Legal Issues in Medicine Archive

Study Identifies Human Factors in Surgical Errors

Study Identifies Human Factors in Surgical Errors

Individual cognitive factors accounted for half of all contributing human factor nano-codes.

Disclosure Restrictions Frequent in Medical Malpractice Settlements

Disclosure Restrictions Frequent in Medical Malpractice Settlements

Academic health system uses nondisclosure clauses in most malpractice settlement agreements.

Legal Implications of Using PAs and NPs

Legal Implications of Using PAs and NPs

Understanding legal issues allows effective use of physician extenders, who can be beneficial in health care.

How to Protect Yourself from Patient Abandonment Accusations

How to Protect Yourself from Patient Abandonment Accusations

Article provides suggestions to protect physician from liability, accusations of patient abandonment

Clinical Negligence Leads to Amputation and Lawsuit

Clinical Negligence Leads to Amputation and Lawsuit

Clinicians missed several opportunities to advocate for their patient, leading to the loss of a leg.

How to Reduce Liability Risk in Telemedicine

How to Reduce Liability Risk in Telemedicine

Tips include defining minimum requirement necessary for establishing doctor-patient relationship.

Fear of Libel Lawsuits Influences Journal Publishing

Fear of Libel Lawsuits Influences Journal Publishing

Fear of corporate defamation lawsuits should not prevent examination of corporate products, researchers argue.

Slapdash Diagnosis Ends in Blindness

A harried family practitioner mistook a bacterial infection for a viral infection.

Doctor Fails to Look at Test Results, Misses Crucial Diagnosis

He had ordered two computed tomography scans for a man in his early 70's, but simply filed away the scan results without looking at them.

Patient's Death Blamed Partly on Bad Handwriting

Patient's Death Blamed Partly on Bad Handwriting

A nurse and pharmacist misread a nephrologist's handwritten prescription for a dialysis patient.

Patient Sues After Suffering Known Risk of Stone Procedure

Patient Sues After Suffering Known Risk of Stone Procedure

A urologist had explained to the patient that a split ureter is a potential risk of ureteroscopy.

Fax Sent to Wrong Number Results in HIPAA Violation

Fax Sent to Wrong Number Results in HIPAA Violation

Confidential health information was sent to a patient's employer by a physician, resulting in a HIPAA violation.

Forgotten Chart Note Leads to Lawsuit

Forgotten Chart Note Leads to Lawsuit

A doctor forgot about his own note in a patient's chart that the patient should be screened for liver cancer.

Nephrologist Serves as Expert Witness against Urologist

Nephrologist Serves as Expert Witness against Urologist

Over the past several years, Dr. N occasionally had been asked to serve as an expert in medical malpractice cases.

Lawsuit Follows a Post-Lithotripsy Ruptured Spleen

A urologist and others present during the procedure testified that everything was done properly and nothing untoward occurred.

Urologist Ignores Note in Pathology Report—and Regrets It

Urologist Ignores Note in Pathology Report—and Regrets It

A pathologist was unable to determine if a bladder tumor was muscle invasive because biopsy samples did not include muscle tissue.

Doctor Sued for Following a 'Do Not Resuscitate' Order

Doctor Sued for Following a 'Do Not Resuscitate' Order

The son of a decreased man testified that he was the healthcare proxy for the patient, and that his father had a living will stating he wanted resuscitation measures in case he needed them.

Physician Held Culpable After Agreeing to Unorthodox Arrangement

Physician Held Culpable After Agreeing to Unorthodox Arrangement

Dr. B should have documented that the patient was offered—and had declined— many standard primary care services.

When Does a Doctor's Obligation to a Patient End?

When Does a Doctor's Obligation to a Patient End?

A urologist did not communicate a patient's abnormal PSA test result because the patient switched to another urologist.

No Exception to HIPAA Privacy Rules, Nurse Learns

No Exception to HIPAA Privacy Rules, Nurse Learns

A nurse in the cardiology department of a large hospital saw nothing wrong with accessing the medical records of family members.

Urologist Settles Penile Amputation Case, Anesthesiologist Goes to Trial

Urologist Settles Penile Amputation Case, Anesthesiologist Goes to Trial

The patient never should have been cleared for penile implant surgery, attorney argues.

Urologist, Radiologist Blame Each Other for Patient's Untimely Death

Urologist, Radiologist Blame Each Other for Patient's Untimely Death

Who is to blame when a patient suffers a fatal adverse reaction to a diagnostic test—the urologist who ordered it or the radiologist who carried it out?

Man Sues Urologist Claiming Impotence After Penile Enlargement Surgery

Dr. E was very pleased with his business. He called it "business" rather than "practice" because that's how the 52-year-old urologist viewed it.

After Radical Prostatectomy, Patient Learns He Never Had Prostate Cancer

After Radical Prostatectomy, Patient Learns He Never Had Prostate Cancer

Dr. B, 57, was a urologist with a busy private practice. One of his patients was Mr. O, 69, who had an abnormal PSA result.

Urologist Fails to Divulge Essential Information to a Patient

Is honesty always the best policy? That is the question that a urologist had to grapple with in this case.

Properly Performed Prostatectomy Results in Rectal Damage

Dr. L, 52, walked out of the operating room after performing a radical prostatectomy on a 73-year old patient, Mr. E. All had gone well. He fully expected the patient to make a swift recovery. Unfortunately, that did not happen.

Physician Sued For Failing to Follow Up

After a negative prostate biopsy, the doctor did not regularly conduct follow-up PSA testing. The patient eventually died from prostate cancer.

Urologist Facing Charges After Reusable Needle Guards Sales Pitch

Urologist Facing Charges After Reusable Needle Guards Sales Pitch

Dr. M, 59, was an experienced urologist with a busy private practice. He had been in the field for close to 30 years and was well known and respected in the community. His office was staffed by several nurses, some of whom had been working there for decades.

Patient Sues Physician for Not Removing Blood Pressure Cuff

Patient Sues Physician for Not Removing Blood Pressure Cuff

Dr. K, 45, was an ophthalmologist with a private practice. One of Dr. K's patients, Mrs. M, 72, was having a small mass on her eyelid removed and Dr. K was using an outpatient surgical facility and one of its nurses.

Lost Note Exposes a Urologist to Litigation

Dr. Z's office was crowded, but this was nothing new. The 61-year old urologist had built a thriving practice, primarily from referrals from his network of general practitioners. It didn't hurt that he was active in the local country club and regularly played golf with other physicians.

Invading a Patient's Privacy Costs a Physician

Invading a Patient's Privacy Costs a Physician

Dr. D, 29, was the chief resident finishing up his final year of a surgical residency in a prestigious hospital. Life was golden for the young doctor. He had been a bright and talented student in medical school, and stood out during his residency.

Questionable Case of Negligence, Insurer Settles Against Defendant's Wishes

Physicians may want to take a look at their liability policy to see if their contract has a "consent to settle" clause.

Rolling the Dice: Failure to Order a Colonoscopy Results in a Suit

Rolling the Dice: Failure to Order a Colonoscopy Results in a Suit

Dr. Q, 74, was a small-town family practitioner who had worked in the same town for close to half a century. Living and working in a small town meant that the physician often treated families of patients, even several generations of patients. Such was the case with Mrs. G, 65.

Delayed Kidney Cancer Diagnosis Lands a Urologist in Court

What happens if you are sued by a patient whose testimony in court is completely different from the actual events? This happened to Dr. F, 52, a urologist with a small practice consisting of three physicians.

Patient's Widow Sues Urologist for Failure to Diagnose Bladder Tumor

Dr. P, 52, was not an alarmist. In fact, he was known to be a urologist with a particularly calm and relaxing manner who did not order unnecessary tests or procedures. His patients were generally happy with this. Some of them even sought him out because of his calm demeanor and his attitude of watchful waiting rather than burdening his patients with dire possibilities and numerous tests.

Doc Sued After Failing to Recommend a Pneumococcal Vaccination

Dr. W, 54, was a general practitioner with his own office. One patient who he was particularly impressed with was Mrs. S, 35. The patient had moved to the community five years ago, hoping that a smaller town would be a better place for her autistic child.

Urologist Pays Heavy Price After Discounting Complaints from Annoying Patient

Urologist Pays Heavy Price After Discounting Complaints from Annoying Patient

Dr. L, 68, was busy. His urology practice was booming and he felt compelled to shuffle patients in and out quickly. As a sole practitioner for close to 30 years, he had specific ideas of how he wanted his office to run.

Nephrologist Sues for An Alleged Antitrust Violation

Dr. V, 52, was a nephrologist with a thriving practice in Middletown, a mid-sized community in the Southwest. For years, patients had been traveling to his office for dialysis and other outpatient nephrology services.

Urologist Defends Himself in Malpractice Case from Post-Circumcision Impotence Patient

At 60 years old and with almost 30 years of private practice under his belt, Dr. G understood what sort of physician he was. Better put, he understood what sort of physician he was not. He was not the sort who wanted to coddle patients, or become friends with them, or look at their family pictures.

Jury Ponders Whether Earlier PSA Would Have Made Difference

Jury Ponders Whether Earlier PSA Would Have Made Difference

Most of Dr. W's cases were referrals from other physicians, often from physicians with whom he was friends.

Urologist Sued After Failing to Order a CT Scan

Dr. K, 64, had a busy urological practice that he shared with a younger partner. The practice was thriving, but after 30 years, Dr. K was looking forward to retirement.

Failure to Perform Follow-Up Urinalyses Lands a Clinician in Court

Failure to Perform Follow-Up Urinalyses Lands a Clinician in Court

Dr. R, 52, was a rheumatologist with his own solo practice. Many of his patients came from referrals.

Doctor Accused of Providing Substandard Care for Persistent Diarrhea Patient

Dr. M, 52, was a general practitioner whose office served a variety of patients. Saturdays were especially busy because patients often waited to come in on the weekend. On this particular Saturday, the waiting room was jammed, but one face jumped out at the physician.

PCa Patient Dies After Lack of Follow-Up

A doctor referred a man with an elevated PSA level to a urologist, but did not follow-up and ask him if he went. It turns out that the patient had prostate cancer and died from metastatic disease.

Physician Liability with Patient Advice Refusal

Dr. N, a 58-year-old cardiologist, had dealt with many challenging patients in the past, but Mrs. Y was particularly abrasive. They met when she came into the medical center where Dr. N practiced for a diagnostic cardiac catheterization following an episode of angina.

Vasectomy Patient Fathers A Child, Sues His Urologist

Mr. W, 38, was referred to Dr. R, a practicing urologist of nearly 30 years. The patient, who had learning disabilities, had three young children with various birth defects. Mr. W had been advised to get a vasectomy due to the high risk that any other child he fathered would also have birth defects.

Patient Blames Physician for Foot Amputation

Dr K, 58, was a sole practitioner in an area with a high prevalence of diabetes. His practice was heavy on patient education and stressed the value of empowering patients by helping them understand their conditions.

Inadequate Post-Surgery Care Leads to a Lawsuit

Dr. W was in the middle of a well-deserved dinner with his wife and two teenage children when he was interrupted by a call from his service.

A Patient Dies Because of Doctors' Assumptions

A 41-year-old patient, Mr. E, visited Dr. L, a family physician, for an influenza shot. While in the office, he asked the doctor for a referral to a dermatologist. "My wife wants me to get my skin checked," Mr. E. said. "I've got a couple of spots on my back." The doctor issued the referral.

Young Mother Dies After Missing Dialysis Treatment

Dr. H, 52, had been a nephrologist for more than 20 years. He shared a practice with several other physicians and had a steady flow of patients, many of whom came regularly for dialysis treatments.

Doctor Is Found Liable After Independent Exam

Mr. F, a divorced, 53-year-old construction worker, hurt his back while lifting heavy building materials on the job. After the injury, Mr. F went to his primary-care physician (PCP), who diagnosed a cervical and lumbar strain but did not order an MRI.

Patient Not Told of Ominous Finding

Mr. G, a 60-year-old nonsmoker, went to the hospital to have stones removed from his bladder. It was a simple enough procedure. His urologist, Dr. D, had ordered all the pre-op tests, including the chest x-ray mandated by the state for every patient over 50 who would be undergoing anesthesia.

PA's Friendly Warnings Land Him in Court

Mr. Z, 48, had been a physician assistant in the same large clinic for more than 10 years. One reason he stayed was the opportunity to learn new technology.

Doctor Learns that Rare Doesn't Mean Never

It was a case that would haunt Dr. E for the rest of his life and have devastating consequences for a young mother and her family.

Patient Loses Her Limbs to Kidney Stone Complications

A young mother sues two ED physicians, a surgeon, a nurse and the hospital—everyone but the attending urologist.

Urologist's Cursory Exam Misses Fournier's Gangrene

Dr. V, 42, opened his own urology practice after several years of working in a large clinic. Now, a year after setting up his own shop, he was finding there were some downsides to being a solo practitioner.

How Buying a Lithotripter Landed Urologists in Court

Dr. R was a 42-year-old urologist in a successful partnership with two colleagues in a small Midwestern city. When the opportunity came to incorporate lithotripsy technology into their practice, the three physicians eagerly snatched it up.

Unexpected Penectomy Lands Urologist in Court

Physicians and hospitals typically require patients to sign a boilerplate consent form before surgery. These forms usually specify that in the event of an emergency or unforeseen medical issue, the physician has the patient's consent to do whatever is medically necessary under the circumstances.

Doctor's Hang Up Blamed for Fatal Pulmonary Embolism

No one likes being put on hold, but, as one physician found out, there is no substitute for direct communication when a patient's life is in jeopardy.

"By the Way, Doc" May Really Mean "Doctor, Beware"

Dr. W, 45, had been in family practice for 12 years. While he was most comfortable treating adults with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, CAD, and hyperlipidemia, his patients came with the usual variety of complaints.

Staff Nurse Faces Jail Time for HIPAA Violations

Staff Nurse Faces Jail Time for HIPAA Violations

A routine file maintenance ended in arrest and jail time for a licensed nurse who shared a patient's medical information with her spouse.

Urologist Negligent For Not Referring to a Nephrologist

As a urologist with nearly 30 years' experience, Dr. T, 58, was accustomed to having patients referred to him by other doctors. But he never expected to be sued for not making a referral himself.

Prostate Cancer Patient Sues Over Late Diagnosis

For more than 30 years, most of the patients in Dr. R's thriving primary care practice had been of retirement age. Now that he was 62, they were his contemporaries. Dr. R treated patients the way that he wanted to be treated— with respect and without unnecessary tests.

Elderly Driver Kills Child, Mother Blames Doctor

Dr. L, 63, was a general practitioner in the suburbs of a northeastern city. He had a reputation among colleagues and patients for being compassionate and caring, and his bustling practice was a result of the positive word-of-mouth spread by his patients.

Urologist Sued by Patient Mum about His Diabetes

Dr. U, 41, was a sole urologist in a small community in the Midwest. He'd been in private practice for only two years, but he felt quite positive about his professional prospects and his future—until he was sued.

Hospital Ends Privileges for Ambitious Young Doctor

Dr. N was a board-certified general and abdominal surgeon who had bounced around for five years after graduating from his residency program. At last, he settled down and decided to build a practice in a Northeastern community near his alma mater.

A Urologist Is Tripped Up By Saying Too Much

When the emergency department nurses had difficulty passing a urethral catheter, Dr. S was the urologist on call. One such case led to a malpractice suit.

A Fumble Results in a Late Prostate Cancer Diagnosis

Dr. M, 56, was an old hand at the twists and turns of prostatic cancer. He'd been taught well by a urology professor who drawled, "It's just like huntin' swamp foxes. You never know what direction they're gonna turn next." Still, the professor's wisdom failed to shield Dr. M from a malpractice suit.

Hard Times Lead to Layoffs at a Struggling HMO Clinic

Ms. J, 60, was a nurse administrator at a large HMO clinic for most of her career. Her duties were mostly recruiting, scheduling, and resolving staff problems. When she was dismissed and replaced by a younger (and lower-paid) woman, she sued for age discrimination.

Aggressive Attorney Adds to a Urologist's Distress

At age 38, Dr. K was new to private practice. He had completed his residency three years earlier and formed a partnership with an established general urologist in the Northeast.

Consent for Treatment Based on Misinformation

Dr. W, 56, was an experienced urologist in a small suburban community in the South. His surgical skills and common-sense approach earned him the trust of his patients. Many of his cases involved renal stones, and one such case involved him in a malpractice suit.

Stellar Credentials Work Against Young Urologist

Dr. R, 32, graduated as the top resident in his urology program. He turned down an opportunity in academia to join an established group practice in his hometown. Ironically, his stellar academic credentials worked against him when he was sued for malpractice a year later.

Missed Renal Cell Mass Trips Up a Diligent Urologist

Dr. H, 54, is a urologist who works solo and is happy to do so. Earlier in his career he had practiced in a clinic setting, and he considered himself fortunate to have "escaped from the Stalag," as he put it to his colleagues. Dr. H felt his independence allowed him to pursue a higher standard of care. A wrenching malpractice case put that belief to the test.

A Urologist Misses a Case of Impending Renal Failure

Dr. F, age 64, was ready for retirement after a lifetime in urology, and couldn't wait to get his fly-fishing rod out of the closet.

Hidden Trap in a Urologist's Employment Contract

Dr. P, 32, was a new graduate from a respected urological residency program. He was considered well-trained, but not a star, in the field of general urology.

When A Cystoscopy Leads To a Heart Attack

Dr. Y, age 57, is an experienced general urologist who practices at a university hospital in the Northeast.

Gleason Score Is Focus of Malpractice Litigation

Dr. R, a 59-year-old urologist, felt he was nearing a well-deserved retirement, but then a malpractice case derailed his final plans.

Patient Is Noncompliant But Sues Urologist Anyway

Dr. E was a well-respected urologist whose pragmatic approach and wide experience gave him a reputation as the "go-to" man when things got tough. As a result, he often found himself used as a "superconsultant" on difficult cases, struggling with critical clinical situations that did not always have a positive outcome.

A Young Urologist's First Job Turns into a Nightmare

When Dr. R, age 33, finished his urologic residency and went in search of a location to settle down, he selected a community hospital in a rural area. He was attracted because the hospital already had two urologists on the staff, and he was assured by the hospital administrator that the ER call was on a rotating basis.

Patient Claims Surgery Left Him with a Deformed Penis

Dr. H, age 35, recently graduated from a well-recognized urology residency and considered himself a well-trained surgeon who could deal with almost anything. He joined a large group in a pleasant Midwestern city, becoming one of four urologists. But he hadn't been in practice long when he faced his first malpractice suit.

A Respected Urologist Misses Prostate Cancer

Dr. R is a successful urologist who had gathered a wide circle of referring physicians over his 15 years in urologic practice, and he prided himself on his diagnostic acumen. But a missed case of prostate cancer dragged him into a malpractice suit.

When a Doctor Must Testify Against His Will

Dr. U, age 48, an experienced urologist, does both endoscopic and open abdominal surgery. As his experience accumulated, his reputation for "fixing the hard cases" grew, and referrals flowed his way. One of them he wished he had never accepted.

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