February 2013 Archives

February 26, 2013

Conduct and Privacy Allegations Against Dr. Nikita Levy of Johns Hopkins Medical Center

Dr. Nikita Levy, a Johns Hopkins Medical Center Gynecologist, committed suicide on Monday, February 18, 2013, after he was confronted with allegations of recording and photographing his patients during exams in his 25 year career. Dr. Levy obtained his medical license in Maryland in 1988 and started working at Johns Hopkins Hospital shortly after. Dr. Levy was contacted by Johns Hopkins on February 4th, 2013, suspended on February 5th and ultimately terminated on February 8, 2013. On February 18, 2013, Dr. Levy's body was found at his home, in Towson, Maryland, with a plastic bag wrapped around his head and Helium being pumped into it. An apology letter to his wife was also found, near his body.

When Dr. Levy's home was searched by police, unauthorized photographs and video recordings of patients treated at Johns Hopkins Hospital were found. Multiple computer hard drives filled with images and records, photographic equipment and hidden cameras, such as a pen camera, were found and taken as evidence.

Several lawsuits are now being filed in Maryland on behalf of former patients of Dr. Levy due to these allegations. Hundreds more are expected to be filed in the coming months. Dr. Levy had over 600 former patients whom may have been secretly photographed or recorded.

Baltimore Police have yet to contact the patients identified in the photographs and recordings and have not confirmed whether any of the material was distributed over the internet, therefore; some lawyers of these former patients have submitted a request to the Baltimore Police to release this information.

Johns Hopkins issued a statement, which in part says, "An invasion of patient privacy is intolerable. Words cannot express how deeply sorry we are for every patient whose privacy may have been violated... " The hospital further says that Dr. Levy's alleged behavior violates its conduct and privacy rules. The allegations were brought to light by an employee of Johns Hopkins Medical Center, who on February 4th, 2013, noticed something unusual about Dr. Levy's examination of a patient and so a supervisor was alerted.

Baltimore Police are treating this as a criminal investigation while Johns Hopkins' board or trustees has opened their own investigation. Hospitals, in the past, have been held liable for failing to protect patients' privacy and for doctor's actions, but it depends on whether there is enough evidence to prove negligence. It all depends on whether the women can be identified in the images and what they show. If patients cannot be identified, they cannot really say that they were embarrassed or humiliated.

February 7, 2013

DePuy ASR Hip Implant Recall

DePuy Hip Implant.jpg
Over 10,000 lawsuits have been filed against the company Johnson & Johnson for their distribution of the DePuy ASR hip implant, since a recall was issued in August 2010. The DePuy ASR hip implant has a metal on metal design, which means that a metal head rotates within a metal cup. This design causes metal debris, caused from the metal parts rubbing against each other, to be released into the surrounding tissue and cause medical problems. The failure occurs within five years of replacement.

When the recall was first issued, Johnson & Johnson stated that the failure rate was only about 13%, but after documents were released as part of the litigation, it was estimated that the failure rate of the DePuy ASR hip implant is as high as 37%. This means that one out of every eight DePuy ASR hip implants were failing within five years of replacement surgery.

There is currently a case going on in California against Johnson & Johnson for the marketing, manufacturing and sale of the defective DePuy ASR hip implants. It is being said that the company failed to properly warn the public, as well as healthcare professionals, about the risk of loosening and other complications that may develop shortly after hip replacement surgery.

In testimony in the current case being heard in California, a DePuy engineer testified that Johnson & Johnson only tested one angle of implantation and that the company failed to use the right engineering controls when trying to assess potential problems. The engineer further stated that the testing conducted failed to predict how much wear the hip implants would experience and how much they could loosen.

The FDA released a new guidance for metal on metal hip replacements in January of this year. Doctors were advised that metal on metal hip replacement systems should only be used if other artificial hip implants were not appropriate for the patient, and called on all manufacturers to prove that their implants are safe enough to stay on the market. Also, future metal on metal hip designs will have to undergo extensive human clinical trials before being made available for sale to the public.