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Providence Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Messy doctor handwriting may pose a danger to patients

It’s been a long-running joke that doctors have terrible handwriting. However, when it comes to accurate prescriptions, a doctor’s scrawl is no laughing matter. The health of thousands of patients each year, including residence of Providence, is threatened when a pharmacist is unable to decipher the hurried scribbles of a customer’s physician. A pharmacist’s failure to read a doctor’s handwriting properly can result in numerous medication error types, from a dosage mistake to the wrong drug entirely.

Just how serious is this problem? HealthDay reports that adverse drug reactions are one of the six top causes of death in the country. In part, drug errors fall into this category. An analysis of more than 9,000 prescriptions at the pharmacy of a large hospital revealed mistakes in one out of every eight prescriptions. The inability to read sloppy doctor handwriting accounted for some of these mistakes.

Is Zofran safe to take during pregnancy for morning sickness?

For many expectant mothers in Providence, morning sickness is an inconvenience that will go away eventually. For others, it’s a constant nightmare that may cause dehydration and malnutrition, not to mention make it almost impossible to get everyday tasks done. If you’re suffering from severe morning sickness, you’re probably hoping for a miracle cure. Home remedies like nibbling on crackers or eating smaller, more frequent meals rarely alleviate pregnancy nausea. What about anti-nausea medicine? Is it safe for both you and the baby to take?

There is one medication that has been prescribed often by doctors across the country to treat severe morning sickness. However, states Parenting.com, this drug has not been officially approved for pregnant women and may cause birth defects. Zofran is meant to treat severe vomiting and nausea in patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy or recovering from surgery. Some have claimed that the drug’s manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, unofficially marketed the drug to gynecologists and obstetricians as a safe morning sickness treatment. The manufacturer denied this, but settled a $3 billion lawsuit with the U.S. Department of Justice for the allegations.

Change in residents’ hours not shown to improve risk of mistakes

You may understand that it takes years of education and hands-on training to become a medical professional. For many medical students, part of this training includes serving as resident interns in a hospital or medical facility. It would not be unusual for you to be helped by a resident if you visit an emergency room in Providence. At DeLuca & Weizenbaum, Ltd., we understand that it is essential for residents to gain hospital experience, but we also know that it is common for medical residents to suffer from stress and fatigue. This may result in serious medical errors.

MedPage Today reported on two studies conducted by medical professionals to determine if shift limitations improved the number of hospital errors among residents. In 2011, new regulations by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education restricted hospital residents from working shifts longer than 16 hours in one day. The studies suggested that despite medical residents working fewer hours, the quality of care provided to patients diminished. These hours also resulted in a 130-percent rise in shift handoffs that made medical mistakes more likely.

Technological mistakes make up a large portion of medical errors

Patients going in for surgery put a great deal of trust in their surgeons that everything will turn out as planned. After all, these are medical professionals who have gone through years of education and specialized training. Unfortunately for many residents of Providence, as well as elsewhere in the country, surgical mistakes cause serious injuries and worsened medical conditions every year.

There are numerous ways a surgical error can cause a patient serious injury, from an overtired doctor to miscommunication among medical staff. However, states LiveScience, equipment or technological errors are responsible for about one out of every four mistakes in the operating room. Equipment failure accounts for about 24 percent of mistakes involving technological equipment. These adverse events are particularly prevalent during surgical procedures that utilize advanced equipment, such as heart procedures or brain surgery.

Top reason for medical malpractice suits is failure to diagnose

It is reasonable to expect doctors to properly diagnose a medical condition with the medical advances available today. Unfortunately, many illnesses are missed by physicians in Providence and elsewhere in the country, resulting in a worsened medical condition or death. It can be heartbreaking and stressful for patients and their families when there is a delay in the diagnosis of cancer, heart attacks or other life-threatening conditions. Also, time is of the essence for some conditions, and a delay in treatment can be fatal.

According to a report by Live Science, the most common reason patients file medical malpractice lawsuits is failure to diagnose. This category makes up as much as 63 percent of all medical malpractice claims. The conditions that are reportedly most often missed or misdiagnosed include heart attacks, child meningitis and cancer – particularly breast, lung, colon and melanoma cancers.

Recognizing anesthesia dangers in children

Effectively administering and monitoring anesthesia involves a large number of considerations, including accounting for the patient’s weight and age. Not only can such factors affect how the patient responds to anesthesia but they can also have an impact on his or her overall health and recovery. When it comes to using anesthesia on children, the situation can become even more complicated and dangerous. The attorneys at DeLuca & Weizenbaum, L.T.D., are familiar with the harmful complications and consequences related to the use of anesthesia on young children, and are committed to educating our clients about such issues.

Many aspects of pediatric medicine are incredibly complex and even controversial, as there is still much to be learned about child development and how the human body responds to different medical treatments at various stages of life. For instance, WebM.D. explains that there is a lack of scientific information on how children under the age of three are affected by general anesthesia. However, some studies have suggested that children who are exposed to general anesthesia on multiple occasions have an increased risk of developing behavioral problems and learning disabilities.

What are the risks associated with preeclampsia?

The human body experiences a huge number of physiological changes during pregnancy, which can result in serious complications for the mother and baby alike. Some pregnancy-related complications can occur quickly and without noticeable symptoms. Therefore, it is the responsibility of obstetricians and attending medical professionals to actively monitor the progression of their patients’ pregnancies in order to identify and prevent serious conditions like preeclampsia.

The Mayo Clinic discusses preeclampsia, and describes the condition as a pregnancy complication that is characterized as signs of high blood pressure and damage to other organ systems in the mother. The onset of preeclampsia generally occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and often occurs in women with no history of high blood pressure.

Recognizing that primary care physicians make deadly mistakes

No matter if you only go to the doctor every few years or work closely with your physician to manage a chronic medical condition, your primary care doctor is likely the physician that you know the best. In fact, you may have had the same primary physician for years. That does not necessarily mean, however, that your primary care doctor is incapable of making preventable and/or dangerous mistakes. We here at the law offices of DeLuca & Weizenbaum, L.T.P., have handled a large number of cases revolving around serious and fatal injuries caused by negligence on the part of primary care physicians.

Medical Daily discusses medical malpractice incidents involving primary care physicians in one study, and explains that these types of doctors are involved in approximately 7 to 16 percent of lawsuit claims filed in the U.S. The vast majority of malpractice claims filed against primary care physicians cited the misdiagnosis of conditions like meningitis, cancer and heart attacks. Similarly, drug errors were identified as another major cause for malpractice claims.

What should I know about adverse drug reactions?

Given the fact that over-the-counter and prescription medications are specially designed to treat a huge number of medical conditions, it can be difficult to imagine that they can actually do more harm than good in some cases. Adverse drug reactions happen more often than you might believe, and can have serious and even fatal consequences. Consequently, it’s important to be able to identify when and how dangerous drug reactions can occur, as well as recognize possible symptoms.

According to FamilyDoctor.org, anyone can experience an adverse drug reaction. However, you may be at a significantly higher risk of having a reaction if you take more than three prescribed and/or over-the-counter medications every day. Everything from over-the-counter vitamins to herbal supplements to prescribed antibiotics can interact with one another, causing potentially hazardous side effects and complications. Beyond that, other factors like alcohol, caffeine and certain foods can affect how medications work.

Lack of reentry oversight for doctors prompts concern

When it comes to undergoing a particular medical treatment or surgical procedure in Rhode Island, many patients only consent because they trust in the extensive training and practical experience of their doctors. What happens in cases, then, when a particular physician has not actually practiced medicine in years? As it turns out, thousands of doctors reenter the workforce every year after taking extended breaks from practicing, and many of them face inconsistent requirements for treating patients again.

Since there are no nationwide guidelines for physician reentry standards, it is largely up to individual states and employers to mandate guidelines for doctors going back to work after taking a hiatus from practicing medicine. Patient advocates argue that the lack of oversight for doctors returning to work is a disservice to the patients, who should be able to trust that their physicians are properly trained. Others argue, however, that efforts should be made to make it easier for doctors to return to the job.

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