30 September 2016


Original Story: newswire.net

When you go to a medical facility or hospital, you expect to receive professional care. While there are no guarantees that the doctor or physician can help you, there’s certainly an expectation that they will do their best. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen.

The Current State of Medical Malpractice

If you’ve never been close to a medical malpractice case, it may seem like something that only happens in John Grisham books and Hollywood flicks. Oh, if only this were true. Medical malpractice is a pervasive problem today and likely will be for the foreseeable future. A Hackensack medical malpractice lawyer is following this story closely.

Here are some statistics you need to know, as gathered by MedicalMalpractice.com.

According to a recent study of malpractice cases, 60 percent of victims are female and the median age is 38 years old. Around 20 percent of patients are newborns, while 12 percent are 65 or older.

OBGYNs are the defendants in 19 percent of cases, while general surgeons (17 percent) and primary care physicians (16 percent) follow closely behind.

The average compensation for inpatient malpractice is $363,000, while the average award for outpatient care is right around $290,000.

For inpatient care, 34 percent of medical malpractice claims are rooted in surgical errors. For outpatient care, 46 percent of claims are tied to diagnosis errors.

This should give you a better idea of what the current state of medical malpractice looks like in the United States. Trends are always changing, though, so make sure you stay up to date.

Three Things You Need to Know

Now that you’re familiar with some of the data behind medical malpractice cases, let’s check out some of the top things you need to know in order to be informed. A Newark medical malpractice attorney has a track record of success in medical malpractice litigation cases.

 1.      Standard of Care

“Medical malpractice cases are assessed based on a ‘standard of care,’” Jax Legal explains. “That means that if the physician or medical professional did not meet the standards, they are guilty of medical malpractice. A standard refers to how others in a similar professional capacity would have acted.”

In any medical malpractice case, everything is going to come back to the standard of care. If the medical professional was deemed to have provided the same standard of care as that of his peers, then he will almost always be acquitted of any responsibility. However, if it’s deemed that he didn’t live up to that standard of care, then the plaintiff usually wins.

2.      How to Proceed

If you suspect you’re a victim of medical malpractice, the first step is to contact the medical professional you believe is at fault. The doctor will tell you the situation and may even offer some sort of corrective service, free of charge.

If contacting the medical professional doesn’t remedy the issue, you may reach out to the licensing board that governs medical licenses. They can often provide enough pressure to make something happen. Finally, you may wish to contact an attorney and file a medical malpractice claim. Just know that certain limitations and timeframes may be applicable.

3.      Settlements vs. Litigation

“Medical malpractice cases can be timely and costly, which is why most medical malpractice cases are settled out of court,” FindLaw explains. “In addition, because medical malpractice insurance companies reject a significantly large portion of medical malpractice claims, it may be in your best interest to settle out-of-court or risk having no case at all.”

However, should you and your attorney feel like you have a very strong case, then, by all means, seek a larger settlement or take the case to court. A Minneapolis medical malpractice lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.

Medical Malpractice is Serious Business

Medical malpractice is a big deal. While the odds of you or a loved one ever being subjected to malpractice in the United States are quite low, it never hurts to understand your rights and contact a legal professional if you suspect an issue.


Original Story: yahoo.com

Senior healthcare organisations forecast to take up 40%.

Demand for medical malpractice insurance by senior healthcare organisations in Singapore is forecast to grow by 40 per cent over the next five years, according to AIG Asia Pacific Insurance Pte. Ltd. ('AIG Singapore'). A Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer is reviewing the details of this story.

Driving this demand is the number of residents aged over 65 years here, which is expected to double from 440,000 to 900,000 by 2030[1], as well as rising incidents of chronic and complex conditions. These factors are putting the healthcare system under pressure, potentially increasing the risk of medical errors.

Similarly, the take-up rate for malpractice insurance for general healthcare institutions is projected to increase by 25 per cent in the next five years. A survey undertaken by AIG in Asia[2] revealed that the top concerns for Singapore healthcare organisations and their patients include inadequate patient handovers between caregivers, failure to correctly conduct independent double checks, and medication prescription errors as more patients get treated by multiple public and private health care professionals.

These risk areas align with complaints received by the Singapore Medical Council in 2015[3]. Out of 141 complaints, one of the most common causes was professional negligence or incompetence which accounted for 28 per cent of complaints. A Hackensack medical malpractice attorney understand the sense of loss and tragedy that a medical malpractice or negligent accident often causes.

AIG’s Head of Casualty Risk Consulting – Healthcare, Dr Aileen Killen, said AIG Singapore has seen a 300 per cent increase in medical malpractice insurance enquiries in the last year by both healthcare institutions and professionals, with a significant proportion from senior healthcare organisations.

“While hospitals and healthcare professionals have no legal obligation to insure themselves, we are seeing a strong rise in demand for medical malpractice insurance due to the increased pressures on medical staff driven by factors such as an ageing population.”

Dr Killen added, “There is a need to proactively address the risks that can arise from these pressures and for healthcare organisations to build preventive solutions into their systems. This ensures that healthcare professionals are better equipped to proactively manage risk instead of reacting to issues after the fact. In this way, healthcare organisations can keep their staff safe, and this has a major positive impact on patient outcomes and safety.” A Washington DC medical malpractice attorney helps clients receive the justice they deserve.

Research has found that there is a direct correlation between workplace safety culture scores and higher burnout rates. Aggressive patients, falls caused by unstable patients, and injuries from lifting patients are all risk areas for healthcare workers.

“Creating a safety culture begins with the well-being of healthcare professionals. It is vital to ensure adequate support for these workers for a coordinated approach to patient safety, which will ultimately create a safer environment for both patients and workers,” said Dr Killen.


Original Story: americanbazaaronline.com

WASHINGTON, DC: More than two dozen medical malpractice lawsuits, including three wrongful death allegations, have been filed against three Lake County, Indiana cardiologists accused of performing scores of unnecessary surgical procedures at Community Hospital in Munster. A Chicago wrongful death lawyer provides experienced and passionate wrongful death legal representation across a range of civil litigation matters.

The defendants in the lawsuits are Dr. Arvind Gandhi, Dr. Satyaprakash Makam and Dr. Wail Asfour, Cardiology Associates of Northwest Indiana, PC and Munster Medical Research Foundation, Inc., doing business as Community Hospital, according to a press release issued by attorneys from Cohen & Malad, LLP, Theodoros & Rooth, PC, and the Law Office of Paul A. Rossi, last month.

The law firms’ 19 new lawsuits – and a total of 28 lawsuits – have been filed with the Indiana Department of Insurance or in state courts against cardiologists at Cardiology Associates of Northwest Indiana, PC, and Munster Medical Research Foundation, Inc., doing business as Community Hospital.  A Newark medical malpractice attorney is reviewing the details of this case.

A formal complaint was also filed with the Indiana Attorney General against members of his medical group. The Indiana AG refers cases to the Medical Licensing Board.

The allegations against the defendants include numerous instances of unnecessary pacemaker implantation, death caused by unnecessary pacemaker installation, unnecessary open-heart surgery, unnecessary angiograms, unnecessary stenting, and unnecessary cardiac defibrillator (ICD) implantation.

David Cutshaw, of Cohen & Malad, LLP, said in a statement, “For far too long, questions have been raised about the conduct of Dr. Gandhi, his associates, and Community Hospital. As we allege, more and more families throughout northwestern Indiana now know they or their family members were subjected to cardiac surgeries and other procedures that were unnecessary and dangerous.”

Barry Rooth, of Theodoros & Rooth, PC, said in a statement, “The evidence we have developed in our investigation and the litigation – and the persistent silence of Community Hospital – raises troubling questions about Dr. Gandhi and his associates and why the hospital did not heed internal warnings they received for nearly a decade.” A Minneapolis medical malpractice lawyer is following this story closely.

In May, two other former Gandhi patients, Raymond Kammer and Gloria Sargent sued the three defendants, alleging unnecessary surgeries and complications, according to the press release.

Sargent alleges that complications from an unnecessary “upgrade” of an implant cardiac defibrillator (ICD) in 2006 required her to later undergo a heart transplant. In both cases, three-doctor Medical Review Panels unanimously found that Dr. Gandhi committed medical malpractice.


Original Story: insurancejournal.com

Congress has advanced legislation to clarify that sports doctors’ medical malpractice insurance should follow them when they travel out of state with their teams.

The House of Representatives this week approved the Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act (US HR 921), which had 190 sponsors and was co-sponsored by Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky) and Cedric Richmond (D-La). A Minneapolis medical malpractice lawyer represents clients in medical negligence cases.

The bill will now be sent to the U.S. Senate for consideration (US S 689).

The measure aims to protects team physicians and athletic trainers when they travel across state lines with their teams to treat the athletes under their care.

The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) backs the bill and says it has worked for four years with other groups including the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons to gain support.

The bill stipulates that health care services provided by a covered sports medicine professional to an athlete, athletic team, or team staff member in a secondary state outside that professional’s state of licensure will be covered by the appropriate medical malpractice insurance provider.

Currently, AMSSM says sports medicine professionals who travel outside of their state to provide care for athletes are often not covered by their medical malpractice insurance – largely because of jurisdictional issues. Supporters say the federal bill would allow sport medicine providers to engage in the treatment of injured athletes across state lines without taking on unnecessary professional and financial risk. A Baltimore medical malpractice attorney is following this story closely.

“This commonsense bill will bring certainty to the health professionals tasked with taking care of our athletes,” said Rep. Guthrie in a statement. “It’s a win for everyone involved and ensures those that know our athletes best are responsible for their care, even when playing and traveling out of state.”


Original Story: npr.org

Almost two decades ago, Dr. Lars Aanning sat on the witness stand in a medical malpractice trial and faced a dilemma.

The South Dakota surgeon had been called to vouch for the expertise of one of his partners whose patient had suffered a stroke and permanent disability after an operation. The problem was that Aanning had, in his own mind, questioned his colleague's skill. His partner's patients had suffered injuries related to his procedures. But Aanning understood why his partner's attorney had called him as a witness: Doctors don't squeal on doctors. A Chicago medical malpractice lawyer is following this story closely.

The attorney asked the key question: Did Aanning know of any time his partner's work had been substandard?

"No, never," Aanning said.

Now, Aanning, in a stunning admission for a medical professional, has a blunter answer: "I lied."

While it's impossible to know to what extent Aanning's testimony influenced the outcome, the jury sided in favor of his colleague — and, ever since, Aanning said, he has felt haunted by his decision.

Now, 77 and retired, he decided to write about his choice and why he made it in a recent column for his local newspaper, The Yankton County Observer. He also posted the article in the ProPublica Patient Safety Facebook group. Aanning, who is a member, called it "A Surgeon's Belated Confession." A Hackensack medical malpractice attorney represents clients injured due to the negligence of a medical professional.

"From that very moment I knew I had lied — lied under oath — and violated all my pledges of professionalism that came with the Doctor of Medicine degree and membership in the [American Medical Association]," Aanning wrote.

Aanning, who has become an outspoken patient advocate, now assists the medical malpractice attorney who represented the patient in the case in which he lied for his partner.

There's no way to tell how often doctors lie to protect their colleagues, but ProPublica has found that patients frequently aren't told the truth when they are harmed. Studies also show that many physicians do not have a favorable view of informing patients about mistakes and that health care workers are afraid to speak up if things don't seem right. Many doctors and nurses have told ProPublica that they fear retaliation if they speak out about patient safety problems.

ProPublica spoke to Aanning about his unusual column and why he decided to confess all these years later. The interview has been edited for clarity and length. A Washington D.C. medical malpractice lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.

Why did you tell the lie?

I did it as a matter of course. And I did it because there was a cultural attitude I was immersed in: You viewed all attorneys as a threat, and anything that you did was OK to thwart their efforts to sue your colleagues. I just accepted that as normal. It wasn't like, "I'm going to lie." It was, "I'm going to support my colleague."

Did you feel pressure from your peers to never criticize a colleague?

Pressure is the prevailing attitude of the medical profession. The professional societies like the AMA and the American College of Surgeons say you should be a patient advocate at all times. But that goes out the window because here you are, banding together with your peers. Because if you don't, you'll be like a man without a country.

Why are you telling the truth now?

I'm retired now. The big benefit is they can't hurt me, but I can't go to the clinic for any help. All my doctors are out of town. I came to America from Norway in '47 and grew up in New York. I've always been a rabble-rouser. This testifying falsely at this trial was not like me, so it stands out. It's not how I do stuff.

I also told the truth about my lie because I have been helping some of these plaintiffs' lawyers with their cases. It seems that the courtroom is not the arena for adjudication of medical right or wrong. I shared my story to give an explicit example of why you can't always rely on physician testimony in court. I think that's the big reason. There's got to be a different way to help people who have been medically harmed. Looking to the legal system is like mixing oil and water.

Do you feel like it's your fault the patient lost the case?

I haven't touched on that question. It would make it painful for me. I would be moved to tears if that whole case revolved around just my testimony. I was on the stand so briefly. But cumulatively between what I said and the other testimony — it was never a level playing field for the plaintiff. People don't recognize it. How the judges don't recognize it and the system doesn't recognize it is beyond me. It's something I'm coming to grips with.

Have you thought about talking to the patient's family?

The attorney said something about meeting the patient's widow in his office, or something like that. I worry about whether my testimony weighed on the final verdict or not. It's something that you just have to face up to. It's too late to deflect it.

Do you feel any better or worse now that you've gone public with your moral failure?

I'm not altruistic. I'm not a crusader. I got into writing this column accidentally, so I just kind of find myself in this position. I get a great satisfaction out of defining what I see and writing about it. I hope nobody's going to come back at me and accuse me of bad conduct. Although that's what it was. I felt bad about it.

18 July 2016

LAPD Motor Officer Airlifted After Crash on 60 Fwy in Chino Area

Original Story: ktla.com

A Los Angeles police motorcycle officer was struck by an SUV on the 60 Freeway in the Chino area and airlifted with major injuries on Wednesday, according to CHP which may lead to him needing a Los Angeles motorcycle accident lawyer if he does not get his medical needs covered.

The collision occurred just after 11 a.m. on the westbound freeway near Mountain Avenue, according to Officer D. Boatman of the California Highway Patrol’s Inland Division.

The Los Angeles Police Department officer was believed to have suffered major injuries, Boatman said.

The veteran LAPD Central Traffic Division officer was on his way to work when a collision occurred, LAPD Officer Liliana Preciado said.

His condition is not known but he is expected to survive, LAPD Officer Tony Im said. The officer was being treated at Loma Linda University Medical Center, where other motor officers were seen arriving for visits.

A witness said the SUV swerved into the carpool lane after the vehicle had failed to slow for stopping traffic, CHP Officer Jesus Garcia said on scene. The SUV struck the LAPD officer, who was traveling in the carpool lane, Garcia said. This driver may need a Los Angeles truck accident lawyer if the injuries are substantial.

The SUV's driver was hospitalized as a precaution.

Just before 11:30 a.m., Caltrans District 8 said the westbound 60 Freeway was closed for an unknown duration and life-flight was on the ground.

The location of the crash, as provided by CHP's traffic incident log, is near the border of Chino and Ontario. It is unclear is the officer will need hernia repair.

A SigAlert was issued at 11:19 a.m. All lanes reopened by 2 p.m.

Chemical smell at Lynden storage facility closes street

Original Story: bellinghamherald.com

Fire officials said they could not determine the source of a chemical smell at a chemical storage tank locker that caused minor respiratory symptoms for three people and closed 19th Street for several hours Tuesday, July 12.

Three people were treated for sore throats and chest tightness in the incident at K Mini Storage & Mail, 413 19th St., said Lynden Fire Chief Gary Baar. None of the affected people required further examination, he said, but the street was closed for several hours to allow fire crews access to the building.

Whatcom County’s multi-agency hazardous materials team was summoned as a precaution.

“We searched every storage unit,” Baar said. “One unit seemed a little bit suspicious, but it happened to be nothing serious.”

Baar was among the first firefighters at the scene and described the odor as akin to bleach or insecticide. He and other firefighters immediately donned their protective clothing, face masks and air packs, he said.

Haz-mat team members wore full protective “moon suits” to conduct their search. Some 30 firefighters and others worked at the scene. They were going to search chemical holding tanks for leaks.

Crews from Lynden Fire Department and North Whatcom Fire and Rescue responded to reports of a strange chemical smell at 12:35 p.m. Tuesday, said Lynden Fire Assistant Chief Robert Spinner.

Firefighters could not determine what caused the smell after an initial inspection, Spinner said, and detectors did not alert them to any dangerous materials. Officials didn’t evacuate besides the building itself, but 19th Street between Main and Front streets remain closed until the investigation was complete about 7 p.m.., Spinner said.Firefighters and haz-mat crews staged their vehicles across the street at Farmers Equipment Co. and the street was closed so crews could move back and forth freely, Baar said.

Patient accuses health providers of medical malpractice

Original Story: cookcountyrecord.com

A patient is suing Chicago health providers, alleging their negligence caused her injuries during surgery. A Chicago medical malpractice lawyer would have like to have assisted with the case.

Sharrone M. Travis filed a lawsuit June 9 in Cook County Circuit Court against Dr. Florence Mussat, Presence St. Joseph Hospital-Chicago and Presence Chicago Hospitals Network, alleging negligence and medical malpractice in failing to properly perform a surgical procedure on the plaintiff.

According to the complaint, on July 3, 2014, Travis experienced severe pain from a necrotizing infection caused by improperly performed liposuction on her buttocks. The plaintiff alleges the defendants failed to properly perform the operation as well as failing to check on the plaintiff after the procedure.

Travis seeks judgment of at least $50,000 in an amount to satisfy the jurisdictional limitation of the court, plus court costs. She is represented by attorneys Julie L. Pustilnik and Marc A. Taxman of Anesi, Ozmon, Rodin, Novak & Kohen, Ltd. in Chicago.

Cook County Circuit Court Case number 16L005754

15 July 2016

Jury hits U. of C. hospital with $53 million malpractice verdict

Original Story: chicagotribune.com

A Cook County jury has awarded $53 million to a 12-year-old Hickory Hills boy and his mother in a 2013 lawsuit filed against the University of Chicago Medical Center, where he was born with a serious brain injury. A Chicago medical malpractice lawyer said this will help to pay for the boy's future healthcare.

The jury's award to Lisa and Isaiah Ewing includes $28.8 million for future caretaking expenses, according to a copy of the jury verdict form provided by their lawyers, Geoffrey Fieger of suburban Detroit and Jack Beam of Chicago. Isaiah has severe cerebral palsy, is in a wheelchair, and needs his mother to feed and clothe him.

It was the biggest birth injury verdict ever in Cook County, said John Kirkton, editor of Jury Verdict Reporter in Chicago.

Their lawsuit outlined about 20 alleged missteps by doctors and nurses after Ewing arrived about 40 weeks pregnant at the hospital and was experiencing less movement by her baby. The mistakes, the lawsuit alleged, included the failures to carefully monitor mother and baby, perform a timely cesarean section, follow a chain of command, obtain accurate cord blood gases, and be aware of abnormal fetal heart rate patterns that indicated distress to the baby, including hypoxia, or a drop in the supply of oxygen.  "The University of Chicago has been, for the last 12 years, completely unapologetic, and even though the evidence was overwhelming that they caused Isaiah's brain damage, they refused to accept responsibility," Fieger said at the news conference Thursday. Ewing hadn't had any problems during her pregnancy, he added.

Before the case went to the jury, the hospital filed for a mistrial.

Fieger's "closing argument shattered the line between zealous advocacy and improper prejudicial comments, rendering it impossible for defendant to receive a fair trial," the hospital's lawyer said in a court filing. "He also prejudicially argued that the defendant's case was built on a falsehood and proceeded to equate defendant's conduct and testimony of its witnesses with the propaganda techniques notoriously and unmistakably associated with Nazi Germany."

Hospital spokeswoman Lorna Wong said the hospital had "great sympathy" for the family but "strongly" disagrees with the jury's verdict.

"Judge Kirby declined to enter judgment on the verdict, as there are pending motions for mistrial based on assertions of Mr. Fieger's improper conduct," she said, noting that it wouldn't be the first overturned verdict involving Fieger.

She said Isaiah and his mother were treated for infection, which can cause cerebral palsy. "Isaiah was born with normal oxygen blood levels," and the "injury occurred before the care Mr. Fieger criticized."

After the news conference, Fieger said he expected the judge to confirm the verdict. "The jury has spoken," he said. A Chicago Brain Injury Lawyer said this is usually how this procedure occurs.

The jury decided the case in four hours, Fieger said. A list of the damages also includes $7.2 million for future medical expenses. The document was signed by 12 jurors.

Fieger disputed that Isaiah had an infection.

"All of the medical records at the University of Chicago neonatal clinic showed that Isaiah had been suffocated at birth, that he had suffered hypoxia, lack of oxygen, yet the University of Chicago and its lawyers came to court and tried to tell the jury that their own records were false, that their own records were mistaken and that Isaiah really had a phantom infection that infected his brain that they could never have known about," Fieger said during the news conference.

Ewing said at the news conference that she has to bathe Isaiah and help him go to the bathroom. She lives in a two-story town home, so she must carry him up and down the stairs.

She said the verdict will help ensure that Isaiah is taken care of after she dies.

05 July 2016

Hernia Hill Half Marathon slated for Sunday in Vallecito

Original Story: calaverasenterprise.com

The 29th annual Hernia Hill Half Marathon is scheduled for Sunday at Twisted Oak Winery in Vallecito. On Your Mark Events produces the race, which draws runners from both the immediate region and throughout California and Nevada.

The Hernia Hill event also provides a 10K run and 5K run/walk. In addition, there is the Rubber Chicken 5K Relay, in which teams of four people will hand off a special rubber chicken as the baton.

Twisted Oak Winery is at 4280 Red Hill Road, Vallecito, between Angels Camp and Murphys off of Highway 4. The three courses feature a combination of hilly paved surfaces and packed gravel roads. Runners can expect views of the crest of the Sierra and nearby vineyards. All four courses finish up dashing through the Twisted Oak cardiac cave, the winery’s barrel-aging cave.

01 July 2016

Hernias and how to know the signs and symptoms

Original Story: mydaytondailynews.com

As you bend down to pick up the groceries, all of the sudden you feel a pop and have shooting pain in the abdomen — or worse yet, in the groin. Maybe that pain is where you have a scar from surgery. Could these be the first signs that you are dealing with a hernia?

As a very common surgical problem, hernias can cause pain and discomfort that can make even day-to-day activities difficult. Sometimes a bulge or a lump appears where the hernia has occurred, accompanying symptoms of pain. Whether or not a bulge is visible, you may be dealing with a hernia, and surgery may be necessary.

“A hernia is a hole in the muscle or abdomen where there should not be one,” says Christopher Schneider, MD, a Kettering Physician Network surgeon and co-director of the Hernia Center at Soin Medical Center in Beavercreek. “Hernias can occur anywhere in the body including in areas that are not easily seen. Most often the hernia is located in one of the groin regions or at the belly button. Previous surgeries can weaken the abdominal wall, making hernias more likely to occur along an existing scar.”

In adults, after a hernia forms, it will never go away. The discomfort (and usually pain) that comes from the hernia is a result of other structures of the body (like the bowel or fat) pushing through that hole. “If the lump does not go away or if the pain continues to increase, this could indicate a bigger problem,” says Dr. Schneider. “The bowel or fat could twist on itself and then die off. A hernia in that situation becomes an emergency and could be life threatening.”

Recognizing the symptoms of a hernia early and being examined by a doctor are important. Signs and symptoms include a new bulge that comes on suddenly and pain that does not go away.

Even after a hernia has already been repaired there is still always the possibility that it will return. “Activity too soon after surgery, smoking, significant coughing, obesity and uncontrolled diabetes can all cause difficulty healing and lead to another hernia,” says Dr. Schneider. “Sometimes, even though a person has done nothing to aggravate it, a hernia can still come back.”

Other risk factors of a hernia include chronic constipation, difficult bowel movements and a family history of hernias.

Dr. Schneider recommends that your doctor examine any new lump, bump, or bulge. Not all hernias need surgery, but all of them should be looked at and discussed in order to prevent emergency situations from happening and to assure long term health.

Kettering Health Network is a faith-based, not-for-profit healthcare system that improves quality of life through healthcare and education. The Network has eight hospitals: Grandview, Kettering, Sycamore, Southview, Greene Memorial, Fort Hamilton, Kettering Behavioral Health and Soin. The network’s 10 emergency departments and four trauma centers make up one of the largest and most advanced networks of emergency care in the state of Ohio.

2 Injured in Accident on Downtown Los Angeles Film Set

Original Story: ktla.com
Two people at a downtown Los Angeles film set were injured Thursday when equipment fell on them, authorities said. This will be a case for a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer.
The incident occurred about 8:40 p.m. near 7th and Spring streets, according to Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department.
One person had head trauma and the other person suffered a leg injury, Humphrey said.
The equipment that fell onto the people may have been a ventilation fan, he added.

Hanford workers report illnesses linked to chemical vapors

Original Story: tri-cityherald.com

Dave Klug walked out of a Hanford tank farm control room on a cold, calm night in January 2010 into air that took his breath away.

“Immediately, I had tightness in my chest. I lost feeling in my face. My heart rate was going crazy,” he said.

Klug, a longtime Hanford tank farm worker, was one of several workers who talked about their experiences with chemical vapors at a forum Wednesday night in Pasco. Was this coming from a chemical storage tank nearby?

Klug was off work for 11 months after that night and now has 30 percent permanent, partial disability for reactive airway disease and occupational asthma, he said.

Those who talked at the forum kept coming back to two types of illnesses they believe are caused by chemical vapors — breathing problems, as Klug described, and neurological issues, including a brain disease called toxic encephalopathy. This could involve a Baton Rouge toxic torts lawyer for assistance.

Toxic encephalopathy is what Barbara Sall said led to the dementia and death of her husband, a Hanford carpenter who died at the age of 57.  This could have been solved by a good chemical holding tanks with proper seals.

The forum — organized by Hanford Challenge, union Local 598 and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson — drew about 200 people. The two agencies and the state of Washington have filed a federal lawsuit seeking better protection from chemical vapors for Hanford workers.

The Department of Energy, the target of the lawsuit along with its tank farm contractor, has said that all air samples analyzed from the breathing zones of workers since 2005 have not found chemicals in concentrations above the occupational limits set to protect workers.

In recent months, about 53 workers have received medical checks for possible exposure to chemical vapors at Hanford, but all have been cleared to return to work when no symptoms were detected, according to DOE. Blood tests also have come back clear.

But such statements have been met with skepticism.

One worker at the meeting said it seemed that the tank farm contractor, Washington River Protection Solutions, did not care about sick workers when it recently pointed out that it had the second-best safety record in the nationwide DOE cleanup complex. Will these workers need a New Orleans toxic torts lawyer for help?

“They are going to eat those words” when they lose the lawsuit, said James Hart, national president of the Metal Trades Department of the AFL-CIO.

Mike Lawrence, the DOE Hanford manager from 1984-90, said he has been following the issue closely.

A significant number of workers have experienced health effects or symptoms, Lawrence said. There could be a correlation between the illnesses and toxic fumes from chemicals in chemical storage tanks.

But DOE says it cannot measure chemicals in vapors at levels that current occupational standards say would cause a problem.

“Obviously people are hurting, people are sick and something needs to be done,” Lawrence said.

He proposed that an independent, experienced and qualified third party, chosen jointly by DOE and the state of Washington, collect data.

Although a team of experts led by the Savannah River National Laboratory prepared the latest report on Hanford tank vapors, the report has no credibility to some because the lab is part of the DOE system, Lawrence said.  This story has caught the attention of a Jackson toxic exposure lawyer.

He suggested the University of Washington School of Public Health as a possible independent agency for the work.

Unless DOE can prove that workers are not being exposed to chemical vapors, protective gear should be worn, he said.

Supplied air respirators are required if Hanford officials suspect conditions that could cause the release of chemical vapors. The Hanford Atomic Metal Trades Council has demanded that supplied air respirators be mandatory for any worker in the tank farms, and in some cases workers near the farms.

Klug said the tank farm contractor just needs to fix the problem. Work to raise discharge stacks from the tanks so they are farther from worker’s noses is not enough, he said.

It has to be DOE’s responsibility to keep workers safe, said Steven Gilbert, director of the nonprofit Institute of Neurotoxicology and Neurological Disorders in Seattle and a Hanford Challenge board member.

“It’s a witches brew of chemical in the tanks,” he said.

Exactly which chemicals workers are exposed to is not known, Gilbert said. But he can say that inhaled chemicals can cause problems. The chemicals can go from the lungs to the brain quickly.  They wonder if there was proper use of a chemical holding tank.

People have different sensitivities to chemical vapors, said Rick Jansons, a former Hanford worker who is running for the state Legislature. Incumbent Brad Klippert also was at the meeting.

Jansons has been exposed three times and has developed no symptoms, but it is obvious that other people are getting sick, he said.

Diana Gegg, a former heavy equipment operator at Hanford, said she was 600 yards away from a reported vapor cloud in 2007 when she was exposed. Within a week she developed flu-like symptoms, plus vision problems diagnosed as muscle dysfunction.

She eventually had to stop driving and has been diagnosed with toxic encephalopathy and neurotoxicity, she said. Hanford officials have denied she was injured.

“My life ended that day as I knew it,” she said.

Hart, the national union official, said he has looked at the cause of death for Hanford workers represented by Local 598 back to 1988 and sees a pattern of deaths caused by cancer and respiratory illness for workers not yet 65 years old. This is the type of research that a Jacksonville toxic torts lawyer would have to do.

Younger workers at the tank farms are afraid to speak up about their concerns, Klug said.

Any worker under the union umbrella of the Hanford Atomic Metal Trades Council who raises tank vapor concerns will have the full protection of the AFL-CIO’s national Metal Trades Council, Hart said.

“We are all fighting for the people in this room,” he told the crowd.

30 June 2016

Orland Park Man Finds Relief After Complex Robotic Hernia Surgery

Original Story: theherald-news.com

Years ago Orland Park resident John Jawor was diagnosed with a benign tumor on his pancreas. After the growth was surgically removed, scar tissue developed and the abdominal tissue was weakened, developing a painful tear over time that progressively enlarged. A lump became visible, growing larger than a walnut.

Jawor consulted his primary care doctor, who referred him to see general surgeon Dr. Thomas Vasdekas. Dr. Vasdekas recommended robotic hernia surgery at the Midwest Institute of Robotic Surgery at Silver Cross Hospital. More robotic surgeries are performed at Silver Cross than any other hospital or surgery center in the Chicago metropolitan area.

Jawor is now pain free and the hernia is gone. “I am so grateful to Dr.Vasdekas for repairing my hernia and the great nursing staff at Silver Cross for making my entire experience so pleasant,” said the 63-year old. “Not only was my recovery quick, I was able to return to work much sooner.”

A hernia occurs when an organ or scar tissue pushes through an opening in the muscle or tissue that holds it in place. Hernia surgery is one of the most common general surgical procedures performed in the U.S.

“In John’s case, his prior surgery made his abdomen wall weak causing scar tissue that eventually created a very large hernia, which was actually comprised of five small hernias,” said Dr.Vasdekas, board certified general surgeon on staff at Silver Cross. “By completing the surgery using the da Vinci robot, a less invasive technique was used to insert a large piece of mesh to repair the hernia. In addition, robotic surgery far surpasses any other surgical approach because it greatly enhances the surgeon’s ability to visualize tissue allowing for more flexibility to make repairs in tighter spaces.

“Robotic surgery offers complex cases, like John’s, many potential benefits over traditional open surgery, including minimal blood loss, less scarring, shorter hospital stay, low risk of complications and a faster recovery,” said Dr. Vasdekas.

28 June 2016

Hundreds Arrested For $900 Million Worth Of Health Care Fraud

Original Story: cnn.com

The Justice Department announced Wednesday it's charging hundreds of individuals across the country with committing Medicare fraud worth hundreds of millions of dollars. A hernia doctor said it is the largest he has ever seen.

It's the largest takedown in history -- both in terms of the number of people charged and the loss amount, according to the Justice Department.
The majority of the cases being prosecuted involve separate fraudulent billings to Medicare, Medicaid or both for treatments that were never provided.
In one case, a Detroit clinic that was actually a front for a narcotics diversion scheme billed Medicare for more than $36 million, the Justice Department said. A Connecticut medicare lawyer may be contacted.

A doctor in Texas has been charged with participating in schemes to bill Medicare for "medically unnecessary home health services that were often not provided."
And in Florida, the owner of several infusion clinics is accused by the federal government of defrauding medicare out of over $8 million for a scheme involving the reimbursement for expensive intravenous drugs that were never actually purchased and never given to patients.
"Health care fraud is not an abstract violation or benign offense. It is a serious crime," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said. "They target real people -- many of them in need of significant medical care. They promise effective cures and therapies, but they provide none. Above all, they abuse basic bonds of trust -- between doctor and patient; between pharmacist and doctor; between taxpayer and government -- and pervert them to their own ends."

The defendants are charged with a numerous crimes, including conspiracy to commit health care fraud, violations of anti-kickback statutes, money laundering and aggravated identity theft.
The numbers from the case are staggering.
The Justice Department says that 301 people across the country have been charged with about $900 million in false billing -- both records for the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which carried out the "unprecedented nationwide sweep."
"These criminals target the most vulnerable in our society by taking money away from the care of the elderly, children and disabled," said FBI Associate Deputy Director David Bowdich.
Defendants in Florida are charged with carrying out more than $200 million worth of fraud, while individuals in California, Texas and Michigan are charged with committing more than $100 million worth of fraud in each state. Many of a San Diego health care fraud lawyer are reviewing these cases.

The strike force, part of a joint initiative between the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Service, was formed in 2007. To date it has carried out takedowns resulting in more than 1,000 people being charged with committing over $3.5 billion in health care fraud.

Home health fraud
Much of the fraud involved home health care agencies -- and those types of services have been identified as particularly vulnerable to fraud, according to the HHS Department's inspector general.
Medicare home health benefit covers skilled nursing care, home-based assistance and therapeutic services for qualifying individuals who are home-bound.
In conjunction with the arrests, the HHS inspector general released a study saying that more than $10 billion was made in improper payments in home health care in the 2015 financial year.
"Home health has long been recognized as a program area vulnerable to fraud, waste, and abuse," it said. "Home health fraud in Medicare continues to warrant scrutiny and attention."
It also identified 27 so-called "hotspots" in 12 places where it believes home health care fraud is committed more often.  With more than one Los Angeles health care lawyer staying on top of the story it is no wonder why this is getting so much publicity.

Part D fraud
Lynch said one of the new trends law enforcement noticed was fraud involving the Medicare Part D, the prescription drug program.
"We saw new evidence of identity theft, including the use of stolen doctors' IDs to prepare fake prescriptions," she said.
More than 60 of those who were arrested were charged with fraud related to Part D, according to the Justice Department.
The HHS inspector general's office said that one in three Part D beneficiaries received commonly abused opioids last year, a trend it called concerning.
"Misuse of opioids not only has serious financial costs but also human costs, including deaths from overdoses," HHS said. "These continuing high rates provide further evidence of this crisis facing our Nation."

Nation's biggest healthcare fraud probe nets 301 people, including 22 in Southern California

Original Story: latimes.com

Several doctors, a psychiatrist and a pharmacist were among 22 people in Southern California charged as part of a nationwide investigation into federal healthcare fraud schemes that frequently targeted military families and cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, the U.S. Justice Department announced Wednesday. A hernia doctor was not believed to be part of the case.

The investigation resulted in the largest such enforcement action in U.S. history, netting more than 300 people nationwide and involving more than $900 million in fraudulent billings, officials said.

In Southern California, five physicians were among those arrested in cases involving $125 million in elaborate fraud schemes that targeted Medicare and the military’s medical plan and involved medical billing, unnecessary procedures and high-priced specialized compound medications. A St Louis medical malpractice defense lawyer may need to be consulted.

The charges in 13 criminals cases filed in federal courts in Los Angeles and Santa Ana include conspiracy, money laundering, kickback schemes and identity theft, according to several federal indictments.

“Those charged in cases unsealed this week include one doctor who allegedly performed medically unnecessary procedures at his offices in Temecula and Mira Loma. And he submitted nearly $12 million in bills to Medicare,” U.S. Atty. Eileen M. Decker said.

That physician was named in the federal charges as Dr. Donald Woo Lee. The 50-year-old physician is accused of performing unnecessary vein procedures on patients even when they had no signs of varicose veins. A Chicago medical malpractice lawyer said this is a clear case of wrongdoing.

The other doctors charged are David Michael Jensen, 65, of Whittier; Kain Kumar, 52, of Encino; Sang Kim, 67, of Porter Ranch and Samuel Albert, 81, of Laguna Beach.

None of the physicians could be reached for comment.
Most losses in Southern California are tied to five cases involving compounding pharmacies, which combine different medications into one drug, Decker said. The scams are orchestrated by marketers known as “cappers,” who recruit patients and sometimes use their identity to obtain government medical funding.

Decker said compounding pharmacies were provided with scores of prescriptions, generally for pain medications, that carried huge reimbursements, often more than $15,000 for each prescription.

The prescriptions were written for “patients” who, in many cases, did not want the medicines, had never met the prescribing doctors or had no idea why they were receiving the medications,  Decker said.

Tricare, the military’s managed care program, was the primary target of schemes involving the compounding pharmacies, Decker said. “Prescriptions were written for profit rather than to treat the patient,” Decker said. A Charlotte medical malpractice lawyer would not comment on the case.

One marketer John Garbino, 46, of Dana Point, was charged with receiving illegal kickbacks. A Palmdale pharmacy working with Garbino allegedly received more than $46 million from Tricare in a six-month period ending in May 2015, court records show.

In another scheme, Dr. David Michael Jensen, 65, of Whittier, owner a La Mirada pharmacy Valley View Drugs Inc., was indicted along with two marketers on charges of paying and receiving illegal kickbacks.

Health insurers paid the pharmacy more than $20 million, and the pharmacy paid nearly half of that to companies associated with the marketers, according to the indictment.

“Patients were pawns in an alleged pay-for-play fraud scheme,” California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said. A Knoxville medical malpractice defense lawyer was ready to take on new clients.

Anthony J. Orlando, acting special agent in charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s criminal investigation unit,  said in one scheme the proceeds were laundered using a carwash, a plumbing business and an escrow company.

Most of those charged in Southern California were arrested Monday and Tuesday. Several turned themselves in to authorities.

Two others remain at large and are believed to be overseas, officials said.

21 June 2016

Persian Gulf War Veterans Still Suffering Serious Health Problems

Original Story:  huffingtonpost.com

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Persian Gulf War.

It was fought in late 1990 through early 1991 by a U.S.-led coalition of 34 countries against Iraq in response to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. Was there a problem with a chemical storage tank leaking?

It also was the first U.S. war to be waged after the advent of the 24-hour cable television news cycle.

The conflict was accompanied by memorably intense and round-the-clock coverage on CNN.

But there’ve been few recognitions of the war’s 25-year milestone on the cable news networks, let alone in broadcast or print media.

For David Winnett, a Gulf War combat veteran who climbed the ranks from private to captain during his 20-year career in the U.S. Marines, it’s just the latest in a succession of insults to the men and women who served in this largely forgotten war.  This may need the services of a Los Angeles Toxic Torts Lawyer.

“It’s no surprise that many people could easily forget ‘our war.’ It was far too fast by any historical measure,” Winnett told Healthline. “Perhaps things would be different had we continued our advance all the way to Baghdad, but the fact is, we didn’t. So regardless of whether or not we think our war has been unfairly set aside in the history books, it is what it is.”

Toxic Aftermath

While ground combat in the Persian Gulf War only lasted days, Winnett said, the toxic legacy of the war has been just as devastating for the postwar health of Gulf War veterans as the defoliant Agent Orange has been for those who served in Vietnam.

Winnett is just one of hundreds of thousands of Gulf War vets who suffer from Gulf War Illness (GWI), also known as Gulf War Syndrome, the panoply of chronic and often debilitating symptoms reported by veterans of that conflict.

The acute symptoms, which for many veterans never go away, include extreme fatigue, neurological issues, insomnia, migraines, joint pain, persistent coughing, gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea and constipation, skin problems, dizziness, respiratory disorders, and memory problems.

The National Academy of Sciences estimates that as many as 250,000 of the 700,000 U.S. troops who served in the Persian Gulf War have been affected by GWI, which studies have shown is the result of a litany of toxic exposures that troops like Winnett endured while serving.

Troops were exposed to toxic smoke from the fires of thousands of military burn pits in the war zone. The fires involved tires and other things that contain harmful chemicals.

There was also sarin and other toxic chemicals dropped on U.S. troops.

Two peer reviewed scientific research studies released in 2012 concluded that weather patterns carried massive toxic chemical cloud that fell on U.S. troops. The cloud was created by the U.S. bombing of Iraqi chemical weapon storage facilities

The first study concluded that nerve and blister agents, which were supplied to Iraq by the U.S. before the Gulf War when Hussein was an uncomfortable ally, were bombed by U.S. forces. The toxic substances were swept into the atmosphere and subsequently dropped on U.S. troops.

The second study confirmed the number of GWI reports was in fact higher at the places where the sarin fell.

“Our peer reviewed scientific findings bring us full circle by confirming what most soldiers believed when they heard the nerve gas alarms. The alarms were caused by sarin fallout from our bombing of Iraqi weapons sites,” James Tuite, who led the first study, said in a statement.

The VA’s Position

Despite the scientific evidence and a mandate from Congress that Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recognize several of the symptoms as connected to service in the Gulf War, the VA maintains that there are no definitive scientific studies that link symptoms and diseases associated with GWI to toxic exposures during the war.

According to a 2015 report, about 80 percent of Gulf War veterans who file disability claims citing presumptive chronic multisymptom illnesses connected to toxic exposures are denied by the VA.

A written statement from the VA’s Post-Deployment Health Services team to Healthline stated that in the past few years the VA has “ramped up educational efforts to VA providers on Gulf War Illness.” However, the statement read, “there are times when referral to a psychiatrist is indicated due to a co-morbid condition such as severe depression or another severe mental health condition.”

In another email to Healthline, VA officials said a claim could be denied for a number of reasons, including the belief an ailment was caused by something other than military service or the ailment could be “less than 10 percent disabling.”

Most often, say multiple sources for this story, veterans who say they have these symptoms are sent to the psychiatric departments of VA centers, where they are typically given psychotropic drugs that don’t help them, and in many cases make things worse.

The VA acknowledges the following in a statement on its website: “Rockets filled with sarin and cyclosporine mixes were found at a munitions storage depot in Khamisiyah, Iraq, that had been demolished by U.S. service members following the 1991 Gulf War cease-fire. An undetermined amount of these chemicals was released into the atmosphere. The Department of Defense concluded about 100,000 Gulf War Veterans could have been exposed to low levels of these nerve agents.”

The VA also adds that “research doesn’t show long-term neurological problems from exposure to low levels of sarin. A low level of sarin is an amount that doesn’t cause noticeable symptoms during the exposure.”

Regarding the burn pits, a VA statement on its burn pits registry page reads, “At this time, research does not show evidence of long-term health problems from exposure to burn pits.”

Did the Gulf War Cause Cancer, Too?

Benjamin Krause is a Gulf War veteran who went to law school after he retired from the military, and dedicates his practice to helping his fellow veterans.

He told Healthline that burn pit exposures are associated with an increasing number of diseases, including cancer.

“There’s growing evidence showing a link between burn pits and certain cancers like pancreatic cancer, for example,” Krause said. “VA is working to create a registry to help with service connection and health benefits for these veterans, but history has shown us that such initiatives take much longer to perfect while sick veterans die.”

Compounding the problem, Krause said, are non-VA healthcare providers who are simply unaware of the health risks of military service.

“They don’t ask the right questions and risk deadly misdiagnosis of symptoms because of a lack of awareness of the harms of burn pits, among other things,” Krause noted. “Veterans are getting sick and dying now. We need our VA to pick up the pace before more veterans get sick and die from burn pit exposure related illnesses.”

Congress Steps In

Anthony Hardie, a staff sergeant in the Army who served in combat deployments in the Gulf War and Somalia, has worked for years to get laws passed that set the framework for Gulf War veterans’ healthcare, research, and disability benefits.

The director of Veterans for Common Sense and chair of the programmatic panel of directors for the Gulf War Illness Research Program, Hardie’s work with fellow veteran advocates on both sides of the aisle led to the passage of the Persian Gulf War Veterans Act of 1998 and the Veterans Programs Enhancement Act of 1998.

Hardie told Healthline that these laws gave Gulf War veterans hope for new treatments and recognition by the VA that their persistent symptoms were related to their service.

“But when veterans suffering from Gulf War Illness walk through the door at VA centers and clinics in 2016,” he said, “there are still no evidence-based treatments for them. And most of them are just shuffled off to psychiatric care.”

Winnett added that while Congress deemed three symptoms to be “presumptive” to service in the Gulf War, the VA continues to largely ignore that.

“The most widely reported symptoms of Gulf War Illness are profound fatigue, excruciating bodywide muscle pain, and chronic GI problems,” said Winnett. “The VA, despite its own regulations that are supposed to give the benefit of the doubt to veterans with symptoms considered ‘presumptive’ to service in the Persian Gulf War, instead continue as an organization to view Gulf War Illness as a psychosomatic illness.”

Winnett explained that if a veteran can’t get their symptoms rated as service-connected, “their chance of receiving medical care relative to their symptoms is slim to none. This is a national tragedy of the highest order.”

Reasons for Optimism

Despite the frustrations, every veteran advocate interviewed for this story said there is reason for optimism.

For one thing, Congress recently decided to continue funding GWI treatment research at $20 million for the next year.

“[This] is just what we asked for,” said Hardie. “It shows that Congress continues to take Gulf War veterans’ health issues far more seriously than the Department of Defense or the VA.”
In addition to the two House hearings earlier this year, the Senate has also taken up the GWI issue.

Last month, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat from Wisconsin, announced that reforms and investments she fought for to improve veterans’ care were passed by the Senate as a part of the fiscal year 2017 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs funding bill.

Among Baldwin’s priorities stated in the bill is “better treatment for veterans suffering from Gulf War Illness.”

Baldwin’s provisions, which have received virtually no media coverage, would “improve the approval rates of veterans’ disability claims; enhance ongoing studies and research into the causes of and treatments for Gulf War Illness; and strengthen the membership and work of the Research Advisory Committee, which oversees the government’s research agenda.”

A spokesperson for the VA told Healthline, “The Department of Veterans Affairs is currently working on responding directly to Senator Baldwin, and will include relevant post-deployment health information.”

Promising New Science

The science surrounding GWI also continues to progress.

Two major, four-year, $5 million treatment development research projects at Nova Southeastern University and Boston University are about halfway completed and are expected to break new ground for possible GWI treatment recommendations.

And while there are no evidence-based treatments yet for GWI, some natural supplements have been shown in studies to effectively lessen some of the symptoms.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, concluded a few years ago that 19 of the most common GWI symptoms improved after taking supplements.

“We found in our research that there was significant benefit to the veterans’ physical function,” Beatrice Golomb, professor of medicine at the school and principal investigator on the study, told the Bergmann & Moore veterans law firm. “And that is a huge issue with these veterans, whose physical functions often decline. Some of them used to run 20 miles. Now they can’t jog a couple of blocks.”

About 80 percent of veterans with GWI who took coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) saw improved physical function, and the improvement correlated to higher levels of CoQ10 found in the blood, according to research published in Neural Computation.

“This is not a cure, but we think maybe if we give the veterans more of a mitochondrial cocktail they will see an even greater benefit,” Golomb said.

Forgotten After 9/11

Winnett said he felt a “moral obligation” to help his fellow vets after making a 2008 trip to Washington for a VA hearing on Gulf War veterans’ health.

“I was taken aback by the physical condition of the veterans I saw there,” Winnett recalled. “I was older than most Gulf War veterans because I had 16 years of service under my belt when the war began. In Washington, I saw veterans in their 40s who couldn’t walk without assistance. Some were in wheelchairs.”

Winnett said that after 9/11, many people in America, including legislators, just forgot about the fact that many thousands of 1991 veterans were sick.

“We moved on as a country following 9/11 to more pressing matters,” he said. “I would guess that Korean War veterans experienced a similar phenomenon as the Vietnam War ramped up in the mid 1960s. There comes a time when you’re no longer the flavor of the day.”

Thomas Bandzul, an attorney and veterans advocate who’s testified numerous times before Congress on Gulf War health issues, said the American public to this day simply does not have a good understanding of the effects the Gulf War had on the troops.

“The VA has downplayed the significance of Gulf War Illness and has successfully delayed the research that help veterans with their physical ailments,” Bandzul said. “VA still refuses to treat or allow these veterans a disability claim. The unspecific term of ‘general illness’ is still applied to most Gulf War veterans, and their claims are usually denied. This callous and capricious manner in dealing with veterans is a shame.”

Veterans Have Each Other’s Backs

But what stands out most among the Gulf War veterans who agreed to talk to Healthline for this piece is their relentless support of each other.

Last year, Larry Cockrell, a combat veteran who served with the 7th Marines in Task Force Ripper during the first Gulf War, was rated 100 percent disabled by the VA and retired from a successful career as an investigator for several Fortune 500 companies.

Cockrell has several serious health issues as a result of his service, but he’s dedicated his life to assisting his fellow combat veterans as well as their families on their ranch in Lake Mathews in Southern California.

“We assist combat veterans with file claims or file disagreements with VA,” he told Healthline. “Honestly, the Gulf War was forgotten when the parades ended. We fought the largest tank battles, birched the largest minefields, and injected our troops with experimental vaccines, all while fighting on the most contaminated battlefield in the history of warfare.”

Cockrell said “everyone dropped the ball” when Gulf War veterans came home and could not get the healthcare they needed. But he said he has gotten new strength and has never felt a stronger sense of purpose than he does now by helping his fellow veterans on his ranch.

“We love having the spouses and partners here enjoying the ambience and horses and giving their kids rides,” he said. “Ironically, I’ve only had a few veterans jump on a horse and ride. But as Winston Churchill once said, ‘the outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man.’ Just being around them assists veterans. It’s a given that our health issues are not going to get better as we get older. It’s time to give these combat veterans a 100 percent disability rating and a chance to manage their disabilities.”

13 June 2016

Healthcare Cloud Security Concerns Not Impediment to Usage

Original Story: healthitsecurity.com

A recent study found that 77 percent of healthcare organizations plan to increase the use of public cloud services despite significant healthcare cloud security concerns.
Public and private cloud solutions are gaining popularity in the healthcare industry, especially for data storage and network usage, despite issues surrounding healthcare cloud security and PHI data breaches. Secant Healthcare is looking into these options.

Researchers at HyTrust recently published a study that revealed 77 percent of healthcare organizations plan to move more workloads onto a public cloud service even though healthcare data security was a major concern with cloud usage.

“Without much fanfare, this critical technology advance has become woven into the basic fabric of businesses large and small,” said HyTrust President Eric Chiu. “The potential of virtualization and the cloud was always undeniable, but there was genuine concern over security and skepticism regarding the processes required.”

While organizations across all industries reported security challenges with cloud services, many companies are still migrating additional workloads to private and public clouds, added Chui.

The study found that the healthcare industry is no exception to increased cloud usage and virtualization. Approximately 55 percent of healthcare organizations stated that they have already moved mission critical workloads, such as sensitive patient information, to a cloud or software-defined data center.

Healthcare organizations are also virtualizing other aspects of their infrastructure, reported the study. Fifty-two percent of healthcare organizations have migrated test and development server workloads to a cloud service and 61 percent use a cloud product for storage.

Despite increased cloud usage, healthcare-related participants still said that their organization faced significant healthcare cloud security challenges. About 58 percent of respondents admitted that data security and breach concerns were the biggest worry once migration began.

In addition to data breach concerns, other security challenges across all industries included infrastructure-wide security and control as well as effective monitoring and visibility into cloud infrastructure. Secant Health is watching their IT closely for data breaches.

Additionally, previous healthcare data breaches have not discouraged organizations from implementing cloud services. An estimated 29 percent of respondents from healthcare organizations said that they have experienced a personal data breach.

“The large-scale migrations are particularly interesting in light of the many obstacles that have previously impeded planned moves to virtualized infrastructures,” explained the press release. “In fact, the survey reveals that not all concerns have been eliminated.”

To discover more about implementing healthcare cloud security, researchers asked participants in the industry what types of information needed to be secured in public and private clouds.

For public cloud security requirements, healthcare organizations said that all production data should be encrypted (32 percent), the entire workload should be encrypted (16 percent), and only personally identifiable information should be encrypted (13 percent).

In terms of private cloud services, about one-third of healthcare respondents favored encrypting all production data in a workload.

Software defined-data centers and cloud services are becoming staples in the healthcare industry as more providers transition to value-based care models. These models rely on large volumes of data and meaningful health IT use to increase quality of care and reduce healthcare costs.

While cloud products allow healthcare providers are useful to value-based care delivery, HIPAA rules still apply to data in the cloud.

“Cloud computing outsources technical infrastructure to another entity that essentially focuses all its time on maintaining software, platforms, or infrastructure,” The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) stated in a paper. “But a covered entity… still remains responsible for protecting PHI in accordance with the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules, even in circumstances where the entity has outsourced the performance of core PHI functions.”

However, healthcare organizations have struggled to maintain comprehensive healthcare cloud security. According to the Fall 2015 Netskope Cloud Report, healthcare cloud data loss prevention violations were the most common data loss prevention offenses across all industries studied, accounting for 76.2 percent of all cloud violations.

The report also discussed how healthcare and life sciences averaged 1,017 cloud applications per organization, which was the second highest number of apps behind the technology and IT sector. Yet, PHI was involved in 68.5 percent of violations in cloud applications.

Securing patient and production data can be more difficult when it is managed up in a cloud, but healthcare providers should be aware of several healthcare cloud security measures.

Healthcare organizations should partner with cloud vendors that design healthcare-specific products and can anticipate unique data security requirements, such as HIPAA and HITECH rules.

Regardless of vendor selection, providers should also develop contextual visibility and auditing capabilities. Healthcare cloud security policies should include monitoring alerts, lock-down capabilities, and geo-fencing of users. Intelligent security tools can be helpful for implementing these policies. Secant Healthcare plans on being careful of their vendor selection.

Technology and healthcare are both evolving quickly, but healthcare cloud security concerns could hold back providers from advancing care if they can’t also secure PHI and production data. While the HyTrust study showed healthcare organizations pushing ahead with cloud services despite security challenges, many of these providers may need to review healthcare cloud security measures.

27 May 2016

Theranos Sued Over Faulty Blood Tests

Original Story:  siliconbeat.com

Things keep getting worse for Theranos.

A new lawsuit accuses Thernos of misleading customers about the accuracy of its blood tests, a week after the embattled Palo Alto company reportedly admitted to voiding two years of results.

The class-action lawsuit filed in San Francisco federal court on Wednesday claims Theranos’ breakthrough product, which was supposed to provide a revolutionary way to conduct tests with just a few drops of blood taken from a patient’s finger, didn’t work.  Contact a Los Angeles product liability lawyer if you need assistance with a case.

“As a result, tens of thousands of patients may have been given incorrect blood-test results, been subject to unnecessary or potentially harmful treatments, and/or been denied the opportunity to seek treatment for a treatable condition,” the complaint states.

The Edison machines, used at Walgreens Pharmacies in California and Arizona to conduct the finger-prick tests, have caused Theranos significant headaches. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the company told federal regulators it threw out all Edison test results for 2014 and 2015. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services are considering pulling Theranos’ licenses and banning founder Elizabeth Holmes from the industry.

The lawsuit, brought on behalf of an Arizona man, claims Theranos told patients its tests were accurate and validated by the FDA and other bodies, when in reality the company was in hot water with regulators over its lack of compliance. In February 2015, an Edison device testing hormone levels failed 87 percent of quality-control checks, according to the complaint.

The suit also claims Theranos misled the public by claiming it was using the Edison devices for certain tests, when it really wasn’t.

The suit seeks to represent thousands of people who purchased Edison blood tests.