Category: Medical

Birth Injury Lawyer New York, NY

Birth Defects: Cerebral Palsy

There are few things as precious to new parents as their baby’s health and well-being. Unfortunately, many face the unexpected challenge of birth defects that will deeply impact the child’s quality of life, living costs and risk factors for other medical conditions on an ongoing basis.

One of the most common disabilities in early development is cerebral palsy, often caused by damage to the brain during birth or when the baby is still in the mother’s womb.  According to the American Pregnancy Association, 70% of cases result from a disruption in the development of the brain before birth. A CerbralPalsy.org study reports out of every 1,000 children, 2 to 3 have one of the four types of cerebral palsy. Of the babies born each year, about 10,000 will develop the condition.

While there are several causes including fetal distress, asphyxia and meningitis, premature birth and related affects of premature birth are commonly involved. Prematurity does not necessarily mean a child will have cerebral palsy—about 7.6% of births occur prematurely– though the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports nearly half of children who do develop cerebral palsy were born prematurely.

Since babies born before 37 weeks (or less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces) are not fully developed, they are more susceptible to injury and have a higher risk of brain damage and infection. The lower the baby’s birth weight, the more danger they are in of developing the condition.

The cost over a lifetime of caring for an individual with cerebral palsy is nearly 1 million dollars, as estimated by The Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Many of the expenses involved are not covered by insurance and can put a serious financial strain on a family. Often the child will need a constant caretaker and may require years of physical and emotional therapy.

In some cases, proper care during pregnancy and delivery may have prevented cerebral palsy. A baby’s brain can be damaged in the uterus by improper drug administration by a physician or inability by a medical professional to notice and treat premature labor.

Parent and child may have a right to receive compensation for cerebral palsy cases if a doctor fails to recognize and treat problems with a baby’s development. The attorneys at Okun, Oddo & Babat are highly skilled Medical Malpractice attorneys and will work diligently to pursue legal compensation on your behalf. Contact us for a consultation.

Article by Shea Bergesen for Lavery Design Associates, Ltd.
copyright 2013. This article may not be reproduced without permission from the author.

New Disclosure on 2010 Hip Implant Recall

Earlier this month it was revealed in an extensive New York Times article by Barry Meier that newly disclosed court records pertaining to the 2010 Johnson & Johnson hip implant recall indicate that Johnson & Johnson did not reveal their internal analysis regarding the potential early failure rate of their all-metal hip implant device.

The first of many lawsuits filed against the company are now going to court as thousands of patients who received implants may now be facing costly and painful additional replacement procedures. The article addresses the implant’s metal hip cup design the Food and Drug Administration concerns regarding “high concentration of metal ions.” A high level of reports of premature failure of the device, over 300, received by the FDA, compared to competing implants, prompted the initial recall.

Based on the number of patients who had undergone device replacement at the time of the initial recall, it was estimated by DePuy Orthopaedics, a division of Johnson & Johnson, that 37 percent of patients who received it initially, may need replacement.

If you or someone you know has had hip replacement surgery, you should be aware of the details surrounding this hip implant recall. If you have undergone a procedure and are facing another painful replacement Okun, Oddo and Babat handles medical and medical device litigation and we can expertly evaluate your circumstances  and protect your legal rights. You may be entitled to compensation from the manufacturer. Affected patients may be entitled to compensation for injuries they have suffered as a result of the failed DePuy ASR implants.

At Okun, Oddo & Babat, we know the medical device industry and the status of cases filed against various manufacturers. Our attorneys have the experience to determine liability and obtain the maximum compensation for victims of medical device failure. We are committed to holding the drug companies to their obligation to warn about the known risks of their products. Contact us for an appointment.

Senior Care & Skilled Nursing Home Negligence

It’s a difficult decision to place someone you love in a nursing home. After screening facilities and ultimately making a decision, it’s important as a family member to be mindful of the circumstances and monitor for any signs of negligence since elders are in many cases are emotionally and/or physically unable report inadequate care. Be aware of the patients care needs including hygiene, medication and nutrition, develop a regular rapport with nursing and specialized staff to discuss care and be mindful of the physical appearance of the patient upon visiting. It’s important to take notes and ask for questions and explanations as issues arise. A report should be filed immediately if any physical or emotional changes are evident.

Neglect can be difficult to determine since the aging process itself can take a physical and emotional toll on the body. One of the most common signs of neglect is the development of skin ulcers, better known as bed sores. When patients are left resting in one position for long periods of time, bones and skin are subject to friction and pressure, resulting in painful skin sores which can develop and worsen very quickly. Nurses are required to regularly turn patients to prevent the development of bed sores, which are not only very painful, but have the potential to lead to very serious and sometimes life threatening infections. If bedsores are present and reported, nursing home staff should treat them immediately.

Staff members who are unwilling to respond to inquiry immediately or who refuse to allow family or friends to visit unattended should be reported to supervisory staff. Other types of nursing home abuse may be:

• Witholding food or not providing food according to prescribed schedule

• Poor hydration

• Failing to dispense medication on schedule

• Medication errors

• Poor sanitary and toiling facilities

• Inadequate daily hygiene, care and grooming

• Improper supervising

• Verbal, mental or physical abuse

• Failure to recognize need for or provide emergency care

If you notice signs of depression, personality changes and changes in physical appearance and suspect any care neglect or nursing home abuse, please call Okun, Oddo & Babat at 212-642-0950 immediately for a consultation and evaluation. You may also email us. We pride ourselves on being advocates for elders in these unfortunate circumstances.

Glass Particles May Be Found in Generic Lipitor

According to a November 29 article by Katie Thomas in The New York Times, Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals has stopped producing its generic version of Lipitor, pending investigation into the possibility of small glass particles being found in pills. The Food and Drug Administration announced the halt earlier that day. The FDA claims they have not received any reports of consumers being harmed. Thomas’ article sites a recall by the drug manufacturer earlier this month and extensive details on Ranbaxy manufacturing problems at its plants in the US and in India.

Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery

Bariatric surgery is a surgical procedure performed to assist a patient in losing weight. There are different types of surgery that may be performed from a restrictive procedure where a band is placed around the stomach, or a more involved bypass procedure to modify the gastrointestinal tract. With each procedure, there may be different consequences. In the last several years the number of individuals opting for this type of surgery has greatly increased and with that increase, a number of cases and issues have been in the media including wrongful death caused by a defective surgical stapler and over 9,00 reports of complications made to the FDA.

In 1983 The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) was formed and is the largest society for this specialty in the world. Part of the Society’s mission is to provide educational and support programs for surgeons and integrated health professionals and multidisciplinary teams as well as to improve care, advance the science and understanding of the surgery, foster communication between healthcare practitioners and patients and to be an advocate for health care policy. For educational resources, visit the ASMBS website.

Yet earlier this year Deputy Clay Chandler was awarded $178 million in a lawsuit against Memorial Hospital Jacksonville for medical negligence and fraud damages. According to a January, 2012 article in The Florida Times-Union, Chandler was severely incapacitated after weight loss surgery at the hospital in 2007. Now brain damaged and confined to a wheelchair, for eight days following his surgery he showed signs of complications where fluids from the bowl leaked into the abdomen. The report sites the surgeon’s inexperience and “failure to meet the hospital’s advertised accreditation” which the jury found to be acts of fraud.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration website details the procedure, risks and targets weight loss claims. You can register to receive Consumer Update RSS feeds and email updates. Steven Silverman, director of the Office of Compliance in FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health stated that “Consumers, who may be influenced by misleading advertising, need to be fully aware of the risks of any surgical procedure.”

If you or someone you know is considering Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery, you should become familiar with the standardization of bariatric surgery practices and guidelines, as well as the risks involved. If you have undergone a procedure and you have developed complications, contact Okun, Odd & Babat for a consultation.

Don’t Get Sick in July

It’s one of those secrets you normally don’t learn in nursing school: “Don’t go to the hospital in July.” That’s the month when medical residents, newly graduated from medical school, start learning how to be doctors, and they learn by taking care of patients. And learning means making mistakes. There’s disagreement in the medical literature about whether a so-called July Effect, where medical error rates increase in the summer, actually exists. But a 2010 article in the Journal of General Internal Medicine and a 2011 article in the Annals of Internal Medicine both found evidence of it. In an interview, Dr. John Q. Young, lead author of the latter review, likened the deployment of new residents to having rookies replace seasoned football players during “a high-stakes game, and in the middle of that final drive.” From what I’ve experienced as a clinical nurse, whether or not the July Effect is statistically validated as a cause of fatal hospital errors, it is undeniably real in terms of adequacy and quality of care delivery. Any nurse who has worked in a teaching hospital is likely to have found July an especially difficult month because, returning to Dr. Young’s football metaphor, the first-year residents are calling the plays, but they have little real knowledge of the game. This experience deficit plays out in ways large and small, but I remember an especially fraught situation one July when a new resident simply did not know enough to do his job and a patient quite literally suffered as a result.

The patient was actively dying. He was older and his death was expected. He had kept his cancer at bay for several years, but there were no more curative treatment options left and he had opted to die peacefully in his bed, surrounded by family. He had also wanted to die in the hospital, and his death was coming on quickly enough that the hospital decided to allow it. He was grumpy, charming, funny and impressively clear-eyed about the end of his life. During our brief, two-day acquaintance I developed a strong attachment to him.
Death came closer quickly on that second day and as it neared, his pain increased significantly. Dying from cancer often hurts. He needed oxygen to breathe comfortably, and because he was alert he fully felt the intense pain. I’m a nurse, so legally I cannot decide to increase a patient’s dose of pain medication, but I can call a physician and describe the patient’s distress. That’s part of a nurse’s job, but there is also a chain of command for getting medication orders, and another part of my job is adhering to that hierarchy.
I paged the first-year resident covering the patient. Since it was July he was an M.D. on the books, but he was brand new to actual doctoring. I explained things, but he would not increase the ordered dose. I paged him again. We talked over the phone, and I insisted. Then I pleaded. He would not up the dose.
Looking at the situation from his point of view, I understand his reluctance. I was asking him to prescribe a very large dose of narcotic, a killingly big dose if the patient was unused to opioids. The resident might have learned in medical school about pain during dying, but he had not actually been with a patient going through it. Seeing such pain — the body twisting, the patient crying out helplessly — is categorically different from reading about it.
I also imagine the resident had been taught to prescribe narcotics judiciously, perhaps even sparingly, and the amount of drug I was asking for was neither.
The patient’s wife was kind; his daughter, a nurse, forthright. They and he deserved better than they were getting, so I decided to take a risk. Ignoring the chain of command, I paged the palliative care physician on call. She and I had talked about the patient the day before.
I described the patient’s sudden lurch toward death, the sharp increase in pain and the resident’s reluctance to medicate the patient enough to give him relief. “Ah,” she said, “I was worried about that,” meaning that the patient might begin actively dying sooner than the medical team had expected. She ordered a morphine pump. I got the drug, loaded and programmed the machine. The patient died fairly soon after. He was conscious to the very end, and I can say he did not meet his death in agonizing pain.
A FEW hours later I ended up in the elevator with the new resident. He and I both started talking at once. Looking stricken, he apologized to me for having been busy, overwhelmed with several new patients. Knowing it is never easy to have someone’s footprint on your head, I apologized for having called in an attending physician. “I don’t usually jump the line,” I started to explain, when he interrupted me. “You did the right thing for the patient,” he said.
Such an exchange is rare. A nurse who goes over a doctor’s head because she finds his care decisions inappropriate risks a charge of insubordination. A resident who doesn’t deliver good care risks the derision of the nurse caring for that patient. Nurses aren’t typically consulted about care decisions, and this expectation of silence may lead them to lash out at doctors they see as inadequate.
The July Effect brings into sharp relief a reality of hospital care: care is becoming more specialized, and nurses, who sometimes have years of experience, often know more than the greenest physicians. We know about medicating dying patients for pain, but we know a lot of other things, too: appropriate dosages for all kinds of drugs, when transfusions and electrolyte replacements are needed, which lab tests to order and how to order them, whether consulting another specialist is a good idea, whether a patient needs to go to intensive care because his vital signs are worryingly unstable.
The problem can be limited by better supervision from senior residents, fellows and attending physicians, as well as by nurses. We need to acknowledge this fact, because admitting that new residents need help, and that nurses can and do help them, is the beginning of owning up to our shared responsibilities in providing care. For the good of our patients, nurses and doctors need to collaborate.

Article by Theresa Brown
Published on July 14, 2012, New York Times Opinion Page
Part of a series on healthcare from a nurse’s perspective

. Theresa Brown is an oncology nurse and the author of “Critical Care: A New Nurse Faces Death, Life, and Everything in Between.”

Failure To Carry Out Emergency C-Sections

If mother or baby is at risk during delivery, medical professionals may opt to perform an emergency caesarean section, rather than continue with a potentially dangerous vaginal birth. However, what happens if an emergency C-section is needed, but is not carried out? Does this amount to medical negligence? And it is possible to claim compensation for the injuries medical errors have caused?

Why would an emergency C-section be performed?
Pregnant women are now free to choose whether they would like to have a vaginal delivery or an elective caesarean section. Studies so far have shown that in the majority of cases, women will consider their options and (unless otherwise advised by doctors) opt for a vaginal birth. However, there are occasions in which complications will arise during the course of a vaginal delivery, putting mother and/or baby in danger. This may occur if:
• The mother’s blood pressure drops to a dangerously low level;
• The baby’s heart rate shows signs of fetal distress;
• The placenta separates from the uterus prematurely (called placental abruption).
• The placenta is low down in the uterus (called placenta previa);

If mother and/or baby are at risk, doctors should be quick to assess the situation and acknowledge the need to transfer the vaginal delivery to an emergency caesarean section. This decision should be proposed to the mother and consent sought without delay.

What if an emergency C-section is not performed?
Nevertheless, there are sadly times when medical professional fail to act, even though there are obvious signs of complication. This can lead to devastating consequences, harming the health of both mother and baby. Injuries to the mother can include excessive blood loss, collapse and cardiac arrest, while injuries to the child usually arise due to oxygen starvation. These can be particularly serious and can even be fatal.

Claiming Compensation
If you or your baby has been injured because an emergency C-section was not performed when it should have been, you will have been the victim of medical negligence. We understand just how distressing this will be, as what should be a happy time for you and your family will instead be filled with pain and anguish.

As the victim of medical error, you will be entitled to claim compensation for the damage you have been caused. Although it will not undo the harm you have endured, you may want to consider taking legal action against the hospital in question. Contact Okun, Oddo & Babat for a courtesy evaluation. For immediate assistance, call us at 212-642-0950.

Author: Julie Glynn
Originally published, May 19, 2012

FDA May Take Action Against Johnson & Johnson

The New York Times (5/28, B1, Singer) reports that McNeil Consumer Healthcare, the division of Johnson & Johnson that recalled millions of bottles of liquid children’s Tylenol, “may face criminal penalties, product seizures, or other sanctions, an official from the Food and Drug Administration said Thursday.” At a Congressional hearing yesterday, the principal deputy commissioner at the FDA, Joshua Sharfstein, said that the agency found “a pattern of violations in manufacturing and quality control practices” that “led to a number of recent recalls.”

Following revelations at the hearing that McNeil hired contractors to buy the products under orders not to mention the word ‘recall,’ the chairwomen of Johnson & Johnson’s consumer division, Colleen Goggins, apologized “to the mothers and fathers and caregivers for the concern and inconvenience” caused by the recall. Los Angeles Times (5/28, Zajac)

Senate Committee Links Diabetes Drug Avandia to Heart Attacks, Death

On February 20, 2010 the New York Times carried a front-page story reporting that hundreds of patients taking the controversial diabetes medicine, Avandia (rosiglitazone), needlessly suffered heart attacks and heart failure each month, according to confidential governmental reports.  The Wall Street Journal (Monday, 2/22), reported that a Senate Finance Committee concluded that Glaxo was aware of the risks, but minimized the issue and tried to suppress concerned physicians.  FDA documents indicate that in 2008, agency scientists recommended that the drug be pulled from the market, but FDA chiefs rejected the recommendation.  It is estimated that the drug caused 83,000.00 heart attacks between 1999 and 2007.