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Pittsburgh Elder Law Blog

Mother sues for alleged hospital negligence over missing remains

Whenever a patient seeks medical care, he or she likely places complete trust and confidence in the medical staff. However, there are situations that could result in a medical facility facing accusations of hospital negligence that caused the patient to suffer serious physical pain or emotional distress. Pennsylvania patients who have been a victim of this type of harm may also consider their legal options.

Three years ago, a woman suffered a miscarriage and delivered the pre-term child at a local hospital. The woman purportedly spent time with her deceased child and then expressed her desire to have the remains cremated. After she was informed that the hospital would require approximately 14 days to perform an autopsy, she then turned her child's remains over to the care of the staff.

Change in policy causes worry about Social Security Disability

The majority of Pennsylvania residents go about their daily lives never anticipating that they may experience a life-altering illness or injury. Unfortunately, there are some events that cannot be prepared for adequately, and an individual may find that he or she now needs to apply for Social Security Disability benefits. This makes the announcement concerning some regulation changes worrisome for those who may be affected.

Before the recent policy revisions, an attending physician's report was taken into consideration in approving a disability claim. The change in policy is a departure from this previous regulation that a doctor's medical opinion could enable a patient to qualify for this program. The new rules purportedly state that no extra consideration be given to the Veteran's Affairs agency either when considering a veteran's application for disability benefits.

Retained objects a costly and painful surgical error

The prospect of facing a surgical procedure is often an unsettling one, whether the procedure has been anticipated or is an emergency decision. Of all the concerns that patients face, becoming a victim of a surgical error may be one of the most frightening. A Pennsylvania patient safety advocate recently warned about the importance of retrieving all items that are used by surgeons during an operation.

Often referred to as unintentionally retained foreign objects, the items that are sometimes left behind after an operation can lead to serious complications, including death. Of the estimated 772 incidences from 2005 to 2012, 16 resulted in the patient dying. While this is a relatively rare cause of death, any object left behind can result in an infection and pain for the patient.

Nursing home neglect leads to resident's death

The decision to place a loved one in a nursing home is never an easy choice but one that often must be made for the family member's best interest. Unfortunately, in spite of the best intentions, there may still be cases of nursing home neglect that can lead to a resident suffering harm or even death. Pennsylvania families do have resources to turn to if they fear a loved one has suffered harm in a facility.

One recent case led to a resident dying from suspected neglect. The 58-year-old man was suffering from severe liver disease unrelated to alcohol use. He also suffered from cognitive impairment and required close supervision from the nursing staff. However, up until shortly before his death, the man did not have a known history of seizures. However, he presented with seizure activity that escalated quickly.

Doctor on trial for alleged misdiagnosis worth millions

A doctor who has specialized in treating eye ailments in a largely older patient base has been on trial after facing serious allegations. The 62-year-old doctor is accused of bilking Medicare of an estimated $105 million for alleged misdiagnosis of a relatively rare eye disease. While this trial is not taking place in Pennsylvania, it may highlight the vulnerability of some patients who place their blind trust in their medical providers.

The trial has been going on for some time and features testimony of a prosecution witness who has disputed many of the accused doctor's diagnoses of a degenerative eye disease in many of the physician's patients. One of the patients was told that he suffered several ailments in both of his eyes. However, the man does not have an eye on the right side. It had been removed and was replaced by a non-functional prosthetic eye. Further testimony was offered that negated the purported illness in the patient's remaining eye.

Report seems to suggest SSD payments delayed for ill recipents

Social Security Disability was put into place to provide financial assistance to those who are unable to work due to either physical or mental disabilities. However, some who were approved for SSD benefits have been forced to wait while they struggle financially. There may be Pennsylvania residents who are also waiting for these benefits to arrive in time to provide relief.

One woman who is fighting terminal ovarian cancer filed for and was reportedly approved to start receiving these vital payments. However, she was told that regardless of meeting the program's requirements, she was placed on the 26-plus-week waiting list. The 49-year-old woman requires regular chemotherapy treatments that leave her too weak and ill to work. She now fears losing her family home before the promised SSD payments start.

Suspected nursing home neglect leads to federal lawsuit

Families turn to those companies that offer experienced and compassionate care when looking for suitable placement for elderly or disabled loved ones. When a facility then permits alleged nursing home neglect to occur, it not only violates the trust of families, but may also result in a federal lawsuit in some circumstances. Pennsylvania residents do have resources to turn to if they suspect a loved one has suffered harm while receiving care at these facilities.

One such case of suspected neglect resulted in a resident dying. The man was reportedly found in an unconscious state in his room at a facility that had a reputation for providing experienced care for individuals with disabilities as well as providing rehabilitative services. The resident was transported to a local medical facility where he died a short time later.

CNN investigation reveals disturbing nursing home abuse cases

Seeking long-term care for an aging or ill loved one can be a difficult, but necessary, task and the majority of these decisions are made after much consideration as to which facility will provide the best care. Unfortunately, even the most careful deliberation may not uncover all nursing home abuse allegations. A recent report may help Pennsylvania residents who may be researching options for their own loved ones.

A CNN investigation concerning the issue of abuse at nursing facilities has unearthed disturbing reports of rape and other sexual assaults at homes located in various states. Officials at these facilities have blamed several facets of the laws regulating abuse allegations as the reasons why some reports are not available to families seeking information. Instead, because the alleged victims are often not considered credible, assailants are not held accountable for their alleged assaults.

Couple files malpractice suit for alleged hospital negligence

Pennsylvania residents usually place inherent faith in those whom they entrust with their medical care. While it is not a common occurrence, one incident of hospital negligence can have life-long repercussions. One such alleged incident resulted in the loss of a patient's limb.

The man stated that a care provider did not follow accepted standards of care for his particular ailment, and he suffered from worsening afflictions as a result. After a succession of more serious complications, the man was forced to undergo a surgical procedure to remove his leg just below his right knee. He and his spouse have now filed a malpractice claim against the hospital that employed the doctor who treated the man.

Social security and SSD should be here for the long term

President Roosevelt first established Social Security in 1935 as a safety net for those in retirement. However, its demise has been anticipated for years with many sounding the death knell with greater urgency. These monies, which now take many forms, including but not limited to SSD, SSI and longer-term disability, are an important factor in keeping a roof over the heads of those in need. Pennsylvania residents who depend on these payments may be relieved to hear that the program should be around for the long term.

A recent review of the program's financial stability reveals that, while many congressmen have declared the system nearing insolvency, that does not appear to be the case. The program still has a budget surplus and has managed to increase revenue. There is a gap of approximately 0.3 percent between growth and payouts, which translates into a significant amount of money when working with sums in the billions of dollars. However, the overall balance is an estimated $2.85 trillion.

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Robert Peirce & Associates, P.C.
707 Grant Street, Suite 2500
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

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