September 25, 2012

Syracuse NY Malpractrice Lawyer On Surgical Sponges Being Left Inside Patients

surgical sponges.jpgYet another article about medical malpractice appeared in my favorite newspaper yesterday. The New York Times reports, in an article titled, "When Surgeons Leave Objects Behind" that surgeons in the U.S. leave an estimated 4,000 "surgical items" inside their patients every year, the vast majority of which are surgical sponges used to soak up blood during the surgery. Clamps, scalpels, and even scissors are sometimes left inside, but two-thirds of the "forgotten" items are surgical sponges. Too often one or more of them end up on the wrong side of the stitches once the patient is sewn up. These can cause all kinds of complications and infections later on.

Leaving sponges inside the patient seems pretty lame. How can they make such a major screw up so often?

First, the sponges are pretty small (see the photo above), and lots of them go into a patient during surgery. In abdominal operations, for example, doctors often stuff dozens of them inside a patient to absorb blood. And many surgical teams (usually nurses) keep only a manual count of the sponges that go into a patient, and then recount the ones taken out to make sure the numbers match. But in a busy, long operation, people sometimes forget how many went in, or else miscount.

The article points out that there are better, higher tech ways of keeping track of them, for about an extra 10 dollars a sponge. One is a radio-frequency tag about the size of a grain of rice implanted in the sponge. Another is a tiny bar code on the sponge which is scanned on the way in and on the way out of the patient. But surprisingly few hospitals use these relatively cheap, very safe, methods. Talk about putting profit over safety . . . .

If you are getting surgery that will require the use of sponges, ask your surgeon whether the hospital uses these more sophisticated sponge counting methods. It if doesn't, maybe you should shop around . . .

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani

Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com I'd love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
michaels-smolak.com
Central and Syracuse NY Medical Malpractice Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293 Toll Free 1-866-698-8169


September 24, 2012

New York Medical Malpractice Lawyer On New Medical Error Reporting System

Thumbnail image for emergency.jpg I get calls and emails almost every week from medical malpractice victims, yes, truly malpracticed patients, yet I turn most of them down. Why? It kills me to explain this to them, but the truth is that often the harm they suffered is not worth the cost of bringing a medical malpractice lawsuit in New York.

Yes, medical malpractice lawsuits, at least in New York, are extremely expensive because getting a doctor to testify against another doctor (and you need that to win) is so costly.

Even though we turn away four out of five medical malpractice cases, because the harm is not large enough, the malpractice suits we do bring help make medicine safer by providing error-prone doctors and others with a wake-up call, a "sting", when their sloppy practice causes major harm. But I often worry about the many, many mistakes that, through good fortune, cause only minor harm, and thus provide no "sting". Doctors, nurses, hospitals and other medical providers can easily "blow off" these errors. There should be some "sting" in the smaller injury cases, too.

But maybe I can worry less about that soon. I just read a New York Times article titled, "New System for Patients to Report Medical Mistakes". It says the Obama administration wants patients to start reporting medical mistakes and unsafe medical practices by medical professionals, including hospitals, doctors and pharmacists. This would include even errors that do not cause harm, or much harm. The government is setting up a new consumer reporting system for this purpose.

In the article, Obama administration spokespeople are quoted saying that medical mistakes often go unreported, and that patients are often in the best position to expose and explain the errors, such as drug mix-ups, wrong-sided surgery, overdoses, etc. With this new reporting system, patients and their families would report medical errors and "close calls" through a website. The federal agency in charge would, when required, follow up with telephone interviews.

Should certain medical professionals turn out to be repeat problems, the government has many weapons (sting!) at its disposal, including linking Medicaid and Medicare payments to the quality of care provided and withholding payment for certain errors.

This is a good idea whose time has come.

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani

Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com I'd love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
michaels-smolak.com
Central and Syracuse NY Medical Malpractice Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293 Toll Free 1-866-698-8169

September 23, 2012

Meet The Michaels & Smolak Racing Team

IMG_1117.JPGThere are of course many Central New York bicycle accident lawyers. Some good, some not so good. But do any of them, besides us, have a bicycle team named after them? I think not!

Meet the Michaels & Smolak Racing team. Yes, the eponymous (look it up!) team in this photo proudly displays its "MSR" (Michaels & Smolak Racing) team jerseys. Michaels & Smolak is the lead sponsor for this team. The other sponsors are Syracuse Bicycle, Asmaster, Aspen Athletic Club, Dr. Jude Burke and Gold & Treasures. The race shirts also honor the daughter of one of our members who is a breast cancer survivor.

The MSR team is now 35 to 40 members strong. And its members hail from all over Central New York, including Baldwinsville, Skaneateles, Syracuse, Sylvan Beach, Cato, Geneva and Syracuse

The team is really more of a club. They compete in bike races and triathlons all over Central and upstate New York State, not as a team, but as individuals. When they win awards, they hope to be identified as MSR members. Many of them train together. Paul Ashbarry and Tim Walczyk, both great cyclists, organized and continue to assist the members in obtaining uniforms and in securing sponsors.

The team is not elite or exclusive. That's not our style, and we wouldn't want to sponsor a team like that. The goal is to train hard, race hard, but above all, have a good time. MSR does, however, include star racers in open and age group categories, such as Fred Bulkin (cyclist) , Gaetane Perrault (cyclist) Bret Ryan (triathlon), Bob Burton (triathlon), Ginny Burton (triathlon), Anne Marie Lozito (triathlon and open water swimming), Mark Gummer (open water swimming), Steve Corsello (triathon), Mike Wall (Cyclist) and Sue Michaels (triathlon, ranked number 1 for her age group in the northeastern USAT region, and 6th in the USAT in the USA). But anyone who loves bicycling and triathlons can join.

Next time you see a "peloton" of cyclers whizzing by with this jersey, think of us. And if you are interested in joining the team, just let us know!

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani

Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com I'd love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
michaels-smolak.com
Central and Syracuse NY Bicycle Accident Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293 Toll Free 1-866-698-8169

September 22, 2012

Central And Syracuse NY Trial Lawyer Continues To Learn

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for courtroom.jpgFellow New York personal injury lawyers (and would-be ones) let me tell you about a free online subscription I just love. Eliot Wilcox, a Florida trial lawyer, runs a great blog with an email subscription to a weekly trial skills review. It is a three minute read each Friday, and reminds us personal injury lawyers of important trial skills.

No matter how good you are at trial, these quick reminders can help you be even better. Even great golfers need to be reminded once in a while to keep their head down on the swing. Same with trial lawyers. We may have learned all the good techniques, but being reminded to use them from time to time is great for our "swing".

Elliot's philosophy is like mine: Never stop learning. No matter how good you are, you can always get better. Life is short, and trial skills are long.

For example, recently, on my car rides, I have been listening to some personal injury trial books on my smartphone. I started with the "holy trinity" of personal injury trial books: (1) Rules of the Road: A Plaintiff Lawyer's Guide to Proving Liability; (2) Reptile, by David Ball and Don Keenan, and (3) David Ball on Damages. These books are a "must read" for all personal injury lawyers.

You can't listen to or read them enough times. More stuff keeps "sticking". In fact, when I'm preparing for trial, I always skim through them, looking for little nuggets I can use in my trial.

One of the joys of being human is that, no matter how good you get, you can always improve. That's true whether you are trying to improve as a doctor, plumber, president, dogcatcher, father, husband, or personal injury lawyer. The difference between a good personal injury lawyer and one who only pretends to be is this; the truly good trial lawyer knows he or she has got more to learn, and never stops trying to improve. The mediocre trial lawyer is a self-satisfied know-it-all who can't, and won't, suffer anyone's advice. I count myself in the former group, and I hope all my trial-lawyer readers do, too.

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani

Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com I'd love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
michaels-smolak.com
Central and Syracuse NY Personal Injury Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293 Toll Free 1-866-698-8169


September 20, 2012

Changing The Medical Malpractice Culture --- A Daunting Task, Explains Syracuse NY Medical Malpractice Lawyer

emergency.jpgDr. Marty Makary, a Johns Hopkins School of Medicine cancer surgeon and researcher, was interviewed online about his new book titled, "Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won't Tell You and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Health Care". The title tells it like it is. Here are some key quotes from his interview:

• Hospitals across the nation have "alarmingly high error rates".
• "1 in 4 hospital patients are harmed by a mistake"
• "Medical mistakes are the fifth-most common cause of death in the United States"
• "We have hospitals that fire doctors and nurses when they speak up."

The fix? "We need to change the culture of medicine", he says. He candidly admits that he himself makes mistakes, but unlike most doctors, he says he confronts them and admits them promptly. "When I make a medical mistake and quickly disclose it to patients, they appreciate it."

All this is pretty refreshing to hear from a medical doctor. In our Central New York medical malpractice cases, all we ever hear doctors, and their lawyers, do is deny, deny and then deny some more. Never an apology. Never an admission. When they are done denying, they sometimes even blame the patient for having failed to ask the right questions, to follow up, or to get second opinions.

Will doctors like Dr. Makary ever succeed in bringing a "cultural revolution" to the health care industry? I don't want to say this can't be done, but it does remind me of that Greek myth of Sisyphus, you know, the guy rolling the boulder up the hill, only to see it roll down again, over and over and over again. An almost hopeless and futile task. Pushing the boulder all the way up that hill will take Herculean efforts. The billion-dollar health care system is just so entrenched, with so many well-established self-interests. The wagons will be circling.

Good luck Dr. Makary!

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani

Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com I'd love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
michaels-smolak.com
Syracuse NY Medical Malpractice Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293 Toll Free 1-866-698-8169

September 20, 2012

Another Bicycle Tragedy in Ontario County, NY

bike accident.jpgI read with sadness today in the Finger Lakes Times that a 14-year old Clyde, New York teenager was struck and killed by a motor vehicle while biking to school this morning on Clyde-Marengo Road in Galen. This is sad, sad, sad. As the father of two teenagers, who both like to ride their bikes, and as an avid bicyclist myself, and just as a human being for crying out loud, my heart goes out to the family of the victim.

I have to say that this has been one of the worst years I can remember for bicycle injuries in this part of the Finger Lakes (Ontario County). Several deaths, several brutal injuries, including a guy with an amputated leg, and almost every one of them the cyclist was not at fault. I think about them every time I get on my bike, or one of my kids does.


Keep safe!

Mike Bersani

Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com I'd love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
michaels-smolak.com
Central NY bicycle accident lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293 Toll Free 1-866-698-8169


September 13, 2012

Oh No! Central NY Car Accident Lawyer's Kid Starts To Drive.

480372_4398582929442_1485046908_n.jpg

The kid standing behind me in this photo, trying his hand at hair styling, is my oldest son Sebastian. (Don't worry - he has already ruled out hair styling as a career option.) On September 30 he will turn 16. Yesterday he announced that we are going to the DMV to take his driver's permit test on his birthday at 9:00 a.m., and he is driving us home.

For most parents, this rite of passage is worrisome. But for a guy who represents car accident victims, and deals with clients' terrible car wreck injuries every day of the week, it's grueling. My hair is already grayer than it was in this photo.

It is a well known fact that car accidents are the number one cause of death for kids his age. It is not such a well known fact that sixteen year old kids driving is the number one cause of grey hair in aging fathers.

Sure, I'll take him for a spin on September 30. But I am not going to be his principle driving teacher. Why? He doesn't always listen to me. I'm just his stupid dad, and what do I know? So I'm forking out the money to get him a real driving education from someone he will listen to.

And we'll have strict rules even after he gets his license: No friends in his car. No radio playing. No nothing. Just drive and concentrate. Period. At least until he's 18.

And any rule-breaking means driving privileges suspended.

Yes, I'm putting my foot down. And he had better not put his foot down (on that pedal, I mean).

If I'm lucky, he'll never be my client. And he'll never be sued by someone else's client. Except maybe for hair-styling malpractice.

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani

Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com I'd love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
michaels-smolak.com
Central NY Car Accident Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293 Toll Free 1-866-698-8169


September 12, 2012

Central NY Injury Lawyer Goes On Tour!

72x10007E1A2458-700x466.jpgI am going on tour again this fall. Tickets are still available to catch my show. Email me and I'll make sure you get in. My itinerary? Buffalo, Rochester, Albany, Syracuse and New York.

Bruce Springsteen performed in all those places. But unlike Bruce, when I am done with my gig, I really don't expect to see any lighters flick on.

No, no, I am not a rock n' roll star like Bruce. Rather, I'm just a humble New York personal injury attorney dashing around the State to fill other New York accident lawyers in on the newest developments in "New York Municipal Liability" law.

What's that? It's a funky little area of the law strewn with wacky rules for suing New York State and its subdivisions such as towns, cities, counties, school districts, and other public entities in New York. These public entities have unique personal injury defenses unavailable to other defendants, such as very short time limits, complex pre-suit requirements, "governmental immunity" defenses, and "prior written notice" rules. And so on.

Believe me, you don't want me to blog about all this strange stuff (unless you need a sure-fire insomnia fix). But if you're weird enough to be interested in this kind of thing, you can check out my 2012 New York Municipal Liability publication. You can also read the chapter I wrote a few years ago on this subject for the New York State Bar Association's treatise on New York personal injury law. Yes, I am considered a State-wide expert in this little niche. If you get hurt by a city, town, school, county, the police, the State, or anything in between, just call!

Would I rather be wailing on an electric guitar as thousands of beautiful young things jumped up and down and gyrated madly to my rock rhythms? Sure sounds like a better gig than staring out at a bunch of half-asleep lawyers! But so far Bruce has neglected to audition me for that lead guitar position on his team.

As another great rock n' roller once said, "you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find . . . you get what you need".

See ya in that room full of lawyers (zzzzzzzzzzzz . . . .)

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani

Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com I'd love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
michaels-smolak.com
Central NY Personal Injury Lawyer
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293 Toll Free 1-866-698-8169

September 5, 2012

So-Called "Independent" Medical Exams In New York Personal Injury Cases

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for doctor bad.jpgToday I accompanied a wreck of a man --- a severely injured car wreck victim -- to a so-called "independent" medical examination ("IME"). (You will see why I say "so called" soon enough.) The poor guy got t-boned a few years ago and ever since has suffered horrible pain emanating from his cervical and lumbar spine. He has had two surgeries, one on his neck and one on his lower back, not to mention countless rounds of physical therapy, epidural injections, trigger point injections, pain meds, and chiropractic treatment. Even so, he has been losing his war against the pain.

All of his many doctors have concluded that (1) he is badly injured; (2) the car accident caused his injuries (he was fine before then!); and (3) he is totally disabled.

Open and shut case, right? Wrong. The insurance company defending this case has a right, under New York personal injury law, to have the victim present to a so-called (there I go again!) "independent" medical examination ("IME") by a doctor of their choice. The so-called "independent" doctor (paid by the insurance company) then renders an opinion whether the victim is injured, and if so what his injuries are, whether the car accident caused them, and whether he can work at all.

About a month ago I got the insurance company's Notice of Independent (yea right) Medical Examination ("IME"). When I saw the name of the doctor the insurance company had picked, I knew right away what the good doctor would say about my client's injuries. He is (in)famous in Central New York for giving the insurance company exactly what it wants, every single time, no matter how bad the injury. And that's why he is the "go to" doc for the insurance companies' so-called "independent" medical examinations ("IME's).

Like most New York personal injury lawyers, I refuse to call these examinations "independent" medical examinations. Rather, we call them "insurance" medical examinations.

Anyway, this particular doctor will never find an injury of any significance (except perhaps if the patient has lost an arm or leg!). His examination report will be a cut-and-paste job from all his other reports, following this formula: (1) the victim was hardly hurt at all, just sprains or strains, (2) those injuries are totally resolved; (3) the victim may be exaggerating his injuries; (4) even if there is an injury, the accident did not cause it, but rather a pre-existing condition is causing the symptoms; and (5) the victim can work.

And that's what he'll say in Court, too.

The good doctor examined my client for only 9 minutes.

I don't even need to see his report. I know exactly what it will say. It will contradict everything his treating doctors have said - yes, the doctors who have been repeatedly examining him over a period of many, many hours over the last few years - and will find that he is hardly injured at all, and that he may be faking, and if not, his symptoms are not caused by the car wreck but by pre-existing conditions.

One of the reasons I wanted to go to this IME (besides to show support for my client) was so I could time the exam (only 9 minutes!), see first-hand the testing the doc did (not much!), and more importantly, the tests he did not do (many!), so I can cross-examine the hell out of him at trial.

See ya at trial doc.

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani

Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com I'd love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
michaels-smolak.com
Central NY Personal Injury Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293 Toll Free 1-866-698-8169


August 30, 2012

"New York Times Slip-and-Fall Reporting Sucks", Says Central NY Injury Lawyer

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for banana peel.jpgThe New York Times just published a story titled, "A Fatal Slip on the Stairs Cuts Short a Life at 29". Deaths in slip-and-fall cases are rare. Especially in someone that young. Usually you get fractured wrists or knees. So, an article with a title like that piqued the interest of this Central NY personal injury lawyer like a hurricane from Alaska would a weatherman's.

So I read on. The article talked about how an unfortunate young lady was found dead, covered in blood, on a landing in a Manhattan building where she was staying with a friend. The police had initially suspected foul play, but later came to the conclusion that she was merely the victim of a slip-and-fall accident. She had been wearing high heels, was carrying a heavy bag and "the stairs were slippery". The story goes on to talk about what an amazing person this was, how she was having some trouble in her marriage, and how she had just had a really tough week. A nice human interest story for sure, but what I am interested in is, "why were the stairs slippery"? So I kept waiting to get to that part.

And I never did. The article did not say what caused the steps to be slippery. It appears this was an indoor stairway. If the stairs were wet, I would want to know whether (1) management had just mopped them and left them that way with no warning?, or (2) there was a leak in the roof above, or (3) a tenant or someone else had just spilled a soda or something there. All this would be important for me if I were representing the estate of this young lady in a slip-and-fall case in New York against the landlord. In scenarios (1) and (2), the landlord could probably be held liable for negligent maintenance, but in scenario number (3) probably not (unless the spill had been there for a significant period of time, enough time for the landlord's staff to notice it and clean it up).

So, hey, New York Times, keep us New York slip-and-fall lawyers in mind the next time you write such an article, ok? Geez . . ..

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani

Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com I'd love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
michaels-smolak.com
Central NY Slip-and-Fall lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293 Toll Free 1-866-698-8169

August 25, 2012

Do You Have Enough Car Accident Insurance? Syracuse NY Car Accident Lawyer Explains

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for insurance claim form.jpgJust read an article in the New York Times titled, "How to Know if You Have Enough Auto Insurance". The article gave some interesting statistics: Nationally, the average jury award for motor vehicle accident injuries is $181,197, and about 5 percent of car accident injury claims in 2010 were for more than $100,000 while only about 2 percent reached $300,000.

Then there are those occasional multi-million dollar jury verdicts. How do you protect yourself against those?

Anyone can make a mistake driving, including you. Do you need to protect yourself against such judgments? Is it expensive to do?

It costs only about $200 extra annually to bring your liability insurance from $50,000 to $1 million. Increasing your "SUM" coverage (explained below) to that $1 million costs only about ½ of that.

Buying liability insurance protects you from these judgments. If you screw up and hit someone, your insurance will stand by you, defend you in court, and pay any settlement or judgment for you, but only up to your policy limit. So if you have only $25,000 in coverage and a jury awards your victim $100,000 that leaves you high and dry to the tune of $75,000. That's why you want to buy enough insurance to at least cover your asset exposure. The more assets you have, the more liability insurance you want to protect them. If you have nothing, then getting minimal insurance makes sense, because you can simply file for bankruptcy if you get slammed with a verdict beyond your insurance coverage and assets. If you have something you don't want to risk losing, you'd better get an appropriate level of liability coverage.

Supplemental underinsured mostorist insurance (SUM) is different. This protects you not from your own mistakes, not from judgments by others against you, but from others' mistakes, from injuries you suffer at the hands of the other guy. If the other guy who creams you has no or little insurance, your own SUM insurance will "stand in the shoes" of the other guy, and pay up to your own policy limits. The odds of getting hit by someone with no insurance coverage are not that negligible, about 15% , and there are lots of drivers out there mowing people down with only minimal ($25,000 in New York) coverage. In fact, about 20% of motorists carry only the legal minimum liability insurance. If the negligent driver who hurt you or your family members carried only $25,000 in coverage, but you have $500,000 in SUM coverage, then you and your family members will be covered to the tune of the full $500,000. And if you are badly hurt, boy will you need it!

Worth the extra cost? Don't wait to get in an accident to find out . . .

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani

Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com I'd love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
michaels-smolak.com
Central NY Personal Injury Lawyer
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293 Toll Free 1-866-698-8169

July 28, 2012

Syracuse Accident Lawyer Applauds Post Standard For Publishing Safety Tips For Cyclists And Motorists

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for bicyclists racing.jpgI was both surprised and delighted to spot an article in the Syracuse Post Standard titled, "Five Things Drivers and Cyclists Need to Know about Each Other". As an avid cyclist and a Central and Syracuse New York accident lawyer representing injured cyclists, I applaud the Post Standard for bringing to a wider audience some safety tips I have been blogging about for years:

For cyclists, (1) be predictable, not weirdly spontaneous, so motorists will know what you are about to do. You can be predictable simply by following the same rules of the road a motorist must follow: obey all traffic rules/laws, for example, drive on the right side of the road, stop at red lights and stop signs. (2) Imagine you are invisible (you are!) so that you drive totally defensively; (3) try to make eye contact with drivers at intersections; (4) watch out for those parked car doors opening!; (5) don't have music plugged into your ears (the law in New York requires you to have one ear un-plugged, but that's not good enough, keep them both free to help save your life!); (6) always wear a helmet (required by law for those under 14, but required by love-of-life for all); (7) be visible; where bright colors in the day, and use bike lights at night (I recommend flashing lights even in the daytime --- you are that much more visible - but remember to PRETEND you are INVISIBLE); (8) no sidewalk riding; (9) you are allowed to ride two-abreast, except when traffic wants to pass you, and then you must go single file.

For motorists: (1) Look out for us cyclists! Hey, we are here!; (2) Reduce speed when encountering cyclists; (3) give us room when you pass us! (4 feet at least); (4) if you can't pass us safely, wait!

Notice how many more safety tips there are for cyclists than for motorists? That's because if the cyclist makes contact with the motorist, the cyclist always "loses". Don't be a loser.

For a full list of legal requirements for bicycling in New York State, click here.

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani

Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com I'd love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
michaels-smolak.com
Central NY Bicycle Accident Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293 Toll Free 1-866-698-8169


July 22, 2012

Central NY Med Mal Lawyer On Learning From Mistakes

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for doctor bad.jpgWe should learn from our mistakes. Actually, a famous New York law professor and commentator, David Siegel, always says that we should learn from others' mistakes. That's a much less painful way of learning.

Having practiced as a Central and Syracuse New York personal injury and medical malpractice lawyer for many years, I sometimes get the impression that corporations, hospitals and doctors do not learn from others' mistakes (the pain-free way) or even from their own (the painful way). They just repeat the same mistakes over and over again.

Sure, that keeps someone like me in business, but wouldn't it be better for the rest of us if hospitals and others learned from their mistakes, minimized them, and put me out of business? (Don't worry about me - I can always be a greeter at Walmart, if they don't mind that I have sued them a couple of times).

But I digress. I really wanted to blog about a hospital that apparently has learned from its mistakes. On Wednesday, the New York University Langone Medical Center announced important procedural changes in its ER room after the death of a 12-year old patient from septic shock. The young patient reported to the ER with a fever and rapid heart rate a few days after cutting his arm while diving for a basketball at his school gym. The Hospital's ER docs sent him home, assuring his parents all he had was a stomach bug.

Some bug! He later went into shock, experienced organ failure, and died three days later. Turns out that cut on his arm had allowed dangerous bacteria to enter into his blood. Turns out the Hospital had taken a blood test that showed the serious, dangerous infection, called "sepsis", but the ER doc never reviewed it before releasing him.

Can you say, "malpractice"? I'm sure the boy's parents can, and they have already hired a NY malpractice lawyer.

I have to applaud this Hospital, though, for at least attempting to learn from its mistakes. I can't tell you how uncommon that seems to me! The Hospital has announced that ER docs and nurses would, from now on, be "immediately notified of certain lab results suggestive of serious infection". The Hospital has even put in place a new checklist to make sure their staff has conducted "a final review of all critical lab results and patient vital signs" before a patient is discharged.

So this hospital has learned (the painful way) from its mistake. The question is, will all the other New York hospitals learn (the pain-free way) from this hospital's mistake?

Let me put it this way --- I don't plan on applying for a job at Walmart for a while . . .

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani

Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com I'd love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
michaels-smolak.com
Central and Syracuse NY Medical Malpractice lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293 Toll Free 1-866-698-8169


July 17, 2012

Social Media In The Courtroom; A Central And Syracuse NY Personal Injury Lawyer's Concerns

images.jpgFor a 57 year-old Central New York personal injury lawyer, I'm pretty social-media savvy. I blog, I tweet, I google, I post on Facebook, etc. So when I read some twitter chatter about an article titled "Juror Misconduct in the Age of Social Networking", I googled the article and read it. It was a good read, and since you might not have the time or inclination to read the whole thing, let me summarize it for you.

It starts with this quote from Albert Einstein: "It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity". I assume Einstein was thinking of the atomic bomb, not social media. I don't think you can call social media an atomic bomb, though its impact on juries is certainly somewhat explosive.

The article goes on to describe how jurors are "tweeting", "Facebooking" and googling with smartphones during jury duties, often in defiance of the judge's order not to. If they are posting information about the case, or discussing it at all, or googling for information about the lawyers, their clients or witnesses, well, they are violating their juror oath. Jurors have been caught posting things like, "it's gonna be fun to tell the defendant he's GUILTY". Other jurors have been caught trying to "friend" witnesses on Facebook. They have also conducted improper "investigations" online, for example, regarding the distance between two relevant locations, or the yearly profits of a defendant corporation.

All this poisons the jury system because the jury is supposed to decide the case only on the evidence that comes into the courtroom, not on "evidence" they get from their smartphone. The parties don't have an opportunity to "rebut" or cross-examine or respond to the information or impressions the jury gets from their smartphones.

I read another article recently (I can't remember where - my age is showing!) that noted that some personal injury lawyers in New York and elsewhere, well aware that jurors might be (improperly) googling them, post blogs and other information on their website about the case being tried, or about the kinds of injuries their client has, that are intended to sway the jury. This is unethical because lawyers are not supposed to "communicate" with jurors, and posting information targeting the jury would be a type of "communication". These lawyers might think they can get away with this by claiming they were not targeting disobedient jurors, since the jury is not supposed to be visiting their site. But often the timing and the subject matter of the blog posts make it pretty clear these lawyers are actually counting on jurors disobeying the judge's orders, or at least hoping they do so.

So what's the bottom line? Smart phones and other devices are poking holes in our courtroom walls big enough for Mack trucks to drive through. Illicit "information" is driving through those holes, polluting our trials and our justice system. We're entering a brave new world of social-media savvy jurors and lawyers who don't care to plug those holes, or simply can't resist the temptation to sneak stuff through them. If we want to keep trials fair (yes we do) then we had better find a way to seal those holes securely. How?

Hmm. I'm thinking. Maybe I'll get to this in another blog post . . .

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani

Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com I'd love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.
Central & Syracuse NY Personal Injury Lawyers

1-315-253-3293 Toll Free 1-866-698-8169


July 12, 2012

Central NY Personal Injury Lawyer Does Triathlon

83020-104-008t.jpgIf you are a New York personal injury lawyer like me, you need your stress relief. From my observations, the two most popular ways for litigation lawyers to "de-stress" are (1) exercise and (2) drink. I have chosen the first (although I also occasionally engage in the second, in moderation). When I work out hard, I can feel the stress peeling away, like when you peel back the layers of an onion.

Mostly I run, bike and swim, though my knees are giving out and so I do a lot less running than before. And every year I do at least one short triathlon (swim-bike-run race). This year is no exception. Saturday is my annual Geneva NY "Musselman" triathlon.

My goal is to beat my time from last year. I am racing only against myself. Can I win? In the glass-half-empty department: (1) I'm a year older, (2) low back pain, and (3) knee issues sabotaged my run-training. In the glass-have-full department: (1) in better swim shape, (2) faster bike, and (3) down 7 pounds or so. So it's a toss-up. In the why-the-hell-do-I-care department, all I can tell you is, good question!

The training has taken a toll on my blogging time. But curiously, so far none of my readers have reported withdrawal symptoms. If you are experiencing any, sorry, but there's no New York tort claim available against me for negligently failing to blog and causing you emotional distress.

I hope my readers will forgive me and not thank me for cutting down on the blogs for a while. After Saturday, I hope to be back in the blogosphere on a more regular basis.

By the way, the photo is of me finishing the race last year.

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani

Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com I'd love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
michaels-smolak.com
Central NY Personal Injury Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293 Toll Free 1-866-698-8169