Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

A ballot initiative over penBarbara_Boxerding medical malpractice legislation in California, called “one of the nation’s most expensive ballot campaigns” by the Washington Post, received additional support via a television advertisement from Senator Barbara Boxer.  A recent article in the Los Angeles Times explains that Boxer “emerged as a forceful spokeswoman for an initiative to raise some medical malpractice awards in the state.”

Proposition 46, Damage Caps, and Medical Malpractice Legislation

The ballot measure, known as Proposition 46, “would increase the limit on certain medical malpractice damages from $250,000 to approximately $1.1 million.”  Since 1975, non-economic damages have been capped at $250,000.  Unlike economic damages, which typically compensate a victim for hospital bills, medical visits and treatments, and so forth, non-economic damages compensate victims for injuries such as loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, and pain and suffering. Also unlike economic damages, non-economic damages cannot be measured in a fixed dollar amount, and can therefore vary widely from case to case.

Most recent news about the NFL and professional football has concerned the prevalence of traumatic brain injury among those who play contact sports.  However, a recent article in the Insurance Journal reported that a San Diego team doctor may be liable for medical malpractice.  What’s the link between medical malpractice and football?  In short, a number of players have come forward with allegations concerning drug abuse.

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Narcotics Prescriptions and Medical Negligence in Football?

Back in May, approximately 500 former NFL players filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in northern California alleging that physicians affiliated with the pro sports league “illegally dispensed powerful narcotics and other drugs to keep players on the field without regard for their long-term health.” The initial complaint was amended shortly after its original filing date to add another 250 players to the lawsuit. Now, 750 plaintiffs are involved in the case against the NFL.

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Over the past year, consumer advocates across the state of California have been thinking about the current cap on medical malpractice damages and the possibility for raising that cap.  According to an article in Reuters, just last week advocates in favor of raising the medical malpractice cap indicated that “they had gathered enough signatures to place an initiative on the November ballot.”  The ballot initiative was a response to thus-far ineffective legislation attempts to raise the damages cap.

The ballot initiative is likely to be controversial, and until quite recently it wasn’t clear whether California residents would have to vote on raising the decades-old medical malpractice cap, or whether the state legislature would have taken care of this without a costly election fight.  The cap should have been raised, and the Walton Law Firm strongly supports the effort to raise it.

For San Diego residents who have sustained injuries because of medical negligence, the outcome of the ballot initiative will be very important.  In the meantime, if you have suffered a personal injury due to medical malpractice, it’s important to seek advice from an experienced San Diego medical malpractice lawyer.  At the Walton Law Firm, we’re paying close attention to the ballot initiative, and we can talk with you about your case today.

After a serious accident, injury victims often are transported to a local hospital. However, a personal injury can become significantly worse if it’s not treated properly and quickly. A recent article in the Los Angeles Times suggests that speedy injury treatment may be a problem for some California hospitals. Specifically, a report released by the American College of Emergency Physicians indicated that California earns a failing grade when it comes to “access to speedy treatment,” the article stated. Indeed, our state “has the lowest number of hospital emergency rooms per capita in the nation.” Could this overcrowding lead to medical negligence or medical malpractice claims?

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The report used data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to make its findings. Given the state of emergency room overcrowding in California, the advocacy group described the lacking access to injury care as a “critical problem.”

What Do We Mean When We Talk About Hospital Overcrowding?

A recent out-of-court medical malpractice settlement in Sacramento awarded the parents of Leah Gumb $9 million. Nearly two years ago, Leah Gumb suffered permanent brain damage after she was born at the UC Davis Medical Center, according to KTXL Sacramento. This case concerned a C-section that doctors failed to perform after Leah’s heart rate dropped. As a result, the infant requires “24-hour nursing care for the rest of her life,” reported CBS 13 Sacramento.

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Have you been the victim of medical malpractice? It’s important to contact an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. California law has a statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims, which affects the time period in which you’re permitted to file a lawsuit. At the Walton Law Firm, we have years of experience handling medical negligence cases and can discuss your claim with you today.

What is Medical Malpractice?

Back in August, we told you about a California ballot initiative that is looking to raise the cap for medical malpractice awards. Many commentators believe the cap should be relaxed, permitting victims of medical malpractice to collect more than a mere $250,000. The Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) put this limit into place back in 1975.

However, the California Medical Association vehemently opposes a raise to the cap. According to an article in Sacramento’s local KABC-7, some experts believe the doctors may win this fight. Since the legislative session ends this month, it’s a good time to return to this issue. Will lawmakers create a solution to the debate between commentators in the medical and legal arenas before the session ends? Or will voters get to choose?

What’s the Ballot Initiative, Again?

In 1975, the California Legislature capped the damages that victims of medical malpractice could seek for pain and suffering. Since then, about half of the states in the U.S. have done the same, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times. Now, a new ballot initiative in California seeks to relax that cap.

Nearly forty years after the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act capped noneconomic damages in our state to $250,000 for medical malpractice, “trial lawyers and consumer groups have unveiled a ballot initiative that would relax the cap considerably,” said the Los Angeles Times. Indeed, if voters approve of the new measure, the “allowable amount for noneconomic damage payouts for victims of medical malpractice would quadruple.”

For advocates of tort reform, limiting noneconomic damages has been a point of much significance. Simply put, noneconomic damages, such as those for pain and suffering, provide compensation for injuries that aren’t directly related to medical bills or lost income, for example. So why the ballot measure, and why now?

A recent article in UT San Diego reported that the state of California fined three North County hospitals “a total of $200,000 for preventable lapses in care.” These incidents of medical malpractice included “two deadly falls,” as well as a medication error that led a newborn baby to suffer from seizures.

In fact, the California Department of Public Health actually fined a total of ten hospitals in our state during the first week of June 2013, and three of those hospitals included the facilities mentioned above in the San Diego area. The fines highlighted medication errors and patient care problems at Fallbook Hospital, Palomar Health in Escondido, and Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside.

If you or your loved ones have suffered injuries as the result of medical negligence or medical malpractice, you may be eligible for compensation. While recent hospital fines in California alert us to medical negligence in several facilities in our area, medical malpractice and medical ‘never events’ happen more often than we’d like to think. An experienced personal injury attorney can speak to you about your case today.

Many people have heard about typical medical malpractice cases. However, dental malpractice is not something many people think about, because most people visit the dentist so infrequently. A dentist commits malpractice when he or she causes a patient personal injuries by failing to act within the acceptable standard of care. Dental malpractice is more common than many people realize, with approximately one out of every seven malpractice claims involving a dentist, dental hygienist, or other dental health care professional. dentist.jpg

Recently, the issue of anesthesia and other forms of sedation has become prevalent with regard to the dental industry. Typically, an anesthesiologist must attend school for twelve years, including four years of college, four years of medical school, and an additional four years in an anesthesiology residency before they are permitted to administer anesthesia on their own. On the other hand, the anesthesia industry has begun offering dentists an opportunity to receive certification to use anesthesia by attending weekend courses. More than 18,000 dentists have attended these weekend anesthesiology courses in the past five years. The courses are intended to allow dentists to start anesthetizing patients immediately. Many dentists are lured into the taking these classes by the promise of tens of thousands in extra income annually, which a great deal of dentists need to offset the high cost of attending dental school.

Unfortunately, the consequences of using anesthesia without proper training can be severe. Even a well-trained dentist will have difficulties with anesthesia, and most likely will not have the facilities or equipment to handle such emergencies. Particularly with children, using too much anesthesia can be deadly.

Many San Diego wrongful death lawyers will be watching the legal battles of Dr. Conrad Murray, doctor of the late pop-star Michael Jackson, even more closely in the coming year. Dr. Murray was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter on November 7 in a criminal trial that caught the world’s attention. After hearing the verdict, the pop-star’s father, Joe Jackson, told waiting crowds, “There’s more.” pills.jpg

Two California wrongful death lawsuits have already been filed, one each by Mr. Jackson’s parents and also on behalf of his three children, against Dr. Murray and the company behind Michael Jackson’s final “This is It” tour, AEG Live LLC. On November 9, a Los Angeles judge ruled that the civil suits can move forward, so Dr. Murray’s court battles are by no means over. Under California tort law, a criminal verdict can be used as evidence in a civil trial. Also, the burden of proof in a civil trial is lower than in a criminal trial. A prosecutor has to show the defendant committed the crime “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is a difficult standard to meet. In a civil case, the plaintiff need only show responsibility by a “preponderance of the evidence,” which in layman’s terms means it is more than 50% likely that the defendant is responsible. Also, evidence laws are more lenient in civil cases than criminal, meaning that evidence excluded from the criminal trial may be used in the upcoming civil cases.

The end result of these actions is hard to guess at this point, even for San Diego medical malpractice lawyers. AEG’s responsibility will likely depend on the specific wording of the contracts involved and also the nature of the company’s ties to Dr. Murray. With the appeal of his criminal verdict pending, Dr. Murray may also wish to avoid further court battles and the accompanying media frenzy by settling the suit out of court. It is unclear at this point what kind of medical malpractice insurance he may have, as well.

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