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Illinois sees decrease in malpractice payouts and Drunk drivers get a second chance – Podcast

Diedrich Healthcare performed an analysis of 2013 medical malpractice payments that were recorded by the National Practitioner Data Bank. The insurer found that medical malpractice payouts in Illinois decreased by $28 million from 2012 to 2013. Plus, a new bill is introduced to give drunk drivers a second chance on this month’s Chicago Injury Alert.

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Chicago jury awards fourteen million dollars in medical malpractice lawsuit

A Chicago jury recently awarded $14 million to the plaintiff in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

The plaintiff, Mariola Zapalski, was prescribed the birth control drug Yasmin. After taking the medication for 13 days, she suffered a stroke that resulted in a permanent brain injury and the paralysis of her left side. She now requires around-the-clock care.

The lawsuit alleged that Zapalski’s doctor should not have prescribed the medication to her because she had underlying risk factors. According to the lawsuit, her doctor also failed to warn her of the risks associated with the medication. A lawsuit against the medical center that provided Zapalski with the referral to her doctor was settled for $2.5 million, according to reports.

Yasmin contains drospirenone, which is a synthetic progestin that has been linked to an increased risk of stroke and blood clots. The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning in 2011 stating that birth control drugs containing drospirenone may carry a greater risk of blood clots than other types of birth control. Preliminary results from an FDA study suggested that the risk of blood clots is 1.5 times greater. However, Yasmin and other drugs containing drospirenone are still on the market. Bayer, the manufacturer of Yasmin, has settled other lawsuits over the drug.

Wrongful death lawsuit filed over drowning death after swan attack

The wife of a Villa Park man who died after being attacked by a swan has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the man’s employer and against the condo complex where he was working when he died.

According to the lawsuit, Anthony Hensley had responsibility over two swans in the Bay Colony condo complex in Des Plaines. The condo complex used the swans to keep geese away. Hensley was employed by Knox Swan and Dog, the company that provided the swans to the complex.

Two years ago, one of the swans knocked Hensley out of his kayak. Hensley, wearing boots and heavy clothing, attempted to swim for shore but drowned. Witnesses said the swan continued to swim toward the man after he fell out of the kayak. He was pronounced dead at Lutheran General Hospital. Hensley was 37 and the father of two children.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the death was found to be an accidental drowning after an autopsy. Officials said that Hensley may have gotten too close to the swans’ nesting area, sparking the attack. According to Hensley’s father, he was a strong swimmer.

In the lawsuit, Hensley’s wife claims that the condo complex and his employer should have known that swans are territorial and are prone to attack humans.

Eleven million dollar birth injury lawsuit over Topamax stands

In a recent birth injury lawsuit, a jury award of $11 million will stand after a judge denied a defendant’s motion for a new trial.

The jury made the award in November 2013 in a lawsuit over birth injuries suffered by a child whose mother, Haley Powell, used the antiepileptic drug Topamax during pregnancy. The suit alleged that the mother’s use of the medication caused the boy to be born with a severe cleft palate and other birth injuries. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson that manufactures the drug, was the defendant in the case.

The jury found that Janssen failed to warn the mother of the risk of birth injuries from the use of Topamax during pregnancy.

In denying the motion for a new trial, Judge George W. Overton of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas held that the amount of the award was appropriate given the severity of the injuries. Overton noted that the boy struggles to be understood in conversation, has residual scarring from surgery, and faces future additional surgeries as well as psychological and emotional challenges stemming from the cleft palate.

At the time of the trial, Bloomberg News reported that the plaintiffs’ attorneys claimed that Janssen intentionally withheld safety reports suggesting a link between Topamax and birth injuries.

Birth Injuries: Three Common Causes

Injuries sustained during birth can cause a child to suffer from serious medical conditions that will alter life for both the child and parents. Even more devastating is the fact that many birth injuries are preventable. Many result from the negligence of medical personnel (otherwise known as medical malpractice). Three of the most common causes of birth injuries are trauma, oxygen deprivation and reduced glucose.

Trauma may be caused by the labor process itself or by the actions or inactions of medical personnel. If medical personnel use a vacuum extractor or forceps inappropriately, the tools may cause cerebral contusions or bleeding. Trauma can also result from a long period of repeated contractions, causing the baby’s head to be forced against the mother’s pelvis. In some of these cases, if medical personnel fail to take action to initiate a cesarean section, then brain injury can result.

Oxygen deprivation is another major cause of birth injuries, and it can be caused by a number of different factors. In the womb, the fetus receives oxygen from the mother’s blood through the placenta. But during birth, a child can be deprived of oxygen through the inappropriate use of oxycotin, which is used to expedite the delivery process. During contractions, the flow of oxygenated blood is interrupted, and the excessive use of oxytocin can cause hyperstimulation of the uterus. Oxygen deprivation can also be caused when medical personnel are not prepared to perform a cesarean section quickly enough if it becomes necessary.

During a long and difficult labor, the level of glucose in a baby’s blood may drop to dangerous levels. If medical personnel fail to monitor the levels of glucose in a baby’s blood and take prompt action to correct problems, brain injuries can result.

IWCC rules a close call insufficient for a mental disability claim

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission recently ruled against a train operator who claimed a mental disability based on the trauma of believing that the train he was operating had struck and killed a pedestrian.

The worker was operating a train exiting a tunnel when he observed two young men running across the tracks. The operator was not able to stop the train, and he heard a thumping noise that caused him to believe that the train had run over and killed one of the men. However, upon exiting the train, the operator observed the two men running away.

The train operator sought psychological counseling for sleep disturbance, anxiety, flashbacks, fatigue and headaches. He also sought workers’ compensation benefits for a psychiatric disability.

The arbitrator in the case denied the worker benefits, finding that he was not exposed to a severe and sudden emotional shock. The arbitrator’s decision was confirmed by the commission.

The commission held that the operator had testified credibly as to the events. However, because the injured man was able to stand up under his own power, jump a fence and run away, the operator did not face the emotional shock of witnessing the aftermath of what he believed had happened.

In addition, the commission agreed with the arbitrator’s finding that the alleged mental disorder did not arise from a situation beyond the usual emotional tension and strain that workers must experience, particularly those who operate motorized vehicles.

Doctors who lose licenses still collect from Medicare

Several doctors who have committed medical malpractice and other offenses to such a degree that they lost their state licenses to practice medicine have been able to practice medicine in other states and to continue billing Medicare for their services.

A Bloomberg News investigation found seven doctors who billed Medicare for a total of $6.5 million in 2012, despite having lost their medical licenses because of medical malpractice or other misconduct.

Consumer advocates and some members of Congress decried what they called a permissive approach to participation by doctors in the $604 billion Medicare program. Records show that all seven doctors informed Medicare that they had lost their licenses.

The information was released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which administers Medicare. The federal agency released data regarding its payments to doctors for the first time in more than 30 years. So far, only data from 2012 has been released. CMS said it hoped the release of data would make it possible for others to assist in uncovering fraud within the system.

CMS has discretionary authority to take doctors off the Medicare provider list if they lose their state license to practice medicine. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHS) Inspector General has the same discretionary authority. Neither agency is required to act, and a DHS spokesman said that doctors are generally not excluded if one state revokes a medical license but another state grants a license with knowledge of the first state’s action.

Illinois Appellate Court Rules on Disability of Paramedic Trainee

The Illinois Appellate Court has issued a judgment ruling that affirms part of and reverses part of a trial court’s decision regarding a workers’ compensation claims. The worker in question had been training with the city of Chicago to become a paramedic.

Joseph Locasto was employed by the city of Chicago as a trainee at the Chicago Fire and Paramedic Academy,where he was training to become a paramedic for the Chicago Fire Department. In May 2008, after two days of intense training that Locasto claims included military-style hazing and long periods of continuous physical exercise with limited water breaks, he experienced leg cramping and discolored urine. 

Locasto went to the emergency room, where he was diagnosed with acute kidney failure, rhabdomyolysis and compartment syndrome. Rhabdomyolysis is a condition that causes the kidneys to stop functioning, and it can be caused by overexertion and dehydration. The condition affected Locasto’s ability to work, and he claimed disability benefits. A retirement board found that the claimant had made a full recovery by August 3, 2009.

The trial court awarded temporary total disability for time periods prior to August 3, 2009. That judgment was affirmed by the appellate court. However, the trial court confirmed a ruling by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission that awarded benefits for temporary partial disability and temporary total disability after August 3, 2009, but the appellate court reversed that judgment.

After child’s death, wrongful death lawsuit filed against day care center

The mother of a deceased 14-month-old girl has filed a wrongful death lawsuit. The child died after she was hidden from authorities during a monitoring visit at a day care center.

In August 2013, Family & Friends Home Day Care, located in West Garfield Park, was caring for the child when representatives of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) arrived for a monitoring visit. According to the lawsuit, there were more children present than regulations permitted, so the child was placed in a bedroom outside the facility to hide her from the DCFS authorities. While she was in the bedroom, she sustained injuries that led to her death.

According to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office, an autopsy conducted at the time of Carter’s death was inconclusive, and no determination has yet been made about the cause and manner of the child’s death.

The lawsuit claims that the facility and its owner were negligent in failing to place a care provider in the room where Carter was hidden, in failing to put her on proper sleeping equipment and in failing to monitor her breathing while she slept.

According to a DCFS spokeswoman, the owner of the facility was “indicated for neglect” and surrendered her day care license shortly after the incident.

A Swan Attack Leads to a Wrongful Death Lawsuit and the NHTSA Investigates the 2014 Chevy Impala – Podcast

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched an investigation of the 2014 Chevrolet Impala. Plus, a swan attack leads to a wrongful death lawsuit on this month’s Chicago Injury Alert.

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The law firm of Briskman Briskman & Greenberg represents injured people throughout Illinois, including Chicago, the Chicagoland area, Joliet, Waukegan, Cicero, Evanston, Arlington Heights, Wheaton, Bolingbrook, and Naperville, as well as other cities within Cook County, Will County, DuPage County, Lake County and McHenry County. Briskman Briskman & Greenberg also represents injured people throughout Wisconsin, including Kenosha, Milwaukee, and Madison.
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