American Nursing Homes and Rehabilitation Centers are generally civilized, clean and courteous. People of advanced age, similarly people suffering from severe illness, in nursing homes and hospitals receive care and medical treatment that sometimes immeasurably ease the lives of their children and grandchildren.
Unfortunately, not an uncommon situation is a careless attitude towards patients and neglect causing medical and nursing mistakes. And these have serious consequences toward their health, serious chronic illnesses, extreme pain, disability or untimely death.
For relatives and loved ones in these situations, it is imperative to know that there is an effective law mechanism to combat medical mistakes and win monetary compensation. I emphasize right away, so as not to have to come back to this, that we are talking about serious medical consequences resulting in permanent pain, disability or death.
The Law Firm of Kadanoff & Kadanoff, PLLC has long since established itself as a reputable and trustworthy law office specializing in situations involving medical malpractice and personal injury claims, including automobile accidents resulting in serious injuries. In their four decades of successful practice in New York, the firm of Kadanoff & Kadanoff, PLLC has succeeded in obtaining many verdicts and settlements for victims of medical carelessness and their loved ones. Readers of Novoe Rysskoe Slovo, the Courier and Russkaya Reklama are already familiar with several articles about the firm where the subject was primarily doctors’ mistakes due to incorrect diagnoses, incorrect courses of treatment, and mistakes during surgery or birth traumas. Today, I wish to elaborate about possible monetary compensation due to lack of adequate care in nursing homes or during prolonged stays in hospitals.
How does one determine improper care to a patient who, due to the inability to move and due to illness must spend most of his time in bed? The most obvious signal of distress is a bed sore or as it is sometimes called, a decubitus ulcer. In other words, the dying of skin in a certain area which is subjected to prolonged pressure due to lack of movement. These are commonly called bedsores, pressure sores, pressure ulcers, and decubitus ulcers. As a rule, bed sores appear on the heels and back of those patients who cannot, without assistance, get out of bed and ambulate. The stages of a bedsore are Stage I through IV. The fourth, the most extreme stage is gangrene, may include damage to the muscle or bone tissue and infection that may spread to other organs. In cases of severe neglect, a bed sore may result in amputation of an extremity or severe infection.
It is important to know that in most cases of care to immobile people, a bed sore, if properly cared for cannot reach Stage III or IV. When a nurse or another medical associate notices the first signs of a bed sore, in the way of redness or blisters, it is at this time when measures should be taken. The most simple and effective method is to regularly, in certain intervals, rotate and move the body of a person so that the pressure evenly distributes throughout the body.
Besides bedsores, sure signs of inadequate care are fractures, which occur when patients fall. That means that someone did not watch, react timely or use proper precautions to prevent this. Unfortunately, laziness, and a cavalier attitude often overrides a professional attitude and a moral obligation. Negative factors such as overcrowded nursing homes and hospitals and lack of necessary qualifications by staff also contribute. It also happens that a doctor may prescribe the wrong medication to a patient, without looking into a patient’s chart.
In every example there are specifics. I want to illustrate the subject of this article with two situations involving clients from the files of Kadanoff & Kadanoff, PLLC, that give a clear picture about the character of cases that the firm handles. In the interests of confidentiality, names are withheld:
An 81-year-old woman, let’s call her N, was admitted to a nursing home because of an Alzheimer’s condition. At the time of her admission, she was 100% mobile and didn’t require any walking aids. After a few days, she was sent to a hospital because she became confused and frightened and experienced suicidal thoughts. At the hospital, she was allegedly hit by another patient, was thrown down and fractured her pubic bone.
As a result of the fracture, N became bedridden and wheelchair bound. She was also too weak to change positions in bed by herself. She was at the mercy of the nursing home and hospital staff. In addition, her Alzheimer’s condition made it harder for her to express her complaints. In other words, she was easy to ignore.
While in the hospital, N had developed the beginnings of skin ulcers on her heels.
If properly and timely treated, these blisters could have been easily healed and further skin damage prevented. If not properly and timely treated, and if the patient is not properly attended to and basically ignored, as here, these blisters will develop into decubitus ulcers/pressure sores which will cause horrible pain and suffering, as here, and could ultimately cause death.
When N was readmitted to the nursing home with the blisters, after her stay in the hospital, she was basically ignored for a period of approximately three months, and the blisters on her feet were left to fester. The ulcers/pressure sores on her feet kept getting bigger and infected and she was never referred to a hospital for proper treatment. During this period, she was weak and disoriented and unable to communicate her pain. When the family came to visit N, N’s feet were always covered with blankets.
By the time she was finally readmitted to the hospital, N’s right foot and heel had developed multiple Stage IV extensive gas gangrenous decubitus ulcerations, her tendons were exposed, there was necrosis or dead, black tissue on the foot, she had developed acute osteomyelitis or infection to the bone; with gray devitalized tissue and gas bubbles and gelatinous discharge escaping through the bone; her right leg was in a twisted position and was shorter than the left leg. The hospital tried to debride or cut off some of the dead tissue but it was too late. The leg could not be saved and she had to have an above-the-knee amputation.
Unfortunately, this woman’s condition was so severe by the time she was finally treated, she had become septic from her wound infection, suffered a severe deterioration of her health and a month later, was caused to die.
Another case involves a 71-year-old woman who we will call T, who several years after losing her husband, developed emotional issues and was ultimately diagnosed by a doctor with “schizophrenia,” although her 6 children and 8 grandchildren never saw any evidence of unusual behavior and found her warm and loving, just very strong willed.
During this period, she was also diagnosed with a mild seizure disorder and was given Phenobarbital seizure medication. Her family never saw her have a seizure. She lived alone and was able to bathe, dress and cook for herself. She did not require any ambulation aids. She had a home attendant who came in several hours a day to help with shopping and cleaning.
One day, the woman became dizzy in her house and fell down. The home attendant called 911 and T was taken to the hospital. At the hospital, T was placed on a stretcher in the ER and the nurses noted that she was confused and disoriented. T was originally restrained for her safety. However, the restraints were later taken off by the hospital staff and she was left unsupervised, despite her continued disorientation. T then fell, while in a disoriented state, unsupervised, trying to find a bathroom and fractured her hip in several places, requiring surgery with the placement of metal rods.
As a result of the hip fracture, instead of simply being treated in the emergency room for what caused the dizziness and released home, T had to spend 10 days in the hospital and was then sent to an inpatient rehabilitation facility for her hip.
During the first month of rehab, she was doing well, walking with a walker and was being prepared to be discharged. Her family said that she would be very talkative when they visited and that she was very happy to be going home. In preparation for discharge, however, one of her doctors decided to change her seizure medication before she was discharged.
The medication was switched to Dilantin, which has known potential severe side effects of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, which is a hypersensitivity allergic reaction, which can cause serious health problems and in some cases death.
When the medication was first changed, the patient was very upset about the change and immediately complained that it didn’t make her feel right. Within two days, she developed headaches, which is a known side effect of the drug. A few days later, she developed a severe upper respiratory infection, which is also another known adverse effect of the drug. She then started to develop a rash on the skin, which spread over her body, which was another known side effect and symptom of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome. During this period, she slept more and became lethargic. The family spoke to a nursing home staff member and were told that she was probably allergic to something on the sheets and not to worry.
The doctors failed to appreciate that the rash could be caused by an allergic reaction to Dilantin, which was a newly prescribed drug, and failed to discontinue the drug immediately and send her to a hospital for proper care. Instead they simply ordered cream for the rash and ordered an increased dose of the medication. The nursing home staff further failed to document and recognize the progression of the rash. The Dilantin caused Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, which can be deadly if not timely diagnosed and treated. The instant that any rash appears, the medication has to be stopped and proper treatment administered in a burn unit or ICU. This was not done here.
Even after the rash spread to the patient’s face with swelling, they still didn’t discontinue the medication for another 24 hours, they never had her seen by a dermatologist and they left her in the nursing home for another 3 days, in an unsterile environment without specialized care. They then simply sent T to an emergency room and hospital where they admitted her to a regular floor because there was no ICU bed available, and let her remain there for another four days without appropriate BurnUnit care.
By the time T was admitted to the Burn Unit, her condition was critical and she could no longer be saved. There were open wounds and lesions covering 80% of her body, which had become infected due to improper care, her skin was peeling off and she had become septic (infected), causing all of her organs to shut down. The pain was so severe that they ultimately had to sedate her. T died approximately one month after she was admitted to the hospital.
When tragic facts are discovered about a loved one’s suffering, the emotional upheaval for the family can be explained with one word – shock. After that, obviously, there is an urge to figure out what happened and who is to blame.
The Law Firm of Kadanoff & Kadanoff, PLLC can help you. After contacting them you will be able to obtain maximum appropriate monetary compensation for the moral and physical suffering of your loved one. Clients do not take on any financial burden when retaining the law firm. Kadanoff & Kadanoff, PLLC successfully defends the rights of their clients in Court and has won totals of millions of dollars in monetary awards. It is vital not to lose time, so call for a free consultation.
We are talking with Jacqueline and Philip Kadanoff – leading attorneys of the firm of Kadanoff & Kadanoff, PLLC. This well-known and successful firm specializes in medical malpractice, wrongful death, brain injuries, cerebral palsy, nursing home cases, auto accidents and premises liability, including suits against the City of New York and the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation. Their collective experience of six decades allows Kadanoff & Kadanoff to speak to and answer important and often-asked questions to help our readership.
Q: If a doctor tells you that everything was done correctly, but you suspect something went wrong, can you still have a case?
PK: The answer is: Absolutely. If you believe something went wrong and you or a loved one suffered a tragic consequence as a result of medical treatment, you should contact Kadanoff & Kadanoff, PLLC and let us investigate your claim. We have successfully handled many cases where the clients originally hesitated speaking to us because they were told by the doctor or hospital personnel that everything was done properly and the horrible result was due to either unknown causes or an underlying medical condition of the patient.
JK: An example of this involved a woman who, as a result of a weak cervix, had surgical sutures, called a cerclage placed, to close the cervix and prolong the pregnancy. She went into premature labor at 28 weeks. The doctor told her that she had to be transferred to another hospital for delivery with a special intensive care unit for the baby, and during the three hours she was left alone in labor, totally unsupervised, prior to transfer, the infant’s foot slipped down and became entangled in the cervical sutures, and was severely injured. The mother was unaware of what was happening. All she knew, when she first contacted us, was that doctors ultimately came rushing into her room and told her that she wasn’t being transferred anymore and that she needed to have an emergency C-section to save the baby’s life. After the baby was born at 1lb 8 oz, the doctor said that the surgery was complicated by the prematurity of the infant and the ankle was injured because the baby was so small and fragile. The woman initially listened to the doctor, but when the child started to grow and she realized how bad her ankle injury was, she contacted us for help.
After we obtained the medical records and discussed the case in depth with our medical experts, we determined that the doctors in this case clearly departed from accepted standards of medical practice by abandoning the woman, not properly monitoring her for several hours and by failing to take an ultrasound when the woman first arrived at the hospital and diagnose that the baby was in a footling breech position, with her feet instead of her head pointing down. A footling breech presentation requires a C-section and we established, through the opinions of our experts, that had the footling presentation been determined initially when the woman first arrived, a C-section would have been scheduled and performed immediately, prior to the infant’s feet becoming entangled in the sutures, and the injury to her ankle could have been completely avoided. This case recently settled for over a million dollars, with a guaranteed payout to the infant of over $4,000,000.00. Although infants born as early as 28 weeks can suffer neurological impairment from their prematurity, it is not, by any means, a certainty. In this case, the little girl was thriving in preschool at the time of the settlement.
PK: Unfortunately, we have seen this quite often involving infants born prematurely, where the parents are so devastated after their child is born with complications, that they hesitate to investigate a claim because they feel either they have done something wrong or the child was simply born early and nothing could have been done to change the situation.
Q: I can completely understand in the above example, how those parents delayed speaking to you. But how long is too long to wait? How long do you have in New York to sue a doctor or hospital for medical malpractice?
PK: There is a 2 ½-year statute of limitations in New York for medical malpractice cases. That means, in most malpractice cases, you have 2 ½ years from the date that the doctor committed the malpractice to file a lawsuit with the Courts. That is different then a personal injury case, like an automobile case where the statute of limitations is 3 years. However, there are certain exceptions. If you were injured in a hospital owned by the City of New York, the statute is decreased to only one year and 90 days, and you have to file a Notice of Claim within 90 days of the malpractice. For infants, the statute of limitations is extended to 10 years. It is important for your readers to understand that once the statute of limitations expires, any potential claim you might have expires with it so it is vital, if you think you have a claim, to contact us immediately so that your rights can be protected.
We will publish weekly interviews of the partners on various topics. The information at this site is not intended to be legal or medical advice. Please consult the attorneys at Kadanoff & Kadanoff, PLLC at (718) 875-6706 or at firstname.lastname@example.org for individual advice regarding your particular situation.
As in all other matters, in medicine mistakes can happen. But here the price of a mistake is very high, since a wrong diagnosis or wrong treatment can lead to serious if not deadly consequences. And if you think these situations are rare, then you are wrong. According to statistics, in the USA and Canada, more than one million people die in the hospital each year, and misdiagnosis of a serious nature accounted for about 50,000 of those deaths. Another study has estimated that the rate of error in diagnosis is 15%, meaning 1 in 6 to 7 patients have been misdiagnosed. Why is this problem so prevalent, and how can patients keep from becoming one of those 15%?
For many years the Law Firm of Kadanoff & Kadanoff, PLLC has protected the interests of clients and their families, who suffered as a result of mistakes made by doctors, carelessness by nursing home staff and victims of car accidents. Our attorneys have a lot of experience which allows us to give our readers helpful suggestions.
Logic tells us that we need to seek the care of not only an experienced doctor, but one who is certified in his specialty. But this is not enough. It is a blessing when you can find a doctor who is also willing to spend time listening to your complaints and concerns. Of course, it is difficult to get an appointment with a “good doctor.” You have to wait a week or a month and once there, spend a long time in the waiting room.
So who is this good doctor? By what parameters are his professional ratings measured? A patient always has the opportunity to come to the proper conclusion. You must be sure that a doctor is not in a hurry to finish your examination and rush you out the door. Is he careful in recognizing all of your symptoms? Does he dismiss them as something secondary and non-vital? Is he annoyed by your insistence and worries? Is he trying to tell you that you are wasting his precious time with your complaints and fears and is he giving you the impression that you worry for nothing, there is nothing wrong and you are fine?
In one instance, a healthy and athletic-looking gentleman appeared in our offices. He told the attorneys that he presented to a doctor with complaints symptomatic of bronchial asthma. The doctor concurred: “yes it is asthma,” here is some medication and do not worry. But the pains did not cease and the young man appeared at the doctor’s office once again. This time the doctor did not hide his annoyance. “ I told you to keep taking the medication, you have no reason to worry.” And only a year later did the patient think of seeing another doctor for a second opinion, which showed that he had cancer which had metastasized. Fortunately, the young man’s cancer was able to be treated and his health returned. An action against the doctor, who made this grave mistake in diagnosis, was settled before trial for over a million dollars.
Another example is a case in which a 13-year-old young lady who was diagnosed with a condition called SCFE (slipped capital femoral epiphysis), which requires immediate surgery placing pins in the hips to stop the hip bones from moving out of place and causing a permanent disability. If this condition is properly treated, the patient should make a full recovery. Here, after the surgery the pins started to slip. The young girl complained of constant and excruciating pain. She presented to her doctors and the emergency room on many occasions and each time they told her that her pain was normal, that it was a muscle spasm or a bruised hip or that she should try to lose some weight. No doctor stopped to listen to her history and realize that the pain was being caused by a problem with her recent surgery. By the time they diagnosed the problem, it was too late. The young girl had suffered a permanent deformity of the hips, which has left one leg shorter then the other and will ultimately require hip replacements in the future. If the doctors had listened to the young girl or her mother or taken the time to review her prior history and take the appropriate tests to see what was causing the pain, this young girl could have been cured.
You, as the patient, know your body better than anyone, “hear” it, react to any problems that may appear. Are you in a situation where your doctor does not want to react to your complaints, you have pain, something is bothering you and all he does is dismiss your complaints? When a person is over 50 you often hear a doctor saying, you are getting older, your body is showing signs of wear, what do you want from it? In these situations there is only one answer: Run, don’t walk, away from that doctor.
A tragic example of an elderly patient trusting a doctor’s opinion, despite continued symptomatology, involves a man in his 70’s who was suffering from abdominal pain. He went to the emergency room and a CT scan showed something suspicious. He was told to follow up with his primary care physician for further testing, which he did. He was then sent for an ultrasound, which, according to his physician, was normal. He was told that he was fine, just “getting older” and that he didn’t need to come back for follow-up. Even though the man was happy that the doctor told him he was “fine,” he still felt something was wrong. But he listened to his doctor and didn’t follow up until it was too late. When he finally went back, it was discovered that the ultrasound taken by his doctor was of the wrong part of the kidney, and in fact the man had a cancerous tumor, which, by the time it was discovered, was the size of a large grapefruit. The cancer had spread and the man sadly died.The lawyers of Kadanoff & Kadanoff, PLLC settled this case for over one million dollars.
Not uncommonly, unfortunately, doctors are not always careful with patients and punish the ones with bad habits like smoking, drinking or patients who are overweight. As if to say, if you do not care about your own health and well being then you do not deserve care from a medical standpoint. If you feel this is happening to you, it is time to find another doctor.
An example of this involves a pregnant, obese woman who had come to our offices.She had suffered from symptoms of vomiting, excessive weight loss and dehydration. Despite the extreme weight loss during pregnancy, because she was obese, the doctor ignored the symptoms. The woman was actually suffering from a dangerous medical condition known as hyperemesis, which causes vomiting and dehydration during pregnancy. As a result, she became severely nutritionally deprived of necessary vitamins, which caused a condition called polyneuropathy, resulting in partial paralysis of her legs and an inability to walk for a period of time. Fortunately, the woman regained the use of her legs, but this would not have happened if the doctor had listened to the patient and her complaints. The case was settled by the law firm of Kadanoff & Kadanoff, PLLC for over one million dollars.
Sometimes, a doctor’s personal friendship for a patient can play a different or tragic result. As a patient you come in complaining of heartburn and the doctor spends time with you and gives you medication but the symptoms don’t go away. This goes on for months and months and he keeps adjusting the medication while he appears to enjoy your company. He thinks that you and he have become friendly and does not want to put you through invasive tests because you are his friend. Then, as time goes by, there are other signs that become evident including anemia, and you are complaining about feeling faint and being exhausted. Finally he does an endoscopy (inserting a tube into your esophagus) where he views your esophagus and stomach and he finds a gastric lymphoma, which is a cancer and which had been there all the time. He missed that diagnosis because he did not want to subject someone of your age, whom he liked so much, to the discomfort and strain of the procedure. This happened to one of our clients, who died as a result of the negligent treatment.
We must always learn, preferably not by our own mistakes, and adhere to universal rules, like “obtaining a second opinion.”
An elderly man who arrived at the emergency room complained of pain in his ankle after tripping in the street. You cannot just focus on the ankle. You have to determine why he had fallen. In this case, he had fallen because he was weak from an undiagnosed anemia. The cause of his anemia had to be looked into. The man had to seek the opinion of another doctor and it turned out to be colon cancer.
The Law Firm of Kadanoff & Kadanoff, PLLC believes that a patient must always adhere to the following principal: “Trust but Check.” This phrase is very useful in everyday affairs. When a doctor tells you that all is well, this is, of course, reason to rejoice. But if you have even one shadow of a doubt, seek another opinion.
A man 75 years of age with a history of alcoholism, presented to the emergency room with complaints of abdominal pain. He was basically ignored in the emergency room and told by the doctor that he would be okay. He waited three days for a bed, during which time he started throwing up blood. His wife begged the nurses to help him, but she never demanded to see another doctor. It turned out he was bleeding internally and he died in the emergency room waiting for a bed.
Another topic is treatment of small children who are brought to doctors by their parents. When a child gets sick, parents get very worried and often beg a doctor to cure their precious baby as soon as possible. We oftentimes see a doctor take the position that the parent is over anxious, their description of their child’s condition is over dramatized. A doctor then takes on a very dangerous mindset which could lead to very serious errors in diagnosis.
Sometimes immigrant patients think that a language barrier stands as a brick wall between them and an English- speaking doctor whom they came to see for a first or second opinion. I believe that this wall is easier to break down than you think. Write your complaints in detail, have them translated into English and bring a person who can translate with you to the doctor’s office. Between your well-thought-out written complaints and your translator, the doctor will get the entire clinical picture quickly. Do not forget to bring a list of the medicines you are taking and the dosage and a list of the physicians you have been treated by.
Why is the Law Firm of Kadanoff & Kadanoff, PLLC, giving you this advice? Because with over six decades of combined experience in the field of medical malpractice, the firm has managed to obtain recoveries in the millions, for their clients. The firm’s vast experience can work for you, for your well-being and for the well-being of your loved ones.
According to worldwide statistics, more people die yearly from medical mistakes than from auto accidents. Yearly in the USA and Canada, lives of over a million people end in hospitals, and from those about 50,000 are victims of erroneous or untimely diagnoses. Of course, everyone, including a medical worker is entitled to make a mistake. However, we must remember that a mistake by a medical professional may lead to tragic or even fatal consequences.
We are talking with Jacqueline and Philip Kadanoff – leading attorneys of the firm of Kadanoff & Kadanoff, PLLC. This well known and successful firm specializes in medical malpractice, wrongful death, brain injuries, cerebral palsy, nursing home cases, auto accidents and premises liability, including suits against the City of New York and the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation. Their collective experience of six decades allows Kadanoff & Kadanoff, PLLC to speak to our readers and offer practical advice as to how to protect yourself from possible consequences of a doctor’s mistake and other legal questions of general interest to our readership. We will publish weekly interviews of the partners on these topics.
Q: Good Afternoon Jacqueline and Philip. You work very closely with the Russian community and are well known as your firm has obtained compensation through the Courts in the amount of millions of dollars. In what cases, as a rule, can you obtain maximum compensation?
JK: We deal with many cases involving severe traumatic injuries to the brain, involving both infants, who are injured at birth and adults, who have been injured in a car accident or in a hospital, where as a result of negligent treatment, for example, during anesthesia or an intubation process, they are deprived of oxygen and suffer brain damage. Some of the largest compensation amounts, as a rule, are paid out in these particular matters, because the compensation must include the cost of around-the-clock care for these clients, who are usually bedridden or in a wheelchair and require total assistance, 24 hours a day. The cost of care is hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, multiplied by the life expectancy of the person injured.
PK: We obtained a guaranteed sum of money of over 7 million dollars in a case involving brain damage of a mother for a family in the Russian community.
Q: Please elaborate on that matter.
JK: A young Russian woman in her late stages of pregnancy complained to her doctor about sudden elevated blood pressure. The complaints continued even after she delivered the baby, and they did not timely diagnose and treat eclampsia, a very serious, pregnancy and post-pregnancy-related condition, which causes high blood pressure, and if not properly treated, could result in seizures and death. She was discharged from the hospital with an elevated blood pressure and difficulty breathing. Within days, the patient ended up in the emergency room unable to breathe. The doctors did not properly intubate her and she was deprived of oxygen for too long a period of time, causing severe brain damage and causing her to remain in a permanently vegetative state, requiring constant, 24- hour medical care in a facility. She left behind a loving family and children.
Q: How long did you work on that case?
JK: About two years. For this case, like in all our cases, we obtained testimony of very respected medical experts. Due to inarguable proof and careful preparation, defendants agreed to settle prior to trial.
PK: To assist in similar matters, we obtain the opinions of multiple doctors, and other experts. In a particular case we might use as many as eight or nine, who we consult during the pre-trial process or who give expert opinions during trial. We spend large sums to pay for their services. Some doctors charge $5,000 just to review the records of a particular matter and others up to $20,000 for one day in Court. We advance the costs in all meritorious cases, which can range between $25,000 to up to approximately $85,000 in a given case.
Q: In the course of your work you have to deal with sick, suffering people. How hard is that psychologically and how do you deal with that?
PK: My wife is a psychologist. She worked with children with cerebral palsy for a long time and has seen a lot of tragedy. She tirelessly repeats that to properly do your job you must be able to be objective but compassionate. You have to fight endlessly to protect the rights of your clients, while showing compassion and understanding for a client who is suffering from severe injuries involving chronic pain and suffering.
JK: In the Courtroom and during the litigation process, we focus on results, obtaining maximum compensation for and protecting the rights of our clients. However, we are not robots and of course, at times it is very difficult not to take to heart the suffering of our clients, since we work very closely together, meet with them and their family regularly, and therefore we observe the effects of their pain and their losses. Medical mistakes change the life of not just one person but the life of an entire family. We are a family practice and we feel proud to say that we treat all of our clients like we would our family. As a result, we continue to maintain relationships with most of our clients, even after their case is concluded.
PK: Sometimes just a smile or a kind word allows a person who has suffered to start believing in himself again and that there is hope. In our work that is very important.
Q: How successfully do you manage to work with Russian-speaking clients?
PK: I can say with pleasure that the firm of Kadanoff & Kadanoff, PLLC has managed to overcome the language barrier with our “Russian” clients and all of our other clients who may have some difficulty with the English language. We have a Russian-speaking paralegal who is available at all times to translate, and all of our clients tell us regularly how comfortable they feel in our offices and speaking to us on the phone through a translator.
Q: I understand that you handle many cases involving the failure to diagnose a cancerous or other serious medical condition. Can you give any advice to our readers on this subject?
PK: Recently, we have seen several instances where a client, in their 60’s and 70’s, goes to a doctor complaining of symptoms and the doctor dismisses their complaints as being “normal” for someone of that age group. Nobody knows your body better than you do. If you believe there is something wrong and your doctor is not listening to you, my advice is immediately change physicians.
JK: We have seen too many tragic examples of this where a patient blindly believed in his doctor and died because the doctor did not take his complaints seriously. An example of this involved a 70-year-old man suffering from pain in the abdominal area and complaining his stomach was distended. He had a CT scan at a hospital that showed a suspicious finding, but when he went to his treating physician for follow-up, the doctor performed a sonogram which, according to the doctor, did not reveal anything and he told the patient he was fine and didn’t need any more medical treatment. The doctor said that the patient is “just aging” and assured him that he did not have to come back. The patient had some doubts but believed his doctor. When it was revealed that the sonogram was erroneously taken of the wrong side of the kidney, not where the mass had grown, it was too late. The cancerous tumor grew to the size of a grapefruit and the man was unable to be saved. A lawsuit was brought by family members against the doctor, and the firm of KADANOFF & KADANOFF, PLLC was able to obtain compensation in the sum of over one million dollars.
Q: Medical malpractice cases seem much more complicated than other negligence cases such as automobile, slip and fall and other personal injury cases where people are injured as a result of the carelessness of others. Are they?
PK: Medical malpractice actions are described by lawyers as “complex” litigation. A lawyer has to have intimate knowledge not only of the law but extensive medical knowledge relating to the medical negligence case you are handling. You usually have to deal with more than one medical expert, depose a doctor or usually many doctors or health care givers who have caused harm to your client and thus you must have vast experience in the field. I obtained my first million-dollar malpractice verdict involving a complex lung surgery case in 1980, and Kadanoff & Kadanoff, PLLC has recovered millions of dollars for our clients since then. I am particularly proud of that verdict because that case was initially turned down by one of the leading trial lawyers in the country.
Q: You talk about such horrific consequences of medical mistakes that many of our readers will, most likely, simply stop trusting doctors. How does one protect oneself from such careless doctors? Is there a way to determine whether a doctor whom a patient is looking to is a real specialist?
PK: The thing is that there are several wonderful hospitals in NY, many of them in Manhattan, with the kind of care that satisfies the highest world standards. The specialists that work there are considered some of the best of the best. So our advice is first of all, pay attention to the reputation of the facility you are looking to.
JK: Another important thing to do is before you make an appointment for a consultation with one or another specialist, check their level of professionalism. There is a very good site www.nydoctorprofile.com where you can find information about almost every doctor practicing in NY. You can find out what kind of an education they received, whether they are board certified in a particular specialty, what hospitals they are affiliated with. If their profile is updated, and they have been involved in multiple prior lawsuits, you can even find out that information as well. We have access to many other ways to check a doctor’s credentials and in fact, many of our clients call us for help when they are looking to find reputable, subsequent treating physicians. All you need to do is call and we are always there to assist.
PK: Another piece of advice is always go to a doctor’s appointment, if possible, with a member of your family or a friend. In that case you will always have a witness in case the doctor makes an oversight. Moreover, a “bystander” is not that emotionally involved in your problems (he does not feel the pain and is not panicking) and therefore can listen to the doctor’s explanations and recommendations, and can best explain what the doctor has said. And of course, make notes about the medications or the advice given to you by your doctor, it helps tremendously, when you go for a second opinion!!
Q: Should you trust the various opinions of patients on the internet?
PK: I believe that is some of the most unreliable information that you can base a decision on. People who write on those sites often make decisions about doctors which are not based on their professional skills but on their personal traits or other criteria. I have studied many of these commentaries and I believe that for the most part they are unreliable. You should make a decision about one or another doctor based on their education, hospital affiliations, recommendations by other trusted doctors, and of course, how you feel after you meet with them.
Q: Is there a way to find out if a doctor’s license has been revoked? And in what instances can a doctor lose a license?
JK: Yes. There are sites that show whether a physician is currently licensed to practice medicine in New York and whether that license has been revoked. However, situations where a doctor loses their license are very rare.
PK: I can tell you this story. In my time I knew a doctor who despite being diagnosed with schizophrenia continued to work with patients. It took three years to revoke his license. From that example you can understand how difficult it is to take away a doctor’s license. In a medical malpractice case, even if a doctor commits gross malpractice resulting in the death of a patient, he rarely loses his license.
Q: You speak of shocking things. And even so, as I understand, you still think that any person (even one who took the Hippocratic Oath) is entitled to make a mistake?
JK: Of course. Under no circumstances do we say that a doctor who makes a mistake is a bad person or not a professional (unless, obviously, we are speaking about alcoholism or other severe infringements). It is just that in some situations, where the carelessness leads to tragic results, which destroy lives, the patient has an absolute right to be compensated in the form of a monetary award.
PK: Very few doctors treat their work carelessly. More often than not a mistake can happen because a doctor is overloaded and is not as careful as he should be. There can be other factors. It is entirely another matter if this doctor has had several similar cases. The law says that every doctor has the right to a mistake but for your carelessness you have to pay. Especially if the price of the medical mistake is a person’s life. And that is correct.
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