Articles Posted in Physician Negligence

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Primary care physicians provide patients with generalized care for a variety of conditions, including chronic pain. While opioid painkillers can provide essential relief to many people with chronic pain, they must be administered with caution and patients taking opioids must be carefully monitored, to prevent abuse and diversion. If a physician negligently fails to use proper care when prescribing opioid painkillers, he or she may be held liable for any harm the patient suffers as a result, as demonstrated in a recent case ruled upon by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York. If you or a loved one sustained damages due to pain medication that was inappropriately prescribed by your primary care physician, it is advisable to meet with a skillful Syracuse medical malpractice attorney to discuss your options for seeking recourse for your injuries.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff’s decedent was involved in a car accident in 2007, in which she injured her left shoulder. She subsequently underwent surgery for her shoulder and was prescribed narcotic pain medication. She then began repeatedly requesting pain medication, but she was denied. The plaintiff’s decedent underwent additional surgery and was again prescribed pain medication by her orthopedic surgeon. She admitted that she was taking her medication in greater quantities and more frequently than prescribed. She requested additional medication, but her request was denied, and she was advised she would not receive any more medication.

It is reported that the plaintiff’s decedent then treated with another doctor, who noted that plaintiff’s decedent had track marks on her arm and diagnosed her with an opioid dependency, and a second doctor, who discharged her from his practice for using cocaine. The decedent then began treating with the defendant. She advised the defendant that she received pain medication from her orthopedic doctor, but she was looking for a local doctor. The defendant prescribed the decedent high-dose Oxycontin and Xanax. He never lowered her dosage or contacted the decedent’s orthopedic doctor. The decedent died of acute intoxication of fentanyl, heroin, Oxycontin, and Xanax.

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To avoid liability in a medical malpractice case in the New York court system, the medical care provider must prove that he or she did not deviate from the accepted standards of care and practice. The plaintiff can refute this claim by producing an expert who will testify that the provider did, in fact, deviate from the accepted standard for care, and the deviation caused the plaintiff’s harm.

If the plaintiff is unable to produce an expert to testify with a reasonable degree of certainty that the provider breached the standard of care, the plaintiff’s case will be dismissed, as shown in a recent case in the New York courts, in which the plaintiff alleged he was injured during a colonoscopy. If you were injured during a standard medical procedure, you should speak with a seasoned Syracuse medical malpractice attorney to analyze whether you may be able to seek damages from the negligent care provider.

Factual Background

It is alleged that the plaintiff underwent a colonoscopy in June 2016. The colonoscopy, which was performed for screening purposes, did not indicate any significant issues. Following the colonoscopy, the plaintiff was observed in the recovery room for several hours. He reported abdominal pain and discomfort, but did not vomit, and was discharged the same day. A few days later, he followed up with his primary care physician, reporting heartburn, nausea, and dyspepsia, and was prescribed an antacid. The following day he went to the emergency room, where he was diagnosed with a perforated colon and underwent a colectomy. The plaintiff subsequently filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor that performed the colonoscopy, alleging the defendant negligently performed the colonoscopy and failed to diagnose the plaintiff’s perforated colon. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, alleging the plaintiff could not prove he deviated from the standard of care.

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A simple communication error can have devastating consequences for a patient’s health. If you or someone close to you has been injured due to a physician’s communication error, you need to speak to a skilled Syracuse medical malpractice attorney who can evaluate the facts of your case. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers, we understand how to represent victims who have been harmed by medical malpractice. Time is of the essence in these cases, so it is important to act quickly if you suspect malpractice could have played a role in your harm.

Sadly, medical mistakes are the third-leading cause of preventable injuries and death in the United States, after heart disease and cancer. One mistake that is all too common is the failure of health care professionals to properly communicate with either each other or the patient. This often happens when multiple doctors are involved in a patient’s care. What happens is a doctor will hand a patient off to the next doctor when their shift ends, the nurses who administer care also change shifts, and sometimes clinical information about the patient does not get communicated from the departing medical professional to the new one.

An estimated 80 percent of serious medical mistakes involve some form of miscommunication. In fact, communication failures in health care settings can be linked to 1,744 deaths in five years, according to Malpractice Risks in Communication Failures. The study also found that medical errors could be reduced by about 30 percent if communication improved between medical professionals and patients. Communication errors can include but are not limited to:

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When we visit a doctor, we expect to receive competent care. While it is important for medical professionals to be diligent, the reality is that overtreatment of patients is a serious problem in New York and throughout the United States. If you believe that you or someone close to you suffered an injury caused by unnecessary treatment or care, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers, our Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys can examine what happened in your case and help you determine your legal rights and options.

A study released by PLOS One exposed the issue of overtreatment in the United States. The study found that at least 15 to 30 percent of overall medical care is unnecessary. About 21,000 doctors participated in the survey, administered by researchers from Johns Hopkins and Harvard Medical School. The data revealed that about 22 percent of prescription medication, 25 percent of tests, and 11 percent of procedures that are given are not necessary. For instance, not every patient with back pain needs an x-ray, but an x-ray is ordered a lot of the time.

Nearly 85 percent of the doctors in the study said the reason for overtreatment was fear of malpractice lawsuits, while nearly 60 percent of doctors said patients demand unnecessary treatment. More than 70 percent of doctors conceded that physicians are more likely to perform unnecessary procedures when they profit from them, while only 9.2 percent admitted that their own financial security was a factor.

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