Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

A new report found that New York doctors who received payments from opioid manufacturers were more likely to prescribe opioids to their patients. More disturbingly, the report, released by the New York State Health Foundation, found that as payments from the drug manufacturers to the doctors increased the prescription rate for their addictive painkillers increased almost lock-step. Overall, opioid manufacturers paid more than $3.5 million to New York state doctors between 2013 and 2015, as the opioid problem in the country began to reach epidemic levels.

According to the New York State Health Foundation, a nonprofit foundation established less than a decade ago, roughly one in 10 physicians received payouts from opioid manufacturers. The President and CEO, David Sandman bluntly said, “The more money you get, the more opioids you prescribe.” The data released by the agency confirms his statement. Doctors who received less than $20 from opioid manufacturers – approximately the cost of lunch or dinner – billed Medicare for an average of $34,000 just for opiates, which include hydrocodone, oxycontin, and fentanyl.

If the doctor received between $20 to $50 from the drug companies, the average billing went up to $50,000. For the 3,000 New York physicians who received more than $1,000 from these companies, Medicare was billed an astounding $1.24 million just in opioid prescriptions. The doctors who received payments from opioid manufacturers increased their prescriptions for these dangerous and addictive drugs by almost 37.2 percent in just two years. Doctors who did not receive any payment from the drug companies increased their prescriptions by just 15.6 percent.

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In an attempt to advance the medical field, a world-renowned heart surgeon stands accused of violating ethical rules and harming patients, according to a groundbreaking report by ProPublica. The heart doctor, O.H. “Bud” Frazier, is credited with saving thousands of lives in his obsessive, career-long drive to create an artificial heart. However, to reach his admittedly noble goal he skirted ethical guidelines, defrauded Medicare, and harmed patients in an attempt to advance his research. Perhaps most disturbingly, his clinic, Texas Heart in Houston, along with several other doctors on the staff, apparently knew of Dr. Frazier’s ethical lapses and proceeded to either do nothing or actively hide the illegal and immoral behavior, according to the newspaper’s expose.

According to ProPublica, Dr. Frazier, who quit performing surgeries last year when he turned 75, is accused of the following:

  • Inappropriately diagnosing patients with advanced stage heart failure, in an attempt to install experimental heart pumps in the patients. According to hospital records viewed by the newspaper, an internal investigation made the Board of Directors at St. Luke’s Hospital, the hospital in charge of Texas Heart, aware of the problem who wrote at the time that if “…the affiliation should be dissolved, the impact to St. Luke’s market position is unclear. It’s likely that such news would generate national attention and negatively impact our standing in the US News and World Report rankings.” The executives chose to do nothing at the time.

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Three Metro-North construction workers were injured in March when an iron beam fell off a truck and pinned the workers to the railroad tracks in East Harlem. According to the New York Post, a 2-by-3 foot  beam fell on Track 3 at East 100th Street and Park Avenue. All three of the construction workers involved in the accident were taken to the hospital, two suffered significant injuries when the beam fell on them and the third construction worker injured his leg.

The accident comes on the heels of the death of an MTA worker in the same month at the 125th street station. In that instance, the MTA worker, identified as St. Clair Richards-Stephens by the New York Post, was walking on a wooden rail when it collapsed. Richards-Stephens fell approximately 20 feet to the lower-level of the station and, after frantic efforts to revive the construction worker by medical personnel, was declared dead at the scene.

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Hit-and-run fatalities have seen a marked increase throughout the country as more Americans are bicycling and walking to work, according to the Wall Street Journal. Citing a report released by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the newspaper states that hit-and-run fatalities increased 61 percent between 2009 and 2016. In 2016 alone, 68 percent of the fatalities in hit-and-run accidents were pedestrians or bicyclists. According to the Wall Street Journal, the increase in Americans choosing healthier modes of transportation is the leading cause of the increase in deaths.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 1,980 fatal hit-and-run accidents which caused a stunning 2,050 deaths. Both of these numbers represent record highs, according to the federal agency which has been tracking these statistics for over four decades. Overall, there were 40,000 traffic fatalities in 2017 – the second year the rate of fatalities has seen a significant increase, and following years of declining deaths in traffic accidents.

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After a helicopter crashed into the East River last month and killed five passengers, the victims’ families and politicians are looking for answers to how the tragic accident  occurred. The deadly helicopter crash was part of a photo tour of New York City’s skyline, an increasingly popular tourist activity. Like most other scenic tours of Manhattan, the helicopter had its doors removed. As a consequence, the helicopter’s occupants used a unique safety system involving a snug harness that was tethered to the interior of the chopper. While this prevents the tour’s patrons from falling out of the helicopter mid-flight, it can also create a tragic disaster in the event of a helicopter crash because the harness, in the words of one of the victim’s family, becomes a “death trap.”

According to the New York Times, the helicopter’s engine began to fail near Midtown Manhattan. The pilot said he immediately told all five passengers to return to their seats – all of whom were apparently free to walk around because their harnesses were tethered to the helicopter. According to the pilot, one of the passengers was taking a photograph while dangling off the side of the helicopter, a so-called “shoe selfie”, when the engine lights began to indicate danger. On its website, the helicopter tour company, FlyNYON, advertises “dangling your feet for a #shoeselfie.”

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In a tragic crash, an autonomous vehicle killed a pedestrian last week in Arizona. The self-driving car was driving 38 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone, according to the New York Times. The Governor of Arizona has halted all self-driving car demonstrations throughout the state until an investigation is completed.

Previously, Arizona has been at the forefront of self-driving vehicles with its permissive laws and flat, dry landscape. In 2017, Governor Doug Ducey declared the state a “regulation-free” zone for companies interested in testing autonomous vehicles. “We needed our message to Uber, Lyft and other entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley to be that Arizona was open to new ideas,” Gov. Ducey said at the time. When an Uber vehicle collided with another vehicle back in March, the Arizona Governor downplayed the significant, describing the accident as the fault of the other driver. Last month Gov. Ducey issued another executive order permitting cars on the streets without a human behind the wheel, the first state in the country.

However, that changed on Sunday, March 18 when a Volvo XC90 owned by the ride-sharing company Uber struck a woman with a bicycle who walked in front of the vehicle in Tempe, Arizona. The car also had a human driver behind the wheel, who was apparently unable to see the pedestrian either. The weather was clear and dry.

Cindy Frey, the widow of late Eagle’s co-founder Glenn Frey, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Mt. Sinai hospital and physician Steven Itzkowitz. The lawsuit alleges the hospital and doctor were negligent in failing to properly diagnose and treat the health conditions that led to his untimely death in January 2016. Frey died at the age of 67 from complications resulting from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis, and pneumonia, according to The Rolling Stone.

glen-frey-wrongful-death-300x158According to the lawsuit, Glenn Frey was under the care of the Upper East Side hospital and Dr. Itzkowitz between October 2015 and November 2015. The lawsuit alleges that a competent doctor, acting in similar circumstances, would have diagnosed and promptly treated the Eagles co-founder’s “ulcerative colitis and associated symptoms.” Ulcerative colitis is a form of irritable bowel disease. Further, the lawsuit filed in New York Supreme Court, the lowest court in the Empire State, a competent doctor would have assessed Frey’s respiratory problems – the ultimate cause of his death. Dr. Itzkowitz, according to the lawsuit, did not properly check for the problems, diagnose the infection, or hospitalize him. Continue reading

law-300x125Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature have finally reached a deal on medical malpractice lawsuits relating to cancer diagnosis. Under the new law, cancer patients will be able to sue doctors and other medical professionals for a wrongful diagnosis or missed diagnosis of cancer for up to two-and-a-half years from the date the patient discovered, or should have discovered, the misdiagnosis.

There will, however, still be a limit on when these medical malpractice claims can be filed. Regardless of when the patient discovered or should have discovered the wrongful cancer diagnosis, the injured cancer patient will not be able to file a lawsuit once seven full years have passed after the doctor or other medical professional’s wrongful act. The new medical malpractice law will also be limited in two unique ways. First, it will only apply to a wrongful diagnosis of cancer or a missed diagnosis of cancer, other illnesses were not included in the final version of the bill. Second, while the law will apply retroactively in a severely limited manner – wrongly injured patients whose statute of limitations ran out in the previous ten months will only have six months to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in a New York Supreme Court. Continue reading

The family of Isaac Ward, the 27-year-old man killed in a drunken car crash by a New Rochelle police officer, filed a lawsuit against the cop and the three bars that over-serving the police officer in January 2017. Penelope Ward, Isaac Ward’s mother, said the police officer, Harry Kyreakede, and three local bars – Brazen Fox, Brother Jimmy’s BBQ in White Plains, and Celtic Corner in Dobbs Ferry – should be held responsible for the death of her child because of their “negligence, recklessness, and carelessness.”

drunk-driving-300x150Kyreakede was sentenced last year to two-and-a-half to seven years in prison for driving while under the influence last month. A full two hours after the car crash, Kyreakede blood alcohol content, or BAC, was 0.20 percent – more than two times the legal limit of 0.08 percent in New York state. Continue reading

opioid-300x172Westchester County joins a growing list of states and municipalities suing the manufacturers and distributors of highly-addictive opioid medications, according to LoHud.com. The medication, once falsely marketed as a long-term solution for chronic pain, has ensnared communities across the nation as users became addicted and graduated to cheaper drugs, such as heroin, or more powerful – but legal – drugs, such as fentanyl. According to the New York State Department of Health, 143 Westchester and Rockland residents died of an opioid overdose in 2016 – an increase from 110 in just one year. Importantly, this estimate includes legal opioid-based drugs as well as illegal opioid drugs, such as heroin.

The Westchester lawsuit alleges that the makers of opioid-based medications, such as Percocet, Vicodin, and Oxycontin, intentionally misled the public about the dangers of the drugs, including the addictive potential. The makers and distributors of these drugs marketed the medication as a safe, long-term solution to chronic pain, with the knowledge that addiction and dependency were likely to follow for Americans prescribed these drugs. This reckless behavior is the center of Westchester County’s lawsuit against drug companies. Continue reading

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