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Medical Negligence

female patient with doctorPersonal injury lawyers representing victims of medical negligence throughout northern New Jersey, including, Hudson, Passaic, Morris, Essex, Middlesex and Bergen County.

Between 210,000 and 440,000 hospital patients suffer from preventable harm, according to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Patient Safety. This estimate would make medical errors the third leading cause of death in America, behind heart disease and cancer. Not all of these cases were caused by the doctors themselves, but the attorneys at Eisbrouch Marsh have successfully prosecuted a number of medical practitioners in New Jersey and New York who were found liable for negligence.

The increasing fragmentation of the health care system, the grueling schedules and time constraints placed on doctors, and the overuse of high-tech tests rather than hands-on physical exams, and lack of communication among experts have created a perfect storm for malpractice to occur.

A closer examination of your case by experienced New Jersey medical malpractice lawyers is free of charge. The statute of limitations in these states is 2.5 years for negligent acts or omissions and 3 years for wrongful death charges, so it is best to seek counsel right away if you suspect that you or a loved one may have been harmed by an errant doctor.

Factors in cases of doctor negligence

Eisbrouch Marsh lawyers have seen all sorts of malpractice cases traced back to issues with medical practitioners themselves, as well as the institutions where they work. Doctors aren’t often willfully negligent or intending to cause harm. Nevertheless, many of their mistakes can be prevented.

Reasons behind doctor negligence may include some of the following:

  • Lack of sleep – A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal reported that lack of sleep results in higher rates of surgical complications when surgeons have less than six hours of sleep before reporting to work. A 2008 survey of 581 doctors issued by the American College of Chest Physicians Sleep Institute found the average amount of sleep to be 6.5 hours, with nearly half of all physicians stating that their schedules did not allow for adequate sleep. Similarly, in the United States, a 2004 study of interns at Brigham and Women’s Hospital working 30-hour shifts found they made 36 percent more serious medical errors. These egregious mistakes included: ordering drug overdoses, missing a Lyme disease diagnosis, trying to drain fluid from the wrong lung, and administering drugs that were known to provoke allergic responses. A paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association compared young doctors’ typical 90-hour work weeks to the equivalent of functioning with a 0.04 Blood Alcohol Content. Reaction time was 7 percent slower and 40 percent more errors were committed after one month of heavy work load, compared to working a 44-hour week.
  • Defensive medicine, over-treating & overmedicating – The NY Times reports that the number of patients being prescribed at least five drugs has nearly tripled since 1996. Similarly, the number of MRI scans has quadrupled. In a recent survey, orthopedic surgeons said 24 percent of the tests they ordered were “medically unnecessary.” At first glance, this may seem like good medicine – better to be safe than sorry, right? Yet, as the editorialist points out, so-called “defensive medicine” is designed more to protect doctors and hospitals than patients, and often the more tests ordered and the more specialists called in, the greater potential for false positives, needless operations, over-medicating, and adverse outcomes.
  • Missed or wrong diagnosis – According to a 2013 Washington Post article, misdiagnosis “happens all the time.” Recent studies suggest that incorrect or delayed diagnosis affects 10 to 20 percent of cases, far exceeding the more sensational drug error and surgical mistake stories that have captured headlines.The newspaper points to a federally-funded 2009 report that found 28 percent of 583 diagnostic mistakes reported anonymously by doctors had resulted in life-threatening injuries, permanent disability, or premature death. A meta-analysis published in the journal BMJ Quality & Safety found that 40,500 breast cancer deaths were traced back to diagnostic errors in U.S. intensive care units. Yet another study of 190 Texas VA hospital errors concluded that many errors involved common diseases like pneumonia and urinary tract infections – with a whopping 87 percent having the potential for “considerable to severe harm.” In 1991, a Harvard Medical Practice Study stated that misdiagnosis led to 14 percent of adverse events in hospitals; of these events, 75 percent involved doctor negligence, such as failure to follow up on test results. Researchers have confided that, often times, there appears to be a lack of differential diagnoses, which causes medical teams fixate on the original singular diagnosis – which can prove fatal if a mistake was made early on.
  • Time constraints – A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that eight in 10 misdiagnoses were caused by errors during the physical exam or medical history-taking. “This is where the doctor-patient dialogue is so important, and that dialogue is getting shorter and shorter over time,” said Hardeep Singh, MD, MPH, lead author of the study. Decreased payouts have doctors spending an average of eight to 10 minutes per patient, which simply isn’t enough time to deal with complex medical conditions. Doctors find they are spending more time on administrative tasks and computer work than time with the patients themselves.
  • Pressure to succeed – Medical school is long and expensive, so it stands to reason that new doctors feel pressure to succeed in their careers. To err is human, but it is difficult for medical trainees to discuss medical errors for fear of damaging their reputations. More than three-quarters of fourth-year medical students report being personally involved in a medical error, but only one-third had any training on how to disclose the error, according to a 2008 report published in the journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges. A 2011 study published in the journal Medical Education found that less than half of doctor trainees (43%) would “definitely disclose an error.” Most admitted they would only do so if pressured by the patient. The prevailing culture suggests that young, inexperienced doctors refrain from talking about “near misses” that deviate from the accepted standards of care – largely because they are not taught how to deal with such complexities.
  • Drug abuse – Physicians are as likely as the general public to abuse illegal drugs, but they are five times more likely to misuse prescription drugs, according to research published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine in October 2014. Of the 55 doctors monitored by addiction programs, 69 percent abused prescription drugs to relieve stress, physical pain, or emotional issues. Even so, efforts to drug test doctors have failed thus so far. Not a single U.S. state has passed a bill mandating that doctors be tested for drugs. A bill (Prop 46) was just struck down in California over fears that it would “unfairly punish doctors.”
  • Anesthesia mistakes – The Indian Journal of Anaesthesia reported that medical errors kill 44,000 to 99,000 and injure at least 1.5 million patients in America each year. Their meta-analysis found that human errors were a factor in 65-87 percent of deaths during anesthesia. Errors were related to inadequate experience (16%), unfamiliarity with the equipment being used (9.3%), and haste, inattention, or carelessness (5.6%).

Do you have valid claim concerning medical negligence? 

When doctor negligence is a factor, patients may be entitled to compensation for medical bills and related expenses, medical equipment, home care expenses, assistive technology, disability-related home modifications, funeral expenses, emotional pain and suffering.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 10,739 of the 85,000 medical malpractice lawsuits filed in 2009 resulted in a payout. On average, plaintiffs received $400,000 for their injuries, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice.

In order to win your New York or New Jersey medical malpractice lawsuit, attorneys from Eisbrouch Marsh must demonstrate that you or a loved one suffered serious harm, that the physician’s actions fell below the “standard of care,” and that the deviation from the standard of care directly caused the patient’s suffering.

However, as CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin points out, “Malpractice is not about bad results; it’s about bad conduct by medical professionals. Not everyone recovers or gets as well as they like it to be, but that alone is not justification for a lawsuit.”

Compelling cases often involve the following circumstances:

  • Expensive, ongoing care as a result of injuries
  • The death of a loved one during or immediately following care
  • Loss of limb
  • Debilitating stroke
  • Permanent damage from a “low-risk procedure”
  • Being told to “wait,” despite numerous demands for care and attention
  • Failure to communicate or acknowledge concerns raised by the patient

During the discovery process, our team of legal experts will reach out to physicians, nurses, and hospital staff who may be willing to testify that something went horribly wrong in your case. The network of seasoned professionals at Eisbrouch Marsh will help formulate what the appropriate “standard of care” would have been in your case and identify where deviations may have been made.

New Jersey medical malpractice lawyers

There are many legal teams covering doctor negligence in Hackensack, Paramus, Bergen County, Northern New Jersey, and NYC, but few have the grit and experience in fighting the tough cases. Eisbrouch Marsh has pursued patient rights in the courts for more than 25 years. We have the legal acumen and trusted network of professional contacts necessary to build a compelling case on your behalf.

In addition to our expertise, we also believe in keeping open lines of communication with our clients and provide a compassionate ear for all the suffering and hardship you have endured. Please call 201-781-1937 to arrange a free legal consultation to bring these matters to justice.

  1. Journal of Patient Safety - A New, Evidence-based Estimate of Patient Harms Associated with Hospital Care http://journals.lww.com/journalpatientsafety/Fulltext/2013/09000/A_New,_Evidence_based_Estimate_of_Patient_Harms.2.aspx
  2. Pro Publica - How Many Die From Medical Mistakes in U.S. Hospitals? http://www.propublica.org/article/how-many-die-from-medical-mistakes-in-us-hospitals
  3. Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings -Communication gaffes: a root cause of malpractice claims  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1201002/
  4. New England Journal of Medicine - Effect of Reducing Interns' Weekly Work Hours on Sleep and Attentional Failures http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa041404