August 7, 2013

Maryland Medical Malpractice : Complications from Procedures Performed in Doctors' Offices May Be Underreported

Many Maryland medical malpractice lawsuits stem from cases of medical error, surgical error, or medical negligence that occur in a hospital or ambulatory surgery setting.

But now a news report suggests that complications resulting from medical procedures performed in doctors' offices may in fact occur more frequently than is reported. An estimated 83,000 procedures are performed in U.S. doctor's offices every year. A news report out of Boston states that "the number of complications that occur secondary to these procedures is unknown."

The report states that in a recent study, 886 patients who underwent procedures to treat their basal or squamous cell cancers were asked if they experienced any type of problem. Twenty-seven percent of patients surveyed reported they did have a problem during or after the treatment, with 14 percent reporting medical problems such as bleeding, infection, pain, swelling, poor wound healing, or allergic reactions to the bandage or antibiotics. However complications were noted by doctors in only 3 percent of the patients' charts.

In hospitals, it is mandatory that complications such as infections that occur as a result of medical procedures be documented. However such strict reporting of complications does not occur when medical procedures are performed in doctors' offices.

According to the Federation of State Medical Boards, Maryland is among the states that do not have specific office-based surgery guidelines among their statutes, regulations, and policies.

The Maryland Board of Physicians lists "cosmetic medical procedures" (performed by both physicians and non-physicians) under its Regulations, titled "Delegation and Assignment of Performance of Cosmetic Medical Procedures and Use of Cosmetic Medical Devices."

Our Baltimore County personal injury law firm aggressively pursues claims of medical malpractice in the state of Maryland. Whether a medical procedure is performed in a hospital, surgical center, or in a doctor's office -- mistakes can happen. When a patient has a procedure in a hospital or a physician's office, they trust their medical care providers to "do no harm."

If medical error is suspected in a patient injury or death, contact an experienced Md. medical malpractice attorney right away. These cases become very complicated very quickly, and injured parties would be ill-advised to try to pursue a resolution on their own.

Sources:

Procedures In Doctor's Offices (audio clip)
WBZ 1030 News Radio, July 10, 2913

Regulation of Office-based Surgery (A-M) (PDF)
Federation of State Medical Boards, page 70

Code of Maryland Regulations -- Subtitle 32-Board of Physicians
Maryland Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene : Maryland Board of Physicians

Related Web Resources:

Maryland Medical Board

February 20, 2013

Baltimore Lawyer Representing Clients in Johns Hopkins Gynecologist Alleged Medical Misconduct Case : "These are serious and disturbing allegations…"

Patients put their trust in their doctors to not only treat their ailments and preserve their health -- but to maintain patient privacy at all times. When a patient enters a doctor's office in Baltimore, Maryland or anywhere else, they expect to be treated with respect. They expect their confidentiality and privacy to be upheld. It's an understanding that makes going to the doctor a little bit easier.

This is why the criminal investigation into alleged medical misconduct by a Johns Hopkins Hospital gynecologist is so shocking and difficult to understand. The story broke earlier this month. Baltimore media reported that a hospital employee had tipped off officials that an OB GYN doctor was allegedly taking unauthorized photos and videos of patients -- possibly with his own photographic equipment -- and storing them electronically.

Here at The Law Offices of Butschky, Ehlers and Butschky, we have begun consulting to patients and others who are concerned their privacy may have been violated by the OB-GYN doctor under investigation at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. These are serious and disturbing allegations, and our clients have justifiable concerns about whether their privacy may have been breached.

According to Baltimore media reports, Dr. Nikita Levy was allegedly confronted by hospital officials about the alleged unauthorized patient photos and videos, and his employment was terminated. Several days later, Baltimore Police reportedly discovered Dr. Levy deceased in his Towson, Maryland home of an apparent suicide.

A criminal investigation is underway regarding Dr. Levy and the alleged improprieties that may have occurred during his employment at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Media reports state that Johns Hopkins Hospital, which is conducting its own separate inquiry, has begun to notify patients. However, Dr. Levy potentially saw hundreds or more patients and others during his many years at the hospital, and not all patients have been contacted. The Baltimore Sun reported that Dr. Levy began practicing medicine at Johns Hopkins in 1988 after he was granted his Maryland medical license.

It's unclear from media reports what the gynecologist allegedly may have been taking photos or videos of, and/or what he may have been doing with them. Baltimore Police reportedly gathered evidence in Dr. Levy's home in Towson, Maryland.

No one expects a doctor -- a professional who invested years in medical school and training, who took the Hippocratic Oath to "do no harm" -- to breach patient privacy. If you were treated by or had contact with the Johns Hopkins Hospital gynecologist under investigation, please contact our office today to discuss your rights. We advise clients not to talk to hospital attorneys, as that may compromise your case.

Please call us today in Baltimore at (410) 472-3651 or toll free at (800) 722-6616.

Read more about this case in our press release:

Baltimore Attorneys Butschky, Ehlers and Butschky Offer Free Consultation to Patients Concerned about Johns Hopkins Hospital OB-GYN Investigation

Sources:

Hopkins patients come forward as investigation into secret recording continues
The Baltimore Sun Feb. 19, 2013

Ex Johns Hopkins OB/GYN kills self amid patient photo investigation
WBAL TV 11 Feb. 19, 2013

February 25, 2010

Maryland Doctor Heads Panel to Lower Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening and Prevent Cancer Deaths

A doctor from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland is leading a national panel examining ways to increase screenings and prevent colon and rectal cancer deaths.

Though colorectal cancers are the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States (lung cancer is no. 1), barriers to getting life-saving screening tests remain. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) convened a panel earlier this month chaired by Dr. Donald Steinwachs, a Johns Hopkins University professor and head of the Health Services Research and Development Center.

Dr. Steinwachs is quoted in an NCI press release as saying that some people find tests such as colonoscopy "...to be unpleasant and time-consuming. However, we also know that recommended screening strategies reduce colorectal cancer deaths." The panel convened earlier in February to discuss ways to eliminate the main barriers to getting screened for colon and rectal cancers -- namely health insurance obstacles, having to pay for tests out of pocket, and not having a regular health care provider.

A case of cancer misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose cancer, or late cancer diagnosis in Maryland may be proven if the physician ignores or fails to order tests for troubling symptoms presented by the patient, or attributes them to some other benign condition. The NCI reports that although colorectal screenings have increased in the U.S. population for people over age 50 -- from a rate of 20 to 30% in 1997 to nearly 55% in 2008 -- that we still have a long ways to go to save more lives. Colon and rectal cancers can be treated successfully when caught in the early stages or pre-cancer stages.

Baltimore County injury lawyers with knowledge about cancer misdiagnosis and medical malpractice cases in Maryland will advise patients on steps they need to take if they think a doctor's negligence led to a failure to treat or late treatment of their cancer.

Panel Calls for Reducing Colorectal Cancer Deaths by Striking Down Barriers to Screening
National Cancer Institute, Press Release Feb. 4, 2010

Related Web Resources

Johns Hopkins School of Public Health: Health Services Research and Development Center

Katie Couric Speaks: A Personal Tragedy Sparks a Public Campaign to Prevent Colon Cancer

November 20, 2009

Maryland Medical Malpractice and the New Mammograms After 50 Study

After many years of doctors advising women to start getting routine yearly breast cancer screening mammograms at age 40 -- a new study comes out recommending women wait until age 50 for a first mammogram, then get one every two years after that. The study was released in Nov. '09 by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (see link below).

News of the study quickly reverberated through the national and Maryland medical communities, with many doctors decrying the results and patients wondering what to do. Some hospitals reported that on the day the study results were released, patients cancelled their mammograms in record numbers.

As Baltimore injury and wrongful death attorneys who have assisted families with Maryland medical malpractice lawsuits, we are left to wonder how these new guidelines might affect medical care and cancer prevention.

One of the types of medical malpractice claims that we sadly see all too often in Maryland and around the country is cancer misdiagnosis. To successfully prosecute a misdiagnosis claim in the Maryland courts, the plaintiff (patient) and their lawyers must demonstrate that medical error or negligence led to a patient's cancer being overlooked, misdiagnosed, or improperly treated -- and that the patient suffered personal injury or death because of those medical errors.

Maryland medical malpractice litigation is governed by very specific rules and regulations regarding liability, burden of proof and notice to any contemplated defendant. The Task Force that issued the "mammograms start at 50" guidelines did so with the caveat that women should consult with their doctors. However we're left to wonder how this will affect the Maryland medical community's responsibility to successfully prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer in patients who are hearing that they need less -- not more -- preventative medicine.

The American Cancer Society says it will not change its recommendation that women should start getting annual screening mammograms at age 40 (see link to statement below).

Task force opposes routine mammograms for women age 40-49
CNN.com Nov. 16, 2009

Screening for Breast Cancer
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, Nov. 2009

Finding Breast Cancer Early: Age 40, Every Year
American Cancer Society, Dr. Len's Cancer Blog Nov. 16, 2009

October 28, 2009

Maryland Medical Malpractice and Negligence: How Do I Know If I Have a Case?

During the course of our work as Maryland and Baltimore County injury lawyers over the last two decades and counting, we've met so many nice families and individuals who needed our legal help to get through some very difficult situations. Often it's because they went out one day and through no fault of their own, they got injured -- or killed -- in a traffic accident.

Other times, the cause of their injuries, or even their death, is due to medical malpractice. And in those types of personal injury cases, the cause is often not as clear cut as in auto accident or Maryland work accident cases. It is not always a single event that caused their injuries, disabilities, or wrongful death.

Medical malpractice or negligence often occurs as the result of the poor judgments and/or ill actions of more than one professional, over time, possibly at more than one institution. It can be a complex sequence of events leading up to a patient not being cured or helped, but instead, being permanently harmed. It can involve prescription error, surgical error, misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose, and failure to provide standard levels of care.

Maryland Medical Error and the Law of Contributory Negligence
As we've written about regarding car and truck accidents, Maryland has a contributory negligence law that says if you, the victim, are even a small fraction responsible for the cause of your accident -- your insurance claim can be denied. This also applies to medical malpractice in Maryland.

Say you have bad headaches, but you don't see a doctor for six months. The doctor says, "It's probably nothing" and sends you home with Tylenol. The headaches get worse and you return a month later. The physician delays another couple weeks in ordering you an MRI. Bad news: The test shows you have brain cancer. However, you'd have a hard time meeting your burden of proof simply because you didn't seek treatment in a reasonable timeframe. It doesn't sound fair, but that's the law of contributory negligence in Maryland. In the eyes of the state, you fooled around while Rome was burning.

The best advice: Don't doodle with your health care decisions. And if you think you may have suffered permanent injury due to the actions of medical professionals, consult an experienced Maryland medical malpractice law firm. Here are several important points to remember regarding almost any contemplated malpractice claim:


  • Malpractice claims require expert testimony from other medical professionals to prove liability. Without an expert (or frequently several experts), you cannot prove your claim.
  • There are also frequently issues of "informed consent" and patients' understanding that all medical procedures involve risk.
  • Maryland has a statute of limitations for filing malpractice lawsuits. If you miss the statute, you are forever barred from pursuing your claim.
  • An unfavorable outcome isn't necessarily malpractice, as even doctors cannot guarantee results.

The bottom line with any contemplated malpractice claim is that you need to retain legal counsel early in the process, and most certainly before contacting physicians, hospitals, nursing homes and their insurance carriers. Also, find an attorney that you like and can communicate effectively with. It’s going to be a long haul, and you need to be comfortable with your partner in the process.

Related Web Resources

Maryland Board of Physicians

Maryland State Law Library: Going to Court in Maryland