Category: Medical Malpractice

Jury Grants Couple $8.5 Million in Medical Malpractice Case Against St. Luke’s University Health Network

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Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers protect victims of medical negligence.After experiencing abdominal pain and urinary problems, a Germansville man visited St. Luke’s in Allentown for medical treatment. According to the radiologist, a scan of the patient’s abdomen showed kidney stones and other urinary problems. The scan also revealed the possible presence of a tumor. The patient and his wife were awarded $8.5 million in damages after a Lehigh County jury found that two doctors from St. Luke’s University Health Network failed to explain to the patient that the scan showed a possible cancerous tumor in his bladder.

When the patient initially visited St. Luke’s in 2015 for pain in his right side and abdomen and trouble urinating, doctors ordered a scan of his abdomen. In addition to the kidney stones, the scan showed a rounded area of high density in his bladder, which suggested the presence of a tumor. However, none of the doctors who treated him, or any other healthcare provider from St. Luke’s Physician Group, Inc., or St. Luke’s Hospital, Allentown Campus, shared the radiologist’s findings with the patient. The doctors also failed to inform the patient’s primary care physician of the scan results, refer the patient to specialists for further studies, or develop a plan for follow-up treatment.

Impact of Delayed Diagnosis

In 2017, the patient went in for an ultrasound of his bladder, which revealed multiple tumors and bladder cancer. The patient’s bladder and prostate had to be surgically removed. He also had to undergo chemotherapy. If the doctors had communicated the radiologist’s findings earlier, argued the patient, he could have avoided an invasive surgical procedure and grueling chemotherapy. According to the patient’s lawyer, the possible tumor that the 2015 scan revealed was the same cancerous tumor that was found in the 2017 ultrasound. The delayed diagnosis also caused him physical and emotional pain and lowered his life expectancy.

The jury found the healthcare provider who treated the patient in 2015 to be 60 percent responsible for negligence.  The jury ruled an emergency medicine doctor to be 25 percent responsible and determined the patient to be 15 percent responsible. The jury awarded $10 million in total damages, of which the patient and his wife received $8.5 million.

Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green, P.C. Protect Victims of Medical Negligence

If you or someone you know has been injured while under the care of a healthcare professional, and you believe negligence was involved, you are urged to contact the Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green, P.C. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us today at 215-574-0600 or contact us online. We represent clients throughout South Jersey and the greater Philadelphia region.

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Pennsylvania Superior Court Upholds “Two Schools of Thought Doctrine”

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In the case Sensenich v. Morcos, the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant, alleging that unnecessary stenting procedures were performed on him. In addition, the plaintiff further alleged that the defendant, as well as other physicians from Westmoreland County Cardiology (WCC), had established a pattern of excessive and unnecessary stenting with other patients.

A Westmoreland County judge instructed the jury on the “two schools of thought doctrine,” which the plaintiff alleged was improper, because it was not applicable to the claims in the case.

Despite this flawed instruction, the Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld the Westmoreland County jury’s verdict that ruled in favor of the defendant.

Two Schools of Thought Doctrine

Depending on a patient’s specific medical condition, there may be multiple treatment options, all of which are considered effective by experienced medical professionals. It is up to the physician to determine which treatment approach makes the most sense for the patient.

The “two schools of thought doctrine” states that when the chosen treatment option does not accomplish its goal, or compromises the patient’s health in any way, the fact that the physician chose one healthcare approach over the other does not make the decision negligent. In addition, juries should not be expected to determine which of the two acceptable treatment options should have been performed by the physician.

The jury found that the defendant obtained consent from the plaintiff to perform the stent procedure, that there was no battery, and the treatment was not performed negligently. In addition, the jury found that there was no corporate negligence involving Excela Health or civil conspiracy among the defendants.

Superior Court Findings

The Superior Court ruled that although the Westmoreland County judge’s “two schools of thought doctrine” instruction was flawed, it ultimately did not sway the jury, who ruled in favor of the defendant. The Pennsylvania Superior Court, made up of a three-judge panel, upheld the Westmoreland County jury’s verdict.

According to a judge from the three-judge Superior Court panel, the defendants succeeded in shifting the focus to the way that the stenting was performed, rather than whether the arteries should have been stented at all. The two schools of thought involved healthy-to-healthy stenting versus spot stenting. The trial judge recognized that the two methods of stenting did not impact the defendant’s decision to place a stent in a vessel that was insufficiently occluded to warrant that intervention.

The Superior Court further found that the only claims upon which the jury reached a verdict were for the unnecessary stenting claims, for which the “two schools of thought doctrine” were not applicable, and the Trial Court specifically instructed the jury to not apply the doctrine to those claims.

The plaintiff’s lawyers may file a petition for reargument.

Philadelphia Malpractice Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Seek Justice for Victims of Medical Errors

If you or a loved one have been injured while under the care of a healthcare professional, you are urged to contact the Philadelphia malpractice lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. We will help you navigate the claims process and ensure that your legal rights are protected at all times. Our experienced team will seek the maximum financial compensation you deserve. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us today at 215-574-0600 or contact us online. Our offices of conveniently located in Philadelphia, where we serve clients across southeastern Pennsylvania, South Jersey and New Jersey.

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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Proposal Would Impact How Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Are Filed

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In Pennsylvania, if a patient files a medical malpractice lawsuit it must be filed in the county where the harm or injury allegedly occurred. However, a recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court proposal would allow patients to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in another county, as long as the party being sued – whether it is the doctor or the hospital – conducted business there.

The proposal by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court would eliminate the restriction on where medical liability claims can be filed. It would also allow medical malpractice lawyers to file a claim in a county that is known for awarding higher payoffs, such as Philadelphia County and Allegheny County, a practice known as venue shopping.

The proposal comes at a time when medical malpractice lawsuits in Pennsylvania are down. For example, there were only 224 malpractice cases filed in Allegheny County in 2017, down from an average of 396 cases filed from 2000 to 2002, which is a 43.4 percent decrease. In Philadelphia there were 406 cases filed in 2017, down from an average of 1,204 from 2000 to 2004, which is a decrease of roughly 66 percent.

According to the Supreme Court’s Civil Procedural Rules Committee, the same rules should apply to civil litigation, regardless of the county where the lawsuit is filed. There should not be exceptions for medical malpractice cases.

Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Assist Clients with Malpractices Cases in Pennsylvania

If you have been injured while under the care of a healthcare provider, and you are considering pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit, you are urged to contact the Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. We will address all of your questions and concerns and secure the maximum financial compensation you deserve. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us today at 215-574-0600 or contact us online. Our offices are conveniently located in Philadelphia, where we serve clients across southeastern Pennsylvania, South Jersey and New Jersey.

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PA Superior Court Analyzes Extent of Limited Immunity for Physicians under the MHPA

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On July 2, 2018 the Superior Court of Pennsylvania provided clarification to the extent of limited immunity provided to health care providers who treat mentally ill patients under the Mental Health Procedures Act (“MHPA”). Dean v. Bowling Green-Brandywine, 2018 PA Super 196 (Pa. Super. 2018). The MHPA was designed to provide limited civil and criminal immunity to “individuals and institutions providing treatment to the mentally ill.” Under the MHPA a physician providing treatment to a mentally ill person may only be found liable if they committed “gross negligence.” The claim against Bowling Green Brandywine Treatment Center (“Brandywine”) was brought by the parents of a patient who voluntarily admitted himself for treatment to deal with addiction to painkillers. Within ten days of being admitted the patient was found unresponsive on the floor of his room suffering from cardiac arrhythmia. After being transported to an emergency care facility the patient died. The parents’ medical experts opined that Brandywine committed gross negligence by failing to provide adequate care that would have made Brandywine aware that the patient was at considerable risk for cardiac arrest due to the medications in his system. The trial court held that all the doctors involved had limited immunity under the MHPA and granted a nonsuit against all defendants.

On appeal the parents argued that their son’s drug addiction was not dispositive by itself as to whether he suffered from mental illness, to which the court agreed. The court then went on to analyze whether care provided by Brandywine could be deemed to fall under the MHPA. The Superior Court found that for the first several days of treatment the patient was not classified as a mentally ill patient. However, two days prior to the patient’s death he had been seen for psychiatric care at Brandywine wherein a physician identified him as suffering from mood disorders and prescribed him medication. Consequently, even if the doctors were negligent by failing to identify the cardiac arrest risk, they were still protected by limited immunity as such error was not grossly negligent and the patient was deemed mentally ill.

For more information, call our Philadelphia business lawyers in Philadelphia and South Jersey at the Law Office of Sidkoff, Pincus & Green at 215-574-0600 or contact us online.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules

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Only Physicians Can Obtain Informed Consent From Patients

A recent Pennsylvania court ruling found that only physicians, not their subordinates, can obtain informed consent from patients prior to procedures. In Shinal v. Toms, 162 A.3d 429 (Pa. 2017), Plaintiff, Shinal, was a patient of Defendant, Dr. Toms. Shinal had consulted with Dr. Toms to discuss removal of a new tumor growth in her brain. In this consultation, Dr. Toms advised her of the risks associated with surgery and reviewed alternatives including a less aggressive approach called a subtotal resection (safer in the short run) versus a more aggressive approach called a total resection, which would be more dangerous in the short run but offer a better chance of resecting the entire tumor. After this consultation, Shinal decided to have the surgery but had not decided on the approach.

Following this consultation, Shinal’s interactions were entirely with Dr. Toms’ physician assistant. The assistant discussed potential scarring, whether radiation therapy would be necessary, and the date of the surgery. The assistant also answered Shinal’s questions about the craniotomy incision, and met with Shinal to obtain her medical history, conduct a physical and provide her with more information regarding the surgery. In this meeting, Shinal signed an informed consent form granting Dr. Toms permission to perform a resection of her tumor and the risks associated with this procedure. The form also acknowledged that Shinal had discussed the advantages and disadvantages of alternative treatments and that she understood the form’s contents, had an opportunity to ask questions and had sufficient information to give her informed consent to the operation. The form did not address the specific risks of total versus subtotal resection.

When Shinal underwent the procedure, the surgeon conducted a total resection and perforated her carotid artery resulting in hemorrhage, stroke, brain injury and partial blindness. Shinal initiated this medical malpractice lawsuit alleging that Dr. Toms failed to obtain her informed consent for the procedure. Shinal stated that if she had known the alternative approaches and risks of the total resection, she would have chosen the subtotal approach (less aggressive) alternative.

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania held that a physician cannot rely upon a subordinate to disclose the information required to obtain informed consent, and cannot delegate to others his obligation to provide sufficient information to a patient prior to a procedure. The court ruling additionally stated that “without direct dialogue and two-way exchange between the physician and patient, the physician cannot be confident that the patient comprehends the risks, benefit, likelihood of success and alternatives.” The defendant’s actions ultimately violated the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error (MCARE) Act.

For more information, call our business lawyers in Philadelphia at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green at 215-574-0600 or contact us online.

Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyers: Temple Hospital Allowed to Seek Damages from Government in Medical Malpractice Case

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In February 2012, an obstetrician at Temple University Hospital delayed a Caesarian section that was necessary because of an abnormal fetal heartbeat and, as a result, the child was born with severe brain damage. The obstetrician, Clinton Turner, was an employee of a federally funded operator of clinics in the Philadelphia are and was working under an agreement between the hospital and operator. In August 2014, the hospital agreed to pay $8 million to settle the case. A year later, the hospital then submitted a claim to the federal government under the Federal Tort Claims Act, stating that the government was liable for the $8 million settlement because Turner was technically a federal employee under the Public Health Service Act. Temple Hospital claimed the government was bound to insure the hospital based on its physician-sharing contract with the clinic as well as common law contribution and indemnification.

On June 21, 2016, U.S. District Judge Mark Kearney dismissed the physician-sharing contractual indemnification, agreeing with the government that it could not bind them because they were not party to the agreement. However, the Court upheld the common law claims, finding the hospital’s settlement had eliminated Turner’s liability, and it had “held Dr. Turner out as its employee,” creating the necessary legal relationship.

Temple University Hospital Inc v. United States, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, No. 2:16-cv-01073.

Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green Handle a Variety of Medical Malpractice Cases

The Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green are experienced handling complex medical malpractice litigation. Contact us online or call 215-574-0600 today to schedule a consultation.

Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyers: Statute of Limitations in Survival Actions

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Pennsylvania Supreme Court to Review Statute of Limitations in Survival Actions

On June 7, 2016, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed to review the Superior Court’s expansion of the statute of limitations applicable to survival actions in medical malpractice cases.

In Dubose v. Quinlan, the Superior Court affirmed judgments entered in a wrongful-death and survival action brought by the administrator of the estate of Elise Dubose. Dubose died while in the care of Willowcrest Nursing Home, after developing severe pressure ulcers that were left untreated.  During her stay at Willowcrest, Mrs. Dubose was malnourished, suffered severe dehydration, pain from bed sores, bone infection, and developed sepsis systemic infection that ultimately lead to organ failure and death in October of 2007. The jury found in favor of plaintiff in the amount of $125,000 on the Wrongful Death Claim and $1,000,000 on the Survival Action.

The defendants argued on appeal that they were entitled to a judgment notwithstanding the verdict because the Survival Action exceeded the two-year statute of limitations, pursuant to the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error (“MCARE) Act. Defendants argued that the statute of limitations began to run in 2005, when Dubose developed the first pressure wound. The plaintiff filed two complaints in August 2009 and September 2009, so therefore the claim would have been barred. However, the Superior Court disagreed, ruling that the statute began to run at the time of death, in October of 2007. Believing that the approach the Superior Court took was far too literal, the defendants then filed a Petition for Allowance of Appeal from the Order of the Superior Court, claiming that the expansion of the statute of limitations was improper.

If the Supreme Court affirms the decision, it would open up more litigation in the medical malpractice field. A plaintiff could bring a survival action suit for an injury caused by another person’s negligence if there were complications that resulted in death, regardless of how many years are between the injury and death.

For more information, call our Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green at 215-574-0600 or contact us online.

Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Laywers: Crozer-Chester Hospital Found Liable For Negligent Treatment

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A jury found defendant doctor, Mohammed Budeir, and Crozer-Chester Medical Center negligent in treating plaintiff Bonnie Semple. Semple is now required to have a permanent tracheostomy tube. The jury awarded Semple $2.78 million.

Semple was admitted to Crozer-Chester Medical Center after a car accident, in which she was knocked unconscious and suffered abdominal bleeding, as well as blunt force trauma to her head. Semple was endotracheally intubated, and Budeir then performed a repair of liver lacerations. She remained intubated for several days, and an ear, nose and throat doctor found swelling in her airways. The doctor recommended she receive steroids for the next few days. Semple’s swelling continued despite the small doses of steroids Budeir gave her.

Semple was discharged in mid-April, but was readmitted to the hospital in May to treat a bacterial skin infection involving her chest wall and neck. Doctors found tissue swelling, multilevel airway collapse and obstruction, due to a misplaced tracheostomy. Semple underwent numerous additional surgeries in 2009 and 2011, including a reconstruction procedure that involved removing portions of Semple’s rib bones and cartilage to correct the error.

Semple argued the treatment caused her to need a permanent tracheostomy, a special valve to speak, limited activity, and the need to take extra precautions around water. She also noted her tracheostomy tube must be replaced every three months, and she must take medications to control her stomach acidity.

For more information or to discuss a possible claim of medical malpractice, call Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green at 215-574-0600 or contact us online.

Delaware County Physician Negligence Results in Paralysis, Other Physical Ailments

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On August 7, 2015 a jury on found in plaintiff’s favor and against two of the doctors who treated him. The jury has awarded $12.5 million to plaintiff Kenneth Del Grosso who is paralyzed following an alleged delayed diagnosis of a cervical abscess. Del Grosso said he received negligent care, causing his paralysis of the arms and legs, as well as other damages.

Del Grosso arrived at the emergency room with symptoms of left-sided neck pain and tingling in his left arm, according to a pretrial memorandum for the plaintiffs. He was kept at the hospital overnight, where his symptoms worsened and he developed a fever.

Infectious-disease specialist Bonnie Rabinowitch evaluated Del Grosso and found symptoms of a cervical epidural abscess and ordered an MRI. Radiologist Ben-Zion Friedman interpreted the MRI and declared there was no abscess or epidural collection. Del Grosso underwent emergency surgery on a deep cervical abscess the next day, after Rabinowitch expressed ongoing concerns about spinal cord compression. Del Grosso became paralyzed in the arms and legs, and lost bowel, bladder and sexual function.

If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a medical mistake, contact Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green at 215-574-0600 or contact us online.