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There is a great resource for the most current information on medical statistics, including information on medical malpractice claims. It is statehealthfacts.org a Kaiser Family site.

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For any given state, you can access statistics on how many persons are without health insurance, health costs and budges, mortality rate, Medicaid and Medicare enrollment and much more.

Also of interest is information on medical malpractice claims. Statistics on the number of claims paid in 2010, as well as the total amount paid in claims, and the average amount paid per claim, all broken down by state.

As we’ve reported on several occasions, our office is involved in the DePuy ASR hip implant recall litigation. In fact, we recently scored a minor victory against DePuy in one of our cases filed in Jackson County, Missouri. DePuy had sought to remove the case from the Missouri State Court in Jackson County to the United States Federal District Court. After extensive motions, the federal judge in the Western District of Missouri granted our Motion to Remand–one of very few such motions granted around the country.

In other developments, most DePuy ASR cases are being litigated in a Multi-District Litigation case pending in the United States District Court for the Western District of Ohio. There, the plaintiffs’ attorneys are working together to conduct discovery. It is anticipated that DePuy will release, literally, millions of pages of documents.

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This isn’t in my usual area of practice, but as a long-time Apple user and fan, I thought I’d pass this link along: Apple Patent Infringement. Oh well, I’m sure it will be appealed.

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It probably isn’t obvious to most people, but I believe the Wisconsin governor’s plan to strip state unions of rights and so-called “tort reform” have a common goal … and it is pure politics.

Generally, labor unions have been stalwarts of support for the Democratic party. Also generally, the plaintiff’s personal injury and medical malpractice bar have been among the Democratic party’s strongest financial backers. There are exceptions to both situations, but overwhelmingly trial lawyers and unions are critical supporters of most Democratic candidates.

Tort reform and labor reform have an insidious common purpose-to break the financial back of the Democratic party. Look at the history of both efforts. You will rarely find Democratic support for these measures. Why? Because traditionally the Democratic party mission is to support the rights of working class people. That’s what labor unions do and that is what trial lawyers do to.

I’m proud to call myself a trial lawyer. I spend every day fighting for the rights of people who otherwise couldn’t afford an attorney. I was raised in a union household. I’ve walked a picket line with my father. I know what unions did for my family.

Make no mistake about it, labor “deform” and tort “deform” have the same purpose. And it is purely political.

California was one of the first states to institute caps on medical malpractice awards back in 1983. The limit is only $250,000 for non-economic damages. Well, recent reports in the Sacramento Business Journal reveal that the largest malpractice insurer in California is paying out less than 10% of what it collects in premiums to pay claims. It is spending far more to defend claims and even more goes directly to profit. Other insurers in California are paying out as little as 3% in claims. As a result, the insurance commissioner is requesting rate decreases.

This points out that caps do not result in reduced premiums for doctors–they result in higher profits for insurance companies. No surprise, since insurance companies are some of the biggest supporters of so-called “tort reform.” Why? Bigger profits.

We don’t need caps and other forms of “tort reform” in this country. What we need is insurance reform.

Congressman Phil Gingrey, Republican from Georgia, is again sponsoring a congressional bill to sharply cut malpractice awards. Interesting, since, as the New York Times reports on February 8, 2011, Congressman Gingrey has been sued for medical malpractice and his insurer has paid a settlement.

The details of the lawsuit are contained in the New York Times article, so no need to repeat them here. Suffice it to say that Congressman Gingrey is also Dr. Gingrey, an obstetrician. And this isn’t the first time he’s introduced bills to protect doctors at the expense of their injured patients.

The simple fact is that good doctors make mistakes and when they do, people die or are badly hurt. Medical malpractice is simply medical negligence. You wouldn’t restrict an award that could be entered against a trucking company that caused a death in an accident would you? If not, then why would you restrict the right for the victim of medical negligence to be fully compensated? The injuries aren’t any different. Death is still death. Whether the negligent person is a truck driver, an airplane pilot, a company that manufactured a deadly product, or a doctor, negligence is negligence.

And when the person introducing the bill is biased, you have to wonder. Don’t you?

Almost 100,000 patients have received the DePuy ASR, metal-on-metal hip implant system. Those implants are failing at an alarming rate, at least 13% in the first few years. That is far beyond any “normal” failure rate. As a result, DePuy, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, has recalled these hips.

The problem is, you can’t easily “recall” medical devices that have been implanted. That means they have to be explanted, or surgically removed and replaced. In the case of hip implants, this is called a revision, and it can be an expensive and painful operation.

If you have a DePuy ASR metal-on-metal hip implant, and you talk to your doctor about a hip revision, please talk to an attorney before you have the surgery. Reports are appearing around the country of hospitals treating these explanted hip components as medical waste and discarding them. Don’t let them do this to you! The removed implant is vital evidence. Just because the hip has been recalled doesn’t mean that you will automatically win a case against DePuy. You will still have to prove that the implant was defective in some way and the implant itself is the best evidence.

Please contact our office you have had a DePuy hip implant and need to discuss your legal rights.

Missouri’s doctors are policed by the Board of Healing Arts. And Missouri’s Board is among the most lax in disciplining physicians, according to a recent St. Louis Post Dispatch article, Missouri Secretive, Lax on Doctor Discipline. The Post recounts a story all too familiar to those of us who spend our professional lives prosecuting medical negligence actions: doctors who perform the wrong surgery, who falsify records to cover it up and do so again and again, simply aren’t subject to any meaningful discipline. Suspension of a doctor’s license in Missouri is almost never done, and then usually only when another state’s board has suspended the doctor’s license to practice.

In another article, “Deviant Doctor got OK to Work in Bootheel” the Post describes a truly horrendous situation in which a physician, already on probation for improperly dispensing prescriptions, merely had his probation lengthened after he admitted to the board that he was having improper sexual contact with his patients. It was not until the physician, Martin McDonald, was charged with sexual abuse by Dunklin County prosecutors did the Board take action to suspend his license.

Missouri patients deserve real governmental oversight of all professions, but particularly those whose actions can cause grave harm and death. The process of “disciplining” doctors is long and complicated and allows physicians with known problems to continue to put their patients at risk, with no warning to the patients or the community.

The FDA has recalled Bard Surgical mesh distributed by RAM Medical, Inc., a medical product distributor in Wayne, New Jersey.

Surgical mesh is used in hernia and other abdominal surgeries to strengthen or repair defects in the abdominal wall or peritoneum. For example, in repairing an abdominal hernia, a surgeon may use surgical mesh to create a “backing” that will reinforce the repair.

The counterfeit Bard surgical mesh ranges in size from 2″x4″ to 10″x14″. It is not properly sterilized, the edges are not properly finished and the weave is larger. This mesh can cause infection and failures of the repair, necessitating additional surgeries and other complications. The counterfeit mesh was distributed beginning October 21, 2008. You can review the recall notice here.

If you or a loved one had a surgery using mesh after October 21, 2008, and have experienced any infection, pain or other complications, you may have received the recalled mesh. If so, you have legal rights that need to be protected. Please call the Law Office of Todd N. Hendrickson at 314-721-8833, or click here to submit an inquiry.

For those interested, see the September 28, 2010, Wall Street Journal article titled Medical Malpractice Claims Data Being Used to Curb Medical Mistakes. Among those interviewed are malpractice insurers who admit that medical malpractice suits are “reflective of deeply rooted problems” in the medical industry.