Holly Mozzone, 39, underwent a bursectomy and a repair to her labrum; surgery was performed by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Gary Hunter. During the surgical procedure, Dr. Hunter placed a screw into her shoulder joint instead of on the limb of the joint.

As a result of this mistake, she developed mechanical and range-of-motion problems that necessitated 18 months of physical therapy. She was unable to continue working as a nursing assistant and now works as a flight attendant.

Mozzon filed a lawsuit against Dr. Hunter claiming liability for placing the screw during the operation in the shoulder joint instead of in the rim of the joint. That displacement of the surgical screw was the cause of her shoulder problems. The jury awarded $188,000 plus $150,000 in attorney fees.

This appeal is from the district court’s dismissal, on statute of limitations grounds, of a medical malpractice lawsuit. The plaintiff, Johnnie Watkins, filed the action on behalf of her adult daughter, Johnnice Ford, who is a disabled person. The lawsuit alleged that Ford sought treatment at the emergency room of Ingalls Memorial Hospital in Chicago where she was treated by a doctor who was an employee of Family Christian Health Center. This facility was operated pursuant to grant money from the Public Health Services, an agency of the U.S. government. The lawsuit was brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), and the United States is the defendant.

In the lawsuit, it was asserted that the treating physician chose not to correctly diagnose and treat Ford who was eventually correctly diagnosed with Wernicke’s encephalopathy and who sustained neurological injuries, including permanent disability. Encephalopathy is a general term that describes a disease that damages the brain. Wernicke’s encephalopathy is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by a severe vitamin B1 deficiency. Parts of the brain may be damaged as a result of this deficiency causing increased difficulty with memory, movement, vision and coordination.

The federal district court judge dismissed the lawsuit that was filed beyond the relevant statute of limitations. Watkins appealed that dismissal order to the U.S. Court of Appeals.
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A lawsuit has been filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) in a Louisiana federal court. The lawsuit claims that the patient, Lucille Bruno, died because a federally funded clinic ignored signs of breast cancer that led to her death. The lawsuit seeks $5 million in damages.

The surviving children and husband of Lucille Bruno have alleged that Southwest Primary Healthcare and its nurse practitioner who examined Bruno chose not to properly react to what is claimed as signs and symptoms of breast cancer. Southwest Primary Healthcare is a federally funded clinic, which means the U.S. government is a defendant in this case along with the nurse practitioner, Debbie Vidrine.

In September 2013, Bruno first went to an emergency room in Louisiana. She was complaining of breast pain and told the doctors of a lump in her breast. The hospital, which is not a party to this lawsuit, sent her on her way with instructions to follow up with another primary care physician should her symptoms continue.
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Mariam Toraish, as the administrator of her deceased five-year-old son Adam’s estate, filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against James J. Lee, M.D., and his practice. Dr. Lee had done a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy surgery on Adam, who died that same day from cardiac arrhythmia.

Toraish’s complaint alleged that Adam was at a high risk for postoperative respiratory difficulties and that Dr. Lee violated the applicable standard of care by choosing not to order that he be monitored overnight following surgery.

During jury trial, the trial court allowed the expert testimony of Simeon Boyd, M.D., a board-certified pediatric geneticist, who gave an opinion that Adam likely died of “cardiac arrest due to Brugada syndrome.”
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A Colorado jury has signed its verdict for $14.9 million to a couple in Colorado. This medical negligence lawsuit alleged that an outpatient surgery center was negligent in administering a steroid that caused Robbin Smith’s paralysis from the waist down.

The jury determined that The Surgery Center at Lone Tree LLC, the defendant in the case, was negligent in treating Smith in 2013 by injecting a steroid called Kenalog in her spine despite the drug company’s warning. Two years before the injection was done, the drug maker of the steroid drug, Kenalog announced that Kenalog should not be used for epidural procedures as Smith was given.

The Colorado jury found that the surgery center’s negligence and its choosing not to obtain Smith’s informed consent to the steroid injection was a cause of her paralysis. This record-setting verdict was entered on March 23, 2017.
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Plaintiff Donald Brier brought a cause of action against a practice group and an orthopedic surgeon, Greater Hartford Orthopedic Group P.C., and David Kruger, MD, an orthopedic surgeon (collectively, Defendants), alleging medical malpractice arising out of a spinal surgery that went bad.

After the running of the applicable statute of limitations, Brier sought to amend his complaint. Both the original complaint and the amended version alleged that Dr. Kruger and his medical group chose not to plan and use an instrument that could have been utilized. The original complaint alleged the misuse of a skull clamp during the surgery.

Brier’s amended complaint included allegations of the improper use of a retractor blade. The trial court narrowly construed the original complaint as limited to a claim of the negligent usage of the skull clamp and denied Brier’s request to amend his complaint.
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Alice Mays was 54 when she entered the emergency room at Sinai-Grace Hospital. She was complaining of nausea and vomiting over a four-day period. After the emergency department medical providers tested her, it was revealed that she had a bowel obstruction. The emergency department staff then gave her saline and later brought her to surgery. The 5-hour operation performed by the surgeon, Dr. Jill Watras, involved removal of part of her large bowel.

She showed continuously low urine output, which prompted Dr. Watras to order aggressive hydration after the surgery.

For the next two days, Mays received a total of 30,000 mL of fluids. Nonetheless, she had little or no urine output. She eventually suffered respiratory depression, abdominal compartment syndrome and organ failure. She was returned to surgery but suffered cardiac arrest and brain damage. Mays died two months later. She was a graphic artist and is survived by her siblings.
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It is no secret that thousands of American patients die or are permanently and seriously injured by medical providers. More than 250,000 Americans die in hospitals every year due to medical errors. That staggering number makes deaths in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and long-term care centers the third most common cause of death in the United States. The number of Americans who die because of the negligent errors made by medical providers is higher than those who die because of respiratory disease, accidents, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.

According to the study by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the causes of the deaths are not isolated to one common medical practice area.

The Johns Hopkins research involves a comprehensive analysis of four large studies. According to a report a year ago by the Washington Post, the Johns Hopkins report took into account studies from the U.S. Health and Human Services Department’s Office of the Inspector General and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality between 2000 to 2008. The calculation of 251,000 deaths in a year amounts to nearly 700 deaths a day — about 9.5 percent of all deaths annually in the United States.
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“Leaders must commit to creating and maintaining a culture of safety.” National Patient Safety Foundation. Free From Harm: Accelerating patient safety improvement for 15 years after To Err is Human.  2015 (accessed Dec. 8, 2016). This is just a part of the Sentinel Event Alert publication of The Joint Commission Issue 57, March 1, 2017.

The core of the publication is that leadership in hospitals and medicine generally have a priority to be “accountable for effective care while protecting the safety of patients, employees, and visitors. Competent and thoughtful leaders contribute to improvements in safety and organizational culture.”

This alert acknowledges that hospitals, doctors, nurses and health care professionals must do a better job of protecting their patients from harm. The article states that “The Joint Commission’s Sentinel Event Database reveals that leadership’s failure to create an effective safety culture is a contributing factor to many types of adverse events-from wrong site surgery to delays in treatment.” Smetzer, J, et al. Shaping systems for better behavioral choices: lessons learned from a fatal medication error. Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety. 2010; 36: 152-164.
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In a case being reported with a confidentiality agreement, Doe, age 15, developed a mass on the bone of her left middle finger, for which orthopedic surgeon Dr. Ronald Hillock recommended surgery.

During the outpatient procedure, Dr. Hillock used a latex Penrose drain to place a tourniquet around Doe’s finger. While in the recovery room, a nurse noted that Doe’s finger looked discolored; however, Hillock discharged Doe.

Doe had several follow-up appointments with Dr. Hillock in the next few weeks but the finger remained discolored. Doe consulted a different doctor about 30 days after the surgery. That physician diagnosed ischemia and later performed a finger amputation.
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