New Ruling Removes Cap From Medical Malpractice Suits

In 2017, the Florida Supreme Court ruled financial limits to pain and suffering were unconstitutional. In a 4 – 3 decision, the majority argued damage caps violated equal protection rights. The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment was fundamental in overturning a Florida law that set damage caps in medical malpractice cases.

From the court’s opinion, “[We] hold that the caps…violate equal protection…because the arbitrary reduction of compensation without regard to the severity of the injury does not bear a rational relationship to the Legislature’s stated interest in addressing the medical malpractice crisis…”

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FDA Increases Warning For Common Antibiotics

Levaquin, Cipro, and Avelox are very popular antibiotics prescribed to millions of people nationwide. They belong to a class of antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones.  However, these drugs and their manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, have recently come under heavy scrutiny, again.

dangerous drugs have side effectsAll of the drugs in this class are currently involved in a class action lawsuit as a result of their debilitating side effects. Plaintiffs involved in the litigation claim to have suffered from serious conditions such as peripheral neuropathy, aortic aneurysms, and aortic dissection as a result of taking these medications.  Some of these side effects have even resulted in permanent injury.

Studies Show Pattern

Although the FDA required that peripheral neuropathy be cited as a side effect on the warning labels of all fluoroquinolone packaging in 2013, the warning did not appear to be sufficient in making the prescribed patients aware of the risk they were assuming.

The warnings given by manufacturers seem to have been written in a fashion that led people to believe that nerve damage was a rare consequence of taking these drugs. It is also alleged that despite empirical data, they all together neglected to tell patients and doctors that the nerve damage could be irreversible.

Many patients reported numbness and tingling in their hands and feet immediately after starting their medication that has lasted well after finishing their prescribed regimen.

Even scarier is the risk of aortic aneurysms and aortic dissection that were not listed on the warning labels until recently. In a 2015 study, Dr. Chien-Chang Lee, M.D. was unable to establish a definite cause and effect relationship between the medications and aortic aneurysms.

The study did find that the use of fluoroquinolones was associated with doubling a user’s risk of aortic aneurysm and dissection (Lee C, 2015). The lack of a conclusive link between fluoroquinolones and aortic aneurysms and dissection allows the drug companies to leave their consumers in the dark about these risks.

Prior studies conducted between 2008 and 2015 demonstrate a link between fluoridated drugs and the interruption of production and also the breakdown of collagen, a main component of muscle tissue, tendons and even arteries.

In addition, prior warnings added to these drug labels following those studies demonstrated a possible link to detached retinas and muscle, tendon and joint conditions. This information led to a class action lawsuit that was settled in 2012 and could point to the manufacturers having prior knowledge.

What Now?

For now the FDA has determined that this classification of drugs will have what is commonly referred to as a “black box” warning. This type of warning is used when there is reasonable evidence of a negative side effect occurring following the use of the medication.

In the statement issued in May about this issue, the FDA says it appears, “the serious side effects associated with fluoroquinolone antibacterial drugs generally outweigh the benefits [for some conditions in individuals] who have other treatment options.” The statement also went on to state the previous safety information associated with the use of these medications.

If you or a loved one has suffered from peripheral neuropathy, aortic aneurysms, or aortic dissection as a result of taking these medications contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker right away. Call (941)-748-2916 to see how we can help.

Sources:

http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm500143.htm

https://www.drugwatch.com/2016/05/16/fda-black-box-warning-for-levaquin-cipro-antibiotic-risk/

http://www.neurology.org/content/early/2014/08/22/WNL.0000000000000846.short

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2921747/

http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1148331

 

Healthcare Alert: Serious Concerns Raised About Quality of Medical Assistant Training Programs

We have good news and bad news to share with our readers about the quality of training being received by the Nurses and Medical Assistants we trust with our care.  The good news is that we have Florida’s top rated training programs right here in our area: University of Tampa, University of Central Florida and State College of Florida – Bradenton.  The bad news is that there are many training programs out there that are raising serious quality of care concerns.

caduceusFlorida’s “career colleges,” which are mostly for-profit, now account for about 60 percent of Florida’s healthcare graduates in fields such as nursing, ultrasound technology and medical assistance.  The Miami Herald has recently completed an investigation into Florida’s for-profit college industry and published a series of articles it called “Higher Ed Hustle” which included a piece titled “Raising Concerns About Quality” that contains allegations that dollars are being put ahead of quality instruction at certain medical training programs, citing instances of certain classes being taught by instructors who lacked bachelor’s degrees, and struggling and unprepared students being given inflated grades and being passed through the system.

As part of its investigation, the Miami Herald analyzed the results of over 12,000 Florida nursing graduates who took the RN exam in 2014.  What they found is that the passing rate varied with the type of school attended.  Public colleges performed the best, with an 84.4 percent RN passage rate. Nonprofit schools had a passing rate of 80.9 percent.  Trailing far behind were the for-profit colleges, with a mere 52 percent pass rate.

There’s been a boom in new nursing programs in recent years — from 175 in 2009 to 366 in 2014. The growth has consisted largely of for-profit nursing schools and has coincided with a drop in Florida’s RN passage rate from 88.4 percent in 2009 to 72.6 percent in 2014.  Florida’s passing rate now stands second to last among the 50 states.  Here are the numbers for the top scoring and lowest scoring schools that had at least 20 students take the 2014 NCLEX RN license exam published in the Miami Herald article:

TOP-SCORING SCHOOLS

Rank School Pass rate School type
1 University of Tampa 100% Nonprofit
2 University of Central Florida 98% Public
3 State College of Florida – Bradenton 96% Public
4 Florida Gulf Coast University – Fort Myers 96% Public
5 Santa Fe College – Gainesville 95% Public
6 Florida Keys Community College 94% Public
7 Valencia Community College – Orlando 94% Public
8 Jacksonville University 93% Nonprofit
9 Seminole State College of Florida – Altamonte Springs 93% Public
10 Keiser University – Miami 93% Nonprofit

LOWEST-SCORING SCHOOLS

Rank School Pass rate School type
1 Med-Life Institute – West Palm Beach 11% For-profit
2 Burnett International College – Boynton Beach 11% For-profit
3 Censa Miami Institute – Hialeah Gardens 11% For-profit
4 Dade Medical College – Hollywood 13% For-profit
5 Techni-Pro Institute – Boca Raton 14% For-profit
6 Hope College of Arts and Science – Pompano Beach 17% For-profit
7 Sigma College – Oakland Park 18% For-profit
8 Carleen Home Health School – Lauderhill 19% For-profit
9 Florida College of Health Science – Orlando 26% For-profit
10 Azure College – Miami Gardens 27% For-profit

It would be unfair to make presumptions about a particular Nurse or Medical Assistant simply based on where they went to school, but the unfortunate fact is that there are practicing Nurses and Medical Assistants who are not fit to do so.  Patients and their families need to be diligent in observing what is happening when they are in a medical setting.  Make sure you know and understand what is happening, what medications are being used and ask as many questions as you need to in order to be assured that all is in order.  If you are not comfortable – speak up immediately and request to see the supervising doctor or get another opinion.  The attorneys at Heintz & Becker represent victims of medical mistakes and their families.  If you or a family member has been injured we are available to consult with you about your case and rights to seek financial compensation.  Don’t delay in calling us: your time to take action is limited.

Source(s): MiamiHerald.com, “Higher-Ed Hustle”, posted April 2015