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April 2015 Archives

Healthcare Fraud and Medical Malpractice

4263660_s-300x300.jpgImage credit: 123RF Stock Photo[/caption] Medical malpractice happens when a patient is injured or killed as a result of inadequate medical care and negligence. Common reasons for medical malpractice include: misdiagnosis, lack of communication among medical staff, lack of training, inadequate physical qualifications, and various careless actions. In some cases, however, medical malpractice may be precipitated by greed. Greed within the health care industry is so pervasive that, according to the Chicago Tribune, approximately $60 billion of the $800 billion paid to Medicare and Medicaid for medical services each year is attributed to Medicare/Medicaid fraud. Evidence also suggests that doctors often order unnecessary tests and procedures - whether due to negligence or greed. According to Consumer Reports data, nearly half of primary care physicians say that their own patients get too much medical care, and the Congressional Budget Office says that up to 30 percent of health care administered in the U.S. is unnecessary. Some estimates indicate that $700 billion is spent on unnecessary tests and treatments. Not only are unnecessary procedures costly, but they can also expose patients to additional medical risks. For instance, CT scans may increase a person's lifetime risk of cancer and the dyes from CT scans and MRIs can cause kidney failure. In 2013, doctors and executives at Chicago's Sacred Heart Hospital were charged with ordering unnecessary medical procedures, including unnecessary tracheotomies, and according to the Chicago Tribune, one doctor even overdosed patients with sedatives in order to necessitate tracheotomies and lengthy hospital stays. Even when unnecessary treatments are performed as a result of medical error, rather than fraud, doctors and hospitals often benefit from their own mistakes. Data shows that hospitals actually profit from their own medical mistakes because Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance companies pay the hospitals for the longer stays and extra medical care that patients need to treat preventable medical complications. Healthcare fraud and medical malpractice often involves medications and the pharmaceutical industry, as well. For instance, in 2013, health care giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and its subsidiaries agreed to pay more than $2.2 billion in criminal and civil fines to resolve allegations that the company committed off-label marketing practices in connection its prescription drugs Risperdal, Invega, and Natrecor. Since off-label uses of prescription drugs are not adequately tested and proven to be safe and effective, the use of prescription drugs for off-label uses can lead to serious health problems and medical conditions. For instance, J&J's drug Risperdal was originally approved to treat schizophrenia, but J&J began marketing the drug to doctors for the treatment of dementia and other psychological disorders - medical conditions for which the drug was not proven to safely and effectively treat. As a result, many patients were put at risk for potential medical problems if they were prescribed Risperdal for conditions other than schizophrenia. If you suspect that you or a loved one were the victim of medical malpractice with the result of inexperience or health care fraud, contact the Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Steinberg, Goodman & Kalish to schedule a free consultation to discuss a possible medical malpractice claim.   Steinberg Goodman & Kalish ( is dedicated to protecting victims and their families.  We handle medical malpractice, product liability, personal injury, wrongful death, auto accidents, professional negligence, birth trauma, and railroad law matters. Contact us at (888) 325-7299 or (312) 445-9084.   Sources:

Questions to Ask your Doctor before Surgery

 pVitalsScreenSurgery_Dollarphotoclub_57054657.jpg Surgical malpractice is one of the most common types of preventable medical error, with approximately 80 surgical "never events" - those errors that should never happen - occurring every week.  According to research conducted by Johns Hopkins University, surgical "never events" happen at least 4,000 times a year in the United States and more than 80,000 "never events" occurred between 1990 and 2010. Common types of surgical "never events" include: instruments unintentionally left behind in the patient, wrong procedure performed, wrong surgical site, and surgery performed on the wrong patient. In addition to surgical never events, there are a number of other reasons that surgical malpractice can occur, including anesthesiology errors, infection, miscommunication among medical staff, hospital negligence, and doctor negligence. The following are some questions that patients can ask prior to surgery to help minimize the risk of surgical error:

Understanding a Personal Injury Lawsuit

 10337597_s-300x225 (1).jpg If you were injured as a result of the actions - or inactions of someone else - you may wonder if you have a legal right to money damages. In order to pursue a personal injury lawsuit, you must file a claim within the applicable statute of limitations. Statutes of limitations are the time limits on when a legal claim can be filed and the failure to file a personal injury lawsuit, or accept an insurance settlement, within the applicable statute of limitations will result in the forfeiture of your right to pursue a personal injury claim. The applicable statute of limitations varies depending on the jurisdiction, the defendant, and the cause of action. In Illinois, a personal injury lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of the accident. In the case of medical malpractice, a lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date that the patient became aware of, or should have become aware of, the medical error. If a personal injury accident or medical error results in death, however, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of the decedent's death. If you file a personal injury lawsuit within the applicable statute of limitations, you will then file a Complaint in the appropriate court of law alleging that the defendant was negligent and such negligence was the cause of the plaintiff's injuries. After the Complaint is filed, the defendant will have an opportunity to file an Answer and assert any affirmative defenses. If the court rules that the case has merit, the parties will undergo the discovery process, which includes interrogatories, the production of requested documents, and depositions of the parties and their witnesses. Depending on the complexity of the case, the discovery process can take several months to complete. Discovery may also include investigations into public information available online, such as social media accounts, blogs, and news articles. For this reason, it is important that parties to a personal injury lawsuit exercise caution when using social media. Ideally, parties would stay off social media while the lawsuit is pending, but if that is not possible, they should take the following preventative actions:

Understanding Medical Malpractice Laws

8943758_s-200x300 (1).jpgPhoto Credit: 123RF Stock Photo[/caption] Medical malpractice holds doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers liable for injuries caused by negligence.  It is important to understand that not all medical errors are considered medical malpractice. In order to prove a medical malpractice claim, the injured party must show the following:

What Property Owners Need to Know about Premises Liability

10422524_s-300x199 (1).jpgPhoto Credit: 123RF Stock Photo[/caption] Accidents and injuries that happen outside of your own home may implicate issues of premises liability. While premises liability is a complex legal theory, with several nuances, it basically holds property owners - including homeowners, bars, restaurants, hotels, retail stores, and sporting venues, among others - liable for accidents and injuries that happen on their property as a result of negligence, failure to warn of a hazard, or other inadequate protection.

Teens and Distracted Driving

 pDrivingOnPhone_Dollarphotoclub_49170806-300x199.jpg The dangers of distracted driving are well-known and widely publicized. In fact, the risks of distracted driving are so significant that many states, including Illinois, have implemented bans on the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. Unfortunately, many drivers do not heed the warnings about distracted driving, and teen drivers are among the biggest offenders. According to information released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, distracted driving amongst teens is likely a significantly more serious problem than previously believed. After analyzing 1,700 auto crash videos involving teen drivers, investigators found that driver distraction was a factor in nearly 6 of 10 moderate-to-severe crashes - which is four times as many as represented in official estimates based on police reports. Investigators found that driver distraction was a factor in 58% of all crashes studied, including 89% of road-departure crashes and 76% of rear-end crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) previously estimated that distracted driving was a factor in only 14% of teen driver crashes - an estimate that some have called "absurdly low" given the widespread use of cellphones by teens. Experts say that distracted driving now exceeds drunk driving as the leading cause of traffic accidents, and the study showed that teen drivers were distracted by an electronic device nearly a quarter of the time they were behind the wheel. Among the most common forms of distraction leading up to teen car crashes were:

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