Articles Tagged with “Medical malpractice lawyer”

medicalerrors.jpgIn 2013, the amount paid out in medical malpractice lawsuits increased by $168 million, or 4.7 percent, nationwide. It was the first increase in 10 years. Of these, 96 percent of payments came by settlement, not a jury verdict.

These figures come from an analysis by Diederich Healthcare. The company reviewed 2013 medical malpractice payouts as recorded by the National Practitioner Data Bank. Other highlights:

ambulance-200.jpgA Boston paramedic believed to have been tampering with painkillers may have exposed 57 people to blood-borne illnesses in 2011. The city began notifying the potential victims this weekend, the Boston Globe reported.

The paramedic was relieved from his duties at Boston Emergency Medical Services on Sept. 6, 2011, when the alleged tampering with vials of both painkillers and sedatives was discovered. A total of 64 patients may have been exposed, but seven died after being transported to local hospitals. Their deaths are not believed to be have been related to the alleged medical negligence and drug tampering.

The city will follow up with letters to the potential victims and offers for free medical tests to determine if they were exposed to any infectious diseases. The drugs were allegedly tampered with during a six-week period in the summer of 2011.

The city continues to investigate the paramedic’s alleged actions. At this point, city officials say they do not know how the individual may have tampered with the medications, which are in a liquid form and injected. No criminal charges have been filed against the paramedic.

The news follows another case of alleged medical malpractice involving drug abuse by a medical professional in New Hampshire. In July, a medical technician named David Kwiatkowski was arrested. Kwiatkowski has been infected with hepatitis C since at least 2010 and is accused of exposing 30 patients, some at Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire, with the illness.


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The recent news that more than 200 EMTs in Massachusetts fraudulently obtained re-certification revealed serious safety lapses in the system. We applaud the state’s swift move to suspend the EMT licenses and call on the Department of Public Health (DPH) to closely monitor future re-certifications.

An anonymous caller tipped off DPH officials to the EMT scandal when she reported an EMT-paramedic for a private ambulance company had received re-certification without attending the required classes. When state officials investigated, they learned the fraud ran much deeper, touching more than 200 EMTs throughout the state.

The impacted fire departments include Haverhill, Boston, Lexington and Belmont among others. Haverhill had 30 EMT licenses suspended while Boston had 21.

The abuse was most rampant among private ambulance companies. Armstrong Ambulance of Arlington had 41 EMTs working with fraudulent certification while Trinity EMS had 35 EMTs and Cataldo Ambulance of Melrose had 46 EMTs, according to media reports. For Cataldo, the majority of the involved EMTs came from the company’s Atlantic Ambulance Service division on the North Shore.

The state suspended most of the EMT licenses for 90 days to nine months. Lexington firefighter Mark Culleton and former Trinity Ambulance paramedic Leo Nault, the instructors involved in the fraud, have been permanently banned from practicing in Massachusetts.

Emergency medical technicians in Massachusetts are required to undergo between 24 and 36 hours of retraining every two years. The training serves as a refresher course and updates EMTs on new medications, techniques and equipment.

“This ongoing training is critical for EMTs because they are called upon to make life and death medical decisions in the field,” said Boston medical malpractice lawyer Marc Breakstone. “The Department of Public Health must maintain a zero tolerance policy towards any fraud or misrepresentation regarding the training and qualifications of the front-line medical providers.”

In 2001, Breakstone negotiated a $10.2 million settlement for a Massachusetts family whose toddler was left severely brain-damaged by paramedic negligence. There were significant delays in the care. The ambulance crew got lost on the way to the home, forgot the keys to their medical cabinet and later falsified records in an attempt to hide the medical negligence. As a result of that case, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health established guidelines that made reporting of serious medical errors by EMTs mandatory.

For more information, see these articles from The Boston Globe: “Phone Tip Led to EMT Card Scam” and “State Officials Examining EMT Retraining System”
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