Photo of Jeffrey A. Krawitz

Jeff Krawitz is a Shareholder and member of Stark & Stark’s Accident & Personal Injury Group.

The birth of a child is an opportunity for joy and excitement, as well as a little anxiety for new parents. After all, the birth process can be scary, especially given the rising maternal mortality rate in the United States. Although no parents want to deal with a medical malpractice suit as part of their post-birth plan, it is sometimes necessary to bring them the closure they deserve when the mother or baby suffers harm.

Continue Reading FTCA, Minority Tolling, and the Challenges of the Statute of Limitations

One of the great responsibilities entrusted to doctors is the ability to prescribe medications to patients. These medications range from relatively benign controlled substances, such as Ambien, to ones that carry major risks for patients if misused, such as Oxycodone.

This responsibility is one that should be wielded carefully by doctors, especially considering the ongoing opioid addiction epidemic across the United States. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the opioid overdoses accounted for more than 42,000 deaths in 2016. Of those deaths, an estimated 40% of opioid overdose deaths involved a prescription opioid.


Continue Reading Doctor Fraud: False Claims and Controlled Substances an Ongoing Problem for the Medical Industry

The ER is a daunting place – and lately, the anxiety of an unexpected health problem has been compounded by the hazards associated with overcrowding. ER visits across the country reached a 10-year high in 2015, and in 2016, there were 145.6 million ER visits, with 12.6 million of them leading to hospital admission. These numbers have a significant impact on quality of care – and the resulting mistakes and lack of adequate attention are putting patients at risk.

Continue Reading Hospital and ER Overcrowding Leads to Increased Patient Risk

The June 2017 issue of the American Journal of Infection Control included a report from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) which described 23 infants in their intensive care unit (ICU) who contracted eye infections after eye examinations. In the report, CHOP attributed the cause of the outbreak to some medical staff not wearing gloves, and a “lack of standard cleaning practices” of equipment used in the exams.

This outbreak occurred in August 2016, and a recent lawsuit has been filed on behalf of a family who alleges their premature baby died as a result of her contracted infection at CHOP in September 2016. The premature infant had been transferred to CHOP in July, and by mid-August had tested positive for infection with an adenovirus and was suffering from respiratory symptoms. She eventually developed a bacterial infection on top of the viral illness, and died on September 11, 2016.


Continue Reading 23 Infants Contracted Infections at CHOP

Winter is coming – and with it comes snow, sleet, and freezing rain. In the Philadelphia area, the average yearly snowfall is 22.4 inches.

Winter driving is dangerous. According to the Federal Highway Administration, more than 116,000 Americans are injured and over 1,300 are killed on snowy, slushy, or icy pavement every winter. Pennsylvania is one of the top five deadliest states for wintertime car accidents, often caused, at least in part, by poor visibility and road conditions. Be careful out there!

Another hazard, a preventable hazard, is also part of winter driving. While viewed by many as a harmless prank, PennDot cautions against throwing snowballs at cars due to the risk of causing an accident. A snowball thrown at a car can break a car’s windshield or cause a car accident by distracting the driver or causing the driver to swerve into adjacent or oncoming vehicles, or even pedestrians.


Continue Reading Don’t Throw Snowballs (or Rocks) at Cars!

The FDA has issued a safety alert to consumers involving several dietary supplements including Rhino 7, Papa Zen, Fifty Shades, and Grande X. The safety alert warns consumers that the products may include undeclared active prescription drug ingredients.

The products are labeled as a dietary supplement and each is packaged as a blister pack capsule. Product names and lot numbers are available in the FDA’s safety alert.

Voluntary Recall of Dietary Supplements

Gadget Island, Inc. is voluntarily recalling the dietary supplements at the consumer level. The products have been found to contain undeclared active pharmaceutical ingredients – sildenafil, desmethyl carbodenafil, and tadalafil.


Continue Reading FDA Issues Warning About Dietary Supplements Containing Active Drug Ingredients

After the sudden deaths of five people following the placement of inflated silicone balloons in their stomachs to treat obesity, the Food and Drug Administration sent a letter to health care providers on August 10, 2017, warning of potential risks associated with the intragastric balloons. All five reported deaths happened within one month of the procedure, with three of the five people dying one to three days after the procedure. The agency said two more death reports happened within the same time frame and may be related to complications from the balloon treatment. The agency has not yet determined whether any of the deaths were directly related to either the devices or the insertion procedures.

Potential Risks of Intragastric Balloons

One risk is over-inflation. Overinflation may occur when the intragastric balloon inflates with more fluid or with air after placement in the patient’s stomach. Overinflation symptoms include abdominal swelling, severe abdominal pain, breathing problems, and vomiting. Acute pancreatitis is a separate type of risk, caused when the balloons compress other gastrointestinal structures. Symptoms include back and abdominal pain.

Both types of complications can happen within days of the procedure and may require doctors to remove the devices.


Continue Reading FDA Issues Warning Letter Concerning Stomach Balloons Used to Treat Obesity

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 83.6 percent of adults and 93 percent of children had contact with a health care professional in 2015. Hospital visits numbered 125.7 million while physician office visits numbered 922.6 million.

While the vast majority of medical procedures go smoothly, errors do occur and cause injury to patients. Surgery errors are the most common basis for an inpatient medical malpractice claim. As for outpatients, errors in diagnosis are the most common basis for a claim.

If a person suspects medical malpractice due to an adverse outcome from a medical diagnosis or procedure, he or she may decide to reach out to the physician, medical care provider, or hospital for some explanation or recourse. As a recent case illustrates, that may NOT be the best course of action to take.


Continue Reading What You Should and Shouldn’t Do if You Suspect Medical Malpractice

Heart surgery patients failed to prove that they were injured after Intuitive Surgical Inc.’s da Vinci surgical robot left metal fragments in their brains, said the Eleventh Circuit in upholding a District Court decision dismissing their case. The plaintiffs alleged that MRIs showed that metal fragments discharged from the robot’s surgical instruments, entered their bloodstreams and ended up in their brains. The complaint in Gabriel Fernando Nassar Cure v. Intuitive Surgical Inc. asserted that Intuitive designed, manufactured, marketed, and sold defective medical instruments that were used during surgeries at hospitals across the country.

In dismissing the case, the district court cited to Boyd v. Orkin Exterminating Co. The district court found that the injuries allegedly caused when Intuitive’s da Vinci surgical robot inadvertently sent bits of metal debris into the brains of patients were speculative, similar to injuries claimed due to toxic chemical exposure. The patients, however, argued the injury is similar to foreign object claims where objects left in the body constitute an injury. The plaintiffs asserted that their injuries are not speculative and that Intuitive designed and manufactured a defective instrument or instruments which caused them injury by improperly shedding metal fragments into their bodies during surgery. The patients alleged they have suffered physical, neurological, and mental impairments as a result of the metal shavings left in their brains following surgery.


Continue Reading Surgical Robots Left Behind Metal Fragments in Heart Patients’ Brains

On August 4, 2017, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced the withdrawal of their advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) which would have required railroads and trucking companies to test employees for obstructive sleep apnea. This is one of many withdrawals of proposed safety regulations by the Trump administration.

The ANPRM was jointly issued in March 2016 as the first step for the agencies to consider whether to propose requirements concerning obstructive sleep apnea for commercial vehicle drivers and rail workers in safety sensitive positions. Based on the potential severity of obstructive sleep apnea-related transportation incidents and crashes, the ANPRM sought information from interested parties regarding obstructive sleep apnea to better inform the agencies’ decision on whether to take regulatory action.


Continue Reading Sleep Apnea Rule for Truckers and Train Engineers Withdrawn