Every year in the United States, between 700 and 900 women die as the result of pregnancy or childbirth and approximately 65,000 come very close to death, leading some to conclude the United States has the worst maternal mortality in the developed world.
Between 2000 and 2014, the number of maternal deaths in the United States doubled. In contrast, every other affluent country has seen a decrease in maternal deaths during the same time period. Women in the United States are three times more likely than Canadian women to die during the maternal period; six times more likely to die than Scandinavian women; and ten times more likely to die than women in Poland.
The leading causes of maternal fatalities are pulmonary embolism, infection, hemorrhage, hypertensive disorders, cardiovascular conditions, cardiomyopathy, and non-cardiovascular medical conditions. Many of these conditions can be treated if diagnosed in time. It is estimated that approximately 60% of maternal deaths in the United States can be prevented.
There are many problems pregnant women in the United States face today, which give rise to this increase in maternal deaths. First, there is often a lack of coordination of care for women who are deemed at “high risk.” We run into cases in which a woman with a “high risk” pregnancy was never evaluated by a physician, only a midwife. There is also often a delay in diagnosis. As a result of not receiving proper care by a physician, medical conditions that can be treated often go undiagnosed. Finally, in many circumstances, providers fail to timely respond to emergent situations. Providers may not recognize—or ignore—signs of fetal distress and not call an OB/GYN until it is too late to perform a caesarian.
Doctors and health care providers need to start focusing on preventing maternal deaths. One of the ways to institute change is to hold providers responsible for their negligence. The attorneys at Abramson, Brown & Dugan have vast experience handling claims involving childbirth and pregnancy-related injuries. If you or a loved one have been injured during pregnancy or childbirth, contact one of our experienced attorneys today for a free consultation.
The recent news out of Epping and Newfields of the arrest of former Boy Scout Scoutmaster, Eugene Perreault, for felony sexual assault of a Boy Scout has sent shockwaves through those communities. Perreault is believed to have victimized several Boy Scouts between the mid-1990's and 2006. His story is a stark reminder of the tragic consequences of Boy Scouts of America's failure to meaningfully confront the problem of sexual abuse in Scouting.
The accusations against Eugene Perreault are abhorrent but should not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the history of sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts of America. Boy Scouts of America has been aware of the problem of pedophiles using its organization to meet and sexually assault young boys for nearly a century. In fact, sexual abuse in the Boy Scout organization was so rampant that, around 1920, it began keeping records of sexual abuse by volunteers and employees. These records are dubbed the "Ineligible Volunteer" or "IV" Files. The IV files were kept hidden from the public for decades but can now be publicly viewed online, thanks to a very recent Court order out of Oregon in a case against the Boy Scouts for its failure to protect a Boy Scout from sexual abuse.
The truth is that Boy Scouts of America has known of the problem of sexual abuse in Scouting for many, many years, but has done very little to address the problem. When allegations of sexual abuse in Scouting began to surface in the 1970s and early 1980s, the Boy Scout organization's company line was to deny that a problem existed. After many lawsuits were filed in the mid-1980s, the organization finally acknowledged that a problem existed. In response, it created a "Youth Protection Program" that, in reality, was designed to gain positive public relations for the Boy Scout organization instead of meaningfully protecting Boy Scouts. Through instructional videos and materials, the Youth Protection Program warned Boy Scouts that there was a potential danger of sex abuse for young boys in the world, but that they would be safe in Scouting.
Incredibly, despite all the evidence of sexual abuse in the Boy Scout organization, Boy Scouts of America did not require criminal background checks of all volunteers until 2008. In 2010, it created a position within its Youth Protection Program for a full-time director. Unfortunately, such measures are too late for Eugene Perreault's victims and other Boy Scouts who were failed by the youth organization. Boy Scouts of America and similar organizations should be held accountable for turning a blind eye and failing to protect its youth.
The attorneys at Abramson, Brown & Dugan have vast experience handling sexual abuse claims. If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual abuse, please contact one of our attorneys today for a free consultation to discuss your legal rights.
Health care professionals who prescribe, dispense, and administer medications have an absolute duty to ensure that their patients receive the right dose of the right drug. Hospitals and other facilities that employ such individuals also have an obligation to ensure that proper procedures are in place to prevent medication errors and that those procedures are followed by staff. Despite this, research shows that medication errors are harming U.S. children at an alarming rate and often lead to deadly outcomes.
In a study performed at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, researchers found that outpatient medication errors impact a child every eight minutes. In yet another study at Johns Hopkins University, researchers concluded that up to 27% of medication orders for pediatric patients have errors. And, between 2002 and 2012, there were an average of 63,358 medication errors in children reported annually to the poison control center, with 25% of those errors affecting patients younger than 1.
Pediatric patients are at higher risk for medication errors in part because medication dosing is often based on the patient’s weight, which can lead to miscalculations. Children are also more vulnerable to mistakes given their small size. Thus, when medication errors occur, they are more likely to be fatal—such as in Jake Steinbrecher’s case, an 8-year-old boy who died last June when a pharmacist reportedly dispensed a dosage of his ADHD medication that was 1,000 times higher than what he was prescribed. Or 7-month-old August Elliot, who died last year after a nurse mistakenly administered medication intended for an adult patient.
Medical facilities and health care professionals are not doing enough to prevent medication errors and, unfortunately, many children are being harmed as a result. Parents and caretakers should be aware of this risk of harm. While parents and caretakers cannot prevent medication errors from occurring in the first instance, there are a few things they can do to reduce the likelihood of a medication error reaching their child:
• Always ask the name of the drug, the dosage, and the reason it is being prescribed to your child. Double check that the drug dispensed is the same drug and the correct dose.
• Keep a list of all medications, vitamins, herbs, and over the counter drugs, that your child is taking. Inform your child’s doctor and pharmacist of these medications and ask whether there could be interactions.
• Be aware of signs that the drug may be the wrong drug. Ask questions if the pill, capsule, or tablet is a different size, color, or produced by a different manufacturer.
Finally, if you or your child is the victim of a medication error, it is important to talk to an experienced attorney as soon as possible to determine your legal rights. The attorneys at Abramson, Brown & Dugan, PA have vast experiencing handling malpractice claims based on medication errors. If you or a family member has been harmed by a medication error, contact one of our attorneys today for a free consultation to discuss your potential claim.
Telemedicine allows patients to consult with physicians and other health care providers remotely, usually through apps or websites. Recent changes in New Hampshire law now allow patients to have telemedicine visits with providers from the comfort of their homes or offices. Nationwide, the use of telemedicine is increasing rapidly, with over one million telemedicine visits expected to occur this year.
Researchers in California recently went undercover, posing as dermatology patients of 16 telemedicine companies, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article. The results were quite disturbing.
Many online physicians “treating” the researchers misdiagnosed serious medical conditions—including three who assured a patient that his aggressive form of skin cancer, nodular melanoma, was benign. The physicians also failed to advise the patient to follow-up with a doctor in person.
The study found that the diagnoses that required physicians to obtain more information from their patients lead to less accurate results. For example, none of the eight providers who consulted with a patient with secondary syphilis asked about his sudden onset of fevers or skin plaques. Instead, they simply agreed with his suggestion that psoriasis was the cause of his symptoms.
Another female patient presented with inflammatory acne. None of her twelve providers asked her about her visible facial hair or irregular periods, symptoms of the complex condition polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Two of the telemedicine companies, First Derm and First Opinion, connected patients with physicians located overseas, in violation of California state law that requires physicians treating patients to be licensed in that state. According to First Derm’s CEO, Alexander Borve, “there is no doctor-patient relationship” because patients remain anonymous.
While telemedicine is convenient for consumers, it is not without risk. Telemedicine patients do not always know who they are consulting with during their visit and whether their provider is qualified. The provider does not have the benefit of the in-person examination. Thus, misdiagnosis can occur and lead to disastrous results.
If you or a loved one has been misdiagnosed by a telemedicine provider, contact one of our experienced attorneys at Abramson, Brown & Dugan to discuss your rights.