Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

tablets-2148889_1920-300x135Americans are uninterested in having their rights to accountability in medical malpractice cases curtailed. Those are the results of a new study conducted by the Public Policy Polling Institute, which found that citizens of primarily Republican states are overwhelmingly against any tort reform laws that would limit their access to economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits.

The Public Policy Polling survey specifically focused on 7 states-Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Utah, Alabama, Texas, and Arizona. These are states that either always vote Republican, or have voted for either Democrats or Republicans in the recent past. The states were specifically chosen because voters in these states tend to favor tort reform laws that would restrict patient access to economic damages in cases involving injuries as a result of medical negligence. Continue reading

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Medical negligence or malpractice of the kind that results in wrongful death has been possibly linked to sleep deprivation or fatigue. For years, experts have warned about the dangers of sleep deprivation and fatigue among health care workers, and their implications for patient safety. Those warnings seem to be quite a legitimate concern.

Often healthcare workers are encouraged to continue to work even if they’re tired or fatigued. This is even though such fatigue has been shown to directly contribute to serious medical errors. In fact, according to a study published in 2006 by the National Academy Of Sciences, medical interns who were on duty for just three hours more per shift, were at risk of making 22% more critical medical errors, compared to counterparts who worked their normal hours per shift.  

The importance of rest, recuperation and rejuvenation is accepted in many other fields, but not so in the medical field. Unfortunately, medical personnel and healthcare workers are conditioned to believe that doing more in less time, and working even when they are tired or fatigued, is a sign of a good work ethic. Even when nurses get a few hours free, they are unlikely to go home and sleep. They’re more likely to run errands, spend time with their families, and study for exams, all because of the punishing schedule that they are on. That means that when they do deal with patients, they are running on very little sleep, and at risk of making errors.

surgical suite med malFar from becoming safer for patients, hospitals in Indiana are actually recording higher numbers of medical errors. New data from the Indiana State Department Of Health reveals that 2014 was a record year for medical error reporting. The statistics are contained in the ninth annual report released by the Indiana Medical Error Reporting System. All the incidents recorded in 2014 occurred in hospitals, or ambulatory surgical centers.

The highest numbers of errors were reported by the Lutheran Health Network Facilities and Indiana University Health Systems; reporting nine errors each in 2014.

According to the Department Of Health, in 2014, hospitals and healthcare facilities across the state recorded a total 114 preventable errors. The previous high was back in 2013, with a total of 111 errors reported.In 2014, the Department Of Health recorded 44 cases of pressure ulcers, and 27 adverse events involving foreign objects left behind in patients’ bodies during surgery. Approximately 21 cases involved surgeries that were performed on the wrong body part, while 10 were fall accidents.

sick%20doctor%20face.jpgA vast majority of doctors, clinical physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals work even while they are sick. This in spite of the fact that most of them are aware that doing so could actually expose patients to the potentially serious, and even deadly infections.

In a recent survey, 83% of doctors, other medical professionals, and caregivers admitted that they worked at least once a year while sick. They reported for work while ill, even though they knew that patients could possibly be at risk for infections or illnesses as a result of being in close proximity to an ill physician. The survey involved more than 900 caregivers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and found that doctors and nurses are very often aware that reporting to work while sick places patients at risk of infection. They also report that they do so anyway for a wide variety of reasons.

The most prevalent reason cited was the desire to prevent from letting their colleagues down. They reported uncertainty as to whether their colleagues would be able to make up the shortfall in staff if they took the day off. About 90% of those in the survey cited this as the primary reason why they reported to work while sick.
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IV%20and%20infection.jpgA series of five simple steps is all it takes to prevent a potentially deadly central line–associated infection in a hospital. The steps are part of a checklist that is simple to follow, and highly recommended by the World Health Organization, but many hospitals continue to delay its use.

The checklist was developed by Peter Pronovost, a critical care physician at Johns Hopkins University. The checklist was born out of the death of his patient, an 18-month-old burn victim who was recovering from her injuries when she contracted the deadly infection. She died just three days later.

When Pronovost went through existing research on central line infections, he was surprised to find that there were actually many steps that hospitals could take to prevent the risk of these infections. Overall, he found more than 90 separate guidelines that hospitals can follow.
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rhode%20island%20light%20house.jpgA Rhode Island hospital has been ordered to pay $25 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit. It is the state’s largest such verdict against a hospital in a case involving medical negligence. The verdict was handed down by a jury against the Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, and amounts to $25.6 million. The lawsuit was filed by a couple who claimed damages for the man who had suffered severe brain damage as a result of the hospital’s negligent care.

The man had visited the hospital in 2009 after a head injury. That was the beginning of his nightmare. The man claimed in his lawsuit, that hospital personnel failed to diagnose his injury properly, and failed to conduct all the required diagnostic tests that should have been performed in his case. In addition, the man charged that the hospital personnel failed to communicate and inform other staff members within the hospital about his condition. As a result, the man suffered severe brain swelling, which ultimately led to permanent brain damage.

He now has trouble with vision and communication. He needs permanent long-term care and has major cognitive difficulties. He is mainly confined to a wheelchair, and has difficulty performing the most routine tasks, like looking after himself or feeding himself. His permanent impairment resulted in a court ordering his wife to be his legal guardian.
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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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dandelion.jpgIn spite of advancements in medical technology, childbirth continues to remain a hazardous procedure for American women. According to a new study, out of the approximately 4 million women who deliver a baby every year in this country, approximately 13% suffer at least one major complication.

For each of these 4-million women, the birth of a baby is a momentous occasion, and cause for celebration. However, very often things go wrong during the delivery. From failure to monitor maternal health and fetal progress to a failure to accurately identify the need for a C-section in time: any number of mistakes can be made during the delivery process. These errors contribute to serious injuries to the baby and the mother as well.

However, according to the study, those rates of complications vary significantly across the country. Compared to better-performing hospitals, the lowest-performing hospitals in the country are frequently the scene of higher rates of complications and errors. For example, according to the study, women who underwent cesarean sections at a lower-performing facility experienced complications including infections, clots, and lacerations at a rate that was five times the rate of higher-performing hospitals. At lower-performing hospitals, the rate for these types of complications was 21%. At the better hospitals, the complication rate was approximately 4.4%.
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clock%20face%20326.jpgPatients, who are due for surgery or hospital treatment during certain times of the month, or even certain days of the week, have a much higher risk of dying. This phenomenon is called the “July Effect” in which patients are much more likely to be exposed to the risk of medical errors in the month of July as interns enter hospitals. A new study confirms that the risk of fatality after surgery is highest in the afternoons, on weekends, and when patients are admitted to a hospital in the month of February.

The study was presented recently at the European Society of Anesthesiology Meeting in Stockholm in Sweden. The researchers analyzed data involving 219,000 patients, who had surgical procedures between 2006 and 2011. They found in the analysis of the data that patients who had surgery in the afternoon, had a 21% higher likelihood of dying, compared to patients who had surgery during other times of the day.

Patients who had surgery on the weekend had a 22% higher likelihood of death, compared to those who had their surgeries on weekdays. February was also a deadly time to go to a hospital for surgery, or for any kind of treatment. Patients who underwent surgeries in February had a 16% greater likelihood of dying, compared to those who underwent surgery during the other months.

Earlier unrelated studies have indicated a higher risk of fatality for patients admitted into the hospital on weekends. This is because many of the top doctors and specialists may be off on weekends, and many hospitals operate with a skeletal staff on weekends. That means a patient may not receive the immediate care that he requires when he is seriously ill, or suffering from a medical emergency. It also means that the patient may not get the kind of specialized care that he needs.
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nurse%27s%20week.jpgHospitals that increase participation by nursing staff and establish a more positive environment for nurses are much more likely to see positive patient safety outcomes. Those were the results of a new study that was published recently in The Journal of Nursing Administration.

The results of the study found that making improvements to nurses’ positive contribution and participation in a hospital environment, including care delivery and care giving decisions, can actually improve patient safety outcomes. Overall, there are much better levels of patient care when quality improvement efforts focus on the role of nurses, instead of focusing only on doctors.

The results of the study also confirmed earlier research that has found that hospitals that make investments in nursing improvements achieve better patient outcomes. For example, one study that was conducted earlier this month year found that when magnet hospitals that invest in staffing, education and more positive work environments for nurses, were able to achieve better patient outcomes. Magnet hospitals are known for their high quality of care as well as nursing excellence, and are also believed to be generally more successful at attracting and retaining the highest quality and caliber of nurses. In this new study, researchers compared as many as 56 magnet hospitals with 495 non-magnet hospitals. They clearly found that magnet hospitals were linked to a higher level of patient care and quality.
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