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Medical Malpractice Just Got Harder To Hide

Posted January 26, 2016

Due to the highly specialized nature of the healthcare profession, peer review is one of the best vehicles to examine whether or not a physician has met accepted standards of care.

In Pennsylvania, as well as other states, the peer review process for doctors and other medical professionals is confidential and given protection under the law.

In Pennsylvania, the Peer Review Protection Act provides that “proceedings and records of the review committee shall be held in confidence and shall not be subject to discovery or introduction into evidence.”

Since the law was passed, attorneys have argued over specifically which communication vehicles are shielded from discovery because they have been included in the peer review process. These include emails, conversations, personal notes, and various types of reports, files and more. Typically, the decision comes down to whether or not the communication fits within the definitions outlined within the Peer Review Protection Act.

In some instances, medical malpractice attorneys have been frustrated by the Protection Act and have argued that it has prevented discovery of evidence critical to proving malpractice.

Recently an important decision was handed down by the courts in regard to the protections offered by the peer review process. A Lackawanna County judge, the honorable Terrence R. Nealon, ruled that records detailing a physician’s malpractice history would not be protected simply because they were placed in the physician’s peer review file.

The case involved a couple whose unborn child suffered the effects of severe hypoxic brain injury due to delayed action by the attending obstetrician.

The hospital withheld from discovery a number of requested documents, which included malpractice claims information and documents, and evaluation reports and letters from other doctors warning the obstetrician to remedy his delinquent medical records. The hospital claimed that the documents were part of the physician’s credentials file, and therefore shielded under the Peer Review Protection Act, and cited several Superior Court rulings in which similar files were found to qualify for protection.

However, the judge ruled that simply because a document has been submitted to a peer review committee is not reason enough to guarantee protection. In his ruling, Judge Nealon considered the reason why the document was initially developed to be an important factor in deciding whether or not it qualified for protection under the PRPA. The judge stated that records which are maintained by hospitals in the ordinary course of their business, including incident reports and adverse medical events, are not shielded just because they are shared with a peer review committee. The judge also noted that the record did not show the documents in question had actually been presented to a peer review committee.

For medical malpractice attorneys, this recent ruling is an exciting one, promising to provide important evidence that will be used to win cases and deliver justice for their clients, the victims of medical malpractice. To read more about the types of medical malpractice cases Eisenberg Rothweiler Eisenberg Winkler & Jeck have handled in Pennsylvania, click here.

Kill or Cure: Medication Error is a Leading Cause of Medical Malpractice

Posted December 15, 2015

Many people tend to think of medical malpractice in somewhat limited terms. Prescription errors are not typically the first things that come to mind when someone thinks about medical malpractice. The truth is, prescribing the wrong medication is one of the leading causes of medical malpractice. Medication injuries have surged in recent years, adversely affecting the lives of millions of people. These errors result in preventable adverse events that are responsible for thousands of deaths every year.

Various types of prescription errors are made, including the type of medication, the duration or dose prescribed for the patient, prescribing drugs to which the patient is allergic, or prescribing a drug that causes a negative interaction with another drug the patient is taking. Any of these errors can result in permanent injury or death—a tragedy compounded by the fact that the medication was prescribed to the patient by a physician entrusted with his or her care.

Depending upon the specific type of prescription error, a patient may experience any of a wide variety of side effects that could result in permanent injury to the brain and organs, or even death. If you believe that you have been harmed because of errors made with a prescription, you may be able to make a claim for compensation. It is important to seek the counsel of an experienced medical malpractice attorney, because there are strict time limits governing how soon a claim must be filed.

Doctors need to keep up to date on the latest developments in prescribing medication for their patients

There are a number of factors that may contribute to a physician’s negligence when prescribing medication, but prescription drugs are serious medicines that can and do cause serious harm when taken incorrectly. Physicians are highly trained professionals given the responsibility of safely and accurately prescribing medications to their patients, as well as doing everything possible to see that the drugs are administered properly.

Patient safety is paramount and certainly the most important reason for any and all of the precautions taken, including extensive FDA testing and strict regulation. Staying informed with up-to-date knowledge of medications is a primary responsibility of physicians, and certainly required of any physician before prescribing a specific medication.

Children may be at greater risk

Sadly, children are at particular risk of medication errors, primarily attributable to incorrect dosage. Approximately one in 100 medication errors results in what is known as an adverse drug event, in which a pediatric patient is harmed or dies as a result. Obviously, children and adolescents have an immature physiology. Many medications are developed in concentrations appropriate for adults. Determining child dosages of certain medications involves a calculation based on the child’s weight, adding to the risk of medication error.

If you believe that your child was injured due to a medication error, an experienced medical malpractice attorney can assist you in determining whether there has been medical negligence, and advise you as to whether you have a valid claim for compensation.

If you’re an injured patient, don’t wait

For medical malpractice claims in which the patient is injured by a medication error, it is important to take action right away. Seek counsel from a qualified medical malpractice attorney. The attorneys at Eisenberg Rothweiler Winkler Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C. are here to help—a firm with experienced medical malpractice attorneys who will fight to get you the recovery you deserve. If you or someone you know has suffered from any form of medical negligence, telephone us now for accurate claim advice.

 

Museum Verifies the Importance of Wrongful Injury Law

Posted November 9, 2015

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader, most famous for his vocal battles against the automotive industry and their lack of attention to safety, recently opened the American Museum of Tort Law in his hometown of Winsted, Connecticut. The museum has numerous exhibits and unsafe products from the past on display, including the infamous Chevrolet Corvair, McDonald’s scald-inducing coffee cup, various dangerous toys and more. The museum offers plenty of case examples that profoundly contributed to the evolution of modern consumer safety. These historic cases are responsible for a number of safety features we take for granted in automobiles and other types of products today.  A recent article from the Verge detailed Nader and his triumphs in tort law.

The museum is a wonderful way of reminding the general public of the need for vigilance regarding product safety and the vital role trial lawyers play in holding companies accountable for their actions and protecting the consumer.

The fight for consumer safety is an ongoing battle. Despite the many tragic injuries and deaths, some manufacturers today continue to ignore or deny the risks built into their faulty products—that is, until their feet are held to the fire—either by attorneys in the courtroom after a tragedy has occurred, or by consumer advocacy groups who spot the danger early.

At the law firm of Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, we routinely witness examples of product safety negligence and cover-up by manufacturers. One particularly tragic case involved a man who became quadriplegic after his 1999 Acura Integra (made by Honda Motor Company) rolled over, and his seatbelt failed to prevent his head from striking the roof. The vehicle seatbelt was defectively designed, Honda failed to use a safer design alternative, and did not provide adequate warnings to consumers about the Acura’s defective seatbelt. Information uncovered by our attorneys turned the tide in favor of our severely injured client. It was discovered that during vehicle testing, Honda had determined that a seat-belted driver would strike his or her head on the Integra’s roof. They knew this risk and yet they performed no further testing or attempted to protect drivers from this hazard. The jury awarded a record-setting $55.3 million verdict for our client.

“Honda’s failure to alert the public to this hazard caused (our client) to suffer debilitating and painful injuries. This incident could and should have been avoided by a safer design that already existed. Through this verdict, we are hoping to prevent such unnecessary and devastating injuries from happening to others,” said firm senior partner and co-founder Stewart J. Eisenberg.

For more than 35 years, Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C. has been helping victims in the greater Philadelphia and New Jersey regions recover compensation for their personal injuries and loss, in complex cases involving auto defect, product liability and wrongful death, as well as other practice areas. Contact us today for a free consultation at one of our offices in Philadelphia or Cherry Hill so that we can get started helping you.

New Technology Can Help Deliver Justice in the Courtroom

Posted October 5, 2015

There is no substitute for the truth.
With the growth of technology, we are not only able to record events as they unfold, but capture other critical information as well, with the goal of gaining a clearer understanding of what happened. This information has, and will continue to, play an invaluable role by assisting attorneys and their clients.

An example is a police dashboard camera currently in use, or body cameras that many would like to see implemented. These devices can provide a much more accurate and unbiased account of an event as it actually happens, rather than relying on the subjective recollections of those on the scene. This information is invaluable in situations that escalate or take a terrible turn for the worse.

Other devices today also capture vehicle data for planes, trains, big trucks or automobiles. These “telematics transponders” send, receive and store information, such as travelling speed and distance; minute-by-minute location; stops and starts; mechanical performance, driver behavior and more. This data may then be analyzed to provide an accurate picture of vehicle use. Armed with solid information, better driving, routing and maintenance decisions can be made. We can also use this data to form a clear picture of the events leading up to an automobile accident.

Recently, researchers at the University of Toronto have announced the invention of a device that will record every action of a surgeon during an operation. This information is valuable in itself, but that data could also be stored in a repository for later analysis along with data from similar surgeries and the respective patient outcomes. Correlational research could shed light on the causes of poor or positive patient outcomes by uncovering certain relationships and patterns that occur during medical procedures.

Attorneys must stay abreast of new developments in technology that will help them more effectively represent their clients. There is no question that any emerging technology with the power to save lives or avoid human tragedy should immediately be put to use. In the meantime, understanding exactly what went wrong may be the next best thing to protecting those who have suffered a medical injury. Anesthesia errors, failure to follow the correct medical or surgical procedure, or incorrect use of a medical device are all examples of medical malpractice that would be revealed through the use of new technology—and more importantly, tragedies that could be avoided.

If you or someone you love is the victim of medical malpractice, contact the attorneys of Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck PC for a free consultation.

Understanding Wrongful Death and Survival Damages in Pennsylvania

Posted September 30, 2015

No one is prepared to deal with the loss of a loved one under tragic circumstances. Soon after the loss, survivors may be also faced with ongoing emotional pain and financial hardship.

That is why a basic understanding of the legal term “wrongful death”, and seeking the advice of an experienced attorney in wrongful death cases is so vitally important.

Under Pennsylvania law, an individual can file a lawsuit if someone causes a loved one’s death through negligence, a wrongful act or illegal violence. There are many different types of actions that can result in wrongful death. Examples of potential wrongful death claims include medical negligence resulting in a patient’s death, negligent driving causing a person’s death in an automobile accident, or a shooting that results in an individual’s death.

When there is a wrongful death, a victim’s heirs may be able file a lawsuit that requests both wrongful death damages and survival damages. Under the Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Act, a deceased individual’s spouse, children and/ or parents can recover damages for lost companionship and financial support in addition to reasonable hospital expenses, nursing costs, medical expenses, funeral expenses and administrative costs resulting from the injuries that caused death. The spouse, children and parents of the deceased individual will receive a share of the wrongful death damages according to Pennsylvania intestacy laws. This means that the victim’s heirs will receive their share of the wrongful death proceeds following the same legal guidelines as if there was no will. It does not matter if the decedent actually had a will.

Although damages in a wrongful death action are divided according to intestacy laws, it is not necessary to open a probate estate to determine all of the victim’s assets and disburse the funds. The surviving spouse, children and/or parents will receive the proceeds directly. Also, the proceeds are not taxable because they are not considered to be income to the beneficiaries.

Survival Actions

In a survival action, heirs can recover damages that the decedent would have if he or she had survived. This may include damages for the deceased individual’s pain and suffering and lost wages. Proceeds received in a survival action are administered through probate—the process by which a will is proved to be valid. A personal representative distributes the proceeds according to the deceased individual’s will, or according to the Pennsylvania intestate succession laws if there is no will.

Unlike wrongful death, in a survival action, damages are taxed. The personal representative for the decedent’s estate is required to pay estate and inheritance taxes. Also, the estate’s creditors can be paid from the proceeds. After paying the estate taxes and creditors, the personal representative can disburse the remaining proceeds to the decedent’s heirs.

There is another extremely important point to keep in mind. In order to recover damages in a wrongful death or survival action, the family or personal representative must file a lawsuit within two years from the date of the decedent’s injury. Family members who believe that a loved one has died due to the negligence, wrongful act or illegal violence of another person—wrongful death—should contact an attorney as soon as possible in order to recover damages. It could turn out to be one of the most important calls they ever make.

Get Legal Help

If you or someone you know are the survivors of someone who has died due to negligence in a wrongful death, it is best to speak with a knowledgeable attorney who can evaluate your case and determine your potential damages. Contact the Pennsylvania and New Jersey wrongful death attorneys at Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C. today for a free initial consultation. There is no attorney fee unless we get results for you.

 

Volkswagen Issues Major Recall in U.S. and Canada

Posted August 18, 2015

Volkswagen recently announced the recall of more than 400,000 vehicles in North America. The recall involves the VW Golf, Passat, Jetta and Tiguan models assembled between 2010 and 2014. Debris can interfere with the clock spring that powers these vehicles’ airbags and it can cause a malfunction that prevents air bag deployment. You can read the article from Fox Business here.

 

Amtrak 188 Derailment: Damages Cap May Cause Further Injury

Posted August 5, 2015

After a terrible tragedy, such as the recent Amtrak derailment that occurred in May of this year, we hear in the news about the numerous people who were injured or killed, and lawsuits in the millions of dollars that are certain to follow. However, the financial details of the legal settlements are rarely made public, and when interest wanes in the media, the average person probably assumes that all of the victims received the proper care and fair treatment.

The truth is, few people have an accurate understanding of the enormous impact a severe personal injury will have upon the lives of those injured, as well as their families.

There are many factors to consider after someone sustains such an injury. Most of these factors rarely occur to either the victims or their families, initially. That is why it is absolutely essential to obtain expert legal advice as soon as possible after a serious injury.

What sounds to the average person like a large amount of money for damages, may not actually be adequate to cover the care and support of a catastrophic personal injury victim when projected expenses are realistically calculated. A recent article in the NY Times discussed the ever-mounting expenses of a couple who were severely injured in the Amtrak Train 188 derailment.

In the case of Amtrak 188, eight passengers died and more than 200 passengers were injured, when the train bound for New York City derailed at Frankford Junction, northeast of Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station. The full extent of the injuries to some of the victims is still being determined, yet we now know that Congress has limited total damages for all passengers to $200 million.

Because many of us simply aren’t aware of the long-term costs for victims of severe injury, it’s important gain a better understanding.

Someone who is catastrophically injured will immediately require critical hospital care, possible surgery or multiple surgeries and continued acute inpatient rehabilitation. In some cases, life-long medical treatment will be required. Depending upon an individual’s insurer or care provider, these initial expenses may be required to be reimbursed if there is a settlement.

These costs are only the beginning. Other expenses typically include:
• Loss of income due to inability to work
• Loss of employer funded healthcare benefits
• Mental health care
• Prescription medications
• Physical therapy
• Specialized medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, orthopedic braces or other devices
• Professional caregivers
• Long-term care facilities

For some, the effects of their injuries worsen with age, increasing the cost of care over time.

Let’s take a look at just two of the types of injuries likely to occur in a high-speed train derailment: traumatic brain injury (TBI) and spinal cord injury (SCI). These kinds of injuries affect virtually every part of a person’s life. All of the expenses listed earlier apply to these injuries. And there are more.

Spinal cord injuries often result in some form of paralysis to the body, such as paraplegia or quadriplegia. According to findings by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, the yearly expenses of a paralysis victim can range from $500,000 to more than a $1 million, depending upon the severity of the injury. These costs may increase significantly every year thereafter, adding up to millions of dollars over a lifetime. In addition, someone who is paralyzed at an earlier age, say 25, can expect to pay lifetime medical costs as much as 60% higher than someone who is paralyzed at age 50.

For those who suffer a traumatic brain injury, costs are also devastating. According to a survey by the International Federation of Health Plans, victims of TBI pay an average of more than $8,000 per day for acute care and more than $2,200 per day for inpatient rehabilitation. Throughout the course of a lifetime, costs of living may exceed $3 million dollars, depending upon the severity of the injury.

Eight killed, more than 200 injured—through absolutely no fault of their own. The full extent of the injuries are yet to be determined. In view of the enormous expense and suffering that has, and will continue to occur, does setting a cap on damages in any way, shape or form, suggest justice for the victims of Amtrak 188?

Causes of Spinal Cord Injury

Posted June 11, 2015

Spinal cord injuries can occur in many different types of accidents involving negligence. In some cases, the accidents are complex and correctly identifying negligent parties can make the difference between obtaining compensation for your injuries and receiving nothing.

The attorneys at Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., have extensive experience handling back injury, spine injury and other serious injury cases. We have the experience, knowledge and resources to handle complex injury cases involving multiple defendants and contested liability.

Contact us today to speak with a knowledgeable spinal cord injury lawyer serving Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Cherry Hill, New Jersey .

CAUSES OF SPINAL CORD INJURY

Sometimes an accident is just that — an accident. But many times the injuries are caused or made more severe by the negligence of another party. Examples of the latter include:

  • Severe auto accidents
  • Defective seat belts that fail to restrain a person in an auto accident
  • Defects in a playground or athletic field that cause injuries
  • Missing or defective railings on stairs or a deck
  • Distracted or drunk drivers
  • Unsafe road conditions such as missing guardrails or debris on the roadway
  • Untrimmed shrubs that limit visibility at an intersection or train crossing
  • Surgical errors that nick or bruise the spinal cord

Even if you were partially at fault for an accident, you may be able to obtain compensation from another party if they were also at fault. Your recovery would be reduced by any percentage of liability that is assigned to you.

CALL TODAY FOR A FREE CONSULTATION

Contact us today to speak with our knowledgeable Pennsylvania or New Jersey attorneys representing accident victims with spinal cord injuries. We offer free initial consultations and handle cases on a contingency fee basis. You won’t have to pay us unless we get results for you.

Causes of Cerebral Palsy

Posted

Causes of cerebral palsy may occur at any stage in your child’s fetal development, birth process or early childhood. With the vulnerability of the brain during infant development, trauma and negligent care may result in serious consequences for your child. Many causes of cerebral palsy are preventable with proper healthcare, qualified physicians, and close monitoring of your baby’s health. However, not all complications can be avoided. If your child is suffering from cerebral palsy due to the negligence a doctor or healthcare provider, you may be entitled to compensation for your suffering and losses.

Unfortunately, a definitive cause of cerebral palsy is typically difficult to establish. However, there are several factors during fetal development , which may increase the risk that a child would develop cerebral palsy. During pregnancy, causes of cerebral palsy may include fetal stroke, nutritional deficiencies, maternal illness, inadequate care, excessive exposure to teratogens, or blood incompatibility between mother and child. While many of these factors may be caused by unavoidable circumstances, your doctor has a responsibility to identify and treat these complications when they occur to mitigate the risk that your child will develop cerebral palsy or other birth injuries.

A number of causes of cerebral palsy may occur around the time of delivery . Factors that may contribute to the causes of cerebral palsy at the time of birth include low birth weight, premature delivery, lack of oxygen to the baby, underdeveloped lungs, multiple births, jaundice, seizures, and a breech delivery. Babies who do not cry for five minutes after birth and babies who require a ventilator for more than four weeks after delivery are also thought to be at an increased risk for developing cerebral palsy.

Many causes of cerebral palsy, which develop during the prenatal period or delivery, may be attributable to medical negligenceFor example, a doctor may fail to identify birth defects during a prenatal ultrasound, which should have alerted the doctor to the increased risk of cerebral palsy. Causes of cerebral palsy may also be related to a doctor’s mismanagement of labor and delivery. Forceful use of vacuum or forceps delivery techniques may do damage to the child’s head during delivery, contributing to the causes of cerebral palsy. Fetal monitoring equipment may have been misread, and the medical team may have failed to identify complications or fetal distress. A medical team may fail to identify and treat potential causes of cerebral palsy, such as newborn airway obstruction, uterine rupture, placental eruption, dehydration in the newborn, and other complications and signs of fetal distress.

If medical malpractice was the cause of cerebral palsy in your child’s case, you may be entitled to compensation for your lifelong medical expenses, pain and suffering, and more.

Contact us today to speak with a qualified Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorney.

We have a wealth of experience representing those who have developed cerebral palsy and other injuries due to medical malpractice. We are pleased to offer you a free consultation in order to better acquaint you with your legal rights and options. Let us evaluate your case, to determine if we can help you receive the compensation you deserve for your child’s cerebral palsy.

Causes of Brain Injuries

Posted

Brain injuries can occur in many different types of accidents. Often, there is no outward sign that an injury has occurred. These types of brain injuries, known as “closed-head” injuries, often go undiagnosed, untreated and uncompensated.

At Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., our lawyers help brain injury victims and their families pursue compensation for their medical bills, wage loss, pain and suffering, and other losses. Our attorneys have the experience, knowledge and resources to investigate the causes of brain injury and hold the responsible parties financially responsible.

HOW A BRAIN INJURY CAN HAPPEN

The most common form of brain injury is traumatic brain injury or TBI. This type of injury can happen in a car accident when the head is accelerated and then stopped suddenly. The brain can suffer contusions at the point of direct impact and at the site directly opposite the point of impact due to the movement of the brain. Traumatic brain injuries can result from motor vehicle accidents, slip-and-fall accidents, sports injuries, falling objects, medical errors and other types of negligence.

Brain injury can also be caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain. This type of injury often occurs in a medical setting. Lack of oxygen to the fetus during childbirth can lead to cerebral palsy and other severe conditions.

When investigating a brain injury case, our lawyers will work with experts to determine how the injury occurred. Then we will seek full compensation for you from those responsible.

CALL OUR TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY ATTORNEYS TODAY FOR A FREE CONSULTATION

Contact us today to speak with our experienced Philadelphia or New Jersey attorneys representing brain injury victims. We offer free initial consultations and handle cases on a contingency fee basis. You won’t have to pay us unless we get results for you.