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The attorneys at Gallivan & Gallivan provide effective, aggressive representation to individuals injured in the New York area. Our priority is to maximize the recovery of our clients injured due to the neglect of others.

After a decade of rapid consolidation in the healthcare industry, researchers are now analyzing the effect of hospital mergers and the results show lower-quality care and higher prices for patients. According to an analysis by The New York Times, hospitals see an increase in both patient mortality rates and “patients with major health setbacks” after merging with another hospital. With one less competitor in the geographic area competing for patients, the higher price for medical care after a merger should not be surprising. However, hospitals and healthcare systems have often rallied public support for their mergers by touting improved patient care as one of the tangible benefits. Given the increased breadth of healthcare offered by larger hospitals and a supposedly synergistic benefit from having a single healthcare provider, hospitals reasoned that larger and more capable hospital systems would lead to better outcomes for their patients.

While touting better care for patients may be an effective tool for helping hospitals receive approval for their merger, the evidence on the subject points in a different direction. Several Medicare studies show hospital competition “results in lower rates of mortality from heart attacks and pneumonia.” A national study on cardiologists measured whether market concentration, or the number of cardiologists competing against each other for patients, effected patient care. The results showed that patients in areas with a “highly concentrated market,” where the majority of cardiologists worked for the same hospital or employer, are more likely to “have heart attacks, visit the emergency department, be readmitted to the hospital or die.” The author notes these increases “are large” – a cardiology practice that increased its market share from 40 percent to 60 percent would see heart attack rates increase by 5 to 7 percent.

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Pedestrian deaths are set to hit a 30-year high in America and government regulators are blaming SUVs and distracted driving for the record-setting number. According to a new report by the Governors Highway Safety Association, the number of pedestrian deaths in 2018 increased by 250 people – bringing the total to a tragic 6,227 pedestrian deaths in America last year. According to the federal agency, the number of pedestrian deaths increased a whopping 51.5 percent since 2009. Less than a decade ago, America’s pedestrian death rate hit an all-time low of 4,109 following decades of declining pedestrian deaths caused by increases in safety technology and stricter enforcement of traffic safety laws.

Despite the continued innovations of safety technology, America’s pedestrian death rate has increased every year in the last decade. Traffic safety experts say that SUVs are a large part of the problem, noting that SUVs, which have outsold passenger cars since 2014, are more likely to kill pedestrians because of their larger size. A report by The Free Detroit Press bears out this theory finding that passenger deaths caused by passenger vehicles have increased only 30 percent since 2013, while deaths caused by SUVs have increased 50 percent during the same time period. Like other parts of American life, cell phones have also changed America’s driving habits and, unsurprisingly, contributed to more pedestrian deaths. According to AAA, wireless data usage increased by 4,000 percent between 2010 and 2017. The same report found that 49 percent of Americans talk on the phone while driving and 35 percent say they send emails and text. The final contributing factor, according to traffic safety experts, involves the higher percentage of Americans walking to work.

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Traffic accidents and fatalities caused by distracted driving continue to increase every year, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). Distracted driving is a catch-all term for activities which divert the driver’s attention from the roadway and can include a wide range of activities from changing the vehicle’s music to eating. The most notorious culprit – and the primary cause of the country’s increased accidents – however, is texting while driving. In a report by The New York Daily News, 71 percent of Americans admit to using their smartphone while driving.

According to the NHTSA, the risk of a car crash doubles whenever a driver takes his eyes off the road for just two seconds. With the proliferation of smartphones, drivers no longer stop at texting while driving. In a report by News 12, a full eight percent of drivers admit to watching videos on YouTube while driving. Perhaps even more worrisome, distracted driving is no longer a dangerous activity just for young drivers – 73 percent of parents admit to using their smartphone while their child is in the car. These drivers also appear well aware of the risks, with 55 percent describing distracted driving as the top safety threat on the road. Only one-third said drunk driving constituted their biggest safety concern on America’s roadways.

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A stunning and heartbreaking story about the unnecessary deaths of 28 emergency room patients caused by lethal doses of opiates prescribed by a single emergency room doctor has left families with two questions: Was the doctor woefully incompetent or intentionally murdering his patients? And, just as shockingly, how did a hospital allow the doctor to prescribe and administer a deadly dose of fentanyl to so many patients?

According to NBC News, Dr. William Husel, an intensive care doctor, is responsible for the deaths of 34 patients between 2015 and 2018. According to a hospital investigation, 28 of these patients died after receiving a dose of fentanyl 10 times higher than normal. In some circumstances, pain medication was unnecessary and administered without the patient’s permission. Dr. Husel’s medical license was suspended permanently last week without a hearing, a rare action depicting the gravity of his barbarous actions. Before the Ohio Medical Board’s action, the attorney general for the state called Dr. Husel “a serial killer on the loose with a medical license and access to fentanyl.” A criminal investigation is currently underway, but no homicide charges have been filed against the deadly doctor.

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America is one of only two countries in the world where the rate of deaths during pregnancy increased between 1990 and 2018. In an exhaustive expose in National Geographic, the news magazine details the causes of the country’s high rate of death for pregnant women, the widening racial disparity, and the progress meant to help alleviate the unnecessary and tragic problem. Given the increased attention to the issue in recent years, public health advocates are hopeful the trend will begin reversing itself in the next few years.

Overall, 700 women die each year giving birth in the United States – a rate of approximately 14 deaths per 100,000 births. However, this data does not show the wide racial disparities in the maternal death rate. For black Americans, the likelihood of dying during birth is more than three times higher than the average at 47 maternal deaths per 100,000 births. Native Americans also have a higher maternal death rate at almost 39 per 100,000. Comparatively, Hispanic and Asian American women have a lower-than-average rate of maternal deaths at 12.2 and 11.6, respectively. Researchers and public health advocates say the high maternal death rates are directly linked to a woman’s ability to access adequate prenatal healthcare – with almost 9 percent of black Americans receiving no prenatal care before giving birth. The research found a full 60 percent of the maternal deaths last year were fully preventable. Continue reading

The new documentary “Bleed Out” provides an infuriating first-hand account of a routine surgery that went horribly wrong and changed a woman’s life. The documentary, which was released on HBO this month, dives into the third most common killer of Americans – preventable medical errors. According to a study released by Johns Hopkins University, medical errors kill 250,000 Americans each year.

The harrowing documentary follows Judie Burrows, who went in for a routine hip replacement surgery almost a decade ago and is now unable to speak, broke, and suicidal. According to her son, Steve Burrows, comedian and documentarian, his mother fell down in November 2009 and broke her hip. After spending eight days in a Wisconsin hospital without any plan of care, the hospital finally performed X-rays and rushed the woman into heart surgery. Unfortunately, the doctors in charge of caring for Judie did not consider her daily blood-thinner medication and the patient ended up losing half of her blood during the surgery.

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New York lawmakers are revisiting the state’s century-old scaffolding law that requires construction companies to cover the full cost of all workplace injuries. According to The New York Daily News, the recent conversation about reforming New York’s construction safety laws comes at the behest of the Trump administration and the construction industry, which are looking for ways to reduce the price of construction projects in New York. As the only state in the country with the so-called “Scaffolding Law,” critics of the law say it increases the cost of construction and believe the time to reform the laws and join the rest of the country have arrived.

According to the construction industry owners, the scaffolding law significantly increases the cost of constructing a building in the state. In some circumstances, the law pushes costs so high that entire construction projects are canceled. As evidence of these claims, critics of the law point to a 2013 study from SUNY Rockefeller Institute which determined the law costs private businesses approximately $1.5 billion and taxpayers almost $800 million for public projects each year. The Trump administration told Gov. Cuomo in a recent meeting that the law would make the Gateway Project, a vital infrastructure project in the Northeast, almost $300 million more expensive. With the citywide building boom driving up wages for construction workers coupled with the increased price of construction materials caused by President Trump’s tariffs, the federal government is looking for ways to lower the price of the Gateway Project. Continue reading

A Brooklyn jury returned a $15 million verdict in a lawsuit against a Brooklyn hospital after the patient’s doctor at the hospital failed to diagnose glaucoma on several different occasions, according to the Associated Press.  After complaining of blurred vision and pressure around her eyes, both symptoms of the degenerative disease, Amanda Velasquez set up an appointment with her obstetrician. Dr. Reginald Ruiz, at Woodhull Medical Center. Dr. Ruiz told Velasquez, who was seven months pregnant at the time of the appointment, that her eye problems were related to her pregnancy and she should not be concerned.

With her vision continuing to decline, Velasquez complained about her vision and the pressure around her eyes at six different appointments with Dr. Ruiz over the following two months. According to her testimony before the New York Supreme Court, the lowest court in the state, Velasquez knew something was seriously wrong after she gave birth and could not see the child on her lap. She immediately made an appointment at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, where she was diagnosed with glaucoma. By the time Velasquez could undergo surgery, she was already 90 percent blind and the damage to her vision was irreversible.

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Doctors accused of medical malpractice or other unprofessional conduct in another state may still be able to practice in New York State. In a report analyzing 250 doctors accused of professional misconduct, USA Today found that doctors accused of running pill mills, were found liable for medical malpractice, and engaging in inappropriate relationships with their patients, are still practicing medicine – just in a different state. In most states, including New York, a doctor who voluntarily surrenders his license in a different state is not automatically disqualified from practicing medicine.

Unlike most states, however, New York even allows some doctors with felony convictions to practice medicine. Under New York’s licensing scheme for doctors, a medical board is allowed to approve or deny a doctor’s license to practice medicine in the state based on their own criteria. In circumstances where a doctor voluntarily relinquishes his or her license in another state, there is rarely a “paper trail” describing any misconduct. According to LoHud.com, some states do not track allegations of misconduct against doctors and other states do not make the information available to licensing boards in other states. This haphazard system undoubtedly endangers these doctor’s patients.

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Continuing the state’s decade-long decline, New York ranked a dismal 48th in overall patient safety. The rankings, which are released twice each year by the non-profit organization Leapfrog Group, compile data from hospitals across the country and measure the rate of medical errors, infections and injuries, and patient satisfaction, to determine each hospital’s ranking. Since Leapfrog Group began ranking patient safety in 2012, New York has fallen from 40th worst state in the country to 48th.  In the tri-state area, Connecticut also ranks low for patient safety while New Jersey ranks among the best states in the country.

According to Leapfrog, the worst hospitals in the state are located in New York City and upstate. In fact, five of the 20 hospitals across the country that received an “F” from Leapfrog are located in the five boroughs. In the Hudson Valley, the hospital results were mixed. Here are Leapfrog’s patient safety ratings for the local-area hospitals:

A

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