Dr. Gustin's Blog

The Dangerous Irradiation of Infants

A controversy has arisen over the irradiation of infants, pre-mature and full-term.  Several facilities have noted this and the Federal government has taken up the cause.  These errors raise broader questions about the competence, training and oversight of technologists who operate radiological equipment that is becoming increasingly complex and powerful. If technologists could not properly take a simple chest X-ray, how can they be expected to safely operate CT scanners or linear accelerators?

With technologists in many states lightly regulated, or not at all, their own professional group is calling for greater oversight and standards. For 12 years, the American Society of Radiologic Technologists has lobbied Congress to pass a bill that would establish minimum educational and certification requirements, not only for technologists, but also for medical physicists and people in 10 other occupations in medical imaging and radiation therapy.

Yet even with broad bipartisan support, the association said, and the backing of 26 organizations representing more than 500,000 health professionals, Congress has yet to pass what has become known as the CARE bill because, supporters say, it lacks a powerful legislator to champion its cause.

Read more about this terrible situation by clicking:  Here

Adverse Drug Reactions: Terbutaline and Preterm Labor

Normally, I would put information like this in my "Latest News" section, but this is too important not to be on my front page where my blog is located. Terbutaline, given orally or intravenously, is routinely used to treat preterm labor.  It has now been shown to significantly increase the risk of maternal heart problems and sudden death.  You can read more about this by clicking my link, and you can also read more about this on the FDA website: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm243539.htm

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About Medical Expert Reports

Medical experts are often requested by attorneys or insurance claims adjusters to write medical expert reports. This is true for both retained medical expert witnesses and non-retained expert consultants.  Here are some general steps medical experts should take to properly construct an expert report.

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Lawsuit Loans Add New Risk for the Injured

An interesting article appeared recently in the NY Times about lawsuits, plaintiffs, and lending.

The business of lending to plaintiffs arose over the last decade, part of a trend in which banks, hedge funds and private investors are putting money into other people’s lawsuits. But the industry, which now lends plaintiffs more than $100 million a year, remains unregulated in most states, free to ignore laws that protect people who borrow from most other kinds of lenders.

Unrestrained by laws that cap interest rates, the rates charged by lawsuit lenders often exceed 100 percent a year, according to a review by The New York Times and the Center for Public Integrity. Furthermore, companies are not required to provide clear and complete pricing information — and the details they do give are often misleading.

A growing number of lawyers, judges and regulators say that the regulatory vacuum is allowing lawsuit lenders to siphon away too much of the money won by plaintiffs.

To read the entire NY Times article:  Click Here

Medical Expert Witnesses Approved in Avandia Lawsuits

US District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has recently ruled that three plaintiffs' medical expert witnesses meet the Daubert standard for scientific validity in Avandia lawsuits currently before the court. Avandia lawsuits are numerous, with some 3,500 cases filed in California state courts, and 1,200 in Pennsylvania, with all but 250 of those having been settled with GlaxoSmithKline – the maker of the diabetes medication.

The allegation with Avandia is that the drug can cause pathologic bone fractures, stroke, liver damage, and a myriad array of heart disorders that can result in a permanent disability or death.

Code of Ethics for Expert Witnesses

Recently, I came across a useful code of ethics proposal for expert witnesses on an expert services website (IME) which was carefully thought out and crafted.  It should stimulate some interested discussion.  Please see below.

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Medical Malpractice: Failure to Diagnose Cancer

One of the most frequent medical malpractice issues is the failure to timely diagnose and treat cancer.  An issue that comes up in each case is how much damage was caused by the failure to timely diagnose the malignancy? Unlike a surgical or medication error which can be directly caused by a careless health care provider, cancer is usually not caused by the physician involved in the patient’s care.  In most instances the presence of cancer is the unfortunate consequence of nature.

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Selecting an Medical Expert Witness: What should an attorney look for?

Credibility is a key attribute in a medical expert witness, every trial lawyer would agree. The medical expert must come across as experienced, well-informed, sincere, and believable.  But how is this credibility determined when first seeking which experts to use on any given matter? What attributes provide the best predictors of how the expert will measure up in the eyes of a jury?

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What Is the Key Factor When Hiring a Medical Expert?

When hiring an expert, the most important quality to look for is someone who presents well.  Assess how he speaks, how he appears, and his degree of comfort with himself and his area of expertise.  If it is not possible to meet with him before hiring him, then ask for several references from attorneys for whom he has testified.  This is because, as a rule, jurors will tend to believe a medical expert who presents and appears well.  Of course, the content of his testimony is crucial too, but if this information cannot be conveyed properly, it will difficult for a medical expert to succeed.  The medical expert can have spotless credentials and plenty of experience, but if, for whatever reason, he does not present well to a jury, the jury may focus on the absence of those qualities and never really hear the testimony.

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