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Providence Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Advances in dental tech can reduce failure to diagnose cases

Some elements of dentistry have remained the same for decades, even though in the modern age they seem somewhat outdated. Probing, the process in which a dentist checks for deep pockets caused by gum disease, is completed with a sharp metal rod and can be inaccurate. Considering that the most frequent reason that periodontists are sued is because of failure to diagnose, dentists and patients in Rhode Island are ready for a better solution. 

One research engineer thinks he has come up with a possible solution that will spare the rod. Squid ink can be swished in the mouth and, when heated, will swell. If there are any gum pockets, the swelling ink will create a pressure difference that can be picked up by ultrasound. The engineer thinks ultrasound technology will be less invasive and more accurate. 

Birth injury affects mom, too

The arrival of a new child is meant to be a celebration. But sometimes events occur that can be difficult. A birth injury can be troublesome for both mother and child, and is sometimes known as traumatic birth syndrome. Some Rhode Island mothers may be able to relate to the experience of this syndrome, and may be looking for answers on how to handle it. 

When a person generally thinks about birth injury, he or she tends to think of how the child is affected. But a mother can also be traumatized by the process of labor and delivery due to tears, hemorraging, stillbirth, the need for NICU or prior trauma. A mother who has undergone these types of problems may experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder after the birth of the child. 

Is opioid dependence the result of medical negligence?

The opioid epidemic is getting much attention from news media and governmental agencies. Climbing numbers of addicts and overdoses have resulted in intensified scrutiny as officials think of ways to stop the negative effects of opioid overdoses. Some families consider holding physicians responsible, and lawsuits for medical negligence are on the rise. Even the tiny state of Rhode Island is seeing its fair share of problems from opioid addiction. How does drug dependency relate to medical negligence? 

Are physicians liable for addiction and overdoses? A physician is responsible for the duty of care for their patients. If the physician failed to notice the addiction, or prescribed too much or too addictive of a drug, they may be held accountable for medical malpractice. Likewise, if a person overdoses and dies from opioids, a physician could possibly be held accountable if the death or injury was a result of the doctor's breach of duty. In some instances, physicians have even been charged with murder. 

A birth injury does not always lead to lawsuit

Childbirth can be a life-changing experience. Unfortunately for some, the birth process leads to a birth injury for their beloved newborn. For interested new mothers in Rhode Island, a recent news story tells why some mothers do not sue doctors who make them victims of malpractice, and it reviews the reasons why lawsuits can help physicians remain accountable for their negligent actions.

Not all injuries that happen during birth are caused by negligence or medical error, but in many situations, that is the case. Medical error is a rising cause of death in this country, and reports indicate that it may even be the third leading cause of death. Because licensing boards do not make doctors accountable for errors, and good faith efforts on the part of the patient often do not bear results, tort law can be an important tool for a single individual to go up against large organizations. 

Many deaths caused by medical error, report says

Heart disease, cancer and respiratory disease are commonly understood as the top causes of death in the United States. Rhode Island readers may be interested in a recent report that reveals medical error accounts for an large portion of deaths, due to medication mistakes, surgical errors and missed diagnoses. Researchers feel that increased awareness, and owning up to the issue, can help ameliorate the issue.

A recent letter to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) from a group of physicians notes that over 250,000 people die every year from mistakes by medical professionals. They claim that the mistakes fall into four separate categories: diagnostic errors, preventable side effects, system defects and the providers' skills. When these deaths are taken into account, they actually exceed the numbers for the third cause of death, respiratory disease, bumping it to the number four spot. 

Rhode Island: Surgical error is preventable with precautions

Most patients go into surgery with faith in their physicians. They hope, at least, the correct site will be operated on and no surgical error will be made. In Rhode Island over a decade ago, one hospital was guilty of allowing five wrong-site surgeries to happen within a span of three years resulting in fines and policy changes. When physicians make serious errors, patients must turn to medical malpractice lawsuits to rectify the situation. 

In the case of the Rhode Island hospital, the location was fined $150,000. The hospital was also required to implement mandatory safety training, with an additional safety monitor on staff to ensure that surgical teams followed protocols. Additionally, audio and video monitoring equipment was placed in operating rooms to record the conversations and music happening during surgery. The new measures appear to have reduced surgical errors at that hospital, likely due to the increased attention being placed on safety. 

Will Rhode Island Lyme disease program cause pharmacist error?

Lyme disease is an illness caused by a bacteria carried by ticks. The disease can cause severe headaches, neck stiffness, arthritis, joint pain, facial palsy and problems with short-term memory. Rhode Island is one of 14 states with Lyme Disease-carrying ticks and is a hotspot for Lyme disease cases. Pharmacies have expanded their role in prescribing medicines across the state under what is called collaborative practice agreements and are now able to give doxycycline to patients who have been bitten by ticks within a 72 hour window. Some feel that pharmacist error in diagnosing and assessing the tick bite will lead to increased antibiotic resistance. 

The new program allows individuals who have been bitten by a tick to come into a pharmacy and receive a dose of the antibiotic without a prescription after answering questions about the tick and their condition. The patient will choose the tick that bit them from a chart of potential disease-carrying types of ticks. The pharmacy should follow CDC guidelines for Lyme disease assessment. 

Rhode Island laws tackle opioid overmedication

The opioid epidemic is increasing yearly, and lawmakers are searching for ways to combat it. Some doctors have fallen into the opioid epidemic and are playing their part in making the problem worse by overprescribing the drugs or by illegally participating in prescription-writing schemes. Opioid overmedication is a serious problem that can cost lives. A recent new story shares how new Rhode Island legislation is tackling the medication issue. 

Three new bills were signed into law to help combat the opioid epidemic. One measure allows law enforcement to access a painkiller database without a warrant. Another requires health care professionals to discuss the risks of addiction with patients when writing opioid prescriptions. The third law expands the ability of physicians to write electronic prescriptions and avoid problems associated with writing paper prescriptions. 

Hospital tech designed to prevent doctor error: Is it working?

Is technology really improving the medical world? A group of researchers wanted to test this hypothesis, so they used the 2014 Rhode Island Health Information Technology Survey to asses whether Electronic Health Record (EHR) technology is improving the patient/doctor experience. The EHR was originally designed to prevent doctor error, but some have raised criticisms of the technology, as a recent news story reports. 

The main concern is that the technology limits the interactions between medical professionals and patients. While it allows the interaction to be logged permanently on a record, by limiting the time spent with a patient, or the amount of eye contact and conversation with a patient, doctors may not be able to give their best attention to the medical needs of a person. In hospitals, the EHR computer is usually kept away from patients in an office; in clinic settings, the EHR computer is in the examination room and forces the physician to multitask. 

Is it an allergy or a side effect?

When you are sick or in pain, you typically go to a doctor in Providence County expecting immediate relief. When such a visit results in you being prescribed a medication, the hope is that taking it will provide such relief. Yet while a drug may alleviate symptoms related to your condition, it could also produce new (and often unpleasant) issues.

Your first thought upon experiencing such issues is that you are having an allergic reaction to the drug. Yet is that really the case, or could you simply be experiencing a side effect to its use? Understanding the difference is important, because it could be what separates having to accept a treatment outcome from being justified in leveling a liability claim.

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