The Law Firm of Perlmutter & Schuelke Explains Pharmaceutical Errors Increasing

Just about 1.3 million people across the U.S. will die each year as a result drug errors. Pharmaceutical mistakes are on the rise.

It’s not a secret that medical malpractice lawsuits are growing every year, despite some states capping a victim’s award. Companion cases to medical errors made by surgeons, doctors, nurses and dentists are pharmaceutical mistakes that are growing by leaps and bounds every year. In fact, close to 1.3 million people will die in the U.S. this year as a result of incorrectly prescribed or wrongly filled prescriptions.

“This is alarming, as just about everyone you may know has taken or is taking some kind of pills prescribed by a doctor. Taking drugs is a common daily occurrence for just about three quarters or more of the population. Consider what would happen if the drugs you are taking cause deadly side effects because the dose was wrong or it was the wrong drug? It’s happened, because humans make mistakes, whether they are medical professionals or not,” said Brooks Schuelke, an Austin personal lawyer with Perlmutter & Schuelke, L.L.P.

Those taking their daily medications might want to pause and read the label closely, just to make sure it is the correct drug in the proper dosage. They might also want to double check any prescription they are handed by a doctor to verify what they’re being told to take and why, and then check again at the drug store to see if the right drug is dispensed. It’s not too far-fetched to find that the drug in the bottle is not the one it is supposed to be, because they looked similar on the shelf.

Pharmaceutical errors happen just about anywhere within the medical system; in a hospital room, in a nursing home, at the drug store and in the doctor’s office. Medical professionals are human and humans make mistakes, despite their best intentions. Taking the wrong pill has the potential to cause grave side effects or even death. Once someone takes the wrong pill or wrong dose, it’s in the body and it can’t come out.

“The bottom line is that we trust our doctors and medical professionals to do what is in our best interests. We trust they understand the effects of the drug they want us to take and that they prescribe drugs that won’t harm us. In this day and age, it’s best to be your own advocate when it comes to keeping track of your medications. It’s your body, your health and your life and you want to get it right,” said Schuelke, the Austin personal injury lawyer.

For those who have suffered as a result of pharmaceutical negligence, consult with a seasoned Austin personal injury lawyer to find out about eligibility for compensation for pain and suffering and mental and emotional trauma.

Contact Perlmutter & Schuelke PLLC at http://www.civtrial.com or (512) 476-4944.

Austin Personal Injury Lawyer Brooks Schuelke Indicates Medical Misdiagnosis is on the Rise

Statistics show that family practitioners and general internists get the diagnosis wrong a relatively high number of times when a person is having a heart attack.

A very recent study on heart attack diagnosis released by the Physician Insurers Association revealed that malpractice in this area is quite high among family practitioners and general internists. They have the highest number of med mal claims and the highest average indemnity payments of any group of doctors.

“What this suggests is that heart attacks are difficult to diagnose because the symptoms can mimic a wealth of other conditions,” said Austin personal injury lawyer Brooks Schuelke, of Perlmutter & Schuelke L.L.P.

The study also indicates that acute myocardial infarction is the third most expensive medical condition that often ends up in claims against doctors, following closely behind birth injuries involving brain damaged babies and breast cancer. The numbers in this study reach back to 1985 and show that the insurance companies in the study paid out on 349 cases relating to heart attack misdiagnosis with a total indemnity of more than $91 million.

“There were 27 insurance companies that took part in this study, so if you extrapolate to include other insurance companies over the same period of time, the number of heart attack cases would be significantly higher, along with the final indemnity statistics. What that means is the rate of misdiagnosis for heart attacks is alarming and if you have had this happen to you, you will want to discuss your case with a skilled Austin personal injury lawyer,” Schuelke said.

The group with the highest number of claims filed (160 of 423 defendants) were general practitioners, often referred to as family doctors, followed by internal medicine medical professionals, who took the lead in indemnity payments, averaging roughly $252,100. The patient demographics indicated that at least one-quarter of the total payments (16 percent) were made to those under the age of 40, and 47 percent under the age of 50.

“For people in those age ranges, with a lot of living left to do, being misdiagnosed for a heart attack can and has resulted in fatal consequences,” Schuelke said. “The biggest concern is that the symptoms are clever mimics of other diseases. Having a heart attack and not being diagnosed correctly has become one of the most frightening situations to be in today, as the symptoms may be mistaken for gastrointestinal distress, a respiratory problem like bronchitis, asthma, anxiety or pneumonia.”

The best advice for someone who feels their heart attack was misdiagnosed as something else and that this medical error gravely affected their life is to speak to a seasoned Austin personal injury lawyer and find out precisely what can be done to move forward.

Contact Perlmutter & Schuelke PLLC at http://www.civtrial.com or (512) 476-4944.

Have A Safe Thanksgiving — Avoid Becoming A Traffic Fatality Statistic

 Over the river and through the woods…….

Thanksgiving.  What’s it mean to you?  Turkey?  Stuffing?  Napping on the couch?  Football?  or…

Traffic?

It’s no secret that the Thanksgiving holidays make for busy roads.  But it also makes for dangerous roads.  Last year, there were over 1,000 serious injuries and 39 fatalities from car wrecks during the Thanksgiving holiday.  Don’t be one of those statistics this year. 

I could provide a detailed list of safe driving tips, but you know them all.  Instead, I’ll simplify it. 

(1) Avoid road rage — even if you’re listening to a football game and your team isn’t playing well.

(2) Don’t drink and drive — this is a “no-brainer.”

(3) Watch out for all the other idiots on the road. 

Take care and have a great Thanksgiving.

Posted on: November 24, 2010 |

DePuy ASR Hip Implant Litigation Begins

Last week, the litigation involving the DePuy ASR  hip implants began in earnest as lawyers for claimants and Johnson and Johnson argued whether the federal lawsuits should be coordinated between one judge, and if so, who that judge should be. Going in to the hearing, both sides appeared to agree that the federal suits should be consolidated , but the real fight was where.  DePuy was asking that the cases be consolidated in a court near its headquarters in Warsaw, Indiana.

These hip implants have two big problems. First, they wear sooner than they should.  The recall was issued after European studies found that a high percentage of implant patients had to undergo revision surgery within five years of the original implant.   These implants should last fifteen or so years.

A perhaps bigger problem is that the implants have been shown to release metal debris and shards, including cobalt and chromium, into the tissue surrounding the implant.  In the past, these metals have been shown to be dangerous to the liver, kidneys, and the brain.  It is currently unclear whether these problems will arise from the defective hips, but it is a risk that is being evaluated.

Because of the serious nature of the recall, patients having a DePuy hip implant should seek medical care and legal assistance as soon as possible.

Posted on: November 23, 2010 | Tagged

Catastrophic injuries are usually life-altering and permanent

Not too many people understand the difference between a serious and catastrophic injury. One slows life down; the other is life-altering.

The injuries that have the biggest impact on a person’s life are those referred to as catastrophic. Catastrophic means that the injuries are devastating, usually permanent and are life altering – the person’s life will never be the same again. The injuries don’t just impact the victim; they also impact the victim’s family and friends, for the simple reason that those are the people who usually end up caring for the victim in the long-term.

Typically, catastrophic injuries are the result of accidents that happened without warning; a car accident that came out of the blue, a run-in with a tractor trailer unit, a motorcycle accident that results in spinal cord injuries, a bicycle accident that leaves the victim with traumatic brain injury or a medical error that results in a patient being unable to breathe on his or her own.

The bottom line is that any injury or condition that causes impaired functioning of at least one crucial bodily function or the permanent loss of the ability to work is classified as catastrophic. This is the classification used when an Austin personal injury lawyer takes a case to court for a badly injured client to secure them compensation.

Some of the injuries that are categorized as catastrophic are brain injuries, blindness, multiple fractures, total or partial amputations, severe and disfiguring burns, spinal cord injuries and other neurological disorders. These injuries cause huge disruptions/impairment to one of more of a person’s bodily functions such as the muscular, skeletal or neurological systems. In some instances, more than one system is affected, which is completely devastating to the victim.

Take the case of one young man who was working on a construction site when the scaffolding he was on collapsed. He plummeted over 100 feet to the ground and landed on his head. Although he survived, he is now a spastic quadriplegic. His accident was the result of negligence on the part of the construction company he worked for in not adhering to the safety regulations to maintain and regularly check the scaffolding. His injuries are life altering and permanent. He will require around-the-clock care for the rest of his life.

Also, consider the case of the young woman who worked in a gas plant as a control operator. While on shift one day, she discovered one of the burners was not working properly. She told her shift supervisor she would re-light the burner. The burner exploded and the woman was catapulted across the room and slammed into a wall. Her hips were shattered and her spinal cord severed.

She is now a paraplegic and will never walk again. The gas plant was negligent in not properly maintaining its equipment. As a result of that negligence; this young woman paid the supreme price of her mobility. Her life will never be the same again.

These cases are examples of the many things that can and do go wrong every day across the nation. Unfortunately, catastrophic injuries happen far more often than we may care to admit. Negligence tends to stalk a great many places. While there is no real way to avoid someone else’s carelessness, if you find yourself in a situation like the ones we discussed, consult an experienced Austin personal injury lawyer. You need to know your rights and you need adequate compensation to live your life.

Brooks Schuelke is an Austin personal injury attorney with Perlmutter & Schuelke PLLC. Contact an Austin injury lawyer at Civtrial.com or (512) 476-4944.A

Texas Leads The Nation In Drunk Driving Deaths

As part of his efforts to adopt more strict DWI laws, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo has been routinely claiming that Texas leads the nation in drunk driving fatalities.  Today, the Austin American Statesman and Politifact put that assertion to the test and confirmed that it is mostly true.  On a raw numbers count, Texas far exceeded any other state.  According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, Texas had 1,235 DWI fatalities in 2009.  The second place state, California, only had 950 deaths.  Sadly, this is one area where Texas is leading the charge.

Even accounting for the number of miles of Texas roadways, we’re still not very good.  Counting driving fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, Texas dropped only down to second (behind South Carolina).

Unfortunately, that means too many claims for personal injury lawyers based on wrecks caused by defendants driving while intoxicated.  And far too often these victims aren’t getting the legal help they deserve.  DWI claims aren’t just normal car wreck claims.  There are additional steps that lawyers can take to help bolster the value of the claim.  But as far as I can tell, many personal injury lawyers aren’t doing the work necessary to maximize the value for their clients. If you or a family member or friend has the misfortune of being hit by an impaired driver, make sure the lawyer you hire will do the work necessary to protect your rights.

Posted on: November 19, 2010 |

There are two sides to every big rig accident

While it may look like the big rig accident you’re seeing was the trucker’s fault; that might not be the case.

Usually, when people see a trucking accident, they immediately assume that the trucker was the one at fault. In some cases, that assumption might be accurate. In others, not so much. Perhaps the driver did make a mistake, but when it comes to big rig accidents, there are a number of behind-the-scenes people who may play a role in the overall big picture of a lawsuit filed by an Austin personal injury lawyer on behalf of an injured client.

Put another way, there just may be an entity behind the scenes liable for the conditions that led to the accident in the first place. For instance, companies that hire truckers are responsible for adhering to the rules and regulations governing big rig maintenance all the way through to driver behavior. Just about no stone is unturned in the industry to keep those rigs legal and running. If trucking companies fail in doing that, they might find themselves liable for any accidents or injuries that result from a wreck.

The industry is ripe with laws that are intended to govern how trucking firms treat their drivers and rigs. This is largely aimed at reducing the risk of accidents. The bottom line is that when a trucking company (employer) does not follow the laws laid out for them or acts in a manner that puts others in a precarious and dangerous position – something that could have been avoided had the rules been followed – the company has acted negligently.

That negligence may come in various forms, such as negligent hiring of truckers, not properly inspecting their vehicles, hours of service violations and failing to train a driver or not properly training a driver. These are the most common violations that trucking companies run afoul of on a fairly frequent basis. If a trucking firm’s negligence is found to have caused a wreck, the firm may be held liable for the victim’s damages and injuries.

In cases like this, the victims have rights – the right to seek counsel from a personal injury lawyer, the right to sue for damages and the right to compensation for their pain and suffering and injuries and other accident related costs. Some of the other costs that may be recovered by a skilled Austin personal injury lawyer are medical bills, vehicle repairs, lost income from work and disability payments. Your lawyer will advise you what is applicable in your particular case.

Brooks Schuelke is an Austin personal injury attorney with Perlmutter & Schuelke PLLC. Contact an Austin injury lawyer at Civtrial.com or (512) 476-4944.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Claims

Today I had the pleasure of presenting a speech to about 60 local personal injury attorneys on uninsured/underinsured motorist claims.  Part of my presentation included a paper, which I’m including here.  It is intended for lawyers and isn’t leisure reading, like much of the stuff I post on here, but some may find it helpful.UM Paper2

Posted on: November 9, 2010 |

Is It Wise To Invest My Personal Injury Settlement In An Annuity?

In the last few weeks, I’ve been talking to a few potential clients about structured settlements.  Structured settlements, often used in large personal injury cases or for settlement of minors’ claims, are settlements that pay off in annuities over time instead of the client receiving a one-time payment of settlement proceeds.  In cases of minors, any settlement proceeds have to be deposited in the registry of the court, where they are invested in a CD until the child turns 18.  At that point, the child can petition for all the funds to be released.  A structured settlement, which is an alternative to this traditional treatment of minors’ settlements, offers two advantages.  First, the rate of return earned by the annuity is usually better than the percent return being offered by a bank.  Second, many parents aren’t comfortable with their now 18 year old children having access to large sums of cash, which the kids could blow.  To avoid this, a structured settlement pays the money off over time.  There are an unlimited number of ways these payments could be structured.  For example, payments may be made twice a year for five or six years to coincide with tuition payments. 

In large cases, structured settlements may be a good idea as an investment.  I am cutting and pasting (with permission) a blog post from the California personal injury lawyers at the Bisnar Chase law firm that talk about some of the advantages of annuities.

After receiving a settlement for your personal injury accident in Los Angeles, you will need to decide what you will do with your money. Leaving your money in a savings or checking account may not be a smart choice. Life can be unpredictable. Investing in an annuity can help you to secure your financial future and allow a flexible investment plan.
What is an Annuity?
An annuity is an investment that you will typically use once you reach retirement. Over time your annuity earns you money, then provides you with a stable income once you stop working.
What Benefits Does An Annuity Provide?
An annuity will provide investors with a number of benefits. One of the major reasons why most injured accidents victims should consider an annuity is because few companies offer pension plans for their employees that will provide you will a fixed income for the rest of your life.
When choosing an annuity your provider will allow you to choose the type of investment option as well as the type of return you would like to receive. Once you start your annuity, you will receive a tax benefit. Money in an annuity is not taxed on the amount until you withdraw money.
When you retire, you want to continue your comfortable lifestyle. Ensure this happens by investing your money now in an annuity. The peace of mind that comes with an annuity is well worth the investment. Knowing that you are financially secure when you retire will help you to be at ease and continue to live a comfortable life.

Posted on: November 8, 2010 |

A Law School Professor Explains Why You Need A Personal Injury Lawyer

This week, Jay Feinman, a Distinguished Professor of Law at Rutgers University, was a guest blogger at the TortsProf blog (one of my favorites, and not just because friend and fellow UT alum Bill Childs is one of the authors).  In his guest post, Professor Feinman explained one of the shifts in the insurance industry that helps explain why personal injury victims need lawyers:

All of these ideas are based on the assumption that insurance works — that companies assess risks, insureds purchase policies against those risks, and the companies pay claims that are within coverage.  Unfortunately, the facts about insurance are increasingly at odds with this assumption.  Most companies pay out claims most of the time, of course.  But more and more, insurance companies deny valid claims in whole or in part and force policyholders and tort victims to litigation to obtain the benefits to which they are entitled.

The economics of insurance creates this potential for opportunism.  Every dollar a company does not pay out in claims is a dollar it keeps in profit.  Outright denials, reduction of the amounts paid, and using litigation to diminish and deter claims potentially provides a greater benefit to a company than it loses in disappointed customers and negative reputational effect.

Insurance companies have always been subject to these temptations.  Since the early 1990s, however, the strategy has become more systematic and institutionalized across auto, homeowners, and disability insurance and extended even to commercial lines.

****

The claims department has become a profit-center rather than solely the place that honors the company’s promise to pay what it owes, no more  but no less.

Professor Feinman’s statements echo what I’ve been preaching on this blog and website for quite some time.  When I started practicing a number of years ago, attorneys and adjusters would work together to exchange information and come up with a fair value of the claim.  Some of the time it didn’t work and suit had to be filed, but most of the time, it worked. 

That’s no longer the case.  In many cases, trying to settle a case pre-suit is a waste of time and effort.  We are having to file more and more cases and push those cases harder before the insurance companies come to the table with reasonable offer.  Sadly, the real victims are the personal injury victims.  They not only have to wait longer, but requiring litigation makes the cases much more expensive to pursue, and those expenses come directly out of our clients’ pockets.

Posted on: November 5, 2010 |

Perlmutter & Schuelke, PLLC maintains offices in Austin, Texas. However, our attorneys and lawyers represent clients throughout the state of Texas, including Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Forth Worth, El Paso, New Braunfels, San Marcos, Kyle, Buda, Round Rock, Georgetown, Lockhart, Bastrop, Elgin, Manor, Brenham, Cedar Park, Burnet, Marble Falls, Temple and Killeen. By Brooks Schuelke


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