Residents’ Return to 24-Hour Shifts Rekindles Controversy Over Patient Care

Posted in Medical Malpractice

On March 10, 2017, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) announced that first-year doctors will be allowed to work 24-hour shifts in hospitals starting July 1, 2017. The cap that has limited shifts to 16 consecutive hours of patient care since 2011 will be lifted. The 80-hours-per-week cap remains in place.

Balancing the logistics of physician training with the safety and needs of patients has been the subject of controversy and debate for decades. According to a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine, the debate centers on the concern that longer hours mean less sleep and sleep-deprived residents might make errors. However, that is countered by other concerns about shorter work hours resulting in more patient hand-offs that could affect patient care.

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Osteo Relief Institute Jersey Shore Employees Failed to Wash Hands and Reused Syringes

Posted in Medical Malpractice

As reported by philly.com, New Jersey Department of Health investigators have released a preliminary report finding that that the Osteo Relief Institute Jersey Shore in Wall Township deviated from multiple infection control guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control.

The report indicates that the clinic’s disregard of accepted hygiene practices likely caused 40 patients to develop septic arthritis of the knee following injections to treat knee pain. The clinic was closed in March but reopened two weeks later. The clinic treated up to 85 patients a day at the time of the infection outbreak, according to the report.

One physician at the clinic told health department investigators she did not wash her hands between procedures. Most troubling was the report’s finding that single-use vials were reused on multiple patients and leftover needles were put in the trash instead of in approved medical waste containers.

Lawsuits have been filed on behalf of several of the affected patients.

What are the Negative Consequences of Hoarding in a Community Association?

Posted in Community Associations

Hoarding is a psychological condition where: 1) individuals have difficulty getting rid of possessions that are no longer useful; and 2) efforts to discard these possessions and not acquire new items cause distress. Television shows such as Hoarding: Buried Alive and Hoarders display in alarming detail the negative emotional and physical impact of this condition upon the individual with the hoarding disorder as well as his or her family and neighbors.

The negative consequences of hoarding in a community association — especially a high-rise condominium — are very serious. Hoarding behavior can easily lead to unsanitary and unsafe conditions that extend far outside the unit where the hoarding condition has manifested. For example, collections of half empty food containers strewn about a unit can quickly escalate into a pest infestation and breeding ground for mold and other unwelcome guests. Piles of newspapers and other combustible materials in close proximity to heat sources become fire risks. The cumulative weight of hoarded items can even lead to structural problems. Doorways and hallways overflowing and otherwise barricaded by mounds of stuff can hamper the efforts of emergency personnel and management.

A community association that chooses to ignore a hoarding situation could be found liable for failing to take action if the hoarding situation leads to injury to person or property. Continue Reading

Pennsylvania Justices to Review Waiver of Liability in Triathlete Wrongful Death Case

Posted in Wrongful Death

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will hear an appeal from the dismissal of a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the widow of Derek Valentino, a triathlete who drowned in a 2010 event organized by Philadelphia Triathlete LLC. The Court will determine whether the wrongful death claims brought by Mr. Valentino’s widow against Philadelphia Triathlete are barred by the liability waiver signed by him.

As part of the registration process for the triathlon, Mr. Valentino paid a fee and electronically executed the liability waiver assuming all risks of participating in the event. The swimming portion of the competition occurred in the Schuylkill River. Mr. Valentino entered the river on the morning of the event; his body was discovered in the river the following day.

In her wrongful death suit, Mr. Valentino’s widow claimed that Philadelphia Triathlete was grossly negligent and reckless. She maintained that the event organizers “failed to inspect or maintain the event course, failed to warn of or remove dangerous conditions, failed to properly plan or organize the event, failed to follow safety standards, and failed to properly train employees.”

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Pennsylvania Court to Reconsider Denial of Attorney-Client Privilege for Email to Consultant

Posted in Medical Malpractice

The Pennsylvania Superior Court will reconsider its ruling that attorney-client privilege does not apply to an email from a hospital’s attorney to its public relations firm.

The discovery dispute in the case involved a document generated by outside counsel pertaining to a public announcement planned by the hospital. The announcement would name two doctors who were identified from the results of a cardiology services audit as having performed unnecessary cardiac stent procedures. The hospital claimed that the audit indicated that the blockages in the patients at issue were so minimal that stents were not medically appropriate.

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What Damages Are Available Under the PA Human Trafficking Statute?

Posted in Human Trafficking

This is the fifth in a series of posts summarizing the civil causes of action available under the PA Human Trafficking Statute. Thus far, I have addressed who can sue under the statute, who can be sued, and the powerful list of “nondefenses” provided within the statute. This post addresses the various types of civil damages that are recoverable under the statute.

The language of the PA Human Trafficking Statute provides that a victim may recover the following types of damages:

  • Actual/compensatory damages;
  • Punitive damages;
  • Injunctive relief;
  • Attorney fees and costs; and,
  • Treble damages.

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Do We Need More Uniformity in Newborn Screening in the US?

Posted in Medical Malpractice

According to the March of Dimes, each year more than 12,000 newborns are identified as having a condition detected through newborn screening. Newborn screening is the practice of testing every newborn for certain genetic, metabolic, hormonal, and functional conditions. If diagnosed early, many of these conditions can be successfully managed, improving lives and reducing costs. If not diagnosed, or not diagnosed and treated in a timely manner, these conditions can cause severe disability or death.

Newborn Screening in the US

Through newborn screening, nearly every baby in the United States is tested for genetic disorders shortly after birth. Health care providers collect blood samples from newborns and send them to labs for testing. But a recent report issued by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found most states have not met federal benchmarks to screen 95 percent of blood samples within seven days of birth by 2017. Continue Reading

Federal Government Must Pay $41.6M for Negligent Forceps Delivery

Posted in Medical Malpractice

A Pennsylvania judge recently entered a $41.6 million verdict against the federal government after an obstetrician employed by a federally-funded health clinic negligently used forceps to deliver a baby. The baby suffered severe permanent brain damage as a result.

The lawsuit claimed that the obstetrician applied excessive force and traction and misapplied the forceps on the baby’s skull while performing a mid-forceps delivery, causing catastrophic neurological injury to the baby. One expert testified at trial that mid-level forceps deliveries are indicated only in severe, life-threatening emergencies. Another noted that the use of forceps caused multiple skull fractures, bleeding in the brain and destruction to the cerebellum and brain stem.

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Victim’s Consent Not a Defense Under PA Human Trafficking Statute

Posted in Human Trafficking

This is the fourth in a series of posts summarizing the civil causes of action available under the PA Human Trafficking Statute. Thus far, I have addressed who can sue under the statute and who can be sued. This post will address the powerful list of “nondefenses” provided within the statute.

The PA Human Trafficking Statute provides a very specific and comprehensive list of 14 factual scenarios that cannot be relied upon as a defense to a civil action brought pursuant to the statute. This list of “nondefenses” is as follows:

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