Saturday, December 29, 2012

Surgical Errors Rise in CT, Despite Efforts to Prevent Errors

The AP reports that the Connecticut Dept. of Public Health "says reports of wrong-site surgeries in Connecticut hospitals increased by 62 percent last year, while the number of patient deaths or disabilities resulting from surgery or falls also rose."

Also, 96 patients died or were seriously injured from falls in 2011 — up from 91 the year before.

"Dr. Mary Reich Cooper, vice president and chief quality officer for the Connecticut Hospital Association, tells the Connecticut Health Investigative Team that hospitals are working together to eliminate errors."

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Opinion: Focus on Patient Safety to Reduce Malpractice Cases

Mary Alice McLarty, president of the American Association for Justice, wrote in a CNN op-ed that "preventable medical errors are the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and cost our country $29 billion a year," adding that while medical malpractice lawsuits are a symptom of the problem, the root of the problem is medical malpractice itself. Writing that "the civil justice system gives families of patients who have died or have been injured by medical negligence an avenue to seek accountability," McLarty argues that proposals for medical malpractice reform are misguided because they only strip away patients' rights and remove accountability. She argues that the most effective way to address the medical malpractice crisis is to focus on patient safety efforts.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

NHTSA: Nearly 10% of Fatal Crashes Involved Distracted Driving reported that "Distracted driving was cited as a contributing factor in nearly 10% of all fatal crashes in 2010, while that number nearly doubles (to 18%) for crashes where individuals were injured, according to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  The report studied all vehicle crashes in 2010, analyzing how influential distracted driving behaviors were in those crashes. ...  NHTSA found that 416,000 people were injured that year in motor vehicle crashes that involved distracted drivers, while 3,092 people were killed in crashes where someone was exhibiting distracted driving behaviors."  Read more.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Infant Bathing Seats Recalled

The AP reported that "More than 2 million infant bathing seats are being recalled after reports of four infants sustaining skull fractures in falls when the frame came unhinged." The AP notes that in the recall notice, "the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the manufacturer Summer Infant Inc. of Woonsocket, R.I., said four children between 2 weeks and 2 months old received skull fractures, including one that required intensive care for bleeding on the brain." The notice adds that "falls can occur when the bather is lifted and/or carried with an infant in it." The company will provide a free repair kit that includes a locking strap and instructions.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Read Our August Newsletter

Available here.
P.S. School starts next week, watch out for kids!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Another Example of How Your Insurance Company May Not Be Your Friend When You Really Need It

The AP reported that "Progressive Corp. insurance group is defending itself against an onslaught of negative publicity after it tried to avoid paying $75,000 to the family of a client killed in a car crash and tried to blame the wreck on her."  Read more.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Law Firm of Stephen M. Reck Proudly Announces $2.5 Million Verdict

On May 29, 2008, Rev. Kathleen Crockford was rear-ended by an 80,000 lb. tractor-trailer truck while stopped at an intersection on Route 1 in Stonington.  The collision and resulting traumatic brain injury would forever change her life and leave her permanently disabled.  On June 21, 2012, a federal court jury in Bridgeport returned a verdict in her favor for $2,523,500 ($1,273,500 economic damages and $1,250,000 non-economic damages).  The case was tried by Attorneys Scott D. Camassar and Stephen M. Reck.

The defendant, Larry Spencer, was an experienced tractor-trailer driver on his way to deliver a load a steel for his employer, Metals USA of Seekonk, MA.  Witnesses did not see him slow down before he collided with the back of Rev. Crockford's VW Beetle and pushed it into a third vehicle.  Mr. Spencer, who saw the stopped vehicles from as much as 1300' away prior to the collision, claimed his brakes failed.  Police determined the brakes were fully functional and Mr. Spencer drove the vehicle away from the scene.

Rev. Crockford was flown by Life Star to Hartford Hospital on account of her life-threatening injuries.  She was released after four days, after which she was followed by the Hartford Hospital Head Injury Program for two years.  She continues to suffer headaches, vertigo, fatigue, lack of stamina, lack concentration and attention, memory loss, slow mental processing, difficulty finding words and speaking fluently, irritability and depression.  A two-day defense neuropsychological exam confirmed that her traumatic brain injury is permanent and that she suffers all of the symptoms and problems of which she complains.  She requires daily medication to help improve concentration and deal with depression and has to nap every day just to function.

At the time of the collision, Rev. Crockford was the full-time solo pastor of the Westerly-Pawcatuck Congregational Church and a part-time book editor, earning an average of about $65,000/year.  She was planning to lead her church well into the future, for as long as she was healthy.  As a result of the traumatic brain injury, she has been unable to return to work.  She incurred about $84,000 in medical bills, and still takes multiple medications costing an average of $150/month.   Multiple witnesses testified to the ways her quality of life has been severely diminished. 

The defendants offered $1.1 million prior to trial, which increased to $1.4 million during the trial.  Rev. Crockford is a wonderful person and we are honored to have represented her.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Study: Malpractice Cases Take Years to Resolve, Mostly in Favor of Doctors

Reuters reported on a study of 10,000 medical malpractice claims during the years 2002-2005 published online May 14 in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The study found that a little over half (55%) result in lawsuits. Of those, over half are dismissed; most of the remaining are resolved before a verdict, with under five percent resulting in a trial verdict. Of those decided at trial 80% favor the physician. Dismissed cases took an average of 20 months to resolve, while those decided at trial took an average of 39 months if they favored the physician and 44 months when they favored the patient.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Parents Key to Preventing Playground Injuries

The Boston Globe's Daily Dose blog noted that a recent Johns Hopkins University study "predicted a rise in accidental injuries if government efforts to increase childhood physical activity by building more playgrounds continue to ignore the importance of addressing safety issues." It also identifies three mistakes that parents make that lead to common playground injuries: going down slides with their young children, having home trampolines or letting children under age 6 use trampolines, or use monkey bars lacking a cushioned ground surface.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

SAE: Turn-Signal Neglect a Bigger Problem Than Distracted Driving

A new study by the Society of Automotive Engineers, in which 12,000 turning and lane-changing vehicles were observed with visible turn signal usage (or neglect) data recorded, shows that the neglect rate for lane changing vehicles is 48%, and the neglect rate for turning vehicles is 25%. "That translates to an astonishing 750 billion times a year that drivers neglect turn signals on U.S. roadways, or over 2 billion times per day. Each incident of neglect elevates the risk of a multi-vehicle crash."  While not every instance of turn signal neglect results in a crash, "the study concludes that the collective result of turn signal neglect is as many as 2 million crashes per year."  The U.S. Department of Transportation states that distracted driving causes about 950,000 crashes per year.  "While the causes and remedies to combat Distracted Driving remain a matter of ongoing debate, the remedy for Turn Signal Neglect is simple, direct, effective, and cost-saving: The singular cause is driver neglect and the solution is the Smart Turn Signal."  Read more.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Feds Will Study Factors Affecting Commercial Driver Safety

The DOT's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration chief, Anne Ferro, wants the agency to study "to what extent driver compensation practices, and detention time at shippers' loading and receiving docks affect drivers' ability to drive safely." One study "will explore whether long waiting times in a parked vehicle at a shipper's dock -- which as of Feb. 27 became "off-duty time" under the new driver hours-of-service rule -- would contribute to driver fatigue and influence performance, Ferro said in a keynote speech April 20 at the annual Spring Forum of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals' Columbus (Ohio) Roundtable." The other study "would examine whether a link exists between the way drivers are compensated-either by the load or by the mile -- and driver behavior behind the wheel, according to Ferro."  Read more.

Monday, April 16, 2012

CDC: Injury is the #1 Killer of Children, Traffic-Related Most Common

The CDC states that from 2000 to 2009, the overall annual unintentional injury death rate for kids "decreased 29%, from 15.5 to 11.0 per 100,000 population, accounting for 9,143 deaths in 2009. The rate decreased among all age groups except newborns and infants aged <1 year; in this age group, rates increased from 23.1 to 27.7 per 100,000 primarily as a result of an increase in reported suffocations. The poisoning death rate among teens aged 15–19 years nearly doubled, from 1.7 to 3.3 per 100,000, in part because of an increase in prescription drug overdoses (e.g., opioid pain relievers). Childhood motor vehicle traffic–related death rates declined 41%; however, these deaths remain the leading cause of unintentional injury death."   Read more.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Read Our April Newsletter

Available here.  Have a great holiday weekend!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

CDC: 15,000 in US Die Each Year from Prescription Painkiller Overdoses

The CDC says "Overdose deaths from prescription painkillers have skyrocketed in the past decade. Every year, nearly 15,000 people die from overdoses involving these drugs—more than those who die from heroin and cocaine combined."  Read more.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Study: Doctors Aren't Always Honest With Patients

The AP reported that according to the study, "More than half admitted describing someone's prognosis in a way they knew was too rosy. Nearly 20 percent said they hadn't fully disclosed a medical mistake for fear of being sued. And 1 in 10 of those surveyed said they'd told a patient something that wasn't true in the past year."  Read more.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

State Report Says CT Hospital Errors Persist

A new report by the State shows bed sores, wrong-site surgeries and other surgical errors reported by Connecticut hospitals have increased in the last five years, despite numerous efforts to reduce them.  Read more.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Gov't Looks to save Money by Denying Compensation to Military Dependents for Medical Malpractice

This is just wrong.  The Supreme Court's 1950 Feres decision has prevented active-duty troops from suing for injuries due to malpractice in military medical facilities, but now, as reported in the Army Times, "government lawyers in Florida are seeking to expand that restriction to include the spouses and children of service members." Jimmy German, an active-duty Navy mechanic, sued when the Jacksonville Naval Hospital failed to diagnose his wife's soon-to-be fatal cerebral hemorrhage, but the government is seeking dismissal, saying under the Feres doctrine, whether or not Navy doctors committed medical errors, "troops should not be allowed to sue for negligent care provided to their dependents." Although the government has settled many cases involving injured military family members, this new interpretation, according to George Washington University Law School professor Jonathan Turley "is a very clear effort to establish the rule that children and spouses are equally barred from tort recovery from negligence."  It's one thing to bar troops from suing for things arising out of their active duty service, but why should a similar restriction be placed on their spouses and children?