Sandweg & Ager, P.C.

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If you read the news reports about medical malpractice trials, you would be forgiven for believing that the sky is falling, that the inmates are running the asylum and that juries are going crazy making multi-million dollar awards in every malpractice case that goes to trial.  Notwithstanding the barrage of news stories, nothing could be further from the truth. The news media thrives on sensationalism.  “Man bites dog!!!,” screams the headline.  The media has little interest in trials in which patients are sent home with nothing, which is the case over 85% of the time.  Study after study, many conducted…
Every state has a medical board.  While there are some differences from state to state, they are all alike in that their primary job is to protect the public from bad doctors.  They have been failing at this job for many years and continue to fail today.  Although it is not alone, I am going to focus today on the Arizona Medical Board.  It is emblematic of boards across the country. The Arizona Medical Board describes its mission as “To protect public safety through the judicious licensing, regulation and education of all allopathic physicians.”  Allopathic physicians are M.D.’s.  There are…
A recent study by the RAND Corporation discovered that hospitals across the United States charge private health insurers far more than they charge Medicare for the same services.  The amount by which hospital bills exceed what they are paid by Medicare varies widely by location but one fact is consistent:  prices are highest where there has been hospital consolidation. The basis of our economic system is the free market.  Goods and services, and hospitals offer both goods and services, are bargained for in the marketplace.  Good products and services are more highly sought after and can command a higher price. …
One of the requirements of federal law is that hospital records be recorded electronically.  The requirement for electronic medical records (“EMR”) has a number of justifications, including portability.  Patients are entitled to have a copy of their medical records.  When the record was paper, that meant someone had to copy all the paper.  The patient had to pay for the time of the person copying the chart and for the cost of the copies.   A chart of almost any length could get quite expensive.  With electronic records, the patient, who asks for a copy, is given a computer disc onto…
The requirement for informed consent means that a doctor may not perform a procedure on you without first explaining the risks and benefits of the procedure and getting your approval to go forward.  Informed consent is a critical part of any procedure but, in my experience, it is most often done in a rush and without adequate explanation of the risks. I frequently meet prospective clients who have suffered an injury during a procedure who tell me the doctor never mentioned their injury as a possible outcome of the procedure.  To the contrary, they usually tell me that the doctor…
If you have ever been the victim of medical malpractice during a hospital stay, it is unlikely that the hospital or the doctors taking care of you told you about it.  On those occasions when they do, it is usually because what happened to you is so obvious that they can’t just ignore it or sweep it under the rug the way they usually do. I have been representing people injured by medical negligence for many, many years now.  It is a rare case in which the hospital or doctor admits that they made a mistake that injured a patient. …
I recently read a post by a representative of the American College of Cardiology which discussed the origin of the fee for service model and its pernicious effects on the delivery of health care in the United States.  Fee for service means that the health care provider bills for each service separately and is paid on the basis of the number of services provided.  Fee for service rewards quantity over quality. The author of the post quite properly pointed out that the United States has the most advanced treatment options for cardiovascular disease in the world.  Cardiologists have been able…
If you read these posts with any regularity, you know my 10 year old grandson is a Type 1 diabetic.  He just “celebrated” his “diaversary,” marking 7 years since his diagnosis on the Labor Day weekend in 2013.  He manages his glucose levels with the help of an insulin pump manufactured by Medtronic.  There have been major problems with a recent updated version of the pump. For those who may not be familiar with Type 1 diabetes (Type II is far more common), it is the result of an autoimmune process in which the body’s immune system attacks and destroys…
Hospitals are where the sick people are.  While patients may go home after they get better, they often leave bacteria and viruses behind, where they infect the next round of patients.  You may go to the hospital to get well, but you may end up getting an infection in the hospital that can leave you permanently disabled or can even kill you. Every hospital has protocols intended to reduce the risk of infection among its employees and its patients.  Even if these protocols are followed carefully and to the letter, and often they are not, infections persist.  It is a…
One of the most obvious changes in the medical landscape over the last 15 years has been the proliferation of urgent care clinics.  You can’t drive down almost any street in a major metropolitan area without passing at least a couple of urgent care centers.  These centers have become common because many people do not have health insurance or do not have a primary care physician.  When they get sick, they need somewhere to go.  Urgent care centers offer convenience and, in today’s world, convenience sells. When you become sick or injure yourself and decide to seek medical care, you…
If you, like me, live in Arizona, you are exposed to intense solar radiation nearly all year, but especially in the summer.  Exposure to solar radiation is one of the major risk factors for melanoma. Melanoma is a cancer, which most often appears on the skin.  It is a cancer of the melanocytes, the cells that produce brown pigment.  It can appear anywhere in the body there are melanocytes.  The most common area affected, other than the skin, is the eye. Melanoma is forty times more common in whites than in blacks.  Men are more likely to develop it than…
The surgical stapler is an important tool.  Rather than spend substantial time sewing body parts together during abdominal, thoracic or bowel surgeries, surgeons can use a stapler to close up wounds and attach body parts.  Removable staples are also used to pull together scalp wounds or other skin wounds under tension.  On the other hand, if the stapler malfunctions, it can cause grave damage to the patient up to and including death. For many, many years the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has maintained a public database of reports of problems with medical devices.  The database is called Manufacturer and…
“Time is brain” is what neurologists and neurosurgeons say to emphasize the importance of seeking prompt treatment in the event of a stroke. There are two types of strokes and they can both be terrible.  The first type is the hemorrhagic stroke. As its name implies, it occurs when a blood vessel in the brain begins to bleed.  Sometimes, the bleed can be small but, at other times, it can be a full-on hemorrhage.  Blood is very irritating to the tissue of the brain.  Its presence can damage the brain and prevent it from functioning properly.  It can cause other…
It is late May 2020 in the Imperial Valley of California.  The sun is high and hot.  Temperatures exceed 110 degrees.  The Novel Coronavirus is also running hot.  The only two hospitals in the entire Imperial Valley are swamped with sick Covid patients.  They have more patients than they can possibly treat.  They need to find hospitals that can take some of their patients.  When they call other Southern California hospitals, they find some are more interested in making sure they get paid than they are in helping out in a time of need.            …
I have spoken to or reviewed records for thousands of patients over the years I have been representing people injured by medical malpractice.  I have also read a lot of articles about the incidence of medical malpractice.  I can say with confidence that in any hospital stay of three days or more, the patient will be the victim of at least one instance of medical malpractice.  Fortunately, most of these instances will cause little harm but the fact of that much malpractice should be of concern to all of us. It is not hard to understand why there is so…
I am sure most of you remember the children’s game of Telephone.  You get a group of people and the first tells a secret to the second.  The second repeats the secret to the third person, who tells it to the fourth and so on until everyone has been told.  Then you compare the secret the first person told with what the last person was told.  There is almost always a big difference.  The message gets garbled and mangled as it goes from person to person.  Like it or not, the game of Telephone accurately describes what happens in your…