June 28th, 2019 by Rieders Travis in Medical Malpractice

Mitchell vs. Shikora, 174 A.3d 573 (Pa. 2015),Pa Supreme Court, decided June 18, 2019.  The court determined that risks and complications of surgery may be admissible at trial therefore reversing the Superior Court.  The trial court had allowed in such evidence and there was a defense verdict.   Patient’s theory was that Dr. Shikora failed to identify patient’s colon before making an incision into her abdomen and that constituted breach of the applicable standard.   The defense was that cutting the bowel was a risk of the laparoscopic hysterectomy.  The court found that risks and complications through expert testimony were admissible.   The defense was that the procedure is “blind.”  The court noted that a new Standard Jury Instruction might be necessary.  Informed consent, if not pled, is not admissible.   However, evidence about the risk of surgical procedures in the form of testimony or list of such risks as they appear on the informed consent sheet may be relevant.  This evidence may potential leave a juror to conclude that an injury was merely the risk or complication of a surgery rather than as a result of negligence.   We…


June 25th, 2019 by Rieders Travis in Medical Malpractice

Appellant Community Medical Center appeals from an Order granting emergency petition to compel discovery of Defendant doctor's credentialing file. The hospital took interlocutory appeal claiming that Regine/Ii vs. Boggs, 181 A.3d 293 (Pa. 2018) did not announce a blanket rule depriving all previously-protected credentialing committee materials of peer review protection. The trial court was affirmed in requiring production of the materials pursuant to the emergency motion. The Regine/Ii court indicated that the PRPA does not extend its grant of an evidentiary privilege to materials that are generated and maintained by entities reviewing the professional qualifications or activities of medical staff. In Regine/Ii, the performance file was not generated or maintained by the hospital's peer review committee. In Krapa, the trial court conducted an in-camera review as did the Superior Court and determined that the files at issue "consist entirely of credentialing materials .... " In terms of the doctor's personnel files, the PRPA protections do not extend to the credentialing committee materials because this entity does not qualify as a "review committee." Estate of Leonard P. Krapa vs. Lyons, 2019 Pa. Super. LEXIS 508.


June 24th, 2019 by Rieders Travis in Medical Malpractice

Defendant Kevin Goodspeed sought medical assistance from a physician for a foot injury. Defendant was a participant covered by an employee benefit plan. Under the benefit plan, Defendant received $82,088.36 for his medical expenses. After the medical treatment was concluded, Defendant and his wife sued the treating physician for claims premised on medical malpractice. The case against the physician was settled, resulting in Defendant and his wife receiving a net settlement of $304,463.22. The terms of the benefit plan required subrogation of any recovery from the malpractice action, up to the amount paid by the benefit plan for Defendant's medical costs. Defendant did not repay the benefit plan, but instead deposited the net settlement proceeds into his and his wife's jointly-held bank account. The couple then made various purchases from the account including a $62,000 van. The Court finds that there are specific funds against which an equitable lien could be attached through traceability, and therefore will deny Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. Here, both the $200,000 certificate of deposit and the $62,000 van are traceable to the settlement fund. Neither of these could be characterized as nontraceable items such…

Is Automation in Healthcare a Good Thing for Patients?

June 24th, 2019 by Rieders Travis in Medical Malpractice

Artificial intelligence is becoming more and more common in the healthcare industry. Equipment such as deep learning algorithms that can read CT scans faster than humans to natural language processing (NLP) that can comb through unstructured data in electronic health records (EHRs), can make medical procedures quicker and more accurate. Automating routine tasks that take up a medical professional’s time can allow doctors to focus on the care of patients with serious conditions. Most robotic and laparoscopic surgery, along with new medical devices, have become a major component of health care.   The safety of all of this automation and new technology is by no means guaranteed. Unfortunately, there are also downsides to the increased use of automation, with concerns about privacy problems, ethics, and medical errors. While for many patients, the human touch can bring healing that a machine can never offer, automation brings less personal contact between patients and medical professionals. Trusting an AI nurse or physician with diagnoses, treatment decisions, and other direct patient-care tasks may not always be the best solution.  Already, patients complain that clinicians do not spend enough time examining them and fail to pick up…

Your Doctor is Tired – It is a Public Health Crisis

May 22nd, 2019 by Rieders Travis in Medical Malpractice

Doctors are overworked, over-stressed, tired, and burning out -- it is affecting your health. Burned-out medical providers are often less productive and do not focus as well on the needs of their patients. Some reduce their work hours, putting added stress on those who have to cover their shifts and patients, and some leave the medical profession completely. None of this is good for patient care. According to a recent report from the Harvard Global Health Institute, frequent changes to health care environments and protocol have contributed to the increased rate of burnout to the point where there is a public health crisis that “urgently demands action.” The report cites findings from the Mayo Clinic showing that physicians who experience burnout are more likely to reduce their work hours or leave the profession altogether. How common is burnout? According to a 2018 survey by the Stanford University School of Medicine, 55 percent of physicians across the U.S. admitted to having symptoms of burnout, while 33 percent admitted to suffering from high levels of fatigue. If you or a loved one has suffered because of negligent care from a burned-out medical practitioner, you may be entitled…

Fewer Patients, Better Care? Proposed Bill Seeks to Limit Patient-to-Nurse Ratio.

May 1st, 2019 by Rieders Travis in Medical Malpractice, Wrongful Death

Tennessee medical malpractice
Seriously ill patients in hospitals depend on competent nursing care when needed; but when there is a shortage of nurses and they are overworked and exhausted, the result is risk to patient safety and their lives. To prevent these problems, there is now a proposed Congressional bill, House Bill 867, that would limit the number of patients Pennsylvania nurses can care for at one time. The bill bases the nurse-to-patient ratio on the type of hospital unit, with a 1:2 or fewer ratio proposed for intensive care units and a 1:4 or fewer ratio for emergency departments. Advocates of the bill cite the ratio mandate already in California, which has proven to be cost-effective, produce better health outcomes and create openings for job-seeking nurses.   The hospital industry opposes the legislation, arguing that there is not enough research to support it, there are not enough nurses to meet the lower ratio, and that staffing mandates would force facilities to close. Nurses disagree and have appealed to the House committee, saying that having too many patients leads to making mistakes and giving poor care. They believe that better nurse/patient ratios dramatically improve safety…


March 20th, 2019 by Rieders Travis in Medical Malpractice

Sensenich v Morcos, 2019 Pa. Super. Court LEXIS 192 (February 27, 2019)Judgement in favor of cardiology associates and hospital. The case is one of more than 100 cases arising from allegedly unnecessary cardiac stenting procedures performed by two doctors during their affiliation with the hospital. The hospital sent letters to patients of the doctors advising them that after performance of quality reviews, the stenting “may not have been medically necessary.” The plaintiff claimed that the arteries were not sufficiently occluded to require stenting. The claim against the hospital said it should have known earlier that the doctors were performing unnecessary stenting procedures. The jury found that the doctor did not fail to obtain informed consent, did not commit battery and was not negligent in his treatment. As a result of those findings, the jury did not reach the claims of corporate negligence and civil conspiracy against the defendants. The two schools of thought defense had nothing to do with whether the hospital had requisite notice of the unnecessary stenting procedures. The trial court erred in instructing the jury to find for defendants if it found two schools of thought. This…


March 20th, 2019 by Rieders Travis in Medical Malpractice

Patrice Joyner v St. Luke’s University Health Network, Inc., d/b/a St. Luke’s University Health Network and John T. Spanogle, 2018 Ct. of Common Pleas Lehigh County, (October 2018) Johnson, J.-Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint does not allege a professional liability action against the hospital, but rather is based on general negligence principles. The allegation is that Plaintiff was sexually assaulted by an employee of the hospital while Plaintiff was a patient. The claim concerns negligent hiring, supervision and training. No Certificate of Merit is necessary under these circumstances. 

Potentially Dangerous Medical Devices are Still Widely Used

February 21st, 2019 by Rieders Travis in Medical Malpractice, Products Liability

Medical malpractice attorney
When patients have medical devices implanted in their bodies, they expect the device to better their lives, not kill them.  However, all too often, patients have been injured or have died due to problems with medical devices that proved to be defective. These device-related injuries can occur during an implant procedure or after the device has been in the body for years. When devices have been in the body for a while, it may be difficult to point to them as the source of the problem; and there are times when the device cannot be removed without causing additional injury or even death. According to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), defective devices have been associated with 1.7 million injuries and more than 80,000 deaths in the past ten years. Examples include: a neck implant to relieve pain that caused airway obstruction, trouble swallowing and respiratory failure artificial hips that cause cobalt poisoning and can damage the heart and brain surgical mesh that cuts through flesh and organs, causing infections and hemorrhage defibrillators that repeatedly shock patients If you or a loved one has suffered harm due to a faulty…

Should Pennsylvania Level the Playing Field for Those Hurt by Medical and Hospital Malpractice?

February 21st, 2019 by Rieders Travis in Medical Malpractice

malpractice attorney
Is the deck stacked against patients trying to win a medical malpractice verdict or settlement in Pennsylvania? Many attorneys who represent those harmed by hospital and medical malpractice have been finding that this is the case. In the early 2000s, there were accusations by medical providers that too many lawsuits were being filed.  Barriers in the law made in 2002 drastically reduced possibilities of filing and winning a lawsuit, to the point where many patients who were victims of malpractice are unable to obtain compensation. Among the limiting restrictions placed by the reforms are: Creation of rules restricting where medical malpractice cases could be filed, although no other type of litigation was involved. For example, those who are injured by medical and hospital malpractice can no longer file at the headquarters where the big hospital may do business, but rather must file where the malpractice occurred, even if it is in a remote area. A requirement that lawyers handling medical and hospital malpractice suits sign a “Certificate of Merit” based upon a statement of an expert in the same or similar field as the doctor being sued. This is sometimes…