soldiers

New Bill Will Allow Veterans To Seek Damages In Military Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

soldiersIt seems only right that the men and women who have served in our armed forces should get the best medical care, but often that is not the case. We've all heard rumors and stories about long waits or poor standards of care for veterans, but one thing you may not have heard is that veterans have little recourse if a military doctor or hospital injures them as part of a procedure.

According to the military news website Task & Purpose, a 1950 Supreme Court ruling that was originally intended to shield doctors from lawsuits as they made life or death decisions on the battlefield has, over time, been applied to non-battlefield cases. At this point, the ruling essentially blocks veterans from suing for medical malpractice.

Fortunately, efforts are in the works to amend this situation. A bill has already been passed in the U.S. House of Representatives and is soon to be co-sponsored in the Senate by Florida Senator Rick Scott. The bill, named after Richard Stayskal, a green beret who is dying of lung cancer after he was misdiagnosed as having pneumonia by doctors at Fort Bragg, is said to change things by allowing veterans up to three years to sue after discovering a misdiagnosis or instance of medical malpractice.


Updates on The Opioid Epidemic

One of the biggest national crises of the last twenty years is what some refer to as the Opioid Epidemic. Deaths from overdosing on prescription and non-prescription opioid painkillers began to skyrocket in the late 1990's. This epidemic is now the leading cause of death in Americans under fifty years of age. The worst part about this drug crisis is that it should have been preventable, but dishonest doctors and scheming drug companies worked together to make billions as ordinary patients became addicted to drugs they were told had low or no risk of addiction. On the streets, opioids have become highly trafficked and have lead to further deaths. The harm the opioid epidemic has done has cost more than just human lives. Some estimates put the cost of supporting and caring for those affected by opioid addictions at over $75 billion dollars each year. The crisis has put an unneeded strain on our healthcare system that is not expected to be alleviated for decades.

We've covered a number of stories and incidents over the last year that shows just how out of hand the opioid epidemic has gotten.

 


In January of 2008, New York city brought lawsuits against eight opioid manufacturers. The city sought half a billion dollars in compensation while claiming that drug companies were misleading consumers about the safety of opioids while at the same time they were intentionally oversupplying and underreporting prescriptions of opioids in order to boost their profits.

 


As more focus has been placed on the causes of the opioid epidemic, some of the companies behind the mass production of opioids have begun distancing themselves from the drugs they themselves sold. For instance, in March of 2016, we saw that Purdue Pharma, one of the biggest names in opioids, had decided it would no longer be marketing its painkilling drugs, like OxyContin, to doctors. Multi-billion dollar companies rarely admit mistakes, but when you see one step away from a drug that made them many millions of dollars, it is practically the same thing.

 


In many ways, though, Purdue Pharma's move away from its core drugs was a too little too late moment. Just a few months earlier, reports about the company's activities painted a company that was actively looking for new and sometimes blatantly unethical ways to increase its profits from its opioid based drugs. At one point the company was looking at setting up opioid addiction treatment programs to help people with the addictive effects of the drugs they were widely marketing. When combined with their other efforts to increase opioid sales and convince doctors to prescribe larger doses, and their overall opioid strategy just starts to feel wrong. According to some reports, they even fired one of their employees who officially raised the alarm about doctors overprescribing OxyContin.


Fortunately, this bad behavior does not seem to have gone unpunished, at least not in the long run. In mid-march, Purdue Pharma publicly announced that they were considering filing for bankruptcy. At the time, Purdue Pharma was coming to terms with a lawsuit in the state of Oklahoma that might have reached the $1 billion mark. After making billions of dollars selling addictive drugs, that the company would then go into bankruptcy seemed a bit farfetched.

 


More recently, in July of this year, new information came to light that showed an outrageous amount of opioids being prescribed in some states in towns. The Washington Post managed to obtain a secret database that the DEA had kept on opioid sales and distribution data from at least 2006 to 2012. After digging into the data, investigators found some truly shocking numbers such as the state of West Virginia having so many opioid pills distributed that each of its residents would have received 60 of them each year. Even more outrageous, one town in Virginia had prescribed enough opioid pills that each of its 4,000 residents could have received 306 pills each year. These kind of numbers help explain why opioids had become so widespread that they have now become known as a crisis or epidemic.

 

Update, soon after we complied this report, a new story about opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma broke. Here are the details: 

A big update in the ongoing opioid crisis was widely reported yesterday. Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family have apparently floated the idea of a $10 to $12 billion settlement in response to the nearly 2,000 city, state and county lawsuits pending against them.

In order to pay for this settlement, Purdue Pharma would need to declare bankruptcy, and even then, roughly half of the $7 to $8 billion would be made up in opioid-overdose medication that Purdue Pharma produces. The rest would come from ongoing profits of the company's drug sales. The Sacklers would pay for their part of the settlement in large part by selling off their international drug company Mundipharma.

All this came to light during a meeting with several state attorneys general, but this deal also came with a warning. Lawyers from Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family said if this deal was not agreed to, Purdue Pharma would most likely declare bankruptcy all the same which, without the deal in place, would make it a lot tougher to collect fines and payments from the company.

In what feels like an insincere twist, Purdue Pharma put out an official statement that included: "The people and communities affected by the opioid crisis need help now. Purdue believes a constructive global resolution is the best path forward, and the company is actively working with the state attorneys general and other plaintiffs to achieve this outcome." That seems a bit much for one of the larger companies that helped drive this opioid epidemic in the first place.

 

Taken individually, these stories and cases point to bad decisions and unfortunate actions on behalf of opioid manufactures and the doctors that prescribed the pills to patients. When considered together as part of more than a decade of behavior, the severity of the opioid epidemic starts to become clear. These companies were doing everything they could to influence doctors to overprescribe their drugs. They encouraged larger doses, managed to get significant health organizations to repeat their, at best, unverified claims about the safety of their medications, secretly looked into playing both sides of the game by prescribing the drugs and then set up programs to help those who became addicted, and finally threatened to declare bankruptcy when their actions came to light.

Opioid addictions and drug overprescription are not just national issues. They can affect people in East Texas just as easily as they can in West Virginia. If you or a love one think may have been affected by the opioid crisis you need someone who handles medical malpractice cases on a daily basis. Give the Martin Walker law firm a call at 903-526-1600 for a free case evaluation.


Martin Walker Earns Texas’ Largest Medical Malpractice Verdict in 2018

Martin Walker Earns Texas’ Largest Medical Malpractice Verdict in 2018

 

$43M gross negligence verdict named to Texas Lawyer list of top verdicts

TYLER, Texas – Trial law firm Martin Walker has earned honors for winning the largest medical malpractice verdict in Texas in 2018 for the $43.32 million jury award against Tyler-based East Texas Medical Center and one of its doctors. The editors of Texas Lawyerincluded the verdict in the magazine’s listing of Top Verdicts and Settlements, 10thEdition, based on research gathered by VerdictSearch.

 

A jury found ETMC grossly negligent for allowing Dr. Gary Boyd to treat 61-year-old Billy Pierce, despite having been placed on probation by the Texas Medical Board. Mr. Pierce was admitted in April 2014 with stomach pain and vomiting.

 

During the trial, Martin Walker attorneys argued the hospital bylaws should have prevented Dr. Boyd from practicing at the facility. Testimony showed that Dr. Boyd diagnosed Mr. Pierce with an abnormality he said would make surgery to remove bile duct stones impossible. For more than a month, Mr. Pierce was in a medically induced coma during which time Dr. Boyd and the hospital abandoned him, according to testimony. Once the hospital sought a second opinion, a new doctor rejected Dr. Boyd’s diagnosis and operated without complication.

 

Jurors agreed that Dr. Boyd’s improper care led to the loss of Mr. Pierce’s quality of life and his ability to provide for his family. The $43 million verdict included $18.57 million for past and future pain, anguish, loss of earning capacity, and medical care and expenses. The jury also awarded $25 million in punitive damages, after concluding the hospital’s conduct involved an extreme risk of potential harm to others.

 

Mr. Pierce was represented by Martin Walker name partners Reid Martin and Jack Walker and attorney Marisa Schouten. The case is Billy Pierce v. East Texas Medical Center and Dr. Gary Boyd and the ETMC Digestive Disease Center, Cause No. 16-0853-C in the 241stDistrict Court in Smith County.

 

Each year, VerdictSearch conducts a comprehensive review to produce the list of top verdicts in Texas. The full list is published in the July 2019 issue of Texas Lawyer.

 

Martin Walker PC is a Tyler-based law firm with significant trial expertise representing individuals and businesses in high-stakes litigation, including medical malpractice, catastrophic injuries involving 18-wheeler accidents, oilfield injuries, wrongful death, and product liability. For more information visit: https://www.martinwalkerlaw.com/

 

Media Contact:

Mark Annick

800-559-4534

mark@androvett.com


Study Shows That A Few Doctors Try To Hide From Their pasts

A recent article in the New York Times made the case that our current medical malpractice law are not doing enough to protect patients from doctors who have multiple recorded instances of poor performance. 

A group of researchers from Stanford University decided to study what happens to doctors after claims of medical malpractice were leveled against them. They used multiple databases that track medical malpractice claims and payouts to see what happened afterwards. While their study found some morsels of good news, it also revealed a common disturbing trend among doctors subject to multiple medical malpractice claims. 

On the good side, the researchers found that only about 6% of doctors over a 10-year timeframe had any medical malpractice claims against them. Further, the researchers confirmed that doctors who are the subject of multiple medical malpractice claims do have a higher tendency to end their practices and that it is rare for such doctors to try and move to another state with the hopes of leaving their bad reputations behind them. 

Unfortunately, while doctors involved in multiple medical malpractice cases did exit the medical field at a higher rate than those without any claims against them, researchers found that the number of doctors that do quit may not be high enough. Data showed that 90% of doctors with five or more claims continued working in the healthcare. What’s more, not only did 90% of physicians with five or more malpractice claims continue to work in the healthcare field, they were twice as likely as doctors who had fewer claims against them to start their own medical practices. 

One of the authors of the recent studies explained this by suggesting that these problem doctors are possibly being turned down or forced out by larger healthcare organizations because they are too risky. They also noted that larger healthcare organizations tend to have the time and resources to check into the past of each potential physician they hire, but individual patients may not have the time or knowhow to properly check into the doctors that run a private practice. In this way, doctors who have had troubled past can sometimes continue to operate in the healthcare industry. 

In the end, these studies show that doing a little bit of research before seeing a new doctor can help make sure that your next physician doesn’t have any issues hiding in their past. 


Doctor's Sloppy Handwriting: Are Lives Still At Risk?

 

What Do The Statistics Indicate?

A shocking statistic from the National Academies of Science Institute from 2006 reported that 7,000 people are killed annually from doctor's sloppy handwriting.

The stats also showed that medication mistakes injured more than 1.5 million Americans annually. These statistics show the importance for electronically storing medical notes and records in order to avoid dangerous catastrophes.

Back in 2014, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) took effect in efforts to reform and improve healthcare nationwide.

Did this big shift in data creation improve the issue with doctor’s handwriting causing deaths?

WHAT ARE THE CORE ISSUES?

It turns out there are other issues that result from incorrect documentation not just resulting from unreadable handwriting:

  1. Failure to date, time, and sign a medical entry
  2. Lack of documenting omitted mediations and treatments
  3. Incomplete or missing documentation
  4. Adding entries later on
  5. Using subjective data
  6. Not questioning strange order entries
  7. Using wrong abbreviations
  8. Information entered on the wrong chart

Not only this, but the records themselves have been proven to cause errors that negatively affect patients.

IN CONCLUSION

It’s important to note that even though it’s been several years since the EMR Mandate took effect, not all health care facilities fully utilize these new technological systems. Not only that, but lack of proper interoperability between the various systems is still something that needs to be greatly improved. Hospitals are finding it hard to share patient records with other health care facilities that need them. This is important to ensure patient safety especially when new medications are needing to be administered or prescribed to a patient.

If you or someone you know is experiencing an injury or has suffered a loss as a result of a mistake made by a record entry, electronically or not, you may be able to receive compensation. Call our office any time to receive a free consultation. We want to give you the justice you deserve! (903) 526-1600.


Sepsis and Medical Malpractice

 

Sepsis And Medical Malpractice

What is Sepsis?

According to the Mayo Clinic, sepsis is a life-threatening condition that is caused by the body's response to infections. In most instances, the body will release chemicals, and cells, into the bloodstream to fight the infections. Sepsis is when the chemical response in the body is unbalanced which can cause changes in the body that can result in damaging organ systems.
Sepsis can happen to anyone, but it is most common and most dangerous in:

  • Older people
  • Children younger than 1
  • Pregnant women
  • Those with chronic conditions (such as cancer, diabetes, kidney, or lung disease)
  • Those with weakened immune systems

The CDC states, "Each year, at least 1.7 million adults in America develop sepsis. Nearly 27,000 Americans die as a result of sepsis each year. One in three patients who die in a hospital have sepsis."

WHAT ARE SIGNS OF SEPSIS?

Signs of sepsis include:

  • Mental status changes
  • Breathing rate of 22 breaths a minute or higher
  • A systolic pressure equal or less than 100 (mm Hg)

The progression of sepsis can result in "septic shock" which is when there are changes in the vascular system, otherwise known as the circulatory system. Septic shock is more likely to cause death than sepsis. Though both are extremely dangerous and common in a hospital setting to those most "at-risk", unfortunately. Another setting that sepsis will typically occur in are nursing homes. Nursing home and hospital negligence are both incredibly common problems that can cause traumatic suffering, or even death.

HOW TO PROSPER OVER SEPSIS?

According to the CDC, it's important to prevent infections that can lead to sepsis. Be sure to take good care of any chronic conditions you may have and get all recommended vaccines. Always wash your hands and ensure that all cuts or open wounds are clean and covered until they are completely healed. Knowing the signs of sepsis such as a high heart rate and fever, or the feeling of being cold. This includes chills and shivering.
And act fast! Proper medical attention needs to be taken IMMEDIATELY if you suspect sepsis or have an infection that is not improving or is worsening.

WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF SEPSIS AND MEDICAL MALPRACTICE?

Often, during difficult times, it's complicated to think of everything that you need to do when tragedy strikes. For example, older people who are hospitalized with a condition unknown, or an entirely different condition altogether, usually have a domino effect when it comes to illness. This can result in issues such as sepsis. The part where negligence occurs is when the staff doesn't treat it right away, or neglected to prevent the problem to begin with - a much harder case to make. But one that Martin Walker Law has no problem making.
Tragically, many of these cases go unreported. And for an entirely understandable reason.

WHAT IS A SOLUTION TO THIS COMMON PROBLEM?

Essentially, the problem is that most are not prepared for the "bad". But we have a couple of steps that you can take to be prepared:

  • Add a medical malpractice or personal injury lawyer to your contacts in your personal phone or in your personal directory. The official Martin Walker Law number is 903-526-1600.
  • At the first sign of negligence, contact us. The sooner the problem is caught and told, the more solid the evidence.

 

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, sepsis is not just a condition. It's a small epidemic. Learn more through the CDC or the Mayo Clinic about the signs and symptoms. If there is ever a medical emergency, call 9-1-1. And if you suspect any sign of neglect or mistreatment of any kind from a nursing home or hospital, call Martin Walker Law. We're here to protect.


The Importance of Medical Error Reporting & Disclosure 

The Importance of Medical Error Reporting & Disclosure

 
When a pilot makes a wrong decision, he has a co-pilot by his side to assist him in correcting it. When a school teacher makes a mistake, she usually has time to realize her mistake and correct it before any harm is done. When a doctor makes an error, they are most likely the only ones who have the ability to correct and sometimes even notice it.

Like it or not, doctors are human and are very capable of making mistakes.

However, unlike most people in the workforce, when they make a mistake it can greatly impact the lives of the individual they are assisting.

According to a study published by the journal Surgery, according to malpractice records, the most common error during surgery was leaving an object inside the patient, which happens around 39 times a week.  Operation on the wrong body part or even the wrong patient occurred around 20 times a week according to their study. Not only that but these numbers were reported to be on the low end of occurrences according to the study conductors.

Doctors are not likely to report their errors, especially if they feel that the patient is not in much danger. Doctors risk legal liability, loss of reputation, loss of privileges and even license revocation. Not only do these reasons keep doctors from reporting their mistakes, but they may also fear to cause the patient unwanted distress.

Here are the top reasons why doctors should report their mistakes.

Deceiving the patient – By not disclosing the error, the doctor is interfering with the patients informed consent. This is because after an error more procedures or medications may be necessary without the patient understanding fully why it is needed.

Causing the patient even more harm – The error itself can very well cause the patient meaningless harm. However, by failing to inform the patient of the error, it could lead to even more damage. The damage may be more emotional than physical, but causing the patient to worry about why they are not recovering as quickly may lead to emotional trauma.

Lack of Justice – The patient deserves to receive the compensation that is owed to them after a terrible mistake in the doctor’s office. If the doctor fails to disclose to them their errors then proper compensation cannot be given to them.

After knowing these facts, it’s hard to see how any case against non-disclosure could ever triumph.  It’s clear that non-disclosure is a deception to the patient and in clear conflict to doctor-patient relationship ethics. Doctors must rise above their human nature and admit if they make a mistake by placing the patient’s welfare above their own self-interest.

If you or someone you know has ever been subject to a mistake made by a doctor or health care physician you could very well be entitled to compensation.  Call our office for a free consultation and we will do our best to win justice for you, (903) 526-1600.


Opioid Pharmaceutical Company Facing Bankruptcy

Opioid Pharmaceutical Company Facing Bankruptcy

One of the largest pharmaceutical firms and producer of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma, has stated that they are considering bankruptcy.

The Chief Executive Officer, Craig Landau, stated March 13thon the topic, “We are considering it, but we’ve really made no decisions on what course of actions to pursue. A lot depends on what unfolds in the weeks and months ahead.”

After many lawsuits and allegations of deceptive marketing practices to promote the highly addictive substance, to which Purdue has denied, one of their divisive strategies is to declare bankruptcy to stop all litigation.

The people affected by Purdue’s actions in the state of Oklahoma could be seeking more than $1 billion from defendants, according to The Washington Post.

Over 45,000 Americans died from opioid-related overdoses in 2017. While 17,029 have died from Prescription Opioids in 2017. The statistics of 2018 have yet to be published but based on the trends, it seems like it could go either way.
We are now seeing trends of an opioid, Fentanyl, growing in use as a continuation of the opioid epidemic that has been a severe issue for over a decade now.

Purdue, essentially, marketed the drugs to people for use and after a large portion of the American population became addicted, they began creating marketing campaigns to get them off of the opioids that they originally made. Purdue is facing billions of dollars in fines.

If you know of someone, or are someone, who has been affected by the opioid crisis, we are here to help you get the justice that you deserve. Call Martin Walker Law today.


Medical Malpractice Facts

Medical Malpractice – Don’t Be A Victim

Many patients often do not know that they have been victims of medical malpractice. Typically, most people falsely assume that, because the media shows large medical malpractice lawsuits, they are not entitled for pursuing a case against the doctor or hospital. Negligence is one of the biggest issues that does not get pursued and is, unfortunately, one of the most common. Don’t be a victim, learn the facts.

Medical Malpractice Facts:

 

  • According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, it is reported that there have been over 120,000 deaths pertaining to adverse effects of medical treatment.
  • Approximately 2% of those suffering from medical malpractice file claims for compensation.
  • 33% of malpractice claims are because of a wrongful diagnosis.
  • Approximately 23% of medical malpractice cases are due to surgery.
  • 1/3rdof all physicians pay more than $10,000 each year in malpractice insurance premiums.
  • Over 40% of physicians say that their monthly patient volume leads to errors.
  • Medical negligence is the 3rdleading cause of death in the United States.
  • On average, there are 90,000 people who die in the United States each year due to an error in medical diagnosis.

If you have been injured, contact Martin Walker Law to schedule an appointment today.

Sources: Malpractice Center, JAMA, Bureau of Labor Statistics.