December 18, 2014

Hospitals Rarely Reveal Medical Errors

hospital%20hallway.jpgAn initiative in some parts of the country encourages doctors to reveal medical errors to patients and apologize for these, as an alternative to a medical malpractice claim against the facility and the doctor. In spite of this approach, an overwhelming majority of hospitals in the United States do not bother to inform patients about injuries or infections that they may have suffered within the facility. Patients rarely get an acknowledgment of the injury, let alone an apology from the hospital, doctors, or nurses.

That unsurprising data was compiled by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Researchers at the facility analyzed responses of 236 patients, who took part in a Patient Harm Questionnaire by ProPublica. In their analysis, the researchers found that in far too many cases, health care providers simply withheld information about any medical errors that were made during the patient's care. In only 9% of the cases, patients said that the hospital volunteered information to the patient about an error or injury. The study found that even when the hospital did inform the patient, it was only because it had no other option. Of those surveyed, 9% said that the hospital only acknowledged the harm when it was pressured to do so.

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December 11, 2014

Better Communication During Patient Handoffs

handoff.jpgBetter communication between healthcare workers, in the form of verbal and written communication can help reduce the number of medical errors and injuries by as much as 30%. This is especially true during patient handoffs, the time when doctors or nurses hand over care to a new shift of care providers or if the patient is handed off to another unit in the hospital.

That data comes from a new study led by researchers at Boston Children's Hospital. They found that an effective communication system for patient care among healthcare providers can significantly reduce medical errors. The researchers utilzed a new system called I-PASS. The I-Pass system uses bundled communication techniques as well as handoff tools for patient healthcare providers to increase patient safety, without placing an additional burden on the existing workflow in the facility.

According to the researchers, 80% of medical errors are due to a lack of effective communication among healthcare providers in the hospital. Over the study period, the researchers found that using this new handoff system, the rate of medical errors dropped by 23%: Dropping from 24.5 per 100 patients, to 18.5 for 100 patients after the system was introduced.

Many communication failures occur during patient stays in the hospital but the handoff is one of the most critical times for communicating information. For example, when one nurse begins her shift and does not receive important information about a patient's care from the nurse ending the previous shift, the patient's care is adversely impacted. Those errors can be serious or even fatal.

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December 4, 2014

Tips to Avoid Drowsy Driving

drowsy%20driving%2000821.jpgDrowsy Driving: It’s one of the most neglected and underestimated accident risks on the road. While most drivers know better than to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, far too many drivers think nothing of getting behind the wheel when they have been awake more than 20-hours at a stretch. That kind of driving greatly increases the risk of dozing off while behind the wheel and amplifies accident risks for all drivers.

The National Sleep Foundation calls drowsy driving a serious threat to transportation safety. In fact, one analysis estimates that a person who stays awake for more than 21 hours loses his ability to maintain car speed and safe positioning on the road. This impaired ability to drive is as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol, with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08%. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that more than 100,000 accidents are caused by distracted drowsy drivers each year.

Unfortunately, as there are for drug and alcohol use, there are no tests that measure the hours of sleep you have obtained before getting behind the wheel. But there are some clear signs one can observe when a driver is drowsy.

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November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

01%20turkey.jpgFor many in Indiana, the Thanksgiving Holiday is one in which families gather together to give thanks for the many blessings that have entered their lives over the past year.

But for some, this holiday is a painful reminder of what they've lost, including precious family members who have been injured or died as a result of an act of medical negligence, another person's dangerous driving, or a company's faulty product. For these families the Thanksgiving Holiday is a day when they recount the painful story of the events that took away their mother or father, sister or brother, husband or wife. An empty chair at the table is a painful reminder of the long days spent in the hospital waiting for a word of hope, that late night call that announced their loss, and the confusion that surrounded the event. For many, there are still unanswered questions.

The attorneys and staff at the Indiana personal injury firm of Montross Miller Muller Mendelson & Kennedy, LLC hope that you have a wonderful holiday season. Contact their office if you or a loved one has been injured due to someone else's negligence and get the answers you deserve.

November 19, 2014

The Terrible Cost of Motor Vehicle Accidents

For every fatality in motor vehicle accidents across the country, there are at least eight hospitalizations and 100 injuries that result in a visit to the emergency department. Motor vehicle accidents extract a heavy toll each and every year, not just in the form of fatalities, but also injuries, hospitalization and other expenses.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently analyzed the health burden and cost of injuries in motor vehicle accidents. The data is related to nonfatal crash injuries involving accidents in 2012.

The analysis found that in 2012, there were more than 2.5 million emergency department visits related to auto accidents. These were all nonfatal crash injuries. Approximately 7.5% of the emergency department visits resulted in admission to the hospital. Overall, persons who suffered nonfatal injuries and accidents spent approximately 1,057,465 days in the hospital in 2012. Auto accidents resulting in nonfatal injuries resulted in a lifetime medical cost of $18.4 billion.

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November 12, 2014

Safer Motorcycles Mean Safer Riding

motorcycle%20tire%20and%20chain.jpgDespite the colder weather that keeps many Indiana motorcyclists off the road, there is never a bad time to think about road safety when traveling on two wheels. After all, a motorcyclist’s risk of being seriously injured or killed in an accident is much higher than the occupants of the car involved in the collision. Fortunately, motorcycles these days are not only about style and comfort, but also safety.

Rising motorcycle fatalities over the past decade has meant an increase in demand for motorcycles that are designed to reduce accident risks and prevent injuries. One of the more important and beneficial safety features on motorcycles has been the addition of antilock braking systems.

Research indicates that antilock braking systems can reduce fatal motorcycle accident rates by about 31%. In fact, a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety finds that antilock braking can benefit both experienced, risk-taking motorcyclists, as well as more cautious motorcycle. Whether you are someone who likes to take risks on the road, or someone who prefers to ride cautiously, you can benefit from antilock brakes on your motorcycle. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has found that antilock braking systems lower fatal crash rates significantly.

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November 5, 2014

Lack of Driver’s Ed Means Higher Accident Risks

teen%20drivers.jpgMany teenagers are driving to school, the mall, and their friends homes all around Indiana, and many of them are doing so without even having attended a drivers' education program. More teenagers are simply choosing to skip driver's ed altogether and there are some good reasons. For instance, what was once a program offered by the schools during the summer at reduced rates is now run by private companies at elevated costs, making it expensive and time consuming to attend the training. While understandable, this trend is extremely disturbing because statistics indicate that the risk of being involved in an accident is much higher for teenagers who choose to skip this critical phase of their driving life.

A new study by the AAA Foundation found that there were several critical differences between teenagers who choose to undertake a driver’s education program before getting a full license, and those who choose to skip this part of the process. The study found that those who undertook the driver’s education program had a lower risk of accidents as well as traffic convictions. Teenagers who choose to skip driver’s ed were involved in a higher number of car accidents as well as receiving more traffic citations, compared to those who undertook program. Overall, taking a driver's ed program helped reduce the risk of accidents by more than 4%, and the risk of traffic convictions by nearly 40%.

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October 27, 2014

Widespread Incidence of Pediatric Medication Errors

pediatric%20medication%20errors.jpgMedication errors are some of the most frequent medical errors, and they can be even more devastating when they involve children. A new study finds that approximately every eight minutes, a child becomes the victim of a medication error in the United States.

The study conducted by scientists at the Center for Pediatric Trauma Research at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus Ohio, found that as many as 700,000 children below the age of six were victims of medication errors in the decade between 2002 and 2012.

Most of those medication errors in the study have to do with the wrong dosage of medication, or wrong medication altogether. Thankfully, most of the errors were not life-threatening. In fact as many as 92% of the medical errors did not require additional medical treatment. Unfortunately, some of these errors did result in fatalities: Twenty-five children died because they were either given the wrong medication or too much or a medication which was ordered by a physician. In addition, approximately 1,900 children were treated in critical care in hospitals after receiving the wrong dosage or wrong medications.

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October 20, 2014

Teenagers and Pedestrian Safety

pedestrian%20crossing%20sign.jpgCrossing the street is a dangerous activity for children. Even when they look both ways and take extra care, they are unable to accurately judge distances and speeds of fast-moving vehicles. But it's not just children who are at a high risk of being injured in a pedestrian accident. Teenagers are often unaware of pedestrian safety and that increases the risk of an injury or fatality. According to the website, Safe Kids, teenagers are some of the highest at-risk categories for pedestrian injuries.

One of the reasons for those high accident numbers involving teenage pedestrians is distractions while walking. A growing number of studies find that distracted pedestrians are increasingly at risk of accidents, and many of those pedestrians tend to be teenagers. Teens are heavy consumers of smartphone technology and social media. Walking while texting or using a smart phone is dangerous. A distracted teenager is much less likely to hear an approaching car and is more likely to disregard traffic signs.

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October 13, 2014

Caregivers Often Break Child Restraint Rules

car%20seat.jpg Parents and caregivers often break the rules when it comes to restraining children in appropriate child safety restraints. Sometimes parents make common mistakes when it is time to move a child from a booster seat to a safety belt. Many parents make mistakes during this crucial time and the decision to move a child far too quickly to an adult safety seat belt instead of a booster seat can actually be a very dangerous one. It could mean the difference between being safely protected in an accident or catastrophic injuries.

In a recent survey of more than 1,000 parents conducted by Safe Kids Worldwide, researchers found that approximately nine out of ten parents have shifted their child out of a booster seat and into safety seat belts before they were ready. Seven of ten parents of children between the age of four and ten-years-old were not even aware that the child should be a minimum of four-foot, nine-inches tall to be able to use a safety belt while riding in a car without a booster seat.

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October 6, 2014

Surgical Errors and Their Causes

surgery%20equipment.jpgIn spite of advancements in medical technology and statistics that clearly reveal that the vast majority of medical errors that occur across the country every year are preventable, these errors continue to occur. The Joint Commission recently released a report which analyses the top causes of the most common errors.

The report focused on the top causes of sentinel events that include anesthesia- related events, operative or postoperative complications, retention of surgical objects, and wrong patient /wrong procedure events. For instance, the joint commission reports that 62% of the sentinel events were related to anesthesia care, while other causes included human factors, lack of assessment, failures of communication, leadership factors, physical environment, medication errors, continuum of care and care planning.

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September 29, 2014

Significant Increase in Bicycle Accident Fatalities

bike%20tire.jpgWith many Indiana children receiving bicycles for Christmas, it is a good time to consider one of the most important safety features to purchase with that new bike: A Helmet! Even as the number of people killed in auto and motorcycling accidents continues to drop, there has actually been an increase in the number of people killed in bicycle accidents. According to a new report by the Governors Highway Safety Association, in 2012, there was a significant 16% increase in fatalities recorded across the country, compared to the previous year.

The report found that bicyclist fatalities in the United States increased from 621 deaths in 2010 to 680 deaths in 2011, and 722 deaths in 2012. During this same time period, there was a 1% increase in other types of accident fatalities. According to the report bicyclist fatalities have comprised approximately 2% of all accident fatalities across the country since 1975.

In Indiana, bicycle accident fatalities dropped in 2011, only to spike again in 2012: 13 bicycle accident fatalities occurred in 2010, with 11 accidents in 2011. However, in 2012 the number of accidents increased again to 15.

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