Cancer Clinic Settles Chemotherapy Duration Claim for $3.7 Million

An Elizabethtown cancer clinic accused of extending patients’ chemotherapy sessions so it could make more money has agreed to pay a $3.7 million settlement to resolve the claims against it.

Elizabethtown Hematology Oncology PLC and its owners were accused of extending the length of chemotherapy infusion treatments and improperly billing for office visits for those treatments so they could obtain larger reimbursements from government insurance programs, including Medicare, Medicaid and the military’s TRICARE program.

The owners, Dr. Rafik Ur Raman and Dr. Yusef K. Deshmukh, are also under investigation by the Kentucky Medical Board.

The settlement highlights how easily unsuspecting patients can be subjected to unnecessary procedures by doctors who want to collect more money.

Former Co-Worker Exposed Treatment and Billing Practices

The clinic’s billing practices came to light in a whistleblower lawsuit filed by a former doctor at the clinic, Dr. Ijaz Mahmood.

Mahmood claimed that the clinic gave patients the proper dose of chemotherapy, but diluted it so it took hours longer to administer.  This allowed the clinic to make more money from government insurers such as Medicare, whose reimbursement is based partially on the amount of time a procedure takes. The lawsuit alleged that:

  • The clinic had written guidelines that extended the duration of chemotherapy to three times beyond what was medically accepted as necessary, but sometimes stretched the duration to six to eight times longer than was needed.
  • Patients sometimes spent hours hooked up to a chemotherapy IV when they could have received their doses with a simple injection.

The clinic’s attorney defended the actions of the clinic and its owners, saying that they were trying to minimize the drug’s harmful effects, not collect more money from insurers.  He noted that the doctors are still practicing medicine and billing the government programs.

The settlement did not involve any admission of guilt on the clinic’s part, nor did the government concede that its claims were unfounded.

Settlement Terms Include Increased Monitoring

The federal and state government joined the lawsuit under the federal whistleblower law.  Mahmood will receive $243,412 of the settlement amount, and the state of Kentucky will receive $405,227.

In addition to the monetary settlement, the clinic and Dr. Deshmukh must participate in a three-year program for increased monitoring and accountability of the clinic’s practices.  The clinic and doctors will still be allowed to bill procedures to the government insurance plans.

 

Posted in Medical Malpractice

Hospitals Must Invest in Safe Injection Practices

unsafe-injectionsIn recent months, a number of cases of medical malpractice around the country have been linked to unsafe injection practices. In 2009, there was a hepatitis A outbreak in Nevada that was linked to the inappropriate use of drug vials, which led to widespread contamination and infections. Often, medical personnel may be prompted to use cut corners when they administer injections, and this can place patients at risk.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has launched the One and Only campaign, which is aimed at increasing awareness among both nurses as well as patients about safe injection practices. According to the CDC, since 1999, more than 125,000 persons have been at risk of exposure to HIV, hepatitis, B and hepatitis C, all due to unsafe injection practices.

The most basic safe injection practice is to use just one syringe and one needle per patient. In a recent survey, as many as 1%, of medical personnel reported that they reused single-dose vials on multiple patients. These are extremely dangerous practices.

Fortunately, since the AIDS scare, many patients are more aware about safe injection practices. It is very important that patients speak up when they see medical personnel adopting unsafe practices. As a patient, you must question whether the syringe has been used on anyone else, or whether the vial that has been opened is a single-use vial.

Hospitals must invest in awareness and education campaigns, and encourage personnel to be more careful with injection practices. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s One and Only campaign is an excellent place to start. Some experts believe that unsafe injection practices may be more widespread in small hospitals and clinics, because there are limited numbers of staff members, and lower opportunities for sufficient oversight of nurses. Patients who check in to a smaller facility may need to be more alert.

Photo Credit: faungg’s photo cc

Posted in Medical Malpractice

Child Safety Seats and Passenger Safety

child-safety-seatKentucky Transportation Cabinet advises on child passenger safety by giving National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics on the injuries that may occur when a child is not safely belted or seated in a car.

Child Safety Seats Not Installed Properly

According to the statistics, over 90 % of child safety seats in the United States are installed incorrectly. When used properly, child safety seats are 71 % effective in reducing infant fatalities, 67 % effective in reducing the need for hospitalization, and 54 % effective in reducing fatalities for children ages 1 to 4.

Kentucky has a booster seat law.  Senate Bill 120 requires children younger than 7 and between 40 and 50 inches tall be secured in a booster seat.  They are an extra safety precaution on top of children wearing seatbelts.  Because of the danger of airbags in front seats, children generally sit in the rear seats.  If not seated correctly, a child can die if a frontal collision causes trunk cargo to collapse the rear seatback forward.  In Kentucky, law enforcement officers issue citations with a $30 fine with no court costs when children do not use booster seats. Violators have the option to buy a booster seat rather than paying the fine.  Boosters lift the child up off the seat to improve the fit of the seatbelt.

Automakers need to investigate making seatbelts fit and perform well in the event of an accident involving children.  The consequences of poor fit may lead to the manufacturer and retailers getting sued for products liability.  Uncomfortable belts may not be worn by a fussy child.  For strict products liability, the child is a foreseeable plaintiff of a car manufacturer or retailer though the child may not be the car owner or purchaser.

Some parents may place a belt behind a child’s back if the shoulder belt cuts across a child’s neck.  Safety experts suggest shoulder belts should not be placed behind the back.  The lap portion of the seatbelt should fit low on the hips or high on the thighs and the shoulder portion of the belt should be across the collarbone.  An improper fit of the belt can cause the lap belt to ride up over the stomach and the shoulder belt to cut across the neck, possibly exposing the child to abdominal or neck injury.  Seatbelt effectiveness depends on the belt staying on the hard bones of the body, such as hip and shoulder bones.  This transfers crash forces to the bones to avoid vulnerable body parts such as the head and abdomen.  A belt that does not work correctly could result in a child suffering traumatic head injuries, organ damage, or death.

Other Hazards to Child in Cars

Vehicles can pose hazards to kids even when not on the road.  For instance, automatic windows can strangle a child.  When shopping for a car, see if window switches are designed like garage door openers to make it accidentally hard to close the window when there is an object in the way.

Protecting a child in a car is up to parents, drivers, and automakers.  When a child dies in an accident, each party who plays a role in keeping the child safe may be accountable for any child injuries.  To learn more about what to you or a loved one can recover in a child passenger safety claim, contact our attorneys for a free consultation of your rights.

Photo Credit: Regal+Lagercc

Posted in Motor Vehicle Accidents

Jury Awards Man Injured by Commercial Truck More than $12 Million

truck-negligenceMarlin Michael Bradway arrived at the Birds Eye facility in Walworth County, Wisconsin Feb. 6, 2009. Birds Eye Foods is a company that has product lines encompassing, fruits, vegetables, canned meals and snacks. The company markets its products to food retail stores nationwide. Bradway was not an employee of Birds Eye per se, but worked for a company that Birds Eye hired to service their loading docks.

Bradway Arrives at Birds Eye Facility

Upon his arrival, Bradway observed a Frozen Food Express trailer and truck parked at one of the loading docks that he was hired to inspect. Prior to beginning his inspection, Bradway ensured that the trailer and truck were out of commission and that the driver was absent. He also scanned the area to see if the driver was anywhere within the vicinity of the truck. Once satisfied that the driver was not present, Bradway began his inspection of the dock.

Driver Neglected to Perform Required ‘Walk-Around’

Bradway claims that while he was inspecting the dock the driver neglectfully backed up toward the dock and crushed him numerous times between the trailer and loading dock wall. Bradway and his counsel claim that the driver was negligent because he ignored the requirement to conduct what is referred to as a ‘walk-around’ to check the area surrounding the truck and trailer. Because of this, Bradway states he had no warning that the driver was about to put the truck into motion.

Life-Long Injuries Affecting Bradway’s Quality of Life

Bradway’s midsection and pelvic area received severe injuries that required extensive medical treatment. He was admitted to the hospital because his urethra, pelvis and intestines had to be repaired. He also underwent rehabilitation. Because of this accident, Bradway has permanent injuries that will affect the quality of his daily life.

The Verdict

On Feb. 27, 2014, a Milwaukee County Circuit Court jury found in favor of Bradway. The jury agreed that Frozen Food Express and its driver did contribute to Bradway’s injuries. Court documents state that Frozen Food Express Industries neglected to train their commercial truck driver properly. The jury also found the driver negligent in his operation of the truck. Bradway received a verdict of $12.3 million. However, the jury did reduce that amount by 30 percent ($3.6 million deduction) stating that Bradway was also to blame for the accident. After the reduction, this gives Bradway $8.6 million. Bradway’s wife received $3 million for her loss of intimacy. If you have been injured due to the negligence of another, contact Meinhart, Smith & Manning PLLC for your free consultation. You deserve to receive compensation for lost wages and medical bills related to your injuries.

Photo Credit: Raymondo166 cc

Posted in Motor Vehicle Accidents

How to Utilize Premises Laws When You Have Been Injured

slip and fallAll property owners maintain premises liability, which simply means they are responsible for any injuries that occur due to an accident on their property. Therefore, if you have been injured while on someone’s property, read below tolearn how you can utilize premises liability laws and acquire compensation:

What elements must be present to file a premises liability suit?

For the property owner to be held legally responsible for an accident on their property, one of the following must be true:

  • The owner must have known about the issue and failed to act on it. An example of this situation could include a landlord who was notified of a potentially dangerous situation many times but did nothing to remedy the issue. If a person was injured as a result of a landlord’s failure to fix the problem they knew about, the owner can be held responsible.
  • An owner can also be held responsible for a dangerous situation that they should have known about such as ice or snow accumulating on their property. This situation could result in a fall, which the owner would be responsible for since they should have known the conditions were dangerous and fixed the issue.
  • The owner of the property must have caused the dangerous condition, which led to an accident. This happens when a spill occurs or other similar situation, which then results in an injury to someone on the property.

What would the compensation be if awarded?

If you chose to seek compensation from a property owner after an accident on their property, you can expect some of the following in way of compensation:

  • Missed wages: If the injury has left you unable to work, you could be entitled to compensation meant to replace your income as well as the replacement of any income you have already missed due to your injuries.
  • Medical expenses: Any medical expenses that have accrued due to your accident could become the responsibility of the property owner. In some cases, future medical care due to your injury is also covered.
  • Pain and suffering: There is no set formula used when proving pain and suffering. However, if you suffered pain due to your injury or you have suffered mental or emotional trauma due to the accident, this can mean additional compensation.

Accidents are an everyday occurrence, and if you have become the victim of an accident, which occurred on someone’s property, you could be compensated for losses associated with the accident. Seeking the services of an attorney who is skilled in handling premises liability cases is advisable to best utilize premises liability law.

Photo Credit: Black Glenn cc

Posted in Personal Injury

Tenants & Landlords Liable for Dog Bites Says KY Supreme Court

dog biteThe Kentucky Supreme Court recently reached a decision, which now makes a landlord liable if a tenant’s dog attacks someone on the leased premises. In the plurality opinion, it was determined by that court that the landlord would be considered the statutory owner of the dog if the landlord agreed that the dog could be kept on their leased premises.

What does this recent ruling mean in regards to dog attacks on rental property?

Under the new statues, the landlord takes responsibility of a dog when they allow a tenant to have the dog on or about their property. In order to be considered “on or about” the leased property, the dog attack incident would have to occur on the leased premises or within immediate physical reach of it, such as a sidewalk that butts up against the property.

How should landlords feel about this ruling?

As a result of this new ruling, landlords must now consider all potential issues in regards to allowing a tenant to own a dog. It would be wise for a landlord to ask their tenants about the potential for their dogs to become aggressive. It is also imperative for them to ask about any past incidents that may have occurred with the dog in question.

More information about dog bites:

How to know if a dog is about to attack?

If you come across a dog and are worried about the potential of an attack, look for the following signals, which indicate a dog is uncomfortable with your presence and may attack:

  • Dog’s body is tensed.
  • Dog has a stiff tail.
  • Dog has a furrowed brow.
  • Dog has pulled back ears or head.
  • Dog staring intensely.
  • Dog’s eyes rolled back to reveal the white.
  • Dog shows his teeth and growls.

What should be done if a dog attack occurs?

If you are a victim of a dog attack, you should follow these tips:

  • Wash wound with soap and water.
  • Contact a physician or go to emergency room for additional care and advice.
  • Report bite to your local animal control agency. Be ready to tell the animal control official everything about the dog that bit you including the dog’s owner’s name, its breed or appearance and the address where the attack occurred.

What to do if you or someone in your family has become a victim of a dog attack

If you or a family member have become a victim of a dog attack, you should contact an injury attorney. You or your family member could be entitled to compensation due to injuries sustained during a dog attack.

Furthermore, because of the recent rulings discussed above, you may be able to seek compensation from not only the dog owners themselves but from individuals who own the land on which the dog attack occurred. The two main goals achieved by bringing a case after a dog attack is to keep dangerous dogs away from the public thus preventing them from harming anyone else, and to acquire financial help in dealing with injuries sustained during the dog attack incident.

Posted in Personal Injury

Shaping Body Curves with Lethal Injections

botox-injectionWith the increased popularity of sexy curves (think Beyonce. J. Lo, or Jessica Biel), savvy women are fully aware of the advantages that a seductive derrière delivers when it comes to attracting men.

In a 2010 New Jersey case, a model named Anivia Cruz-Dilworth, was arrested and charged with administering toxic silicone calk buttock boosting injections to six women. The women ended up seeking medical attention and some required surgery according to the Newark based Star-Ledger newspaper. A judge threw out the case because any law that Cruz-Dilworth had broken was not specified in the indictment.

Minerva Rodriguez was interested in a buttock augmentation. She contacted an unlicensed individual who injected Rodriguez’s buttocks with lidocaine, a substance typically used to numb the skin. After the injection, Rodriguez immediately became ill, and started vomiting. Although she was rushed to a hospital, she died several hours later.

Women Are Not The Only Ones…

It’s not just the fairer sex who are willing to use body enhancement options. The trend of injections for penile enlargement is a popular and risky procedure used by under-endowed men, and men who buy into the bigger is better way of thinking. The most commonly used substances include industrial-grade silicone, beeswax, olive oil and paraffin.

For Some, Death is the End Result

As a result of penile enlargement procedures, some men have died due to severe complications. In 2013, Justin Street, sought the services of New Jersey resident Kasia Rivera, who advertised an enlargement procedure performed in her apartment. It was later determined that Rivera does not have medical training or a license.

According to the medical examiner, 22-year-old Street who died the next day, suffered a silicone embolism in the lungs. After an investigation and a ruling by the medical examiner, Rivera who remains free on $75,000 bail, was charged with homicide, manslaughter and practicing medicine without a license.

Medical Spas

In addition, there are procedures such as Botox injections, chemical peels, tissue augmentation and laser treatments offered at medical spas that are operating without medical supervision.

In some spas, you will find medical doctors supplementing their income by performing procedures for which they are not trained. To cite several examples, consumers are able to schedule appointments for Juvederm lip injections, Botox injections, and Restylane®, a skin enhancing injectable gel that’s noted for dramatic results.

Many national plastic surgery and dermatology medical societies consider the use of chemical peels, injections, lasers, electrical impulses, lights, insertions or tissue augmentation as procedures that should be classified under the practice of medicine.

If you, a friend or a loved one have experienced issues with any of these procedures, don’t hesitate to contact us for a consultation.

Photo Credit: ekaicc

Posted in Personal Injury

Spotting and Dealing With Nursing Home Negligence or Abuse

elder abuseOne of the most difficult decisions we will ever have to make is whether or not to put our parents or grandparents into a skilled nursing facility. Once that decision has been made however, we expect our loved ones to receive proper care and treatment while under the care of the medical staff.

Kentucky stats on elder abuse

A release of data from Kentucky Elder Abuse Committee outlining their findings showed that nearly 17,000 reports of potential abuse were reported in 2012. Unfortunately, more than 7,500 of these reports had merit. The most common cases included:

  • Caretaker neglect - more than 340 seniors were neglected by their caretakers
  • Exploitation – the study found more than 250 elders were exploited by their caretakers
  • Victims of abuse – more than 150 seniors were abused by caretakers

Understanding the types of abuse

It is not always evident that your loved one is being abused or neglected. Oftentimes, there are no outward signs of physical abuse such as bruising or sores. However, this does not make the abuse any less serious, if anything, it may be more serious because of the lack of outward signs. Being aware of how your loved one is acting may help you identify various types of abuse including:

  • Lack of interaction - if your loved one appears to be withdrawing from their normal activities and seems unusually depressed, they may be suffering a form of abuse
  • Overly concerned about finances – since most skilled facilities handle some part of their patients finances there may be cases where the funds are being diverted to someone on the staff
  • Personal appearance – when a senior suddenly stops caring about their appearance, fails to maintain regular hygiene it may be a sign they are being abused or neglected

Sadly, senior abuse comes in many forms including sexual abuse, emotional abuse and physical abuse. It is important for us as family members to watch for any signs of potential abuse of our loved one and take steps to ensure it stops immediately. Generally, this will mean reporting suspected incidents to the facility, notifying Kentucky Child/Adult Protective Services and contacting an attorney who understands elder abuse law.

While an attorney cannot undo the harm that has been done to your loved one, we can help ensure they are compensated for the suffering they have endured. We can also make sure the people responsible for their pain never have an opportunity to do harm to another senior in their care. Whether the abuse is a one-time incident or the facility shows an ongoing pattern of hiring poorly trained staff members, your loved ones should not suffer at their hands. If you believe your loved one has been mistreated at a nursing home or other long-care facility, contact Meinhart, Smith & Manning for help. We’ll do everything in our power to pursue a case under Kentucky malpractice laws to get justice for your loved one.

Photo Credit: Billy Wilson Photographycc

Posted in Personal Injury

Medical Complications from Robotic Surgery

robotic surgeryWith the advent of new technology, there is a steady increase in the number of robotic surgeries performed on hospital patients across the country. In far too many cases, the physicians in charge of the surgery are not trained properly in the robotic surgery process.

Lack of Training Presents Safety Issues

The medical training for robotic devices such as the da Vinci Surgical System, or ZEUS robotic surgical system usually consists of only a weekend training session which is clearly inadequate. It’s important for the surgeon to be proctored and/or supervised by an experienced robotic surgeon during a reasonable number of cases before being allowed to operate. Unfortunately, many hospitals only require an inadequate number of supervised robot cases to ensure surgeon competence.

Changes in State Laws can Hamper Your Ability to File Suit

In the case of injury from any type of malpractice there is frequently an emotional component from the trauma. In late December of 2012, the Supreme Court in Kentucky eliminated the Physical Impact Rule as a recovery requirement for emotional damages in personal injury cases. Any plaintiff seeking emotional damages in Kentucky as a negligence action is now required to prove a serious or severe emotional injury rather than physical impact.

The injured party must be able to present scientific proof, or an expert witness to substantiate that the emotional injury he/she suffered is greater than injury an individual is reasonably expected to endure in any given set of circumstances. The Supreme Court’s decision on the physical impact rule (or even touching) may make it easier for some emotional injury claims that would not have been previously allowed. On the other hand, the expert testimony requirement may complicate and/or restrict certain emotional distress suits.

Kentucky Medical Malpractice Caps: No limit on malpractice damages

The Kentucky courts have been very consistent in reviewing punitive damage awards with directives that state setting a fixed standard for punitive damages is difficult. Certain specific guidelines have been formulated by the courts.

If Something Goes Wrong, Who takes the Blame?

If the robot arm breaks and injuries the patient, who’s responsible? Some devices, designed and developed for single use are reprocessed and presented as quality devices that meet the original device. Not true.

The single use products are plastic — polyethylene, and some polyurethane. As an example, what happens when a device is designed, cleared and tested on a 510(k) with gamma sterilization and a reprocessor sterilizes the reprocessed device with ethylene oxide? If things go wrong, who’s at fault?

If you have  questions such as these or any medical injuries questions, you need to consult with the highly skilled malpractice legal counsel at Meinhart Smith & Manning to maximize the potential award and seek justice against the negligent.

Posted in Medical Malpractice

Louisville’s Most Dangerous Areas for Cars, Cyclist, and Pedestrians

In 2013-2014, 16 pedestrians and 1 cyclist were fatally injured by a car, according to the Kentucky State Police. An additional 50 drivers were killed during a car accident. 334 pedestrians were injured in accidents involving automobiles, as were 130 cyclists and 3,800 motorists. A safer Louisville impacts all residents and makes the city a more attractive place for tourists, visitors, and residents.

While accidents happen for many reasons, there were some disturbing commonalities in these fatal accidents. Driver inattention and alcohol abuse were leading causes of accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists. For motorist accidents, drug abuse and cell phone use contributed to a lot of dangerous accidents. In these cases, the driver was clearly at fault and should be held liable for damages, medical expenses and liability to the full extent of the law.

For cyclists, the West Broadway corridor South 2nd Street were particularly dangerous. Cyclists in these areas should pay particular attention to vehicles in an effort to stay safe. East Broadway and the MLK Parkway were leading sites of pedestrian accidents, with many accidents spread throughout the city. Hot spots for motorists included Shawnee Expressway, E. Main St., and Southern Parkway.



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Posted in Personal Injury

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Meinhart, Smith, & Manning, PLLC
222 E. Witherspoon St Suite 401
Louisville, Kentucky 40202
Phone: 502-589-2700
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