medical-563427_1280-300x200Thousands of Americans visit emergency rooms (ERs) for medical treatment every year. Many of those visits end in injuries because of errors that could have easily been prevented. There are several important steps every person can take to help reduce the risk of injuries and errors in a medical setting. 

The first mistake people make is failing to realize whether the emergency is serious enough for a trip to the ER. Some symptoms absolutely necessitate a visit to the ER and accepting this fact is the first step to getting the best possible care. Too often people suffering stroke-like or heart attack symptoms will wait to see if these symptoms will resolve on their own. However, in these situations, time is of the essence. A delay in seeking treatment can only exacerbate the medical problem, resulting in poor outcomes and limited treatment options. Neurologists and cardiologists both agree that time is a factor when trying to protect tissue, whether brain or heart.

Once a patient actually reaches the Emergency Room, it is critical that all symptoms are fully communicated to the ER personnel with absolute clarity. There are several possible factors that can cause errors and injuries in an emergency room, and failure to communicate is top of that list. Carefully recount your symptoms to the staff at the ER. Provide a complete background of your medical history. Give as many details as possible including duration and details of symptoms and the types of medications you are currently taking and for what conditions. No detail is too small or unimportant.

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

child-1910306_1280-300x200Obesity during pregnancy could be a factor that increases a child’s risk of suffering from cerebral palsy. However, researchers in a recent study cautioned against assuming any cause-and-effect link between obesity and cerebral palsy.

The association between obesity and cerebral palsy was pointed out in a study that focused on one million Swedish children. These children were monitored over a period of eight years, and the researchers found that the cerebral palsy risk for these children was approximately two cases for every 1,000 babies. They also found that women who suffered from some of the most severe forms of obesity, were much more likely to have children who suffered from cerebral palsy. They also found that the incidence of cerebral palsy was high even in children who were born at full term.

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stethescope-300x200Nurses, who are fatigued, tired or stressed may be incapable of delivering the kind of quality care that they are required to provide, and may be at a high risk of making mistakes that lead to injury, or even worse, death of a patient.

A combination of factors continues to keep nurses stressed and overworked. Staffing shortages at many hospitals stipulate that nurses work much harder than they are required to, or advised to, and often the consequences are disastrous for patient safety. Besides staffing shortages, hospitals endanger patient safety when they require nurses to work for longer hours than required.

Unfortunately, both of these conditions are far too common in many hospitals, with the result that nurses are frequently stressed and fatigued, and incapable of performing at their best. In fact, several studies have indicated that nurse fatigue not only leads to a higher risk of nursing errors, but also leads to dissatisfied nurses. Nurses who are dissatisfied suffer from low motivation levels, and that can definitely impact the quality of their work. This situation is dangerous, because nurses are at the frontier of providing care for patients, and any mistakes they make can severely impact patient safety.  Additionally, nurses who are stressed or overworked may also suffer from early burnout. This can cause extreme lethargy, frustration, depression and disinterest, all of which are anathema to patient safety.

Slow-Driver-Image-300x216Speeding, or driving too fast, is one of the top three traffic accident factors across the state of Indiana every year. However, driving far too slowly can also be a real road hazard.

Take for example, a slow driver and a frustrated driver behind him. The frustrated motorist may get impatient and may try to overtake the slow-poke motorist, revving up speeds in a possibly dangerous situation. In a case like this, the slow motorist may not be directly responsible for an accident, but the bad driving has definitely contributed to a dangerous scenario. Drivers who go too slowly for the road conditions also contribute to road rage or aggressive driving by other frustrated motorists.

In fact, slow driving or left lane camping in some states, including Indiana, is considered such a serious hazard that there are penalties that apply to motorists who drive too slowly in the “fast lane”.  These penalties punish drivers who block the traffic in the left lane, possibly creating a serious traffic hazard.

wheelchair-1230101_1920-300x169The elderly and vulnerable in nursing homes are being sexually abused and raped at a rate that is higher than we could have imagined. Those shocking facts come from a new report released by CNN, which finds that many incidents of rape involving elderly members of nursing homes are not even being prosecuted.

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playground-swings-300x199A new study finds that children who suffer from traumatic brain injury may suffer consequences that continue for a longer period of time than earlier believed.

A child’s delicate brain is much more likely to sustain impact during a head injury, and that impact could cause long-term consequences. According to a new study conducted by researchers at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, some of those effects could actually last for years after the injury.

The results of the study were presented recently at a conference of the Association of Academic Physiatrists. The researchers found that children who had suffered a mild to moderate brain injury were twice as likely to suffer from attention and concentration problems for as long as seven years after the injury. Children, who had suffered a severe traumatic brain injury, had a risk of developing secondary attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that was five times higher than children without a history of TBI.

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.

Taking-Pills-300x225Medication errors, in which patients take the wrong medication or the wrong dosage, send hundreds of thousands of people to US emergency rooms annually. New technology, however, could help reduce the risk of these potentially serious errors.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School recently analyzed the effect of new software on medical error rates. They studied the medical records of more than 800,000 persons, and analyzed the impact of the software that was specifically designed to minimize the risk of mistakes during the prescription process.

The software, developed by an Israeli company, utilizes an approach that aims to point out errors in the medication prescribing or administration. For example, a drug that is typically used in pregnant women, but has been prescribed for an elderly male, is an anomaly that would not typically be identified or pointed out. The software however, finds these mistakes and according to the researchers, provides a very innovative way to notify healthcare personnel of such errors before they have any chance of adversely affecting the patient.

broken-arm-2117980_1920-169x300Studies report that many as 75% of all medical malpractice lawsuits that claim radiology errors might be linked to cognitive biases by radiologists. Radiologists must be trained about the existence of these biases and be equipped with the skills to deal with them.

For instance, radiologists often suffer from a context-related bias, because they do not have an appropriate clinical or framing context when they’re interpreting an image. This can result in the radiologist making the wrong decision, with possibly serious consequences. Such risks are higher when a patient’s medical history is incomplete.

According to the report, radiologists can get around this problem by ensuring that they have information that is directly supplied by patients, in addition to the clinical histories that they already have at their disposal. That gives them greater context in which they can make an appropriate and correct decision.