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Suing for Hospital Negligence

March 7th, 2013

Hospitals have a responsibility to protect patients against the consequences of negligent errors. In the past, hospitals were mostly charities, run by churches and municipalities, and you may have contributed time and money to your local hospital. Most people would not have thought of suing their local hospital any more than suing their church.

Hospitals are Big Businesses

Hospitals picture themselves as friendly, open-door places where you can go for care. That is true, and most hospitals do a wonderful job; however, hospitals are also big businesses. The price of a semi-private room plus three meals can cost more than $1,200.00 per day. If you take two aspirin, add $75.00 or more to your bill. Doctors, who work for hospitals, such as x-ray specialists and pathologists, often have contracts under which they receive large fees for services that the hospital bills to your insurance company.

Doctors Employed by the Hospital

Some hospitals employ surgeons and medical specialists, who bill patients for their services as if they were independent doctors. But, the doctors then endorse these payments over to the hospital in return for a salary. These kickbacks may amount to 4 or 5 times as much as the hospital pays the doctor. If you have paid a hospital doctor for x-rays, anesthesia, or some other service, look at the record of your payment to see if it was endorsed over to the hospital. This is not to criticize hospitals, but to show you they work like any other big business.

Funding from Federal and State Governments

Hospitals do not derive all their income from patients and health insurance. Many of them receive funding from the federal and state governments. This is your tax money that hospitals receive for giving you care. If your care was not appropriate, don’t be afraid to speak up. It’s your money.

Malpractice Insurance to Protect Patients

All hospitals carry workers’ compensation insurance for the protection of their employees and malpractice insurance for the protection of their patients. No one challenges the right of an injured, hospital employee to file for workers’ compensation. There is no valid reason why you should not seek just compensation, if you are injured by hospital negligence.

The Rule Is:
When you file a medical malpractice lawsuit, you are asserting your legal rights in seeking just compensation from funds that have been set aside as much for your protection as the doctor’s or the hospital’s.

Thousands of patients suffer, due to malpractice, and do not get the compensation they deserve. If you are a victim of malpractice, or your client is a victim of malpractice, contact JD.MD, Inc., today at 800-225-5363. We can provide you with an initial case evaluation or an expert’s opinion.

Malpractice Insurance Industry vs. Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

February 20th, 2013

The malpractice insurance industry and medical societies have mounted nationwide campaigns to frighten the public by implying that if they file a medical malpractice lawsuit to assert their legitimate rights, the medical profession may disappear, and they will not be able to get medical care. And, it is true that several states’ laws concerning malpractice need revision. Some victims of the most flagrant medical malpractice receive little or nothing, while other people receive sizeable awards for questionable claims.

Malpractice Awards for Questionable Claims

An elderly New York woman was partially disabled by medical malpractice in a hospital ER. Her disability was not total, consisting mainly of difficulties in walking and digesting food. She was unemployed, so her financial losses were minimal. Yet, a jury awarded her several million dollars. In a Pennsylvania case, a woman claimed that a CT scan had destroyed her psychic powers. Even though the judge warned the jury that she had not offered proof of any malpractice, or that she had been harmed in any way, the jury gave her a sizeable award. At the other extreme, are cases in which injured patients, with bona fide claims and serious injuries, get nothing. But, exorbitant insurance costs and malpractice awards for questionable claims are the exception not the rule.

Malpractice Insurance Premiums are a Business Expense

Doctors pay their malpractice insurance premiums, whether they are sued or not. It is a business expense that doctors pay for the privilege of practicing medicine or dentistry, the same as the insurance that automobile companies carry to compensate people, who are injured or killed by design defects in their cars. Even in New York, where malpractice premiums are some of the highest in the country, they are a small percentage of the doctor’s income – a business expense, and it is 100% deductible.

The Rule Is: If you do not assert your rights, and many malpractice victims do not, the insurance company gets to keep the money that was set aside for your protection. The doctor does not receive a refund of his malpractice insurance premiums, if he is not sued.

Thousands of patients suffer, due to malpractice, and do not get the compensation they deserve. If you are a victim of malpractice, or your client is a victim of malpractice, contact JD.MD, Inc., today at 800-225-5363. We can provide you with an initial case evaluation or an expert’s opinion.

JD.MD, Inc. Listed on Top 100 Sites for Nursing and Medical Law

February 8th, 2013

OnlineFNP.com, a website for students to learn about accredited Family Nurse Practitioner programs in the U.S., has featured JD.MD, Inc., on its list of Top 100 Sites for Nursing and Medical Law. To view the complete list, go to OnlineFNP.com.

OnlineFNP.com connects students to degree programs; it provides information about family nurse practitioner career options, financial aid, and education.

JD.MD Provides Information to and a Connection between Professionals in the Medical and Legal Fields

Our Medical and Dental Abbreviations Glossary is used by medical and legal professionals, hospitals, and teaching institutions in the United States and Canada. Although the glossary is unofficial, these abbreviations appear over and over in medical and dental charts.

JD.MD has medical and dental expert witnesses in all specialties throughout the United States and Canada. Our experts are available to review medical malpractice cases and dental malpractice cases and testify in those cases they believe have merit. Click here for more information.

There is no charge to join JD.MD’s roster of medical and dental expert witnesses. Contact us at information@jdmd.com to receive a Confidential Registration form.

Suing a Doctor for Malpractice

January 24th, 2013

People used to think that suing a pillar of the community for medical malpractice or dental malpractice was a terrible thing. This point of view was encouraged by the medical and dental professions, whose attitude was, “How can people be so ungrateful when we are dedicated to saving humanity?” And, when the doctor was a family friend and confidant, that was a valid argument.

Many Doctors are Highly-Paid Technicians

But today, that relationship is basically gone. Many doctors are highly-paid technicians, who have spent a lot of time and money being educated, so they can earn a very good living. They are super specialized, which means they are concerned with treating one part of the body or one organ, and most of them have little free time for a patient’s personal problems or anything outside their narrow field of expertise. They see patients as technical problems to be cured and gotten on their way as quickly as possible. Some doctors see as many as a 70 patients a day. How much time do you think such a doctor has to listen to your personal problems?

Even the Most Learned Professors Make Mistakes

In the past, when the doctor was the trusted family advisor, a medical malpractice or dental malpractice lawsuit was considered a breach of trust and friendship and a terrible accusation that the doctor had committed an unprofessional act. A doctor, who was sued, felt his reputation and career were on the line. Those days are gone. Today, the law recognizes that even the most learned professors make mistakes. When people are injured by medical malpractice or dental malpractice, they should be compensated.

Many Doctors are Sued, and It Does Not Hurt Their Prestige or Incomes

Even if your claim is successful, you are not going to bankrupt the doctor, or take away his home, or lifetime earnings. When a doctor is sued for medical malpractice or dental malpractice, his insurance company hires a lawyer, pays the expenses of his defense, and any settlement or judgment against him. If the doctor’s insurance company settles the case out of court, the doctor may not have to spend a single afternoon away from his office, explaining his actions in court. In fact, defense lawyers often ask the judge to issue an order that any settlement paid to a victim remain “sealed and secret”, so it is difficult or impossible to find out whether the doctor was successfully sued for malpractice, and his reputation and income remain intact. Today, many doctors are sued, and it does not hurt their prestige or their incomes.

Thousands of patients suffer, due to malpractice, and do not get the compensation they deserve. If you are a victim of malpractice, or your client is a victim of malpractice, contact JD.MD, Inc., today at 800-225-5363. We can provide you with an initial case evaluation or an expert’s opinion.

The Billion Dollar Malpractice Trust Fund

January 8th, 2013

Juries see a medical malpractice or a dental malpractice lawsuit not as a contest between the doctor and his injured patient, to be divided on strict principles of right and wrong, like a criminal trial. Jurors are concerned with finding ways and funds to compensate the victims of malpractice.

Of course, the concern of jurors will not do any good, if it does not result in adequate compensation for your injuries and losses. Luckily, there is the equivalent of a billion dollar malpractice trust fund that has been established for your protection and compensation.

Judgment Proof Doctors

Doctors carry malpractice insurance for their own protection. In the 1970’s the cost of malpractice insurance rose dramatically. The reaction of many doctors was to reduce their insurance premiums by carrying less insurance or going bareback, meaning they had no malpractice insurance at all. That created the risk that a successful lawsuit against them could result in a levy against their personal wealth. So, doctors set up legal dodges, such as putting all their assets in the names of their wives or children, or setting up corporations or trust funds, which were protected from malpractice judgments. A court award or judgment is just a piece of paper if you cannot enforce it, and many victims of malpractice found that they could not obtain justice through the courts.

Plaintiffs discovered that the doctors who injured them had no insurance and were Judgment Proof, meaning plaintiffs could not enforce court judgments when they won. Plaintiffs then began suing the hospitals, where the malpractice occurred, under the legal theory known as Joint and Several Liability. Hospital insurance premiums soared. Since many hospitals are financed largely by public funds, the states and municipalities found themselves having to spend large sums to care for severely-injured malpractice victims of judgment-proof doctors and for hospital insurance.

Mandatory Malpractice Insurance

As a result, today all hospitals and health plans require doctors to carry adequate malpractice insurance, in order to have a staff appointment and treat patients in the institution. Many states have also started to institute mandatory malpractice insurance requirements to obtain licensure.

The requirement for mandatory malpractice insurance by states and hospitals is not for the doctors’ protection; they can do that for themselves. It is a billion dollar malpractice trust fund that has been created for your protection and compensation. If you can show that you were injured by someone’s negligence, you are entitled to be compensated by this fund.

Thousands of patients suffer, due to malpractice, and do not get the compensation they deserve. If you are a victim of malpractice, or your client is a victim of malpractice, contact JD.MD, Inc., today at 800-225-5363. We can provide you with an initial case evaluation or an expert’s opinion.

Compensation for Medical Malpractice

November 28th, 2012

If you followed our earlier blog posts, you should know what constitutes medical malpractice and whether you were a victim. If you think you have a legitimate complaint, the next blog posts will tell you how to assert your legal rights and obtain compensation for medical malpractice.

Compensatory Damages

If you have been injured by someone’s negligence, the law gives you the right to compensation. Bringing a medical malpractice lawsuit against a doctor or a hospital is not being vindictive but simply seeking what is legally and rightfully yours for the injury you have suffered. In fact, the law calls awards for malpractice Compensatory Damages, which means just what it says. They are meant to compensate you for the losses you suffered through a doctor’s or hospital’s negligence.

Loss Allocation

Before 1949 many workers, who were injured on the job, received nothing to compensate them for their injuries. If a worker suffered an injury that made it impossible to work, his or her family was reduced to poverty. After 1949 all states had workers’ compensation laws. Employers in each state paid into a fund that took care of injured workers. It paid their medical expenses, rehabilitated them, and paid a pension if they were permanently disabled. The employer pays contributions, as a cost of doing business, whether his employees are injured or not. It is a way to help people, who have been injured through no fault of their own. It is what lawmakers and lawyers call Loss Allocation.

Today, medical malpractice insurance is considered a Loss Allocation like workers’ compensation. It is no more an insult to ask a doctor for compensation for medical malpractice than to ask your employer’s workers’ compensation to compensate you for injuries you receive on the job. A doctors’ textbook on medical malpractice defense advises them to carry adequate malpractice insurance because: “Accidents do happen, and patients do get injured. So it is only humane that funds be available to compensate the victim of your mistake.”

Thousands of patients suffer, due to malpractice, and do not get the compensation they deserve. If you are malpractice victim, or your client is a malpractice victim, contact JD.MD, Inc., today at 800-225-5363. We can provide you with a Comprehensive Screening Report, an initial case evaluation, by a qualified medical reviewer.

General Hospital Liability in Medical Malpractice Cases

November 9th, 2012

Hospitals are responsible for their employees, contractors, and staff. A hospital has the same obligation as any commercial enterprise to protect people, who enter its premises, whether they are patients or not. Here are some examples of medica

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alpractice cases that challenged a hospital’s liability.

1. The hospital must maintain its buildings and equipment in good operating condition.

In Wisconsin, a woman went to visit her mother in a hospital and left her children outside. When they climbed onto a ledge to look in their grandmother’s window, one child fell off the ledge and suffered a head injury. The hospital said it was not liable. The child was not allowed inside as a visitor because of its age, and the hospital had no control over the child’s actions outside the building. The court disagreed and said the hospital had a duty to make its premises safe for everyone, inside and out.

2. Patients must be protected from dangerous conditions and self harm, especially if they are confused, drugged, suicidal, mentally or physically impaired.

In a Kentucky case, a hospital patient tried to walk down a flight of stairs while under sedation. She fell and was killed. The court held that the hospital was negligent in failing to keep her restrained in bed, when she was mentally confused.

3. Patients must be protected from harm or invasion of privacy by other patients or intruders.

In Massachusetts, a reporter disguised as a doctor sneaked into the delivery room. When his story appeared in a newspaper, the patient sued the reporter and the hospital for invasion of privacy and emotional distress.

The hospital said it was not responsible, since the reporter had gotten in without anyone’s knowledge. The doctors and nurses in the delivery room thought he was a new hospital orderly. But, the court said the hospital was liable, because it failed to give the patient the protection she had the right to expect.

4. Patients must be protected from hospital-acquired infections.

These are infections that patients contract from other patients or hospital personnel. It was thought, these infections were the result of germs passing from one patient to another. But, with sterilization techniques and antibiotics, chances are a hospital-acquired infection is due to some negligence on the part of the nurses or doctors.

Important Exception

It is difficult to sue a hospital, if you are injured by normal hospital conditions and practices. People who slip and fall on highly-polished floors will often waste a lot of money and effort trying to sue the hospital as if it were a department store. This is a non-starter, because hospitals are supposed to have highly-polished floors. A Mississippi man fell and suffered a concussion while waiting outside the operating room, where his wife was undergoing surgery. He claimed that he was overcome by chemical odors from the operating room. The court said the odors were normal in a hospital and dismissed his lawsuit.

Thousands of patients suffer, due to malpractice, and do not get the compensation they deserve. If you are a malpractice victim, or your client is a malpractice victim, contact JD.MD, Inc., today at 800-225-5363. We can provide you with a Comprehensive Screening Report, an initial case evaluation, of your medical malpractice cases.

What Happens When you are Injured by a Private Duty Nurse?

October 19th, 2012

Private duty nurses fall into a special category. They are licensed, trained nurses, who work with one client in a hospital, nursing home, or alternative setting. They may be independent contractors, and work through a referral agency, or they m

ay have their own nursing service.

If you were the victim of medical malpractice by a private duty nurse, you may find it difficult to pin down liability or recover your damages. When a private duty nurse works through a referral agency, the agency’s only responsibility may be to verify that the nurse is licensed by the state. Legally, the private duty nurse is your employee. You hire the nurse, and he or she works directly for you.

Since private duty nurses are not employees of the referral agency, your doctor, or the hospital, in most instances, they cannot be held responsible for the nurse’s malpractice. Furthermore, in some states, private duty nurses are not required to carry medical malpractice insurance or assets to satisfy a malpractice award. You might be able to file a claim against the referral agency, if you can show that it failed to screen its nurses properly and sent you someone, who was unqualified or had a bad record. But, as a rule, your recourse may be limited, if you are the victim of medical malpractice by a private duty nurse you have hired.

Every year, thousands of victims of malpractice suffer, by not getting the compensation they deserve. If you have been a victim of malpractice by a private duty nurse, do not hesitate to contact JD.MD, Inc., today.

We can provide you with a Comprehensive Screening Report, an initial evaluation of your case, by a qualified Nursing Reviewer. Contact our office at 1-800-225-5363 and gain some peace of mind.

What Happens When a Hospital is Not Equipped to Treat You?

October 2nd, 2012

Let us say that you were badly injured in an automobile accident and taken to a hospital ER, where the doctor said the hospital was not equipped to treat your injury and told you to go to another hospital. The delay caused serious complications. W

as the refusal to treat you malpractice? No. A hospital does not have to accept patients it is not equipped to treat.

A hospital not only does not have to accept a patient that it is not equipped to treat, but it is medical malpractice for it to do so. If you were admitted to a hospital’s ER, and it was later found that you had a bad result, because the hospital did not have the right specialists available, or the necessary equipment to treat your condition, you could sue for medical malpractice.

In a Florida case, a man suffered a ruptured spleen and an eye injury in a fall. He was admitted to a general hospital, where his spleen was removed. Because the general hospital did not have the equipment to treat his eye injury, his doctor ordered him transferred to a specialty hospital that treated only eye cases. When he arrived at that hospital, the ER physician refused to admit him, because the specialty hospital had no facilities to care for the major abdominal surgery he had undergone at the general hospital. The patient was returned to the general hospital, which readmitted him and kept him for another month without any treatment of the eye injury. The patient lost the eye.

When this man filed a lawsuit, the court said the general hospital was not guilty of medical malpractice for transferring him, because the general hospital could not treat his eye injury. And, the specialty eye hospital was correct in refusing to accept him, because it was not equipped to handle a serious abdominal case. However, it found the doctor and the general hospital both guilty

of medical malpractice for allowing him to return there when they were not equipped to treat the eye injury, and there was a nearby university hospital that could have cared for both injuries.

What is the Borrowed Servant Doctrine in Medical Malpractice?

September 18th, 2012

This is a special category you should know about, if you think a hospital employee was responsible for your injuries. Earlier, we said that a hospital may not always be responsible for the actions of it employees. What if a nurse is assisting a doctor at surgery and makes a mistake while she is acting under his orders? What if an x-ray technician is a payroll employee of the hospital but works under the direct orders of the radiologist? This is what is known as a borrowed servant. When a hospital employee is under the direct control of an independent doctor or agency, the person, who is actually controlling the employee’s actions, is responsible for them.

For example, a surgeon cannot tell another doctor, who is a qualified specialist, how to practice his specialty, so he has no responsibility for the actions of a board certified anesthesiologist. However, if the anesthesiologist is a resident (doctor in training), the surgeon is supposed to teach and supervise him, and the resident becomes his borrowed servant during the surgery. But, the surgeon is only responsible for what the Anesthesiology resident does while under his supervision. The hospital, which pays the resident’s salary, is responsible for what he does when the surgeon is not there. A nurse anesthetist is neither a doctor nor a trainee, so the surgeon is supposed to supervise everything the nurse anesthetist does. He or she is the surgeon’s borrowed servant for as long as he or she works on his patient, and the surgeon is responsible for everything a nurse anesthetist does to his patient, whether he is present or not.

This can get complicated. Suppose you have an operation and a sponge is sewed up inside your abdomen. Someone has committed medical malpractice by failing to count the sponges before the surgeon closed your incision and warn him that one was missing. But, who is responsible? The scrub nurse was working under the surgeon’s direct supervision, so he would be liable if it were the scrub nurse’s error. But, in many hospitals, the surgeon is responsible for the sponge count, and that would raise the questions we have just discussed. As a qualified specialist, the surgeon is fully responsible for his own actions. But, if he does most of his work in that hospital, it could be responsible for his mistake. Maybe it was the circulating nurse, who is like a general handyman in the operating room, and works under the orders of the head nurse. The hospital would be responsible for her actions. In some states, you might want to hold her personally responsible.

There is also another form of liability that is recognized in some states. It is called the Captain of the Ship Doctrine. Under the Borrowed Servant Doctrine, a doctor is usually only responsible for what a hospital employee does in his presence.

The Captain of the Ship Doctrine holds the doctor responsible, whether he was present or not, if he had the power to control the actions of the person who committed the malpractice.

Laws governing the theories of Borrowed Servants and Captain of the Ship can be complicated and vary from state to state. Your lawyer will have to make a thorough investigation and decide who was liable.

     
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