Bea Hightower Joins University of South Carolina as an Adjunct Professor

Having spent seven years of undergraduate and law school education at the University of South Carolina, Bea Hightower has decided it’s time to return. Except this time, she is going to be sharing knowledge instead of gaining it. Ms. Hightower will be serving in an adjunct teaching position, and her primary responsibility will be to teach the university’s course on Criminal Courts. It will explore the structure, organization and functions of the federal and state court systems.

Bea Hightower is a founding partner of the SC law firm, Reeves, Aiken & Hightower, LLP. She has an extensive criminal and litigation background, and has worked at the Berkeley County Deputy Attorney’s Office, the Richland County Public Defender’s Office and the Richland County DSS Child Support Enforcement Office.

Serving as a South Carolina attorney, Ms. Hightower focuses on cases involving clients who have been accused of DUI, DUAC, drug charges, credit card fraud, domestic violence, bad financial transactions, and other similar offenses. These experiences, coupled with her activity in various law associations and committees, give her the expertise needed to serve as an adjunct professor within the USC’s Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

About Reeves, Aiken & Hightower, LLP

Reeves Aiken & Hightower LLP is a limited liability partnership between Robert J Reeves PC (Fort Mill/Charlotte) and Aiken & Hightower PA (Columbia). They are full-service personal injury and criminal defense law firms that employ personal injury lawyers and criminal defense attorneys who have over 70 years of combined legal experience.

About the University of South Carolina Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice

The University of South Carolina Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice offers state-of-the-art programs grounded in both research methods and criminological theory. These programs focus on the causes of and societal responses to crime and other deviant behavior. Students are provided with a strong foundation in both liberal arts and social sciences, and they are prepared to address the challenges of crime in society from the viewpoint of criminal justice professionals, researchers, educators and more.

The National Trial Lawyers President Speaks Out on Sanford, Florida Fatal Shooting

By Andrew Findley and Niki Pierce

Mike Papantonio, the president of The National Trial Lawyers, talked about the recent killing of a young black man in Florida on MSNBC’s The Ed Show on Wednesday, March 21, 2012.  Papantonio criticized the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) involvement in passing the “Stand Your Ground” law passed in Florida.  The “Stand Your Ground” law is getting attention after the recent fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida.  Police say George Zimmerman shot Martin February 26 while acting as a neighborhood watchman.  Zimmerman, who has not been arrested, says he shot Martin in self-defense.  The Justice Department is investigating the shooting.

To watch video of Papantonio’s appearance, please click the link below:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/45755822/vp/46815616#46815616

Gloria Allred interviewed on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight

By Andrew Findley and Niki Pierce

California discrimination attorney Gloria Allred, a member of The National Trial Lawyers executive committee, was recently interviewed on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight.  Morgan asked Allred if she believed political candidates should be precluded from running for office if it is proven that they have had an extramarital affair.  You can watch Allred’s interview by clicking on the link below:

http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2012/03/23/pmt-allred-on-politics.cnn

Healthcare Talking Points

As the Supreme Court considers the constitutionality of President Obama’s health-care reform, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, there are some important points to remember.  The case has been polarizing for the United States: it would provide health insurance to some 32 million Americans lacking coverage, a major social accomplishment for some, but also would force people to buy insurance — an intrusion into civil liberties for others.

 

Here are four important things to keep in mind as the court weighs the case:

1 – The court may put off ruling on the case until 2014.

  • During the first day of oral arguments, the justices will consider if the federal Anti-Injunction Act prevents them from deciding the case before the federal mandate takes effect in 2014.
  • The Anti-Injunction Act, passed 1867, strips the court of the ability to rule on the constitutionality of a tax before that tax has been paid. The court will have to decide if the individual mandate is essentially a tax.

2 – Conservatives argue the law is “slippery slope” to broccoli mandates.

  • On Tuesday, the court is expected to listen to arguments that if the government can force people to buy insurance then it can also force them to do other things like buy health foods or buy GM cars.
  • Florida’s Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi and others have insisted that if the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate is allowed to stand then the government could eventually also require people to “buy and consume broccoli at regular intervals” because it would positively impact interstate commerce by making consumers healthier.
  • Others, like President’s Ronald Reagan’s former Solicitor General Charles Fried, say this slippery slope argument is “totally bogus” because the government isn’t forcing people into a market that they are not already in.
  • Acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal told AFP that striking down the individual mandate, which forces Americans to purchase health insurance, would be a “grave and profound” decision.

“If the Supreme Court struck this down, I think that it wouldn’t just be about health care,” Katyal explained. “It would be the Supreme Court saying: ‘Look, we’ve got the power to really take decisions, move them off of the table of the American people, even in a democracy. And so it could imperil a number of reforms in the New Deal that are designed to help people against big corporations and against, indeed, big governments. The challengers are saying that this law is unconstitutional, which means even if 95 percent of Americans want this law, they can’t have it. And that’s a really profound thing for an unelected court to say.”

3 – Unpopularity of health care law unlikely to effect the decision.

  • According to a recent New York Times survey, President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act continues to be unpopular with the public, 47-38.
  • The Washington Post‘s Robert Barns noted last week that public opinion was unlikely to sway the conservative-leaning court one way or the other.

“The court has shown it is unafraid to buck public opinion to protect constitutional principles, particularly in free-speech cases,” Barns wrote.

4 – Experts expect law to be upheld.

  • A recent survey of former Supreme Court clerks and lawyers who have argued before the court found that over 50 percent expect the individual mandate to be upheld. Only 35 percent thought it would be struck down.

“I don’t think this case will be nearly as close a case as conventional wisdom now has it,” one responded replied. “I think the Court will uphold the statute by a lopsided majority.”

  • If the court does decide that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, only 27 percent thought they they would also strike down the entire law.

Birth Injuries, Including Cerebral Palsy Resulting from Medical Malpractice

A birth injury is one of the most stressful and frightening events that can happen to a family. There are two main types of injuries that can happen during the birthing process; injuries from a lack of oxygen or blood flow to the brain and injuries from trauma. Both types of injuries can result in life-long disabilities for the baby. If these injuries could have been prevented, then the family may have a medical malpractice claim.

Birth asphyxia or hypoxia occurs when a baby does not receive an adequate supply of oxygen before birth, during birth, or immediately following delivery. The amount of damage caused to the baby depends on how severe the asphyxia is, how long it lasts, and how soon proper treatment can be provided.

Some causes of birth asphyxia include:

  • Problems with the placenta separating from the uterus too early
  • Improper blood pressure with the mother, including pregnancy induced hypertension / PIH or preeclampsia
  • Problems with the umbilical cord during delivery
  • Insufficient oxygen in the mother’s blood before or during child birth

Trauma injuries can happen as the result of a doctor’s improper use of a vacuum or forceps when attempting to help the baby’s head exit the birth canal during a difficult delivery.

The fetal heart rate monitor is a device that monitors the heart rate of the baby and the strength and duration of the contractions in the uterus of the mother. If the infant does not have a proper heart rate, the fetal heart rate monitor can alert the medical staff of the problem. If the doctor or nurse fails to take prompt and appropriate action, the baby can suffer a serious and permanent brain injury or even die. If the doctor has a reason to believe that the infant may be harmed by allowing a vaginal birth to proceed, a cesarean section may be required.

One of the most serious birth injuries that can occur to a newborn is cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy refers to a motor coordination problem due to an injury to the brain, which controls both voluntary movement and coordination, and the condition can range from mild to severe. Cerebral palsy may be caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain, trauma injury, delivery mistakes, premature delivery, and certain infections.

Medical malpractice can result in other types of birth injuries as well, including kernicterus, Erbs palsy, and developmental delays. Kernicterus is a rare type of brain damage that occurs in a newborn with severe jaundice. Kernicterus occurs when a substance in the blood, bilirubin, builds up to excessively high levels and spreads to the brain tissues. Permanent injuries resulting from kernicterus include hearing loss or deafness, movement difficulties, learning disabilities, developmental delays, and problems with the eyes.

Erbs palsy is a condition caused by injury to the brachial plexus, which is a group of nerves extending through the neck, armpit area and the arm. If the infant is unable to exit the birth canal naturally, the doctor may need to assist the delivery with a vacuum device or forceps. If the doctor applies too much force twisting and turning the baby’s head and damages the brachial plexus nerves, it can cause paralysis to the face, hand, or arm. In addition to the care a doctor must take when using these instruments to assist with a difficult delivery, the doctor may also need to consider a C-section as an alternative for a difficult delivery.

Developmental delay, which used to be referred to as mental retardation, is a term that applies to children who do not reach developmental milestones that most children achieve by a certain age. Although every child reaches these milestones at a slightly different age, if a child is significantly slower in achieving these milestones or not achieving them at all, this is categorized as a developmental delay. Developmental delays, which can be caused by brain damage resulting from a birth injury, include a significant delay in achieving such tasks as crawling, walking, talking, thinking, or learning.

To find out more information about birth injuries from medical malpractice or to view informative videos about birth injury, cerebral palsy, or kernicterus, please visit http://www.fagellaw.com

If you believe your child suffered a serious birth injury due to medical negligence, you should contact a medical malpractice attorney who specializes in birth injuries, such as Dr. Bruce Fagel, for a free consultation. The toll free number is (800) 541-9376. Dr. Fagel is an experienced medical malpractice lawyer and a licensed medical doctor. Dr. Fagel understands exactly how the birth process should proceed and where medical malpractice occurred in a birth injury

Patient Safety in Doctor’s Offices and Hospitals – How Medical Errors Place Patients in Danger

Ask most people what they worry about when visiting a hospital and they will probably tell you they are afraid of getting a shot, having blood drawn, or surgery. However, most people probably never realize the dangers involved with preventable medical errors, anesthesia mistakes, hospital acquired infections, medication errors, and many other problems related to medical malpractice.

While most people probably never think they will encounter a medical error when visiting a doctor’s office or hospital, maybe they should think twice. Statistics show nearly every patient who enters a hospital will experience a medical error at least once during their hospitalization. Although most medical errors are not serious or even noticeable, some cause serious injuries or death. Every year approximately 225,000 people in the United States die from medical malpractice, making it the third leading cause of death after heart attacks and cancer. Many additional people are injured from medical mistakes as well.

Anesthesia errors are one area most people give very little thought to. Most people meet with their doctor before surgery, but very few people every meet their anesthesiologist. Anesthesia errors can happen at any time before, during, or after a surgery. In fact anesthesia errors can even happen after a successful surgery. When the surgery is complete and the patient is recovering on the surgical floor or in the post anesthesia care unit (PACU), the surgeon generally defers to the anesthesiologist for all evaluation and management decisions. The anesthesiologist has control over the patient’s life functions, including breathing and heart rate. After surgery is complete and the patient is in PACU, he or she is not out of danger, and a simple mistake can lead to a serious and permanent brain injury or even death. Anesthesia errors are on the rise as more people are having common elective procedures such as plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery in surgical centers and doctor’s offices. This has led to an increase of doctor’s entering the field. Unfortunately there are many doctors who are not fully trained or have adequate experience in performing these delicate procedures. In addition, many doctor’s offices may have improperly trained anesthetists rather than certified anesthesiologists. If a medical emergency happens in a doctor’s office or cosmetic clinic, these facilities usually do not have access to highly trained nurses and medical staff to handle the emergency, and a patient may lose many precious minutes waiting for an ambulance to arrive to transport them to a hospital. During this time, a patient’s serious condition could escalate into a severe medical injury, including permanent brain damage or death.

Patients who have been injured due to medical negligence from a doctor, nurse, anesthesiologist or medical facility, need to consult with a knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyer. If at all possible, an attorney with a strong medical background will be helpful. Doctors and other medical professionals know how to avoid responsibility for medical malpractice, including using complicated medical terminology to confuse patient’s and even attorneys as to their role in the medical injury. This is why it is critical for a victim of medical malpractice to consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney such as Dr. Bruce Fagel. Dr. Fagel is both a leading medical malpractice attorney and a licensed medical doctor. Dr. Fagel even practiced emergency room medicine for 10 years before becoming an attorney.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice, contact the Law Offices of Dr. Bruce G. Fagel & Associates at (800) 541-9376 right away for a free consultation. There is never a fee unless we win your case.

How Hyperbilirubinemia and Medical Malpractice can be Responsible for Kernicterus in Newborn Babies

Kernicterus is a rare form of brain damage that occurs in some newly born infants with severe jaundice.  Jaundice is a yellow coloring of the skin, eyes or other tissue.  Kernicterus can occur from elevated levels of bilirubin which move from the blood into the brain tissues where it causes brain damage to the baby.

Bilirubin is a substance that is formed when the liver breaks down and removes old red blood cells that can be removed from the body in the stool. A minor increase in bilirubin levels is usually not a problem.  In fact, nearly half of all newborn infants have an increase in their bilirubin levels, due to the fact that their liver is not yet mature enough to break down the excess red blood cells they were born with. However, a significant increase in bilirubin or hyperbilirubinemia can lead to serious injuries to the baby including brain damage or kernicterus, hearing loss or deafness, eye problems, developmental disabilities, and even death.  When bilirubin levels are increased, jaundice may occur.

It is important to understand that kernicterus can be prevented.  If a newborn baby develops jaundice, they should be closely monitored.  With feedings every two to three hours, mild jaundice will usually go away on its own after a few days.  High bilirubin levels will require the baby be treated with phototherapy or a blood transfusion to reduce the bilirubin levels.  If hyperbilirubinemia has lead to kernicterus, then the brain damage is already happening.  It is critical that parents pay attention for these signs and seek medical attention immediately for the baby before additional brain damage occurs.

Kernicterus warning signs:

  • The baby is excessively sleepy or lethargic
  • It is difficult to awaken the baby.  Once awake, the baby can’t stay awake
  • The baby has a high pitched cry that sounds abnormal
  • The baby does not startle from sudden movements or touching
  • The baby has poor muscle tone, an arched back with the neck being hyper-extended backwards or unusual muscle flexing
  • The baby suffers from seizures or has a fever

If kernicterus has developed, there are treatments available to help the child better cope with the condition, including physical therapy, speech therapy, and special education.

For more information about kernicterus and how medical malpractice may be responsible, contact the Law Offices of Dr. Bruce G. Fagel & Associates at (800) 541-9376.  Visit Kernicterus Video for an informative video featuring Dr. Fagel.

Medical Malpractice and Medical Negligence Problems in the United States

Every year, approximately 225,000 people in the United States die from medical malpractice.  Countless patients are also seriously injured from medical negligence as well.  Many cases are never even reported or legally pursued by the patients; therefore making medical malpractice injuries a difficult statistic to accurately monitor.

Medical negligence is the act or omission of treatment for a patient by a medical professional, which deviates from the accepted medical standard of care.  Medical malpractice involves negligence in which a medical professional or medical facility did not take the proper action required in a reasonable amount of time and this negligence caused injuries to the patient.  When physicians are granted their medical license, they take the Hippocratic Oath which is their solemn promise to treat their patients to the best of their ability and to avoid causing them harm. When medical professionals violate this oath and cause harm to their patients, they are considered negligent in legal terms.

What is medical malpractice and medical negligence:

Medical misdiagnosis:  A common form of medical negligence involves the misdiagnosis of symptoms or the failure to properly diagnose a medical problem.  A patient depends on the medical professionals to accurately diagnose and treat the medical problem.  If the doctor misdiagnoses the problem, the patient may be prescribed the wrong drugs, the wrong treatment, or treatment that makes the patient’s condition far worse, including permanent injuries or even death.

An example of a misdiagnosis would be a patient whose cancer is misdiagnosed or diagnosed too late.  While some cancers will not necessarily benefit from early detection and treatment, such as some types of pancreatic cancer, brain cancer, and small cell cancers, other types will benefit greatly, including saving the patient’s life.  Examples of cancer types that benefit from early treatment include lung cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, and non-small cell cancers.  If the cancer had been diagnosed, or an earlier diagnosis could have prevented serious injuries or death to the patient, then the patient or the patient’s family may have a medical malpractice case.

Surgical mistakes:  Surgical mistakes are common with medical malpractice cases.  Because surgery is so complex and often extreme precision is required, if a surgeon accidentally cuts a vital organ, foreign fluids can enter and cause serious infections, sepsis, or septic shock which can cause a patient’s death. Other surgical mistakes include removing the wrong appendage or operating on the wrong side of the body.

Anesthesia mistakes:  The administration of anesthesia poses an elevated risk during any surgical procedure.  This is why anesthesiologists practice a focused medicine. Anesthesia mistakes can result in serious brain injuries or organ failures.  Anesthesia mistakes can also cause death from heart failure or asphyxia.  Anesthesia errors often result outside the hospital setting in doctor’s offices for routine elective surgeries including breast augmentation, liposuction, lap band, and gastric bypass.  Anesthesia mistakes also occur even after a successful operation, where the patient suffers injuries on the surgical floor or post anesthesia recovery room and ends up with permanent and catastrophic brain injuries or dies.

Medication errors:  A medication error can happen if the nurse or doctor prescribes the wrong medication, the incorrect dosage of a medication, or does not properly screen the patient for allergies they may have to certain medications, or screen for other medications they may be taking that could have an adverse reaction with the prescribed medicine.  A frequent event that happens with medication mistakes involves a nurse or doctor giving medication to a patient at the end of their shift but not properly communicating this to the nurses or doctors on the next shift.  The next shift’s nurses or doctors then end up prescribing another dosage to the patient, sometimes causing an overdose.

If you or a family member was seriously injured or died as the result of medical malpractice or medical negligence, you should contact the best medical malpractice lawyer possible.  Call the Law Offices of Dr. Bruce G. Fagel & Associates at (800) 541-9376 for a free consultation.  Dr. Bruce Fagel is a leading medical malpractice lawyer and a licensed physician.  Dr. Fagel practiced emergency room medicine for over 10 years before becoming a medical malpractice attorney.

Surgical Mistakes in Doctors Offices and Hospitals

Surgical mistakes in doctors offices and hospitals is a frightening situation nobody wants to experience.  Most people fear surgery, but add to that fear the thought that a mistake made during the operation can lead to a severe injury or even death is a terrifying prospect.  Approximately 225,000 people in the United States die each year from medical malpractice, which makes it the third leading cause of death behind heart attacks and cancer.  This alarming number does not even factor in the thousands of additional people who are injured from medical malpractice.  Many cases of medical malpractice are never reported or documented either.

When people think about serious injuries or death from surgery, they tend to think that only serious operations lead to these catastrophies.  People likely envision a scene from a tv show or a movie showing a car accident or gunshot victim or someone with a heart attack being transported to the hospital and a group of surgeons performing the life saving operation.  However, even simple elective procedures such as plastic surgery or weight loss surgery can also lead to serious injuries or death to patients.  Most people believe these elective surgeries, which have become so common are completely safe procedures; however, every surgery carries with it a risk of serious injury.

Another misconception among the general public is only new or inexperienced surgeons or doctors make surgical mistakes.  People often believe that a well-known high priced surgeon, or even one who deals mainly with famous or wealthy clients do not make surgical mistakes.  However, even the most skilled and respected surgeons make mistakes that lead to severe injuries or even death to their patients.

One area where many surgical mistakes occur is with surgical centers and doctors offices.  If a medical emergency occurs, these facilities usually do not have access to a trained staff of medical experts, such as critical care nurses and emergency surgeons, nor do they have access to the same medical equipment and resources that a hospital may have.  If a serious emergency occurs, the patient may be kept waiting many minutes for an ambulance to arrive and transport them to a hospital.  During these agonizing minutes, a serious medical condition can quickly escalate to a critical life threatening emergency with permanent brain injuries to the patient.

Surgical errors from medical malpractice frequently happens in hospitals as well.  Medical mistakes can happen from overworked medical staff, when there is a shortage of medical staff, improperly trained staff or when the medical staff fails to properly communicate with each other.  In a serious emergency, a patient in a hospital may be kept waiting if the surgeon is in the middle of another operation or not in the facility.

If you or someone you care about has been injured or died from medical malpractice including suffering serious injuries from a surgical mistake, contact the Law Offices of Dr. Bruce G. Fagel & Associates at (800) 541-9376 for a free legal consultation. Dr. Bruce Fagel is an experienced medical malpractice lawyer and a licensed medical doctor.  In fact, Dr. Fagel practiced emergency room medicine for over 10 years before becoming an attorney, so he understands exactly how hospitals and medical facilities should operate, and where medical negligence took place that may have caused the injuries.

Bladder Cancer Risks Don’t Deter FDA from Approving First Generic Actos

NewsInferno; August 20, 2012

In spite of serious concerns that Actos (pioglitazone) can cause bladder cancer and other serious side effects, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first generic version of the type 2 diabetes drug for sale in the U.S.  According to a statement from the agency, Mylan Pharmaceuticals, based in Morgantown, West Virginia, has been granted approval to market 15, 30, and 45  milligram pioglitazone tablets.

Actos is one of the top selling type 2 diabetes medications in the world.  According to the FDA, generic versions of Actos will offer affordable treatment options for patients who must manage this chronic and potentially serious condition.  However, critics of the FDA will surely raise concerns that widely available generic versions of Actos will put more patients at risk for its serious side effects, including bladder cancer.

Last June, the FDA issued a safety communication stating that use of Actos for more than one year may be associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer.  That same month, the French and German governments decided to suspend sales of Actos in those countries after a separate study commissioned by French regulators demonstrated an increased risk of bladder cancer associated with Actos in people who took it the longest and at the highest cumulative dose. Takeda Pharmaceuticals has officially recalled Actos from the market in France.

Since the FDA issued its warning last June, a number of new studies have confirmed the link between Actos and bladder cancer.  Most recently, research  published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that patients taking Actos and other thiazolidinediones face as high as a 3-fold increased risk of developing bladder cancer, compared to patients who use sulfonylurea drugs, another common class of type 2 diabetes medications.   Last month, a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) found a 22 percent increased risk of bladder cancer when taking Actos. In May, a Canadian study published in the British Medical Journal found that taking Actos for two years doubled the risk of bladder cancer.

Takeda Pharmaceuticals has been named in a number of U.S. lawsuits that accuse it of concealing knowledge of Actos’ bladder cancer risks and failing to adequately warn consumer and health care providers about its association with bladder cancer.  Most Actos bladder cancer lawsuits have been consolidated in a multidistrict litigation in U.S. District Court, Western District of Louisiana. As we’ve reported previously, some legal experts estimate that Takeda could face as many as 10,000 Actos bladder cancer lawsuits in the U.S.

Bladder cancer is not the only side effect associated with use of Actos.  The drug already bears a Black Box Warning, the FDA’s most urgent safety notice, stating that it may cause or worsen congestive heart failure in some patients.  Actos is not recommended for anyone who has symptomatic heart failure. Studies have also linked Actos to fractures, and an eye disorder called diabetic macular edema.

http://www.newsinferno.com/pharmaceuticals/bladder-cancer-risks-dont-deter-fda-from-approving-first-generic-actos/40288