When we hear the term “medical malpractice,” the assumption we make is that the physician has made a mistake for the first time in his or her career. The reality is that medical malpractice litigation is more common than we believe. The American Medical Association (AMA) reports that there are more than 34 percent of physicians who encounter a malpractice lawsuit at some point in their career.
Additionally, nearly 50 percent of physicians are sued by the time they reach the age of 55. Although industry statistics may vary, it is estimated there are up to 20,000 malpractice lawsuits filed each year in the United States. Here are some of the most appalling malpractice cases from the past year.
Dr. Javaid Perwaiz – healthcare fraud and false statements
One of the biggest cases this year centered around Dr. Javaid Perwaiz. Dr. Perwaiz was an obstetrician and gynecologist based out of Virginia who was sentenced to 59 years in prison for nearly a decade of medical malpractice. Perwaiz was accused of 26 counts of health care fraud, 32 counts of false statements in reference to healthcare matters, and three counts of aggravated identity theft.
Ultimately, he was found guilty of 52 counts of healthcare fraud and false statements. Court documents revealed that Perwaiz influenced several women to undergo irreversible surgeries such as hysterectomies; to add insult to injury, these surgeries were unnecessary. Perwaiz constantly fabricated these surgeries in an effort to bill healthcare benefit programs, and embellished the results as a justification for the unnecessary surgeries.
Dr. George Blatti – charged with five counts of murder
Another somewhat game-changing malpractice lawsuit that took place in 2021 was the arrest of Dr. George Blatti. This was the first case where a doctor was charged with murder in the second degree based on the theory of depraved indifference. Currently, Blatti is on trial for five counts of murder in the second degree, as well as 11 counts of reckless endangerment in the first degree for allegedly prescribing opioid painkillers to patients without examining or reviewing their medical history.
A press release from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) declared that in some cases Blatti had never even met or spoken to some of the patients. The DEA also reports that Blatti had no specialized training in pain management and, at one point in his career, was practicing from a former Radio Shack location that still contained the Radio Shack sign and merchandise racks. The New York Times reported that Blatti allegedly ordered prescriptions to patients with a history of drug addiction. One district attorney even commented that Blatti’s prescriptions were as lethal as any murder weapon.
Medical neglect addressed in the prison system
One of the largest malpractice issues happening in Arizona is the mistreatment of incarcerated people by the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation, and Reentry (ADCRR). According to documents obtained by the publication Reason, the agency has been responsible for the preventable deaths of incarcerated people since 2012.
This year, a medical director of the Salt Lake County Jail System by the name of Tod Wilcox filed an expert witness report and went into detail about some of the unfortunate mistreatment that incarcerated people endured. Some of the cases involve a paraplegic man who was sadly denied reasonable accommodations for his disability, to the point where his physical condition deteriorated at a disastrous rate. Another man’s lung cancer condition went undiagnosed, despite the fact that there was imaging that proved his diagnosis.
Another case involved a woman with a delayed multiple sclerosis diagnosis that went on for years; by the time the woman received her diagnosis, the disease had progressed to the point where she became permanently paralyzed.
Wilcox described the ADCRR as “morally bankrupt,” and described the mistreatment as “sustained incompetence and cruelty.” The ADCRR settled a federal class-action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona. Despite the settlement, the ACLU and several other organizations have repeatedly expressed that the department has failed to adjust its broken system.
The agency was also fined $1.4 million in 2018 by a federal magistrate judge, as well as another $1.1 million this past February for continuing to provide inadequate medical care for incarcerated people. The 2015 settlement was also rescinded, and a new civil trial began this year.
Coronavirus-related litigation predicted to rise
Although the American College of Cardiology (ACC) published an article that stated that medical errors were reduced by 20 percent in 2020, health professionals predict that an increase of COVID-related malpractice claims is on the way. Currently, there are 40 COVID-related claims against ACC members from April of 2021. Due to the length of time that it takes for complaints to be reported, the number and nature of the claims will likely be more accurately reported in 2022.
Our legal team has extensive experience litigating aggressively on behalf of our personal injury clients. If you or someone you love suffered injuries because of medical malpractice, call the Maryland medical malpractice attorneys of Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A. at 410-730-7737, or submit our contact form to schedule an appointment. We serve clients and have law offices throughout the state.