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Dangerous Hospital for Babies

St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Florida is being evaluated after 9 babies died in the last four years after having heart surgery there. CNN calculated the raw mortality rate from 2011-2013 to be 12.5 percent, which is more than three times the national averages for such surgeries. Doctors affiliated with Children’s Medical Services have recommended the hospital stop operating on infants under six months old.

In 2011, St. Mary’s began its cardiovascular program. In that time the nine deaths, plus one infant who was left with paralyzed legs, has led doctors and state officials to question the viability of the program. The primary complaint from doctors in regard to this issue is that the hospital doesn’t perform enough of these procedures on an annual basis to become proficient. Most programs have more than 100 cases per year, whereas St. Mary’s has much fewer. But the Department of Health does not have the authority to make any changes to the program that could improve the mortality rate.

Earlier in June, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced it would be investigating the program. Evaluations from the Joint Commission can have a big impact on hospital programs by bringing external scrutiny to them. Dr. Jeffrey Jacobs, a professor of cardiac surgery at Johns Hopkins University performed a peer review of the program last year. As a result, he gave the recommendation that the hospital stop doing heart surgeries on babies younger than six months old, and no complex heart surgeries on any child. The hospital did not heed his recommendation, and two more babies, each only a few weeks old, died after heart surgery at St. Mary’s this year.

St. Mary’s and the state have disputed the findings of CNN, saying the numbers were “wrong,” “exaggerated,” and “completely erroneous.” St. Mary’s said its heart surgery program had a 5.3 percent mortality rate for the four year period ending on June 30, 2014. It has no statistical difference from the national average, but the data for their calculations has not been made public. The hospital has “launched a comprehensive review of the pediatric cardiac surgery program” and does not intend to schedule any further elective surgeries until that review is completed.

Some pediatric cardiologists would like to make St. Mary’s more accountable for its program, advocating a new state law that would require site visits and peer reviews of programs that are serving Florida children. The hospital is currently not bound to make any changes that come from negative reviews.

Thomas Law Offices Launches Newly-Designed Website and Content Update Plan

Thomas Law Offices, a private practice law firm working in the areas of personal injury, medical malpractice, and pharmaceutical cases in Louisville, KY, has launched a newly-designed, responsive website that aims to help those in need of legal aid better navigate the challenges the legal world often presents. The website will now provide a user experience that is as high in quality as the legal services clients at Thomas Law Offices have come to know and depend on.

“We want our website to be a service to our clients and others in need of legal information. So we will be adding helpful articles and videos to answer the most common questions we see in our areas of practice.”

Tad Thomas, Esquire

As part of this improved user experience, the site has been redesigned from the ground up with Google-compliant responsive web design elements in place. This ensures clients and potential clients can view the site on any device—via PC, Mac, tablet, or mobile—and view all site elements and components flawlessly. The design has also been modernized and reworked with a fresh layout that better guides viewers toward information.

Frankfort Caregivers Charged with Sexual Abuse of Intellectually Disabled

Four caregivers have been indicted for their role in a sex abuse scandal at Community Choices Unlimited. Attorney General Jack Conway and his Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control Unit announced the indictment after the foursome failed to report the abuse allegedly committed by Damon Heath. As a result of their negligence, Heath was able to continue his abuse of Community Choices residents.

Takata Agrees to Pay $2.4 billion to settle Actos cases

Takeda Pharmaceutical has agreed to pay $2.4 billion to settle it’s product-liability lawsuits filed by patients and their relatives who claimed the company’s diabetes drug Actos caused bladder cancer. This would resolve the claims, which currently number about 9,000, made by plaintiffs’ lawyers that say Takeda concealed the cancer risk in Actos.

Although Takeda did not admit liability, it did agree to settle to “reduce the uncertainties of complex litigation.” It did say that the claims in the lawsuit were without merit and that the benefits greatly outweighed the risks of the medication. Despite the lawsuit, Actos is still available to consumers.

Benicar

In July 2013, the Food and Drug Administration issued a drug safety alert for Benicar(olmesartan medoxomil), the medicine developed to help with high blood pressure and reduce the risk of serious medical problems. The alert came as a result of findings by the Mayo Clinic that Benicar and similar drugs like HCT, Azor, and Tribenzor were found to cause severe problems like sprue-like eneropathy and villous atrophy.

Symptoms of enteropathy severe, chronic diarrhea with substantial weight loss whereas villous atrophy damages the ability of the intestines to absorb nutrients. The enteropathy in particular may not develop for months or years after taking these drugs. In the study done by the Mayo Clinic involving 22 patients, 14 of them had to be hospitalized for these symptoms. One of the patients even lost 125 pounds.

The FDA ordered these new side effects be added to drug labels but the product had been on the market for a long period of time by then. “The FDA’s evaluation found clear evidence of an association between olmesartan and sprue-like enteropathy. If patients taking olmesartan develop these symptoms and no other cause is found, the drug should be discontinued and therapy with another antihypersensitive started,” the agency stated. The FDA considered these side effects life threatening in its report.

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