Tag Archives: health care

Boston Jury Awards $15 million in Medical Malpractice Verdict for Death of 3-year-old

The Boston Globe reports that a Boston jury awarded $15 million to the parents of a 3-year-old Pennsylvania child whose 2004 death at Children’s Hospital Boston was the focus of a malpractice lawsuit. The jury found that former physician-in-chief at Children’s Dr. James Lock and anesthesiologist Dr. James A. DiNardo were negligent in the death of Jason Fox during treatment him for congenital heart disease. The lawsuit claims that the doctors lied to the Fox family about the treatments Jason was receiving at Children’s. The actual damages received will be less, due to an agreement reached while the jury was deliberating, but the exact number has not been specified.

Trial Lawyers Seek to Get the Facts Out on Health Care Reform and Medical Malpractice

The American Association for Justice has bought up all the advertising space at Union Station in Washington D.C. to remind the political decision makers that 98,000 people die each year from preventable medical errors.  Both Politico and the Wall St. Journal have stories on the campaign.  Click here to see photos of the advertising blitz.

Here’s AAJ’s president Anthony Tarricone:

In our continued efforts to protect the rights of patients, today, we launched a new ad campaign in the Union Station metro in Washington, DC, targeting Senate staffers commuting to work.

The station has over 30 spots for ads, including billboards, banners and lightboxes. All the ads on the platform include stories of people who have been injured by medical negligence, with other messages displayed throughout the station. It directs readers to visit www.98000reasons.org, where they can view reports, fact sheets, and stories of real people injured by medical negligence.

Click here to learn the facts on medical malpractice and health care reform.

Kent Hospital Admits Mistakes; Settles James Woods Medical Malpractice Case

After several weeks of trial, the case of  James Woods, et. al. v. Kelli Naylor, et. al. KC-2007-0630 has now settled.  The Providence Journal reports the following.

…Tuesday afternoon, just outside the courthouse doors, a beaming Woods and his mother were arm-in-arm with hospital president Sandra Coletta announcing the withdrawal of the lawsuit and a new joint effort by the hospital and the family to improve patient care.

…“We know we’re not perfect at Kent Hospital,” Coletta said. “Mistakes were made. We can do better.”

The news conference announcing the settlement was an astounding turnaround after weeks of testimony during which Woods’ lawyers sought to prove that Kent staff missed or ignored signs of Michael Woods’ impending heart attack and left him unattended on a hospital gurney in a hallway until he was stricken.

Woods, who said he’d filed the suit two years ago with a heart full of anger and bitterness, Tuesday was almost relentless in his praise of Coletta, calling her “very gracious.”

When reporters began questioning Coletta about whether the hospital had erred in its handling of Michael Woods’ case, she got out the words “there’s no question mistakes were made” when Woods abruptly cut her off.

“Let’s not rub anyone’s nose in anything,” he said. Coletta had already apologized to his family, Woods said.

“They did do it [apologized] and people don’t do it,” Woods said. “I don’t want to put her in the position of saying it twice.”

The Journal reports that settlement talks began when Kent Hospital president Sandra Colleta spoke with both James Woods and his mother Martha Dixon and expressed sincere apologies for the death of Michael Woods.  Thereafter, on Tuesday morning the parties worked out a settlement that included an undisclosed amount to provide for Woods’ son and daughters as well as the payment of $1.25 over a five year period to create the Michael J. Woods Institute at Kent Hospital.

The hospital will spend $1.25 million over the next five years to develop policies and procedures to promote patient safety and improve internal communication about patient care, beginning in the emergency room. The effort will be run by a board that will include a Woods family member. The hospital will hire a patient safety officer to coordinate institute efforts.

The public admissions by Kent Hospital and the creation of this Institute focused on patient safety are great news for patients in Rhode Island who have grown weary of report after report of negligence at Rhode Island area hospitals with.

Nurses Union Offers Solutions to Wrong Site Surgeries

Kudos to United Nurses & Allied Professionals director, Rick Brooks, and president Linda McDonald, RN for a compelling Op-Ed in the Providence Journal about ways to address the spate of recent wrong site surgeries in Rhode Island.

As RIH spokesmen have been quick to point out, the epidemic of medical errors is not unique to RIH nor is it a recent phenomenon. Ten years ago, the Institute of Medicine reported that an estimated 98,000 patients die in U.S. hospitals each year due to errors. Yet, despite this call to action, a recent study by Consumer Union reported that the number of preventable hospital deaths has not diminished.

As representatives of the more than 2,000 exceptionally caring and talented registered nurses and other health professionals at RIH, our gut reaction is to circle the wagons and defend our hospital for being the outstanding medical facility that it is. But then, we know that defensiveness is part of the problem that has kept hospitals from getting to the root cause of errors. Thus, to more thoughtfully contribute to the analysis and prevention of medical errors, our union has undertaken a survey of our members to ask for their thoughts on how to prevent harm to patients.

From the hundreds of responses that we have received from our members, several consistent themes have emerged.

Listen to employees: Every patient-care area is unique and one-size-fits-all solutions are unlikely to be successful. Employees know the factors in their work area most likely to cause harm to patients. By enlisting employees and their union representatives in confidential, nonthreatening and respectful discussions, the hospital and its patients will benefit from the unique insights that front-line caregivers can offer.

Slow the pace: Too often, hospitals — and physicians — are driven by the pressures of the bottom line. Monthly financial reports (are we doing better or worse than budgeted?) often cause administrative panic and an excessive preoccupation with revenue and “productivity” (i.e., volume and turnover of patients), rather than a singular focus on safety and providing a positive patient experience.

Communicate clear and consistent policies: Employees report that they are deluged with lengthy, confusing and sometimes contradictory policies and procedures. What’s more, each unfortunate event triggers another onslaught of memos and meetings. For employees to understand and comply with frequently changing protocols, communication must be clear and consistent, and employees must be given adequate time to ask questions, give feedback and practice new approaches before they are implemented.

Provide sufficient staff to ensure manageable workloads: Medical and nursing research has repeatedly documented the obvious — when caregivers are assigned too many patients, bad things are more likely to happen to those patients. Over the years, hospitals across America have continually looked for ways to lower the cost of caring for patients. This has led to higher numbers of patients per nurse, even as hospital patients have become increasingly acute. Safe nurse-to-patient ratios need to be established and adhered to in Rhode Island. (California has established such ratios, which offer a reasonable benchmark for Rhode Island.)

Change the culture: Hospitals have historically been run in a hierarchical and authoritarian fashion that causes many front-line caregivers to be reluctant to speak freely about practices that may, or do, cause harm to patients. In particular, physicians are notorious for their resistance to feedback, not to mention criticism, from registered nurses and other health professionals. Administrators, in turn, have typically taken the “bad apple” approach to medical errors, seeking to root out the individual “responsible” for a mishap, rather than focus on “root cause” analysis of systemic factors. While individuals must certainly be held to the highest professional standards, a culture of blame discourages candor and reduces opportunities for continuous improvement and learning.

These are all common sense solutions generated by the very people who work in Rhode Island hospitals.  I hope that hospital management takes these suggestions to heart.

Update on James Woods Medical Malpractice Case

The Associated Press reports that opening arguments begin Monday in a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the actor James Woods over the death of his 49 year old brother, Michael Woods, at Kent Hospital in Warwick.  Woods alleges that his younger brother received negligent care when he died in 2006 of what was believed to be a heart attack.

The case – James Woods, et. al. v. Kelli Naylor, et. al. KC-2007-0630 – will be heard Monday in front of RI Superior Court Associate Justice Daniel Procaccini.  Mark Decof is representing the plaintiffs and Dave Carroll is representing the defendants.

Update #1The Providence Journal has a good report on the opening arguments.

Update #2: The Providence Journal reports that four witnesses took the stand and described Michael Woods’ symptoms on the day he presented to Kent Hospital.

Update #3: The Providence Journal reports that the emergency room physician and nurse assigned to Woods when he first presented to Kent Hospital took the stand and testified.

Update #4: Another nurse who treated Woods testified in Court according to this report from the Providence Journal.

Update #5: According to the Providence Journal, plaintiff’s expert witness, Dr. Jeffrey Garrett, a Pittsburgh cardiologist, told the jury that the care Woods received fell below the standard care and that had he received the proper care, more likely than not, he would not have died.

Update #6: The Providence Journal reports that the defendant doctor – Kelli A. Naylor, M.D. – took the stand and testified that she ordered a heart monitor for Woods, but her order was not followed.

Update #7: According to the Providence Journal, plaintiff’s expert – Dr. John A. Schriver, chief of emergency medicine at Rochester General Hospital – testified that the Kent Hospital emergency department did not meet the standard of care when they treated Woods on July 26, 2006.  Schriver also testified that had Woods been on a heart monitor and treated with medications commonly given to heart patients, it is more likely than not that Woods would have lived.

Opening Arguments Begin in James Woods Medical Malpractice Case

The Associated Press reports that opening arguments will begin Monday in a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the actor James Woods over the death of his 49 year old brother, Michael Woods, at Kent Hospital in Warwick.  Woods alleges that his younger brother received negligent care when he died in 2006 of what was believed to be a heart attack.

The case – James Woods, et. al. v. Kelli Naylor, et. al. KC-2007-0630 – will be heard Monday in front of RI Superior Court Associate Justice Daniel Procaccini.  Mark Decof is representing the plaintiffs and Dave Carroll is representing the defendants.

UpdateThe Providence Journal has a good report on the opening arguments.

Rhode Island Seminar on Medical Affidavits

The RI Association for Justice has a great seminar next Thursday November 12th with the Honorable Patricia Hurst, Associate Justice of the RI Superior Court, and Attorney Mark Morse.

12:30 – 2 pm (lunch included)

Join us for lunch and an in depth discussion of medical adavits:
1. Statute: RIGL ~9-19-27
2. Authentication vs. Admissibility
3. Strict Construction of Adavits
4. Getting the Medical Records Admitted

Meeting Facility: Providence Marriott.

CLE Info: 1 MCLE credit

More Info: Contact Nancy Striuli at 401 273-8820.

View additional detailed information here.