Nicole Ortiz / Connecticut's Best Lawyers 2017

Since its founding in 1936, passion and dedication to clients has been the overriding theme at Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder, and this is apparent when looking at any of the cases they’ve handled. Whether it’s the ongoing Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting case or a past landmark case against Yale where an inadequately trained doctor accidentally stuck himself with an HIV-infected needle, the firm devotes years to its clients—until they’re certain justice has been attained.

One current example is a case discussed by managing partner, Jim Horwitz, which centers on the rising epidemic of injuries to patients who have been referred to surgical centers instead of hospitals, strictly for monetary purposes.

Horwitz focuses his attention within the firm on medical malpractice, which often finds clients caught in a spot where they wish they could go back in time and undo an injury or bring a prematurely deceased loved one back. However, the moment the case comes to a close and the clients are able to breathe, their much-anticipated sighs of relief are like a catharsis for them. “It’s just this great emotional release. Those are the moments that are most meaningful to me.” And clients are happy to show their gratitude to the firm in the form of letters, phone calls, and gift baskets.

In the surgical center case that Horwitz and senior partner Michael Koskoff are working on, a patient was discouraged by his doctors from going to the hospital of his choice for a spine surgery. Instead he was sent to a newly re-opened surgical center in which the doctors had a financial interest. Since this center had been under pressure to open quickly, the medications weren’t labeled correctly and were seemingly stored at random.

“Because of the confusion, when the anesthesiologist prepared the anesthesia cart with medications for use in the procedure, she placed on the cart a toxic medication that should never have even been in the operating room. It was a kind of disorganized mayhem,” Horwitz stated. “When the patient required medication during the course of the procedure, that wrong one was grabbed from the cart. It was injected, and the patient died.”

“We’ve seen a tragic increase in the number of cases against stand-alone clinics in recent years,” Horwitz said.

“Lack of oversight and risk prevention seems to be a problem in surgical centers that do not have the standards, supervision, and experience found in hospital settings.” Recently, more of these centers have sprouted up due to health insurance companies’ efforts to save money. Doctors, who are often shareholders in the centers, encourage their patients to have their procedures performed there rather than in the safer hospital settings. “Unfortunately when profits are put above the well-being of patients, mistakes occur that could have been easily avoided,” he concluded.

Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder’s dedication to its clients’ needs and the fight for justice on their behalf is palpable. “The family we represent is determined to prevent this kind of tragedy from ever happening to anyone else,” said Horwitz. The firm is working on this case to help the family with their goal of preventing these centers from taking advantage of vulnerable patients and reaping the financial benefits. This honorable moral standpoint is one that the firm takes often in its cases, working to set and uphold a standard of justice.

For patients undergoing surgery, Horwitz recommends that they ask questions until they feel completely satisfied by the answers. He suggests bringing a family member or loved one along on any meetings with the doctors so they can offer a fresh perspective.

“When you are sick and in need of care, you have this strong desire to trust the providers,” he stated, which is entirely valid and expected, but is also the reason why an outside party might be able to help a patient make any difficult decisions.

Horwitz says that patients should walk away with a clear understanding of the abilities of the center and its team of doctors, anesthesiologists, and any other people involved. Unless they provide satisfactory answers, it’s completely reasonable for a patient to tell their provider that they are uncomfortable proceeding with that location. These same questions apply when procedures are scheduled for hospitals as well. The bottom line is that patients should feel comfortable that they are in the safest possible surrounding.

Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder and its team of talented attorneys ensure that their clients’ voices aren’t silenced.