Do The Drugs You Take Really Work? And Are They Safe?

A picture of a variety of loose pillsWhen one visits the doctor and drugs are prescribed – one rightfully assumes those drugs are both effective and safe.

After all – we trust the physicians in our lives to make good choices for us.

Did you know that in 1997, Congress passed a law creating a website called clinicaltrials.gov overseen by the National Institutes of Health? The website was established to provide physicians and consumers easy access to information on public and private clinical trials.

In 2007, Congress also passed legislation that required medical researchers to release study findings to this website within one year of a study’s completion.

Soon thereafter, editors at many of the most prestigious medical journals decided to publish only study results that appeared on that website.

Well, in 2008, an FDA medical officer by the name of Turner led a research review looking to determine which research studies on antidepressants actually got published in medical journals.

To his surprise, Turner found that of all studies published on the topic, 94% of the time they reported positive results.

So that’s what all the research must have revealed – correct?

Continue reading “Do The Drugs You Take Really Work? And Are They Safe?” »

Might Financial Penalties Reduce Preventable Medical Errors?

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Preventable medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. – ranking just behind heart disease and cancer.

In 2007, in an attempt to reduce the harm done by these errors, the state of California tried something new.  The state instituted a system of fines of up to $125,000 for a specific list of errors that can cause “serious injury or death of a patient” whether or not those medical mistakes were promptly reported.

Interestingly, Medicare also punishes care providers by refusing to pay hospitals found guilty of medical errors and there are Affordable Care Act penalties that apply to some medical errors as well.

And while a few states do fine hospitals for failing to report adverse events, California is the only state in the U.S. that both publicizes and fines for these mistakes.

Since the law’s passage, $17 million in fines have been handed out – bringing adverse publicity and presumably shame to 192 hospitals in California.

The result?

Sadly, there has been no significant reduction in medical errors in California overall since the program was deployed nine years ago.  And the total number of errors is higher today than it was when the program started.

Has there been any improvement?

Oddly, California data is a bit hard to parse on that question.  However, the number of hospital acquired infections and severe bedsores has dropped nationally, while mistakes, such as leaving surgical tools inside of patients, have increased.

Interestingly – no federal law requires that hospitals report their errors – and only 27 states (including Connecticut) require it.

Does that reporting system work?

According to the U.S. Office of the Inspector General, only 12% of preventable errors are ever reported – even in those states requiring those reports.

What does that mean for Connecticut?

Looking at the latest data from the Connecticut Department of Public Health (2015), 471 adverse events were reported to state officials.  If one assumes the U.S. Inspector General is correct about the number of preventable errors that go unreported, there were more likely close to 4,000 medical errors in Connecticut in 2015 – of which 3,500 went unreported.

Among the leading preventable errors in Connecticut hospitals were bedsores, falls, organ perforations, and retention of foreign objects – including surgical tools.

Can our physicians and hospitals do better?  Of course they can.  And they must.  These mistakes take and tragically alter too many lives.

If you or a loved one is ever the victim of a surgical error, a defective drug, the improper prescription of a drug therapy, over-exposure to medical radiation, a hospital acquired infection, a fall while in the hospital, a preventable blood clot, a misdiagnosis, or any form of medical malpractice, call a qualified Connecticut medical malpractice lawyer.  A knowledgeable malpractice attorney can help to ensure that your rights are protected.

RisCassi & Davis has handled hundreds of medical malpractice cases over our more than 60 years serving the people of Connecticut.

What’s more, our Connecticut medical malpractice lawyers have received local and national recognition for our handling of these cases.

We have a great team of legal experts dedicated to medical malpractice in Connecticut.    Please contact us if we can help you.  The consultation is free and there is no obligation of any kind.

 

Photo credit: The U.S. National Archives via Foter.com / No known copyright restrictions

Death from Medicine Back in the News…

Death from Medicine is way too common.For decades, medical researchers have been publishing data showing that conventional medicine is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. A paper recently published in the prestigious British Medical Journal (BMJ) reconfirms this fact.

There are a number of very curious things about this issue.   First – why was this latest article not published in a prominent U.S. medical journal? Well – the author approached the NEJM (the New England Journal of Medicine) and was told “the study was not relevant to practicing physicians”. JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association) also said no thanks.

Really?

No interest???

What’s more – how is it possible the medical community has made so little progress addressing these issues, particularly given that researchers have been reporting this data since the middle of the 20th century – over 50 years.

How can it be that the richest nation on earth, a nation that spends more on healthcare than any other major industrial nation, is now witnessing a dramatic increase in chronic disease and a drop in life expectancy compared to other industrialized nations?

Is it possible that business interests are trumping consumer interests?

Robert Kennedy Jr. (the son of the late Senator Robert Kennedy) recently had this to say about medicine in America…

“The pharmaceutical industry is one of the biggest industries in the world. It is a trillion dollar industry. It is the number-one lobbyist in Washington D.C., and at state capitals around America. It gives $2.6 billion – twice what oil and gas give – to our elected officials. The pharmaceutical industry gives four-times to our politicians what defense and aeronautical contractors do. This is an industry that has complete control of our politicians on Capitol Hill.”

Our question is why would an industry so confident about the benefits of their system of therapy feel the need to buy state and federal legislative bodies? It’s a curious question isn’t it?

Continue reading “Death from Medicine Back in the News…” »

Could the Error Rate during Surgery Really be This High?

Photo credit: thinkpanama / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Photo credit: thinkpanama / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

A new research study has just been published on what really happens during surgery. The study was done at one of America’s better hospitals and the report is disturbing.

Researchers at Harvard were anxious to understand how many medical mistakes are actually made just before, during and immediately after surgery.

What did they find?

Not what they expected.

Half of all surgeries involve medical errors and medical malpractice.

Fifty-percent.

Another chilling fact… The study was conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital – considered by leading health authorities to be a U.S. leader in patient safety.

Not only did the Harvard team find a high error rate – mostly tied to medication errors – 30% of the errors resulted in significant patient harm.   Another 69% of the errors were defined as serious.

News of these results led one leading researcher at Yale to proclaim that “awareness of problems is where all solutions begin.”

So is the medical community just learning of the high rates of medical error (sometimes referred to as iatrogenesis) and medical malpractice for the first time?

Continue reading “Could the Error Rate during Surgery Really be This High?” »

The Scary Truth About Modern Medicine

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Photo credit: Best In Plastics / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

 

As shocking as it is remarkable…

We just received a copy of an interview conducted by the Editor (Dr. Eric Topol) of the very popular medical website, Medscape, with internationally renowned author and physician Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD. (recorded 10.12.15).

Here is an excerpt from that interview:

Dr. Eric Topol: We are facing some very important issues today that suggest how bad things are still in 2015. One is that we (physicians) make 12 million serious diagnostic medical errors a year, and that is unchanged, as best we know, since To Err is Human was published in 1999. It seems that without any changes, this will continue, and it has become inhumane to have all of these errors. To the top 20 drugs that are prescribed, by sales, at least, 80% of people are nonresponders. We give these drugs. We have hope, but the fact is that the plurality of patients don’t respond.

Then we have the issues of false-positive results in screening (mammography, PSA levels) at rates that are greater than 60%. Yet these tests are done widely in millions of people every year.

Continue reading “The Scary Truth About Modern Medicine” »

What’s the Annual Death Rate from Medical Errors?

The question in our headline is actually one that was recently asked of consumers by researchers here in the U.S.

The most common answer they got… 5,000 a year.

That’s not even close.

The actual number may be as high as 800,000 deaths per year from medical malpractice and drug related injuries – just in the U.S.

What’s more, the number of those suffering harm short of death may number in the millions per year when one includes medical malpractice (including surgical errors) and death from drug side effects.   The Institute for Healthcare Improvement estimates the rate of medical harm to be over 40,000 each and EVERY day.

Continue reading “What’s the Annual Death Rate from Medical Errors?” »

What Medical Errors Are a Concern for 2015?

Sometimes it helps to know what experts inside an industry are thinking to know what dangers you should be on alert for…

So we’ve done some homework for you to see what safety concerns doctors have for 2015.  Here is their list:

Continue reading “What Medical Errors Are a Concern for 2015?” »

Is Your Doctor Guilty of This?

Iatrogenesis.

Any idea what that is?

It’s defined in the Merriam – Webster Dictionary as the “inadvertent and preventable induction of disease or complications by the medical treatment or procedures of a physician or surgeon.”

We’ve talked a lot about it in past posts – it’s another term for medical malpractice and it’s the third leading killer in America.

So is it something new?

Nope.

Contemporary medical scholars have been writing about it for years.

Continue reading “Is Your Doctor Guilty of This?” »

There Are Over 40,000 Medical Errors A Day In America

 

Yup.  You read that headline correctly.  More than forty thousand a day – according to the 2011 Health Grades Hospital Quality in America Study.

What is one of the leading cause of harm?

Hospital acquired infections.  What’s worse, increasingly these infections are being caused by antibiotic resistant superbugs.  Brad Spellberg, MD, a LA BioMed infectious disease specialist, recently analyzed reams of clinical data and concluded antibiotic resistance among hospital-acquired infections is “at crisis levels.”

Why the rise in these dangerous superbugs?   Simple – the overuse of antibiotics in clinical care and in agriculture…

Continue reading “There Are Over 40,000 Medical Errors A Day In America” »

Did You Know More People Are Killed By Prescription Drugs Than Car Accidents?

It’s sad but true

What’s even worse – drug companies marketing drugs to consumers that the drug companies know are the cause of injuries and death.

Let’s look at a few recent examples:

 

  • Propulsid:  This drug is a heartburn medication that was made by
    Johnson & Johnson.  From 1993-1998, the company made over $1 billion in sales for this drug, even as the company knew that hundreds of patients were dying from its deadly side effects.  Children were known to be at a particularly high risk of death.  As the number of infant deaths continued to climb, a few folks at Johnson & Johnson began to wonder whether the company should severely restrict Propulsid’s use for children.  This internal inquiry led to a ban on sales for premature infants in some European countries, but senior executives at J&J actually overruled a ban in the United States.  In all, some 300 people died from using this drug before it was finally pulled from market.
  • Trasylol:  This drug was used on open heart patients to prevent blood clotting and was made by Bayer.  Bayer had known for years that the drug could and did cause kidney damage and kidney failure – and yet they continued to market and sell the drug.  A study published in 2006 in the New England Journal of medicine estimated that halting the use of Trasylol would prevent 11,050 cases of kidney failure annually and save more than $1 billion in dialysis costs. Under pressure – Bayer conducted a study confirming the toxic effects of the drug but chose not to inform the FDA.  Under pressure – Bayer halted the sale of the drug in the U.S.
  • Zyprexa:  This drug was introduced to the market by Eli Lilly to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder declaring it “the number one psychotropic in history”.  What Eli Lilly failed to disclose was the fact that the drug had dangerous side effects including diabetes.  In fact, they specifically instructed sales reps to avoid introducing the issue. They even launched a marketing campaign targeting two groups known to be particularly at risk – children and the elderly.  In 2009, the Department of Justice fined Eli Lilly $1.4 billion for its duplicitous marketing of Zyprexa tactics.

Other famously dangerous drugs that caused injury and death include:

  • Fenfluramine/phentermine (Fen-Phen).  Maker: Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories
  • Diethylstilbestrol (DES).  Multiple manufacturers
  • Cerivastatin (Baycol). Maker: Bayer
  • Rofecoxib (Vioxx): Maker: Merck
  • Valdecoxib (Bextra): Maker: Pfizer

The cost of adverse drug reactions to society is more than $136 billion annually and adverse drug reactions cause injuries or death in one of five hospital patients.

If you or a loved one is ever the victim of a defective drug or the improper prescription of a drug therapy, call a qualified Connecticut medical malpractice lawyer.  A knowledgeable malpractice attorney can help to ensure that your rights are protected.

RisCassi & Davis has handled hundreds of defective drug and medical malpractice cases over our more than 55 years serving the people of Connecticut.

What’s more, our Connecticut medical malpractice lawyers have received local and national recognition for our handling of these cases including:

  • Top listings in “The Best Lawyers in America” and “Best Law Firms”
  • Top listing by Martindale-Hubbell as a “New England Top Rated AV Preeminent® Law Firm
  • Admission of five of our personal injury lawyers as members in the very prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers.  The American College is a professional society of Fellows who become members only by invitation, with admission limited to experienced, outstanding trial lawyers who are unquestionably and eminently qualified as actively engaged trial lawyers.  Only 1% of all trial lawyers in any state are offered admission as members to the College… read more.

We have a great team of legal experts dedicated to defective drugs and the improper prescription of drug therapies. Please contact us if we can help you.  The consultation is free and there is no obligation of any kind.