Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

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Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Do I have to sign a release allowing the insurance company to get my medical records?”


Everyone has heard horror stories of what can go wrong in surgeries. These tales often involve scalpels or bandages left behind inside a patient’s body or amputation of the wrong appendage. Though these mistakes are gruesome and terrible, they’re also fairly rare occurrences. Though medication errors may not be nearly as attention getting as some of the more extreme examples of medical malpractice, experts say they present a far greater danger to patients, occurring with alarming regularity and potentially causing serious damage when the mistakes do occur.


Surgery table Charlotte Injury Lawyer Mecklenburg Car Accident AttorneyA recent study conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital revealed especially troubling numbers, showing that medication errors occur during nearly half of all surgical operations that were included in the research. More specifically, the study indicated that in 124 of 277 surgical procedures analyzed there was either a medication error or an adverse drug event. Beyond these specific surgeries, 3,700 medication administrations were also studied, and just under 200 medication errors were identified. Even more troubling than the number of medication errors was the discovery that the vast majority of these mistakes are entirely preventable. The study concluded that nearly 80% of these medication errors could have been avoided.


Experts say the study by Mass Gen is troubling as it is one of the first large-scale attempts to understand the risks associated with medication error. Alarmingly, many believe the rate of error is actually higher, given that Mass Gen is one of the best hospitals in the country with some of the most rigorous safety standards and best patient outcomes. For those hospitals that aren’t topnotch, the rate of medication error may be substantially higher.


The problem, according to one of the authors of the recent study, is that while hospitals have put serious safety checks in place to prevent medical errors, these rules are often loosened during surgery. Surgical rooms are fast-paced environments requiring decisions to be made on the fly, often without time for double-checking. The result is that medication errors and adverse drug events occur with far higher regularity than they do in the rest of the hospital.


Of the medication errors reported by the study, two-thirds of the drug errors were labeled “serious” and another 2 percent were deemed life-threatening. When these numbers are extrapolated out over the many thousands of surgeries that are performed across the U.S. each and every day, it adds up to a troubling proportion of mistakes. The numbers of medication errors combined with some other grim statistics is enough to give patients pause before going under the knife. Other studies have indicated that up to 400,000 people die each and every year due to preventable medical errors (including medication mistakes) and hospital-acquired infections. This would make medical errors the third leading cause of death in the U.S., behind only heart disease and cancer.


Experts say that while the current study does not provide answers about how to end the medication errors, it does shed light on a problem that was seldom discussed. By exposing the issue to further scrutiny, the hope is that medical professionals and hospital administrators can give the problem the attention it deserves. By working to reduce the instances of medication error, unsuspecting patients across the country can improve their odds of surviving and thriving after surgery, something that is in everyone’s best interest.


If you are injured contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you receive the compensation to which you may be entitled to.  Feel free to contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC in Charlotte, North Carolina for a free consultation. Call toll free at (955) 370-2828 or click here for additional resources.


About the Author

Matt Matthew Arnold is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of family law, divorce, child custody, child support, alimony and equitable distribution.

Mr. Arnold was raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.

A board-certified specialist in the practice of Family Law, Mr. Arnold is admitted to practice in all state courts in North Carolina, in the United States Federal Court for the Western District of North Carolina, in the North Carolina Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and in the Fourth Circuit United States Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.

In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.






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Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “What exactly is a wrongful death claim?”


Dr. J.B. Perdue says “ambulance-chasing lawyers” are to blame for the first known settlement of a lawsuit ever made by North Carolina’s medical examiner system.

Body Bag Charlotte Injury Lawyer North Carolina Wrongful Death AttorneyThe lawsuit was filed after Dr. Perdue declared a living man dead.

Larry Green was found by emergency responders lying face down beside a road in Franklin County, North Carolina on January 24, 2005. Green had a noticeable head wound, and one paramedic could find no vital signs.

Dr. Perdue was summoned to the scene. After examining Green, Perdue ordered the man to be placed in a body bag and transported to a morgue. A paramedic suggested to Dr. Perdue that Green might be breathing, however Dr. Perdue dismissed this by saying that left-over air was merely escaping Green’s body.

According to court documents, some eight witnesses saw Green’s chest and abdomen move while on the scene. In addition, as Green was placed into the body bag, witnesses saw his right eyelid twitching. Dr. Perdue attributed this to a muscle spasm, saying it was “like a frog leg jumping in a frying pan.”

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Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “What if a loved one dies from the injuries sustained in a serious accident while the case is pending?”


Loretta MacPherson underwent successful brain surgery at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle last month. During her recovery from surgery, she sought out medication advice at a local hospital near her Oregon home.

IV Bag Charlotte wrongful death Lawyer North Carolina Medical Malpractice AttorneyTwo days later, she was dead.

Michael Boileau, the chief clinical officer at St. Charles Medical Center in Bend, Oregon, said that medical staff had ordered the correct medication for Ms. MacPherson—Fosphenytoin, a drug intended to ward off seizures caused by brain surgery—and the Fosphenytoin had been delivered to the medical center.

However, an internal investigation at the hospital showed that a pharmacy worker had filled a bag for intravenous injection marked “Fosphenytoin” with another drug, Rocuronium. Rocuronium is a potentially paralyzing muscle relaxant used to sedate and stabilize patients during surgery.

After being administered the wrong medication, Ms. MacPherson suffered cardiac arrest and stopped breathing. Doctors advised her son, Mark, that she had suffered irreversible brain damage. Ms. MacPherson was taken off life support and passed away two days after she entered the medical center.

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Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “What should I do if I have been injured by another party but I can’t afford a lawyer?”


How long does it take to get a medical malpractice case into the hands of a jury? Eleven years and counting, at least for one North Carolina plaintiff. Sadly, Pamela Justus did not live to see her claims against neurosurgeon Michael Rosner, Park Ridge Health and Adventist Health litigated in a court of law.

Mike Easley Charlotte Mecklenburg Injury Attorney North Carolina Wrongful Death LawyerJurors in Henderson County Superior Court viewed Ms. Justus’ video testimony on Monday. The testimony was recorded more than two years ago—before Justus’ death. Justus said she hoped her lawsuit would keep what happened to her from happening to anyone else.

Mrs. Justus has alleged that Dr. Rosner performed unnecessary spinal procedures which failed to correct her medical problems of pain and fatigue and created additional medical problems, including neck and back pain, severe headaches, nausea and a paralyzed vocal cord. Dr. Rosner performed the surgeries in 2000 and 2001. Mrs. Justus died on Sept. 20, 2012.

Dr. Rosner’s medical license has been suspended repeatedly by the N.C. Medical Board. The board found in 2003 that Dr. Rosner had performed unnecessary surgeries on at least eight patients, including Mrs. Justus. In his spinal decompression surgeries, Dr. Rosner would carve away portions of the spine and the back of patients’ skulls in order to treat chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia. More than 20 lawsuits have been filed against Dr. Rosner alleging medical malpractice and professional negligence. Mrs. Justus filed her lawsuit in 2003.

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Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Matt Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question: Can I wait a few months to pursue a personal injury claim?


Medical treatments involving stem cells have been hailed as holding the promise of a new generation of treatments for a variety of diseases, ailments and disorders. Now an American woman is learning that experimental stem cell treatments performed in Portugal eight years ago may have produced some unintended results.

Nose closeup Charlotte Mecklenburg Injury Lawyer North Carolina Medical Malpractice AttorneyThe woman was suffering from paralysis. Doctors had used a similar method on some 20 other paralysis patients; more than half reported recovery of movement or sensation. The American woman’s treatment did not involve the controversial method of transplanting of embryonic stem cells; instead, doctors removed tissue from her nose and implanted it in her spine. Doctors hoped the cells would turn into other cell types similar to cells near the site of the woman’s injury, acting as a kind of bodily “repair kit.”

Instead, after the stem-cell operation, the woman experienced increasing pain. In 2013—eight years after the stem cell operation—doctors discovered a three-centimeter-long growth made up mainly of nasal tissue on the woman’s back. Doctors also found small pieces of bone and nerve branches that had not connected to the woman’s spinal nerves.

Doctors said this circumstance occurred in less than one-percent of operations and that many patients receiving the treatment had seen a “remarkable recovery.”

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Attorney Matthew R. Arnold answering the question: “What exactly is a wrongful death claim?”

A distraught mother from North Carolina has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a security company after she claims they put her son in a cab and sent him home despite him already being dead. The horrible incident took place in November 2011 at the Cumberland County Hospital.


Cab Car Charlotte Injury Lawyer North Carolina Auto Accident AttorneyThe woman says that her son, A’Darrin Washington, had been going to the Cumberland County Hospital for 10 years for treatment of his recurrent pneumonia. Washington suffered from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and was used to dealing with a variety of health complications.


A week before the fatal cab ride, Washington checked himself into the hospital complaining of severe illness. Doctors initially misdiagnosed Washington as suffering from bacterial pneumonia. Days later, the doctors realized their mistake and began treating Washington for fungal pneumonia, finally giving him the proper medication. Then, only a few days later, the doctors decided he was better and ready to be discharged.


The lawsuit claims that Washington felt weak and was complaining of poor health prior to the discharge. Despite his asking to remain in the hospital, security officers working for AlliedBarton called a cab to take him home. Other hospital staff complained at the time that Washington was “uncooperative” and had refused to talk or to move. Evidently his lack of cooperation was due to the fact that he was, tragically, already dead.

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Attorney Matthew R. Arnold answering the question: “Do I have to sign a release allowing the insurance company to get my medical records?”

A recent Pennsylvania medical malpractice case involved a detour into the controversial subject of same-sex relationships and whether same-sex couples, who cannot legally marry in the state, have the right to make a claim for loss of consortium.

Male Female Symbols Charlotte North Carolina Personal Injury Workers' Compensation Wrongful Death Medical Malpractice Attorney Lawyer.jpgA judge in Philadelphia this week decided to throw out the loss of consortium claim by the same-sex couple in a medical malpractice suit filed against Temple University Hospital. The order comes as many groups, including the ACLU, are actively pushing forward a variety of cases challenging existing rights for same-sex couples.

In the case, Tammy and Jesseca Wolf have argued that denying Tammy’s claim for loss of consortium based on her gender violates the Pennsylvania Constitution’s right to equal protection. Loss of consortium is a category of damages that is awarded for the loss of family or marital companionship caused by another person’s wrongful or negligent acts. Generally, in North Carolina and other states that allow such claims, this loss can only be brought forward by married couples.

The case began with Jesseca Wolf claimed that doctors at Temple University Hospital left a metal object in her foot following a recent surgery. Temple took issue with the med mal suit, especially with the loss of consortium claim by Tammy. Temple filed a motion saying that state law should not recognize consortium claims for injuries that happen prior to marriage. The logic goes that because Pennsylvania law does not recognize same-sex marriage, then the loss of consortium claim must be dismissed.

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Everyone’s heard of confidentiality agreements; those documents you sign agreeing not to disclose certain important bits of information. What people may not realize is just how often such confidentiality agreements are employed in North Carolina to keep critical information regarding medical malpractice or dangerous devices or drugs from going public.

Personal Injury Lawyers Attorneys and Law Firms in Charlotte Mecklenburg County NC N.C. North Carolina.jpgThe agreements, which help ensure that settlement stay secret, often only work to the benefit of the doctor, hospital or manufacturer responsible for causing devastating harm. The victim of the negligence receives next to no benefit from such agreements. Even more disturbing is how they can be used to shield the public from important information about dangerous practices or products.

A recent case involving a North Carolina mother who’s young son died due to negligence among the hospital staff where he was taken after falling ill highlights just how rarely such cases make news. The woman was told to sign a confidentiality agreement to receive her settlement and that the whole case would go away if she did. She refused, saying she wanted the public to know about the medical safety issues that led to her son’s death.

The mother’s decision to speak out and not sign the confidentiality agreement is very rare. The majority of such lawsuits in North Carolina end with the victim signing an agreement promising not to reveal important information in exchange for a set amount of money.

The danger of this approach is that, for example, in the case of a defective product, if all those injured sign a confidentiality agreement and the company is able to settle the cases quietly, then the public will never be made aware of the problems associated with the dangerous product, depriving other potential future victims of the chance to safeguard their families.

A real world example of this is the case of the faulty Firestone tires. Years before the nationwide recall was announced, the company began settling cases involving the failing tires on Ford SUVs and made sure each plaintiff signed confidentiality agreements. These dangers were thus not revealed until much later, something that experts say led to 270 additional deaths.

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Charlotte North Carolina Medical Malpractice Lawyers and Attorneys.jpgThe tragic case of one North Carolina family was recently deliberated before the U.S. Supreme Court in an important test of how states will handle medical malpractice cases for Medicaid beneficiaries. The case involves a couple, Sandra and William Armstrong, and their 12-year-old daughter who was left blind, deaf, mute and immobile after a botched delivery by, what the parents said, was a negligent doctor. According to an article in the Charlotte Observer:

The case is known as Delia v. E.M.A. and asks the justices on the High Court to decide how much of $2.8 million medical malpractice settlement the Armstrongs are allowed to keep and how much the states, like North Carolina, can be reimbursed for Medicaid expenses.

The young girl, Emily, was born in 2000 in Hickory, NC. The doctor in charge, Dr. James Barnes, Jr., delivered her by cesarean section which did not go well. The girl suffered serious injuries and was eventually diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a result. The parents sued the doctor, the hospital and others. The lawsuit revealed that the doctor had a history of drug abuse and prescription fraud and had voluntarily surrendered his medical license for a period.

The State of North Carolina said that they spent nearly $2 million caring for Emily through the use of the state’s Medicaid funds. After a verdict in 2006 awarded the family $2.8 million, the state tried to get a large chunk of the money. Currently, state officials have a lien for $933,333.33, or exactly one-third of the total award. They say that state law is clear that the government should be reimbursed from Medicaid beneficiaries who ultimately receive money from medical malpractice lawsuits.

The family is challenging the lien based on a federal law which prohibits state governments from placing liens on Medicaid patients’ property. They argue that the medical malpractice payout is property and thus immune. The state claims that the federal law only applies to the portion of the award for pain and suffering. The problem is that in this case the award was never itemized.

The worry of state officials is that if the Armstrongs prevail, future patients will just make sure that the entire settlement amount is categorized as for pain and suffering to avoid having to give the state any portion of the award.

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Wrongful Death Lawyers in Charlotte, North Carolina, NC.jpgOn the most recent episode of the Emmy award-winning drama Homeland, the Vice President of the United States was assassinated by a group of terrorists that hacked into the pacemaker controlling the beat of his heart. The terrorists were able to get their hands on the device’s serial number and then remotely take control of the device, causing it to malfunction and lead to a fatal heart attack.

The plot twist was surprising and left many wondering whether it could ever happen in real life. Shockingly this was not just a Hollywood fabrication but is actually possible due to the serious vulnerabilities of electronic medical implants.

Though such connected medical implants are life saving additions to many people’s lives, there are real risks associated with them. While everyone knows about the dangers that hackers can cause online, almost no one understands the threats that exist when computers are placed inside people.

Though implanted medical devices have been in existence for many years, only in the past decade have they begun to incorporate components that allow for virtual access. This system can be used by doctors to gather important information but comes with very little in the way of security. Lack of battery power means that elaborate security measures are not possible and doing a full “update” requires surgery, not just a click of a button.

Thankfully there have not yet been any reports of death caused by someone hacking into a medical device. However, test hacks have been done and have shown that it is certainly possible. The equipment needed to hack such devices used to cost tens of thousands of dollars; last year one researcher hacked into his insulin pump using materials that cost less than $20. Another security expert demonstrated how with the push of a button he could run a program on his laptop that made any insulin pumps within 300 feet dump their entire contents into a patient’s bloodstream.

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