California penalizes hospitals for preventable errors, through the only program of its kind in the nation.  But the program has failed to make a significant difference in curbing mistakes, the Union Tribune reports.  UT reporter Paul Sisson has some excellent tips on how YOU can protect yourself when seeking medical care:

[View the full article]

“* ALTERNATIVES: Inquire about better alternatives to the procedure you’ve been recommended. Visit choosingwisely.org for information about which treatments may be unnecessary.

* HIGH VOLUME: Choose a hospital, whenever possible, that performs a high volume of the procedure you need to undergo. Studies show such places and physicians tend to have better outcomes for that procedure.

* VACCINATIONS: Verify that your vaccinations are up to date before you’re admitted to the hospital.

* CURRENT MEDICATIONS: Tell your doctor, nurse, pharmacist and anyone else involved in your care about what medications you’re taking. Arrive at the hospital with your full list of drugs and be honest about any other self-medication. That includes dietary supplements, vitamins, herbs and recreational drugs.

* ALLERGIC REACTIONS: List any medications you shouldn’t take because of reasons such as allergic reactions or other known adverse outcomes.

* LABELING: Make sure all medicines you receive in the hospital — including through syringes, tubes, bags and pill bottles — have labels. Don’t be afraid to read these labels to see if they match what your physician prescribed.

* HAND-WASHING: Ask caregivers to wash their hands before they tend to you, if they haven’t done so. Unwashed hands are a main way of spreading infection in hospitals.

* CHECKLISTS: Find out whether your surgeon uses a checklist for your operation. Research shows that such checklists, even simple ones that include steps for preventing infection, can significantly lessen the error rate.

* SURGERY SITE: Confirm with nurses, imaging technicians, anesthesiologists and your doctor that they have correctly identified the part of your body targeted for a procedure. For example, all of your caregivers should agree on which kidney, knee or arm is slated for surgery. One common step is for the surgeon to sign his/her name on the area targeted for surgery.

* CATHETERS: Request an update each day on when your central-line or urinary catheter can be removed. Studies show that catheters, a prime source of infection, are often left in place long after they’re no longer needed.

* BEFORE YOU LEAVE: Go over all medication instructions before leaving the hospital.

* ASK AWAY: Ask as many questions as you need. If you don’t understand something your caregivers are about to do, speak up. Doctors, nurses and others should take action based on your consent.”

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While you are doing your final holiday shopping, of course remember the admonition Caveat Emptor – buyer beware.  But, even the most careful shopper can be fooled by hidden costs, false product claims, false pricing, misrepresentations, and deceptive come-ons.  And, the customer can get dragged into a momentum to purchase — which is often the point of the retailer’s strategy.   The law may now protect the buyer, even if the retailer throws some fine print under the buyer’s nose moments before the sale or, once she is “hooked” to buy, reveals something new about the product or service that is not as portrayed in ads.

In a new California case, Veera v. Banana Republic, LLC, out of the Second District California Appellate Court, Dec. 15, 2016, the court acknowledges in the context of consumer class actions that deceptive luring of customers through misleading ads by retailers can cause reliance and damage, and may be the basis for a consumer fraud case, even when the falsity of the ads is revealed to the customer before money changes hands.   In this case, clothing retailer Banana Republic advertised on store window signs that items in the store were 40% off.   Class members were drawn inside, tried on items, waited in sometimes long lines, and, when at the cash register, were told the items were not on sale.

The court noted the danger that consumers rely on deceptive advertising to decide to buy merchandise.  Then, when the deception is revealed, the consumer has now invested in the decision to buy and is swept up in the “momentum of events.”  In this case, they had spent time and energy and made purchases against their better judgment sometimes due to embarrassment caused by the lines behind them, or the desire to avoid a complete waste of effort.

In a change of course from other earlier cases where the purchaser was not allowed to recover when the truth of the false ad was revealed before he or she consummated the purchase, the Veera case recognized that a result like that could be at odds with the intent of the law.  California consumer legislation was meant to combat “bait and switch” and misrepresentations that deceived consumers.  The Veera court acknowledged that the pressure of events can be brought to bear on plaintiffs’ judgment, and plays a substantial role in leading them to purchase items, even though they may learn certain facts do not apply before they pay.  The court held there was a at least a triable issue of whether their reliance on the misleading ad was a cause, though not the only cause, of the consumers’ harm.

So, thanks to consumer protection laws:   Caveat Venditor – let the seller beware.   Happy Shopping.

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DSC_0458In an article published August 19, 2016, the LA Times reports on the proliferation of “stem cell clinics” in America. The Times finds that the treatments – which generally consist of injecting patients with stem cells drawn from their own body fat – are expensive and unproven. The concern is that these treatments are marketed with heavy-handed tactics by some clinics to the most vulnerable in our society, those with degenerative, disabling or incurable diseases.  Clinics promise treatment or cures for patients’ ailments with no proof that the treatment is safe or effective, no FDA approval, and a price tag in the thousands, or tens of thousands of dollars.

The article quotes Mulligan, Banham & Findley founding partner, Jan Mulligan, on the firm’s current class action investigation into these clinics:

“Stem cell scientists include the best and the brightest doing great work, and I admire them…. At the other end of the scale, there’s snake oil.”

The article also draws from a recent “stem cell tourism” study by UC Davis stem cell scientist Paul Knoepfler, and bioethicist Leigh Turner of the University of Minnesota. Their study found 570 U.S. clinics now marketing these unproven stem cell interventions, with “hot spots” in Southern California, Phoenix, New York, San Antonio and Austin, Texas.

See the full LA Times article here.

Our firm continues to investigate this important issue, including claims of false advertising, violations of consumer protection statutes, fraud and misrepresentation by stem cell clinics.  If you feel you were harmed or misled by a stem cell clinic in California, please contact us using the button at the bottom of this page, or call 619-238-8700.  See this page for more information.

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