Tiffany Bittner: Hello and welcome into LawCall. We have your answers to your legal questions this evening. In our caller segment, we’ll take your phone calls about dangerous drugs and medical devices. What to do about medication that makes you worse or an insulin pump that fails. We’ll talk your questions tonight. Call us at 855-LAW-1955. There is always lots of forms to signed when you go to a doctor. Do you sign away your rights to sue if something may go wrong? We’ll talk about medical consent tonight. Later on in h the show, the biggest investment families will make: the house. How homeowners insurance, how it protects your biggest investment. Personal injury attorney Ken Riley is here to take one of your questions. Nolan said:
“My son took a cleat to the face during a baseball game and went to the emergency room for stitches. We signed documents before the season started. Did I sign away my right to pursue a claim?”
What do you think?
Ken Riley: No, I don’t think you did. But hopefully you don’t have a claim. The claim that you would have if you did have one would be if there were medical negligence in the sutures. These days, you’re probably going to get quality service if you went to, you know, one of your local emergency rooms or hospitals or even a smaller, you know, facility. So hopefully, everything will heal nicely. You can’t — I hate that you got a cleat to the face, but that’s what playing sports is going to do for you, so those things are going to happen. But just for anyone who’s wondering, when you sign the admission documents to hospitals and other facility, you can’t sign away or somebody can’t sign away their own negligence. They still have to act within the standard of care and, just because you sign a document, even if it says that, doesn’t mean that you couldn’t hold someone responsible.
Tiffany Bittner: All right. If you need more information, head to Ken’s website, it’s www.DeliveringJustice.com. Or go to www.myfoxal.com and click on the LawCall link. Now what you can do if surgery goes wrong and medical consent?
Kirby Farris: If I sign a consent form for an operation, do I lose my right to sue if something goes wrong? A consent form doesn’t give the medical provider a license to commit malpractice. The form says the patient understands the risk involved but does not relieve the healthcare provider from the standard of care associated with such treatment or procedure. Here’s your sidebar advice: Before you sign anything, ask for the details. Ask your doctor to give you a full description of the surgery and the risks involved and the ramifications of not getting the treatment. If you can prove that your physician misrepresented or failed to inform you of the risks or benefits before surgery, you may have a claim. If you have a question, send it along to LawCallTV.com. I’m Kirby Farris, Birmingham.
Tiffany Bittner: Our topic will be dangerous drugs and medical devices. Ken wanted to share an event and we hope you will participate. It’s called “Q at the Zoo”, as in BBQ.
Ken Riley: This is a way our firm and other lawyers and firms try to do a little bit of good. It’s this Saturday. It’s going to be at the Birmingham zoo. We’ll be out there cooking in a contest. Holy Family Cristo Rey is where the benefits are going, which is a school that helps underprivileged children get a quality education. I’ve visited the campus and met the young adults who are part of that. They receive scholarships, they work, it’s a great program. If you come say dark, I starts at 12:00. Come out, let me cook you a hot dog and hamburger and we’ll have a good time.
Tiffany Bittner: I’ve heard you’re mean with that green egg thing.
Ken Riley: I’ve broken a couple.
Tiffany Bittner: Put that on your calendar. 10 bucks gets you some BBQ and fun. Back to the show, we’ll take your phone calls and questions. We have a return visitor on tonight, right?
Ken Riley: Right. Nate VanDerVeer has been on the show before. Tonight is official to us because he recently joined our firm. He will be talking to us tonight about what he focuses his practice on which is defective medical devices and defective drugs. Nate, welcome to the firm and show. Please introduce yourself.
Nate VanDerVeer: Thanks, Ken. Couldn’t be more thrilled to be here and to join the firm. Yeah, excited to continue my practice area, focused on making sure that people have the information they need when they’re prescribed a drug or when a doctor attempts to use a particular device during a medical procedure, and that’s really what it’s all about is making sure that the patient has the right information to be able to engage in informed discussion with their physician about the risks and benefits so they can make the right decision regarding the medical care and treatment.
Ken Riley: And a lot of times, the doctors haven’t been informed about the associated findings with those particular products, right?
Nate VanDerVeer: Yeah, that’s exactly right. Oftentimes, these drugs and devices hit the market, they’re cleared, they’re not approved, so they might be the same or substantially the same as a predicate product and, essentially, they’re just going to see how they do. And, you know, what these companies are supposed to do is to trend and track adverse events, and, you know, sometimes they don’t do the best on that, and that information is eventually supposed to trickle down to your healthcare provider, end up in the package insert in the I.F.U. and warnings and directions for use and that’s, you know, essentially what the patient needs. If it’s not in there, then the patient cannot truly be informed and can’t truly consent to that particular treatment.
Ken Riley: Well, we have callers.
Tiffany Bittner: We’ll start with Jonathan. Hey, Jonathan, welcome to the show.
Caller: Thank you very much.
Tiffany Bittner: What’s going on?
Caller: I was calling to a specific dangerous drug related to a treatment program and was wanting to know the statute of limitation on a claim for that.
Nate VanDerVeer: Well, it depends. If you live in Alabama, the clock starts ticking where the injury accrued. Other places, you put the pieces together and discover the harm was caused by the product or the manufacturer, then it starts. It varies with state law.
Ken Riley: And even in Alabama, there is not a bright line for these things, just because of the nature of the medical treatment they may receive. Is that right?
Nate VanDerVeer: Yeah, that’s right, we have toxic tort exceptions. You know, asbestos is a good example. You might have been exposed to asbestos for 10 years, and then 30 years later develop asbestosis or mesothelioma, and the legislator has allowed people access, where maybe before they would be cut off.
Tiffany Bittner: The first break of the show, when we come back, we’ll take calls. The phone number is on your screen. We’ll be right back.
Tiffany Bittner: Do you have homeowners insurance? You probably do if you own your own home, but do you know what it covers? Tonight Tuscaloosa attorney Bob Prince explains that in this week’s legal brief.
Bob Prince: If you think you only need something to protect you against fire and storm, think again. That’s not homeowners insurance. Homeowners insurance is much broader than that. For instance, it will protect you if somebody gets injured on your property. Suppose somebody comes up to your front door, but they fall on a loose step — mmm, you knew that step was loose, you knew you should have fixed it. Relax, your homeowners covers that. Suppose your child is in the backyard, hits the ball out of your yard into the neighbor’s window. Breaks it. Worse, breaks their arm. Again, you’re covered. What about that dog you love so much? He gets loose and bites the postman? You’re covered. In addition, homeowners pay medical expenses. Get your policy out and make sure it covers these types accidents. Your agent will be happy to explain it to you. That’s legal brief, Tuscaloosa attorney Bob Prince, back to you guys.
Tiffany Bittner: Tonight we’re discussing medical devices and dangerous drugs. Pick up the phone and call us. We have John in Birmingham that wants to talk to us. Hey, John, welcome to LawCall.
Caller: Yes, I was taking a doctor-prescribed drug from a Birmingham compounding pharmacy, and the drug originated in China. I was there instant to a re-distribution packaging plant in Canada and then to my pharmacy. Anyway, I got a call from my pharmacist telling me that the drug had been recalled by the FDA, supposedly because it’s cross-contaminated at the Canada plant with antibiotics. I naturally assumed the drug had been tested by the FDA, and I have been quite upset to find out that not only was it not tested to see what was really in the drug, the reason for the recall by the FDA, but they have no intention at the FDA of testing the drug. So I’m quite concerned as to what’s really in this drug and what harm it may have done to my body.
Tiffany Bittner: Okay, thank you. What do you think?
Nate VanDerVeer: Fairly complex set of facts. One of the problems I see, if it went through a compounding pharmacy, you might not actually have gotten the original drug manufactured in China, which might not be a bad thing after all, but, you know, the FDA doesn’t really ever test anything. The industry is somewhat self-policing. The FDA is there as more of a “watchdog” to make sure adverse events are reported and there’s newt spike in those adverse events that would draw down to further investigation, but rarely are they actually going to test the drug itself. They might go to the plant, make sure hat the good manufacturing practices are being followed, and there’s a bunch of federal regs on this. But at the end of the day, you probably need to go see your doctor and find out, you know, essentially what your doctor knows about the recall, if anything, and how, if at all, this drug may have affected you and your health.
Ken Riley: And hopefully not the case. Hopefully he’s fine and it doesn’t affect him. And then if he is affected by the drug adversely, then, at that point, he would need to contact an attorney and talk about it, right?
Nate VanDerVeer: Yeah, absolutely. I would not delay. Number one would be did it hurt you, what are some of the log-term effects. Job number two, hopefully we don’t get there, but if we do, then absolutely because your rights may be affected.
Tiffany Bittner: Okay. Thank you, we appreciate your call. Michael is the next caller. Hey, Michael, you’re on live. How are you doing?
Caller: Doing fine. How are you?
Tiffany Bittner: Good, thank you.
Caller: My question is, I had a doctor prescribe some medication for gout and it was real high. After that, they found out that it was a break in my ankle instead of gout, and I was trying to see how I could get my money back. What could I do?
Nate VanDerVeer: Sounds like you were misdiagnosed in the first place. You know, the drug probably didn’t do much to affect you, at least I hope. Doesn’t sound like you were on it very long based on those facts. But, you know, your doctor probably should have caught you had a broken ankle as opposed to gout, so your claim would be there. And I think you would have a claim. Now, whether it would be worth pursuing what your damages are long-term, that’s another question, but I still think you probably have a claim.
Tiffany Bittner: Alright. Thank you for your call we appreciate it. Ross is up next. Hey, Ross.
Tiffany Bittner: How’s it going?
Caller: Good. Good to talk with y’all.
Tiffany Bittner: Yes, sir. Tell us what’s on your mind.
Caller: Okay, I’m concerned about the IVC filter I’ve had about ten years and recently I’ve had information about an FDA recall on the filters, and I wonder how much at risk I am. I have been told by someone that in order to remove those is a virtually a matter of life and death.
Ken Riley: Nate, let’s talk about IVC filters. It’s something that’s new, something a lot of people don’t know about in terms of the negative effects that this is having on people. Will you share with our viewers a little bit, give them an overview of IVC felt around what it is, what it’s for and the harm that can be caused?
Nate VanDerVeer: These devices are essentially meant to catch blood clots before they embolize and cause damage. Certain people are at high risk during certain situations. Really they’re for people who can’t take an anti-coagulant or blood thinner. What we’re finding out now is the retrievable filters that came on the market in 2003-ish are really poorly made. They really can’t stand up to the forces in our bodies when they’re in our bodies and, what’s worse is now the studies are now indicating that they are not only — I’m trying to think of the best way to say this — they really don’t work if you can take an anti-coagulant, and not only do they not work, they actually increase your risk of deep vein thrombosis. So, potentially your time line, you could have gotten a retrievable filter. You probably would need imaging studies to see where it is, has it perforated the vena cava, has it fractured, what’s going on with this filter, because the longer the retrievables are in, the more likely they are to cause serious, serious problems. So that would be job one.
Ken Riley: But that’s not to say many, many of the devices could stay in someone’s body and never have any bad effects. Is that fair to say?
Nate VanDerVeer: Yeah, that’s fair. There are some studies that, a particular manufacture, after five years the failure rate is greater than 50%. Now, that’s one particular manufacturer. And they’re still selling the permanent filters, which are made a little bit better. We want to find out what kind of filter it was. Was it an optional retriever, or was it meant to stay indefinitely or are you still at a risk for throwing a blood clot? Maybe it’s doing it’s job and catching that thrombi.
Tiffany Bittner: We’ll take a break and when we come back, we’ll have more of your questions, dangerous drugs and medical devices, we’ll be right back.
Tiffany Bittner: So we always like to show you what’s on our calendar and here’s what the month of August is looking like: August 16th next Sunday, we’ll be discussing workers’ compensation, August 23rd will be buying, selling and renting a home. August 30th will be can my boss do that? We hope you will join the shows, call in with any questions you might have. You can call Bob Prince or www.princelaw.net. If you have questions for Ken Riley or Nate VanDerVeer, they are, again, through law firm of Farris, Riley & Pitt. www.DeliveringJustice.com is their website. I was commenting because Ken is giving me the eye like I said something wrong.
Ken Riley: I couldn’t believe you got it right!
Tiffany Bittner: Well, thanks. If you have a question, give a call, and if they can’t handle it, they will be glad to point you in the right direction to get your question answered and whether or not you have a claim. We are discussing medical devices and dangerous drugs tonight. If you have a question on that topic, give us a call. We’ve got folks lined up. We have Tina in Birmingham tonight. Hey, Tina.
Caller: How are you?
Tiffany Bittner: Good, thank you. Tell us what’s going on.
Caller: I have the blood clot filter that you’re supposed to be able to retrieve, because I watched them try to retrieve it, and it wouldn’t hook and come out and it’s just left in there. I want to know is that going to cause me trouble down the road, is that dangerous?
Tiffany Bittner: I would want to know, too.
Caller: I found out what kind but I can’t find out if it’s on the recall list.
Nate VanDerVeer: Let me address something: the last caller Ross said, these devices have actually not been recalled, at least the majority of them. There are a few older ones that have been subject to a recall and I would be interested to find out, Tina, what yours is. You know, really, it’s hard for anybody to tell you what the future is going to hold as far as the filter is concerned. You know, and really what your tolerances for letting it stay in because it sound like the next step will be an open procedure if they can’t grab it with the retrieval hook. So I would follow your doctor’s advice. You know, Ken and I are J.D.s, not M.D.s, so I can’t give you medical advice, but I’m sure your doctor would probably want to set you up with some annual imaging to make sure the device is staying put and is doing its job and is not going to hurt you.
Ken Riley: Is that something, at least from a legal standpoint, is that something she needs to have monitored legally from this point forward?
Nate VanDerVeer: That’s a great question, and actually there’s some scuttlebutt about that within the legal community, sort of like the NCAA concussion lawsuits, really what’s at issue there is medical monitoring. We think that should be an issue here. Somebody, in my humble opinion the manufacturer of these products, should be paying for the imaging you will need to get to monitor that device indefinitely.
Tiffany Bittner: Dale is next in Winston County. How are you.
Caller: Fine, young lady. How are you?
Tiffany Bittner: Good.
Caller: First, thank you for having me on your show, young lady. I am taking medication that I have seen lot more than once with on TV that said it could cause collapsed veins and very severe liver damage, and I would like to know what y’all think about that.
Tiffany Bittner: Alright.
Nate VanDerVeer: Okay. I’m not really sure which drug you’re talking about. If it’s on TV, sounds like it’s the subject of maybe a 1-800-BAD-DRUG commercial or what have you.
Tiffany Bittner: Or sometimes you just see advertisements for the drugs and they say, “could cause these problems”, though. Right?
Nate VanDerVeer: Absolutely, and if that’s the case, then good. It actually sounds like they’re warning of a known risk and you need to consider and discuss with your healthcare provider if you’re willing to take that risk.
Tiffany Bittner: You can help him figure out whether he has a claim?
Nate VanDerVeer: Absolutely.
Ken Riley: Give Nate a buzz and he can help you. We have just a few seconds. We have been getting a lot of updates or complaints from people getting cold calls from people regarding their transvaginal mesh or medical device. That’s illegal. Be very wary of those people and report them if you can because they’re not supposed to call you about your medical situation.
Tiffany Bittner: Thanks for coming on. Join us for LawCall next Sunday night right here at 10:30.
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