Despite technological advances and increased efforts and coordination by government and patient advocacy groups, in some ways it is scarier to go to the hospital than ever. This isn’t necessarily because there is more danger; it’s rather that we just know more about the danger now. More than ever before, ordinary patients can learn about the dangers of medical errors and device malfunctions they might face when they walk through hospital doors. The FDA provides free updates related to recalls. Bad medical device outcomes for each manufacturer are maintained on a free, searchable database. Even the payments doctors receive from private companies are now, more than ever, publicly available. Patients can even search the complication rates of their surgeons. And this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of information available for protecting ourselves.
But money still drives medicine, and that means safety is often knowingly compromised by those who stand to gain. According to the International Trade Administration (SelectUSA.gov), the US medical device market is $148 billion per year, and there are more than 6,500 medical device companies. There are over 3,500 new drug compounds currently in the “biopharmaceutical pipeline.” The tiniest market advantage can lead to massive profits, which is why shortcuts are taken in terms of patient safety. This leads to massive settlements and punitive damages, as our legal system tries to clean up the mess made by drug and device companies. That’s why Boston Scientific was ordered to pay $100 million to one woman for its vaginal mesh, why Johnson and Johnson lost three verdicts over $50 million each for the ovarian cancer caused by its talcum powder, and why Stryker had to pay $1.4 Billion to settle claims related to its hip implants. It’s why Intuitive Surgical, the maker of the da Vinci surgical robot, is being sued by its own insurance company for hiding more than 700 product defect claims. Greed breeds danger.
The purpose of this resource is to identify and rebroadcast major stories related to patient safety so that those interested in protecting themselves have the best chance to do so. It is also designed to help those who were not fortunate enough to prevent errors to help solve the “mystery” of what happened to them. Finally, because we are legal advocates for patients, we will also share victories patients have scored in courtrooms against rulebreakers in the medical field, be they doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, or medical device maker.
This resource is run primarily by Peter Mullenix, a Seattle, Washington attorney who represents patients who have been victims of medical errors and medical device malfunctions. If you are having trouble figuring out what happened to you or a loved one, or if you know what happened and want to know what to do next, click on the “Talk to an Advocate” button to help find answers. Doing so will help you submit your inquiry for review by a team of lawyers trained in using the tools of the legal system to help injured patients and their families put their lives back together and prevent further tragedies.
Please be aware that we can only take on a very small portion of the cases submitted. But we are always willing, even for cases we do not take on, to help injured patients find other lawyers or answer legal questions that will help patients better understand their claims.