Articles Posted in Medical Conditions

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So how exactly did this fungal meningitis outbreak happen? Was it an innocent mistake that could not have been prevented? Are the risk factors that caused this accident the same that affect other pharmaceutical compounding plants across the country? Is there anything that can be done to ensure no more families are forced to endure what thousands are enduring now in the wake of this deadly spinal steroid contamination?

These and similar questions are being asked by invovled parties across the country. We need to get to the bottom of this fiasco while ensuring all those affected are supported and those accountable are held to task.

It is far too early to make any definitive statements about this exact case. However, investigators, including many from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as well as intrepid individual researchers, have uncovered details about the history and goings-on at the compounding plant. The information presented thus far is not pretty.

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Legal challenge for those receiving “at home” care via Medicaid are growing across the country. Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that provides long-term care to the poor and disabled. This is distinguished from Medicare which provides general medical insurance for seniors. When prolonged nursing home visits or caregiving duties at home are needed it is Medicaid, not Medicare, that residents turn to when they cannot afford the services on their own.

Yet, it is no secret that budgets–both state and federal–are quite tight. Medicaid outlays are one of the largest single lines in those budgets, and so long-term financial plans almost always include mention of cuts to these services. Those who rely on Medicaid obviously have legitimate concerns about what this might mean in their specific case. At the end of the day, changes can be mandated both by state officials and the federal government. Each state may take a different track, and so it is important for local residents–when hearing news about proposed Medicaid changes–to understand if the proposal is coming from Illinois, the federal government, or another state altogether.

Legal Challenges

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Since the official August recall of certain DePuy hip implants, thousands of patients have taken steps to check the safety of their own devices. In the Chicago area many individuals who had hip implants in the last several years have discovered that their device was defective and in need of replacement. The problems with the device vary, with some patients suffering extreme complications shortly after their surgery and others experiencing difficulties only much later. In all cases, however, the cause of the hip concerns lie squarely at the feet of the DePuy officials who made the defective product and continued to push for its use after concerns about it arose.

Senior citizens in nursing homes make up a large part of the victims of this medical device error. Also, new data from the National Joint Registry and republished in Drug Watch suggests that woman are more likely than men to suffer problems with their DePuy hip implant. Specifically, patients with small hips (those with femoral heads below 50mm in diameter) were more likely to need revision surgery. Women have hips more frequently smaller than men, leading them to suffer more complications from the defective hips.

Over 93,000 patients have undergone surgery using the problematic implants since 2004. The recall was issued in August after much higher than average failure rates. Patients suffered a variety of maladies including bone fractures near the implant sight, implant dislocation, and metallosis. Metallosis is caused when fragment of metal break from the device and enter the body.
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We have closely followed the developments of the DePuy hip implant recall on this blog, because many seniors may be affected by the problem. The recall was ordered in August after months of pressure on the company to do so-data revealed that large numbers of patients who received the implants experienced unnecessary pain and suffering. The devices are failing at far too high a rate with drastic consequences for the victims.

This week, Lawyers and Settlements wrote a story on the issue and interviewed our one of our founders, Chicago injury attorney Steve Levin.

Several different issues are involved in the lawsuits involved these implants. Levin explains, “The replacement is difficult for doctors to implant. If they are off just a little, there is a good chance it is going to dislocate.”

He continues, “The other problem is the metal-on-metal friction. There is a chemical reaction between chromium and cobalt that can be toxic to certain people-they are going to have to have blood monitored for possible future problems.”
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My Fox Chicago recently shared more information with its readers about the “junk joints” made by DePuy that continue to affect thousands of patients who underwent joint replacement surgery. Thousands of patients, many in nursing homes, may have been affected by the defective joints.

The story several victims. One man decided to have a metal hip implanted in his body after suffering sharp pains every time he bent over. As a lifetime sports addict, his body had been punished over the years-it had finally caught with him. However, while the doctor told him that the implant was supposed to last at least 15 years, he began having trouble with the hip implant within one year. He was struggling to move the hip and was in extreme pain.

Eventually his doctor discovered that his newly installed hip implant was defective. He was forced to have another risky surgery to replace it.

Thousands of other patients have a similar story to share. The article also discussed a female patient whose implant began flaking metal particles. The particles traveled into her bloodstream, leading to pain and swelling. After two corrective surgeries and a four day stint in the hospital, the ordeal was still not over. She suffered complications following the surgery. In one particular harrowing ordeal her whole body began to swell and turn black and blue. She was rushed to the emergency room where it was discovered that she had contracted a dangerous staph infection caused by pneumonia. She is lucky to have survived.

These victims represent only two out of thousands who suffered tremendously because of defective DePuy hip implants. As we have discussed often on this blog, nearly 100,000 of the implants were recalled by the company in August after evidence continued to mount regarding the extreme danger the product presented to patients. Many of the patients who have suffered complications from the product likely have irreparable harm to their bodies. Each time a join is redone some bone is lost.

Perhaps even more frustrating is the lack of clear answers on why the product was been defective in the first place and how the company allowed so many patients to face complications. Also concerning is the fact that there is no standardized tracking system in the United States for joint implants-other countries require such tracking. Those nations have seen the rates for revision surgeries drop by as much as ten percent as the lists allow defective devices to be identified much earlier.

One surgeon explains the problem, “If Maytag can track their washing machines…we should have the ability to track all major orthopedic implants, where they go and when they’re removed.”
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A newsletter that follows the latest happenings in the world of mass torts and product liability problems recently discussed the litigation surrounding the DePuy hip implant recall.

Over 93,000 implants were recalled at the end of August this year after its metal-on-metal hip implant system was discovered to fail at a much higher rate than usual. The malfunction caused metallic particles to enter the patient’s body, leading to bone and tissue problems. The problem requires a painful and risky revision surgery. As a result, anyone who has had a hip implant with the DePuy ASR XL Acetabular System and ASR Hip Resurfacing Systems may have a legal claim against the company for the problem with the medical device.

However, the company is attempting to limit its payment and gain the upper hand in legal matters by having patients unsuspectingly sign consent forms which provide the corporation with valuable information about a patient’s case before the lawsuit is even filed. The company has sent letters to orthopedic surgeons who then pass along the consent form to the patient. The letter asks patients to contact DePuy to receive a claim number. In the most egregious cases, the surgeon has appeared to require patients to call DePuy before scheduling the follow-up appointment.

This misleading attempt to obtain patient information in order to get the upper hand in litigation should be rejected. Any patient who has already signed the consent form can waive the consent at any time by writing to the organization or person to whom they gave consent. The group asking for the consent may be “Broadspire,” an organization working with DePuy to send out the consent forms.
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The flood of lawsuits against DePuy Orthopaedics (a Johnson & Johnson company) continues as Cinnincati News.com reports of another suit filed against the medical device corporation.

The class action lawsuit was filed late last week on behalf of a several individuals who had hip implant surgery with the ASR hip replacement device made by DePuy. One of the class representatives in the suit has suffered extreme complications following the implant. Since having the surgery she has experienced excruciating pain in the hip and will need revision surgery.

As we have reported often on this blog, DePuy issued a recall of nearly 100,000 of its hip implantation devices following revelations that the devices failed at very high rates. Our Chicago nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti continue to follow the situation, because many seniors in the area may have been affected by the problems with the device. The metal-on-metal implant was found to cause friction that sends small metal fragments into the surrounding bone and tissue of the patient. The resulting complications cause extreme pain to the patient and require risky revision surgery to correct.

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The effects of the massive recall of hip implantation devices made by DePuy Orthopaedics continue as more individuals have filed lawsuits after suffering complications with the defective devices. Our Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti are closely following the developments of the situation as many nursing home residents in the Chicagoland area may have been affected by the problematic pieces of medical equipment.

DePuy Orthopaedics, a division of Johnson & Johnson, recalled many of the ASR hip implant systems after data from the National Joint Registry showed that 1 in 8 patients needed corrective surgery within five years following hip implants surgeries with one of those devices. However, information has revealed that the company was aware of the problem long before the joint registry issued its reports-perhaps years earlier. However it waited before issuing the recall, allowing thousands more patients to be fitted with the defective and damaging medical device.

Typically, these hip implant systems are supposed to last 15 years before needing any corrective revision. Over 93,000 patients have received the defective hip implant devices since its creation and prior to the recall. The problem with the device centers on its metal-on-metal ball and socket design. The wear of the system creates microscopic cobalt and chromium debris which causes damage to the bone and tissue it contacts.

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A new lawsuit has recently been filed in Illinois courts alleging that several patients, several of whom were Illinois senior citizens, have suffered problems following defective metal-on-metal DePuy Orthopaedics hip replacement systems .

Aboutlawsuits.com is reporting that thirteen former hip replacement patients have alleged that implants made by the company were defectively designed, ultimately causing them harm and requiring replacement. T he challenged devices include the ASR Acetabular System implants and DePuy ASR Hip Resurfacing System implants.

While this latest lawsuit involves over a dozen patients, many more Chicago-area seniors could have suffered because of the defective product. Over 93,000 of these implants were recalled by the company after it was discovered that one out of eight recipients of the medical devices experience problems within five years of the surgical implant. Many of those victims eventually require a risky hip revision procedure to completely replace the defective DePuy product.

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A panel of nutrition experts has released new definitions for malnutrition that will be universally applicable. McKnights Long-Term Care News & Assisted Living is reporting that these new definitions will help clinicians and healthcare workers identify and treat malnutrition. Researchers had decided to develop new definitions because there was a lack of generally agreed upon terms for the numerous forms and causes of malnutrition. There are now three categories of adult nutrition: starvation-related, chronic disease-related or acute disease/injury-related. These categories can now include all the major causes of malnutrition. These are important clarifications considering a 2000 study found that between 25% and 85% of nursing home residents are considered malnourished. The new definitions were accumulated by ESPEN and ASPEN. They will be published in the journals Clinical Nutrition and JPEN. To read about the new definitions, please check out the link.

Malnutrition or dehydration can cause many problems in elderly residents. These health conditions include tooth decay, broken bones, anemia and low blood pressure. Severe cases can even lead to death. These ailments can oftentimes be easily prevented if the residents are properly fed and nourished. Many times residents who are suffering from depression will become malnourished. Some experts also believe that residents become malnourished due to a lack of adequately trained personnel. Poor staffing is often the root of most nursing home abuse problems. It is the duty of all nursing homes to ensure that not only they have a sufficient number of staff members, but that these staff members are properly trained to deal with the complexities of the elderly. If you believe that you or a loved one resides in a Chicago-area or Illinois nursing home with inadequate staffing, please confront the nursing home about this problem. If this poor level of staffing has lead to nursing home abuse, consult a nursing home lawyer.