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Hospital-Acquired Sepsis Can be Life-Threatening Condition

Medical Negligence Attorneys with the Experience to Fight for Victims of Hospital Acquired Sepsis

Serving all of Upstate New York Including Troy, Latham and Saratoga

sepsis

 

Skilled physicians often repeat what sounds like a contradiction in terms: “A hospital is no place for the sick.” With those words, they are generally referring to the fact that it is within hospitals and major medical centers – not our homes or workplaces – that the “superbugs,” like some powerful strains of sepsis, live and breed. Doctors and other experts caution that particularly when medical treatment requires invasive surgery, sepsis can be a significant risk.

Hospital-acquired sepsis can also be life-threatening. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on any given day, one in 25 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection (HAI).

Hospital-Acquired Sepsis is Deadly and Expensive

According to an important study published in Archives of Internal Medicine, HAIs affect some 1.7 million hospitalizations each year. Of those HAIs, sepsis is the most deadly. In cases associated with invasive surgery, patients who contract sepsis must stay in the hospital longer, incurring almost $33,000 in extra costs. Worse, 20 percent of those who contract sepsis in the hospital or medical center actually die from the illness. According to the study, sepsis (and the pneumonia often associated with it) kills some 48,000 patients annually and cost 8.1 billion to treat.

Many Cases of Sepsis Are Unnecessary

One of the most unfortunate things about HAIs is that they can be prevented in many cases. In some cases, relatively healthy people check into the hospital for routine surgery. They develop sepsis because of a lapse in infection control – and they can die. Best-practice studies show that steps can be taken to control and prevent HAIs in a variety of settings. According to the CDC, when healthcare facilities care teams, individual doctors, and nurses are aware of infection problems and take specific steps to prevent them, rates of some targeted HAIs decrease.

Sepsis Symptoms

Many physicians judge sepsis severity as a three-stage syndrome. Their goal is to treat it as early as possible so the recovery is optimal. The three stages are sepsis, severe sepsis, and septic shock.

Sepsis

Generally speaking, in order to be diagnosed with sepsis, the patient must exhibit at least two of the following symptoms, plus a probable or confirmed infection:

  • Body temperature above 101 F or below 96.8 F
  • Heart rate higher than 90 beats a minute
  • Respiratory rate higher than 20 breaths a minute

Severe sepsis

The diagnosis is upgraded if the patient also exhibits at least one of the following signs and symptoms, which indicate an organ may be failing:

  • Significantly decreased urine output
  • Abrupt change in mental status
  • Decrease in platelet count
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Abnormal heart pumping function
  • Abdominal pain

Septic shock

Septic shock – the most serious and life-threatening of the sepsis conditions includes all the signs and symptoms of severe sepsis plus, in most cases, extremely low blood pressure that fails to respond to simple fluid replacement.

Incidence of Sepsis May be on the Rise

The incidence of sepsis appears to be increasing in the United States. Medical experts attribute the rise to a number of causes, including:

  • Aging population. The older the patient, the greater the risk of contracting sepsis.
  • Drug-resistant bacteria. Many types of bacteria can resist the effects of antibiotics that once killed them. These antibiotic-resistant bacteria are often the root cause of the infections that trigger sepsis.
  • Weakened immune systems. More Americans are living with weakened immune systems, caused by HIV, cancer treatment, or transplant drugs.

Many Cases of Sepsis Can Cause Serious Injury or Death

Severe sepsis reduces blood flow to vital organs, such as your brain, heart, and kidneys. The result is that such organ function is impaired. Sepsis can also cause blood clots to form in your organs and in your arms, legs, fingers, and toes – leading to varying degrees of organ failure and tissue death (gangrene). While most patients recover from mild sepsis, the mortality rate for septic shock is nearly 50 percent. Moreover, an episode of severe sepsis may place you at higher risk of future infections.

E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy: Experienced, Caring Attorneys

If you or a member of your family have suffered from a hospital-acquired infection, such as sepsis (or pneumonia), you may have a valid claim for damages. The attorneys at E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy have the experience to handle your medical claim. And while we are experts at negotiating an appropriate settlement, we also have the skill, resources, and tenacity to take your case to trial if necessary.

One of the most highly respected law firms in upstate New York and the Capital District, we have been representing clients for more than a hundred years. Our law practice has truly stood the test of time. Make the right call. Call us now at (518) 274-5820 or complete our online form. The E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy law firm has an attorney available to assist clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – even on holidays.

Pressure Ulcers and Bedsores Among the Most Common Forms of Nursing Home Negligence

Patient in a Nursing Facility

Pressure ulcers, also known as bedsores, pressure sores, or decubitus ulcers, are wounds caused by unrelieved pressure on the skin. Ordinarily, they develop adjacent to bony prominences, such as on the elbow, heel, hip, shoulder, back, and back of the head. Pressure ulcers are serious medical conditions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that their prevalence among the population at a nursing home is an important measure of the quality of clinical care being provided to the residents. According to CDC data, approximately 11 percent of all nursing home residents have pressure ulcers.

Four Stages of Pressure Ulcers

Medically speaking, pressure ulcers present themselves in four stages, based primarily on the depth of soft tissue damage:

  • Stage 1: The least serious, consists of persistent redness of skin
  • Stage 2: The loss of partial thickness of skin appearing as an abrasion, blister, or shallow crater in patients
  • Stage 3: Similar to Stage 2, except that the crater is deep
  • Stage 4: The most serious stage, where there is a loss of full thickness of skin, exposing muscle or bone

Lack of Attention and Improper Medical Care

Pressure ulcers and bedsores aren’t new problems. They have been a significant problem in nursing homes throughout the United States for many years. In many instances, pressure ulcers are caused by a lack of attention on the part of medical staff. Once the sores have been identified, they should be treated immediately.

Additional Statistics

The CDC points to a number of other important statistics with regard to the incidence of pressure ulcers and bedsores. For example:

  • One in five nursing home residents with a recent weight loss develops pressure ulcers
  • Residents aged 64 years or younger are more likely to have pressure ulcers than older residents
  • Residents for a year or less are more likely to have bed sores than those who reside in nursing homes longer

Complications from Pressure Ulcers

Complications from pressure ulcers and bedsores include:

  • Pain
  • Scarring
  • Infection
  • Prolonged rehabilitation
  • Permanent disability

According to the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research, pressure ulcers affect up to 2.5 million patients per year. Costs associated with such ulcers and sores range from $9.1 to $11.6 billion per year annually in the US. Given that they are so common and that they are largely avoidable with proper care, one would think the medical community would be keen to address the issues. Unfortunately, many nursing homes and medical professionals prefer to sweep the problem under the rug.

E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy: Experienced, Caring Attorneys

Has a member of your family suffered from pressure ulcers and bedsores while confined to a nursing home? Do you suspect that the loved one has received less than adequate treatment? If so, your family may have a valid claim for damages. The attorneys at E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy have the experience to handle your loved one’s case. If there has been maltreatment or neglect, we can help you protect your family’s interests and perhaps help other families avoid this unnecessary pain and suffering. While we are experts at negotiating an appropriate settlement, we also have the skill, resources, and tenacity to take your case to trial, if necessary.

We are one of the most highly respected law firms in upstate New York and the Capital District. We have been representing clients for more than a hundred years; our law practice has stood the test of time. Make the right call. Call us now at (518) 274-5820 or complete our online form. The E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy law firm has an attorney available to assist clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – even on holidays.

After a New York DWI Conviction, Can I Drive to Work?

Business man in handcuffs

When a New Yorker is charged with an alcohol-related driving offense, such as Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Driving While Ability is Impaired (DWAI), a common question is whether the person will be able to get some sort of limited driving privilege after the plea or trial date. The answer is the same answer as is often given to legal queries: “It depends.” Generally speaking, the ability to get at least some sort of driving privilege varies with the charge and the aggravated nature, if any, of the person’s conduct.

Conditional License

When you are sentenced for DWI (assuming it is a first offense), your license will be revoked for six months. When you are sentenced for WDAI, it will be suspended for 90 days. In such situations, provided you have not been convicted of an alcohol-related offense within the past five years, you should be able to qualify for a conditional license giving you limited driving privileges.

A conditional license is a special license that generally allows you:

  • To drive to and from work and sometimes during working hours, if you are required to drive as part of your work
  • To and from day care for your children
  • To and from “credit-bearing scholastic activities”
  • To and from medical treatment

Impaired Driver Program

Generally speaking, in order to be granted a conditional license, a driver must enroll in the New York State DMV “Impaired Driver Program” – an alcohol abuse prevention course that is run by the state. Because of the usual delays in getting the paperwork from the court to the DMV, your attorney can ask the sentencing court to “stay” the suspension or revocation for 20 days. This gives the driver full driving privileges for 20 days from the date of the sentencing for the conviction and allows time to get the ball rolling for the conditional license.

What if the Driver Refused to Take a Blood, Breath, or Urine Test?

The conditional license is usually not available to a driver who refused to take a Breathalyzer (or some other blood or urine) test. In most cases, refusing the test automatically results in loss of your license for 12 months.

Hardship License

In some cases, of course, the court is empowered to suspend your license at your first appearance, even before you have been convicted. If you have had the foresight to hire an experienced attorney, that attorney may be able to assist you in securing a “hardship license” at that initial appearance or soon thereafter. A hardship license provides a very limited right to drive in New York. The hardship license is available only to drivers who have not had a prior DWI/DWAI or DWAI-D conviction in the previous five years.

DWI/DWAI Law is Complex

Anyone charged with DWI or DWAI must understand that the New York law is quite complex. There are a host of variables that can come into play, both related to your likelihood of conviction and your ability to get a conditional or hardship license allowing you limited driving privileges. If you have been charged with a DUI or DWI offense, you owe it to yourself to retain the best legal team available. The attorneys at E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy have the judgment and experience to negotiate the best possible plea and to negotiate for a conditional or hardship license, if you qualify.

We are one of the most highly respected law firms in upstate New York and the Greater Capital Region. We have been representing clients for more than a hundred years; our law practice has stood the test of time. Make the right call. Call us now at (518) 274-5820 or complete our online form. The E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy law firm has an attorney available to assist clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – even on holidays.

Will New Law Supporting Spay/Neuter Services Lead to Fewer Dog Bites?

dog bites

Experienced Attorneys Explain New York Dog Bite Laws

Many New Yorkers are unaware of a new law that may result in fewer dog bites within the state. In June, both houses of the legislature passed bills – subsequently signed by Governor Cuomo – under which most veterinarians may fulfill part of their annual continuing education requirement by providing free spay/neuter services.

What do continuing education requirements for vets have in common with dog bites? It’s pretty simple. By incentivizing veterinarians to provide additional spay/neuter services, there should be fewer unneutered male dogs in the state. According to a number of studies, including a prominent one published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the vast majority of serious dog bites come at the hands – rather, the teeth – of unneutered male dogs.

Dog Bites Are a Serious Problem

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 4.5 million dog-bite incidents occur in the United States each year. Of those attacks, some three-quarters of a million Americans require some medical attention, often on an emergency basis. Moreover, virtually three out of every four dog bites don’t involve an unknown dog; they occur on the victim’s property – usually involving a dog with which the victim is familiar.

Preventing Dog Bites

Even the friendliest dog can snap or nip under certain circumstances. Canine experts have a number of suggestions to decrease your risk of dog bites. Here are a few:

  • When dealing with any dog – even your own – maintain confident, but cautious body-language.
  • Don’t approach an unfamiliar dog. If such an unfamiliar dog approaches you, try not to panic. Avoid eye contact and do not run or scream. That will only increase the chances of a bite.
  • Never disturb a dog while it is eating or sleeping.
  • Be extremely careful around a mother dog that is nursing her puppies.
  • Permit a dog to smell you before you try to pet it. Don’t make sudden moves toward the dog’s head and, when you pet the dog, scratch under its chin; don’t pat it on top of the head.
  • Report strays or dogs displaying strange behavior to your local animal control.

Dog Owners in New York May Be Liable for Damages Due to Bites

Across the nation, the insurance industry pays over $1 billion annually in dog-bite claims. In New York, the owner of a “dangerous dog” is strictly liable for medical costs associated with dog bites. A “dangerous dog” is generally one that has shown what the dog’s owner should recognize as vicious tendencies. For example, prior bites can form the basis of showing the dog is vicious, if the owner was aware of them. If the dog has shown no earlier vicious tendencies, recovery of damages can be more difficult, although under some circumstances, it is still possible. The key to recovery generally is the retention of skilled, experienced legal counsel.

Make the Right Call

The E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy law firm has the experience and resources to help. If you or a loved one have been injured due to a dog bite or dog attack in the Greater Capital Region and beyond, we invite you to contact us today to learn more about your legal rights and options.

With offices in Albany, Troy, Saratoga Springs, and Latham, we have been representing clients for more than 100 years. Make the right call. Call us now at (518) 274-5820 or complete our online form. The E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy law firm has an attorney available to assist clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – even on holidays.

James E. Hacker Admitted to American College of Trial Lawyers

James E. Hacker, Esq. has become a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, one of the premier legal associations in North America. The induction ceremony at which Mr. Hacker became a fellow took place recently before an audience of approximately 800 persons during the recent 2016 Annual Meeting of the College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Founded in 1950, the College is composed of the best of the trial bar from the United States and Canada. Fellowship in the College is extended by invitation only and only after careful investigation, to those experienced trial lawyers of diverse backgrounds, who have mastered the art of advocacy and whose professional careers have been marked by the highest standards of ethical conduct, professionalism, civility and collegiality. Lawyers must have a minimum of fifteen years trial experience before they can be considered for Fellowship.

Membership in the College cannot exceed one percent of the total lawyer population of any state or province. There are currently approximately 5800 members in the United States and Canada, including active Fellows, Emeritus Fellows, Judicial Fellows (those who ascended to the bench after their induction) and Honorary Fellows. The College maintains and seeks to improve the standards of trial practice, professionalism, ethics, and the administration of justice through education and public statements on important legal issues relating to its mission. The College strongly supports the independence of the judiciary, trial by jury, respect for the rule of law, access to justice, and fair and just representation of all parties to legal proceedings.

James E. Hacker is the managing partner at E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy, LLP with offices in Troy, Albany and Saratoga Springs, N.Y. He has been practicing law for 32 years. The newly inducted Fellow attended Hamilton College where he is an Alumni Trustee and Albany Law School where he will chair the Board of Trustees in 2017. He is the President of the Albany County Bar Association and a Regional Vice President of the New York State Trial Lawyers Academy. He is on the Board of Directors of The Legal Aid Society for Northeastern New York and is a past President of the Capital District Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. Hacker devotes his practice entirely to civil litigation.

Does My Estranged Spouse Share My NY Personal Injury Settlement?

personal injury claim

New York Attorneys Helping Divorced Couples with Distribution of Injury Settlements

It goes without saying that divorce is as divisive a situation as one can ever be called upon to endure. During the breakup, it seems that everything is being pulled apart – not just the spousal relationship, but also the relationships that have been built with other married couples. Even in relatively friendly marital splits, the relationship between a parent and child (or children) can become strained.

Then there is the division of property. The family residence, the investment accounts, and the retirement funds: They all have to be accounted for and, in a state such as New York, which follows equitable distribution rules, they must be “equitably” divided. What about a personal injury settlement in New York? Are there special rules that apply to those sorts of recoveries? In a word: “Yes.” Here’s an overview of how New York family law treats settlements and/or civil action verdicts in personal injury cases.

New York General Rule: Only “Marital” Property is Divided Upon Divorce

When it comes to division of property within a divorce, New York is an equitable distribution state. Under equitable distribution rules, most property acquired during the course of a marriage is deemed to be “marital property” and is divided between the parties. New York law treats some property as “separate,” however. It is not so divided. Generally speaking, separate property is property that was acquired before marriage, by inheritance, or by gift.

Special New York Statute Handles Personal Injury Proceeds

By virtue of a special statute, N.Y. Dom. Rel. Law § 236 B (1)(d), compensation for personal injuries received during the course of a marriage are deemed to be the separate property of the injured spouse. Under that law, settlements and awards to compensate the injured party for such costs as medical bills, as well as compensation for pain and suffering and any punitive damages awarded to punish the negligent defendant are deemed to be the injured party’s (plaintiff’s) separate property.

That portion of a personal injury award that is intended or designated to compensate the injured party for lost wages or to compensate him or her for diminished earning capacity is treated as marital property, however, and is subject to equitable distribution rules. If one thinks about it, this is a reasonable rule, since those earnings would have been considered marital property if they had been earned at work.

Personal Injury Settlement Agreements Often Designate the Various Components

Generally, a personal injury settlement will designate how much is being paid for medical bills, how much is considered pain and suffering, and how much is deemed to be in lieu of lost wages. If you have a personal injury claim against a third party, it is important to communicate early on the fact that you may have marital difficulties. While one cannot arbitrarily designate that all of a personal injury settlement is intended to be for pain and suffering – thus avoiding equitable distribution – one can carefully document how the components of the settlement have been determined, increasing the chances that such designations will stand up if later challenged in the divorce proceeding.

Have You Been Injured in an Accident?

If you have been seriously injured in a vehicle crash, you need a strong, resourceful legal advocate to protect your interests. If you have a troubled marriage, you also need an attorney who can protect your settlement to the fullest extent allowed by New York law.

The law firm of E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy is one of the most highly respected law firms in upstate New York and the Capital District. Having represented clients for more than 100 years, we are among the top-rated lawyers in the country, achieving the highest ratings from both client groups and our peers. Once we accept your case, we invest all the time and resources necessary to obtain the largest settlement or award possible. Each case is unique, and a positive outcome is not guaranteed, but we have a very successful record of winning cases for our clients. Contact our attorneys today to learn how we may be able to help you. Call us now at (518) 274-5820 or complete our online form. The E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy law firm has an attorney available to assist clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – even on holidays.

Five Causes of Excessive Uterine Bleeding at Delivery

Hospital Bed

 

Childbirth Injury Attorneys Serving Victims across New York

As noted in one recent medical study, human childbirth is “treacherous.” For example, in a “normal” delivery, the mother sustains significant blood loss – about one pint after the birth of a single baby in vaginal delivery. For a cesarean birth, the average blood loss is twice that amount. While most postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) – the medical term for excessive bleeding following the birth of a baby – occurs right after delivery, it can occur later, as well. Unless it is adequately treated, PPH can lead to shock and even death.

According to that same study, PPH is the leading cause of maternal mortality worldwide. It is responsible for 35 percent of all maternal deaths. What are some of the causes of excessive uterine bleeding following delivery? Here are five of the most common.

Uterine Atony

Following the delivery of a baby, the uterus normally continues to contract in order to expel the placenta. As the placenta (afterbirth) is “delivered,” the contractions help compress the blood vessels along the uterine wall where the placenta was attached. Insufficient contraction – uterine atony – is the most common cause of excessive bleeding.

Forceps or Vacuum-Assisted Delivery

Use of forceps or vacuum “extraction” poses some additional risk of injury to both mother and baby. In some cases, of course, the obstetrician has no choice, but these methods of delivery can cause additional damage to delicate tissues, including the uterine lining, resulting in excessive bleeding.

Multiple Pregnancy

In most multiple pregnancies (an exception is identical twins), more than one placenta is present within the uterus. Since as much as a quarter of blood flows through the healthy placenta each minute, multiple placentas increase the risk of excessive bleeding following childbirth. Multiple pregnancy also often leads to an overdistended uterus – excessive enlargement of the uterus due to additional volumes of amniotic fluid or multiple babies, increasing the risk of bleeding following childbirth.

Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension

High blood pressure can be induced by pregnancy. If the condition is inadequately treated or maintained, the mother can be at risk of PPH.

Placental Abruption or Placenta Previa

Excessive bleeding can also be associated with placental abruption – the early detachment of the placenta from the uterus. Placenta previa, a condition that exists when the placenta covers or is near the cervical opening, is also associated with greater risk of PPH.

Treatment for Postpartum Hemorrhage

The primary aim in any medical treatment associated with PPH is to find and stop the cause of bleeding. Some medications can be prescribed that stimulate uterine contractions. Manual massage of the uterus is quite commonly performed to stimulate contractions. If the problem is sufficiently serious, surgical intervention may be required.

Was PPH Caused by Medical Error?

In some cases, the PPH may have resulted from inadequate treatment or other medical error. In such cases, the obstetrician, the hospital, and its staff may be liable not only for the costs associated with additional treatment, but for the pain and suffering endured by the mother. If the mother dies as a result of hemorrhaging and it is determined that failure to detect or treat the bleeding promptly was the cause, there may be cause for a wrongful death lawsuit.

E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy: Experienced, Caring Attorneys

If you or a member of your family have suffered from excessive bleeding following a delivery, you may have a valid claim for damages. The attorneys at E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy have the experience to handle your medical malpractice case. While we are experts at negotiating an appropriate settlement, we also have the skill, resources, and tenacity to take your case to trial, if necessary.

We are one of the most highly respected law firms in upstate New York and the Capital District. We have been representing clients for more than a hundred years; our law practice has stood the test of time. Make the right call. Call us now at (518) 274-5820 or complete our online form. The E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy law firm has an attorney available to assist clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – even on holidays.