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April 2013 Archives

UnitedHealth loses malpractice lawsuit

UnitedHealth Group, a national provider of health insurance to residents of Ohio, Kentucky and other states, was recently ordered to pay $500 million in punitive damages to plaintiffs in a Las Vegas civil lawsuit. The three plaintiffs, who will share the hospital malpractice damage award, had claimed that the company contracted with a clinic whose practices infected the victims with hepatitis.The original lawsuit requested $2.5 billion in damages. Instead, the jury awarded $270 million in damages from the state health plan and $230 million from the parent company that managed the clinic. Plaintiffs are said to be pleased with the settlement even though it was a fraction of the requested amount.

Medical malpractice leads to teen death

Routine wisdom tooth surgery turned deadly for one teen when she was deprived of oxygen during an extraction procedure. For parents in Ohio as well as throughout the country, the fear of hospital malpractice is at its highest when children are involved. In this case, the parents chose to file a malpractice lawsuit against the healthcare professionals involved in the teen's death.The 17-year-old girl died after routine surgery to extract a wisdom tooth. An autopsy revealed that she had been deprived of oxygen during the procedure, leading to a coma from which she never recovered. The parents filed a civil lawsuit, naming the anesthesiologist, the surgeon and the medical office as respondents. The suit claimed that the staff failed to revive the girl when her heart rate slowed dangerously, indicating that her brain was not receiving sufficient oxygen.

Shorter hours may increase medical errors

Ohio residents may have seen a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that shows surprising results. According to the report, shorter hours for residents actually increased medical errors by 15 to 20 percent. The original purpose of the study was to determine if decreasing hours that doctors worked without a break from 30 to 16 would decrease incidents of hospital malpractice. However, the results seem to show the opposite is true. Residency programs are not regulated by federal rules; instead, they are governed by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. This agency has been revising residency standards since 2003. While the shorter shift was believed to reduce errors, the study points out problems with that assumption. Apparently, asking doctors to perform the same amount of work in less time has increased medical errors as they become rushed to complete tasks.

1 million injured in hospitals each year

Errors on the part of hospitals, doctors and other healthcare providers affect more than 1 million people each year. Hospital errors can be physically disabling but they can also have serious mental consequences for the victims and their families. Many victims suffer relationship problems, sleep patterns and depression. Patients from Ohio to Kentucky and elsewhere who have suffered from medical errors now have a new voice through a Facebook group.The psychological symptoms after a hospital or doctor error are similar to those displayed by people who have been sexually or physically abused. Victims expected to be safe with their doctors; instead, they found that they were harmed. This can lead to extreme stress, mental anguish and ultimately to psychological problems such as depression.

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