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Patient Safety

At Pegalis and Erickson, every day of every year is about patient safety. This page has our information guides on:

Zika Virus Symptoms and Your Patient Rights

Update January 11, 2018

At this time of the year when New Yorkers may seek warmer climates for vacations, we want to share information.

A new study from the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that two-year old children with prenatal exposure to the mosquito-borne Zika virus, now have severe health and developmental challenges. The study included 19 Zika-infected children from Brazil who now suffer microcephaly, seizures, bronchitis, pneumonia, issues with sleeping, feeding, hearing, vision, and motor functions. "Children severely affected by Zika virus are falling far behind age-appropriate developmental milestones, and their challenges are becoming more evident as they age," CDC Director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald said in an agency news release.

We remind you:
Zika infection during pregnancy causes serious birth defects. Pregnant women should not travel to areas with Zika.
Talk to your doctor about what you can do to protect yourself and your baby from Zika. Take notes and follow instructions carefully. Ask questions.

Use condoms the right way every time you have sex, or do not have sex during your pregnancy. 

Update October 26, 2017

There is important new information and updated Zika-virus guidelines concerning pregnant women, those who may get pregnant and health care providers.
Zika virus vaccines in development are seeing progress in research testing phases.

Unfortunately not everyone with Zika-virus has noticeable symptoms or a confirmed case. 1 in 12 infants, who are born to mothers with confirmed Zika virus infection, come into the world with a related birth defect.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes Zika remains a large public health threat especially to pregnant women and their unborn children. Despite that cases are down compared to this time last year, Zika-virus infection cases continue to spring up in the United States and other countries across the world.
The CDC's revised guidelines for healthcare providers include:

  • Asking pediatric doctors to carefully assess infants born without birth defects to moms who had potential Zika-virus infection while pregnant.
  • The importance of maintaining careful assessment of congenital Zika virus infection risks
  • Asking OBGYN and Pediatric health care providers to stay in close communication

Update May 2017

Mosquito season has begun In New York State; activity begins when the temperature reaches 50° F. The mosquito volume increases, reaching its peak during the hot summer months.  As of May 3, The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) notes there were 5,274 cases reported in the US, with the most in Florida and New York, and most often in travelers returning from affected areas. Texas and Florida reported cases gained through local mosquitos.  In the US Territories there were 36,574 Zika Virus cases reported, with the majority in Puerto Rico, and a few in the U.S. Virgin Islands American Samoa.

Protect yourself and your community from mosquito bites to prevent Zika virus infection:

  • Use air conditioning
  • Use well-fitting window and door screens. Repair holes now.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Use EPA-registered insect repellents as directed every day.
  • Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out items that hold water.
  • Check those areas after each rain and remove water
  • Repair and seal septic systems.

Note to Women of Childbearing Age and Male Partners

Women of child-bearing age need to know about the risk Zika virus presents to them if they become pregnant. Zika infection during pregnancy causes serious birth defects. Pregnant women should not travel to areas with Zika.

Talk to your doctor about what you can do to protect yourself and your baby from Zika. Take notes and follow instructions carefully. Ask questions.
Use condoms the right way every time you have sex, or do not have sex during your pregnancy.
Use EPA-registered insect repellents as directed every day.
Each week, follow steps to eliminate places where mosquitoes lay eggs inside and outside your residence.
Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants

Men: If your partner is pregnant or plans to become pregnant, either use condoms the right way every time you have vaginal, anal, and oral sex, or do not have sex if she is pregnant or plans to soon become pregnant. The CDC recommends eight-weeks after travelling to a known-infected location.

Take steps to avoid mosquito bites to prevent Zika virus infection and other mosquito-borne diseases. 

Note to Travelers: Many people infected with Zika don’t even know they have it. All travelers returning from areas with Zika transmission need to take precautions after arriving in the US.  Actively take steps to prevent mosquito bites for at least 3 weeks upon coming to the US, to reduce the risk of spread to local mosquito populations!

See a healthcare provider if you develop a fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes during a trip or within 2 weeks after traveling to a place with Zika, or if you have had sexual contact with someone who has traveled. Many people don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital.  
Zika is primarily spread through the bite of infected Aedes aegypti and Ae Albopictus mosquitoes. The best way to prevent Zika is to protect against mosquito bites. See a healthcare provider if you develop a fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes during a trip or within 2 weeks after traveling to a place with Zika, or if you have had sexual contact with someone who has traveled.


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.


Tips To Help Avoid Medical 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.
  • is a legal site showing if a doctor has been sued. Go into tabs "E-courts" and "Web Civil Supreme." Put in a doctor's name in as a defendant and cases against that physician will appear.
  • is similar to the site above.

If a doctor has a number of cases, you may want to find a different doctor. For the best ways to switch doctors, please see our blog on the subject, here


Download these tips here

Patient Safety Awareness Week
March 11 - 17, 2018

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.
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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