Articles Posted in Federal Tort Claims Act

A Federal Tort Claims Act case involving the death of a patient at a skilled and long term care facility was recently settled by the attorneys of Pierce & Thornton. The decedent, a seventy-six year old woman, was admitted to the nursing home where she was to undergo physical therapy following hospitalization for aggravation of a pre-existing compression fracture in her spine. Upon admission, she was noted to be alert and oriented; however she also had a suspected diagnosis of Parkinson’s and dementia. Her attending physician ordered various labs including a CBC and BMP. He also ordered her foley catheter discontinued. A Nurse Practitioner ordered a urine culture and sensitivity test. Over the course of the next week, the patient’s overall physical and mental condition progressively declined. After complaints by her husband and children, she was transferred to a hospital where she was found to be in septic shock and suffering urinary sepsis, dehydration, renal failure and pneumonia. Several of her laboratory values were critical including a BUN of 155 and a creatinine of 6.5. She was obtunded and suffering from multi-system organ failure. She died within 24 hours of admission to the hospital.

Plaintiff’s allegations of negligence against the attending physician included failing to insure that his orders were carried out by the nurses, failing to determine that various test results were not in the chart and failing to timely and properly monitor the patient’s overall declining condition. The allegations of negligence against the facility included the nurses’ failure to carry out certain physician’s orders including timely discontinuing the foley catheter and failing to insure that test results were placed in the patient’s chart. Plaintiff also alleged that the nurses failed to monitor the patient’s condition and report her decline to the attending physician.

Defendants’ experts contended that they complied with the standard of care in all respects. The attending physician’s experts contended that the patient was suffering from a debilitating neurological condition and had a limited life expectancy. Defendants further contended that the patient died from a rapidly progressing pneumonia that could not be timely diagnosed and treated. Plaintiff contended that the patient died as a result of complications from an undiagnosed and untreated urinary tract infection.

The Virginia Lawyers Weekly recently reported that a federal court in Virginia held that a widow whose husband died in a collision with a tractor-trailer may sue the truck driver for punitive damages, which are damages exceeding normal compensation that are meant to punish the defendant. The Court in this case found that while the Virginia Supreme Court normally frowns on awarding punitive damages in most motor vehicle cases, they would be allowed here because the defendant truck driver fell asleep at the wheel of his truck, despite a prior citation for violating a federal rule against driving more than 14 consecutive hours. The Court reasoned that a jury could find that the commercial driver engaged in conduct that he had been specifically warned about, and by doing so, he acted willfully, wantonly and in reckless disregard for the safety of the public.

The attorneys at the law firm of Pierce & Thornton understand that tragic accidents are an unfortunate part of life. If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious truck, auto or motorcycle accident we can help. Pierce & Thornton has experience and expertise in representing families of those seriously injured or killed by the negligence of other drivers. The lawyers at Pierce & Thornton have obtained some of the largest jury verdicts and mediation settlements in Virginia over the past several years. We can put together a team of qualified investigators and gather the information and data necessary to reconstruct the accident and determine who was at fault. We will consult with all of your health care providers so that we have a complete understanding of the nature and extent of your injuries and how the accident has impacted your life. Call today for an immediate free consultation with one of our truck, auto or motorcycle accident attorneys. The attorneys at Pierce & Thornton handle cases throughout Virginia and North Carolina, including in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, Suffolk, and the Eastern Shore. They also associate with other attorneys on significant injury cases throughout the United States.

A recent article in The Washington Post reported that surgical “never” events – errors that should never occur, such as leaving an instrument inside a patient or operating on the wrong body part – resulted in paid medical malpractice claims about 500 times a year throughout the country, including Virginia. Of the patients experiencing “never” events, approximately 7% die, one-third incur a permanent injury, and 59% a temporary injury. The report goes on to note that the actual incidence of “never” events is likely higher due to the fact that the study only examined medical malpractice claims that were filed, rather than those that were settled pre-lawsuit or not filed. The physicians most likely to experience “never” events were those who had been sued in the past, as well as younger, less experienced doctors. Physicians and hospitals are using this research to identify scenarios where a “never” event is likely to occur and implementing higher standards and checklists, similar to other high risk industries, to reduce the number of occurrences of these events.

The law firm of Pierce & Thornton specializes in medical malpractice litigation throughout Virginia, including in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, Suffolk, and the Eastern Shore. The firm associates on cases throughout the United States. The attorneys at Pierce & Thornton have nearly 50 years of experience in litigating all types of medical malpractice cases. They have obtained some of the largest jury verdicts and mediation settlements in Virginia over the past several years. We encourage you to contact our firm if you question the medical care rendered to you, a family member, or friend. If we can help you, we will. Your consultation is free.

Two personal injury claims, both of which involved automobile accidents, were recently settled by the attorneys of Pierce & Thornton. The first accident involved our client being struck from behind while traveling north on Independence Blvd. in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The impact from the accident was severe enough to cause the driver’s airbags to deploy, and resulted in serious personal injuries, including a broken nose, and neck and back injuries. The second car accident also occurred in Virginia Beach and also involved a rear-end collision. As a result of this accident, our client was forced to undergo extensive physical therapy for over a year to be relieved of the pain associated with the injuries from this automobile collision. As part of each settlement, the amount paid by the defendants’ insurance companies is to remain confidential.

The attorneys at the law firm of Pierce & Thornton understand that tragic accidents are an unfortunate part of life. If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious auto, truck or motorcycle accident we can help. Pierce & Thornton has experience and expertise in representing families of those seriously injured or killed by the negligence of other drivers. The lawyers at Pierce & Thornton have obtained some of the largest jury verdicts and mediation settlements in Virginia over the past several years. We can put together a team of qualified investigators and gather the information and data necessary to reconstruct the accident and determine who was at fault. We will consult with all of your health care providers so that we have a complete understanding of the nature and extent of your injuries and how the accident has impacted your life. Call today for an immediate free consultation with one of our auto, truck or motorcycle accident attorneys. The attorneys at Pierce & Thornton handle cases throughout Virginia, including in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, Suffolk, and the Eastern Shore. They also associate with other attorneys on significant injury cases throughout the United States.

The Virginian-Pilot recently reported that a bicyclist died in the Hampton Roads area after being hit by a van while riding down Northampton Blvd. near the border between Virginia Beach and Norfolk. According to the Norfolk Police, the bicyclist was struck at approximately 12:25 p.m., and was unfortunately pronounced dead at the scene. In a similar story, the Richmond Times-Dispatch also reported on a bicyclist being fatally struck in Richmond by an SUV. Initially, the driver of the SUV fled the scene, but later came forward and admitted being the driver who hit the bicyclist. According to the driver, he unintentionally collided with the bicyclist while driving down a stretch of road that did not have a bicycle lane, was narrow and lined with heavy vegetation.

While the articles did not report the exact causes of the accidents or determine who was at fault, many bicycle accidents, injuries and fatalities are caused by the inattention of the drivers of cars, buses and trucks. Often times, even if the investigating officer cannot determine who caused the accident, a more thorough investigation conducted by a specialist trained in accident reconstruction can properly assign fault and allow the proper party to be compensated for his or her injuries.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious bicycle, motorcycle, auto or truck accident we can help. Pierce & Thornton has experience and expertise in representing families of those seriously injured or killed by the negligence of other drivers. We can put together a team of qualified investigators and gather the information and data necessary to reconstruct the accident and determine who was at fault. We will consult with all of your health care providers so that we have a complete understanding of the nature and extent of your injuries and how the accident has impacted your life. Call today for an immediate free consultation with one of our bicycle, motorcycle, auto or truck accident attorneys. The attorneys at Pierce & Thornton handle cases throughout Virginia, including in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, Suffolk, and the Eastern Shore. They also associate with other attorneys on significant injury cases throughout the United States.

The Virginian-Pilot recently reported that a 19-year-old man died in the Hampton Roads area when his motorcycle collided with a car on Interstate 64. According to the Virginia State Police, the man riding the motorcycle came into contact with a Jeep Cherokee and lost control, ran off the road, hit a guardrail and flew off the motorcycle. Unfortunately, the motorcyclist died at the scene.

While the article did not report the exact cause of the accident or determine who was at fault, many motorcycle accidents, injuries and fatalities are caused by the inattention of the drivers of cars, buses and trucks. Often times, even if the investigating officer cannot determine who caused the accident, a more thorough investigation conducted by a specialist trained in accident reconstruction can properly assign fault and allow the proper party to be compensated for his or her injuries.

The attorneys at the law firm of Pierce & Thornton understand that tragic accidents are an unfortunate part of life. If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious motorcycle, auto or truck accident we can help. Pierce & Thornton has experience and expertise in representing families of those seriously injured or killed by the negligence of other drivers. We can put together a team of qualified investigators and gather the information and data necessary to reconstruct the accident and determine who was at fault. We will consult with all of your health care providers so that we have a complete understanding of the nature and extent of your injuries and how the accident has impacted your life. Call today for an immediate free consultation with one of our motorcycle, auto or truck accident attorneys. The attorneys at Pierce & Thornton handle cases throughout Virginia, including in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, Suffolk, and the Eastern Shore. They also associate with other attorneys on significant injury cases throughout the United States.

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal reported that medical mistakes kill enough people each week to fill four jumbo jets. The story reported that: (1) U.S. surgeons operate on the wrong body part as often as 40 times a week; (2) about a quarter of all hospitalized patients will be harmed by medical errors; (3) if medical mistakes were classified as a disease, they would be the sixth leading cause of death in America; (4) medical mistakes cost tens of billions of dollars per year; and (5) medical errors often result in expensive and unnecessary medications, tests, and procedures. The article contended that a major cause of these problems is that doctors are far too willing to overlook the mistakes and errors of other doctors. The article went on to state that best way to help fight against this dangerous situation is for patients to demand more accountability of doctors and hospitals and for patients themselves to be better informed. Some practical steps suggested were for hospitals to publicly report their rates of infection, readmission, surgical complications, and medical errors so that patients can be better informed about which hospitals are safest. Other suggestions included encouraging nurses and other staff members to speak up when they notice a potential problem; using cameras in the operating room to better assess whether procedures are being done correctly; and having a more open dialogue about medical mistakes.

It is interesting to note that the number of autopsies being performed to determine the true cause of a patient’s death have declined drastically in the last ten years, thus making it more difficult to prove that a healthcare provider’s mistake caused the death. If you question the true cause of someone’s death, you should insist upon the performance of a complete autopsy. If the hospital or physician refuses, you have the right to have one performed at your own expense. The “cause of death” listed on a death certificate seldom even begins to shed light upon the true course of events that led to the death. You have a right to know the truth.

The law firm of Pierce & Thornton specializes in medical malpractice litigation throughout North Carolina and Virginia, including in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, Suffolk, and the Eastern Shore. The attorneys at Pierce & Thornton have nearly 50 years of combined experience in litigating all types of medical malpractice cases. They have obtained some of the largest jury verdicts and mediation settlements in Virginia over the past several years. We encourage you to contact our firm if you question the medical care rendered to you, a family member, or friend. If we can help you, we will. Your consultation is free.

Virginia residents should be aware that a recent study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services covering the 15 percent of the U.S. population enrolled in Medicare found that each month one out of seven Medicare hospital patients is injured-and an estimated 15,000 are killed-by harmful medical practice. Moreover, treating the consequences of these medical errors cost Medicare approximately $324 million a month, which amounts to 3.5 percent of all Medicare expenditures for inpatient care. Another recent study looked at the incidence of avoidable medical errors across the entire U.S. population and concluded that they affected 1.5 million people and cost the economy $19.5 billion in 2008. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that almost 100,000 Americans now die from hospital-acquired infections alone, most of which are preventable.

These recent studies are in addition to the landmark study conducted over twelve years ago by the Institute of Medicine showing that medical errors in U.S. hospitals kill up to 98,000 Americans a year. In 2000, another estimate in the Journal of the American Medical Association put the total annual death toll at 250,000. It included fatalities resulting from unnecessary surgery, hospital-acquired infections, and other instances of harmful medical practice.

The law firm of Pierce & Thornton specializes in medical malpractice litigation throughout North Carolina and Virginia, including in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, Suffolk, and the Eastern Shore. The attorneys at Pierce & Thornton have nearly 50 years of combined experience in litigating all types of medical malpractice cases. They have obtained some of the largest jury verdicts and mediation settlements in Virginia over the past several years. We encourage you to contact our firm if you question the medical care rendered to you, a family member, or friend. If we can help you, we will. Your consultation is free.

A jury in Charlottesville, Virginia recently awarded more than $10.5 million to the family of a woman who died after a concrete mixer truck fell on her car in 2007. The victims were a married couple from southwest Virginia who were travelling on State Route 53 when their car was crushed by a truck owned and operated by Allied Concrete Company. The wife, who was 25 years old at the time, died eight days after the accident. Her husband survived. The driver of the truck later pleaded guilty to manslaughter and served 30 days in jail.

The attorneys at the law firm of Pierce & Thornton understand that tragic accidents are an unfortunate part of life. If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious truck, auto or motorcycle accident we can help. Pierce & Thornton has experience and expertise in representing families of those seriously injured or killed by the negligence of other drivers. The lawyers at Pierce & Thornton have obtained some of the largest jury verdicts and mediation settlements in Virginia over the past several years. We can put together a team of qualified investigators and gather the information and data necessary to reconstruct the accident and determine who was at fault. We will consult with all of your health care providers so that we have a complete understanding of the nature and extent of your injuries and how the accident has impacted your life. Call today for an immediate free consultation with one of our truck, auto or motorcycle accident attorneys. The attorneys at Pierce & Thornton handle cases throughout Virginia and North Carolina, including in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, Suffolk, and the Eastern Shore. They also associate with other attorneys on significant injury cases throughout the United States.

According to a news reports, the federal government will pay $2.3 million to settle a medical malpractice lawsuit involving a Virginia child born with neurological damage at Portsmouth Naval Medical Center. The parents of the child alleged that inadequate care at the hospital caused their child to be born with developmental disabilities. Specifically, the lawsuit alleged that when the mother was admitted to Portsmouth Naval Hospital with severe cramping in her lower abdomen at 35 weeks pregnant, she was moved to a triage room and connected to a fetal heart monitor that showed abnormalities indicating the fetus was under stress. Instead of notifying a doctor, the staff left her for more than an hour without any intervention. Approximately 2-1/2 hours after she was admitted, doctors performed an emergency cesarean section that showed the placenta had detached from the uterine wall, causing a loss of oxygen to the fetus that led to neurological injuries that are extensive, severe. Unfortunately, the damage to the infant’s brain is permanent.

The law firm of Pierce & Thornton specializes in medical malpractice litigation throughout North Carolina and Virginia, including in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, Suffolk, and the Eastern Shore. The attorneys at Pierce & Thornton have nearly 50 years of combined experience in litigating all types of medical malpractice cases, including those against physicians and nurses employed by the federal government. They have obtained some of the largest jury verdicts and mediation settlements in Virginia over the past several years. We encourage you to contact our firm if you question the medical care rendered to you, a family member, or friend. If we can help you, we will. Your consultation is free.