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November 2012 Archives

Misdiagnosis lawsuit ends with $5M verdict

Colorado residents may be interested in a recent medical malpractice case in which a radiologist was ruled at fault in a misdiagnosis that resulted in a stroke that left a woman partially disabled. Her family was awarded $5 million in a verdict against the doctor.The radiologist was working for a diagnostic imaging center in August of 2007 when a woman came to the emergency room with a severe headache that had lasted for some time. She was given a CT scan which was read by the radiologist. The radiologist stated that she found no significant issues from the CT scan. The woman was eventually transferred to another hospital when her symptoms did not improve, and there she was diagnosed with intracranial hemorrhaging. Upon examining the original CT scan, doctors at the second hospital concluded that the scans showed significant problems, and that if the woman had been treated then, much of the damage she sustained would have been prevented.

Could government regulators have prevented meningitis outbreak?

The recent nationwide outbreak of meningitis was traced to a compounding pharmacy that distributed tainted injections, but further evidence shows that government regulators may also have been lax in their oversight of the pharmacy. In fact, Colorado regulators were the first to raise the alarm about these medication errors months before about unsafe injections that could lead to illness or death of victims.Colorado pharmacy regulators filed a complaint about the company in July 2012, alleging that the pharmacy had violated terms of its license. Specifically, Colorado officials stated that the pharmacy was not using patient-specific prescriptions to distribute medications to hospitals in our state.

Compounding drug companies rarely punished

It is not unusual to hear of a doctor or hospital being sued over medication errors, but compounding pharmacies rarely receive tough sanctions. In many cases, these pharmacies are not penalized at all for their mistakes, negligence or lack of attention that leads to terrible consequences for patients.Compounding pharmacies are companies that mix formulations for specialized drugs. They use the raw ingredients to craft mixtures that are used in the treatment of many diseases. There have been at least 200 events concerning 71 discrete products noted by the FDA since 1990 that were the direct result of errors or negligence by compound pharmacies. In many cases, despite the government's knowledge of these problems, the companies were shut down by lawsuits that resulted in large judgments against the companies rather than government intervention.

Colorado hospital shares hepatitis outbreak response information

A former employee of a hospital in a northeastern state has been accused of diverting drugs so that he could steal medication and then replacing the medication with tainted syringes. In addition to any problems caused by medication errors resulting from the drug diversion, 32 people have also been diagnosed with the same strain of hepatitis C that the hospital worker carries.This case has similarities to a Colorado case where a former surgical technician was also accused of drug diversion and of infecting up to three dozen people with hepatitis C. The surgical technician is now serving a 30-year sentence in prison. Following the New Hampshire outbreak, officials from the Colorado hospital and the Mayo Clinic were invited by the northeastern hospital to share the methods they used to deal with their drug diversion problem.

Lawsuit claims medication errors in death of a former soldier

The parents of a former soldier have filed a lawsuit claiming that their son was prescribed an excessive amount of medication following surgery at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The suit was filed in a Salt Lake City federal court against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. According to the lawsuit, despite the fact that the man's oxygen levels weren't stabilized and that he was suffering from sleep apnea, VA doctors disregarded these symptoms and discharged the former soldier. Prior to his death, the man believed he was released from the hospital to make room for more patients. Prescription medication was prescribed to alleviate his pain. While sleep apnea may have contributed to the former soldier's death, the lawsuit claims that medication errors related to the amount of painkillers prescribed by a VA physician were ultimately responsible for his death.

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