Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

On September 22, 2015 Delfino Cuautle was forced to have his leg amputated after a series of bureaucratic errors at two different New York City hospitals led to a 13-hour wait and a fixable medical problem turned into a mandatory amputation. Alleging medical malpractice, Cuautle is suing for $24 million in damages caused by the hospitals.

On the day of the amputation, Cuautle was hit by a car at 6 AM on Coney Island. The EMS was on the scene within 3 minutes and took Cuautle to Coney Island Hospital. Within an hour of arriving at the hospital, doctors determined there was no blood in Cuautle’s legs – which were cold to the touch. After performing a CT scan, doctors said “emergency surgery” was necessary to save the limb. Because Coney Island Hospital did not have a surgeon that performs the specific procedure Cuautle needed,med-error it contacted a “transfer hotline” at Kings County Hospital– which is legally obligated to answer after three rings. Kings County Hospital did not pick up and Coney Island Hospital was forced to leave a message.  Cuautle was eventually transferred at 2 PM – a full eight hours after the accident, and in violation of New York state law requiring hospitals to perform transfers in 30 minuts or less. Continue reading

The New York State Assembly passed a bill meant to help victims of misdiagnosed cancer by changing the time period which a lawsuit can be filed.  If the bill were signed into law, and Gov. Alaverne7n-7-web-205x300ndrew Cuomo said he intends to sign ‘Lavern’s Law,’ a cancer patient who was misdiagnosed would have two-and-a-half years from the date he or she discovered the misdiagnosis to bring a lawsuit – as long as seven years has not passed since the date of the misdiagnosis.

Under the current law, a victim of medical malpractice has two-and-one-half years to bring a lawsuit. The problem with the current law, according to legal scholars, is that victims of medical malpractice are often unaware that they have been misdiagnosed or mistreated. Therefore, victims can be time-barred from seeking a legal remedy through no fault of their own. Continue reading

According to the Attorney General Schneiderman, both a (former) dentist and nurse have been convicted of operating without a license. The dentist, Alexander Hollander, 70, was convicted by a Kings County Supreme Court jury of “Unauthorized Practice of a Profession” in violation of the New York State Education Law – a Class E Felony.

Alexander Hollander, 70, was originally a licensed dentist, however, he lost the authority to practice when he was convicted for Grand Larceny in the Third Degree and “multiple other felonies” related to Medicare fraud. Despite losing his dentistry license in 2000 for these convictions, Hollander continued to practice dentistry at the 7th Avenue Dental Office P.C. located at 5610 7th Avenue, in Brooklyn, NY.

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In an analysis of Medicare billing records from 2,700 hospitals in 2013, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that emergency departments charged between 1.0 and 12.6 % higher prices compared to what Medicaid paid for the same treatments. The disparity between the fees paid by Medicare patients and other patients were especially high when performed by emergency medicine physicians (an average markup of 340 percent) compared to internal medicine physicians (an average of 110 percent markup). The higher markups for patients were more commonly seen in: (1) for-profit hospitals, (2) hospitals with a greater percentage of uninsured patients, and (3) location – with the Southeastern and Midwestern United States having the highest markups.

Unfortunately, these higher prices for the same services hit those with the least ability to pay – those that are uninsured or a member of a minority group. In short, insurance companies often “negotiate” the prices of hospital services. Therefore, when an insured person receives a procedure at a hospital – the insurance company will pay a lower pre-negotiated fee to the hospital, the insurer will then “kick in” their share of the payment, and the patient is left with a price that has been both negotiated lower and discounted by the insurance company’s payment. A person without insurance faces a different situation. First, they do not have an insurance company to negotiate lower prices for them. Instead, the hospital sets the rates (always higher than an insured person would pay). The hospital uses a complex algorithm with a goal of hitting certain profit targets, while also taking into account the expected collection rates of uninsured patients. This algorithm changes daily – therefore, an uninsured person is never exactly sure how much their procedure will cost.

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Dr. James Holsapple, a prominent neurosurgeon was illegally forced out of his previous job at a New York Hospital, according to a judge. Holsapple blew the whistle on the practice of “double-booking” surgeons – where a senior, more competent surgeon would essentially oversee two junior surgeons. These junior surgeons perform the “bulk” of the surgery, while the senior surgeon shuffles between operating rooms and oversees the operations.

In this instance, Dr. Ross Moquin, a specialist in complex spine surgery was hired in 2006. Dr. Moquin was given permission to “routinely oversee two simultaneous surgeries in adjoining rooms.” Holsapple “raised immediate concerns” because he believed that the assisting surgeons were insufficiently qualified and that if there were to be any complications in the surgery, Moquin may be delayed in the other operating room and unable to assist with the surgery.

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On December 9, 2008, Paul Lindebaum went to his primary care physician care physician complaining of stomach pains. The physician, Dr. Richard Federbush, recommended that Lindebaum go to the emergency room at Long Island Jewish Medical Center for testing. Lindebaum complied with his doctor’s orders and the next morning faxed over the test results to Federbush. After looking over the test results, Federbush diagnosed Lindebaum with colitis and recommended he take the antibiotics he had been prescribed at the emergency room at Long Island Jewish Medical Center.

Unfortunately, Federbush had misdiagnosed Lindebaum and his condition was more serious than colitis – Lindebaum had an abscess, which subsequently infected his brain, causing permanent brain damage. Lindebaum’s wife was granted power of attorney and sued the Long Island Jewish Medical Center and Federbush.

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Angelita Williamson, a surgical nurse aide in East Harlem, has been accused of silencing an elderly patient’s life-support alarm overnight in order to get some rest. On January 13, 2015 Williamson was assigned the task of a “one-to-one observation” in which she would monitor the patient’s ventilator overnight to ensure it was working. Colleagues claim they caught the surgical aide sleeping several times during the night with the curtain to the room drawn.

An administrative hearing was held in which three members of the hospital staff attested to Williamson’s sleeping. One person saw her wrapped in a blanket asleep with the lights off and another said she had to shake and hit her to wake her up. The third person stated he entered the room before dawn and saw the patient’s oxygen alarm going off, but the sound had been muted.  Despite the events, the patient was unharmed. Continue reading

An audit of Westchester Medical Center (WMC) found company executives were paid millions of dollars in bonuses between 20013 and 2015. State Comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli’s office found that $4.6 million dollars were to paid to 18 employees without sufficient record keeping as to why the payments were made.  The hospital was audited because it is a public authority, meaning it follows different state laws than the state’s nonprofit hospitals. The audit did find that some largest bonuses, paid to the CEO and CFO, followed state regulations; the two top executives were paid a total of $2.7 million in bonuses over three years.

WMC officials disagreed with many of the findings and noted they will be implementing a new bonus payment program in order to better comply with the state law and regulations cited in the report. The health system stated they maintain their total compensation approach and salary withhold process are in compliance with the incentive guidelines set forth by the Comptroller’s office. Auditors noted that in the past, state regulators have required an evaluation program with specific criteria and other rules. Continue reading

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released their new hospital grading system in July, called the Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating. The system rates hospitals in a way similar to movie theater ratings prompting criticism from a group representing care centers in New York.

The first report was released in July after a three month delay due to hospitals and other medical groups questioning of the methodology used. The new system focuses on rating areas that were not previously available to the public, such as hospital safety and mortality ratings. The ratings will be published quarterly and will include new measures and remove retired measures. Continue reading

Coney Island Hospital (CIH) received a one-star rating on The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid’s (CMS) new rating system, after city officials boldly defended the facilities quality of care. The CMS released their first report card in July 2016 on the 3,600 hospitals in the country, after a three month delay due to criticism. The system grades hospitals on a one-to-five star scale, based on the following seven categories: mortality, safety of care, readmissions, effectiveness of care, timeliness of care, uses of medical imaging and patient experience.

CIH is a one of 11 city-run public hospitals, which all received low ratings on the grading system; eight of the hospitals received a rating of one-star while the remaining three received two-stars. Over the past year, there have been several articles published on the less than favorable care the hospital provided, including the death of a patient due to misdiagnosis in the emergency-room. Dr. Ramanathan Raju, President and CEO of NYC’s municipal-hospital system, fought against these accusations by saying he has used CIH himself for 15 years and sends his children there. In May 2016, Raju told hospital staff not to be “distracted by misguided attempts to tear down the essential work of the public-hospital system.” Continue reading

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