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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.

DePuy, a division of Johnson & Johnson, has issued a recall on its ASR hip replacement components, including the ASR Hip Resurfacing System and the ASR XL Acetabular System. You can read about the recall here.
The DePuy ASR components are known as metal-on-metal components. Rather than using a poly-vinyl, ceramic or other material pelvic cup surface, the DePuy, like many other manufacturers, designed the ASR system to utilize a metal ball head and metal pelvic cup. The result is apparently is a disaster.
By some reports, more than 13% of these implants are failing within five years. The average him implant lasts 15-20 years before it wears out and needs to be revised. The highest rate of failure is in the smaller ASR implant sizes, 50mm and less, the most common sizes implanted in women.
If you have an ASR hip implant that has been revised due to early loosening or other problems, please contact the office of Todd N. Hendrickson immediately. Our office is aggressively investigating these cases and can help you. It is important that you be represented by an experienced medical malpractice and medical product liability lawyer, as DePuy will attempt to defend these cases by claiming that surgeon error in implantation. Don’t trust your case to a so-called “mass tort” law firm that doesn’t prosecute medical malpractice cases.
Contact our office today, by clicking on this link.

The John Cochran VA Medical Center appears to have exposed at least 1800 veterans to heapatitis and HIV. It appears that the problems stems from improperly cleaning and sterilizing dental instruments. Numerous news outlets, including CNN have reported that technicians at the John Cochran dental clinic hand-washed dental instruments. The practice of hand-washing dental instruments is reported to have begun in February 2009 and continued up until the initial news reports at the end of June.

Hand-washing instruments is a clear breach of sterilization protocols. If a patient has contracted HIV, Heapatitis or any other blood-born infection after receiving dental treatment at John Cochran VA Medical Center dental clinic, there is a good chance that the infection was a direct result of these negligent practices.

HIV and Hepatitis C are serious illnesses that can lead to death. HIV is the precursor to AIDS. Both HIV and Hepatitis are highly infectious. If you or a family member have received dental treatment at the John Cochran VA in the last two years, please contact The Law Offices of Todd N. Hendrickson, P.C. for a free consultation. You should immediately seek legal advice. If you have contracted a blood-born infection you may be entitled to significant compensation.

Click on these links to learn more aboutmedical malpractice and infection. To send a confidential e-mail message to attorney Todd N. Hendrickson, click this link: CONTACT. Please remember to give your name, e-mail address, telephone number and a brief description of when you treated at John Cochran VA Medical Center and the type of procedure.

Pfizer, Inc., the pharmaceutical giant, has agreed to settle a wrongful death suit alleging that the drug Neurontin caused a suicide. Neurontin is an anti-seizure drug approved for use to combat epilepsy. However, Pfizer has promoted the drug to treat chronic pain–a so-called “off label” use.

If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of an off-label use of Neurontin, contact medical malpractice attorney Todd N. Hendrickson to protect your legal rights.

For more information on the settlement, see the story on bloomberg.com.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch, in an in-depth article, reported that St. Anthony’s Medical Center in south St. Louis County, failed to report Dr. Surendra Chaganti to the Missouri State Board of Healing Arts, the state board that “regulates” doctors.

Dr. Chaganti, apparently one of the busiest psychiatrists in St. Louis County, was accused of negligent care of multiple patients, according to the Post Dispatch story. When St. Anthony’s took action to revoke his hospital privileges, Dr. Chaganti responded by suing St. Anthony’s. Dr. Chaganti was represented in the suit by his brother, attorney Naren Chaganti. Attorney Chaganti also represented his brother in several other lawsuits brought against others who accused Dr. Chaganti of improper care. The suit against St. Anthony’s was ultimately settled with an agreement that Dr. Chaganti would resign his privileges but St. Anthony’s would not report his resignation or their action to the National Practitioner’s Data Bank, a federally mandated repository for information on doctor discipline and malpractice. The data bank is not available to the general public, but hospitals and malpractice insurers have access and use the information in making decisions regarding whether to grant privileges or offer insurance.

The problems with reporting physicians for sub-optimal care are myriad, but in this particular case two specific problems are highlighted. First, St. Anthony’s entered into an agreement, which was approved by a judge, to not report Dr. Chaganti to the data base. By the data base’s definitions, reporting should have occurred. Resignations made after action is taken to revoke privileges is a reportable event and St. Anthony’s should have reported him. Their failure to do so apparently only came to light after a series of events in which Dr. Chaganti attempted to obtain privileges elsewhere and the other hospitals suspected or discovered the failure to report.

The second problem this highlights is the fact that the National Practitioner Data Bank is kept secret from those who would most benefit from being able to know if a doctor has been found to have given bad patient care–patients! By keeping this information secret, the public is being deprived of its right to make an informed decision.

You can read the complete Post Dispatch story here.