Articles Posted in Firm Success

An Illinois internet prescription malpractice case that I tried last year now has resulted in the indictment of the very doctors sued. The doctors were charged in the civil suit with: (1) prescribing Xanax and Ultram to a patient they had never seen or examined; (2) prescribing excessive dosages and; (3) practicing medicine in the state of Illinois without a license.

As reported in last months’ post on internet prescription malpractice, the plaintiff, a 30 year old husband and father ordered Xanax and Ultram over the internet. The plaintiff had previously successfully completed a drug rehabilitation program through Hazelton, and had been clean and sober for a long time. However, looking at his e-mails one day in May 2004 he succumbed and ordered the anti-anxiety drug Xanax and the pain killer Ultram via an internet questionnaire. As he testified before a jury in U.S. District Court in Chicago, he took these drugs partially for back pain and partially for recreation.

After consuming these drugs the next thing he recalls is waking up in a hospital in suburban Chicago three weeks later. The drugs repressed his breathing causing a hypoxic event that landed him in a coma. Neither Dr. Klinman. a Pennsylvania internist, whose name was on the bottle of Xanax nor Dr. Ahlawat, a New Jersey internist, whose name was on the bottle of Ultram, had ever seen plaintiff or spoken with him. All the information they had was contained on the online questionnaire that he filled out.
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An Illinois internet prescription malpractice case that I prosecuted beginning in 2004 opened my eyes to the widespread abuse of prescription drugs the internet facilitates. An unholy alliance has developed between physicians and the internet pharmacies that push drugs via spam e-mails and pay for click advertising. This is the first of what will become a continuing focus on the practice of physicians prescribing frequently abused drugs based solely on an on line questionnaire. This article is not meant to criticize or impede a patient with a lawful prescription from having it filled over the internet.

In April 2004, a 30 yr. old plastic salesman along with his newly pregnant wife had just moved into their new home in suburban Chicago. He was an active man who played golf and basketball regularly. He loved reading Dostoevsky and Hemmingway. His sales job required 70-hour work weeks and he drove over 60,000 miles per year servicing his customers. Stress was very high and his back was bothering him, but his family life and work prospects were promising.
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A Chicago product liability suit that I tried recently resulted in $1.8 million verdict to a 40 year old Chicago man whose leg was crushed on an assembly line. Many interesting legal issues arose including who should be placed on the jury verdict form regarding apportioning fault among defendants, third party defendants, and plaintiff (see previous post regarding this issue). In 2002 plaintiff was working on an assembly line that produced laminated boards for use as countertops and cabinets. At the end of the laminating line there was a scissors lift table which received the completed boards and which was operated by a foot switch.

While guiding boards onto the scissors lift plaintiff accidentally stepped on the foot switch causing the table to lower while his foot was underneath. The boards and table weighed over 1,500 lbs. and crushed his right leg. Plaintiff sustained fracture of tibial plateau, bimalleolar fracture of ankle requiring six surgeries and ultimately fusion of his knee. Plaintiff, a former drug user, complicated his medical condition by injecting Oxycontin into his right arm in an unsuccessful attempt to relieve pain, thus leading to osteomyelitis in his right leg.
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One Chicago medical malpractice case that did not involve either doctors or nurses was resolved too late to benefit the victim. In 1999 a Chicago area woman went to her gynecologist for her annual pap smear. Because she had been previously diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease she was at a higher risk of developing cervical cancer, and therefore her doctor recommended annual pap smears. The pap smear was sent to a large national lab to be read. The results were communicated to the gynecologist as a normal pap smear. Approximately ten months later the patient contacted her gynecologist because she was having unusual discharges and she came in for an appointment. Upon physical examination the physician made a visual diagnosis of cervical cancer which was later confirmed by a biopsy.
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An Illinois internet prescription malpractice suit named two physicians, one from New Jersey and one from Pennsylvania for prescribing Xanax and Ultram to an Illinois resident based solely on an online questionnaire. In May 2004 a 31 year old Illinois man received 60 2mg tablets of Xanax and 90 50mg tablets of Ultram based upon the internet application. The prescriptions were filled by internet pharmacies located in Florida. The plaintiff testified that he recalls taking one tablet of the Xanax and one tablet of the Ultram, and the next thing that he recalls is waking up in a hospital three weeks later.
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An Illinois medical malpractice case I recently handled where an anesthetic was injected into the victim’s spinal cord ended successfully for a Chicago area woman. A 44 year old Chicago area woman became a victim of medical malpractice when she went into a surgical center for repair of a torn rotator cuff. Prior to the surgery the anesthesiologist injected the patient with an anesthetic to reduce post operative pain. The anesthetic was injected into the patient’s spinal cord, instead of proximate to the brachial plexus nerve. As a result of the anesthetic entering the patient’s spinal cord, the patient suffered partial paralysis of her arms and legs as well as numbness over large areas of her trunk.
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