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Providence Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Reviewing the reasons for the under medication of cancer patients

The abuse of pain medication by people in Providence County and throughout the rest of the U.S. has been well-documented. Oftentimes, cases of abuse begin by one having a legitimate need for such medication, yet ultimately becoming addicted to it. Given the potential for addiction, doctors must be judicious in prescribing pain medication. Yet can that apprehensive attitude result in patients being under medicated?

Information shared by the National Institute of Health shows that as many as 76.2 million Americans suffer from some form of chronic pain. Many find that to be a side effect of other conditions or even treatments, such as cancer care. In fact, the NIH lists pain as being a potential barrier to cancer treatment given that many patients may be unwilling to endure the suffering their care causes.

Are documentation errors potentially dangerous?

Your concerns about your medical treatment likely begin and end with your face-to-face interactions with your provider. He or she diagnoses you, treats you, gives you advice and then sends you on your way. Yet there is a whole other element to your medical care that you do not see yet is just as vital to your safety. As many in Providence County and throughout the rest of the U.S. are discovering, documentation errors are becoming a new problem facing both patients and providers today.

Before, in between and after consulting with you, doctors, nurses and other clinicians make notes in your medical record. Not only are those notes used to help determine your course of treatment during that single visit, but doctors will also rely on them in the future when administering care. Any errors could result in a vital aspect of your medical history being missed, any allergies you suffer from not being discovered, or you being given the wrong blood type.

Malpractice lawsuit against medical center ends in mistrial

Those in Providence County who file medical malpractice lawsuits against doctors, hospitals and/or other parties may believe that settlements in their cases are all but guaranteed. Perhaps that comes from an assumption that all such action is successful, because a majority of the news stories covering such cases detail successful outcomes for the plaintiffs. However, it should be remembered that such cases are typically argued in front of juries, and as is the case in a jury trial, consenting opinions amongst those hearing the case could result in a mistrial.

Such is what occurred at the end of a trial recently argued in Florida. The husband of a woman currently in a persistent vegetative state in a New York care center sued the medical center in Florida where she was seen following a brain hemorrhage. The woman had originally been a patient at another medical center, but was later transferred to the facility named in the lawsuit after the other determined it did not have the resources to care for her. The husband claims that the providers at the defendant facility did not have the necessary equipment either, yet that he was never told that. Representatives from the medical center claim, however, that the man was told prior to his wife being operated on that her chances of survival were only 50 percent, and the odds that she could end up in the state she is currently in were even higher.

How common are newborn falls in hospitals?

The thought of being dropped as a baby is typically reserved as fodder for jokes. Most in Providence County may understand how delicate newborns are. If that knowledge is held by the general public, then you would certainly think it resonates with healthcare providers. However, as difficult as it may be to believe, dropping babies is still a problem that occurs in hospitals today. In fact, information shared by the National Institutes of Health estimates that between 600 to 1,600 such accidents occur annually.

The clinical term used to define dropped baby cases is “newborn falls.” Researchers believe that it is one of the most underreported problems that occurs in hospitals. Many reported cases involve new mothers dropping their babies after having fallen asleep while nursing or family members having a baby slip out of their arms. If this has happened to you, you may feel embarrassed or scared and thus be weary of telling your providers what happened.

Highlighting the difficulty in tracking diagnostic error rates

Working professionals in Providence County likely face some form of evaluation system in their jobs, particularly in how they identify errors in their workflow. Most may assume that if their work is being scrutinized, so too is that of other professionals. For doctors, identifying errors is most applicable to diagnosing patients. Thus, many may think that doctors are evaluated based upon their diagnostic accuracy. Yet as shocking as it may seem, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a lack of standardized measurement strategies makes it difficult for researchers to include diagnostic accuracy among the quality measurements used to evaluate doctor performance.

The National Academy of Medicine estimates that nearly everyone will experience a diagnostic error at some point. At the same, however, it recognizes that tracking the rate at which such errors occur is currently not a major focus of research. One of the major barriers it lists to forming a standardized method of measuring the occurrence rate of diagnostic errors is the current methods by which they are reported. These include:

  •          Medical records
  •          Postmortem exams
  •          Diagnostic testing (including medical imaging)
  •          Surveys of patients and clinicians
  •          Medical malpractice and health insurance claims

Reviewing the pros and cons of implantable drug delivery systems

If you are required to take a medication to combat a chronic condition, then you may know full well the issues that can arise from persistent prescription drug use. Many of the Providence County residents that we here at DeLuca and Weizenbaum LTD have worked with in the past have reported problems like forgetting to take their medications on a regular basis or suffering side effects such as tissue damage from repeated injections. Some might say that implantable drug delivery systems may be the answer to the challenges you may face in adhering to your medication schedule. However, these devices are not without their flaws.

Implantable drug delivery systems are devices put inside your body that are programmed to administer pre-determined amounts of medication at routine intervals. These devices are resupplied with medication through an access port, allowing for continuous use. IDDS devices may be used to treat any number of ailments, from diabetes and Parkinson’s disease to certain forms of cancer.

Lawsuit alleges doctor performed unnecessary stent placements

Many of the medical malpractice lawsuits filed in Providence County may focus on things that a doctor did not do that ended up harming his or her patients. Yet many may not realize that there are cases at the other end of the spectrum where providers may be accused of performing unnecessary treatments. Healthcare may be one of the few industries where the age-old term “better safe than sorry” truly does not apply. That is because unnecessary medical treatments can present just as a great a risk to patients as misdiagnoses and other forms of provider negligence.

A Pennsylvania man is currently trying to make a case that the excessive treatment he received endangered his life. In a lawsuit filed against the doctor who performed his heart surgery, he alleges that he received as many as five unnecessary stent implants. The man also claims that during the placement of these stents, he sustained potentially life-threatening artery damage. The doctor has countered his claims by saying that he truly believed the man had several significant blood vessel blockages that required stents.

Why should you not eat or drink before surgery?

If you have ever been scheduled for surgery in Providence County, then you likely remember being told by your surgeon to not eat or drink anything for 24 yours prior to your procedure. Some may tell you that this is unnecessary and that it is only requested in order for providers to avoid liability. Yet in reality, there are clinical reasons for not eating prior to surgery. One reason is to help decrease the chances of you feeling nauseous and vomiting after your procedure, which could cause sutures to tear. Another reason is to help avoid infections. While these may be viewed as minor complications, one major problem can arise from eating before surgery.

If you are placed under general anesthesia, then the possibility exists for you to vomit your stomach contents while you are still feelings its affects. The fact that you are also intubated while under anesthesia greatly increases the risk for you to inhale your vomit, which is known as aspiration. This results in gastric fluids and other materials going into your lungs, leading to a condition known as aspiration pneumonia. Not only can this make it extremely difficult to breathe, but it can also lead to serious infections.

Examining standalone birth centers

For decades, the process that couples in Providence County went through when having a baby likely remained the same: Head to the hospital, deliver the baby, and return home a few days later. Recent years, however, have seen the rise of alternative birthing methods aimed at limiting the number of medical interventions needed during childbirth. Many try these new concepts believing that more natural delivery methods are better for both mother and baby.

With the introduction of this revised birthing philosophy has come an increase in the number of standalone birth centers. These facilities are typically staffed with midwives and nurses and often espouse the benefits of natural childbirth. Proponents of birth centers may claim that women who deliver in hospital Labor and Delivery units receive unnecessary interventions. The National Birth Center Study shows that women in L&D departments are given intravenous fluids in 80 percent of cases, and have labor artificially accelerated or induced in 47 and 43 percent of cases, respectively. Research also shows that continuous electronic fetal monitoring occurs in 87 percent of hospital L&D deliveries. Critics contend that such interventions only drive costs up and present risks to patients.

Detailing the frequency of spinal injury misdiagnoses

When you think of spinal injuries, the first thought that comes to your mind is likely a traumatic accident that results in paralysis. Many in Providence County may share the same assumption, which may be the reason why many come to us here at DeLuca and Weizenbaum LTD surprised to have suffered spinal injuries that gradually set in over time. Your hope may rest on the ability of your doctor to recognize the symptoms of such an injury and get you treated before you suffer any neurological impairments. Unfortunately, that may not always happen.

The telltale signs of a spinal injury may include:

  •          Back spasms
  •          Neck pain
  •          Coughing or difficulty breathing
  •          Numbness
  •          Loss of bladder or bowel control
  •          Limited mobility
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