04.28.17

Could Bariatric Surgery Be The Cause Of Personal Injury Suits Due To Child Birth Complications?

Posted in Medical Malpractice, Products Liability at 3:14 pm by kevin

Bariatric surgery seemed like the perfect solution for those who are obese and have seemingly tried everything else to lose weight. What seemed like the perfect scenario, however, is beginning to show signs that it doesn’t come without substantial risk. Patients who were considering undergoing the procedure have always understood that the surgery itself, like any other, comes with specific risks. But there is a new complication just being discovered, which may make women of childbearing age think twice about having the surgery to lose weight.

New studies from a team of santa ana personal injury lawyers are coming to light that might put bariatric surgery complications at the forefront of personal injury claims. Scientists have discovered that there might be an increased risk for children born to mothers who’ve had bariatric surgery. A study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that children who are born to women who have had bariatric surgery within the previous two years (before giving birth) are at risk for perinatal complications.

Bariatric surgery is a medical procedure used to decrease the size of a person’s stomach so that they can’t overeat. A surgeon uses either a gastric band or actually removes part of the stomach to create less space in order to signal to the brain that the stomach is full. There are times when the procedure also reroutes the small intestines so that it flows into the stomach pouch. So, although there are various ways to achieve the same goal, bariatric surgery refers to multiple types of procedures within the same class. It is typically a surgery that is used to reduce a person’s weight when obesity is leading to serious health consequences.

When a woman undergoes bariatric surgery, it isn’t just her stomach and appetite that are affected. Her body undergoes changes in nutrition as well as metabolic and physiological changes, which can result in danger not only to her health, but also to the health of a child born in the immediate future. There is evidence to suggest that a woman who has gone through the surgery may suffer from nutritional deficiencies, and that those deficiencies can negatively affect a growing fetus from getting the necessary nutrients for proper development.

Lack of nutrition can lead to birth complications, which were not an expected outcome, and women who underwent the surgery were not warned about it. Not only are there links to birth complications, but there is also a risk of small gestational age, low Apgar scores and premature delivery. An Apgar score is a test that is performed immediately following birth that measures a baby’s reaction to their atmosphere.

It is an acronym for Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, and Respiration and is linked to several conditions early on in life. In studies, it isn’t until almost four years post-bariatric surgery that the Apgar scores appear not to be affected in children born to women who have undergone the surgical procedure.

The biggest problem is that obesity is one of the barriers that women of childbearing age have, to conception. Many women in the past have undergone the surgery specifically to help them conceive, which is in direct contrast to the risks that the surgery can increase in childbirth. Up until recently, those risks were not identified and certainly were not told to women who were electing to have bariatric surgery, especially for the purpose of conceiving.

Therefore, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have made recommendations that women who are going to undergo bariatric surgery delay conception until a minimum of two years post-surgery to ensure that there are no risk factors carried over.

Although it’s a great recommendation going forward, that doesn’t address the past complications that have resulted from misinformation of the consequences of bariatric surgery on childbirth. Bariatric surgery has traditionally been an elective surgery undertaken more by women than men, which is why it is so problematic to find that risk factors for childbirth are linked to the surgery.

There are likely to be many women with complications during childbirth who bring forward personal injury cases. Many babies born with complications need extensive therapy, extended stays in the hospital, and can have a host of conditions that follow them throughout their developmental years and beyond. Without the proper warning, many women have found out the hard way that bariatric treatment for conception might not have been as healthy or safe as they were led to believe.

 

Is The “Right To Try” Medical Product Law Harmful Or Helpful?

Posted in Consumer Law at 3:03 pm by kevin

The road from an experimental drug becoming available for the market is long and arduous. A frustration for those who need life-saving drugs, often the trials can take decades for the FDA’s approval, and sometimes even longer. In the meantime, people who could benefit from medications wait on the sidelines hoping for the drugs to clear so that they might be available to save either their own life or the life of someone they love.

There aren’t many who, if they had a terminal disease, wouldn’t at least try a hopeful experimental drug and pray for the best. The problem is that even if you want to try a drug to save your life, you can’t. A new push is being made to pass laws to give patients the right to try medications before they are given FDA approval.

Over the last three years, 33 states in the US have passed legislation that is aimed at helping those with terminal illnesses by giving them the right to try experimental treatments and drugs in the earlier stages of a drug’s development. A trial lawyer can confirm that these “right to try” laws are expediting the use of medical procedures and pharmaceuticals to make them available to people who will certainly die without them and who might survive if given a chance to take them.

California has a “right to try” law that went into effect just this past January. Hospitals and doctors in the state are now allowed to prescribe any medication that has made it through the trial-one phase of drug development. That is the first stage where a drug is tested on human beings on the way to gaining FDA approval. In phase one, typically a drug focuses not on whether a drug helps someone, but rather that it doesn’t have any risks for use. It also answers questions of dosage but has no relation yet to effectiveness about a particular disease.

It is in the second and third phases of drug development that researchers find out if there are toxic side effects to an experimental medicine or procedure by using the drug on the very people it aims to cure or help. Only about 20% of those medications that make it to the second phase and are found to have serious side effects will move onto the third phase. In the third phase, the medicine is tested for its side effects and effectiveness.  Only after passing all three phases is a drug even eligible to be examined by the FDA or slated for the market.

The problem is that the process of going through the three phases is anything but quick and easy. That is why Ian Calderon, a Democrat from Southern California, proposed the bill to give people who will die without the use of some intervention, the right to try experimental medications. If there is a chance that one life can be saved by not waiting for FDA approval, then it is worth it. When talking about people who are terminally ill and will certainly die, what harm could it possibly do to allow them to at least give a potential cure, a try?

In 2016, assisted suicide was made legal giving someone the chance to decide when they want to die; why should someone who is dying not be given the opportunity to decide how far they will experiment to live? The proponents of the bill maintain that often doctors are fearful of allowing patients the right to try medications, even for off-label use, just in case they have serious or deadly side effects. If a drug doesn’t have FDA approval, then the onus falls on the prescribing physician. Not many clinicians are willing to take that chance or to have blood on their hands by offering false hope.

The new law allows doctors and patients the ability to investigate medicines in the phase-one testing phase, and it also limits the obstacles that stand in the way of allowing terminally ill patients the ability to give them a try.

Those who stand in opposition to the “right to try” laws believe that it is morally wrong to allow patients the right to take something that they hope will cure them, especially if it gives them false hope or hastens their death. There is a fear that drug manufacturers will prey on those who are looking for a cure and will try anything out of desperation. Moral ethics upholders are worried that terminally ill patients might be taken advantage of and considered “free lab rats.”

For now, those who want to try a medication to save their life have been given a new lease to try what they can research and find. If it saves one life in the process, it is a miracle. If it helps to prove that a cure for a disease is available more quickly, it’s even better.

 

04.11.17

Toddler Dies Caught up in Medicaid Billing Fraud

Posted in Medical Malpractice, Wrongful Death at 2:52 pm by kevin

Medicaid billing schemes are not new; in fact, many have been convicted of committing this crime over the years. However, a recent personal injury lawsuit has caught the attention of a lot of people since a toddler was involved — and even died in the process.

The wrongful death lawsuit claims that unnecessary dental procedures were performed on fourteen-month-old Daisy Lynn Torres as part of a corporate scheme that aims to make money from Medicaid. The toddler’s family is suing dentist Dr. Michael Melanson and mobile anesthesiologist Dr. David Williams, along with Austin Children’s Dentistry and Texan Anesthesiology Association.

Daisy Lynn died on March 29, 2016, while she was going through a dental procedure at Austin Children’s Dentistry. The procedure was performed by Dr. Melanson while anesthesia was provided by Dr. Williams, who works for Texan Anesthesiology Association and was present while the child received the dental treatment.

Daisy Lynn’s mother, Betty Squier, had brought the toddler to Austin Children’s Dentistry to have two of her cavities filled. Squier noted that she was present when her daughter was put under anesthesia but was asked to leave the room afterwards. According to her, Dr. Melanson came out of the room after several minutes and told her they were going to place six crowns on Daisy Lynn’s teeth — four more than what had been originally planned. A short while after that, Squier was informed that her daughter had gone into cardiac arrest.

Forensic dental examiner Dr. Robert Williams worked on the case and reported that “no indication of dental disease or pathology was seen” in Daisy Lynn’s dental X-rays on the day she died. He points out that the child may possibly have had “congenital enamel defects” in her partially erupted teeth, but stated that they did not necessarily require treatments especially considering her age. Dr. Williams noted that there was no evidence that Daisy Lynn was in “any type of pain” due to any dental diseases.

This report was included in the autopsy report filed by the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office, which was released in July 2016 and ruled that anesthesia was the cause of death of the child. A few months later, in September 2016, Austin Children’s Dentistry filed a libel, defamation, and business disparagement lawsuit against Dr. Robert Williams. The company sponsored national dental experts to independently review the case, and the reviews concluded that the treatments that Daisy Lynn Torres received before her death were “dentally necessary”.

Despite this, the toddler’s parents believe that their daughter wrongfully died and that her death was caused by a scheme that aims to bill Medicaid for unnecessary dental procedures. Betty Squier states that her child’s life “was cut short due to someone’s greed and negligence”, while Daisy Lynn’s father Elizandro Torres wants the case to be heard so it won’t happen to other people. He reminds parents that “they can ask questions” and “get second opinions, third opinions”.

The family’s attorney Sean Breen points out that Daisy Lynn’s case will hopefully highlight the fact that dentists and dental clinics all over the country are committing Medicaid fraud by doing unnecessary procedures and collecting money from them. Breen states that other parents have come out and revealed that their children also received unnecessary dental treatments from Austin Children’s Dentistry.