Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to a recent study (recent blog post about this topic). The researchers indicated that most medical errors represent systemic problems, including poorly coordinated care, fragmented insurance networks, the absence or underuse of safety nets, and other protocols, in addition to unwarranted variation in physician practice patterns. Patient misidentification can also be a contributing factor. When patients have the same or similar names, mix-ups in their medical care, procedures, and medication have occurred. Such a mix-up could lead to misdiagnosis, mistreatment, and unsafe outcomes.

Patients’ electronic health records are maintained in doctors’ offices, hospitals, and urgent care facilities, and it can be difficult to exchange protected health care information among providers. Creating a reliable patient identification system could improve medical care and prevent patient care mix-ups. To that end, New Jersey plans to implement a statewide database designed to improve patient care, reduce medical errors, and ensure that healthcare records are accessible to all of an individual’s healthcare providers. This effort strives to connect physicians, hospitals, pharmacists, and other healthcare providers with better access to patient data. The system, which will also link to public health databases, will help avoid a situation where two patients with the same name and identifying characteristics are confused by providers.

Continue Reading NJ Is Creating A “Master Person Index” to Counter Medical Errors

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a Medical Device Safety Communication update to provide new information about Mycobacterium chimaera infections associated with the use of the LivaNova/Sorin Stöckert 3T Heater-Cooler System during cardiothoracic surgery. The update includes recommendations and additional steps for health care facilities to take in order to mitigate the risk of infection associated with the use of these devices.

Continue Reading Update on Contamination of Heater-Cooler Devices

A recent database study conducted at Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that the rate of medical malpractice claims paid on behalf of physicians in the United States declined substantially from 1992 to 2014. The study analyzed data from the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), a centralized database of paid malpractice claims that was created by Congress in 1986. Researchers found an overall drop in the amount of paid claims across all specialties, but the extent of the decline was markedly different by specialty, according to Adam Schaffer, MD, lead author of the paper. The findings are published in the March 27, 2017 issue of the JAMA Internal Medicine journal.

Continue Reading Medical Malpractice Claims Paid on Behalf of Physicians Decrease

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) announced on March 10 that first-year doctors will be allowed to work 24-hour shifts in hospitals starting July 1. The cap currently limiting physicians to 16 consecutive hours of patient care will now be lifted. The new standards will allow four hours to transition patients from one doctor to the next, so first-year residents could work as long as 28 straight hours, the same as more senior medical residents.

Continue Reading First-Year Doctors to Begin Working 24-Hour Shifts

New Jersey health officials report that 31 patients developed infections after receiving injections to treat knee pain at the Osteo Relief Institute in Wall Township. The New Jersey Department of Health says the patients developed cases of septic arthritis, a painful infection surrounding their joints. The infections are all linked to the Osteo Relief Institute Jersey Shore.

Continue Reading Infections from Knee Injections – Osteo Relief Institute in Wall, NJ

Contaminated syringes have been blamed for a deadly outbreak of Burkholderia cepacia bacteria that has infected nearly 150 people since August, including 52 cases in New Jersey. According the CDC “the majority of these cases have occurred in patients residing at long-term care or rehabilitation facilities who were receiving intravenous (IV) fluids and/or antibiotics through central venous catheters.” The outbreak may be linked to the deaths of six people who contracted the bacteria in the states of New York and Pennsylvania. The locations and number of known infections are detailed in the chart below:

Continue Reading Nursing Home Patients Contract Deadly Bacteria from IV Syringes

Some hospitals in New Jersey are doing a good job at health and safety—but many are still struggling to create a safe environment for patients. The November release of the Leapfrog Group’s “hospital report card” shows New Jersey tied with Texas at #17 in rankings for public health and safety.

Even though 25% of the New Jersey hospitals scored an “A” grade, the bad news for New Jersey is that 47% of the 68 hospitals reviewed received a grade of “C” or below. Additionally only three of the five hospitals that previously delivered straight “A” marks in the report were able to maintain their “perfect” health and safety status. These are Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, Saint Barnabas Medical Center, and Jersey City Medical Center.

Continue Reading Are New Jersey Hospitals Safe?

It has been reported that the State of New Jersey is now aware of 52 cases of B.cepacia infection in 2016. These cases are linked to an outbreak being investigated by health officials on the Federal and State level.

B.cepacia, or Burkholderia cepacia, is a complex of bacteria usually found in soil and water, and it can survive for prolonged periods of time in a moist environment. People who are most susceptible to this infection typically have health problems such as weakened immune systems or chronic lung diseases, particularly cystic fibrosis.

Continue Reading 52 in NJ Contract Infection Due to Contaminated Syringes

As recently reported by the Associated Press and local news outlets, Shore Medical Center in Somers Point, NJ is advising patients who received intravenous morphine or hydromorphone medications at the hospital between June 1, 2013 and September 17, 2014, to get tested for HIV and Hepatitis B and C. According to the hospital, an ex-employee pharmacist tampered with the drugs and, in the process, may have exposed patients to the pharmacist’s own blood.

If you were treated at Shore Medical Center during the relevant time frame, we strongly encourage you to get tested. The hospital is providing free testing for patients who may have been exposed.

The medical malpractice attorneys at Stark & Stark are currently investigating claims related to this exposure. If you, a family member, or a loved one believes you may have been exposed, contact Stark & Stark to speak with one of our medical malpractice attorneys.

Visit the Associated Press for more information about the exposure.

The former Vice President of Robert Wood Johnson Hamilton’s medical staff has agreed to an indefinite suspension of his medical license with the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners. RWJ Hamilton announced the doctor’s immediate resignation from their staff on December 31, 2015.

The surgeon, Dr. Vijay Vaswani, signed the consent form from the State Board, which admitted to his long history with substance abuse, in particular cocaine. In addition, Dr. Vaswani admitted to prescribing Percocet to three people who were not his patients and did not have a medical use for this drug. In the consent order, these allegations of his inappropriate behavior represented “a palpable demonstration of an imminent danger to the public.”

Dr. Vaswani had a history of drug abuse prior to obtaining his medical license, and in obtaining his New Jersey license in 2001 he agreed to participate anonymously in the Board of Medical Examiners alternate resolution program through a professional assistance program. In 2011, he completed his treatment and was allowed to withdraw from the program.

However, on December 22, 2015, Dr. Vaswani was interviewed by investigators in New Jersey’s Division of Consumer Affairs as well as the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for undisclosed reasons.

Besides a suspension of his medical license, the surgeon also agreed to surrender his federal DEA drug registration. Stark & Stark is investigating claims on behalf of patients and family members of patients of Dr. Vaswani. Anyone treated by Dr. Vaswani is invited to contact us for a case evaluation and consultation.