Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

An orthopedic surgeon in Florida is accused of causing hundreds of horrific injuries while the hospital where he operated apparently ignored complaints from patients who say he showed signs of a progressive neurological disorder.

Court documents from 350 lawsuits share stories of patients from 2016-2020 who allege the doctor started slurring his words and showed signs that he had difficulty with his balance, trouble concentrating, and made erratic, angry outbursts, among other things.

There are at least 100 more lawsuits expected to be filed by the end of 2022.

The lawsuits go on to allege that these behaviors resulted in serious errors during his surgeries, including severed nerves, bone fractures, and ruptured tendons.

The complications that stemmed from these surgical errors required patients to get corrective surgeries and at least one patient lost her life, according to the civil suits.

The lawsuits name the doctor, his clinic, and Ascension St. Vincent’s Riverside Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida.

The doctor is mostly known for performing hip and knee replacements, two operations that usually do not have a high rate of complications for patients post-op.

medical-Instagram-Story-169x300According to the lawsuits, a 70-year-old woman who had a hip replacement done by the doctor died in September 2018 after the procedure took longer than expected because the doctor fractured her femur, or thigh bone, during the surgery.

The civil suit alleges that the doctor tried to repair the fracture, but the woman’s vital signs started to diminish. Her death certificate shows her cause of death reads complications of a femur fracture.

Other victims claim that the doctor left them with a leg that is shorter than the other due to selecting the wrong size femoral component for a hip replacement. Other patients have complained of serious nerve damage that has led to permanent “drop foot,” which is defined as difficulty lifting the front part of the foot off the ground.

Court documents show that the doctor had progressive supranuclear palsy, which the Mayo Clinic states is an uncommon brain disorder that results in issues with walking, balance, eye movements and swallowing that worsen over time.

It is unknown whether or not hospital officials were aware of the doctor’s condition. However, court documents do show that several physicians and nurses expressed concerns about the doctor’s ability to practice.

The doctor retired of his own volition in 2020, according to reports.

The first trial for six plaintiffs is slated for August 2023.

Surgery is usually performed to treat a medical condition, but these procedures can be dangerous and result in further complications that can threaten a patient’s health. While there is some level of risk accepted for any surgery, patients trust that their doctor, surgeon, and other members of their medical team will behave competently and provide the correct and necessary standard of care. When a surgeon, physician’s assistant, or nurse makes an error or acts negligently in the operating room, this can cause serious injuries that result in medical malpractice. Victims of medical malpractice have the right to pursue financial compensation for all of their suffering and damages related to the botched procedure.

Our Jacksonville Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Whittel & Melton understand the effects that surgical mistakes can have on a patient and their family. We are dedicated to holding negligent surgeons, hospitals, and other medical staff accountable for any harm that they cause. Our number one goal is to achieve justice for injured patients by making sure that they receive full and fair compensation for all of their injuries.

Surgeons, doctors, and all medical staff are held to a high standard of care in the operating room. When they fail to live up to this standard, a great deal of harm can be done to a patient. Mistakes that arise from lack of training, carelessness, distractions, or not following proper procedures are all forms of negligence. When negligence results in injury, victims have the right to seek compensation for the harm they have suffered through a medical malpractice lawsuit. Our Jacksonville Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Whittel & Melton work with injured patients to see to it that they are compensated fairly and that the at-fault medical provider is held accountable so that future mistakes of the same caliber do not affect other patients. Continue reading

A Tampa urologist mistakenly performed surgery on a patient’s right testicle instead of his left in September 2019. The patient was scheduled to have surgery on his left testicle for the removal of enlarged veins, but the doctor marked the right testicle for surgery instead. 

The doctor has been fined $2,500 by the State of Florida Board of Medicine and the board also has issued a letter of concern.

On Thursday the board’s final order was filed. The complaint shows that the patient arrived for a varicocelectomy, a surgery to remove enlarged veins, on September 10, 2019. This is usually an outpatient surgery that takes about 30 minutes to perform, according to the Men’s Clinic at UCLA. 

Before the surgery, the doctor marked the right testicle for surgery instead of the left. 

surgery-1807541_1920-1-300x198According to records, the doctor has been a Florida licensed doctor since April 1, 2019 and has no previous board discipline history.

In addition to the letter of concern and $2,500 administrative fine, the doctor will pay $2,045.56 to reimburse the Department of Health for their costs in handling this case. He will also have to take a five hour continuing medical education course involving risk management OR attend eight hours of disciplinary hearings by the Board of Medicine AND give a one hour lecture regarding wrong site surgery mistakes at a medical facility that the board approves. 

A wrong site surgery happens when a doctor makes a mistake and performs surgery on the wrong body part. This is considered a surgical error that should not ever happen, but sadly this happens quite a lot. Medical professionals agree that wrong site surgeries should never happen, which is why they are considered a “never event.” 

While wrong site surgeries are something that patients hope they never fall victim to, the sad truth is that these mistakes are more common than most would think. They happen pretty frequently in Florida and throughout the United States. If you or a family member has had the wrong body part operated on by a medical doctor, then you may very well have a claim for medical malpractice against the at-fault provider or even the hospital where the surgery occurred. Our experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyers in Tampa can help you understand if you have a valid malpractice claim and walk you through the necessary steps for seeking financial compensation for damages. 

While wrong site surgeries are dubbed a “never event,” researchers at Johns Hopkins have conducted studies that show doctors across the U.S. may operate on the wrong body site as often as 20 times every week. This adds up to hundreds of patients every year that fall victim to wrong site surgeries all because of a doctor’s careless mistake.  Continue reading

The Florida Supreme Court came to a decision this week that overturned the state law limiting pain and suffering, and other non-economic, monetary awards in medical malpractice cases.

Previously, a person that suffered an injury due to medical malpractice could only be awarded $500,000 for pain and suffering by the court regardless of what a jury decided. If a person was catastrophically injured, the limit capped out at an even million. However, these limits do not include monetary damages for lost wages, medical care, or any other losses – they strictly cover pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of companionship, and emotional distress.

The Supreme Court based its decision on a 2007 case where a woman was undergoing surgery for her carpal tunnel syndrome. After the surgery, her throat was injured when removing a breathing tube, and this injury led to a six week coma and other serious injuries. When her case finally came to trial, a jury awarded her $4 million, however, the court reduced the award by half due to the state law limiting medical malpractice damages.

In 2014, the woman’s appeal verdict was found in her favor, striking down the cap. The court ruled that the limit violated the equal protection clause due to the arbitrary basis for reducing damages in the law. The court basically found that the law did not make sense, and now the Supreme Court has weighed in. They agreed with the appellate court and upheld the decision.

It is unclear if the caps on medical malpractice claims in other states will be challenged now. The Florida Supreme Court only impacts Florida law.

Medical malpractice is classified as any negligence of a health care provider that causes an injury. When a doctor, nurse or healthcare facility fails to provide a patient with quality medical care, they can be held liable for their carelessness.

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A federal court has agreed to hear an appeal on whether drivers in Palm Beach County and across Florida should be granted class-action status in their claim that HCA hospitals, including JFK Medical Center in Atlantis, are severely overcharging for services under the state’s car insurance system.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta agreed this week to consider an appeal of a lower-court decision in Florida that drivers could pursue lawsuits individually, but not as a group. The plaintiffs allege that the hospitals are draining Personal Injury Protection benefits by charging up to 65 times what Medicare pays.

4838079960_bea63b1287_zAn HCA statement issues said the case lacks merit and the company intends to defend it vigorously.

Recently, the Florida state legislature has taken steps to reduce the amount of fraud in the insurance system, reduce payment delays and limit use of the court system. The following changes were implemented:

  • In the past, injury victims had an unlimited time frame to make an injury claim, but now injury victims only have 14 days to seek medical treatment that may be covered by PIP.
  • Under the new law, people with minor injuries might be limited on the amount of financial recovery that they will receive from PIP coverage.
  • PIP compensation is limited to 80 percent of your medical costs.

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A medical malpractice case filed by the parents of a 17-year-old high school junior who passed away two days after being deprived of oxygen during a routine wisdom teeth surgery in Baltimore has been settled out of court.

The teen suffered severe brain injury during her surgery March 28, 2011. Shortly after she went into a coma and died 10 days later. According to an autopsy report, she died because of a lack of oxygen to her brain during the surgery.

Her parents filed a civil suit against the anesthesiologist, surgeon and medical practices involved in their daughter’s procedure. The suit alleged that they had shown negligence by failing to revive her after her heart rate slowed to a seriously dangerous level, limiting the flow of oxygen to her brain.

Both sides reached a settlement on March 28. The conditions and value of the settlement are not public. However, the suit included five counts claiming negligence and other medical failures, with more than $30,000 was in dispute for each count.

751830_dental_office.jpgIn order to prove medical malpractice in a wrongful death case, the victim’s family must demonstrate that the surgeon, doctor, other medical staff or the hospital was negligent in some way. When it comes to a surgery, this can include any careless or reckless act such as prescribing the wrong drug to a patient, failing to properly monitor a patient or not checking for any and all allergies a patient may have.

When a court must determine if a medical provider was negligent, they factor in generally accepted standards of care in that particular medical field. For this case, experts would likely be called on to testify about the various procedures oral surgeons undergo when removing wisdom teeth and if the surgeon in question actually met those standards of care. While the surgery to remove wisdom teeth is quite common and usually thought to be low-risk, there are always hazards anytime a surgery is performed. In certain situations, medical malpractice may not be to blame, and the cause could just be a freak accident.

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776917_guantes_gloves_.jpgA jury recently awarded a surviving husband $4 million in a wrongful death suit as a result of a nurse’s error that eventually claimed the life of his 29-year-old wife.

The man’s wife went in for a hysterectomy, but medical professionals failed to recognize the woman had a latex allergy. After surgery, the woman expressed that she was itchy, felt nauseous and had blisters on her lips. She was provided Benadryl for the itchiness and the nausea was attributed to the anesthesia.

A day later, the woman was placed on a ventilator and moved to the intensive care unit. She died just four days after surgery.

The hospital’s allergy policy requires that every patient’s allergies be documented prior to admission. Listed allergies are supposed to be recorded in case they can be linked to any unknown allergies that could result in complications. The woman noted that she had an allergy to chestnuts, which can be a sign of sensitivity to latex. According to the hospital’s policies, this information should have been recorded on her chart and been displayed in her hospital room.

However, the nurse that evaluated the woman was unaware of the hospital’s procedures. Her death was found to be caused by the use of latex in her surgical procedure and subsequent treatments eventually leading to anaphylactic shock.

While the jury did not find the surgeon negligent, they did hold the hospital accountable for the nurse’s negligence.

The jury awarded $516,000 to the wrongful death beneficiaries and $4,175,000 to the woman’s estate.

When it comes to medical malpractice, people generally think of mistakes made by doctors. However, nurses also play a serious part in the treatment of patients. A nurse’s error or wrongdoing can be just as harmful as a mistake made by a doctor or surgeon.

A nurse can be found negligent for a variety of reasons, including:

 Documentation errors
 Failing to monitor a patient properly
 Medication overdose or error
 Failing to call or notify a doctor of a patient’s condition in a timely fashion
 Not properly recording a change in a patient’s condition
 Incorrect use of a medical device
 Failing to attain informed consent

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