Find out How Pennsylvania Hospitals Fare in New Survey

November 26th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Medical Malpractice

Find out How Pennsylvania Hospitals Fare in New Survey
Too many patients are injured in hospitals, where safety standards are often below those in other industries. In fact, more than 1,000 Americans die each day from preventable hospital errors, according to The Leapfrog Group, an organization that collects and reports hospital data and gives hospitals a grade of A to F for patient safety. These ratings make a difference. Hospitals given a B rating by Leapfrog had a 9 percent higher risk of avoidable death than A hospitals; C hospitals had a 35 percent higher risk; and the risk in D and F hospitals was 50 percent higher. Recently, Leapfrog has come out with new safety grades for hospitals across the country, including Pennsylvania, grading hospitals on how well they prevent accidents and errors. Examining them can help you find the hospital where you are least likely to suffer mishaps such as getting an infection or the wrong medication or dose, being allowed to fall while groggy, having a surgical tool left inside, or receiving substandard discharge instructions – all of which can be a cause of hospital malpractice. Leapfrog has its drawbacks.  It needs to be understood that Leapfrog gets…


October 29th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Medical Malpractice

Nicolaou v. Martin, No. 44 MAP 2017 (Pa. S. Ct. October 17, 2018) Baer, J.  This appeal presents the issue of whether Appellants Nancy and Nicholas Nicolaou (collectively referred to as “Plaintiffs”) satisfied the discovery rule so as to toll the running of the statute of limitations on their medical malpractice action filed against Appellee health care providers (collectively referred to as “Defendants”) for failing to diagnose and treat Mrs. Nicolaou’s Lyme disease. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants, deeming Plaintiffs’ action time-barred. The Superior [J-13-2018] - 2 Court affirmed, holding that the discovery rule did not toll the statute of limitations because, as a matter of law, Plaintiffs failed to establish that they pursued their action with reasonable diligence. For the reasons set forth herein, we hold that summary judgment was granted improperly because the determination of whether Plaintiffs acted with due diligence under the circumstances presented is one of fact for a jury to decide. Accordingly, we vacate the judgment of the Superior Court, reverse the order granting summary judgment, and remand to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. Central…

Mental Health Procedures Act, Immunity, and Gross Negligence

August 9th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Medical Malpractice

Dean v. Bowling Green Brandywine, 2018 Pa. Super. LEXIS 762 (July 2, 2018) Panella, J.  The Act applies to voluntary inpatient treatment of mentally ill persons.  The Act does not define the term “mentally ill person.”  Andrew Johnson was 23 when he voluntarily applied for admission to Bowling Green Brandywine Treatment Center.  He was suffering from an addiction to opiates and benzodiazepines.  He died at the hospital.  The question was whether the various people sued received the immunity provided by the gross negligence standard?  Dr. Rana provided psychiatric evaluation.  Because Dr. Rana was engaged in the diagnosis, evaluation, therapy or rehabilitation of mental illness in Johnson, the trial court did not err in concluding that Dr. Rana was covered by the limited immunity provided by the MHPA.  As to Dr. Duncklee and Dr. Plumb, emergency room physicians who treated Johnson after he had been transferred by ambulance, the record is far from clear as to whether they had diagnosed and treated Johnson for mental illness.  The trial court erred in applying limited immunity under the MHPA to Johnson’s claims against Dr. Duncklee.  Dr. Plumb also indicated Johnson’s medical history included…

Injury To a Third Party

August 9th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Medical Malpractice

Laura L. Maas v. Presbyterian, 2018 Pa. Super. LEXIS 752 (June 29, 2018) Bowes, J.  The facts giving rise to this cause of action are as follows. On May 29, 2008, Terrence Andrews attacked and killed Lisa Maas, a neighbor who lived four doors away in his Oakland apartment building. Mr. Andrews had a long history of mental illness. He had been an inpatient at Mayview State Hospital, where he was diagnosed with, inter alia, paranoid personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder. He had attempted suicide on several occasions and suffered opioid and cocaine dependence. In 2006, he was transitioned to the CTT, and placed in a personal care home. It was at that location that defendant Michelle Barwell, M.D., a psychiatrist who worked with the CTT, first saw him. Four days later, Pittsburgh Police responded to a call of a possible domestic dispute at Hampshire Hall. The officers observed Mr. Andrews, covered in blood, leaving the fourth floor apartment of eighteen-year-old Lisa Maas, a Pennsylvania Culinary Institute student. Ms. Maas was dead due to multiple stab wounds from scissors. Mr. Andrews told police that he did it, and asked…

Medical Malpractice Copays

August 7th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Medical Malpractice

Mulberry Square Elder Care and Rehabilitation Center v. Department of Human Services, 2018 Pa. Cmwlth. LEXIS 352 (July 26, 2018) Simpson, J.  Mulberry Square Elder Care and Rehabilitation Center (Nursing Facility) petitions for review from an order of the Secretary of the Department of Human Services (Department).  The Secretary affirmed the Bureau of Hearings and Appeals’ (BHA) order adopting the Administrative Law Judge’s (ALJ) recommendation denying relief and rejecting Nursing Facility’s billing practice.  Specifically, the Department disallowed Nursing Facility’s practice of recouping unpaid copayments from residents eligible for medical assistance by billing the Department for the copays as medical expenses.  The Department also concluded this practice constituted balance-billing prohibited by applicable law.  Nursing Facility argues the Department did not promulgate a regulation explicitly precluding its billing practice.  Discerning no error below, we affirm.


July 3rd, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Medical Malpractice

Barnhill v. Storm, 2018 Phila. Ct. Com. Pl. LEXIS 35 (June 1, 2018) Massiah-Jackson, J.  Defendant Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (“CHOP”) filed a motion for partial summary judgment on the issue of corporate negligence.  First, the defendant asserted that the expert report submitted by plaintiff Barnhill was based on speculation and conjecture and was inadmissible.  Further, CHOP asserted that the negligence, if any, claimed by plaintiff was a decision made by co-defnedant Philip B. Storm, MD to surgically resect into Ms. Barnhill’s brain on December 15, 2014, without the use of intraoperative angiography.  Thus, CHOP claimed that the defendant hospital was not directly/corporately negligent for an independent action by the physician. After careful consideration of the issues presented, it was apparent that material facts were in dispute; that insufficient evidence existed to make out a prima facie case; and, there was sufficient evidence where a jury might find in favor of the non-moving party.  The court was unable to conclude that summary judgment was appropriate as a matter of law.

Estates Forfeiture Medical Malpractice

June 28th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Medical Malpractice

Estate of Charles L. Small, 2018 Phila. Ct. Com. Pl. LEXIS 36 (June 7, 2018) Overton, J.  Juanita Small filed an appeal of this Court’s February 27, 2018 Decree denying her Petition for Forfeiture of Estate.  Appellant asserted that Appellee forfeited his right or interest in their deceased son’s $90,000 medical malpractice settlement.  This court finds that Charles L. Small was not a dependent child pursuant to 20 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 2106 and therefore the forfeiture statute is inapplicable to the case at bar. Charles L. Small died intestate on July 11, 2013 at the age of 37.  Letters of Administration were granted to Juanita Small (“Appellant”), Charles Small’s mother, on November 26, 2013.  A medical malpractice claim was filed in Delaware County and settled in the amount of $90,000.  Appellant petitioned this court for forfeiture of estate pursuant to 20 Pa. C.S. § 2106(b).  Appellant asserted that Laverne Dollard (“Appellee”), Charles Small’s father, forfeited any right to the proceeds of the Estate of Charles L. Small, Deceased. Appellant asserts this Court abused its discretion and committed reversible error failing to apply the forfeiture statute to make a…


June 28th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Medical Malpractice

Walters v. UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside, 2018 Pa. LEXIS 2999 (June 19, 2018) Wecht, J.  In these consolidated cases, we granted allowance of appeal to determine whether and to what extent a hospital and a health care staffing agency have a legal duty to prevent a terminated employee from causing harm to patients at another health care facility. Plaintiffs claim that David Kwiatkowski, a radiology technician formerly employed at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital (“UPMC”), who was placed there by staffing agency Maxim Healthcare Services, Inc. (“Maxim”), engaged in the diversion and substitution of intravenous fentanyl. Specifically, Kwiatkowski injected himself with fentanyl from a preloaded syringe, refilled the syringe with saline or another substance, and then replaced the now-contaminated syringe where it could be used by others to inject patients. In doing so years later at a Kansas hospital, Kwiatkowski allegedly communicated hepatitis C to Plaintiffs, who were patients at that hospital. Pursuant to federal regulation, UPMC (but not Maxim) indisputably had a legal obligation to report the diversion of controlled substances to the United States Department of Justice’s Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”). UPMC failed to do so. The Superior Court determined that…


June 28th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Medical Malpractice

Tong-Summerford v. Abington Memorial Hospital and Radiology Group of Abington, P.C., 2018 Pa. Super. LEXIS 648 (June 13, 2018) Stevens, P.J.E.  $5M verdict, wrongful death and survival for an elderly woman who suffered from a feeding tube placement that went into her lung instead of her stomach.  With delay damages, the verdict was over $5 million.  The testimony of the expert was satisfactory because the theory was failure to seek an additional study to achieve a proper diagnosis rather than misreading of the initial x-ray.  Plaintiff’s expert did not testify that there was a breach in the standard of care with respect to interpretation of the study itself.  The doctors do not offer an expert opinion that there was a violation of the standard of care, but rather that there was a need for an additional x-ray to confirm placement of the feeding tube.  The facts are sufficient to sustain the verdict.  Expert testimony was probative by referring to a graph.  Radiologist was qualified to give testimony on causation based upon his 30 years of experience.  He could testify to increased risk of harm.  Even though decedent was unmarried and…

Anticoagulation therapy and Corporate Negligence

June 8th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Medical Malpractice

Gintoff v. Thomas, et al., No. 16 CV 2155 (C.P. Lackawanna May 4, 2018) Nealon, J. In this medical professional liability action alleging negligent prescription and monitoring of anticoagulation therapy that caused a right occipital hemorrhage which warranted an emergency craniotomy and resulted in permanent harm, the defendant-hospital has filed a motion for summary judgment seeking to dismiss plaintiffs’ claims for vicarious liability and corporate negligence on the ground that they are not supported by the requisite expert opinion establishing a triable issue of fact as to a deviation from the applicable standard of care and a causal connection between that deviation and the harm claimed.  The sole liability report produced by plaintiffs contains opinions from a hematology expert only as to the causal negligence of the co-defendant hematologist.  Plaintiffs’ hematology expert does not criticize the care provided by any hospital personnel, and plaintiffs previously stipulated that the co-defendant hematologist was not an actual or ostensible agent for whom the hospital could be found vicariously liable.  Nor does the hematologist’s expert report offer any opinion or evidentiary support for an institutional negligence claim against the hospital. Even when the summary judgment record…