Patient Dumped on Skid Row

February 8, 2007,

"A hospital van dropped off a paraplegic man on Skid Row, allegedly leaving him crawling in the street with nothing more than a soiled gown and a broken colostomy bag, police said.
Witnesses who said they saw the incident Thursday wrote down a phone number on the van and took down its license-plate number, which helped detectives connect the vehicle to Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, the Los Angeles Times reported on its Web site.

Police said the incident was a case of "homeless dumping" and were questioning officials from the hospital.

"I can't think of anything colder than that," said Detective Russ Long. "There was no mission around, no services. It's the worst area of Skid Row."

Read the full story at CNN.com.

Tort Reform Groups Accused of Violating Illinois Campaign Laws

February 6, 2007,

"Two nonprofit groups that gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to a Southern Illinois appellate judge this past fall appear to have violated the state's election laws.

Together, the American Tort Reform Association and the American Justice Partnership, both business-friendly groups that have supported calls for tort reform, pumped $785,000 into Illinois politics this year.

That includes $425,000 given to Belleville attorney Steve McGlynn, the Republican who ran for but lost the Southern Illinois appellate seat to which he had been appointed.

By donating directly to McGlynn, both groups triggered campaign finance reporting requirements under Illinois' election law, the State Board of Elections confirmed to the Post-Dispatch on Thursday. But as the deadline passed Wednesday, the groups, based in Washington, had neither registered as nonprofits with the board nor filed disclosure reports detailing where they got their funding."

Read the full article at the St. Louis Dispatch.

Dangers With Popular Heartburn Drugs Nexium, Prilosec

February 4, 2007,

"Taking such popular heartburn drugs as Nexium, Prevacid or Prilosec for a year or more can raise the risk of a broken hip markedly in people over 50, a large study in Britain found.
The study raises questions about the safety of some of the most widely used and heavily promoted prescription drugs on the market, taken by millions of people.

The researchers speculated that when the drugs reduce acid in the stomach, they also make it more difficult for the body to absorb bone-building calcium. That can lead to weaker bones and fractures.

Hip fractures in the elderly often lead to life-threatening complications. As a result, doctors should make sure patients have good reason to stay on heartburn drugs long term, said study co-author Dr. Yu-Xiao Yang of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

'The general perception is they are relatively harmless,' Yang said. 'They often are used without a clear or justified indication for the treatment.'"

Read the full article at SignOnSanDiego.com.

Maytag Dishwasher Recall Due to Fire Hazard

February 2, 2007,

"Maytag has received 135 reports of dishwasher fires, resulting in product and/or property damage. Four injuries have been reported, including three reports of smoke inhalation and one serious hand laceration when operating a fire extinguisher to put out a fire in the dishwasher.
The recall involves Maytag® and Jenn-Air® under counter or portable plastic tub dishwashers. The dishwashers have black, white, almond, bisque and stainless steel front panels. The following model and serial numbers are printed on a label located on the dishwasher’s plastic frame on top of or to the left of the door opening. Consumers should contact Maytag to determine if their dishwasher is included in this recall."

Read the full release here.

Eli Lilly Actively Sought to Supress Internal Zyprexa Memos

January 31, 2007,

"The drug maker Eli Lilly instigated legal action against a number of doctors, lawyers, journalists, and activists over hundreds of internal corporate documents and emails said to have been obtained by them regarding the antipsychotic drug olanzapine (Zyprexa). Eli Lilly obtained a court injunction on 29 December ordering 16 individuals and organisations to stop publishing the documents and to remove any copies posted on the internet. The documents created a furore after they were leaked to the New York Times, which reported that they showed that Eli Lilly 'engaged in a decade-long effort to play down the health risks of Zyprexa'"

Read the full article at the British Medical Journal.

New Study to Investigate Effect of Direct to Consumer Drug Marketing

January 29, 2007,

"Drug companies are spending exorbitant sums of money on television advertising, and their efforts are not in vain. Nowadays, consumers go to their physicians requesting prescriptions for drugs they've seen advertised on TV. But is drug advertising misleading consumers, asks a new study in the Annals of Family Medicine .
The pharmaceutical industry says TV ads provide consumers with important information about certain drugs. However, research showed that while the ads were technically accurate, the tone of the messages were often misleading."

Read the full story at adrugrecall.com.

Cause of Death? Docs Bad Handwriting

January 24, 2007,

"Doctors' sloppy handwriting kills more than 7,000 people annually. It's a shocking statistic, and, according to a July 2006 report from the National Academies of Science's Institute of Medicine (IOM), preventable medication mistakes also injure more than 1.5 million Americans annually. Many such errors result from unclear abbreviations and dosage indications and illegible writing on some of the 3.2 billion prescriptions written in the U.S. every year."

Read more here.

Medtronic Defibrillator Shipment Suspended Due to Quality Issues

January 20, 2007,

"Medtronic has voluntarily suspended shipments of its emergency-response external defibrillators made by its subsidiary, Physio-Control Inc, at its Redmond, WA facility. Physio-Control makes external defibrillators and other emergency-response products. Medtronic opted to suspend delivery of products after "quality system issues" were identified, a press release notes."

Read more here.

Docs Took Kickbacks For MRI's

January 18, 2007,

Let us add doctor fraud to the pot when discussing the rapid rise of healthcare costs and insurance premiums.

" The Illinois attorney general's office claims that more than 20 Chicago-area radiology centers engaged in a widespread scheme to win referrals for MRIs by paying illegal kickbacks to doctors.

The alleged scheme, which potentially resulted in health insurers being billed fraudulently for millions of dollars in claims, was disclosed in a lawsuit kept under seal until Wednesday, when the state announced that it was joining the suit as a plaintiff."

Read the full article in the Chicago Tribune.

Continued Problems With Child Cold and Cough Medications

January 16, 2007,

The FDA MedWatch program recently reported its concerns with child infant mortality and children's over-the-counter cough and cold remedies.

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) article describing three deaths in US infants aged less than 12 months associated with cough and cold medications. These medications were determined by medical examiners or coroners to be the underlying cause of death. "

Read the full release here.

The Great Medical Malpractice Hoax

January 14, 2007,

Our friends at Public Citizen released a report dispelling the myths associated with the medical malpractice 'crisis'. Are malpractice suits driving up the cost of healthcare? No. The answer is even more simple: medical malpractice.

"The real problems are a lack of attention to patient safety, the high incidence of preventable medical error and the lack of accountability for a small set of doctors who account for a majority of medical malpractice payments, the report reveals. The report also presents several recommendations for Congress, state governments and hospitals to reduce health care costs and save lives."

Read the full report here.

Business Trounces Trial Lawyers?

January 12, 2007,

What is the saying? Cut off your nose to spite your face?

A recent article in Business Week exhorts "Business Trounces Trial Lawyers".The article focuses on the state level tort reform efforts by business and insurance companies. No question that these efforts have been very successful in curtailing, if not altogether eliminating, the rights of those injured. However, two unintended effects are the proliferation of 'business versus business' litigation, and the fact that health insurance companies will never see the money spent on an injured's treatment. When someone is injured, payments are often made by health insurance companies for the treatment.When an attorney is able to make a recovery for the injured against the negligent party, the health insurance company is reimbursed for those payments. When there is no recovery, there is no repayment.

Read the article from Business Week here.

Doctor Criminally Charged For Testimony in Med Mal Case

January 10, 2007,

The doctor in the article below testified on behalf ofthe plaintiff in a medical malpractice action against a VA Hospital.It sounds like there were some discrepancies in his deposition testimony regarding his experience as a heart surgeon.Clearly stuff of cross-examination, but the feds did not stop there: they indicted him for it.I am not sure who prompted the indictment, because it appears the charges are actually for defrauding the plaintiff's attorney of expert witness fees.Even if that is the case, the chilling effect of indicting doctors for false testimony in a civil trial far outweighs any benefit from charging them criminally.

"Alex Zakharia, 68, a Miami-Dade heart surgeon for more than 30 years, is facing criminal charges in Detroit for perjury and fraud.
The doctor was indicted by a federal grand jury, which alleged that he exaggerated his qualifications about his experience doing open-heart surgery while giving a deposition for the plaintiff in a Michigan malpractice case, in which the federal government was the defense.

Zakharia told The Miami Herald on Monday that the defense lawyers didn't understand him, he didn't exaggerate and the issue of his experience wasn't even material to the central subject in the case, which he said involved botching the presurgery tests of a patient."

Read the full article in the Miami Herald.

Jury Verdict in NY Asbestos Brake Exposure Case

January 8, 2007,

We have been discussing this new type of asbestos exposure on our radio show, 102.3 WYCA in Chicago.Overseas brake pad manufacturers may still use asbestos when making their brake pads.People performing brake jobs on old cars should also be aware.The grinding of the pads releases the asbestos dust into the air, presenting a serious hazard to those exposed.

This is the first actual verdict I have heard of:

"DaimlerChrysler Corp. must pay $20 million to a retired police officer and brake repairman whose right lung was removed because of cancer caused by asbestos, a jury ruled.
A jury in Manhattan's state Supreme Court ruled that Alfred D'Ulisse, 73, of North Massapequa, N.Y., and his wife were owed a total of $25 million, D'Ulisse's lawyer Jerry Kristal said Monday.

DaimlerChrysler was found to be 10 percent liable for D'Ulisse's cancer, but will be responsible for a total of 80 percent of the damages because two other companies found to be liable no longer exist, Kristal said."

Read the full article at Law.com.

Insurers Responsible For Unsolicited "Junk" Fax Penalties

January 6, 2007,

I am sure everyone near a fax machine has encountered a unsolicited or 'junk' fax.These are faxes sent by companies looking to sell everything from vacations to printer toner; from stock touts to mortgages.However, faxes sent without express consent from the receiver, or without a prior business relationship with the sender,are in violation of the Telephone Consumers Protection Act (TCPA). Penalties include $500.00 for each fax sent, which may be increased to $1,500.00 per fax if it was knowingly sent in violation of the TCPA.

A recent ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court made it easier for plaintiffs to pursue this claim.The court affirmed that a duty to defend exists for an underlying facsimile ad class action under a policy’s advertising injury provision because the policy language at issue can reasonably be understood to refer to material that violates a person’s seclusion and said unsolicited fax advertisements fall within this category