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shutterstock_523810459-300x200A jury in Pennsylvania recently ordered that a hospital and their gynecologist pay $14.5 in damages to an Ohio family. Clearfield Hospital, along with one of its doctors, were accused of errors that led to a child being diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs accused the defendant of properly managing the delivery of their child in 2012. They say that the mother was given Pitocin in amounts that were excessive, despite the fact that the child’s heart rate dropped. The drug is known to stimulate contractions in women, but it can also cause complications.

Rather than cease use of the drug, the plaintiffs alleged that the doctor continued administering the medication during the delivery process. The doctor also failed to perform an assisted delivery, allowing the baby to remain in the crowning position for ten minutes before finally performing an episiotomy and delivering the child.

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shutterstock_521059819-300x200In the United States, medication errors can be blamed for the death of one person each day. More than one million people are injured by medication errors annually in the country. Unfortunately, the problem isn’t unique to America. Medication errors result in death and injury around the globe according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The organization has a mission to reduce those injuries and deaths caused by medication errors which are avoidable by half by the year 2022. It is not only injuries and death that are caused by medication errors. The errors also have great financial impact at more than $42 billion around the world.

In an effort to reduce these errors, WHO will work to address any weaknesses it finds in health systems, come up with ways to better the way that medications are prescribed and filled, and increase patient awareness. WHO says that medication errors can be attributed to overcrowding, worker fatigue, poor training and improper information.

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shutterstock_121636234-300x201An individual was awarded over a million dollars by a court in Texas. On March 16, that $1,875,887.62 award was thrown out by the 1st District Court of Appeals.

The original case came about when the widow of a man filed a lawsuit in court claiming a series of medical incidents resulted in the man’s death. According to reports, the man experienced tremors in his left leg and hand, was confused and disoriented, and had slurred speech. A scan of the man’s brain revealed symptoms that indicated hydrocephalus. The man was referred to a neurosurgeon.

After the man underwent a surgical procedure to relieve the pressure in his brain, he quickly began to experience a higher-than-normal intracranial pressure. It was three months later that the man died of his symptoms. His death occurred in May 2010. The man’s widow filed suit against the surgeon, claiming a breach of the accepted standard of care. The surgeon was originally found guilty of negligence.

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shutterstock_557085679-300x207We recently provided information about medical students in residency being permitted to work several hours in a row. That day is coming nearer as residents prepare to begin 24-hour shifts starting July 1.

Prior to the revisions that took place, residents were not permitted to work longer than 16 hours in one shift. Beginning in just a few months, residents in certain specialties may find that they are on shift for 24 hours and expected to stay even longer to type up and file reports.

First-year residents will work schedules that are closely aligned with other residents and mentors. Not only are first-years being asked to work for 24 hours, they may be asked to work 80 hours in a single week – or more. The 80 hours per week rule is averaged over four weeks. This means that, realistically, a first-year resident could work more than 80 hours one week and fewer the next.

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shutterstock_371181623-300x200The number of medical malpractice cases filed across the country between 1992 and 2014 dropped by close to 56 percent. While the number of cases are down, researchers say that the average payout per case is up. The average payout was over $353,000 between 2009 and 2014, up from $287,000 years before.

It is thought that both the lower number of cases being filed and the higher payouts are the result of tort reform. Laws have been enacted throughout the country that place a cap on the amount of damages a patient can recover. This may make an attorney think twice before taking on a case they aren’t certain they can win.

Most attorneys in medical malpractice cases are paid on a contingency basis. That means that they are not paid unless their client is successful in being awarded compensation. Some laws have also been put in place that require potential cases be reviewed by panels before they are permitted in court. This may be reducing the number of cases that are being heard.

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shutterstock_575487436-300x200Spyros Panos was sentenced to prison just under three years ago. Originally sentenced to four-and-a-half years, the ex-surgeon spent just over two years of that behind bars in a federal cell. He may be out and enjoying freedom, but he is now facing over 200 civil lawsuits.

The surgeon was originally charged with conducting surgeries that were unnecessary and making errors in the surgeries he performed. He pled guilty to healthcare fraud and began serving his time in April 2014. He was also sentenced to two years supervised release and ordered to pay restitution to his victims and the government.

Some of the patients Panos victimized aren’t able to get on with their lives like Panos can. In fact, some 240 to 260 patients have filed suit against the ex-surgeon in civil court. Because of the large number of cases and the broad scope of the complaints, a committee has been formed and is working on reaching a mass settlement.

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shutterstock_522897853-300x200The weather is finally taking a turn for the better. If you plan on getting out and enjoying a bit of what Mother Nature has to offer, you should also know that she has a few nasty critters in her midst. Ticks are small but mighty when it comes to disease and, unfortunately, the disease they carry is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed illnesses in the United States.

It may seem a bit strange that such a common disease is misdiagnosed by medical professionals, but there are a variety of reasons that misdiagnosis occurs:

  • Positive Tests – People sometimes test positive for Lyme disease when they have a different illness altogether.
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shutterstock_578201854-300x211Medication errors occur at various steps in the care-giving process. A doctor may prescribe a medication that is unnecessary. A nurse may fail to take a complete medication history. A pharmacist may fill the prescription incorrectly. No matter where in the line the error occurs, a patient may be entitled to compensation if they are injured as a result of that error.

But what can reduce medication errors? In some instances, the answer may be mail-order pharmacies. According to a study published in the Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy, the trend in mail-order pharmacies was overall positive. Errors in mail-order pharmacies were rare. The largest complaint given by respondents in the study was having had run out of medication at least once.

While the study was certainly not conclusive and should not be taken to mean that visiting a pharmacy in person is less desirable than utilizing a mail-order pharmacy, the news was good. In some instances, insurance companies or employers require that patients order medication from these pharmacies. Knowing that errors are rare, at least in this study, should make people feel better about having to order from these suppliers.

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shutterstock_404700226-300x200Studies have recently been released on how people get hooked on opioids. The journal titled Pediatrics says that adults aren’t the only people exposed to these dangerous drugs. All ages of children are at risk for exposure and, some of that can be attributed to medication errors.

For children aged 5 and younger, exposure typically resulted from exploring. That is, they found the container belonging to another family member, got it open and swallowed one or more pills. Children aged six to 12 were exposed due to medication errors in the majority of cases. Teenagers used the opioids recreationally.

Medication errors are of particular concern as they cannot often be entirely controlled by caregivers. Adults rely on medical professionals to diagnose and treat their children. A medication error may occur when a doctor prescribes the wrong or unnecessary medication, when the wrong dosage is prescribed, or when the wrong route of administration is instructed.

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shutterstock_539918482-300x200A medical malpractice lawsuit was filed in 2015 in the state of Washington. The case was originally filed in Lewis County Superior Court, and Centralia’s Prestige Post-Acute and Rehabilitation Center was named as the defendant. The case was recently thrown out of court due to, according to a judge, a lack of evidence.

A motion was entered by attorneys for the defendant. That motion said that the expert witness brought forth by the plaintiff could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt what caused the named patient’s death. The judge agreed with the motion and tossed the case.

Original case filings report that a woman was admitted to the center in July 2014. She had undergone a bowel surgery and was sent to the center for recovery. Staff at the center did not monitor the woman’s bowel movements appropriately, causing her to be taken to a hospital for emergency surgery after which she passed away.

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