Earlier this year, a study was released showing that certain heartburn medications – known as proton-pump inhibitors – can cause irreversible damage to those who take the medication. The study was released by a respected medical journal and evaluated a group of about 250,000 patients. The group of medications known as proton-pump inhibitors includes the popular medications Nexium, Prilosec, and Prevacid.

Assorted PillsAccording to a news report released earlier this year, those who have taken these medications have a 20-50% chance of developing chronic kidney disease. However, there are almost 13 million Americans who are prescribed proton-pump inhibitors. It is estimated that up to 70% of these patients are inappropriately prescribed the medication, and many long-term users could cease using the medication. The study found that those users who took the medication twice a day had a 46% chance of developing kidney-related ailments, while users who took the medication only once a day had only a 15% chance of developing side effects.

The harmful effects of taking proton-pump inhibitors most notably include chronic kidney damage, which can result in the body’s inability to effectively filter blood. This can lead to nephritis, the need for regular dialysis, and even the need for a kidney replacement. In addition, patients may suffer from heart problems, obesity, and high blood pressure.

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In a recent case, a 90-year-old woman was admitted to a hospital in 2009. During her stay at the hospital, the woman suffered several complications, and she died within weeks of her arrival. The woman’s son requested her medical records, and he received them almost one year after her death. A little over one year after receiving the records, the son obtained a professional opinion that the woman’s doctors were negligent in treating her. One month after obtaining that opinion, the son filed a complaint against his mother’s two doctors, who cared for her during her hospital stay.

ClockAlmost two years after filing the initial lawsuit, the son had a doctor review his mother’s CT scans that were taken during her stay at the hospital. The son had received this information when he requested his mother’s original medical files. The doctor provided an opinion stating that the radiologist, who had read the CT scans while his mother was staying at the hospital, had failed to identify a collection of fluid in her brain. The reviewing doctor also believed that the radiologist’s failure to identify the fluid caused or contributed to the mother’s death. After receiving the second opinion, the son filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the radiologist under Illinois’ Wrongful Death Act (740 ILCS 180/1) and Survival Act (755 ILCS 5/27-6).

The radiologist argued that the case was time-barred because the case was filed more than two years after the mother’s death, exceeding the two-year statute of limitations. The radiologist also argued that the “discovery rule” did not apply in the son’s wrongful death and survival act case. The radiologist also claimed that even if the discovery rule applied, the case was still untimely because the son had enough information to determine whether or not to file more than two years before he filed his complaint.

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Recently, a man was prescribed Valsartan, a medication used to treat high blood pressure, and the pharmacy mistakenly gave the man a container with both Valsartan pills and Lithium pills. The pills were the same color but different shapes. The man took the medication as prescribed. When the man’s wife discovered the mistake a few days later and brought back the container, a pharmacist confirmed that the container had both pills inside. The pharmacy then set aside the medication and later destroyed it, in accordance with the company’s policy.

Pills in BottleSoon afterward, the man experienced numbness and weakness in his hand and checked into the hospital. The treating physician believed that the man had a reaction to the Lithium pills he mistakenly took. The man’s symptoms continued to worsen in the following months, and he was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome and polyneuropathy, allegedly due to his consumption of Lithium. The man had surgery performed on his hand and arm, but he continued to suffer from pain and stiffness in his hand.

The man filed a negligence case against the pharmacy for his injuries. During discovery, the pharmacy was asked to turn over the container with the mixed pills to determine if some of the pills were Lithium pills. The pharmacy stated that it had destroyed the container and its contents, pursuant to the store’s policy. Due to the pharmacy’s destruction of evidence, the man filed for sanctions against the pharmacy.

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Earlier this month, a Massachusetts court issued a written opinion in a medical malpractice case adopting the continuing course of treatment doctrine. The continuing course of treatment doctrine acts to toll the statute of limitations in medical malpractice cases while the defendant is still providing medical care for the plaintiff. Thus, if the doctrine is applied, only once the defendant stops providing medical care will the statute of limitations begin. In the case, Parr v. Rosenthal, the court ultimately adopted the doctrine but declined to apply it in the specific facts presented in the plaintiffs’ case.

HourglassThe Facts

The plaintiffs’ son was born with an unexplained lump on the back of his leg. After several years of unsuccessful diagnosis attempts, the plaintiffs found a group of doctors who were able to identify the lump as a desmoid tumor. While the tumor was identified, none of the doctors treating the boy was familiar with how to treat a desmoid tumor. The treating physicians referred the parents to the defendant, who was another doctor in the group who had not yet met with their son. After discussing the procedure with the boy’s parents, it was agreed that the defendant would perform an emerging procedure called radio frequency ablation.

Unfortunately, the boy was badly burned by the defendant during the procedure, and the procedure could not be completed. The original group of doctors continued to care for the boy, but the defendant provided no follow-up care. Eventually, the boy’s leg needed to be amputated due to the worsening condition of the burn. Several years later, the plaintiffs filed this lawsuit against the defendant, naming only him and none of the doctors in his practice group.

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A man filed a negligence case against a land surveyor after he tripped and fell on a stake while on his own land. The stake had been placed there by a surveyor while he was performing a survey of the land. When the surveyor had surveyed the land, he marked the boundary of the property with wooden stakes tied with ribbons, which were driven into the ground. They were surrounded by grass but still visible. Shortly after the completion of the survey, the landowner was unloading some equipment into a storage building when he tripped on one of the survey stakes. He seriously injured his hip and then sued the land surveyor for negligence. An appellate court recently issued an opinion in the case.

Fence BoundaryThe plaintiff did not present an expert witness to support his case. The surveyor argued that the plaintiff was required to show that his conduct fell below the standard of care in his placement and removal of the stakes. The plaintiff argued that placing stakes in a way in which they were not clearly visible was ordinary negligence, rather than professional negligence. He also argued that it was within the common knowledge of laypersons and that an expert was not required under the “common knowledge” exception. Under the common knowledge exception, a party can make out a case of professional negligence without expert testimony in cases in which the evidence and alleged negligent conduct is within the understanding of laypersons.

First, the court had to decide whether or not land surveyors are “professionals” in order to decide whether expert testimony was required. The court found that based on the specialized knowledge, high standards, and continuing education of surveyors, registered surveyors are technically professionals. Since the defendant was a professional, a plaintiff is normally required to present expert testimony to establish the standard of care.

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In a recent case in front of a state appellate court, a woman filed a medical malpractice lawsuit after she was treated for a condition known as thoracic outlet syndrome. The illness caused her extreme pain around her shoulder and in her arm and also caused her numbness, swelling, and weakness. As a result, she was treated by a doctor who performed a surgery to try to ease the pain by removing one of her ribs. However, the woman suffered severe symptoms after the surgery, including pain whenever she moved her arm and difficulty swallowing food. The woman then sued the doctor for malpractice.

Doctor's CoatThe defendant presented an expert who said that the doctor performed the surgery correctly and provided proper post-operative care. The expert also said that the woman’s symptoms after the surgery were a result of her original illness. To rebut this, the woman presented her own expert, who was a doctor in Mexico. The doctor had examined her about one year before she sought treatment from the defendant. Her expert stated that the defendant had destabilized the woman’s right sternoclavicular joint during the surgery or had disrupted the ligaments that hold it in place.

The defendant objected to the plaintiff’s expert witness, arguing that he was not familiar with the “standard of care” in the United States. The trial court agreed and dismissed the case. However, a court of appeals found that her expert witness, who was licensed to practice medicine in Mexico, was qualified to give an opinion in this case. Importantly, the defendant doctor did not suggest that the standard of care in Mexico was different from the standard of care in the United States. In addition, the Mexican doctor had performed over 500 orthopedic surgeries and around 10 to 12 thoracic outlet syndrome surgeries. He also personally examined the woman before and after her surgery. Thus, the court found that he was qualified to give his opinion, and the jurors were free to give it as much weight as they determined was appropriate.

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In a recent case decided by a state appellate court, a husband and wife were injured in a car accident with another motorist. After the accident, they filed suit against the motorist for their physical injuries, mental suffering, lost wages, and lost employment. However, the motorist failed to defend or respond to the lawsuit. As a result, after four months had passed, the couple filed an application for an entry of default against the motorist, and the clerk of the court entered a default judgment against him. Seven months after the complaint was filed, the motorist responded by filing a motion to set aside the default judgment. The court denied his motion to set aside the entry of default and entered a default judgment in favor of the couple for over $3 million.

Car CrashThe motorist appealed. He argued that the court abused its discretion by refusing to set aside the default judgment. That state’s supreme court found that since default judgments are considered under a liberal standard, the court did abuse its discretion by refusing to set aside the entry of default. It noted that the motorist had seemingly valid defenses to the claim. In addition, the couple would suffer limited prejudice by reopening the case because they filed the claim three years after the actual accident and were still litigating the case with two insurance companies. For these reasons, the default judgment was set aside, and the case was reopened.

Default Judgments and Illinois Rules

A default judgment is a ruling that results from one party’s failure to comply with the requirements of the court. A default judgment is binding on a party even if the person has never appeared in the case. That means that even if a defendant never appeared in court in a case against them, the other party can collect compensation. However, even if a default judgment has been entered against a party, they can file a motion to set aside the judgment and reopen the case.

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In a tragic case of medical malpractice recently decided by one state appellate court, a woman underwent a liposuction procedure at a medical spa and tragically died just a few days later from septic shock. The woman’s husband filed a medical malpractice claim against the company, alleging that the bacteria causing the shock came from the medical spa during his wife’s procedure. He claimed that certain equipment had not been properly disinfected and sterilized.

ScalpelThe case went to trial once, but it resulted in a mistrial based on the improper questioning of a witness in front of the jury. The case was retried, and the jury found in favor of the woman’s husband. The jury awarded him over $3 million in damages. The spa appealed the decision. It argued that there was not sufficient evidence for the jury to find in favor of the husband.

The court explained that it would not set aside the jury’s verdict as long as it was supported by substantial and competent evidence. It also would not second guess determinations of credibility and the weight of the evidence made by the jury. In this case, there was a medical expert who explained how the spa’s procedures for sterilizing and disinfecting the reusable medical equipment used in the procedure breached the standard of care for cosmetic surgeons. There also was evidence that the spa’s breach caused the woman’s death because septic shock occurs after an infection causes the body to go into shock, and she had bacteria present near where she was injected. Even though there was some evidence presented by the defense suggesting that the bacteria could have come from her post-procedure care, the jury’s decision was still reasonable and would not be second guessed. Accordingly, there was substantial evidence supporting the jury’s verdict, and the decision was affirmed.

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Many people are quick to blame parents for children’s injuries. Yet often, the parents are not to blame. Defective products such as toys, cribs, and baby carriers can cause children serious injuries.

StrollerIf a defective product is to blame, a parent can sue the manufacturer or anyone else in the chain of distribution, seeking compensation for their child’s injuries. If a product is defective, it generally is defective by its design or has a defect in how it was made when it was manufactured. For example, a defective design might exist when a product has an unreasonably dangerous design, such as a stroller that too easily tips over. A manufacturing design might exist when a piece was left out when it was built, thereby creating a danger. A product could also be defective because the safety warnings are inadequate to warn the consumer of a potential danger associated with the product.

New Study Shows Injury Risk Posed by Strollers and Baby Carriers

A new study shows that over 17,000 children are treated in emergency rooms every year for stroller and baby carrier-related injuries. According to one news source, the study, conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, looked at emergency room visits from 1990 to 2010. It found that over these years, almost 361,000 children had been treated for such injuries. This equates to about two children an hour, or around 50 children per day.

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In a recent case out of California, a man was injured in an accident with another car, driven by a paramedic supervisor. The paramedic was driving his employer’s truck on the way to the location of an injured victim when the accident occurred. The injured driver subsequently filed a negligence lawsuit against the paramedic. The state’s laws required that lawsuits against health care providers for “professional negligence” be filed within one year of the injury date. In this case, the man’s case was filed past the one-year filing date. As a result, the court found that the claim was time-barred.

HourglassHowever, a case from that state’s supreme court found that the time period applied only to negligence actions that resulted from services provided by virtue of being health care professionals—or in rendering medical care to patients. Thus, in this case, while the paramedic was a medical professional, the accident did not result from negligent medical care. The paramedic was required to drive the car with reasonable care because he was driving a car, not because he was providing health care to a patient because he was a paramedic. Thus, the decision was reversed, and the case was able to proceed.

Medical Malpractice Statutes of Limitations in Illinois

Every individual who files a claim has to consider the relevant statute of limitations. The statute of limitations refers to the time during which a claim must be filed. The time varies for different claims and depending on where the claims are filed.

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