Sandweg & Ager, P.C.

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The medical profession in the United States is highly respected and highly compensated.  Members of the profession pride themselves on adhering to a Code of Ethics, in which the needs of the patient are paramount and those of the doctor are secondary.  If doctors adhered to those ethical principles, we would be living in a very different world.  Many of the principles are ignored on a daily basis to the great detriment of the patient.

The second principle in the AMA’s Code of Medical Ethics, states that the physician will “strive” to report to appropriate authorities any other physician who
Continue Reading The Medical Profession’s Dirty Little Secret

One of the complaints doctors often make is that the existence of so many frivolous medical malpractice suits forces them to practice defensive medicine.  By this they mean that the worry of a potential lawsuit makes them order tests or do other precautionary things that are of no benefit to the patient, but which can help them, if they were ever to be sued by the patient.  I say this is BS.

Our American health system runs primarily on what is called fee for service.  A doctor who performs a service is paid for that service.  If the doctor does
Continue Reading The Defensive Medicine Scam

Study after study has shown that medical malpractice is a leading cause of deaths and injuries in the United States.  Some estimates place the number of annual deaths attributable to preventable medical errors at over 250,000.  This would make medical malpractice the third leading cause of death in the United States after cancer and heart disease.  Even if malpractice events are occurring at the same rate as in the past, the increase in the population of the United States alone would mean that the total instances of medical malpractice are increasing.  At the same time, the number of medical malpractice
Continue Reading Where Are All The Malpractice Suits?

Every state has a statute of limitations for civil claims.  The statute, which may actually be a series of statutes, sets deadlines by which a claim must be filed or the right to sue is lost.  There are usually different deadlines for different types of claims.  In Arizona, the statute of limitations for personal injuries, which is the category that includes medical malpractice cases, is two years from the date the claim arose.  For many reasons, this is far less simple than it may sound.

It is difficult to overstate the importance of the statute of limitations.  You may have
Continue Reading The Statute of Limitations Can Kill Your Malpractice Case

Many Americans have an idealized view of country living.  Peace, quiet, nearby nature, a refuge from the stresses of the big city.  It sounds very inviting.  Many of those things do exist in the country, but there is a reason so many people live in the big city or its suburbs.  One of the advantages of urban or suburban living is access to good quality health care.  This can make a huge difference in your health and that of your family.

Health care is provided primarily by doctors and hospitals.  It takes a substantial amount of money to build and
Continue Reading Country Living Can Be Bad For Your Health

This is a wish we likely have for all of our loved ones and friends.  Realistically, some of our loved ones and friends will fall by the wayside due to bad genes.  Some will have a predisposition to cancer or to heart disease.  When I see an otherwise healthy man in his 40’s have a major heart attack, the culprit is almost always a bad family history of early heart disease.  But for those who received an average or better than average assortment of genes, there is much we can do to increase the chances of a long and healthy
Continue Reading May You Have A Long And Healthy Life

The final betrayal of the public, and specifically the victims of Dr. Christopher Duntsch, aka Dr. Death, actually took place years before his surgical rampage through the Dallas area.  In 2003, the Texas legislature, responding to what it claimed was a malpractice crisis, enacted a special law applicable only to medical malpractice cases.  Under the terms of the law, non-economic damages arising out of medical malpractice were capped at $250,000.  Lost your wife and mother of your children to a bad doctor and she wasn’t working outside the home? $250,000 max award.  Lost your baby because the doctor didn’t come
Continue Reading A Complete and Total Failure – Part Three

This is the second part of my discussion of the system failures that allowed Dr. Christopher Duntsch to become a Dallas area neurosurgeon and to damage patient after patient.

Having resigned his staff privileges with his first hospital after negotiating an agreement for that hospital to say nothing negative about him, Dr. Duntsch was ready to begin again at a new Dallas hospital.  He was given temporary surgical privileges at his new hospital while it reviewed his references and processed his application for full surgical privileges.  It did not take long, however, for his incredible incompetence and huge ego to
Continue Reading A Complete and Total Failure – Part Two

I recently finished listening to a podcast about a Texas neurosurgeon, who was so incompetent and injured so many people that he is now serving a life term for elder abuse and assault as a result of a surgery gone wrong.  The doctor was Dr. Christopher Duntsch and the podcast was called Dr. Death.  It was both mesmerizing and horrifying.  I have never heard of a surgeon who seriously injured so many people in such a short period of time.  The question, which is explored in the podcast but never really answered, is how could this person have ever
Continue Reading A Complete and Total Failure – Part One

Probably most of the people who choose to become doctors or nurses do so because they want to help others.  For the doctors and nurses who have this as their reason for being, these are difficult times indeed.  More and more they are being forced to treat patients in a way that maximizes profits regardless of whether that treatment may be in the patient’s best interest or not.  This clash between the ideals of the health care professional and what they are being required to do by their employers is causing great emotional distress and driving many of the most
Continue Reading Many Doctors Are Hurting

Stop me if you have heard this one, because I know you have.  It is almost the same case as I wrote about back in May and here it is happening again.  This time the dead patient was an 18 year old woman, who had just graduated from high school.

The most recent case comes to us from the state of Colorado, where an 18 year old woman was undergoing a breast augmentation surgery at a surgery center owned by the surgeon.  The anesthesia was being administered by a Nurse Anesthetist (NA).  During the surgery, the patient got in trouble
Continue Reading Another Tragic Death

As our climate changes, biological threats that were never a concern may become very concerning in your area.  One example is the occurrence of multiple cases of malaria spread by certain mosquitos in Florida, Texas and Maryland.  The disease, which had been eradicated in the United States by 1951 is making a comeback.  Today, however, I want to talk about the humble tick.

This is an image of the tick that carries Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF).  It is the American dog tick.  It would be nice if the tick were this large and this easy to see.  In fact,
Continue Reading Be On The Lookout For Ticks: They Are Dangerous

Many times a year we see a case in which someone has a heart attack (known medically as a myocardial infarction), seeks medical attention, and dies when they should not have.  We also know that there are many, many more who have heart attacks at home and, for one reason or another, do not seek treatment and die or are badly damaged.  Almost all of these situations arise from the same cause:  The symptoms of a heart attack were not recognized, either by the person having the heart attack, or by the health care provider to whom the person went
Continue Reading The Many Faces of a Heart Attack

I recently wrote that most large medical malpractice verdicts share some things in common.  Here is a recent Idaho verdict that demonstrates the point.

An ischemic stroke is one in which blood flow to the brain is interrupted by a blood clot or some other mechanical obstruction.  All of the brain downstream of the blocked area will suffer from the loss of its blood supply.  Brain cells may die or be permanently damaged.  Depending on the size and location of the obstruction, the effects of the blockage can be mild or devastating.  In any event, the faster a stroke
Continue Reading Analysis of a Recent Large Medical Malpractice Verdict

I was going to title this post “How to Choose a New Doctor” but that doesn’t happen very much any more.  Long gone are the days when a person chose a doctor and received most of his or her health care from that doctor over a period of many years.  Today’s health care is fragmented so that patients may see multiple different doctors in different specialties over the course of just a short period of time.  Even the process of selecting a primary care physician is different now with managed care and hospital chains buying up private practices.  Today, you
Continue Reading You And Your New Doctor – A Few Thoughts

Prostate cancer can be aggressive or slow-growing.  It may not be easy to distinguish between the two and there is a substantial risk of overtreatment.

After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer among men.  One in seven men will develop prostate cancer and, if a man has a family history of prostate cancer, his risk is even greater.  Furthermore, the older a man gets, the greater the risk that he will develop prostate cancer.
While there have been advances in detection, monitoring and treating prostate cancer, because of its location, it remains a difficult cancer
Continue Reading Prostate Cancer