Category: Medical Malpractice

Doctors: Say “I’m Sorry” and don’t get sued!

by John McKiggan

Apologize and don’t get sued. The New York Times has reported a story that will come as no surprise to medical malpractice lawyers or Malcolm Gladwell.

Doctors who apologize for their mistakes get sued far less often than doctors who refuse to acknowlege they have done anything wrong.

The Times reports:
For decades, malpractice lawyers and insurers have counseled doctors and hospitals to “deny and defend.” Many still warn clients that any admission of fault, or even expression of regret, is likely to invite litigation and imperil careers.
A few hospitals have bucked the “circle the wagons and fight” mentality.
By promptly disclosing medical errors and offering earnest apologies and fair compensation, they hope to restore integrity to dealings with patients, make it easier to learn from mistakes and dilute anger that often fuels lawsuits.
A simple idea; taking responsibility for your actions.
At the University of Michigan Health System, one of the first to experiment with full disclosure, existing claims and lawsuits dropped to 83 in August 2007 from 262 in August 2001.
I have been representing victims of medical malpractice for 18 years. In almost every case, the patient came to me because they were frustrated by the lack of information they were receiving from their doctor, or the hospital.

Overworked Nurses Causing Medication Errors

by John McKiggan

Nurses who worked in hospitals that were understaffed, had inadequate medical resources and who had high rates of overtime were most likely to report that patients had been the victims of medication mistakes.

Nurses Stretched to the Limit:

Statistics Canada released a report today that says nurses working overtime or where staffing and resources were stretched were more likely to report a patient had received the wrong medication or dosage.

CTV reported some of the results of the study:
Among nurses who usually worked overtime, 22 per cent reported medication error, compared with 14 per cent of those who did not work overtime.

Drug Spending in Canada Consuming Health Resources

by John McKiggan

Total drug spending in Canada is estimated to have reached $26.9 billion in 2007, according to figures released today by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).

The report states that since 1985 drug expenditure has consumed an increasing share of Canada’s health care dollar. In 2007, spending on drugs is expected to have reached $26.9 billion, representing 16.8% of total health care spending. Among major categories of health expenditure, drugs account for the second largest share, after hospitals.

This represents an increase of approximately $2 billion over 2006.

Do Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Improve Patient Safety

by John McKiggan

I found a fascinating lecture (at least fascinating to medical malpractice lawyers) posted on You Tube the other day.

Dr. Brennan, Professor of Law and Public Health at the Harvard School of Public Health is one of the United States’ leading experts on medical malpractice and patient safety. Dr. Brennan authored the famous Harvard Medical Practice Study.

Health Authority Knew About Pathologist’s Problems: Miramichi

by John McKiggan

The public inquiry investigating concerns about botched cancer screening tests by former pathologist Rajgopal Menon heard testimony today of concerns about the disgraced pathologist.

Jeff Carter, director of medical services at the Miramichi Regional Hospital, testified he heard concerns about Menon beginning in 2002.

Carter said while he was the regional risk management co-ordinator at the hospital in 2002 he heard complaints about Menon including:
Slow turn around times completing tests.

Deputy Minister Received Complaints about Disgraced Pathologist: New Brunswick

by John McKiggan

The first witness at an inquiry into flawed pathology services at a New Brunswick hospital testified that she received complaints about Dr. Rajgopal Menon, the pathologist whose botched cancer screening test results lead to the inquiry.

But former Deputy Minister of Health apparently did not consider the complaints to be serious. The Canadian Press has reported that Nora Kelly testified that:

… there were general comments from his colleagues about his slow work habits, his tardiness and missing slides, but no one suggested his work might be sub-standard.

Breast Cancer Screening Fiasco Continues in Newfoundland

by John McKiggan

Newfoundland’s Eastern Health Board is trying to gag it’s employees by getting them to sign confidentiality agreements.

George Tilley the former CEO of Newfoundland’s largest health board didn’t tell his counterparts at the province’s other health boards about breast-cancer testing errors until two months after he discovered them.

His excuse? He was waiting the lab to call him back!

Negligent Cancer Screening Put Patients at Risk: Miramichi Hospital

by John McKiggan

More on the cancer screening fiasco unfolding in New Brunswick. The Miramichi Hospital claims in a lawsuit filed by the disgraced pathologist that is the subject of potential criminal charges that there were issues about the doctors work as far back as 1998.

Dr. Rajgopal Menon was suspended by New Brunswick’s College of Physicians and Surgeons following a complaint from the Miramichi Regional Hospital Authority about Menon’s “deficient practice” involving “erroneous interpretations of surgical specimens.”

Menon sued the Hospital over the allegations. In a defence filed by the Hospital Authority officials claims that Menon’s:
“lack of professional standards have resulted in patients being placed at risk as well as other physicians, and in particular surgeons, who must rely on (him) for accurate and timely pathological diagnosis.”
The Hospital’s allegations are a double edged sword. If the facts in the defence are correct, it may mean that cancer patients who have been “placed at risk” (not able to receive timely treatment) due to Menon’s “lack of professional standards” may have a potential medical malpractice claim against the Hospital Authority for failing to take proper steps to ensure patient safety when it became aware of the risks due to Menon’s “lack of professional standards”.

Negligent Cancer Screening in New Brunswick May Lead to Criminal Charges and Medical Malpractice Claims

by John McKiggan

A New Brunswick doctor faces potential criminal charges and possible liability for medical malpractice as a result of an investigation into negligent cancer screening.

Pathologist Dr. Rajgopal S. Menon was suspended by New Brunswick’s College of Physicians and Surgeons last year after a complaint from the regional health authority that he put patients at risk by missing instances of cancer following evidence of negligence in breast and prostate cancer biopsies performed by Menon in 2004 and 2005.

The latest review is going to include 15,000 cancer screening tests performed by the doctor stretching all the way back to 1995.

Majority of Infant Deaths Due to Medical Error Preventable

by John McKiggan

Medical errors (Iatrogenic events) among newborns are common and often preventable according to a recent article in the journal Lancet.

In the report To Err is Human, medical errors were estimated to have caused 44,000 deaths in the U.S. every year. A similar Canadian study estimated medical errors kills 24,000 Canadians each year.

However, available reports have focused mainly on adults and (older) pediatric patients, not newborn babies, who are a high-risk group.