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Patient Safety

At Pegalis and Erickson, every day of every year is about patient safety.

Zika Virus Symptoms and Your Patient Rights

Update: April 2017

The CDC has updated guidelines for the Evaluation and Management of Infants with Possible Congenital Zika Virus Infection


Update January 9, 2017

It is critical for women who are pregnant or wish to become pregnant, and for women and men who may become pregnant to get medical counseling on preventing mosquito bites, and having protected sex before and after traveling to areas affected by the Zika-virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as of January 9, 2017, there are a recorded 2,842 pregnant women with lab evidence of possible Zika virus in the U.S. and its Territories. Zika Virus infection during pregnancy may cause severe brain defects including microephaly whereby a baby's head is smaller than expected and the baby may have a smaller brain that might not have developed properly. Some infants with congenital Zika virus infection who do not have microcephaly at birth may later experience slowed head growth and develop postnatal microcephaly. The CDC has a chart entitled What to Know If Your Doctor Suspects Microcephaly During Pregnancy.

Update November 15, 2016

A vaccine may be available in 2017 but to date none have been approved. New studies indicate that the same mosquitos that spread Zika, can spread other viruses with one bite, such as chikungunya, and dengue. Nearly 70 countries have confirmed cases of Zika, mainly in the Caribbean, South America and Oceania. In the continental United States, New York State had the most cases, 883, as of Nov. 2. All these cases involved people who were bitten by mosquitoes while abroad or had sex with an infected individual. Zika was first discovered in 1947. The concerns for risks to humans at this time are babies born with microcephaly, and for adults, Guillan-Barre.

Update September 20, 2016

A new study noted in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports some people infected with Zika develop conjunctivitis, an eye infection common known as "pink eye." Although the Zika infection had been identified in urine, semen, saliva and breast milk, the study noted Chinese travelers who had been infected in Venezuela were found to have the virus from eye swabs five to seven days after symptoms occurred.

Update September 14, 2016

On September 7, The World Health Organization updated its assessment of the Zika virus as a cause of congenital brain abnormalities in babies and Guillain-Barre syndrome in adults, after considering months of research into the mosquito-borne disease.

UPDATE: August 19, 2016

The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommend that men who have had symptoms of Zika not attempt to father a child for six months after their illness. They also suggest that men who have been ill practice safe sex or abstinence if their partner is pregnant.

Since 2015, articles about the “new” Zika virus and the potential spread of the virus worldwide to some 30 countries have been highlighted in the news. Scientists are researching how and why a virus first identified nearly 70 years ago as benign, could now pose such a grave risk, most especially to pregnant women, women of child-bearing age, and men who may be infected and impregnate women. To date there is no vaccine or treatment for Zika. Due to these concerns, it is urged that everyone, especially women of child-bearing age, be proactive in this regard and not wait until symptoms appear.  Everyone should avoid bug bites by using insect repellents, removing any and all standing water, and scrubbing with soap any areas that mosquitoes eggs could have been laid.  Currently men who have symptoms and have contracted the Zika virus have been recommended to ensure they do not impregnate women for at least a few months.

Common Zika Virus symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes, although some infected people do not have any Zika Virus symptoms. Zika Virus Disease is thought to be spread to people through the bite of infected mosquitoes, and through sexual transmission. Mosquitoes that spread Zika are aggressive daytime and nighttime biters. Zika Virus infection in pregnant women has recently been declared a definite cause of microcephaly. That condition causes babies to be born with smaller heads and major developmental challenges that are potentially lifelong. The virus is also associated with other severe fetal brain defects, and has also been linked to Guillain-Barre syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that can cause paralysis.  Experts have begun calling the host of conditions linked to the virus in babies, Congenital Zika Syndrome, as recently some babies born with disabilities are more severe than in textbook microcephaly cases.

Of the more than 3,000 U.S. pregnant women travelers tested for Zika so far this year, coming from afflicted areas, a full 28% of them had Zika, and most, but not all, had rash, fever or red eyes. We believe that women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should talk with your doctors about your risks in general of having or contracting the disease, and about travel to currently-known Zika infested areas, including the potential for the spread in the southern gulf states of the United States.

Here in the U.S. preparations have begun for the possible spread of Zika this summer, particularly in the southern Gulf States. The federal government is now offering all US states funding to boost their prevention plans. US health officials predict large outbreaks in the U.S. are not as likely because of wide use of air conditioning and window screens.  However, we want to urge all pregnant women and women of child-bearing age to take every precaution possible to avoid mosquito bites, sexual transmission of the disease, and to carefully consider travel to known areas of wide-spread Zika virus.

The CDC recommends that pregnant women and women trying to get pregnant or who may wish to become pregnant:

  • Should not travel to any area with Zika.
  • Women that must travel to, or live in an area with Zika virus, should talk with healthcare providers and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites
  • Women with a male partner(s) who lives in, or has traveled to an area with Zika, should abstain or properly use condoms every time they have sex
  • Before women or male partner(s) travel, talk to healthcare providers about plans to become pregnant and the risk of Zika virus infection
  • Women and male partner(s) should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites

It was merely months ago that health officials thought the Zika virus was not transmitted through sexual activity. Now, the CDC has an excellent video available to the public about preventing the Zika virus, based on the currently known methods of transmission, including sexual transmission.  Previously, microcephaly was considered a rare birth defect.  Today doctors working with infants in South America with Zika virus say some may never learn to talk or walk, will have trouble seeing, could develop epilepsy. Officials indicate that there may be a spectrum of problems with a baby’s health that don’t show up as microcephaly.

If you have medical-legal concerns regarding your pregnancy or your baby’s health, please don’t hesitate in contacting our experienced New York medical malpractice law firm for a free consultation to ensure your rights are protected. Call Pegalis and Erickson at (516) 684-2900. Or email us at

June is National Men's Health Month and here are our tips for "Monitoring Your Health at Every Age" Guide.


Please use our tips as a guideline to help you avoid diagnostic errors.

  • Tip #1: Be prepared before you visit your doctor by having a list of symptoms written down so you don’t forget anything.
  • Tip #2: Before your doctor’s visit, make a list to bring of your medications, dosages and nutritional supplements to hand to your physician
  • Tip # 3: If you have a serious health condition, someone should go along to your doctor’s visit to be a second set of ears.  This is especially important for persons with hearing challenges, or those hesitant to ask questions.
  • Tip #4: When you visit your doctor, tell them about specialist you are seeing and bring a list of their contact information for your chart.
  • Tip #5: Don’t assume your doctor will figure out what is wrong.  While none of us likes to hear bad news, just because a doctor doesn’t find it, doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem.
  • Tip #6: Don’t be afraid to go for a second opinion, and don’t discuss what the first doctor said.  You should learn what the initial second opinion is independently of the first opinion.
  • Tip #7: Make sure your doctor is listening to you.  If you are being rushed, it may be time to find a new doctor.
  • Tip #8: Ask your doctor for a differential diagnosis which are the possibilities of what your symptoms can be related to.
  • Tip #9:  Ask questions about diagnosis, treatment options, side effects of drugs, drug interactions.
  • Tip #10: Before choosing a doctor consider reviewing websites to gain information about the physician. Here are four: : This is maintained by New York State Dept. of Health and provides information on doctor’s medical training and practice. The NY Office of Professional Medical Conduct website has information on whether a doctor has been sanctioned or has limited privileges. A legal site showing if a doctor has been sued.  Go into “E-courts” and “Web Civil Supreme.” Put in a doctor’s name in as a defendant so any cases against that physician appears.  Similar to the site above.
    If a doctor has a number of cases, you may want to find a different doctor. 


Download these tips here

Patient Safety Awareness Week
March 13 - 19, 2016

Many people place the responsibility of patient safety solely on the shoulders of medical professionals. While doctors and nurses have a great responsibility to provide the best care possible, it’s up to everyone in healthcare to ensure the safety of the patient—including the patient! We all want to avoid medical negligence and one of the best ways to do is to be an informed and helpful patient. Do you insist that all healthcare providers wash their hands? Do you carry a list of all the nutrition supplements and medications you take? These are examples of helping to ensure your own safe care.
Led by the National Patient Safety Foundation, Patient Safety Awareness Week is an annual campaign designed to help patients and medical professionals improve healthcare practices. Though it’s only a week-long campaign, Patient Safety Awareness Week offers crucial education that can help ensure excellent care all year long. This should be towards the top and sound like it’s happening next week. In 2016, Patient Safety Awareness Week is from March 13 -19.
While Patient Safety Awareness Week is improving the way healthcare is administered, there’s still a long way to go. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a medical professional’s negligence, call Pegalis & Erickson of Long Island at (516) 858-2194. Our medical malpractice attorneys will evaluate your case and may be able to help you obtain compensation.

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