Category Archives: Medical Malpractice

Utah Methadone Attorney Discusses Overdose Deaths

Utah methadone attorney

Methadone works by occupying the same brain receptor sites affected by heroin and other opioids.  Because of this property, it can be used as a treatment for chronic pain as well as a therapy for opioid dependance.

Methadone Related Deaths

In the last 15 years, deaths related to methadone have skyrocketed in the U.S.  According to the US Centers for Disease Control, the number of drug-poisoning deaths involving methadone increased from 784 deaths in 1999 to 5,518 deaths in 2007; then it declined to 4,418 deaths in 2011.  While the trend is improving, the numbers of deaths attributed to methadone toxicity are staggering.  While most of these deaths are unlikely to be the result of medical malpractice, far too many of them are.

Methadone causes approximately 60-70 deaths per year in Utah.  http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/54426007-78/methadone-deaths-drug-utah.html.csp

Legal Considerations

Under Utah law, a physician or other health care provider is required to exercise the same degree of learning, care and skill possessed by others in good standing practicing in the same medical field. Failure to exercise this degree of care is considered a breach in the standard of care and, if it causes harm, allows a claim for medical malpractice.  See Farrow v. Health Servs. Corp. 604 P.2d 474 (Utah 1979).

These standards apply to doctors and other providers who prescribe or administer methadone to patients for pain management or as therapy for opioid dependance.  In Utah, there are a number of methadone clinics providing this treatment.

While methadone can be a life-saving medication for many people, it carries significant risks which doctors must weigh against any potential benefits.  Methadone is a risky medication because it remains active in the body for a long period of time.  It carries the risk of respiratory depression which can lead to death.  Methadone can also cause dangerous cardiac arrhythmias.  Initial dosing is extremely important and generally must be tailored to each individual patient.  In addition, various other medications interact with methadone and can increase its effect.  Patients must be carefully monitored on a regular basis, particularly when doses are increased or treatment is begun.  See Applying Legal Risk Management To the Clinical Use of Methadone, James O’Donnell, PharmD, M.S. and F. Randy Vogenberg, Rph, PhD.

My firm has successfully handled methadone overdose cases in Utah.  We work carefully with the surviving loved-ones, expert witnesses, and others to uncover the facts and pursue valid cases.  If you suspect your loved one died as a result of methadone toxicity which was inappropriately prescribed or monitored in Utah, please contact me, Utah attorney Jared Faerber at (801) 943-1005, for a free, no-obligation consultation.

Radiology Malpractice in Utah: Was Your Radiologist Negligent?

Studies such as x-rays, MRIs, and CT scans can provide vital information regarding a patient’s condition, but only if the correct study is performed and only if it is interpreted accurately.  Occasionally, a critical study will be misread by a radiologist.

Research suggests there are several common types of radiology malpractice committed in Utah and around the country. (See The Causes of Medical Malpractice Suits against Radiologists in the United States, Jeremy Whang, M.D., Radiology, February 2013)   These include:

  •  Errors in diagnoses.  For example, failing to identify and comment on abnormal growths, tumors or other problems in the breasts, lungs, or other organs.  Another example would be failure to correctly identify a bone fracture.
  • Errors of communication with other physicians.  Sometimes the radiologist may correctly interpret the study, but fail to pass his or her findings on the the proper ordering physician.
  • Failing to recommend additional imaging studies.  Often findings in one study suggest the need for additional studies.  Sometimes the quality of a study is too poor to provide useful information.  In these situations and others, a radiologist may need to recommend additional studies or tests.

As a Utah medical malpractice attorney handling cases against radiologists on behalf of injured patients, I have seen these types of errors in various cases.  Of course not every radiological mistake causes harm to a patient.  However, when cancer goes misdiagnosed, a brain bleed is missed, a fracture is missed, or some other critical finding leads to serious injury, the patient may have a valid lawsuit against the radiologist.

The only way to determine if a valid claim for radiology malpractice in Utah exists is to have it reviewed by a qualified Utah medical malpractice attorney.  In addition, a qualified medical expert radiologist would generally be required to win a case.

If you suspect you or a loved one are a victim of radiology medical malpractice in Utah, please feel free to contact me, attorney Jared Faerber at (801) 943-1005 for a free, no obligation consultation about your situation.

Wrongful Death in Utah: Justice for Survivors

UtahWrongfulDeathLaw

When the unthinkable happens, those left behind are sometimes left wondering if something could have been done to prevent the death of a loved one.  When the death of a spouse, parent or child results from the negligence of another, the surviving heirs may have a wrongful death claim.

What gives rise to a wrongful death claim in Utah?

A wrongful act or negligence causing a death can give rise to a wrongful death claim in Utah.  The claim is recognized by the Utah State Constitution as well as by statute.  See Utah Code Ann. Section 78B-3-106.  A wrongful death can occur due to medical malpractice, an automobile or truck accident, a slip and fall, or any other negligent act.

Who can bring the claim?

A Utah wrongful death lawsuit must be brought by the heirs, or personal representative on behalf of the heirs, of the deceased.  If an adult had a guardian at the time of the death, the guardian may bring the action on behalf of the heirs.  See Utah Code Ann. Section 78B-3-106(2).  The laws can be complex in this area and an attorney must evaluate your specific situation, but generally, the claim can be brought by a surviving spouse, adult children, or parents.

What damages can be recovered?

Utah law allows surviving heirs to recover economic damages such as money for the loss of financial support, the loss of inheritance, and other economic benefits that the heirs would have received had the decedent lived.

Money damages can also be recovered for general damages for the loss of things such as love, companionship, society, comfort, protection and affection which survivors have sustained and will sustain in the future.  See Utah Code Ann. Sections 78B-3-106 and 107 and Oxendine v. Overturf, 973 P.2d 417 (1999).

How can you tell if you have a valid wrongful death case in Utah? 

A strong wrongful death case depends on many factors that usually must be evaluated by an experienced Utah wrongful death lawyer.  As an attorney that has handled many of these cases, I look for strong liability first and foremost.  Strong liability means the death was clearly caused by some negligence or carelessness of another.  Sometimes, particularly in medical malpractice cases, an expert will need to be retained to evaluate the evidence and determine if negligence was involved.  In addition to strong liability, there must also be a source of funds to pay any damages that are awarded.  The source of these funds is nearly always insurance coverage.

If you suspect a loved-one died as a result of negligence, I would be happy to talk to you about your situation for free.  Contact Jared Faerber at The Faerber Law Firm, PC (801) 943-1005.

Can I Sue for Falls in a Utah Hospital, Nursing Home, or Other Health Care Facility?

UtahHospitalFallsAttorney

Falls are a big problem.

Falls in healthcare settings are a serious problem in Utah and around the country.  Studies suggest that an estimated 2% to 10% of hospital inpatients fall during a hospital stay.  According to the U.S. CDC, falls are the leading cause of death from unintentional injuries among U.S. adults 65 or older.  The direct medical costs to treat individuals 65 and older injured in falls is estimated at over $19 billion dollars annually in the U.S.

The most common serious injury sustained from falls is a hip fracture.  Of course, other serious injuries such as excessive bleeding, other fractures, and death also occur due to falls in hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, physical therapy offices, and other health care settings.

Legal Implications

As a Utah medical malpractice attorney, I have successfully represented individuals in claims against health care providers, hospitals, and nursing homes for injuries sustained in falls.

I have found there are many things that can be done by hospitals and other health care professionals to reduce the risk of falls.  Nursing homes, hospitals, and many other providers have a duty to develop and maintain fall prevention policies, procedures and tools.  Patients should be assessed and reassessed for fall risk.  Environmental inspections can be done to identify and eliminate risks for falls.  In addition, staff should be educated about fall prevention and risk and how to respond and report falls.

Failure to take appropriate steps to prevent falls or to properly treat patients when they occur may be medical malpractice.  Medical malpractice is a type of professional negligence where health care providers fail to follow the standards in their industry.

Of course not all falls in a hospital or doctor’s office are the fault of the health care professional.  However, if proper precautions are not taken, liability for falls may exist.

Here are some examples of successful lawsuits and claims for falls in Utah hospitals, nursing homes, and doctor’s offices:

  • A mentally compromised elderly man fell from a window at a nursing home        resulting in his death.  The nursing home failed to properly supervise the individual and secure his environment.
  • A man suffered a hip fracture getting down from an examination table after a procedure.  He was medicated and unstable, yet staff failed to assist him as required.
  • A woman was seriously injured during physical therapy.  She was given an inappropriately difficult exercise on an improper machine, improperly monitored, and improperly assisted.

Each of these lawsuits resulted in significant settlements for the injured party.  If you or a loved one have been injured in a fall at a Utah hospital, nursing home, or other medical facility, you need a Utah lawyer with experience in these types of claims.  Please call attorney Jared Faerber at The Faerber Law Firm, PC (801) 943-1005 for a free consultation.

 

 

 

Utah Attorney: Compartment Syndrome May be Medical Malpractice

 

CastUtahLawyer

What is Compartment Syndrome?

Compartment syndrome (CS) occurs when the pressure within a closed anatomic space becomes high enough to compromise blood flow and the function of tissues. Late or delayed treatment of compartment syndrome can have disastrous outcomes.  Muscles and nerves cannot tolerate ischemia (restricted blood supply) for longer than a few hours.  After that, muscles and tissues die and nerves become permanently injured.  In very severe cases, myoglobin is released into circulation and can result in kidney (renal) damage.  Renal failure, infection, and sepsis can result and lead to death.

Motor deficits such as drop foot can result from compartment syndrome.  Volkmann’s contracture is another limb deformity seen with untreated compartment syndrome.  Occasionally, infections develop which may go on to require amputation.

Compartment syndrome is a medical emergency and requires rapid intervention.  Surgical intervention is often required to relieve the pressure.  Fasciotomy can be performed to decompress the area and restore muscle perfusion.

Legal Considerations

As a medical malpractice attorney in the Salt Lake City, Utah area, I have handled cases of compartment syndrome on behalf of clients.  One individual I represented was admitted to the hospital for abdominal surgery.  Due to his positioning on the surgical table, he developed severe compartment syndrome in his hand and arm.  His hand swelled to many times its original size and he suffered excruciating pain.  Despite an emergency fasciotomy, he suffered permanent nerve damage and required skin grafts.  His case resulted in a fairly large confidential settlement.

Many compartment syndromes result from tibial or other fractures.   Other causes include a tight cast or dressing, prolonged surgery, crush injuries, and deep vein thrombosis.

It is important that your health care providers do everything possible to prevent and recognize compartment syndrome.  Failure to do so may be malpractice.  If you suspect you or a loved one have been injured due to undiagnosed or late diagnosed compartment syndrome, please give the Faerber Law Firm a call for a free consultation at (801) 943-1005.

 

Utah Lawyer: Top 5 Signs of Medical Malpractice

DoctorMask

You suspect you may have been injured by medical malpractice, but how can you know?  Medicine is complicated and requires years of training and experience to truly understand.  Doctors and nurses are dedicated professionals.  However, even the most careful person can make a mistake.  When those mistakes occur in a medical setting, serious injury or death can result.

As a Utah medical malpractice lawyer, I have noticed certain patterns, or signs, of possible medical malpractice.  These things certainly don’t prove malpractice, but they may indicate the need to explore, usually with an experienced attorney, the possibility of medical malpractice.  Here is the list:

1.   Delayed Diagnosis.  

Was your cancer, heart attack, infection, or other disease not discovered until it was too late to receive effective treatment?  Were your symptoms ignored or attributed to another, less dangerous, disease?  Did the health care provider procrastinate needed tests and procedures without adequate justification?  These types of things may indicate malpractice.

2.  Your Doctor Failed to Order a Common Test or Additional Tests

Some diseases and disorders are treated with a standard series of tests.  Failure to perform these tests may be malpractice and may result in misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis.  Sometimes a very simple test can reveal a disease and allow early treatment and even a cure.

3.  You Received the Wrong Medication or the Wrong Dosage

Medication errors are quite common in the health care setting.  Errors can occur by the prescribing physician, at the pharmacy, or at administration in the hospital.  Many medications have similar sounding names and are easy to confuse.  Minor changes can result in massive overdoses with devastating consequences.

4.  Your Condition Does Not Improve

This is probably one of the weaker signs of malpractice on this list because often people fail to get better even in the absence of malpractice.  However, sometimes patients fail to improve because they were misdiagnosed and are receiving the wrong kind of treatment.  The wrong treatment or medication will not only fail to improve your condition, it may also make it worse.

5.   Severe Bed Sores or Pressure Ulcers

Bed sores, also called pressure ulcers or pressure sores, can develop in a hospital or nursing home setting due to prolonged pressure on the skin.  Stage III and Stage IV ulcers can even expose muscle and bone and can become infected.  They are usually preventable with proper care, including positioning and movement.

Of course this list is not comprehensive.  There are numerous other signs and types of medical malpractice.  The only way to know if you have a valid Utah medical malpractice lawsuit is to contact an experienced medical malpractice lawyer.  I’ll be happy to talk to you for free about your concerns at The Faerber Law Firm, P.C.  at (801) 943-1005.

 

Misdiagnosis is the Most Common Type of Medical Malpractice

xrayreview

New research has confirmed what I have observed in my nearly 15 years as a Utah medical malpractice attorney:  diagnostic errors are a common, and often deadly, form of medical malpractice.  A misdiagnosis can occur when the health care provider reaches  the wrong diagnoses or reaches the correct diagnosis, but too late.  Examples include failing to diagnose certain forms of cancer until they are too advanced, failing to correctly diagnose a heart attack or stroke, or mistaking a deadly illness with something harmless.

Dr. David Newman-Toker and colleagues reviewed 25 years of medical malpractice payouts and published the results of their findings in the medical journal BMJ Quality and Safety.  They found that diagnostic errors cost $38.8 billion in malpractice claim payouts between 1986 and 2010, and they were the most likely type of error to result in death or disability.  These types of errors created larger damages than medication errors and surgical errors.  It is likely that misdiagnosis is an equally serious source of medical malpractice in Utah as it is in the rest of the United States.

The question for the health care system is how can we reduce these types of errors?  In my experience as a medical malpractice lawyer, diagnostic errors are often the result of poorly coordinated care.  Sometimes physicians and hospitals fail to communicate accurately with each other and coordinate their care with each other.  Providers sometimes fail to take the time to carefully question their patients about past care and tests.  Diagnostic errors can also arise when providers fail to see the big picture and focus only on one or two symptoms.  Errors by one physician are relied upon by others thus lengthening the failure to diagnose.

While controversial, it would be beneficial if hospitals and physicians would track and disclose their misdiagnoses.  That way, others could study these mistakes and learn to avoid them.  Patterns could be recognized and additional resources could be directed to avoid common diagnostic errors.

Of course, these remedies do nothing to help those who have already been victimized by a misdiagnosis in Utah and around the country.  If you or a loved one has been injured due to a delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis, I would be happy to discuss your situation for free.  Please contact me at The Faerber Law Firm, PC at (801) 943-1005.

 

 

 

 

 

The high cost of cancer medications is out of control – Cancer victims are victimized twice.

As highlighted in a recent 60 Minutes piece, the high cost of medications for cancer victims is out of control.  The shock and anxiety of a cancer diagnoses is often followed by a second jolt: the high cost of medications to treat the cancer.

As Lesley Stahl reported, many new cancer drugs cost well over $100,000.00 per year.  What if your cancer was the result of medical malpractice in Utah?  What if your, or a loved one’s, cancer could have been diagnosed and cured earlier, but was not due to medical malpractice?  Not only do you have to deal with the pain and difficulties of cancer, but you must deal with the financial hardships.

The term “financial toxicity” is beginning to show up in the literature to describe the dangerous economic effects of the high cost of cancer medications.  One troubling example is the medication Zaltrap used for treating advanced colon cancer.  This medication costs approximately $11,000.00 per month, roughly twice that of a comparable drug Avastin.  Zaltrap, however, is no more effective than Avastin.

Cancer victims are in a vulnerable position due to their health status.  They are in a position of needing these medications to live.  Many professionals believe the industry practice of charging exorbitant prices is immoral.

If you, or a loved one, are a victim of delayed or misdiagnosed cancer in Utah, you may have a claim for medical malpractice against those responsible.  You may be able to recover compensation to help pay for necessary cancer medications and other healthcare.  I’ve helped many victims of cancer misdiagnoses malpractice in Utah and would be happy to discuss your potential case with you for free.  Please contact Jared Faerber at The Faerber Law Firm, P.C. at (801) 943-1005 today for a frank, no-obligation discussion of your options.

 

Utah medication errors are a common form of medical malpractice

Pills and a medication bottle

Medication errors are among the most common medical errors, harming at least 1.5 million people every year, according to a recent report from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. The extra medical costs of treating drug-related injuries occurring in hospitals alone conservatively amount to $3.5 billion a year.

Errors are common at every stage, from prescription and administration of a drug to monitoring of the patient’s response.  These errors occur at the pharmacy level, at hospitals, nursing homes, and other health care facilities. It estimated that there is at least one medication error per hospital patient per day, although error rates vary widely across facilities. Not all errors lead to injury or death, but the number of preventable injuries that do occur is troubling.

New computerized systems for prescribing drugs and other applications of information technology show promise for reducing the number of drug-related mistakes. Studies indicate that paper-based prescribing is associated with high error rates. Electronic prescribing is safer because it eliminates problems with handwriting legibility and can automatically alert prescribers to possible interactions, allergies, and other potential problems. Many providers have already switched over to electronic systems.

Confusion caused by similar drug names accounts for up to 25 percent of all errors reported to the Medication Error Reporting Program http://www.usp.org/hqi/patientSafety/mer operated cooperatively by U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) and the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP). In addition, labeling and packaging issues were cited as the cause of 33 percent of errors, including 30 percent of fatalities, reported to the program. If you or someone you know has been injured by a medication or pharmacy error, contact experienced Utah medical malpractice lawyer Jared Faerber today at The Faerber Law Firm (801) 943-1005 for a free, no obligation consultation.