Hudson v Texas Children's Hosp.
The hospital with consent of the Court overruled the wishes of the parents and disconnected the ventilator from an infant. The child was born in September with an incurable and fatal disease. The mother did not want the tube removed but held the baby when the tube was removed. Texas has a law that allows attending physicians with concurrence of ethics committees to discontinue life support when the patient's condition is hopeless.
Schiavo v the World
Finally, the case of Mrs. Schiavo is coming to closure. On Friday, March 18, the feeding tube was pulled. The Congress attempted a last minute maneuver by considering calling Mr. and Mrs. Schiavo for a hearing and subpoenaing them both. That did not work.
The Congress then met in special session and passed a law that only effects one patient, Mrs. Schiavo. The law would transfer the case to the federal courts so that more time for appeals could be had. In the end this case will lose since it is against the US Constitution and the Supreme Court decision on Cruzan.
All the Courts have sided with the patient's rights over government interference in personal choice. The courts have left the issue to the states, where it should lie.
Some of the states have strange proposed laws but they are their laws. Alabama is trying to prevent any removal of feeding tubes without express written consent from the patient. Michigan has a law in the hopper that would prohibit any adulterers from making decisions for incapacitated patients. Kansas is considering a law that would take the state back a step and require court approval prior to ending life support. Louisiana is considering a bill that would state any feeding tube would remain in place until all litigation about it ahs been resolved. Probably none of these will become law. At least, I hope not.
Following all the hullabaloo, Terri Schiavo passed away 13 days post tube removal. There will be an autopsy to determine the amount of brain damage.
v St. Luke's Hosp
The wife of an incapacitated man requested a TRO twice from the lower court and was refused twice. The TRO was for continued time for life support and money. The Court of Appeal stated that since the appropriate next step would have been a trial of the issues, if any, and not an appeal on a non concluded matter. Top
Doe and her husband, a military person, were going to have their first baby. She found out the baby was anencephalic and was given her alternatives. They chose and had an abortion but the military would not pay for it. They sued and won. The military is now attempting to retrieve the money stating that the condition is not one of potential injury to the woman nor incest or rape. The case will be heard next month in the 9th Circuit for the $3000 bill. The case will be argued on constitutional equal rights issues, stating that abortion should be paid for if the fetus not just the mother is in danger of dying. The District Court issued a strong opinion ordering the feds to pay. The government is attempting to play the emotion card where they state there are many people opposed to the procedure. The plaintiff responds that the government is for capital punishment and many people are against that. There is an identical case on the East Coast that is awaiting the outcome of this case. Top
v Brea community Hosp.
Brea Community Hospital in Orange County California has died. The judge transferred control to a trustee after the hospital was unable to meet it's payroll. The hospital is in negotiations with a system to buy them. The hospital had been in technical bankruptcy for the past several months. After the control was past the hospital got an emergency infusion of cash from one of two potential buyers of the institution. This will allow it to remain open for two more weeks. Top
v VA San Diego
Patients treated on March 1 at the facility have been sent letters that the hospital screwed up. The hospital stated that the surgical instruments used that day were not properly sterilized. They have asked the patients to return for checks on infections and hepatitis.
v Univ. of Calif
Simpson won a $8 million judgment which may over time translate to $22 million. She had elective surgery to remove a benign uterine growth. Post operatively she was found unresponsive due to respiratory arrest after receiving extra intravenous fluid. Simpson is confined to a nursing home since she can not walk and needs a gastostomy to be fed. She is mentally intact. The money will go into an annuity. This is an unusual case for the attorney, Bruce Fagel. He usually does bad baby cases almost exclusively with huge verdicts.
v Virginia Mason
So much for the thought of if you apologize you will not be sued. After a mishap that cost Mrs. McClinton her life, the hospital took responsibility and apologized. They are now being sued for the malpractice. The son of the victim stated "Virginia Mason's statement was public relations spin pure and simple. Apology is not substitute for atonement when our mother's death should never have happened." Top
v Cal. Med Board
Szold, a physician in California was accused in 1999 of improper acts with a patient. Szold was placed on three years probation which ended in 2003. At the time the probation ended, the Board placed on its web site that Dr. Szold's probation had ended and also the number of the original case. Szold sued to have the information removed. He lost in trial and in the court of appeals. The court stated that all actions taken by the Board against a physician's license are posted.
v Board of Nurses
Kelly was convicted of 47 counts of fraud and the ALJ that heard the case stated that this was related to the practice of nursing. The Board took away the nursing license and refused an application for a nurse practitioner license. The court reversed the Board stating the felonies were not related to the practice of nursing. The appeals court agreed but refused to interfere with the Board decision not to give a nurse practitioner application since that was purely a Board decision.
Board v Morhaim
How embarrassing!! Dr. Morhaim is a nursing home director and a Democratic member of the Maryland House of Delegates. He was caught in a routine nursing home inspection of pre-signing blanks that he had seen and examined nursing home residents. This is a violation of the code of professional conduct. Top
v Ahmed, MD
The US has accused Dr. Abdul Ahmed the owner of the Center for Blistering Diseases in Massachusetts of falsifying diagnosis, mail fraud, obstruction of justice and money laundering. The prosecutor states the physician illegally falsified documents stating patients had pemphigus vulgaris when in fact they did not. Top
v Gilbert, MD
Kentucky fined Dr. Gilbert $30,000 for not getting state approval to set up MRI centers in three locations. Dr. Gilbert claims that this is part of his private practice. The real reason behind this is the hospitals not wanting competition in their backyards. The true plaintiff is the Kentucky Hospital Association. The physician is appealing the ruling.
v U. of Maryland
The University of Maryland has been fined by the state $500,000 for their poor record keeping. They lost 8000 doses of OxyContin. The fist half of the fine is due now and the next $250,000 is due in two years unless the university improves its security systems. Top
Cross v Missoula Radiology
Blue Cross has filed a suit against the radiology group for not contracting with them. The radiology group agreed to refrain from entering into exclusive contracts with the two hospitals in the city. They still don't have to contract with the Blues. This is a victory for the physicians since they will continue to enter into the same contracts, but they won't have exclusivity clauses. The Blues will still not have a contract with the radiology group and the chances for additional radiologists to enter the market are slim in the foreseeable future. The physicians may still contract with who they wish and they wish not to contract with the Blues. Top
DISCLAIMER: Although this article is updated periodically, it reflects the author's point of view at the time of publication. Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice. Readers should consult with their own legal counsel before acting on any of the information presented.