Ohio Personal Injury Law Blog

Nursing home abuse focus: How prevalent is the problem?

In our immediately preceding blog post, we chronicled the high number of nursing home abuse claims plaguing a national chain provider. Those resulted recently in what was reportedly the largest abuse and fraud settlement ever reached between a provider and the federal government.

The $38 million “failure of care” pact reached last month between government officials and Milwaukee-based Extendicare Healthcare Services (please see our November 20 post) seems to naturally beg this question: How common is nursing home neglect and abuse throughout the country, including in Ohio? Was the fact pattern sketched out by federal investigators against Extendicare an anomaly confined only to that company or, rather, a disturbingly familiar reality throughout the nursing home care industry nationally?

Ohio lawsuit triggers national nursing home abuse probe, settlement

Litigation alleging nursing home abuse and fraud that started in Ohio eventually mushroomed into a federal probe that closely examined a national chain’s conduct in multiple states.

That didn’t turn out well for Wisconsin-based Extendicare Healthcare Services, a major player in the nursing home industry across the country.

In fact, it cost the seventh-largest nursing home chain in the United States a whopping $38 million in settlement fees. That agreement reached last month is reportedly the largest so-called “failure of care” settlement that the federal government has ever reached with a nursing chain.

Incidental findings: What they are, why they're worrisome

Radiologists in Ohio and nationally often confirm through imaging tests what doctors initially suspect regarding a patient’s illness or disease.

According to various studies, they also confirm medical problems initially undiagnosed and suspected by a primary care doctor ordering up diagnostic tests in many instances. In fact, so-called “incidental findings” are reportedly discovered in as many as one-third of all imaging scans.

An immediate question obvious pops up in regard to such a statistic, namely this: What is subsequently done about such unintentional discoveries? Are they routinely acted upon to alleviate medical harm and promote patient safety, or are they often passed over as practitioners continue their focus on primary ailments?

Report: Inaccuracy in nursing home staffing data a deep problem

The website Nursing Home Compare is a nifty online tool that provides quick access to data concerning nursing home staffing that is self-reported by facilities.

It is immediately clear how relevant that can be for families with loved ones who can no longer live independently. If information pertaining to Nursing Home “A” shows that it has a much higher presence of registered nurses providing care to patients than is the case for home “B,” then the former facility is obviously the place to go, right?

Maybe. Then again, maybe not. In fact, the most reasonable response for any would-be consumer perusing data on the Compare website might well be to view all information with extreme skepticism and search elsewhere for assurances that a nursing home provides quality care.

Ohio news team report: more medical error disclosure needed

An Ohio investigative news team states that, because hospitals and clinics in the state are under no legal duty to report medical mistakes to Ohio health authorities, it is hard to get an accurate handle on just how big of a problem medical error really is.

Although precise numbers regarding preventable medical mistakes have always been impossible to come by both within Ohio and nationally, the relevant statistics that can be crunched lead to truly stark conclusions.

As noted by a 2 NEWS Investigates team from WDTN in Dayton, preventable medical harm inflicted on patients is a “hidden epidemic” of vast scope. In fact, medical mistakes are reportedly the third leading cause of death in the United States, following only heart disease and cancer.

NCAA's head injury plan: Is it even close to sufficient?

Top officials from the National Collegiate Athletic Association are likely experiencing some of the same angst and nervousness these days that their peers in other sports bodies have already noted regarding initiatives put forth responding to athletes’ head injuries.

Soccer’s global governing body, FIFA, is a case in point.

Looking a bit closer to home, the National Football League comes immediately to mind as an organization that has been front and center regarding controversies associated with sports-induced concussions and liability issues attached to such injuries.

Malpractice tort reformers aren't going to like this study

Regardless of how they crunch the numbers, medical malpractice tort reformers would seem to be sorely disappointed with the conclusions of university researchers regarding a number of hot-button topics focused on medical liability matters.

A steadfast mantra of reformist groups -- chiefly medical organizations, insurers and lobbyists promoting doctors’ interests -- has been that recovery limits for malpractice plaintiffs must be capped because of a plethora of runaway jury awards and outsized settlements that threaten to bankrupt the system and that centrally contribute to continuously spiraling medical costs.

That argument is materially undercut by the findings of a research team of professors from Stanford University. Their research on medical malpractice and tort reform -- released last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association -- has concluded that malpractice activity against doctors nationally has fallen markedly in recent years and that malpractice payouts have held stable over a lengthy period of time. In fact, they have shown a decrease over the past handful of years.

Are cerebral palsy and brachial palsy the same thing?

The answer to the above-posed headline question in today’s blog post is a decided “no.” In fact, these common forms of birth injury owe to quite different causes.

Although that is the case, online research discussing cerebral palsy and brachial palsy (often referred to as Erb’s palsy) makes clear that a precipitating factor in the onset of both these debilitating conditions is often one or more acts of medical malpractice that occur prior to, during or following a baby’s delivery.

In other words: Both cerebral and brachial palsy are preventable birth outcomes in many instances that, absent intervening medical negligence, do not occur.

Defensive medicine, Part 2: Tort reform doesn't curb practice

Here is a change that legislators’ in three states made over the past decade to up the ante on plaintiffs trying to get their medical malpractice claims before a judge or jury: imposition of a proof requirement of so-called “gross” negligence on the part of a doctor that arguably resulted in injury, at least in the context of medical care delivered in an emergency situation.

Proving gross negligence is a flatly tough proposition for would-be litigants, given its requirement for a plaintiff to show that a doctor or other emergency care provider proceeded with care delivery despite basically knowing that it was improper and in reckless disregard of potentially dire results.

Does malpractice tort reform materially reduce medical costs?

Proponents of tort reform in the medical industry in Ohio and nationally have long argued that doctors’ fear of malpractice litigation is a prime catalyst in driving up medical care costs.

Thus, they have consistently argued for plaintiffs’ increasingly limited access to judicial remedies after they have been injured by substandard medical care. One central argument advanced by tort reform advocates is that the setting of a higher bar for plaintiff access to court will essentially de-stress doctors and result in less practice of so-called “defensive medicine.”