Categories
Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Video: How to Sue for
Medical Negligence in South Carolina

Video Transcription

Hi, I’m attorney David Hood and I’ve been practicing law in South Carolina for over 30 years. And today, what I’d like to cover is a primary area of practice for us, which is medical malpractice, and how do you sue for medical malpractice in South Carolina?

Reasonable Standard of Care

Basically, you have to show that the medical treatment you received was below the reasonable standard of care in South Carolina. In addition, you have to show that the outcome would have been a lot better, if you had gotten the right care.

Medical Records

To do this, you need to get all your medical records together and then have a medical expert review them. After the expert reviews all your records, if the expert believes you received substandard care and suffered significant damages because of it, then you may have a case.

Medical Expert’s Affidavit

Typically, the medical expert has to be able to issue an affidavit saying that they believe medical malpractice was committed in South Carolina and that there were serious injuries or death due to the medical malpractice.

File the Lawsuit

Once the expert issues the affidavit, you can file the lawsuit. After that, both sides normally get more experts and the discovery phase starts. This information exchange period can take a year or more to complete.

Mediation

Once the discovery phase has been completed, a mediation will typically be set up to see if the parties can resolve the case before the trial. If not, then the case goes to trial.

It can be a long and expensive process, but many medical malpractice lawyers in South Carolina will front the costs if they believe (and the expert agrees) that there is a case.

Take care, I hope this was helpful.  

Categories
Personal Injury Attorney in South Carolina

Video: Do I Have a Personal Injury Case
in South Carolina? Part 2

Video Transcription

Hi, I’m Attorney David Hood and I’ve been practicing law throughout South Carolina for over 30 years. One area we emphasize is Personal Injury, and people often ask us, “Do I have a good case?” We’ve covered part of that in part 1, and we want to wrap up the rest of that for you right now in part 2.

Do I have a good case?

If you’ve been injured in an accident, you might be wondering whether you have a strong case. The answer is, it depends.

I’m going to you about factors we consider to determine whether or not you have a strong potential personal injury case.

Witnesses

Number 5: Witnesses. Your case is only as good as your evidence, and usually your evidence is only as good as your witnesses. If, for example, your only witness to support liability is a relative or friend, your case is weaker than if you had several impartial witnesses. Your doctor might be a witness to the medical part of your case. If the doctor involved has never testified, doesn’t want to testify or can’t testify well, this lowers your settlement value.

How Tight-Fisted is the Defendant’s Insurance Company?

Number 6: How tight-fisted is the defendant’s insurance company? As lawyers, we are familiar with which companies are the most tight-fisted and will make ridiculous, low-ball offers on cases. Some we might need to file suit on. However, if the carrier is fair, and some of them are, we may get a higher settlement offer.

How Much Time Has Passed?

Number 7: How much time has passed since the incident that caused your injuries? As a general rule, the longer it takes a case to get to a jury, the less sympathetic the jurors will be. This is particularly true if you experienced pain or other symptoms for a limited time after the accident, but you have fully recovered by the time of the trial.

How Much Damage?

Number 8: How much damage was there to the cars involved? In many automobile cases, the actual damage to the automobile may be minimal as car bumpers are made to absorb more impact now than they could years ago. If there was only a bumper scratch or minor fender damage, the jury will question the extent of the impact and, therefore, the extent of your injuries. On the other hand, if the car in which you were injured looks like an accordion, it will be easier to convince a jury that you sustained serious injuries.

Recap

To recap, the primary factors determining case strength are:

How clear is the defendant’s liability?

How large and consistent with your injuries are your medical records?

Will insurance or defendant assets fully cover your loss?

Will a jury like you and your actions, and dislike the defendant and his actions?

Do persuasive and unbiased witnesses support your claim?

Does the insurer have fair settlement practices?

Will you be fully recovered by the time of trial?

And in auto accident cases, how extensively and visibly was your car damaged?

Categories
Personal Injury Attorney in South Carolina

Video: Do I Have a Personal Injury Case
in South Carolina? Part 1

Video Transcription

Hi, I’m Attorney David Hood and I’ve been practicing law throughout South Carolina for over 30 years. In our practice, we’ve handled a lot of personal injury cases and accident cases, and people ask the question almost every time: Do I have a good case? We’re going to dive into that for you right now.

Do I have a good case?

If you have been injured in an accident you might be wondering whether you have a strong case. The answer is “it depends”. I’m going to talk to you about factors we consider, to determine whether or not you have a strong potential personal injury case.

Liability

Number 1 is liability. Liability is basically fault. Proving “liability” (that the other person caused the accident, not you) is the first and biggest hurdle in your case. This is especially true in smaller personal injury cases. Insurance companies have no fear whatsoever about rejecting claims in small cases in which there are serious questions as to liability. To put it another way, if the defendant’s fault or responsibility is unclear, then so is your chance of achieving a favorable outcome in your case.

Damages

The second factor is damages. Liability can be clear, but if there are no damages, then you have no case. Damages are the harm that was done to you in the accident, including your past and future medical bills, as well as your pain and suffering and out of pocket loss. Even in the earlier stages of your case, you probably have some idea as to how severe your injuries are. Cases involving broken bones, which show on x-rays are relatively easy, but soft tissue cases, such as neck and back strains, are more difficult because they don’t easily show on x-rays or MRI’s.

Ability to Pay

Number 3 is the ability to pay. Does the potential defendant have the ability to pay? If not, you and your attorney may invest a good deal of time, money, effort and emotional energy in the case, but never see a penny in return. Either some type of insurance must cover the incident, or the defendant must have personal assets like property that could be sold to pay the judgment.

Will the Jury Like You?

Number 4, will the jury like you? Will jurors empathize with your situation? On the other hand, what kind of person is the defendant? Will the jury like the defendant? There are some “bad defendants” – the drunk driver, the tire squealer, or the bully. If you have an unlikeable defendant, your settlement range goes up. But even more importantly, if the jury doesn’t like you or doesn’t believe you, your settlement range goes down.

Categories
Medical Malpractice Lawyer

South Carolina: Among the Top 5 States
with the Worst Nursing Home Abuse Protections

The back of a person sitting in a wheelchair in a nursing home hallway.

Older Americans are among the easiest targets for abuse. Nursing home abuse is a real and growing issue as America is increasingly becoming an aging nation. The U.S. Census Bureau expects that “By 2030, all baby boomers will be older than age 65. This will expand the size of the older population so that 1 in every 5 residents will be retirement age.” (Census.gov)

Although states recognize elder-abuse as a growing issue, many are not fighting hard enough to stop it. WalletHub compared the 50 states and DC and ranked how we are doing at preventing elder-abuse, with #1 being the best, and #51 being the worst. Unfortunately, South Carolina came in 50th place.

Per the WalletHub study, here is the data for SC:

Nursing Home Abuse Protections in South Carolina (1=Best; 51=Worst.):

50th – Overall Rank

49th – Prevalence (Elder-Abuse, Gross-Neglect & Exploitation Complaints)

26th – Resources (Expenditures on elder-abuse prevention and Long-term care ombudsmen-program funding)

33rd – Protection (Eldercare organizations & services, Certified volunteer ombudsmen,

and Nursing-homes quality)

*Per resident aged 65+

(WalletHub.com)

What Constitutes Nursing Home Abuse?

  • Physical Abuse
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Emotional Abuse
  • Financial/Material Exploitation
  • Confinement
  • Neglect
  • Abandonment

(APA.org)

What are the Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse?

  • “Physical abuse, neglect, or mistreatment: Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, burns
  • Emotional abuse: Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, or unusual depression; strained or tense relationships; frequent arguments between the caregiver and older adult
  • Financial abuse: Sudden changes in financial situations
  • Neglect: Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, unusual weight loss
  • Verbal or emotional abuse: Belittling, threats, or other uses of power and control by individuals”

(NCOA.org)

How Can the Elderly Prevent being Abused?

  • Take care of your health.
  • Seek professional help for drug and alcohol abuse, and depression concerns. Urge family members to get help for these issues as well.
  • Plan for your own future: A power or attorney or living will help you address health care decisions in advance, to avoid family problems and/or confusion later.
  • Stay active; stay connected with family and friends to decrease social isolation.
  • Post and open your own mail.
  • Do not give personal information over the phone.
  • Use direct deposit for any checks you receive.
  • Have your own phone.
  • Make sure your will is up to date.
  • Know your rights.

(NCOA.org)

For more information: ACL.gov.

CONTACT DAVID L. HOOD IF YOU SUSPECT YOUR ELDERLY LOVED ONE IS BEING ABUSED

If your elderly loved one lives in a nursing home and you suspect abuse, or if you suspect abuse by another caregiver, please schedule a free consultation with attorney David L. Hood by calling (843) 491-6025 or filling out our brief online contact form

We know how difficult it can be to deal with elder abuse and the untold pain and suffering it causes. At the Law Offices of David L. Hood, we work hard to protect your rights and make things simple for you and your family. After a free case evaluation, attorney David L. Hood, co-counsel, and our team of experts will vigorously pursue your case to get you the best result we can achieve. Let us put years of experience to work for you!

*Clients are not liable for any expenses unless there is a recovery in their case; however, if there is a recovery in their case, clients will be liable for expenses. Attorney’s fees are based on a percentage of the recovery, which will be computed before deducting expenses.

Other online resources used for this article:

InvestmentNews.com

Categories
Medical Malpractice Lawyer Pharmacy Malpractice

Is Chaos at Chain Pharmacies Putting You at Risk?

For decades, pharmacists were the most trusted profession in America. Though they are still respected, they are no longer the most trusted.

Back then, pharmacies were actually owned by the pharmacists; they were independent. Pharmacists normally lived in the community they served, and knew their customers well. They would take their time filling prescriptions, and were very personable, talking to customers about their health and their families. Sometimes pharmacists would have members of their families working with them.

John McDonald, R. Ph. owned McDonald’s Drugstore in the 1970’s. His wife worked the cash register there. Here’s how he described his relationship with his customers. “I enjoy the community and the contact with the people. I probably knew 90 percent of the customers, the families, and watched them grow up. Now we get a lot of people in just to look and reminisce.”(PeoplesPharmacy.com)

Unfortunately, mom and pop pharmacies are a thing of the past. Here’s how Joe Graedon,  President of The People’s Pharmacy describes modern day pharmacies, “Today, most prescriptions are filled in chain pharmacies, groceries or big box discount stores. Most of your interaction is with the clerk or the technician rather than the pharmacist.”

Dominating the pharmacy market now are a few big chains. According to a 2019 Drug Channels Institute report, about 70 percent of prescriptions in the United States are filled by chain drugstores, supermarkets or retailers like Walmart. “As the companies have grown, they have applied cost-cutting measures, especially performance metrics, to their pharmacist employees.” Pharmacists are now expected to fill many prescriptions quickly, causing our health to be at risk.

Many pharmacists at these huge retail chains say they are not surprised by mistakes that happen while filling prescriptions. Pharmacists at companies like CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens described chaotic, understaffed work environments where it has become hard to perform their jobs safely, putting the public in danger of medication errors.

“They struggle to fill prescriptions, give flu shots, tend the drive-through, answer phones, work the register, counsel patients, and call doctors and insurance companies, they said – all the while racing to meet corporate performance metrics that they characterized as unreasonable and unsafe in an industry squeezed to do more with less.”(Boston.com)

Distraught pharmacists are reporting to State boards and associations, explaining their struggles, even to the point of saying they feel they are a danger to the public.

State pharmacy boards find it difficult to regulate the chains. In 2006, the last comprehensive study of medication errors showed that an estimated 1.5 million Americans were harmed by pharmacy errors each year.

A pharmacist in South Carolina “acknowledged making 10 to 12 errors a year – “that are caught” – in an anonymous letter to the…Board of Pharmacy.”(SeattleTimes.com)

How are we at risk due to frenzied pharmacies?

It was a Monday, when a pharmacist in South Carolina handed a mother of an 8-year-old child a prescription that was supposed to contain Ritalin to help control her daughter’s ADHD. Due to the pharmacy being understaffed on the busiest day of the week, the little girl was mistakenly prescribed a diabetes drug at 16 times the normal adult dosage. “After taking the medication, the little girl sank into a coma and suffered permanent brain damage. The pharmacist who made the mistake, investigators discovered, was at the end of a 12-hour shift – and a 60-hour work week.”(Consumer.HealthDay.com)

In 2018, 85-year-old Mary Scheuerman’s son, Alton James picked up her prescription from Publix. The doctor had prescribed her medicine for depression. Her son said that he gave her a pill each morning, per the instructions on the bottle. “After six days, she turned pale, her blood pressure dropped, and she was rushed to the hospital.” Five days later, Scheuerman died of organ failure.

At the hospital, one of the doctors told Alton James that “his mother’s blood had a toxic level of methotrexate, a drug often used to treat cancer.” Alton James said his mother did not have cancer, and was supposed to be taking an antidepressant. After investigating, a pharmacy employee confirmed that methotrexate had mistakenly been dispensed to his mother.

How to protect yourself from pharmacy mistakes:

  • Talk to the pharmacist. If a prescription is one you’ve never taken, talk to the actual pharmacist. Even though they look very busy, and probably are, they “are the best source of information about the drugs they dispense.” Ask about side effects and about interactions with any other medicines you are already taking. Just taking the time to ask one question increases the odds that the pharmacist will take a second look at your prescription, and catch any possible errors.
  • Open the bag and check your prescription. One mistake that is commonly made is a prescription being dispensed to the wrong patient, according to The Institute for Safe Medication Practices. Check the printout and the prescription bottle to be sure the correct name is on both. Also check the address and birth date, in case someone with a similar name had a prescription filled at the same time.
  • Look at the actual medication in the bottle. If you have taken the medicine before, you will recognize if the medicine looks different. If so, don’t assume it’s because of a different manufacturer. ASK THE PHARMACIST.Most prescription bottles will have a description of what the medicine looks like. Read it and compare to the contents. If anything looks amiss, ASK THE PHARMACIST. The internet can also help you identify medicines. WebMDDrugs.com and the National Library of Medicine all have websites to help identify pills.
  • Read the instructions. Read the informational leaflet included with most prescriptions. Make sure the medication matches the ailment being treated.
  • Report errors. Alert the pharmacist as soon as possible if there are any errors. The pharmacist should exchange the wrong medication for the right one. If a prescription was mistakenly mixed up with another patient, it’s important that the other patient is informed quickly, before taking the wrong medication. Also alert the prescribing physician, since the mistake may have started there.

Mistakes can also be reported to state pharmacy boards. For South Carolina patients, that would be the South Carolina Board of Pharmacy.

THE LAW OFFICES OF DAVID L. HOOD – REPRESENTING PHARMACY MALPRACTICE VICTIMS IN SOUTH CAROLINA

Prescription malpractice can cause serious health problems and even result in death for many innocent patients. However, if the matter is handled expertly, those responsible for the damages can be held accountable. The Law Offices of David L. Hood and his co-counsel have experience in handling pharmacy malpractice cases. With an understanding of the system, they utilize their network of medical experts and pharmacists to figure out the cause of the mistake and obtain (if possible) an expert opinion so a claim can be filed against those at fault.

If you have suffered at the hand of someone else’s negligence and incompetence, let The Law Offices of David L. Hood do whatever it takes to help you and your family get justice. We will fight until you get the compensation that you deserve.

If you or a loved-one has been a victim of pharmacy malpractice in South Carolina, contact us for a free initial consultation. If you choose us to fight for your claim, we will work with you on a contingent-fee basis, meaning, you won’t owe us a fee unless we get a recovery for you! You can call us now at (843) 491-6025 or contact us at any of our offices in South Carolina here.

Categories
Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Military Members Now Permitted to Be Compensated for Medical Malpractice

For the past 70 years, members of the military “have been barred from filing medical malpractice claims against the government” under the Feres Doctrine.(NPR.com) Recently, Congress has made changes that will benefit the military and their families.

On December 20, 2019, when the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was signed into law, it contained a little-noticed provision that “creates a medical-malpractice exception” to Feres v. United States, a 1950 U.S. Supreme Court decision. (USNews.com)

What is the Feres doctrine?

The Feres Doctrine was named after Lt. Rudolph Feres, who was a highly decorated World War II paratrooper. He “made it through some of the toughest fighting of World War II, only to be killed in a stateside barracks fire.”(TheNewYorkTimes.com) In 1947, Lt. Feres and three other officers were killed when the boiler in their barracks exploded and started a fire in the middle of the night.

Lt. Feres had a wife and an infant son at home, dependent on him. His widow “sued the Army for $100,000, claiming that the camp had failed to have a fire guard on watch that night and that the boiler was known to be faulty.” At that point, the Supreme Court laid down the Feres doctrine, which states, “The government is not liable for injuries sustained by military members on active duty.”

Since that time, the Feres doctrine has shielded the military from many lawsuits.

In one extreme case, a soldier’s stomach was opened up for a follow-up operation for abdominal pain. The surgeon discovered a 30 x 18 inch towel containing the inscription “Medical Department U.S. Army”, left there during the previous surgery.

Sergeant First Class Richard Stayskal

Sergeant First Class Richard Stayskal is bringing about needed change for military members and their families. Stayskal is a 38-year-old Purple Heart recipient. In 2004, he was shot through the chest in Iraq by a sniper. He recovered, and stayed in the military.

In January 2017, the Green Beret underwent a routine chest scan, during a physical at a Fort Bragg base hospital. Although the scan picked up tumors in his lungs, the technician never told him, or notified his doctors.

Stayskal went back to the hospital with shortness of breath and chest pains a few months later. Once again, the tumors were missed by Army doctors.

When he finally went to a civilian pulmonologist in June 2017, the cancer was spotted; but by then it had metastasized. Stayskal is now receiving treatment, but because the Stage 4 lung cancer was detected so late, it’s incurable.

Stayskal said, “I was so angry, I reported the negligence to the hospital commander. The response I got was a total lack of concern. Nothing was done.”

After months of fighting, Stayskal took his fight to lawmakers in Washington, DC. The Sergeant First Class Richard Stayskal Military Accountability Act of 2019 was proposed, but not passed; however, “provisions of that act are now included in the 2020 NDAA.” (ABC11.com)

Stayskal says of the new law, “This is everybody’s fight…for the last 70 years, everybody who’s not had a voice or the ones who have tried and fell short…this is a victory for service members across the board.”

How does the new provision work?

Malpractice cases will not go through the federal courts. “Instead, they will be addressed through an existing Defense Department adjudication agency that handles Military Claims Act lawsuits.”

Under the provision, which went into effect on January 1, 2020, military members who have medical malpractice cases will file for compensation just like they would for worker’s compensation, with award amounts being determined by federal court data. For example, if the average compensation for a lost leg is $25 million in the federal court system, a soldier who lost her leg due to medical malpractice in a military hospital would also receive $25 million.

There is a 3-year statute of limitations for filing a case, and the provision will be retroactive to the beginning of 2018, which means Sgt. Stayskal can now pursue his malpractice claim.

CONTACT THE LAW OFFICES OF DAVID L. HOOD FOR A FREE MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CONSULTATION

If you or someone you care about has suffered because of medical negligence, please schedule your free consultation by calling the Law Offices of David L. Hood at (843) 491-6025 or filling out our brief online contact form.

We know how difficult it can be to deal with the immediate and long-term effects of a serious malpractice-related injury. At the Law Offices of David L. Hood, we work hard to make things simple for you. After a free case evaluation, if we believe we can help you and your family, Medical Malpractice Attorney David L. Hood, co-counsel, and our team of experts will vigorously pursue your case to get you the best result we can achieve. Let us put our years of experience to work for you!

Categories
Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Overlapping Surgeries Can Be Catastrophic

Each year, millions of Americans undergo surgery. When we are “under the knife”, we expect to have the surgeon’s full attention. Little do we know that our surgeon may be performing another operation at the same time.

“The pressure to be more efficient and treat more patients can lead surgeons to schedule procedures in more than one operating room at a time.” (StatNews.com)

“Overlapping surgery refers to operations performed by the same primary surgeon such that the start of one surgery overlaps with the end of another. A qualified practitioner finishes noncritical aspects of the first operation while the primary surgeon moves to the next operation.” (JAMANetwork.com)

New research shows that overlapping surgeries is generally safe; however, there are some groups for which this is not the case.

Research found that there was a small increase of complications and even death for overlapping surgeries involving coronary artery bypass grafting and for high-risk patients. Small errors in care could be catastrophic for these groups, causing infections, pneumonia, heart attack, or death.

Bobby Jenks, former Red Sox pitcher settled a claim for $5.1 million after a surgeon caused him a career-ending spine injury, operating on his back and overseeing another operation simultaneously.

Jenks had pitched 19 games before hurting his back in June of 2011.

Dr. Kirkham Wood recommended spinal decompression surgery for Jenks, in hopes of getting him back on the mound again.

The three-hour surgery appeared to have gone well initially. But two weeks post-surgery, Jenks suffered a dural sac tear and leaked spinal fluid. Per discharge instructions, Jenks left messages for Dr. Wood, but never got a return call.

In pain, Jenks went to another surgeon, who repaired the tear, and said that Wood had left a bony spicule which caused the tear.

Jenks had already filed suit when he found out that Dr. Wood had been overseeing another surgery during his operation. Dr. Wood had been sued twice before by patients who had serious complications due to him juggling simultaneous surgeries

Jenks said, “Never picking up a baseball again is absolutely devastating…I was living the dream, and it was taken away from me.”(BostonGlobe.com)

Surgeons must take responsibility and not only make sure both patients are informed when performing overlapping surgeries, but should avoid overlapping surgeries altogether when there is a possibility that the practice could be unsafe.

CONTACT THE LAW OFFICES OF DAVID L. HOOD FOR A FREE MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CONSULTATION

If you or someone you care about has suffered because of medical negligence, please schedule your free consultation by calling the Law Offices of David L. Hood at (843) 491-6025 or filling out our brief online contact form.

We know how difficult it can be to deal with the immediate and long-term effects of a serious malpractice-related injury. At the Law Offices of David L. Hood, we work hard to make things simple for you. After a free case evaluation, if we believe we can help you and your family, Medical Malpractice Attorney David L. Hood, co-counsel, and our team of experts will vigorously pursue your case to get you the best result we can achieve. Let us put our years of experience to work for you!

Categories
Medical Malpractice Lawyer

South Carolina Woman Nearly Brain-Dead After Giving Birth

Once again, South Carolina is in the news for its “sky-high and preventable rate of pregnancies that end in death or serious, long-term medical consequences.” (TheState.com)

34-year-old Jodie Roberts entered the hospital on Monday, July 19, 2018 with excitement, knowing she would soon see her second son, Walter Roberts Jr. for the first time. She was aware that her pregnancy was risky, because of her age, and the fact that she was overweight. She also had diabetes and high blood pressure, according to a legal filing by the family’s attorney.

Because of the risks, her doctors admitted her to Prisma Health’s high risk obstetrics department in Columbia.

When Roberts’ Aunt Becky Kelly visited her on Tuesday afternoon, she says she knew something was wrong. Jodie looked panicked, and was having trouble breathing. Jodie told her she had been complaining to staff and repeatedly asking for a C-section. Kelly says she went to talk to the nurse several times, and was told that Roberts’ doctor wanted her to deliver the baby naturally.

“Roberts was suffering from preeclampsia, a little known but dangerous condition that affects one in 25 pregnant women, according to an affidavit” from an OB/GYN who reviewed Roberts’ medical records.

Preeclampsia is a complication that causes a pregnant woman’s blood pressure to spike, which can cause severe headaches, changes in vision, nausea or vomiting, impaired liver function, swelling of the hands and face, and shortness of breath.

Untreated, preeclampsia can lead to serious, even fatal complications for the baby and/or for the mother. However, it is highly treatable if caught early. Quick actions need to be taken, including administering magnesium and delivering the baby by C-section (once the pregnancy is far enough along).

The first sign of preeclampsia is usually a rise in blood pressure. Sometimes there are no other symptoms; therefore, it’s very important to monitor your blood pressure during pregnancy.

According to Roberts’ attorney, and the expert witness, Prisma Health waited far too long to take any action to treat her preeclampsia. At 8:46pm Tuesday, Roberts said she couldn’t breathe. Three hours later, she complained of pain and discomfort, even though she had already been given an epidural.

Roberts’ blood pressure of 200/150 was considered severe preeclampsia. Experts advise treating preeclampsia with anti-hypertension drugs and magnesium at 160/110, to prevent seizures. Treatment was still delayed.

At 1:56am, Roberts went into cardiac arrest, after hours of complaining. Her breathing stopped, and her family says she didn’t breathe for about 20 minutes. Finally, at this point, doctors performed an emergency C-section. The toddler is doing fine right now, but it may take years before it is known whether or not he will have any cognitive development issues stemming from the traumatic nature of his birth.

Doctors were able to resuscitate Roberts, but she has been in a vegetative state ever since. The lawsuit says, “Jodie’s injuries were the direct and proximate result of multiple occurrences of gross negligence, including the hospital’s decision to continue to induce labor even as Roberts’ vital signs showed she was in extreme danger and distress.”

An affidavit by Dr. Samuel, who had reviewed the medical records said her caregivers:

  • “Failed to adequately treat her high blood pressure and preeclampsia from her admission until the emergency delivery 42 hours later
  • Waited too long to treat Roberts with magnesium…, and failed to evaluate Roberts’ oxygen deficiency for at least 24 hours during labor
  • Continued inducing labor even though Roberts’ vital signs showed she had severe high blood pressure and hypoxia”

Prisma Health, and the hospital’s high risk obstetrics department (along with two residents and a doctor in that department) were named as defendants in the lawsuit.

To date, Prisma Health has not filed a response to the lawsuit.

Jodie Roberts is still in a vegetative state, and can’t move, speak, or recognize her family. Doctors say her brain activity is at somewhere between 4 and 15 percent. She can breathe on her own, and can open her eyes; but her family says they don’t know if she can actually see, hear, or understand what’s going on around her.

Roberts now has to have a caregiver around the clock to bathe her, change her colostomy bag, tube-feed her three times a day, and crush and administer 14 medications every day.

Her family is suing to pay for her medical expenses and therapy (to possibly trigger something that can help her at least partially recover). Her family says her long-term care could cost millions of dollars.

Roberts is not alone. Unfortunately, her case is just one of many that “illustrate a growing concern over America’s high and rising maternal mortality and morbidity rates.”

About 14 U.S. mothers for each 100,000 live births die each year due to pregnancy or delivery complications. Most high income countries have low maternal death rates, and those rates have declined over the last 25 years. In the United States however, the trend is opposite, with a 16.7% rate increase between 1990 and 2015.

According to MUSC, the rates are even worse in South Carolina, at about 24 deaths per 100,000 live births.

Hopefully, help is on the way:

In August, the Joint Commission (founded in 1951 to improve healthcare for the public and accredits 80% of U.S. hospitals), announced it “has introduced two new standards, effective July 1, 2020, to address complications in the areas of maternal hemorrhage and severe hypertension/preeclampsia.”

In 2016, South Carolina lawmakers established the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee to investigate pregnancy-related deaths. This committee has found that 54% of pregnancy-related deaths in South Carolina are preventable with proper treatment.

CONTACT THE LAW OFFICES OF DAVID L. HOOD FOR A FREE MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CONSULTATION

If you or someone you care about has suffered because of medical negligence, please schedule your free consultation by calling the Law Offices of David L. Hood at (843) 491-6025 or filling out our brief online contact form.

We know how difficult it can be to deal with the immediate and long-term effects of a serious malpractice-related injury. At the Law Offices of David L. Hood, we work hard to make things simple for you. After a free case evaluation, if we believe we can help you and your family, Medical Malpractice Attorney David L. Hood, co-counsel, and our team of experts will vigorously pursue your case to get you the best result we can achieve. Let us put our years of experience to work for you!

Categories
Medical Malpractice Lawyer

No Simple Solution for Physician Burnout

In the United States, burnout is a huge issue for everyone. It affects 28% of the general working population, according to a recent Mayo Clinic report. Even worse, burnout affects 44% to 54% of physicians. This is a scary statistic, since this puts all of our health at risk. “Doctors who report burnout symptoms are twice as likely to commit a medical error.”(Forbes.com)

Even though doctors are battered, bruised, and begging for help, there has been very little noticeable improvement in the physician “burnout crisis”. Dr. Robert Pearl, contributor to Forbes says he has done a good bit of research to try to get to the bottom of what is causing this “burnout crisis” among physicians.

“The American Academy of Family Physicians describes burnout as a condition shaped by exhaustion, lack of effectiveness and compassion or emotional energy.”(PostandCourier.com)

Although most doctors think burnout is caused by a broken healthcare system, burnout actually seems to have three distinct causes, which need attention and action from doctors:

  1. The Healthcare System

Most physicians, when asked, will say burnout is caused solely by a broken healthcare system, and that the solutions to that problem are beyond their control. They point “to a number of systemic obstacles standing in their way: cumbersome computers, vexing regulations, endless paperwork and long hours at the office.”

Dr. Rex Morgan, an internal medicine physician with East Cooper Coastal Family Physicians, in Mt. Pleasant says that doctors do not like spending hours on a computer; they would rather be taking care of patients. He said sometimes doctors are even working on the computer during a patient’s appointment.

Dr. Pete Zwerner, chief medical officer for the physician’s group at the Medical University of South Carolina said all this imputing data for health insurers and making sure billing codes are correct “take time away from doctors who want to spend more time with patients.”

Insurers say all this required paperwork is supposed to save healthcare dollars by preventing ineffective and unnecessary services.

  1. Moral Injury

Moral Injury is “a term first used to describe the psychological distress of combat soldiers.”

Doctors experience moral injury when the healthcare system inflicts harm on patients.

An example of moral injury to a physician:

A person starts experiencing dizzy spells. He goes to his doctor, who diagnoses him with vertigo and orders a CT scan. The CT scan comes back inconclusive, so the doctor then orders an MRI. Two weeks go by, and the insurance company still hasn’t approved the MRI. Most of us have experienced similar insurance delays, as a patient.

The patient is highly anxious and unable to concentrate because of the long wait. The doctor feels highly frustrated and helpless because there’s nothing else he can do at this point to provide medical care for his patient.

Now imagine this same type of scenario happening to multiple patients at the same time. This can cause hopelessness, disengagement and depression for the doctor.

  1. Medical Culture

Dr. Pearl says,

“For the overwhelming majority of medical history, [the medical] culture was constructive.  The desire to heal, combined with a righteous sense of mission, guided every clinical decision, even when there was little doctors could do to help patients. For centuries, doctors relied on their experience, wisdom and intuition  as the best defenses against disease, injury and illness. Their kindness, empathy and compassion sustained the doctor-patient relationship through history’s most difficult moments. Even today, much of what calls doctors to the profession is rooted in these ancient cultural precepts.”

A doctor was supposed to “always [be] on call, never say no to any request, make your job your priority, and accede to every demand.” In those times, a doctor had to basically be a Superman or Superwoman. Saying no was a sign of weakness and a betrayal of the profession. (kevinmd.com)

However, the medical profession today seems far-removed from this original culture of 2,500 years ago. Transformations in science and society are turning everything upside-down for doctors. Everything is changing quickly, with the invention of the internet, evidence-based medicine and clinical checklists. The “clash between the values physicians were taught and their new reality is producing some of the telltale symptoms we associate with burnout, including disillusionment and despair.”

Examples of these changes:

  • Patients are now treated like “consumers” and doctors are being labeled “providers”.
  • Patients can now use the internet for medical advice.
  • Insurers challenge doctors’ requests for tests and procedures.

Doctors are increasingly resisting these changes in science and society, but are getting nowhere. A mere 40% of physicians today would recommend their career to others.

“Medical culture must evolve in order to address healthcare’s runaway spending and lagging quality.”

Physician burnout has always been a reality, but it was always dismissed; doctors were just forced to deal with it. Now that we know the horrible damages burnout can cause, dismissing is no longer viable.

“In today’s economic climate, any burnout solution that costs more money won’t happen”, says Dr. Pearl. But something has to be done to stop physician burnout.

Some Possible Solutions:

Roper St. Francis Healthcare in Charleston, SC is developing a wellness program for staff members. They suggest doctors find activities like exercising to relieve stress, and that physicians not take paperwork home.

The Medical University of South Carolina Wellness Center in Charleston has opened classes for physicians and students to help with burnout. One of the classes offered is water aerobics.

Dr. Morgan hopes that in the future physicians will be able to delegate paperwork and data entry to administrative staff.

Health care systems across the country are adopting policies to create more responsive, less rigid workplaces for physicians. This will help doctors maintain a healthy balance of work and personal life.

CONTACT THE LAW OFFICES OF DAVID L. HOOD FOR A FREE MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CONSULTATION

If you or someone you care about has suffered because of medical negligence, please schedule your free consultation by calling the Law Offices of David L. Hood at (843) 491-6025 or filling out our brief online contact form.

We know how difficult it can be to deal with the immediate and long-term effects of a serious malpractice-related injury. At the Law Offices of David L. Hood, we work hard to make things simple for you. After a free case evaluation, if we believe we can help you and your family, Medical Malpractice Attorney David L. Hood, co-counsel, and our team of experts will vigorously pursue your case to get you the best result we can achieve. Let us put our years of experience to work for you!

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Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Rampant Medical Neglect in South Carolina Prisons

The South Carolina Constitution requires that “the state must provide for the health and welfare of all incarcerated men and women.”(Greenvilleonline.com) However, according to at least 83 medical malpractice suits pending as of December, 2018, the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) is not meeting the most basic health care needs of its inmates. There are an additional 78 wrongful death or personal injury lawsuits that cite inadequate medical care in the state’s prisons.

“Collectively, the cases – along with interviews with more than 60 former and current inmates conducted by The State – offer an alarming picture of a prison system in crisis, leaving inmates broken, discarded, and in some cases, dead, due to incompetence or negligence.”

Here are just a few examples of this negligence, which has been going on for years:

Julius Allen Munn says he became blind, because SCDC refused to buy his test strips (which cost 10 cents each) that were needed to check his blood sugar, since he is diabetic. He volunteered to buy them himself, but that wasn’t allowed either.

Because of botched dental work that was done in a SC prison, S.S., another inmate had to be shocked back to life twice in an ambulance, on the way to the hospital, after lying in his cell begging for help for five days.

C.C. says he has a severely broken jaw, and has waited over a year for prison officials to fix it.

P,H. filed a lawsuit in 2016, claiming he had cancerous growths that were pushed aside for four years.

In more severe cases, death has occurred due to SCDC’s negligence:

In 2012, 24-year-old Sinetra Johnson was serving time at Camille Griffin Graham Correctional Institute in Columbia. She was pregnant with twins. In her 26th week of pregnancy, she began having intense pain, and knew something wasn’t right. She went to the prison’s medical station to be checked.

A nurse checked her vital signs, and told her she was fine, and to go on to work at the facility’s clothing plant. She was not sent to an OB/GYN, and no vaginal exam was done.

After work, she again went to the nurse, with the same results.

This being her first pregnancy, Johnson wasn’t sure what to expect. She awoke in extreme pain at 11:15 p.m. She ran to the restroom, and one of the twins (Karmin) was born in the toilet, fully formed, but still in the amniotic sack.

Other inmates tried to get the attention of the guards, and were ignored; so they found a wheelchair, put Johnson in it, and rushed her off to the medical station. Some other inmates were trying to save baby Karmin, but guards ordered them to stay away. By the time the guards finally did something, it was too late. Baby Karmin was dead.

Thankfully, the nurse called an ambulance for Ms. Johnson, and the other baby was delivered in the ambulance.

An autopsy on Karmin revealed that she could have survived if someone had manually ruptured the amniotic sack.

SCDC Officials have denied many of Ms. Johnson’s allegations in response to the lawsuit.

Another wrongful death suit has been filed by the family of Alan Fields, who committed suicide by hanging at Leiber Correctional Institution in Ridgeville, SC in November, 2018. The lawsuit argues “gross negligence by his doctors and other prison staff contributed to Fields taking his own life.”(abcnews4.com)

Fields was serving a 30-year prison sentence for voluntary manslaughter. He had a long history of “hallucinations, severe delusions, and psychosis that were often worsened by manic-depressive episodes,” and had been diagnosed multiple times with schizophrenia and other psychotic and mood disorders.

In the prior year and a half, Fields had tried to commit suicide by hanging or self-injury ten times, according to the lawsuit.

Three of Fields’ five doctors while in prison felt he was malingering (exaggerating or faking symptoms). According to the National Institutes of Health, “the convergence of the multiple symptoms can make the schizoaffective disorders difficult to diagnose.” In March of 2018, one of his doctors, Dr. Judd actually said he did not have a mental illness, and reduced his schizophrenia medicine.

In October of 2018, Fields talked about suicide, including how he was going to go about doing it. “He even scored 10 out of 10 on a suicide intent scale test, attorneys say.” Once again, another doctor, Dr. Griswold accused him of malingering.

In 2017, Fields was placed on a forced medicine regimen, because he was pretending to swallow his medicine, and would later spit it out. That regimen ended as soon as Fields became more stable. In the last three months of his life, Fields took it upon himself to stop taking all his medicines. “The lawsuit slams medical staff for not doing its due diligence to ensure Fields was actually taking his medicine.”

According to the lawsuit, “Mr. Fields’ suicide on November 28, 2018 was foreseeable, preventable, and a direct result of SCDC and the above referenced medical/mental health providers’ failure to properly classify, monitor, and treat his severe mental illness while incarcerated.”

As of 2018, 58% of South Carolina’s inmates suffered from some medical condition. Only 11 physicians and 221 nurses work in the SC prison system, which houses roughly 19,000 inmates. There are 21 prisons in the SCDC system, which means there is not even a doctor for each facility. Bryan Stirling, Director of SCDC says the department contracts with temporary agencies, employing two additional doctors and 74 more nurses to help with the shortage.

Other solutions are in the works, including a partnership with the Medical University of South Carolina, which provides digital doctor visits in five prisons. The department also transports prisoners to see outside doctors.

Stirling says his top priority is to hire more staff, “but that is proving challenging.” The SC House has recently denied a budget request for additional medical staff.

CONTACT THE LAW OFFICES OF DAVID L. HOOD FOR A FREE MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CONSULTATION

If you or someone you care about has sustained a catastrophic illness, or death in a South Carolina prison because of medical negligence, please schedule your free consultation by calling the Law Offices of David L. Hood at (843) 491-6025 or filling out our brief online contact form.

We know how difficult it can be to deal with the immediate and long-term effects of a serious malpractice-related injury. At the Law Offices of David L. Hood, we work hard to make things simple for you. After a free case evaluation, if we believe we can help you and your family, Medical Malpractice Attorney David L. Hood, co-counsel, and our team of experts will vigorously pursue your case to get you the best result we can achieve. Let us put our years of experience to work for you.