Errors in Electronic Health Records: A Growing Source for Medical Malpractice Claims

By

Holly B. Haines and Elie A. Maalouf[1]

March 2018

I. Introduction

In the last ten years, the United States healthcare industry has experienced a largescale shift from paper to electronic health records (EHRs).[2] Ushered in by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act), the advent of health information technology[3] (HIT) brought with it the promise of a reduced rate of medical errors, decreased healthcare costs, greater efficiency, and enhanced quality of care and patient safety.[4] EHRs were expected to offer numerous benefits including quicker and better access to patient records, automatic alerts and reminders, and improved communication between providers.[5] A national study conducted in 2011 concluded that 78% of physicians that had adopted EHRs experienced an overall enhancement in patient care.[6] One study found that EHRs are associated with a slight decrease in the number of medical malpractice suits.[7] Other researchers, however, do not consider these encouraging findings to be dispositive and, in recent years, more have reached the opposite conclusion.[8] Read more

Violation! An Examination of Ex Parte Communications in the Context of Medical Negligence Cases in New Hampshire

By

Nick E. Abramson and Elie A. Maalouf[1]

December 2017

I. Introduction:

Despite clear law to the contrary, defense counsel in medical malpractice cases continue to engage in unauthorized ex parte communications with the plaintiff’s nonparty treating physicians.  In fact, in a recent medical malpractice case, defense counsel casually mentioned during the deposition of a defendant that he had already communicated with two of the defendant-physician’s partners, who were nonparty treaters of the plaintiff.  Defense counsel’s expounded justification for this transgression was that he was entitled to speak, ex parte, with any members of the defendant-physician’s medical group, even those not named as parties in the action.  Whether defense counsel is uninformed as to the governing law on this issue matters not – in New Hampshire, this practice is prohibited.  Communications of this nature violate not only New Hampshire law established thirty years ago in Nelson v. Lewis,[2] but also the physician-patient privilege.[3] Read more

Jury Awards $117 million in Johnson & Johnson’s First Trial Loss in Asbestos-Related, Talc Powder Lawsuits

A jury in New Jersey recently awarded $117 million ($37 million in compensatory damages and $80 million in punitive damages) to a consumer who developed mesothelioma as a result of his regular use of Johnson & Johnson’s talc baby powder products. The jury apportioned 70% of the fault to J &J while the other 30% was assigned to Imerys Talc America, J&J’s talc supplier.

The plaintiff sued for design defect, failure to warn, negligent failure to warn, negligent supply of a defective product, breach of express and implied warranties, and strict liability in tort. The jury found that the risk of harm posed by the talc powder outweighed the usefulness of the product. In awarding punitive damages, the jury found that J&J and Imerys willfully, wantonly, and intentionally withheld information from consumers regarding the known hazards of talc containing asbestos and that inhaling asbestos may be deadly.

Although Johnson & Johnson faces thousands of plaintiffs nationally in talc powder-related lawsuits, the overwhelming majority of these cases claim that Johnson & Johnson failed to warn women about the risk of developing ovarian cancer from using the talc powder. Last November, a California jury ruled in favor of Johnson & Johnson in the only other asbestos-related trial against the company, making this the first trial loss for Johnson & Johnson in lawsuits alleging that asbestos in J&J Talc powder caused consumers harm.

J&J and Imerys plan to appeal the verdict, claiming the evidence shows that the plaintiff’s mesothelioma was caused by exposure to other sources of asbestos. As of late, Johnson & Johnson has succeeded in reversing multi-million-dollar verdicts in a few ovarian cancer-related lawsuits.

Corporations like Johnson & Johnson must be held accountable for the harm caused by the defective products they introduce to consumers. The attorneys at Abramson, Brown & Dugan have vast experience representing plaintiffs in various product liability lawsuits. One of our attorneys, Jared Green, is a leading attorney in this area of law and was recently named Best Lawyer in products liability law. If you or a loved one have been harmed by a defective product or because a product failed to provide adequate warnings, contact one of our attorneys today for a free consultation.

Nearly 1 in 5 Americans Have Experienced a Medical Error, Survey Reveals

21% of Americans have experienced a medical error, according to a survey conducted last spring. In addition to those errors experienced personally, 31% of Americans say they know someone whose care they were closely involved with who experienced a medical error.

Almost half of those who perceived that a mistake had occurred reported the errors to medical personnel or staff. Health care providers and facilities accepted responsibility for those errors half the time. Accordingly, the survey respondents who did not report an error said they did not do so because they did not think it would make a difference.

The Americans that participated in the survey identified several reasons for theses medical errors which included lack of attention to detail, providers not listening, poorly trained providers, providers not spending enough time with the patient, patient given too many unnecessary treatments, and providers not knowing about care received elsewhere.

The survey also found that diagnostic errors such as missed diagnoses, incorrect diagnoses, and delayed diagnoses were the most commonly reported type of error. Additionally, the majority of the errors occur in the outpatient setting.

Medical providers must be held accountable for their negligence. If you or someone you know have been injured as a result of a medical error, contact one of the experienced attorneys at Abramson, Brown & Dugan for a free consultation.

Medical Malpractice Attorney Finds Himself a Victim of Malpractice

In a tragic role reversal, Michael Mone, an esteemed plaintiff’s medical malpractice attorney based out of Boston, is a victim of medical malpractice. Despite his experience in negligent medical care, Mone now finds himself with kidney cancer that is inoperable and terminal.

A recent article in the Boston Globe reported that Mone underwent a precautionary MRI scan at a teaching hospital in Boston in 2009 and the radiologists who interpreted the scan noted that the three cysts found in his left kidney did not have “worrisome features.” In fact, a malignant tumor was visible and misidentified as a benign cyst. In 2015, Mone developed severe back pain and was referred to Mass General Hospital for an MRI. The scan revealed a metastasized tumor in Mone’s spine, which likely developed as a result of the misdiagnosed cancer in Mone’s left kidney.

Joan Lukey, a Boston attorney quoted in the Globe article, was “truly surprised that this could happen to [Mone], of all people” because he “knows as much medicine as a lot of doctors do.” Mone admits that “no matter how sophisticated you are, you don’t know that there’s an x-ray lurking in your records someplace that can blow your life up in a moment.” To put it simply, anyone can be a victim of medical malpractice.

Timely detection of cancerous tumors is crucial for effective treatment and recovery. Radiologists frequently miss important signs when they interpret imaging studies and must be held responsible for the resultant harm. The attorneys at Abramson, Brown & Dugan have vast experience pursuing claims against doctors who fail to detect signs of cancer. If you or a loved one has been harmed by a cancer misdiagnosis, contact one of our attorneys today for a free consultation.

Abramson, Brown & Dugan Attorney, Jared Green, Named Best Lawyer in Plaintiff’s Product Liability Law

Abramson, Brown & Dugan is proud to announce that Attorney Jared Green was recognized in the latest edition of the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Lawyers. Best Lawyers awards are based solely on the reviews of peers and colleagues in the legal profession. It is the oldest and most respected peer review organization in the profession.  Attorney Green was named “Best Lawyer” in Plaintiff’s Products Liability Law. With over 25 years of experience, Attorney Green has successfully represented numerous plaintiffs in a variety of products liability cases, including lawsuits involving accidents caused by defective equipment and machinery.

Attorney Green’s recognition as “Best Lawyer” not only reflects his dedication and experience in products liability law, but also exemplifies the quality of legal services provided at Abramson, Brown & Dugan. If you or a loved one has been harmed as a result of a defective product, contact Attorney Green or one of our other experienced attorneys for a free consultation.