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Medscape reports that medical malpractice rates in three bellwether medical specialities are essentially flat in 2015, meaning there is little increase or decrease in the rates.

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Rates for obstetricions/gynecologists, internists and general surgeons are essentially unchanged from 2014. Given that malpractice suits are on the decline, this shouldn’t come as a surprise, but in the past market forces have shown that actual malpractice lawsuit numbers and insurance rates have little correlation.

If you have questions regarding malpractice, please see .

As reported here, the Missouri Supreme Court, in Watts v. Lester E. Cox Medical Centers declared that caps on medical malpractice cases are unconstitutional. So, if you have a medical malpractice case in Missouri, what does that mean for you?

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First, if your case involves a death, it is not clear whether the limitation on damages is still in effect in those cases. In April, 2012, the same Court upheld caps applied in a medical malpractice wrongful death case. That case, /Sanders v. Ahmed was actually decided based on the pre-2005 law on medical malpractice caps. However, that decision may be read as standing separate from the Watts decision. In short, whether caps apply in wrongful death medical malpractice cases is still an open question.

Second, in cases involving injuries, but not death, the Watts decision is unequivocal. Caps on the amount of damages that a jury can award on cases that existed under the common law, such as medical malpractice claims for injuries, are unconstitutional. Without an amendment to the Missouri Constitution, legislation seeking to impose such limits will not be upheld.

Third, for active cases, and cases yet to be filed, a Court cannot impose a limit on the damages awarded for non-economic injuries, such as pain and suffering. Under the law declared unconstitutional, the amount of those damages was limited to $350,000. While that may seem like a lot of money, in situations involving life long injury and disability, it is readily apparent that the limitation was crippling. Children injured a birth, who would deal with life-long disability, were not fully compensated. Now, that restriction is lifted.

Fourth, if you have had a medical malpractice case resolved under the old law, whether it resulted in a judgment or a settlement, you won’t be able to go back and re-open those cases to achieve a bigger settlement or verdict. If the decision wasn’t appealed, then the case is final and you won’t be able to reopen it.

Obviously, the actual monetary affect on a particular case is going to vary. If you have a current medical malpractice case you should consult with your attorney about the impact. If you believe that you or a loved one was injured as a result of medical malpractice and would like to discuss your case, please call 1-800-567-8176 for a consultation.

The New York Times has reported that a Johnson & Johnson/DePuy hip implant that was sold overseas, was rejected by the FDA in 2009.

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The implant was new hip resurfacing implant. Unlike traditional hip implants, in which the ball portion of thigh bone or femur is removed and a replacement stem and ball are implanted, this particular implant left the femur largely intact and placed a ball shaped cap over the existing femoral head. Most importantly for U.S. medical consumers, the same pelvic (or ace tabular) cup portion of the implants, was used in both the ASR resurfacing system and the ASR system which was approved and sold in the U.S. That ASR implant was eventually the subject of a recall in August 2010–a full year after the FDA had rejected the sister-product.

Both systems are so-called metal-on-metal hip implants because they involve a metal ball and a metal socket. The apparent problem with the implants is that the design of the metal sockets are such that the friction between the two components creates metal debris which reacts in many patients and causes infection-like responses, destroying bone, muscle, ligament and soft-tissues, leading to pain and dislocations of the hips. The metal can also seep into the blood and, in effect, cause a type of metal blood poisoning. The only way to stop the effects is to remove the metal cup and replace it with a traditional plastic lined cup.

The DePuy ASR implants are the subjects of thousands of lawsuits around the country. Most have been consolidated into a multi-district litigation based in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. However, many cases remaining pending in state courts throughout the U.S.

In related litigation, another DePuy metal-on-metal hip implant, the Pinnacle, has also seen cases consolidated in a multi-district litigation, this one in the Northern District of Texas. Generally, the same metal debris problems are occurring with the DePuy Pinnacle implants as occurred with the ASR implants.

For more information on the DePuy ASR Hip Implants, see my previous posts listed below. If you or a loved one have a DePuy ASR or DePuy Pinnacle implant, or suspect you have any metal-on-metal implant, call our offices immediately at 1-800-557-8176.

DePuy ASR Hip Implants Recalled

Hip Implants Withdrawn From Market

Metal on Metal Hip Components Linked to Early Failures

The New York Times has a recent article on The High Cost of Failing Artificial Hips that does a good job of outlining the the cost related to the seemingly epidemic failure of the metal-on-metal hip implants from DePuy and others. If you’ve had a hip replacement in the last 10 years, I would recommend that you read it here.

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If you have a DePuy ASR or Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip implant, I would strongly urge you to contact me to discuss your rights. Even if you are not currently experiencing problems with your hip replacement, you should be aware of the pending litigation and what you should do.

To be clear, there is no class action currently pending for these implants and I don’t anticipate that there will be. What is in place is called a Multi-District Litigation that has some of the characteristics of a class action, but differs in many ways. The most important difference is this: If you don’t file a lawsuit, your interests will not be protected and you will not receive a settlement. In the typical class-action anyone who can be identified as having received the defective product will receive notice of a settlement. That is not true in a Multi-District Litigation.

If you have had a DePuy ASR or Pinnicle, a Zimmer Duron or any other metal-on-metal implant, please contact me immediately at 1-800-557-8176 or see my website at www.stlmedicalmalpractice.com.

The Kansas City Star is reporting on the changes in recent Federal regulations that prohibit journalists and others from using information contained in public databases to identify physicians with dozens of instances of medical malpractice and violations of drug regulations. You can read the full story here.

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The Star describes a physician, known only as “Practitioner 222117″ who may be the most frequently disciplined doctor in America. I’m jaded. Doing what I do, I’ve seen many instances of hospitals and practices covering up bad doctors. I thought I couldn’t be shocked anymore. This shocked me:

According to the Star’s review of the Federal database, Practitioner 222117, in just a 4 year span from 2002 through 2006, had his (or her) license suspended or revoked in 20 states and the District of Columbia! Two professional societies took away his memberships. The Department of Health and Human Services banned the doctor from billing Medicare and Medicaid. And the Drug Enforcement Administration revoked the doctor’s permit to prescribe controlled drugs. For most of that time, his home base was Missouri.

And yet, federal regulations prohibit the Star from cross-checking records and identifying this “doctor.”

Other physicians which reporters are no longer allowed to identify:

A surgeon who lost or settled 247 malpractice cases in California in the 1990s.

A doctor who had drug or alcohol problems and has been in and out of trouble since 1991 with hospitals and licensing boards in at least 5 states.

A Missouri doctor whose staff privileges were suspended or reduced by hospitals 7 times and voluntarily surrendered hospital privileges on 4 other occasions.

And HHS is publishing rules to prohibit anyone from using their database to identify and out these people? Are you kidding me?

This is why I do what I do. At least on a case by case basis, I can help someone get justice.

/STLMedical Malpractice.com

HendricksonLaw.com

The innocuous “instant soup” cups. You know what I’m talking about. The dry soup mixes that come in a cup and you simply add boiling water, let stand for a minute or two and “voila”–instant soup. This seemingly simple product is masking a very real danger.

Physicians and nurses manning burn centers throughout the country know all too well the dangers, as reported by NPR in its story “Why Burn Doctors Hate Instant Soup.”

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Multiple times each week, burn centers across the country receive patients suffering burns caused by instant soup. And the doctors agree–the packaging of the product is simply defective. The cups are lightweight and tapered to a smaller bottom and thus are easily tipped over, sending scalding contents spilling onto people, causing severe burns on the arms, chests and laps. And because noodles retain the heat longer, they can actually cause worse burns.

The answer is simple, say the doctors: redesign the package into a bowl like configuration that is not as susceptible to tipping over.

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a defective product, please contact Todd N. Hendrickson at HendricksonLaw.com. for a free consultation.

There has been a lot of discussions in recent months on abolishing the Missouri Court Plan, which provides that, in all appellate courts, including the Missouri Supreme Court, and some county courts, judges will be appointed by the governor from an approved and vetted panel. Those judges will then stand for retention in an election. This has been how Missouri selects and retains its judges for many years. The plan is so successful, that it is hailed around the country as a model to be followed.

But, since Democrat Governor Jay Nixon was elected in 2008, conservatives and business political groups have called for an end to the Missouri Court Plan. (Never mind that they had no problem with the plan when a Republican was doing the appointing …) It has become a main attack point in these highly partisan political times.

Dismantling the Missouri Court Plan is a bad idea. A very bad idea. And you have to look no further than our neighbor Illinois to know why. Illinois elects its judges, including Supreme Court justices. And tens of millions of dollars have been spent in those campaigns in recent years. And what do contributors get for their money? Anything they want.

This article from the Chicago Tribune tells the story in all its sordid detail. Basically, Justice Lloyd Karmeier, a southern Illinois Republican, was elected to the Illinois Supreme Court in 2004 in a race that cost over $9,000,000.

A $1.18 billion dollar judgment had been entered against State Farm if a class action case for breach of contract in providing non-original manufacturer parts in its collision repairs and hiding that fact from its insureds. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the judgment and then it mades its way to the Illinois Supreme Court.

In filings with the Illinois Supreme Court this week, attorneys for the plaintiffs have alleged and provided supporting documents to demonstrate that Justice Karmeier was actually recruited by State Farm to run for the seat on the Illinois Supreme Court in anticipation of the case being heard. These Court filings indicate that directly and through other entities, State Farm donated between $2.5 million and $4 million dollars to Karemeier’s campaign.

Obviously, I don’t know whether these allegations are true or not. If they are true, it is an eerie parallel to supposed fiction, like John Grisham’s “The Appeal”. If it is true, it is a one of the greatest acts of fraud ever perpetrated.

And even if its not true, it just goes to show you that, inherently, electing judges is fraught with danger. Compare it to the recent Republican debate, in which Governor Perry of Texas said “I’m offended that you think I could be bought with $5,000.” Left unsaid was that he could be bought for $350,000 in campaign contributions. If these allegations are true, State Farm made a damn good investment in Justice Karmeier. $4,000,000 to overturn a $1+ billion dollar judgment? Sounds like a hell of a return on their investment to me.

The Chicago Sun-Times has reported here the the United States Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a $29,000,000 verdict against doctors and nurses at a federal government-funded clinic that left a common neonatal blood infection untreated for twelve hours, resulting in irreversible brain damage.

Christian Arroyo’s life would have been perfectly normal, had a timely diagnosis been made. Antibiotics would have cleared the infection. Instead, Christian suffers from spastic quadraplegia with cerebral palsy who will require a life-time of care.

The St. Louis personal injury defense firm, Sandberg, Phoenix and von Gontard, was at the center of a case in St. Clair County (Belleveille), Illinois that resulted in imposition of drastic sanctions.

SPvG represented Safariland, the manufacture of a ballistic shield used by a Belleville police officer. Sgt. Jon Brough was shot in the face by a shotgun five years ago and claimed that the ballistic shield he was using at the time was defectively designed. Sft. Brough lost his eyesight, sense of smell and was disfigured.

After a lawsuit is filed, the attorneys engage in what is known as discovery. This discovery is conducted under oath, and can consist of requests for documents, written questions, called interrogatories, and recorded question sessions, called depositions. The entire discovery process is based upon each party providing truthful answers and admissions to proper questions and requests. That is where the process went astray in Sgt. Brough’s suit.

According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Safariland’s attorneys, SPvG, engaged in “deliberate or intentional, systematic, dishonest conduct.” When Judge Lloyd Cueto learned of the misconduct, he took the drastic step of striking Safariland’s pleadings. When a defendant’s pleadings are stricken, the result is that the allegations of the plaintiff would then be submitted to a jury as true. In effect, a jury would be left with little choice but to find for the plaintiff. It can’t be emphasized enough that this is a drastic remedy that is only used in the most egregious instances of misconduct.

Immediately after the sanction was imposed, rather than seeking to appeal the judge’s decision, Safariland settled for a “substantial amount of money.” Our congratulations goes out to our colleague Bruce Cook who represented Sgt. Brough for a well-won battle.

DePuy, the manufacture of many types of orthopedic implants, issued a recall on its ASR hip implants last year. However, our office has seen a number of inquiries regarding the DePuy Pinnacle implants. Both implants appear to have similar issues: the “metal-on-metal” configuration creates metal debris in the hip. This metal debris causes an infection-like reaction, called metallosis. The result is a painful hip and, often, damage to bone and surrounding soft tissues as well as loosening of the components. The treatment is usually a surgical revision of the implants.

If you have a DePuy Pinnacle hip implant and have experienced any problems, please contact our office at 314-721-8833 or 1-800-557-8176 for a free consultation.