited in her recovery where the result will cause a life time of pain and suffering? Earlier this week, a neurosurgeon operated on the wrong side of a patient's brain click here to see post.
In a medical malpractice case I settled last week, neurosurgeons attempting to insert a shunt missed the ventricle three times finally striking a major blood vessel in the brain causing massive brain hemorrhage. To read full post click here .
Last year I successfully prosecuted a law suit against an anesthesiologist and surgeon for causing profound anoxic brain damage to a college student when he was oxygen levels where not properly monitored in the operating room. A settlement of over 8 million dollars was reached in his case. This young man who s now confined to a wheel chair sustained profound cognitive brain damage and can no longer care for himself. Should his recovery have been limited?
I had the pleasure of representing a nurse who suffered brain injuries after her obstetrician failed to remove all of her placenta following child birth. The piece that was left became infected. Despite a high fever and bleeding, the doctor discharged her from the hospital. The infection lead to toxic brain damage. We eventually reached a multi million dollar settlement of her case. Should this young mother who can no longer work or care for her child be limited to this artificial cap or should the medical profession step in and police bad medical care?
A study of medical malpractice in New York State, conducted by the Harvard Medical School confirms that the incidence of malpractice is much larger than the incidence of claims. The investigators identified 16 adverse events for every claim paid. To quote the Study, "we do not now have a problem of too many claims; if anything, there are too few" The study confirmed that:
1. There is a staggering crisis in health care quality in New York State;
2. The incidence of negligence is shocking;
3. Bad medical care is found more frequently at hospitals with a greater proportion of minority patients;
4. Patients over the age of 65 were found more likely to receive substandard care;
5. Many people never knew that they or their family members had been subjected to bad or incompetent medical services; and
6. Seriously injured patients gain almost nothing by filing a complaint with the Department of Health, which rarely responds or takes effective action
I urge you to call or write your Senator to vote NO on this legislation.
I have just returned from the Association of Trial Lawyers of America annual convention in Toronto.
I did two Internet radio shows with the legaltalknetwork www.legaltalknetwork.com on the legal aspects of traumatic brain injury which should be available for down loading as pod casts in the near future. One program was a general introduction to brain injury and the need for attorney's to understand the legal implications of this "silent epidemic" We also discussed structured settlements and their place in the settlement of a brain damage case with Dennis English and Lawrence Cohen of Ringler Associates www.ringlerassociates.com . In the second show, I discussed the economic ramifications of traumatic brain injury with my guest, an economist, Anthony Gamboa, PhD who frequently consults with brain injury lawyers in these type of cases. I'm excited about doing more shows for brain injury lawyers on the many aspects of brain injury and how it affects their law practice and legal representation of victims of traumatic brain injury.
I was also reappointed as the liaison between the Trial Lawyers Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group of which I am a past chair and the Brain Injury Association of America. I look forward to working closely with both groups to foster the goal of improving the quality of life for persons with a brain injury and insuring that persons who have sustained brain damage and their families receive adequate legal representation from personal injury lawyers who are well learned in this complicated field of law.
A medical malpractice case on behalf of a 15 year old boy was instituted in Arkansas against a neurosurgeon who operated on the wrong side of this young man's brain. The neurosurgery was planned to help reduce epileptic seizures he was having. After the surgery, the neurosurgeon told the parents that everything was find except "he had started on the wrong side" according to the suit. You can read the full story by clicking here . Operating on the wrong side of the brain or operating on the wrong side of the body clearly is medical malpractice. Hospitals should have procedures in place to insure that these tragic and fully preventable errors do not happen. For another case of neurosurgery malpractice which my partner and I successfully handled see our earlier blog entry.
I am pleased to report that a settlement was just reached in New York medical malpractice case against Brooklyn's, Kings County Hospital with benefits to a sixteen year girl which will total over 7.5 Million Dollars. My partner, Shana De Caro and myself were the lawyers for this victim of neurosurgery medical malpractice.
At age 12, Gabrielle was admitted to Kings County Hospital for a shunt revision because she had a form of hydrocephalus (an accumulation of fluid in the ventricles of the brain) known as a Arnold Chiari Malformation. This was a birth related condition. The shunt revision should have been a routine surgical procedure but unfortunately, the junior resident who was inserting the new shunt missed the ventricle and stuck a major artery in her brain causing a massive brain hemorrhage (bleeding into her brain) leading to brain swelling and resulting in coma. Gabrielle remained in a non responsive coma for one year when she was discharged from the hospital and returned home to be cared for by her mother. At home, she emerged from her coma and is now aware of her surroundings and able to communicate. She still requires full time assistance.
Shunts routinely need to be replaced in children or adults with hydrocephalus because they fail to operate for many reasons including the growth of the child, becoming clogged or because of infections. The replacement of a shunt while a simple neurosurgery procedure carries a high risk of complication if not performed properly. Our medical malpractice lawsuit charged that the neurosurgeons failed to properly read her CT scans before bringing her to the operating room and in the operating room chose an improper location for the insertion of the new shunt. What the surgeons decided to do was reposition the new shunt in a different ventricle then the shunt they were removing. This new procedure increased the risk of missing the ventricle and striking a blood vessel because this new ventricle was smaller then the ventricle originally used and thus a smaller target. The angle (trajectory) used by the neurosurgeon to insert the shunt was also improper and caused the neurosurgeon to miss the ventricle and strike the anterior medial artery. Additionally we argued that after two failed attempts by the junior resident to insert the shunt, the procedure should have been aborted or at least the third attempt should have been made by the most senior neurosurgeon in the operating room.
While no amount of money will bring our client back to her former level of functioning, hopefully the funds recovered on her behalf will improve the quality of her life, allow her family to provide around the clock quality care and insure a safe and secure future for her.
Brain damage including cerebral palsy, poor school performance, low IQ, hearing disorders and social difficulties are among the disabilities faced by children born prematurely with birth weights of 2.2 pounds or less according to a new study published today in JAMA. The study entitled "Chronic Conditions, Functional Limitations, and Special Health Care Needs of School Aged Children Born With Extremely Low Birth Weight in the 1990s" describes the multitude of problems that are far more prevalent in this low birth weight population. The study can be accessed by clicking here.
In an article reporting on this study in today's New York Times, "Very Premature Babies Found Still at Risk" page A12 the reporter discusses the difficult choices that parents and physicians are being increasingly asked to make today because of advances in medical technology which has increased the survival rate to 70% for these infants. To access the article go to www.nytimes.com .
A new text entitled, "Forensic Neuropsychology Casebook" edited by Chicago Neuropsychologist Robert L. Heilbronner has just been released and should be reviewed by brain injury lawyers. Although I have not yet read this book, the publisher describes a text which seems likely to offer insight and advice to attorneys who handle brain injury cases in court as well as neuropsychologists who are asked to testify in these type of cases. There are chapters on test score validity, malingering issues, pediatric issues, electrical injury, traumatic brain injury and chronic pain and management of sports related concussions. More information on this neuropsychology text published by Guildord Publications can be obtained by clicking here .
Being a brain injury lawyer in New York, I can't tell you much about rodeos or riding a bull, but hey, I do know how to ride the subway! Anyway, did you know that the most common injury in the rodeo is a concussion? That's because the head is unprotected and can be injured when struck by the bull, when striking the ground or just merely by a violent jerk while riding the bull.
The Justin Sports Medicine Program is the organization that monitors cowboys at rodeos. They report that concussions account for 48.98 percent of all injuries sustained. Click here to read the full story on concussions, head injury and bull fighting.
Loss of smell is frequently encountered following brain trauma. Unfortunately most neurologists performing the standard neurological examination of the cranial nerves fail to test smell.
Here is an interesting information on a new study detailing how the brain processes smell. Click here to read further information about the study. [See post of May 21 for further information on loss of smell and taste following traumatic brain injury]
Interested in how the brain functions and a good summary of the latest brain imaging technology?
A brain image, depending on the type of study used, can show the anatomy of the brain, the physiology of the brain and even the biochemical reactions that take place in individual brain cells.
A resource describing many brain imaging techniques including the advantages and disadvantages of each and what they reveal including conventional studies such as CT Scans and MRI scans as well as more recent devices such as Positron Emission Technology (PET Scan), Single Photon Emission Technology (SPECT scan), Magnetic Resonance Technology (MRS), Diffusion tensor MRI (DTMRI), Diffusion weighted MRI, Perfusion weighted MRI, Functional MRI (fMRI) has bee produced by the DANA Foundation and can be viewed as a PDF document by clicking here .