Balancing Lawsuit Abuse & Protecting Victims in Louisiana: The Johnson & Johnson Talc Case

Ovarian cancer is rare, accounting for just 1.3% of new cancer cases in the U.S. However, Johnson & Johnson, a pharmaceutical company worth an estimated $70 billion, is paying millions of dollars in damages to plaintiffs across the country that allege the company’s talcum powder and bathing products caused their ovarian cancer.

talc powder

In February 2016, a family from Alabama was awarded $72 million after successfully bringing their case against Johnson & Johnson to trial in St. Louis. A few months later, Johnson & Johnson lost another $55 million lawsuit to a South Dakota woman who blamed the company for her ovarian cancer.

A Louisiana woman recently came forward with similar claims. Shintelle Joseph says she’s been using the product for 10 years and was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

According to The American Cancer Society, talc is listed as a risk factor, but not explicitly, or without reservation. There are many contradictory studies regarding the regular use of talc, the best of which doesn’t make any certain claim one way or the other, and therein, lies the problem.

Protecting Against Lawsuit Abuse

The Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch (LLAW), a nonprofit group based in Baton Rouge dedicated to stopping lawsuit abuse, believes there’s something else at work here. The organization is drawing awareness to the fact that without conclusive scientific evidence, Joseph’s case, along with similar ovarian cancer cases against Johnson & Johnson, may incite unsubstantiated fear and overburden our community’s legal resources.

Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch

Protecting Victims of Unsafe Products

However, victims of unsafe consumer products, negligence, or defective drugs must have a voice and access to a defense if we are to hold corporations accountable for their actions. Louisiana has a questionable history of judicial access (see our story on Glenn Ford), so it’s important that we protect all of our citizens, especially the most vulnerable members of our society.

Louisiana needs skilled personal injury lawyers to help victims put their lives back together after an accident or injury, but we should approach these opportunities without the use of controversial tactics.

protect citizens

Why It Matters

Aside from congesting the Louisiana court system, dubious personal injury claims have an impact on our state and economy. We need to help victims get back on their feet but without stagnating growth and development. In addition, dubious cases are vulnerable to being overturned by appellate courts.

impact of claims on state and economy

Here at the Monroe Law Office of J. Antonio Tramontana, Attorney at Law, we’re dedicated to our client’s interests as well as maintaining an equitable judicial system in the state of Louisiana. We specialize in a range of Louisiana personal injury claims including medical malpractice and auto accidents. If you have questions, we at the Monroe Law Office of J. Antonio Tramontana, Attorney at Law, want to hear from you.

For a free case review, please fill out the form to the right, or call me directly at (888) 982-1290.

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Infant Mortality Rates: States with High Frequency

6 out of every 1000 infants don't make it to their first birthday

The death of an infant is devastating; it’s a life that was cut far too short. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that .6% of infants don’t make it to their first birthday (6 out of every 1,000). The CDC monitors infant mortality rates to help depict the health and well-being of our nation.

In their most recent National Vital Statistics Report, the CDC compared live birth certificates from each state and linked them with death certificates for infants under the age of 1.

In addition to calculating the current national infant mortality rate, the CDC also looked into other factors including the cause of death, race, access to healthcare, and gestation period to understand more about infant mortality rates in the U.S.

Louisiana has the 2nd highest infant mortality rate in the U.S.

 

Louisiana ranks second among all states for the highest infant mortality rate. While District of Columbia reported the highest infant mortality rates, the states with the highest rates include: Mississippi (11.46), Louisiana (9.85), Alabama (9.53), South Carolina (9.49), North Carolina (8.81), Tennessee (8.77), Ohio (8.17), West Virginia (8.16), and Georgia (8.07).

Louisiana has second highest infant mortality rate

The chart below highlights the CDC’s findings, including the infant mortality rate by state, and the actual number of infant deaths by state.

State Infant Mortality Rate per 1,000 Live Births Number of Infant Deaths in 2013
Alabama 9.53 500
Alaska 5.93 66
Arizona 6.85 449
Arkansas 7.83 297
California 5.32 2,354
Colorado 6.44 333
Connecticut 5.85 173
Delaware 9.02 69
District of Columbia 13.67 62
Florida 7.24 1,322
Georgia 8.07 899
Hawaii 6.58 121
Idaho 5.98 121
Illinois 7.38 937
Indiana 8.04 602
Iowa 5.44 166
Kansas 7.37 252
Kentucky 6.73 356
Louisiana 9.85 549
Main 6.87 91
Maryland 7.30 477
Massachusetts 5.13 300
Michigan 7.89 800
Minnesota 5.09 300
Mississippi 11.46 371
Missouri 7.52 491
Montana 7.25 69
Nebraska 5.66 136
Nevada 5.66 186
New Hampshire 5.27 69
New Jersey 5.17 462
New Mexico 6.17 139
New York 5.82 1,169
North Carolina 8.81 832
North Dakota 5.96 64
Ohio 8.17 1,019
Oklahoma 7.95 359
Oregon 5.99 223
Pennsylvania 7.29 937
Rhode Island 6.46 70
South Carolina 9.46 390
South Dakota 6.98 79
Tennessee 8.77 544
Texas 6.55 2,255
Utah 4.52 264
Vermont 6.49 26
Virginia 7.47 631
Washington 5.07 392
West Virginia 8.16 159
Wisconsin 6.54 417
Wyoming 6.63 37

*Data sourced from National Vital Statistics Report, Vol 64, No.9, August 6, 2015

Infant Mortality Rates Differ by Race

The CDC notes significant differences in infant mortality by race or ethnicity. For example, the mortality rate of black infants is more than twice that of white non-Hispanic infants.

According to information from 2010 census data, states with the highest African American population currently include District of Columbia (50.08%), Mississippi (37.30%), Louisiana (32.4%), Georgia (31.4%), Maryland (30.1%), South Carolina (28.48%), Alabama (26.38%), North Carolina (21.60%), Delaware (20.95%), and Virginia (19.91%).

Seven of ten states with the highest African America populations also have the highest infant birth mortality rates.

Cause and Effect

 

The leading cause of infant death in the U.S. in 2013 was Congenital malformations, which are physical defects involving several parts of the body including the brain, heart, lungs, liver, bones, and intestinal tract. Congenital malformations accounted for 20% of all infant deaths that year.

Congenital malformations can be genetic, but can also be caused by environmental factors including alcohol and substance abuse. However, some disorders can be detected before birth through prenatal diagnosis screenings.

The second leading cause of infant death relates to short gestation period and low birth weight, followed by maternal complications.

Maternal complications, in particular, can often be avoided with proper prenatal care and regular health checkups. Discussing pre-existing medical conditions with a doctor before pregnancy, as well symptoms or conditions that occur during pregnancy can help reduce the likelihood of maternal complications and infant death.

Louisiana at a Glance

many infant deaths can be avoidedIn Louisiana, the mortality rate among black children is consistent with the national findings and is twice that of white, Asian, or Hispanics infants.

More specifically, the age and socioeconomic status of the mother can be correlated to high infant mortality rates. For example, mothers aged 15 to 19 in Louisiana are more likely than mothers aged 35 to 39 to suffer a loss.

While some infant deaths can’t be avoided, there are plenty of infant fatalities that can. Here in Louisiana, the Monroe Law Office of J. Antonio Tramontana may be able to help families suffering the loss of an infant by assessing whether the care and treatment of the mother and child were properly attended to during pregnancy and delivery.

We specialize in a range of Louisiana personal injury claims including medical malpractice and birth injury. If you have questions, we want to hear from you.

For a free case review, please fill out the form to the right, or call me directly at (888) 982-1290.

 

 

 

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Doctors Are Ignoring Contraindications for Anticoagulant Drugs

645 general medical practices

If your doctor is prescribing anticoagulant medicines for you, like Xarelto or Eliquis, beware. A recent study suggests that physicians aren’t following proper safety guidelines when prescribing these drugs. The 2 medications, along with similar anticoagulant drugs, come with safety warnings that doctors should know to follow.

Surprisingly and alarmingly, they’re not heeding these warnings; now, the doctors and drugs are increasingly subjects of personal injury lawsuits around the United Kingdom. Are American physicians being negligent as well?

The study, which the British Journal of General Practice published in June of 2017, includes data from 645 general medical practices that contribute to a large U.K. records database, the Health Improvement Network. Researchers’ examination of the data asserts that doctors might not be responsibly considering at-risk populations when they prescribe Xarelto and Eliquis, among other anticoagulants.

Contraindications for Anticoagulant Medications Should be Top Priority

contraindication definition

Studies have found Xarelto, Eliquis, and other anticoagulant drugs to increase risk of bleeding excessively. Some people, due to their age, health condition, or even nationality, are more at risk for excessive bleeding than others. Therefore, they need careful attention. The new British Journal of General Practice study hints that doctors might be ignoring contraindications when it comes to prescribing Xarelto, Eliquis, and other anticoagulants.

Identifying Patients Who May Have Been Improperly Treated with Anticoagulant Drugs

Researchers studied data of patients diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (AF), which is a condition the FDA has approved to treat with anticoagulants. These patients were 35 years or older, were prescribed anticoagulants, and had contraindications for those drugs. This means that the patients had a medical condition, or another factor was present, that rendered a certain line of treatment undesirable or improper.

percentage of patients with contraindictions given anticoagulant drugsResults of the study showed that between 2004 and 2015, the percentage of patients having contraindications who were still given these medications increased. It actually bumped up from an already too-high 40% to an almost unbelievable 67.2% of patients.

As a note, prescriptions given to those without contraindications increased from 42.1% to 67.7%. Of the patients who experienced recent major bleeding in 2004, 44.3%, were prescribed anticoagulants. This number increased to 71.1% in 2015.

The study pointed to the unfortunate fact that the absence or presence of recorded contraindications had little to do with physicians’ decision to prescribe anticoagulant drugs. The study notes that roughly 38,000 patients with the AF condition get treatment in the form of anticoagulants each year.

Louisiana Residents and Anticoagulant Drug Safety

The U.K. study gives patients reason to question whether or not their physician in the United States is paying proper attention to contraindications when prescribing anticoagulants. Improper prescription practice has major implications for the safety of patients in the U.S. and here in our state of Louisiana.

Consider that:

  • There are more than 18,000 pending lawsuits against the manufacturers of Xarelto to date; patients who took the drug and claimed to bleed excessively afterward have filed these suits.
  • Federally filed lawsuits in the United States have been centralized in Louisiana, in the state’s Eastern District.

If you’ve been prescribed Xarelto or another anticoagulant drug, and you believe your doctor has failed to provide adequate safety warnings or has ignored safety warnings, contact us. Fill out the form on this page and someone from the law offices of Tony Tramontana will be in touch to discuss personal injury lawsuit options if you’ve been hurt by physician negligence.

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North Carolina Woman Accuses Louisiana Doctor Of Malpractice

It’s a 15-hour drive from Louisiana to North Carolina, a long way home for Teresa Harmony who suffered a tibia fracture in Louisiana during the spring of 2013.

attaining legal counselAccording to Harmony, after a surgery that included an intramedullary rod and screws adjoined to her tibia, she traveled back home to North Carolina. Upon her return, Harmony suffered extreme pain and sought treatment. It was at this time that North Carolina physicians informed Harmony that the rod and screws had been incorrectly placed. Harmony went through several subsequent procedures to correct her previous surgery.

Late in 2016, Harmony filed a complaint against the Louisiana doctor that performed her surgery along with the hospital where the surgery took place.

Harmony is seeking more than $75,000 in damages to cover the cost of medical procedures, lost wages, as well as pain and suffering, all of which, she alleges, occurred after the first surgery in Louisiana.

Medical Malpractice in Louisiana

Medical Malpractice occurs when a medical professional causes harm to a patient as a result of incompetence or negligence. Medical malpractice cases may be filed against doctors not residing in a plaintiff’s home state.

In a case like Harmony’s, it is recommended to attain legal counsel in the state where the medical malpractice occurred—medical malpractice laws, statutes of limitations, and damages, vary on a state-by-state basis.

Medical malpractice lawyers in the state of origin will be the ones most capable of navigating their state’s respective laws and regulations.

Although states differ in how they handle medical malpractice cases, these types of claims are challenging to litigate across the board. Moreover, a patient’s displeasure with the results of a surgery or medical treatment doesn’t inherently translate to medical malpractice.

Nevertheless, Louisiana paid out more in medical malpractice cases than any other state in 2015.

Common Medical Malpractice Cases

Surgical errors are a common type of medical malpractice. Errors during surgery include mistakes during the procedure itself, operating on an unaffected body part, or leaving surgical equipment inside a patient.

Post-surgery mistakes can also result in harm to a patient; this may include prescribing incorrect treatments or medications or failing to give the patient the proper information to ensure their care upon returning home.

More common than surgery errors are medication errors. Medication errors can occur for several reasons including accidentally swapping patient medications in a hospital, poor handwriting on a prescription form, or not knowing how certain medications may interact with others.

It has been estimated that prescription drugs account for more than 200,000 deaths in the United States every year. This number seems high, but not when nearly 70% of Americans are taking at least one kind of prescription medication.

Preparation of a Medical Malpractice Case

If you suspect medical malpractice, there are a couple steps you can take to make assessing a medical malpractice case a little easier.

  1. Obtain any medical records/bills relating to the injury, information on the medical professional that caused the harm, as well as any records pertaining to treatments, surgeries, or medications that were necessary to correct the harm.
  2. Make a complete record from your memory. The sooner you write this down the better, as time can erode one’s memory from important details pertaining to the facts of a case.

Tony Tramontana - Medical Malpractice AttorneyMedical malpractice can have profound effects on a patient’s quality of life, as well as their lives of their family. This is why it’s important to seek qualified legal representation that understands the sensitivity of these cases as much as the laws that determine the validity of a medical malpractice case.

If you have any questions about medical malpractice or injury caused by a negligent doctor or medical professional, we at the Monroe law office of J. Antonio Tramontana, Attorney at Law, want to hear from you.

For a free case review, please fill out the form to the right, or call me directly at (888) 982-1290.

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Bills Increase Louisiana Malpractice Cap & What It Means To You

Just a few months ago, the Louisiana’s House Civil Law and Procedure Committee sought to take an “all-encompassing look” at laws that govern malpractice in the state. This intended action effectively put a hold on a pair of measures that would increase Louisiana’s $500,000 economic damage medical malpractice cap. For the rest of the state’s 2017 legislative regular session, the bills will not be addressed for passing, instead, they will be reviewed out of session in a broader context.

What Would HB 526 Change for You?

Lawmakers and stakeholders in the 2 bills, including physicians and personal injury attorneys, will look over House Bill 526 and House Bill 51, to determine if the issues raised in the measures justify adjusting the cap on jury awards, which is currently $500,000. The bills raise many questions related to the necessity of changes in terms of a monetary cap and filing time.

What Would HB 526 Change? Raising the medical malpractice cap

HB 526 Would Extend Time to File Medical Malpractice Suit

Right now, plaintiffs have 12 months after the discovery of a medical malpractice incident to file their lawsuit. HB 526 would extend that filing time to 18 months. The measure would also increase the amount of time between the incident and the latest point of allowable filing, from 3 years to 5 years.

New Bill Addresses Cap on Medical Malpractice Awards

The bill would adjust the current cap on recoverable damages as well, getting rid of the cap in place right now of $500,000 with a $350,000 maximum awarded for non-economic damages. The cap would be replaced with a new maximum award that better represents the “actual cost of past and future medical care and related benefits.”

How Would Changes in the Medical Malpractice Cap and Filing Limits Play Out in the Real World?

Minden resident Corey Shadd’s grandmother died due to a misdiagnosis. He testified in favor of the new legislation, stating that the current medical malpractice cap is 43 years old and needs to be changed.

Shadd equates medical malpractice with the need to return something defective from a department store. He reasons that when you bring back a broken product, you’re refunded in full for the actual price you paid. However, there are often far more dire consequences of a defective “product” when it comes to medical malpractice, well beyond the original price of the procedure.

Rep. Tanner Maggee (R-Houma) has concerns about Shadd’s suggestion that there should be no time limits on demanding compensation for what is essentially a faulty service. Maggee questions Shadd’s insinuation that:

  • Time constraints on filing are “stringent”
  • A change to the cap on recoverable damages is needed

HB 526 would also alter the current medical review panel’s makeup. Current law states that the panel’s reviewers must come from the same specialty or class as the defendant doctor. The new measure would limit the panel to just one specialist and it would ensure that no other members are people that the physician went to school with or live near (within a 100-mile radius).

Current Medical Malpractice Cases Aren’t Impacted

Until any bills are passed, Louisiana’s medical malpractice award and filing time caps remain the same. To understand how a change in these caps would affect any litigation that may be currently ongoing should the measure’s pass, it’s best to speak directly with your attorney.

Right now, the introduction of the bills and the Committee’s delay serve to bring attention to matters that many think deserve greater investigation. But, until anything changes, plaintiffs in Louisiana medical malpractice cases are subject to laws that do include strict filing times and award limits.

If you feel you have a medical malpractice case that you would like a Personal Injury Attorney to look into, fill out the contact form on this page and someone from the office of Tony Tramontana Law will be in touch with you promptly.

 

Video courtesy of Nola.com.

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Medical Errors Could Be #3 Cause of Death in US

According to a recent analysis conducted by two experts from John Hopkins University, medical mistakes are the third leading cause of death in the United States, exceeded only by heart disease and cancer. This statistic comes as a shock to many, leading medical professionals to search for new ways to prevent these errors from occurring.

About the AnalysisLouisiana medical malpractice doctor

Johns Hopkins University’s Michael Daniel and Dr. Martin Makary were responsible for the analysis in question, which was published in the British Medical Journal. The two experts calculated the total number of deaths that occurred because of medical errors in recent years and determined that the approximate yearly death toll was between 200,000 and 400,000. If these numbers are correct and medical error was considered a disease, it would be the third deadliest disease in this country, falling under cancer and heart disease but above chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Understanding Medical Error

The term “medical error” takes in a number of different mistakes made by medical professionals, ranging from inaccurate diagnoses to surgical mistakes. Some of the most common medical errors that may lead to complications or death include:

  • Hospital-acquired infections.
  • Errors made in surgery.
  • Inaccurate diagnoses.
  • Late diagnoses.
  • Lack of follow-up.
  • Inaccurate prescriptions.
  • Mistakes made when administering medication.

Unfortunately, many of these errors don’t make it onto the death certificate, which has made the total more difficult to estimate. Nonetheless, health policy experts have been trying to draw attention to this problem for at least a decade. The goal of this movement is not to blame the medical professionals, but to help them understand the problem and exercise more caution in the future.

How to Avoid Becoming a Victim

As a patient, you trust your doctors and nurses to have the answers you need. However, because these professionals are human, mistakes will always be a part of medical care. To protect yourself and reduce the chances of becoming a victim of medical error:

  • Choose your doctors and facilities carefully- Before you seek treatment from a given medical professional or at a specific facility, do your homework. Avoid facilities and doctors with bad reputations or a history of problems.
  • Be open and honest with caregivers- Doctors and nurses are busy. On particularly difficult days, they may not notice important symptoms or other facts that impact your treatment. If you are experiencing new symptoms, bring them to the attention of your caregivers. Likewise, make sure that anyone prescribing any type of treatment knows your medical history and any medications you are currently taking.
  • Ask questions– If you have questions about the doctor’s decision, your medication or any other issue related to your care, don’t hesitate to ask the professionals who are caring for you.
  • Be proactive- In many cases, patients experience complications related to medical error because the doctor didn’t follow up with the patient appropriately. Be proactive about making follow-up appointments and getting the care you need.
  • Have someone with you- If possible, ask a family member or a friend to accompany you to a procedure, or to stay with you in the hospital. Most errors that occur can be caught before they cause damage. You may not be in condition to catch an error or ask questions, but a family member or friend will be.

Can You Sue a Doctor for Malpractice? Seek Legal Counsel

Even when you make all the right choices, you or a loved one may still become a victim of medical error. If you believe that you or someone you know has experienced medical complications as a result of an error made by a doctor, nurse or other professional, seeking legal counsel is highly recommended. To learn more about your options or to find out whether you have a case, please call J. Antonio Tramontana today.

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The Sad State of Louisiana Nursing Homes

We trust nursing home facilities to provide ongoing care for our aging loved ones, but how much care is actually being taken to ensure their safety and well-being? It turns out the answer is not much in the state of Louisiana. With 90% of nursing homes insufficiently staffed and 85% of residents suffering from malnutrition, Louisiana nursing homes may be in worse shape than you could have ever imagined.

Louisiana Nursing Home Neglect Infographic

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