Category: Wrongful Death

Cardiovascular Disease, Heart Surgery and Wrongful Death

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for New York citizens and the worldwide population. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that in 2008, 17.3 million people died due to CVD, representing 30% of all global deaths. According to the New York State Department of Health’s comprehensive report, The Burden of Cardiovascular Disease in New York, approximately 40% of NYS deaths in 2008 were caused by CVD.

Often called “heart disease,” CVD includes a number of conditions that affect the heart and circulatory system. Common types are:

  • Coronary Heart Disease: Build-up of fatty deposits on blood vessel linings
  • Congenital Heart Disease: Malformations of heart structure existing at birth
  • Congestive Heart Failure: Failure to pump enough blood throughout the body
  • Pulmonary Heart Disease: Slowed or blocked blood flow into the lungs
  • Rheumatic Heart Disease: Complication of untreated strep throat / rheumatic fever

While the Center for Disease Control and Prevention projects heart disease will remain the leading cause of death globally for the next 20 years, more people are living with CVD than ever before due in part to heighted awareness, medical improvements and less invasive procedures. For some, illness and death due to CVD can be prevented simply by a healthy, conscientious lifestyle. Known and modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease include tobacco use, physical inactivity, poor nutrition, obesity, hypertension, high blood cholesterol and diabetes.
In addition to preventative behavior by individuals, proper pre-care by a doctor is necessary to detect abnormalities in the heart. If a condition is left undiagnosed, it may worsen over time without treatment and can lead to heart attack, stroke or other serious illness and injury. Signs of heart disease medical professionals often mistake for more minor conditions include trouble breathing, chest pain, nausea, dizziness, high blood pressure and pain in the left arm. Once a heart condition is detected, operations may be necessary. As with any surgery, there are risks involved in cardiac operations.

Complications can arise due to a number of factors, including:

  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Reactions to anesthesia
  • Tissue damage
  • Severing of the aortic valve
  • Hematomas
  • Heart valve damage or dysfunction
  • Neurological complications
  • Damage to surrounding blood vessels
  • Infection, excessive bleeding or blood clotting
  • Inadequate surgical techniques or inexperience of the surgeon

While cardiac surgeons are among the most highly trained specialists in the medical industry, human error or bad judgment can be a factor in the success of surgery and recovery. Miscalculations can be life-threatening and there are cases when medical professionals do not provide proper care, increasing the risk of further illness, injury or even death. After an operation, close monitoring, medication adjustments and progress evaluations are vital factors in the recovery of a cardiovascular surgery patient. It is important for doctors to notify the patient of any ongoing risks they may have, particularly if additional treatments are needed or they lead a physically demanding lifestyle.

Cardiovascular disease treatments and surgery can save lives but when surgeons and their staff make errors or exercise inadequate medical judgment, it can also end up causing serious harm and in some cases, wrongful death. Evaluating whether medical negligence is involved – whether pre-, during, or post operation – requires the expertise of experienced lawyers. An individual or family that has suffered by inadequate medical care may choose to pursue legal action against the medical professionals involved.

Okun Oddo & Babat specializes in Medical Malpractice and Medical Negligence claims. Contact us today or call or call us at 212.642.0950 to arrange an appointment with one of our experienced New York attorneys. 

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

Poor Hygiene and Inadequate Care in Nursing Homes

When a loved one is no longer able to live independently due to age or illness, many families decide to place them in the care of a nursing home. According to the Center for Medicare Services, approximately 3.3 million Americans will live in an elder care facility in 2013.

In the over 16,000 facilities nationwide, federal and state regulations are in place to protect nursing home residents from harm and ensure they are receiving proper care. However, a National Center for Elderly Abuse study of 2,000 nursing home residents in 2000 reported that 44% said they had been abused in some way and 95% reported witnessing or experiencing neglect. Instances of mistreatment may involve extreme abuse, including physical or sexual assault. However in many cases, neglecting personal hygiene and facility sanitation are the cause of illness, injury or even the death of a resident. Because many elderly patients are unable to take care of personal grooming without assistance, failure to maintain a consistent hygiene routine with residents — including not bathing them or changing dirty clothes/bed linens for hours or days at a time — can lead to serious physical and emotional problems.

Poor hygiene and inadequate care in nursing homes can result in:
• Bed sores
• Ulcers
• Skin and eye infections
• Internal parasites
• Ingrown fingernails/toenails
• Cataracts
• Kidney infections
• Malnutrition
• Oral pain and gum infections
• Dehydration
• Depression
• Lowered sense of well-being and self-esteem

Because their immune systems may already be compromised by preexisting medical conditions or advanced age, elderly people are more likely to develop infections from germs spread by poor hygiene. The US Department of Health and Human Services reports that infections are a leading cause of death in long term care patients, with an average of 1.5 to 2 million infections occurring in nursing homes each year. The risk of infectious and bacterial diseases such as colds and influenza can be significantly diminished by hygienic practices such as proper bathing, hand washing and oral care. Instead, these infections impact the health of thousands of people and cost billions of dollars in medical costs, with an estimated $1.4 billion spent each year.

While poor personal hygiene may seem minor compared to more egregious forms of neglect in nursing homes, it is a serious hazard that can result in severe medical conditions and even death. Nursing homes are required by law to maintain good hygiene for their residents.

If a resident has been injured or suffers premature death as a result of improper hygiene at a nursing home facility, a lawsuit may be the logical next step and can result in compensation awarded to the victim and/or their family. Contact Okun, Oddo & Babbat to arrange a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.

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