Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

Despite a litany of problems surrounding Dr. Ira Kirschenbaum’s tenure as Head of Orthopedic Surgery at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital, the Hospital has refused to sanction the surgeon.

doctor-with-cashIn fact, Kirschenbaum had already settled three malpractice suits before he was even recruited by the Bronx-Lebanon to lead their Orthopedic Surgery department – two more were still pending at the time of his hiring. In New York, any doctor that settles three malpractice suits in a 10 year period receives a “note” on their Department of Health public profile. Dr. Kirschenbaum  has received such a note as well as a 1-million-dollar-a-year job at Bronx-Lebanon.  According to the New York Post, the President of Bronx-Lebanon, Miguel Fuentes, recruited him even over the objections of the chief of surgery. Continue reading

The practice of concurrent surgery, or “double-booking,” where a surgeon performs or presides over two patients during the same period of time, has become more popular in recent years. As the practice has become more common, scrutiny by regulators and patient advocates, as well as lawsuits by injured patients, have also increased. These opponents of the procedure say it is unsafe, unregulated, and done primarily to line the pockets of surgeons. Surgeons advocating the practice retort that “double-booking” is a safe and efficient procedure.

double-surgeryDouble-booking has been a common practice at teaching hospitals across the country, where senior attending surgeons delegate procedures to residents or fellows. The residents or fellows will perform one part of the surgery while the surgeon operates on another patient in a separate operating room. Because double-booking requires the surgeon to constantly shuffle between operating rooms, the practice is known as “running two rooms” in the medical community. Senior surgeons may also see patients, or otherwise leave the operating rooms altogether. Continue reading

Despite almost universal state laws discouraging the practice, Americans are still refusing to put down their phones while in the car. Cell phone usage, especially text messaging, and distracted driving continue to be contributing factors in car crashes. The need to stay in contact all the time is especially high among young twenty-somethings. In New York State, residents between the age of 21 and 29 make up only 15 percent of the state’s drivers, yet they are involved in 37 percent of crashes involving cell phone use and 24 percent of crashes involving distracted driving. Continue reading

While most states have laws banning “texting while driving,” states are increasingly strengthening enforcement and penalties for so-called “distracted driving.” In 2016, auto accidents and fatalities increased by 9 percent. As a consequence, in 2017, states have taken varying approaches to solve the problem of distracted driving – which often results in accidents.

The states of Iowa and Washington have enacted the strictest laws against “distracted driving” in the country. Now, a violation (texting or calling – without a hands-free device) will move from secondary enforcement to primary enforcement. This means that police officers will not have to witness a secondary violation (such as speeding, failure to signal, etc.) before pulling a car over and issuing an additional ticket for texting or calling while driving. Instead, if a police officer witnesses a driver texting or placing a phone call, they will have the right to pull that driver over immediately and issue a ticket.

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Police Officer Jason Behar has the impressive distinction of issuing the most DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) in the State of New York. The Port Chester Officer had issued 128 DUI arrests in the last year. Behar says that he is motivated to locate drunk or otherwise intoxicated drivers because of the “numerous accidents, some involving deaths.” The Port Chester Police Chief Richard Conway said, “We’re really proud of him, it was a great individual effort.”

When describing how Behar locates so many drivers under the influence, he states there are several “tip-offs” – driving with no lights on, hugging the line, and swerving back and forth. To avoid a DUI, Behar suggests to basically just “Don’t do it.” Adding that taking a cab, an Uber, or not drinking above the legal limit. Behar also has advice for sober drivers – “…. pull over the side of the road and stay away from erratic drivers. There’s an element of danger just being around a drunk driver.”

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The Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reports that the number of traffic deaths has increased by 6 percent in the last five years. Even more alarmingly, the number of pedestrian fatalities has increased by 25 percent over the same period of time. Pedestrian fatalities now account for 15 percent of all traffic fatalities – up from 11 percent in 2011. The State of New York currently ranks 25th in pedestrian fatalities. New York City, as the largest city in the country and most pedestrian-friendly, unsurprisingly has the most pedestrian fatalities. New York City had 131 pedestrian fatalities in 2015, the second-highest city for pedestrian fatalities was Los Angeles which had only 85 in the same year.

The GHSA Report states that the increase in pedestrian fatalities is most likely due to more people choosing to walk or bike. Spurred by the health, environmental and economic benefits – walking and biking have become more popular in recent years. According to the Government Accountability Office, almost one million more people are choosing to walk or bike to work compared to 2005.

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On August 3, 2009, Narie Balkaran drowned at Jones Beach State Park on Long Island after being caught in a rip tide that pulled him into the ocean. Because Jones Beach State Park is a public park, Balkaran’s family sued the State of New York – stating that the State of New York should be held responsible for the death of Balkaran for two reasons – first, because it failed to warn the beachgoers of the rip tide and alternatively, because it failed to close down the beach during the rip tide. The Court dismissed these arguments, stating that the State of New York only had a duty to beachgoers of “general supervision” and that the State was not responsible for warning swimmers of threats “arising from the existence of natural, transitory conditions of the ocean floor” when the lifeguards did not actually know of the rip tide existence at the time of Balkaran’s death.

The Court agreed with Balkaran’s family that State of New York has some responsibility for beachgoers on a public beach. The Court said that the State must act “as a reasonable person” in maintaining its property and keeping it safe for the public. According to the Court, this includes both general maintenance of public beach and general supervision of the beach. The Court then found that the State of New York satisfied this obligation by having a sufficient number of lifeguards (who were both “experienced and competent”), and that the lifeguards reacted to the situation by following proper procedures.

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Two NYC construction workers were killed when a 6,500 pound steel beam came crashing down from the fourth floor or a building after a crane wire snapped. Department of Buildings Commissioner (DBC), Rick Chandler, believes the rigging rope failed which caused the beam to fall. The city will conduct an investigation to find out whether the wind was a factor in the accident; winds were gusting at almost 40 mph.

The equipment is owned by Cranes Express Inc. and was being used to build a residential building in Briarwood, Queens.  Last January, the company received a $3,500 fine from the federal Occupational Satefy and Health Administration for a “serious” violation at a construction site in Brooklyn. A source from DBC said the equipment passed inspection in June and an employee from the company did not have a comment or information at the time. 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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