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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.

Dennis Quaid recently testified before Congress regarding the near fatal ovedose of his newborn twins at Cedar Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. See his testimony here on YouTube. Mr. Quaid testified very effectively on the need for FDA recalls of Heparin and the need to keep the path to the courthouse open for families devastated by medical negligence.Please, take the time to listen to Dennis Quaid’s story and his argument that the Supreme Court and Congress should not protect a drug company from liability because the drug and the labeling was approved by the FDA.

Despite massive publicity, hospitals continue to mistakenly give infants adult doses of Heparin, a blood thinner. As reported by The Institute for Safe Medication Practices a Nebraska hospital has administered a deadly dose of Heparin, this time to a toddler about to celebrate her second birthday. The dose of blood thinner led to cerebral bleeding and brain death.This is by no means the first case and is far from the most famous. As I wrote in March 2008, actor Dennis Quaid’s new born twins were given near-lethal doses of adult formulated heparin at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Beverly Hills. See Celebrity Cases Highlight Medical Negligence Issues. Despite the massive publicity surrounding the incident and subsequent legal action, many hospitals have failed to take the necessary precautions and implement procedures to prevent continuing injuries and deaths.Heparin should be deemed a “high-alert medication” and special precautions should be instituted in every hospital to prevent dosing errors. As the Institute for Safe Medication Practices has reported for years, Heparin has repeatedly been among the top 10 drugs involved in serious, preventable injuries, disabilities and deaths reported to the Federal Drug Administration.If you suspect that you or a family injury has been harmed by an improper dose of Heparin, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney immediately. In Missouri and Illinois, contact Todd N. Hendrickson. I will personally review your case.

DePuy, a division of Johnson & Johnson that manufactures orthopedic implants, including hip implant replacement systems, has withdrawn its ASR metal-on-metal implants, reports the New York Times. DePuy has touted this as its way of protecting patient safety, but in truth, evidence suggests that DePuy has known of this problem for years.

DePuy has informed doctors in a letter that the ASR had a higher-than-expected failure rate in certain types of patients. Data from a study out of Australia suggests that small statured patients, such as women, are at the highest risk. DePuy seems to indicate that the problem lies in how surgeons are installing the implants.

However, evidence suggests that the metal-an-metal implants can generate large amounts of metallic debris as they wear. This debris can cause severe inflammatory responses in some patients, damage muscles, soft tissue and bone. These reactions can lead to early need to replace the implants through revision surgery, in some cases in as little as 2 years. The normal expected life of such implants is 15 years and more.

Many implant manufactures began offering metal-on-metal implants a number of years ago as alternatives to the polyethylene (plastic) or ceramic components. With the metal-on-metal, both the ball and the cup (socket) are made from metal and, as they wear, they give off metal shavings and residue.

At this time it appears that DePuy and possibly other manufacturers did not sufficiently test these implant materials and, even after learning of unusually high failure rates, continued to actively market and promote the product. If you have had an implant fail within a few years after your surgery, you should immediately contact Todd N. Hendrickson. Our office specializes in medical malpractice and medical product liability claims and can help you fight for your rights. Call our office at 314-721-8833 for a free consultation.

The New York Times is reporting that doctors are finding that “metal on metal” hip implants are failing at a much higher and faster rate than expected, leading to the need for early revision and replacement.“Metal on metal” refers to the materials used in the design. A typical hip implant consists of a femoral stem which is fixed into the femur or thigh bone. The hip socket (or acetabulum) is replaced with a “cup” of one design or another. A ball device is attached to the end of the femoral stem and fits into the acetabulur component, completing the ball and socket joint. Until about 10 years ago either the ball or the liner of the acetabulm was made of either ceramic or a poly plastic. Beginning in the late ’90s manufacturers began replacing either the ball or the cup or both with metal components. The theory was that the patient would achieve a longer life thus avoiding revision surgery to replace either the ball or the cup or both. The older ceramic and poly components had typical lifespans of 15 to 20 years.The theory is apparently proving to be false. As the is reporting, these metal on metal implants are failing much sooner than expected, some in as little as two years. What is occurring is the wear of the components is creating metal debris which is destroying soft tissue and bone. The estimate now is that 1 to 3% of implants are failing at this rate. However, since the metal on metal didn’t reach the peak of their popularity until 5 years or so ago, the real extent of the problem is still unknown. Given that 80,000 or more of these implants are used in primary replacements a year, that could be anywhere form 8,000 to 24,000 patients affected each year. Given that the typical hip replacement procedure can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000 and lead to additional lost income and other losses, the financial impact on patients is potentially extensive.If you have experienced an early component failure, either due to pain or component loosening, or have had your hip implant revised for other reasons earlier than expected, you may want to consider a product liability action against the implant manufacturer. If you would like to explore this further, please feel free to contact me, attorney Todd N. Hendrickson. Although my practice is concentrated in Missouri and Illinois, I will consider appropriate cases throughout the United States. I have extensive experience and expertise in medical malpractice and medical product liability litigation, with particular emphasis in orthopeadic matters, including hip, knee and shoulder replacements. I have successfully litigated cases against hip implant manufactures for a variety of matters and I am uniquely qualified to review these types of cases.

Congressman John Murtha of Pennsylvania died last week at Bethesda Naval Hospital as a result of complications following gallbladder surgery. While it is not possible to comment on the medical care rendered to Congressman Murtha without a thorough review of his medical records, it can be said that “complications” from gallbladder surgery can often be the result of medical negligence.In order to understand what may have happened to Congressman Murtha, you have to understand the anatomy of the gallbladder. The gallbladder is an organ that secrets bile into biliary system to aid in breakdown of food. The gallbladder is a sac that attaches to a structure called the cystic duct. The most common complication associated with gallbladder surgery are cutting the wrong structure and severing the biliary tree. Nearly as common is perforating one of the surrounding structures, usually the small intestine, although perforations to the colon are also common. Less common are perforations of the bladder.In Congressman Murtha’s case, it appears that there was a perforation of his small intestine. Can this happen in the absence of negligence? Absolutely. Sometimes a perforation can occur when the surgeon is taking down scar tissue, called adhesions. However, such perforation must be recognized and addressed at the time of surgery. Failing to find and repair perforations during surgery can be negligence or medical malpractice.Often, the real case for malpractice is when the surgeon fails to recognize that a perforation has occurred. In the event of a peroration during surgery, particularly of the small intestine and colon, the result is usually an infection or sepsis. The most common symptoms or complaints following a perforation are severe abdominal pain, fever, elevated white blood count, and x-rays showing air accumulations in the abdomen. If any or all of these are present, the doctor should be considering whether a perforation has occurred. In that case, exploratory surgery is almost always indicated.Delays in treating perforations can lead to massive infections and death. Those that survive these infections can be left with damage to their bowels and bladder and ongoing abdominal pain.

The Illinois Supreme Court has declared legislation imposing a limit, or “cap,” on the amount that a jury can award to the victims of medical malpractice is unconstitutional. In Lebron v Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, the Court held that “statutory caps violate the separation of powers clause of the Illinois Constitution and declared the entire Act invalid.”The case represents a major victory for civil justice. By declaring that a legislature cannot substitute its judgment for that of a jury of citizens, the Illinois Supreme Court has joined a growing number of state supreme courts who have deemed such legislation unconstitutional, or otherwise invalidated such acts.In order to understand what this decision means, it is important to understand what so-called “tort reform” acts “cap.” These acts place a limit, or cap, on what a jury can award in any case for non-monetary damages. These are damages for loss of a normal life, pain and suffering. By placing a uniform limit on these damages, legislatures have, in effect, said that those who are harmed the most should not receive compensation for their losses. The Lebron case is a perfect example:The Lebrons filed suit for injuries their child received during delivery, including severe brain injury, cerebral palsy and cognitive mental impairment. Because of the negligence of the doctor and nurses involved, Abigaile Lebron will never develop normally and will be fed by tube for the rest of her life. And Abigaile is exactly the type of victim of medical malpractice who deserves compensation and, due to tort reform, is exactly the type of patient who is most affected by caps. Because caps act to limit only non-monetary damages, it is the young, the old and those who have low earnings who are most affected by caps. If a 50 year old banker making $250,000 a year is left in the same condition as a 1 year old, that 50 year old banker will be able to show earnings losses in the millions of dollars, in addition to past and future medical bills. But, if the same thing happens to an infant, that infant has no earning history, so it is difficult or impossible to establish those lost earnings. Thus, with caps in place, hospitals and doctors consistently devalue loss of life and injury to the very young and the very old.The Illinois Supreme Court made the right, and just, decision.

“Stacking”-sounds like something you do with firewood or kid’s blocks. But in personal injury and automobile accident cases, it may mean more money available for the injured victim. Stacking” refers to multiplying the available insurance coverage by the number of insurance policies. Under Missouri law, uninsured motorist coverage has “stacked” for many years. An example will help to make this clear(er):If you are injured in an accident with an uninsured motorist, and you have auto insurance in Missouri, by law you have at least $25,000 in uninsured motorist coverage. However, if your injuries are severe, $25,000 doesn’t go far. But, if you have more than one policy, the coverage stacks. For example, if you have 3 policies, you would have at least $75,000 in uninsured motorist coverage.While this has been the law in Missouri for years, liability policies have not stacked. Liability coverage is that coverage which is purchased to cover injuries caused by a driver. Again, Missouri law requires that every driver carry at least $25,000 in coverage. In a decision handed down by the Missouri Supreme Court last week, the Court has declared for the first time that such coverage stacks, at least to the amount of the statutory minimum coverage. Again, an example may make this clearer:If you are injured by a driver who has liability insurance, the maximum the insurance company will be required to pay (if your damages support such an amount) is the sum of the policy limit on the involved vehicle, plus the minimum $25,000 coverage existing on each other insured vehicle. So, if the vehicle involved in the collision has a policy limit of $50,000 per accident, but has 2 other vehicles insured, then you may be able to collect up to $100,000 from that insurer ($50,000 + $25,000 + $25,000).This is a major change in Missouri law that clearly benefits victims of motor vehicle crashes. If you or a family member has been injured in an auto crash, please call The Law Offices of Todd N. Hendrickson for a free consultation at 314-721-8833.

Toyota has issued a massive recall as reported by USA Today and elsewhere. The recall affects:2009-2010 Rav42009-2010 Corolla2009-2010 Matrix2005-2010 Avalon2010 Highlander2007-2010 Tundra2008-2010 SequoiaCertain 2008-2010 Carolla modelsThe recall is due to reports that the gas pedal can stick, causing the driver to be unable to cease acceleration. A previous notice indicated that the problem was occurring due to the gas pedal sticking in floor mats, but this recall indicates that it can occur even when the floor mats have been removed.Toyota has taken the step of notifying its dealers to cease selling the current new models until the problem has been corrected. This recall affects millions of vehicles.If you have been involved in an accident in which you were driving one of these Toyota models, or were struck by one of these Toyota models, you may have a claim against Toyota for product liability, in addition to any other claim you may have. If you’ve been involved in an accident in any Toyota in which you know or suspect that it was caused due to a sticking accelerator, please contact The Law Offices of Todd N. Hendrickson immediately. You have rights and we are here to protect them. Please call at 314-721-8833 for a no cost consultation.

After your attorney has filed a lawsuit for you, you’ll undoubtedly hear the term “discovery.” What is “discovery?”Discovery is the phase of the litigation before trial. This is when both sides try to “discover” everything they need to about the other side’s case–how the negligence occurred, how the plaintiff was injured, the nature and extent of the injuries, extent of wage loss, defenses etc. Whether your case is a simple personal injury suit involving an auto accident, or a more complex case involving medical malpractice or product liability, the basic process is similar, involving the same steps.Usually, the first thing that will occur is that the attorneys for all parties will exchange written discovery.Written discovery will usually consist of one or more of all the following:Interrogatories: These are written questions that you and your attorney will answer together. Your attorney will usually send these questions to you or have you come into the office to review them. These questions are answered under oath and under penalty of perjury. Usually, but no always, these questions will ask about basic information such as identity of your medical care providers, amounts of your bills, whether you’ve given any statements, etc.Requests for Documents: Fairly self explanatory. These are requests for your to produce documents such as medical records, tax returns and pay stubs to prove lost income, medical authorizations to allow the defense to gather their own copies of your medical records, and things like photos and Xrays.Requests to Admit: These are written statements which a party must admit or deny. If the party admits the statement, then the requesting party is relieved of having to prove this statement at trial and the answer can merely be submitted to the jury. Requests to admit are often used to narrow the issues in a case and establish basic facts.Usually the next stage of discovery involves depositions. A deposition is a question and answer interview conducted by the other party’s lawyer. Testimony is taken and recorded by a court reported and transcribed into a booklet for later use. Depending on your jurisdiction, this testimony may be directly admissible in court. A deposition may be the only testimony you give in a case and it is important that you are properly prepared to answer the type of questions that will likely be asked.In many cases, the attorney’s will produce expert witnesses to give testimony on certain aspects of your case. The testimony of a treating doctor as to how your injury happened and the type of medical care you received to treat it is one type of expert testimony. In some cases, you may have expert testimony on things such as accident reconstruction or product defects. In a medical malpractice case doctors or other health care providers will give testimony as to how the defendant was negligent.These are the basic steps of the discovery process.If you are in need of an attorney for a personal injury, auto accident, medical malpractice, wrongful death or product liability case, please call Todd N. Hendrickson for a free consultation.