As New Yorkers, we often think we have the best and most advanced healthcare options in the world, and in many ways that is true. New York has world class medical facilities and research centers doing groundbreaking work and training some of America’s best and brightest future medical professionals. But as a New York City medical malpractice lawyer, I also see the flip side of that coin. Often lower income New Yorkers suffer unfairly at the hands of severely mismanaged hospitals and negligent doctors. In fact, a recent article by Consumer Reports found that of the 50 lowest scoring hospitals, 30 are located in New York.
The New York Daily New recently reported some serious concerns about the lack of patient safety at Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Interestingly, the hospital’s spokesman Ole Pedersen claims “we are confident in the quality of care provided to the residents of Brooklyn”. But the facts suggest otherwise.
Brookdale is currently facing over 100 lawsuits from patients and their relatives, which suggests rampant negligence and malpractice.
In fact, a couple of those patients are being represented by our law firm. A dozen of these lawsuits involve patients that were killed as a result of the hospital’s malpractice.
In one case, an elderly woman developed a blood infection and gangrene on her feet from pressure ulcers. In one of our own cases a doctor fractured a child’s shoulder while forcefully pulling him out of his mother’s uterus – and then sent him home without diagnosing it. The Daily News reported other specific acts of malpractice, include letting a diabetic’s puncture wound get so infected that his toes had to be amputated, giving penicillin to a patient with a bracelet stating an allergy to that medication, and another case of negligence during childbirth that caused the infant permanent brain and nervous system injuries.
Joanne Doroshow, director of the Center for Justice and Democracy at New York University, calls this an epidemic of medical malpractice suits for Brookdale, and that the volume is “egregious.” Of course, it is important to remember that these numbers only reflect the patients actually filing lawsuits. It is very likely that many more patients have been affected by malpractice and have not done anything about it. Ms. Doroshow says that for every one patient that files a lawsuit, 100 more felt they got substandard care but did not sue. She went on to tell the Daily News that such unsafe acts are tremendously expensive for the community because it increases the need for even more medical care, and that there are proven and well-known ways to make hospitals safer for patients. She stated that it is “pure negligence” to not implement these measures.
Even among Brooklyn’s other hospitals, many of which are substantially bigger than Brookdale, Brookdale stands out as one of the biggest problem hospitals. New York Assemblymen have called this figure “alarming” and that it shows need for change at the “highest levels of management.” Unsurprisingly, Brookdale has been failing financially the past few years, with a 2010 operating loss of $42 million. Last September the CEO of its parent company, MediSys Health Network, was convicted of bribing New York City officials. This kind of financial mismanagement is a separate problem, but we can all agree that whatever financial problems a hospital is facing, there is never an excuse for negligence or malpractice.
Further we must remember that government studies have proven that the entire cost of malpractice verdicts, settlements, and total litigation costs, represent a mere one-half of one percent (0.5%) of the total cost of malpractice insurance. Whereas the “administrative costs” racked up by insurance companies represent twenty-one percent (21%) of the total insurance premiums they collect. Clearly there must be increased Patient Safety at these institutions, but the changes must also include reform of the astronomical salaries and perquisites that are being plundered by the insurance companies, their executives, and their CEOs.
If you or a loved one has been a patient at a New York hospital and has received unsafe or substandard medical care, be sure to contact us. It may be the only way you and your family can obtain justice from a hospital that has been careless about Patient Safety. No hospital should be allowed to be as bad as Brookdale has become, and civil medical malpractice lawsuits are often the only way to force hospitals to increase patient safety.
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