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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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shutterstock_345818213-300x200For a court case to be successful, both sides are typically represented by attorneys. The plaintiff’s attorney files the suit, naming one or more parties, and those persons hire defense attorneys. Such was not what occurred in a recent medical malpractice case in South Dakota.

According to reports, a man went to a hospital in South Dakota for a heart surgery in 2010. The patient was 21 years old and, during the surgery, air bubbles entered the man’s blood stream. The bubbles entered the blood stream due to an error perpetrated by the surgeon in the case. As a result, the patient was left with neurologic injury.

The man filed suit against the hospital in Rapid City and against the heart surgeon. The surgeon failed to respond to the lawsuit and never hired legal representation. The lawsuit was filed in 2012 and was recently ruled upon by the sitting judge. The patient was awarded $13.49 million. The judgment is thought to be one of the largest in the history of the state.

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shutterstock_285085547-300x188The law may soon be changing in Texas. A bill has been introduced that would protect doctors from “wrongful birth” lawsuits filed by families. The aim of the bill is to protect not only doctors, but the rights of disabled infants.

Currently in the state, families are able to sue doctors who fail to diagnose fetuses with disabilities. Parents, when diagnosis are not available, do not have the information available to determine whether or not they desire carrying the pregnancy to term.

According to opponents of the law, the bill would essentially give doctors the right to lie to parents if they believe the parents would choose to terminate the pregnancy rather than give birth to a child with life-altering disabilities. Proponents of the law says that it protects the disabled.

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shutterstock_417541450-300x200A United States Army veteran was awarded $2.5 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit. The defendant, the Phoenix VA, lost the case that stemmed from a 2011 mistake.

According to reports, the veteran went to the VA in Phoenix for an initial examination. It wasn’t until 11 months later that the vet was told that he has stage 4 prostate cancer. The man was given a short time to live even though there were no signs of cancer during the first examination.

The veteran had originally filed a lawsuit for $50 million. While the vet wasn’t awarded what he had sought, he says it isn’t about the money. According to the man, what matters is that vets around the country deserve treatment that is better than what he received. There should be, he says, a better system.

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shutterstock_365277104-300x210Restrictions for young doctors in training were put in place in 2011. Those restrictions included not allowing residents to work more than 16-hours at a time. The restrictions were put in place because there was evidence that exhausted residents were putting themselves and their patients in danger. Today, those restrictions have been lifted in favor of education. Residents are now permitted to work rotations of 28 hours.

According to the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, limiting the number of hours interns were permitted to work also limited their educational opportunities. Interns’ education was being lessened because of the reduction in their hours. Surgeons, in particular, were critical of the 16-hour shifts.

A group of concerned medical professionals, along with the consumer group Public Citizen, fought against the changes in allowed work hours. These people said that patient-concern is a very real factor in their opposition of the ruling. Exhaustion, experts say, is comparable to being intoxicated. Studies have shown that interns working in the ICU for more than 24 hours had an increase in errors of 36 percent.

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shutterstock_256208305-300x199As it stands in most states across the nation, when a person is injured by a medical professional’s error or negligence, they have the right to file suit for medical malpractice. In Kentucky, the ease of which a person can file a claim is changing. The state recently passed a bill that will create panels of providers to review claims of medical malpractice before those claims are permitted into court.

The bill made its way through the House and Senate, and it is expected to be signed by Governor Matt Bevin. The bill, if made into law, will require review panels comprised of medical professionals to review the merits of a lawsuit before it reaches a judge and jury. Opponents to the bill say that is may be unconstitutional.

As originally written, the bill would have automatically allowed the opinion of the panel to be admissible as evidence in court. The bill was altered slightly before it was passed. If made into law, the bill stipulates that the panel would have only nine months to issue an opinion or the case would automatically advance to court. Additionally, the bill stipulates that the sitting judge would decide if the panel’s opinions were admissible as evidence rather than it being automatic.

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shutterstock_370064315-300x200Over two weeks, a jury heard the case of a toddler who had been injured by a family doctor in Arkansas. After listening to the case, the jury came back with a $45.6 million verdict in favor of the family.

According to reports, doctors failed to manage and treat jaundice in the newborn child in June 2014. Because of the lack of care, the baby developed kernicterus in the her brain. The untreated case of jaundice caused the child both permanent disability and brain damage that cannot be remedied. The child will not walk on her own, is not talking, cannot feed herself, and is not expected to be able to care for herself as she ages. Despite her physical impairments, the child’s cognitive function is normal.

The child’s parents alleged that the doctors at the hospital ignored the generally accepted standard of care when managing their newborn. Doctors did nothing following a high bilirubin reading during the child’s first day of life. They did no repeat blood testing and administered no treatment prior to the child being discharged. Once the infant was home, her bilirubin levels spiked so high that she was left with permanent brain damage.

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shutterstock_351039992-300x200It stands to reason that anyone visiting a doctor’s office or hospital expects to be treated with a certain standard of care. People assume that doctors and nurses know how to perform their jobs competently, and that they will receive accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.

Unfortunately, people are harmed by medical professionals with what could be considered regularity. Many people know someone who has been injured by a medical professional of, if they don’t know a victim personally, they have read about multi-million dollar settlements. The good news is that there are ways to reduce your chances of becoming a victim.

In the Office or Hospital

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