March 7, 2014

Government Report Says One-Third of Nursing Home Patients Harmed in Treatment

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According to a study released this week by Medicare's Inspector General, one in three patients in skilled nursing facilities suffered a medication error, infection or some other type of harm related to their treatment. A "skilled nursing facility" is defined as a facility that provides specialized care and rehabilitation services to patients following a hospital stay of three days or more. There are more than 15,000 skilled nursing facilities nationwide, and about 90 percent of them are also certified as nursing homes, which provide longer-term care.

Researchers found that 22 percent of patients suffered events that caused lasting harm, and another 11 percent were temporarily harmed. In 1.5 percent of cases the patient died because of poor care, the report said. During August 2011 alone, the study estimated that 21,777 patients were harmed and 1,538 died due to substandard skilled nursing care.

Shockingly, the study revealed that 59 percent of the errors and injuries were preventable. Most of the injuries and deaths were caused by substandard treatment, inadequate monitoring, delays or the failure to provide needed care. Many of the deaths involved problems such as preventable blood clots, fluid imbalances, excessive bleeding from blood-thinning medications and kidney failure.

Patient safety experts have naturally being to voice their concerns because of these alarming numbers, as well as the fact that the frequency of people harmed under skilled nursing care is exceeding that of hospitals, where medical errors receive the most attention. According to Dr. Marty Makary, a physician at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore who researches health care quality, "The report tells us what many of us have suspected - there are vast areas of health care where the field of patient safety has not matured." Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., chairman of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, said Medicare patients "deserve better," and that he would push for better inspections of nursing homes. Additionally, in response to the study, Medicare officials said they are compiling lists of the most common medical mistakes, and preparing better training for doctors and nurses in skilled nursing facilities on how to avoid the mishaps.

The Suthers Law Firm, which practices throughout the States of Georgia and South Carolina, regularly represents victims who have been abused or neglected and their families in cases against nursing homes and assisted living facilities. If you believe a family member has suffered a serious injury or died as a result of abuse or neglect in a nursing home, you should contact the experienced, nursing home litigation attorneys at Suthers Law Firm. For more information on nursing home abuse and neglect, see the page entitled "Nursing Home Resource Center" at the website of the Suthers Law Firm, www.sutherslaw.com.

February 20, 2014

Talcum Powder Linked to Ovarian Cancer

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Talcum Powder, a household item that is sold globally for use in cosmetics and personal hygiene products, has recently been linked to ovarian cancer after prolonged use. Talcum powder is commonly found in baby powder and other adult products including body and facial powder.

In October of last year, a South Dakota jury determined that Johnson & Johnson failed to adequately warn consumers about the risk of ovarian cancer from talcum powder product. The lawsuit was brought against Johnson & Johnson by Deane Berg, 56, who developed ovarian cancer in 2006 after using Johnson and Johnson's Shower to Shower body powder for 30 years. According to the plaintiff, she had no other risk factors for ovarian cancer. Three separate doctors who examined her cancer tissue found talc in the tissue using an electron microscope, and determined that her cancer was caused by Shower to Shower. One of Berg's treating physicians, Harvard University Professor Daniel Cramer, has been looking into links between talc and ovarian cancer for 30 years. He testified that talcum powder probably caused 10,000 cases of ovarian cancer every year.

Shockingly, numerous studies dating as far back as the 1970s reveal a link between the use of talcum powder and ovarian cancer, yet Johnson and Johnson failed to warned consumers, despite being aware of the risks associated with its use from these studies. According to the National Institutes of Health, women that use talcum powder on a weekly basis have a 33 percent increased chance of developing ovarian cancer. The studies show that Talc particles may enter the female reproductive through direct dusting or through the use of feminine products dusted in baby powder. Once inside the body, talc can migrate to the ovaries. Talc particles that reach the ovaries are thought to cause an inflammatory response, yielding conditions that are friendly to the growth of cancer cells, accounting for the increase in risk of developing ovarian cancer.

The Suthers Law Firm is currently investigating cases for women who have suffered from ovarian cancer and have a history of using products containing talcum powder. The lawyers at the Suthers Law Firm have years of experience litigating dangerous product cases. To discuss a potential lawsuit for yourself or a family member call 1-800-320-2384 or go to www.sutherslaw.com for a free Talcum Powder lawsuit consultation.

January 22, 2014

NuvaRing Contraceptive Product Lawsuit Update

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At present, more than 1,700 women have sued the manufacturers of NuvaRing, a prescription contraceptive device. NuvaRing was manufactured originally by Organon USA, Inc., a company which was subsequently acquired by Merck & Co., and was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in October of 2001. The product consists of a vaginal ring that contains the hormones estrogen and progestin. NuvaRing was designed to be used monthly. It was marketed as being more convenient than daily birth control pills, but equally effective. A study that was commissioned by the FDA and published in 2011 reported a 56% increase in blood clot risks for NuvaRing users, including an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE), when compared to birth control pill users. In 2012, studies published in The New England Journal of Medicine and The British Medical Journal stated that the side effects of NuvaRing included an increased risk of blood clots, strokes and heart attacks.

One case that is pending against the manufacturers involves a then 20 year old college student, who began using NuvaRing in 2008. After using NuvaRing for more than a year, she suddenly became ill and began spitting up blood. She was rushed to the hospital, where she spent 10 days receiving anticoagulants in an effort to thin her blood. Her doctors had a hard time believing she had a blood clot in her lung because she was only 22 years old at the time, she did not smoke, and she had no family history of blood clots. Her doctors eventually concluded that she had developed a blood clot in her lung, a condition known as pulmonary embolus, which can be fatal. Because she was a healthy 22 year old at the time and did not have other risk factors for blood clots, her doctors concluded that NuvaRing caused the blood clot.

A 24 year old woman who had used NuvaRing was not so fortunate. She suffered what was described as a massive pulmonary embolism that, in turn, triggered four heart attacks, resulting in her untimely death. Her doctors also believed that NuvaRing was the cause of her pulmonary embolism. In 2011, her parents filed a lawsuit against the product manufacturers.

Victims who were injured as a result of using NuvaRing and their families allege in these lawsuits that Organon, Merck & Co. and others failed to adequately warn the public about the side effects of NuvaRing. The plaintiffs contend that the companies were negligent in their marketing of this birth control device, since the product warning placed more emphasis on relatively minor side effects, such as nausea and headaches, while neglecting to place adequate warnings of the risk of deadly blood clots.

The federal court cases are pending in what is known as the multidistrict litigation (MDL) court, which is a coordinated proceeding in which all pretrial activities, such as written discovery, depositions, motions and evidentiary rulings, are pending before one judge. The presiding judge also has the authority to schedule so-called Bellwether trials, which are trials of selected cases to assist the parties in evaluating the remaining cases. The NuvaRing MDL litigation is entitled In Re: NuvaRing Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 1964 (E.D.Mo.), and the presiding judge is United States District Court Judge Rodney Sippel. The first Bellwether trial was rescheduled to begin on January 27, 2014. However, on January 9, 2014, Judge Sippel ordered that all adversarial proceedings, including depositions of experts and lay witnesses, motions to exclude evidence and witnesses, and any rulings on pending motions, be suspended for a period of approximately five months. While the judge did not address the reason for suspending the litigation in his order, lawyers involved believe that this break in the litigation may provide counsel for the victims and the manufacturers the time needed to negotiate a potential settlement agreement. Although the NuvaRing litigation is currently in abeyance, that does not prevent the filing of new lawsuits during this period of abeyance. Any lawsuits filed while settlement negotiations are ongoing would be included in any potential settlement agreement.

Women who developed blood clots and were diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary embolism (PE), or stroke, may contact the Suthers Law Firm toll free at 1-800-320-2384 to discuss their legal rights. The firm provides such consultations at no charge. If it is determined that you have a valid NuvaRing case, your case will be handled on a contingency fee basis, meaning there is no attorney's fee unless there is a recovery on your behalf.

January 17, 2014

Dram Shop Liability

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Dram shop liability is a legal theory that establishes that bars, taverns, liquor stores, and other businesses that sell alcoholic beverages can be held liable for damages caused by their patrons. These laws are aimed to prevent bars, taverns, and retail stores from selling alcohol to minors and to individuals who are visibly intoxicated. The term "dram shop" comes from the shops serving "drams," which is a term for a small measure of alcohol, usually gin.

Recently in Colorado, the parents of a 16 year old girl filed suit against the Bayou Cajun Restaurant and Bar and one of its bartenders under a theory of dram shop liability. According to the Colorado State Patrol, the girl and two of her friends were served alcohol at the restaurant and subsequently got into an accident with a tractor-trailer that resulted in all three girls losing their lives. At the time of the accident, the driver had a blood alcohol level of 0.241, more than three times the legal limit. Unfortunately, these types of accidents are all too common, and many times could have been prevented if not for the negligence of the "dram shop" involved.

Under Georgia law, bars, restaurants, liquor stores and other establishments that sell alcohol to patrons have a responsibility not to sell alcohol to noticeably intoxicated patrons who they know will soon be driving, as well as minors. If they do so, they may be held liable for causing the personal injuries sustained by innocent motorists at the hands of drunk drivers served at their establishments.

If you have been seriously injured or have lost a loved one in a DUI accident, contact the attorneys at The Suthers Law Firm, as you may be entitled to compensation, not only from the negligent drunk driver, but also from the bar, liquor store, restaurant or other establishment that permitted the driver to buy alcohol. The accident attorneys at the Suthers Law Firm will provide a free consultation to review your case and determine if a business establishment can be considered liable for selling alcohol illegally to the defendant under Georgia's "dram shop" laws.

December 20, 2013

Drunk Drivers Face Ignition Interlock Programs

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Deaths caused by drunk drivers rose 4.6% last year. A total of 10,322 people were killed in drunken driving automobile crashes. During the holiday season alone, 830 people died as a result of drunken driving collisions. Because the number of deaths caused by drunk drivers increased for the first time after six straight years of declining, the U.S. Transportation Secretary is pushing states to pass laws, requiring first-time offenders of drunk driving to install and use alcohol breath monitors whenever they get behind the wheel. These so-called ignition interlock programs or ignition interlock devices force the driver to blow into a breath analyzer before the driver is able to start the car. If the driver has been drinking, the car will not start.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released guidelines this week for states to use ignition interlock programs. At present, only 20 states require the devices for first-time drunk driving offenses. While almost every state has an ignition interlock program, the programs are unique and are mandated at different stages. DUI laws in Georgia require the courts to order the installation and maintenance of ignition interlock devices for repeat DUI offenders. DUI in Georgia is defined as operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher. The offenders are also responsible for the cost associated with installing, leasing, maintaining and removing the ignition interlock devices. In other states, such as Texas, an ignition interlock program is mandated for anyone with two or more intoxication-related convictions, such as DUI, assault while intoxicated, and intoxication manslaughter. There is strong evidence showing that ignition interlock programs and devices are effective tools for reducing drunk driving among first offenders and repeat offenders. Thus, these programs are essential components of highway safety programs.

The attorneys at Suthers Law Firm support the implementation of ignition interlock programs for first offenders throughout the United States. Having represented victims and families of victims of drunken driving crashes, we have seen firsthand the damage caused to victims and families who have lost loved ones as a result of collisions caused by drunk drivers. Often, the at-fault drunk drivers are repeat offenders, which makes it more important to implement ignition interlock programs for first offenders.

December 12, 2013

Georgia Supreme Court Overturns Appeals Court Ruling Allowing Wrongful Death Claim to Proceed to Jury Trial

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Gavel.jpgLast month, the Georgia Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, reversed a decision by the Georgia Court of Appeals in favor of Thelma and Sheldon Johnson, the parents of a teenage boy who died two weeks after he was treated by a physician in an Albany, GA emergency room. The reversal by the court now allows the case to proceed to a jury trial.

At issue in the case was whether the emergency room doctor, Dr. Price Paul Omondi, acted with "gross negligence," and if the case should be tried by a jury. By statute in Georgia an ER doctor can only be held liable when it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that his or her actions showed "gross negligence." Thus, there is a higher evidentiary burden to bringing a successful medical malpractice claim again a doctor in an emergency room setting.

The facts of this case involve a 15 year old patient who came to the emergency room complaining of chest pain. Eight days prior to his visit to the ER, the boy had undergone an arthroscopic knee surgery to repair an injury sustained playing high school football. Upon admission to the ER, the doctor noted the prior surgery, ordered that he be administered pain medication, an electrocardiogram ("EKG"), and a chest X-ray; he interpreted the results of the EKG and X-ray himself. The ER doctor diagnosed the teen with pleurisy and discharged him from the hospital with a prescription for an anti-inflammatory pain reliever, and instructions to return to the emergency department if his symptoms continued. Tragically, when the teen returned to the hospital a week later complaining of chest pain and difficulty breathing he died from a bilateral pulmonary embolism.

After these events, the Johnsons sued both the hospital and the ER doctor for medical malpractice. They presented affidavits and deposition testimony from two emergency medicine specialists who stated their son's symptoms and history constituted a "classic" presentation of pulmonary embolism and the doctor failed to order the tests that would have uncovered it. However, the doctor moved for summary judgment, arguing that he was not grossly negligent and therefore could not be held liable, which the trial court granted, despite this expert testimony. (A judge grants summary judgment when he determines a jury trial is unnecessary because the facts of the case are undisputed and the law falls squarely on the side of one of the parties.) The parents appealed to the Court of Appeals, but the court upheld the ruling stating that for the case to survive summary judgment the parents must demonstrate that a genuine issue of material fact existed not as to whether the doctor exercised ordinary care, but rather, they must show the existence of 'clear and convincing' evidence that Omondi did not exercise even slight care.

The Georgia Supreme Court saw the case differently, and in a unanimous decision, reversed the ruling by the Appeals Court. The Court noted that the parents submitted expert testimony that the doctor's actions "did not meet the standard of care," and "he did not take action that would be appropriate to exclude pulmonary embolism ..." -- which would have included the administration of a computed tomography scan, or a lung scan. The court reasoned that given this evidence, a reasonable jury could find, by clear and convincing evidence, that in addressing the patient's symptoms, the Dr. Omondi acted with gross negligence, i.e., that he lacked 'the diligence that even careless men are accustomed to exercise."

This case serves an example of the fact that lawsuits involving malpractice by emergency room doctors are among the most challenging cases that are pursued by medical malpractice attorneys. Therefore, it is important to retain an attorney who is experienced in medical malpractice cases and who has the financial resources to thoroughly investigate and take such cases to trial, if necessary. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of medical malpractice, contact the attorneys at Suthers Law Firm at 1-800-320-2384 or go to www.sutherslaw.com for more information.

November 8, 2013

Experts Say Drowsy Driving Is Similar To Drunk Driving

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Drowsy Driving.jpgA new study by the Triple A (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that one in four motorists report having recently had a drowsy episode while driving, meaning they were either too fatigued to drive, or fell asleep. According to AAA, motorists ages 19 to 24 were the most likely to report driving dangerously drowsy at 33 percent, while the oldest drivers (ages 75+) and the youngest (ages 16 to 18) were the least likely to report having done so.

Experts say that drowsy driving can be just as a dangerous as driving while under the influence of alcohol. Studies show that an estimated 17 percent of fatal crashes, 13 percent of crashes resulting in hospitalization, and 7 percent of all crashes requiring a tow involve a drowsy driver. Even more concerning is the fact that while 95 percent of drivers agree that driving while drowsy is dangerous, yet 41 percent decide to do it anyway. According to Ragina C. Averella, Manager of Public and Government Affairs at AAA, "Drowsy driving continues to remain a significant threat to all road users. Many drivers underestimate the risk of driving while extremely tired, and overestimate their ability to deal with it, and no matter how good a driver you are, fatigue and lack of sleep will impair your driving abilities."

Warnings signs that may signify drowsiness while driving include:
• The inability to recall the last few miles traveled
• Having disconnected or wandering thoughts
• Having difficulty focusing or keeping your eyes open
• Feeling as though your head is very heavy
• Drifting out of your driving lane/driving on rumble strips
• Yawning repeatedly
• Accidentally tailgating other vehicles
• Missing traffic signs

Drivers who experience any of these symptoms should stop driving. Other than the usual suggestions to "get enough rest" and "get enough sleep," Triple A has a few other recommendations such as stopping every two hours, avoiding heavy foods, and keeping track of medications you're taking. The Federal Office of Traffic Safety recommends planning ahead to reduce the risk of drowsy driving. This starts with ensuring drivers have adequate sleep to maintain proper alertness during the day.

As attorneys who represent victims involved in catastrophic automobile collisions, we have seen far too many people seriously injured as a result of avoidable crashes. Anytime someone suffers a significant injury in an automobile collision it is a tragedy, but it is particularly heartbreaking when the injury is caused so needlessly. We can only hope that drivers in Georgia and throughout the country will take note of the dangers drowsy driving and take the appropriate precautions.

October 25, 2013

False Claims Act Cases Result in $Billions Recovered

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The United States Department of Justice announced that it recovered $4.9 billion in settlements and judgments in civil cases that involved fraud against the Government during fiscal year 2012. It was also reported that since January 2009, total recoveries under the False Claims Act totaled $13.3 billion, the largest four year total in the Justice Department's history. Why should private citizens care about cases involving fraud against the Government? The answer is money.

Under the federal law known as the False Claims Act, private citizens can sue individuals or businesses that are committing fraud against the Government and recover money on behalf of the Government. Most states have similar laws, allowing private citizens to bring cases involving fraud against state agencies. These lawsuits are known as whistleblower, or qui tam, lawsuits. They allow the whistleblowers, known as the relators, to be rewarded for the risk they take in pursuing the case and exposing the fraud against the Government. If the Government prevails and recovers money, the whistleblower can receive anywhere from 15% to 30% of the amount recovered. Consider this fact in the context of the $4.9 billion in recoveries that the U.S. Government secured for fiscal year 2012. The private citizens, who obtained evidence of fraud against the Government and took the risk of pursuing qui tam lawsuits, were rewarded amounts totaling between $735 million and $1.47 billion.

Qui tam lawsuits have become a very powerful tool for private citizens to aid the Government in stopping various types of fraud, such as Medicare or Medicaid fraud perpetrated by healthcare providers, defense contractor fraud perpetrated by military suppliers, and other types of fraud that have a significant financial impact on the Government. The following list of qui tam lawsuits were brought by the whistleblower employees of companies who were defrauding the Government:

• A hospital employee exposed the hospital's practice of billing the Government under Medicare and Medicaid programs for treatment of patients who were not eligible for these federal programs. The employee received $3 million after the Government entered into a $15 million settlement with the hospital.

• A nurse brought a qui tam lawsuit against her hospital employer, alleging fraudulent billing. After the hospital settled for $6.2 million, the nurse received 20% of the recovery.

• An employee of a defense contractor alleged that the contractor was defrauding the Pentagon by overcharging. The U.S. recovered $88 million as a result of the employee's whistleblower lawsuit, and the employee received an award of almost $19 million, representing 21.5% of the Government's recovery.

• In one of the largest qui tam awards in history, a former employee of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, Inc. brought a qui tam lawsuit against the drug manufacturer, alleging the company was engaged in off-label marketing of one of its drugs for uses that were considered unsafe and dangerous. Ultimately, Pfizer paid a total of $2.3 billion to settle the Medicare fraud claim brought on behalf of the Government. The whistleblower received an award of more than $51.5 million.

How do you bring a qui tam lawsuit under the False Claims Act? Once a person, who is usually an employee or former employee of the wrongdoer, has adequate evidence of fraud against the Government, that person needs to retain a lawyer who has the expertise and resources to represent him or her. After a thorough investigation, the lawyer then files a lawsuit on behalf of the whistleblower against the wrongdoer. The lawsuit is filed under seal, which means that it is kept confidential from everyone except the Government. The purpose of the lawsuit being filed under seal is to allow the Department of Justice adequate time to investigate the allegations in the lawsuit, usually with the assistance of the whistleblower's attorney.

Once the Government has completed its investigation, it decides whether to join, or intervene, in the case. If the Government decides not to intervene, the whistleblowers have the right to pursue the cases on their own. However, the chances of succeeding are higher when the Government chooses to join in the lawsuit. One reason for this is because when the Government is involved, the Government has the leverage of pursuing not only the civil lawsuit, but also filing criminal charges against the corporate or individual wrongdoer. The threat of corporate officers having to serve jail time for the alleged wrongdoing is often enough to bring about a settlement. Another factor which often results in a settlement, as opposed to a jury verdict, is that Defendants who are found liable may have to pay three times the amount of the Government's losses plus penalties for the false claims that were proven. Consequently, most qui tam lawsuits are ultimately resolved through settlement negotiations between Justice Department attorneys and the attorneys for the wrongdoer.

The whistleblower's award depends upon the quality of the evidence and case that was presented to the Government, the work of the whistleblower's attorney, and the amount recovered by the Government. In cases where the Government chooses to intervene and it recovers money through a settlement or verdict, the whistleblower is entitled to recover anywhere from 15% to 25% of the recovery. In cases where the Government chooses not to intervene and the case is pursued successfully by the whistleblower and the whistleblower's attorney, the award is between 25% and 30% of the recovery. As evidenced by the above-referenced, successful qui tam lawsuits, the potential reward to a whistleblower, or relator, can be quite lucrative.

Individuals who have evidence of fraud being committed against the Government and who are willing to become whistleblowers, or relators, should retain lawyers who have the experience and resources to investigate and pursue such cases. The attorneys representing the whistleblowers typically handle such cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning their fee is a percentage of the reward received by the whistleblower.

October 1, 2013

New Study Shows that Twice as Many Patients May be Dying As a Result of Medical Malpractice than Previously Thought

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A recent study published in Journal of Patient Safety suggests that current estimates of the number of fatal mistakes made by physicians in the United States are far too low. The study found that twice as many patients, between 210,000 and 440,000 patients per year, suffer from preventable medical harm that contributes to their deaths. Previous studies done in this area had suggested there were far less fatal injuries as a result of medical errors. A study done in 1999 by the Institute of Medicine suggested that 98,000 people a year died from mistakes made in hospitals. Another study, performed in 2010 by the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services suggested that the number was around 180,000 deaths per year.

The American Hospital Association has disputed these findings, and has indicated that the AHA has more confidence in the Institute of Medicine's 98,000 number found in the 1999 study. However, if the new estimates are accurate, medical malpractice would be considered the third leading cause of death in America, with only heart disease and cancer killing more Americans. Irrespective of which study is more accurate, there are far too many deaths in the U.S. caused by the negligence of medical providers.

Medical malpractice cases take many forms, but the common thread is that people trusted to care for a patient are responsible for serious harm that could have been avoided. When a medical provider is determined to be legally responsible for your injuries during medical care or treatment, they may be liable for the harms they caused. The attorneys at the Suthers Law Firm have been very successful at holding doctors, nurses, hospitals, nursing homes, pharmacists, and other health care providers accountable for medical mistakes or negligent care throughout Georgia and South Carolina. If you feel that you or a loved one has been harmed as a result of medical malpractice, call the Suthers Law Firm at 1-800-320-2384 or go to www.sutherslaw.com for more information.

September 16, 2013

Stryker Spine Plate Recall Lawsuit

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A Class I recall was recently issued for Stryker Spine's OASYS Midline Occiput Plate warning patients and physicians that the device is at risk for fracture. According to the FDA, the recall affects products that were distributed from April 23, 2010 through February 12, 2013. The OASYS Midline Occiput Plate is part of the OASYS Occipito-Cervico-Thoracic System and was used in fusions of the cervical spine and occipito-cervico-thoracic junction (Occiput - T3). The OASYS Midline Occiput Plate was originally designed to provide stabilization at the junction between the occipital bone and the vertebrae in the cervical spine.

Over the last several months Stryker has received numerous reports indicating post-operative fracture of the pin that connects the tulip head to the plate body. In May of this year the company first issued a recall, warning of serious health consequences including blood loss and nerve damage. Then, in June, Stryker notified spinal implant surgeons that it is recommending routine clinical and radiographic post-operative evaluation for patients with an implanted OASYS Midline Plates, and that those experiencing pain, weakness, or numbness may require revision surgery to replace the fractured implant.

It is important to remember that a Class I Recalls are the most serious type of recall and involve situations in which there is a reasonable probability that use of these recalled products will cause serious adverse health consequences or death. If you or a loved one has been implanted with and injured by the Stryker OASYS Midline Occiput Plate it is important you contact your physician as soon as possible. Additionally, you should take action to secure the compensation you need and ensure that the responsible parties are held accountable for any harm done to you or a loved one. The lawyers at the Suthers Law Firm have years of experience litigating defective medical device cases. The Suthers Law Firm is currently investigating cases on behalf of individuals who were injured after being surgically implanted with Stryker's Spine OASYS Midline Occiput Plate. To discuss a potential lawsuit for yourself, a family member or friend, call 1-800-320-2384 or go to www.sutherslaw.com for a free Stryker lawsuit consultation.

September 6, 2013

Recalled Stryker Knee Surgery Product Linked to Serious Injuries

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Stryker Corporation has issued a voluntary recall of yet another product used in orthopedic surgeries. In July of 2012, Stryker recalled its Rejuvenate and ABG II modular-neck hip stems used in conjunction with hip replacement surgeries. More recently, Stryker Corporation has acknowledged defects with its ShapeMatch Cutting Guides used to assist in the positioning of total knee replacement components. On April 10, 2013, Stryker issued an urgent medical device recall of the ShapeMatch Cutting Guides. This was classified as a Class I recall by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which means that there is a reasonable probability the product can cause serious adverse health consequences or death.

The ShapeMatch Cutting Guides were used with the Triathlon Knee System. The recalled products are single use, disposable cutting guides used as surgical instruments to assist the surgeon in positioning the total knee replacement components and guiding the marking of bone before the surgeon begins cutting. The product was recalled due to a software defect that resulted in wider cutting ranges. Additionally, Stryker determined that a separate software defect resulted in displayed parameters for the depth of resection or the angle of cut not matching the cutting guides produced. It was determined that these defects could result in injuries, including joint instability, fracture, chronic pain, limited mobility of the knee and the need for revision surgery.

Patients who have had knee replacement surgery during which the ShapeMatch Cutting Guides were used and who feel their knee is not functioning properly should contact their orthopedic surgeon. If it is determined that the patient is experiencing joint instability, fracture, chronic pain, or limited mobility in the knee, any of which could necessitate revision surgery, he or she should contact the experienced defective medical device attorneys at Suthers Law Firm on our toll free number, 1-800-320-2384, for a free consultation. The Suthers Law Firm is presently representing numerous individuals in pending lawsuits against the manufacturers of defective hip replacement and knee replacement products, and has the experience and resources necessary to hold the product manufacturers accountable for their defective products.

August 16, 2013

DePuy LPS Lower Extremity Dovetail Intercalary Component Recall

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DePuy Orthopedics has issued a Class I recall of the DePuy LPS Lower Extremity Dovetail Intercalary Component due to the potential for fracture of the female component when exposed to normal physiologic loads while walking. The DePuy LPS Lower Extremity Dovetail Intercalary Component was manufactured and distributed from February 2007 through May 2013 and was used to replace the mid-shaft portion of the femur, top, bottom or total femur, and top tibia. The component was frequently used in cases that required extensive resection, such as those involving tumors, severe trauma and serious infection. DePuy has advised surgeons, hospitals, and medical distributors to immediately discontinue use of the device as a result of the severe risks associated with its use.

Class I recalls are the most critical as they involve products deemed to be dangerous enough to cause serious adverse health consequences or death. Known injuries involving the DePuy LPS component recall include serious infection, loss of limb function, loss of limb, need for additional surgery, and in some cases death. Further, according to the Food and Drug Administration, those patients weighing more than 200lbs who were implanted with the DePuy LPS are at an increased risk for fracture and injury.

The recalled DePuy components include lot numbers: 130896, A2AGS1, 132131, A2AGT1, 132133, A2AGV1, 209461, B2VAL1, 209466, B43G11, 219843, B43G1A, 232972, B43G1B, 295965, B43G1C, 310189, B43G1D, 336843, B69HV1,349283, B69HVA, 352878, BK1BB1, 374125, BW7DX1, 379089, BW7DX1A, A1TAR1, E3SJD1, A2AGN1, and EN4KJ1.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured as a result of the DePuy LPS Lower Extremity Dovetail Intercalary Component you may have a potential lawsuit against the manufacturer, DePuy Orthopedics. Suthers Law Firm has experience representing individuals who have suffered serious injuries, and the families of individuals who suffered wrongful deaths, as a result of dangerous medical products. Cases involving dangerous medical products are among the most challenging cases that are pursued, and it is important to retain an attorney who has the experience and resources that are necessary in order to prevail.

August 14, 2013

Severe Injuries Associated With the da Vinci Robot Surgical System

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The da Vinci robot surgical system, manufactured by Intuitive Surgical, is a telesurgical davinci pic.jpgdevice that has been FDA approved for a range of minimally invasive procedures. During these procedures, the patient is on the operating table while the doctor sits several feet away at the control area of the machine, where he or she can maneuver the robotic arms while watching the procedure through a 3-D viewfinder. Many surgeons feel the robot makes it easier to see and navigate places in the body normally difficult to reach with traditional surgical methods. Doctors advocating the use of the da Vinci also point to the potential benefits for patients, such as small incisions, minimal bleeding, minimal scarring, and speeding post-surgery recovery time. As a result, surgical procedures using the da Vinci robot are becoming increasingly popular in the United States, with close to 400,000 of the procedures performed in the United States in 2012, and more than 1.5 million procedures since Intuitive Surgical received its initial FDA approval of the device.

Unfortunately, as the da Vinci procedures have grown in popularity, so have the reports of injuries associated with their use. In the last 5 years, the U.S. Food and Drug administration has received more than 4,600 complaints from patients associated with robotic surgeries, including reports of serious burns, cuts, infections, including 89 deaths. Surgeries performed with the da Vinci have also been connected with damage to organs, harm to body tissue, and bleeding and internal scarring that can lead to chronic pain and dysfunction. Causing even greater concern is the fact many patients have been discharged from the hospital following a da Vinci robotic-assisted surgery only to discover the injury days later, thus requiring a prolonged hospitalization, and in some cases, additional surgery.

Many medical experts worry the high-tech, futuristic nature of the machine is driving surgeons' decision to use the da Vinci, rather than an actual medical need, and they are not adequately considering the risks associate with its use. This fact, coupled with the lack of adequate training by surgeons using the device, has resulted in patients being subjected to surgical complications that may have been avoided if other safer surgical methods were chosen. Moreover, there is evidence the design of the da Vinci surgical robot is known to lead to injury even without any error on the part of the surgeon. As a result, there have been numerous, serious injuries attributed to the use of the da Vinci surgical robot, and lawsuits are being filed across the country against both Intuitive Surgical and negligent surgeons.

The da Vinci robot injury attorneys at Suthers Law Firm believe that there could be many more lawsuits filed in the future against Intuitive Surgical, as well as surgeons who negligently use these devices. The firm has represented many victims injured by medical malpractice and dangerous medical devices. If you or a loved one has suffered damage as a result of a da Vinci surgical procedure, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit for those damages. Such lawsuits are pursued under a contingency fee basis, meaning that there are no attorney fees unless a recovery is obtained, and the law firm will advance all out-of-pocket expenses associated with the case. To discuss a potential da Vinci lawsuit, call 1-800-320-2384 or go to www.sutherslaw.com for a free consultation.

July 15, 2013

Vaginal Mesh Case Results in Mistrial

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A jury heard opening statements last week in the first Federal Court trial involving manufacturer CR Bard, Inc.'s Avaulta transvaginal mesh products. The case of Sisson v. CR Bard, Inc., in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Virginia, is one of approximately 3,600 cases pending against Bard in which women allege that erosion of the mesh products have caused organ damage, made sexual intercourse painful, and caused women to have to undergo additional surgical procedures to remove the mesh products. Most of the cases against Bard have been consolidated before U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Goodwin in what is known as the Multidistrict Litigation Court in Charleston, West Virginia for pretrial workup and the exchange of evidence. The Sisson trial was expected to last 2 to 3 weeks. However, on July 10, 2013, Judge Goodwin declared a mistrial because of a witness' testimony. The Federal Judge stopped the trial in its second day after expert witness Lennox Hoyte, a gynecological expert, testified about the vaginal mesh devices' marketing. Judge Goodwin had ruled previously that the Plaintiffs could not mention the fact that Bard had withdrawn the products from the market last year. After the witness' testimony, Bard's attorney moved for a mistrial. Judge Goodwin stated that it would be difficult for the jury to disregard such testimony and as a result, granted the Defendant's motion for a mistrial. However, the trial on behalf of Donna Sisson and her husband is expected to begin again soon before a new jury, perhaps as early as July 29, 2013.

Donna Sisson was experiencing problems with control of her bladder, a condition known as stress urinary incontinence (SUI). When her problems became worse, she turned to a specialist who diagnosed her as suffering from pelvic organ prolapse (POP), a condition that can cause urinary incontinence and/or pain, including pain during sexual activity. In 2009, a transvaginal mesh product manufactured by Bard was surgically implanted in Ms. Sisson, purportedly to solve her problem of urinary incontinence. Instead of solving the problem, she began experiencing significant bleeding, pain during sex, bladder spasms, and as a result, had to undergo 2 additional surgeries to remove the mesh device. Ms. Sisson and her husband sued the product manufacturer, CR Bard, Inc., claiming that Bard knew about the problems associated with these mesh products but failed to warn doctors and consumers. Plaintiffs' lead counsel, Henry G. Garrard, told the Federal Court jury last week that Bard officials knew that these transvaginal mesh devices were made of a material that was unsuitable for human implantation, and they covered up that flaw from doctors and women who were being surgically implanted with the products. Garrard told jurors that Bard made these implants, which were designed to shore up pelvic muscles, out of a type of plastic that carried a warning saying it should not be permanently implanted in humans. Bard's lawyers have denied that these vaginal mesh devices were defective.

The litigation involving these transvaginal mesh products which were designed to treat SUI and POP has expanded and accelerated after the United States Food & Drug Administration issued a safety warning in 2011 stating that "Serious complications associated with surgical mesh for transvaginal repair of POP are not rare." Other manufacturers of vaginal mesh products, such as Ethicon, a division of Johnson & Johnson, Boston Scientific Corporation, American Medical Systems, Inc., Coloplast Corporation, and Cook Medical, Inc. are facing lawsuits claiming that their vaginal mesh devices are defective. In addition to the cases pending in the MDL Court before Judge Goodwin in Charleston, West Virginia, there are thousands more cases pending in State Courts across the country, 2 of which resulted in jury verdicts for the Plaintiffs within the past year. The outcomes of the Sisson case and other cases scheduled for trial in the MDL Court could put pressure on these manufacturers to try to settle the pending cases.

The defective transvaginal mesh attorneys at the Suthers Law Firm are presently representing women and, in some cases, their spouses, in similar lawsuits pending against various manufacturers of transvaginal mesh products, and are working closely with members of the Plaintiffs Steering Committee in the Multi-District Litigation. As experienced attorneys in this unique field of litigation, the Suthers Law Firm understands not only the physical pain caused by defective mesh products, but also the emotional and financial hardship that can result.

July 3, 2013

New Truck Driver Safety Regulations Take Effect

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced recently that new Federal Regulations, which will hopefully improve safety on the roads by reducing truck driver fatigue, have been enacted. The new, so-called "hours of service" regulations became effective on July 1, 2013. These regulations were first announced in December of 2011 by FMCSA, and trucking companies were given 18 months to adopt the new rules for their truck drivers. The new hours of service rules do the following:

(1) limit the maximum average work week for truck drivers to 70 hours, down from the current maximum allowed of 82 hours;
(2) allow truck drivers who reach the maximum 70 hours of driving within 1 week to resume driving after they have rested for 34 consecutive hours; and
(3) require truck drivers to take a 30 minute break during the first 8 hours of a driving shift.

There is presently an 11 hour daily driving limit, which was unchanged by the new rules. Trucking companies and drivers that violate the rules could face penalties, including significant monetary fines per offense. For more information regarding the new safety regulations, please see the FMCSA's web site at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/HOS.

It is well known that driving long daily and weekly hours on a continuing basis without adequate rest is associated with chronic fatigue. Such fatigue imposes an increased risk of trucking accidents, and can lead to serious and chronic health conditions in truck drivers. The FMCSA estimates that the new safety regulations will save lives and prevent many accident-related injuries each year. The trucking accident attorneys at Suthers Law Firm have represented individuals who were seriously injured as a result of tractor trailer collisions and other trucking accidents, and have represented the families of victims who were killed in such accidents.

 
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