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Medical Malpractice Blog

Virtual reality could help reduce surgical errors

Surgical errors can be a major fear when people in Arizona enter the hospital for treatment. Despite the knowledge and skill of surgeons, procedures can be complex and involve new and innovative medical devices. Many manufacturers of medical devices are urging greater use of virtual training and education about their products in order both to minimize liability and maximize positive patient outcome. There are various virtual reality software systems that exist primarily to give surgeons virtual hands-on experience with some of the newest medical technologies.

These systems provide interactive training in newly introduced devices, helping surgeons become more familiar with technologies and lessening the risk of later surgical errors. Medical device manufacturers have noted that without direct involvement in training, they do not know if their products are being used correctly. In addition, increased virtual training opportunities could impel more surgeons and hospitals to implement new technologies in their own operating rooms. Many times, hospitals stick with older technologies as surgeons are more extensively trained on existing tools. When surgeons gain new skills with medical devices, hospitals may be encouraged to adopt them for use.

Surgical errors may happen and cause injuries

When Arizona residents are scheduled for surgery, they often worry about how the procedures will go. One issue that might cross their minds is the possibility that their medical teams might make medical mistakes. While surgery in the U.S. is considered to be safe, medical errors sometimes happen. Medical mistakes that do happen may have devastating consequences for the victims.

Many different things can go wrong during surgery. People are sometimes given overdoses of medications, and this can be fatal. Others are given blood that is the wrong type for them and suffer dangerous reactions. Because chest and feeding tubes look similar, they are sometimes mixed up. This can allow food and medication to be pumped into the chest instead of the stomach. If there is air in a needle that is used to inject something into a vein, it can cause a dangerous embolism that can be fatal.

Your unborn child could be at risk of a birth injury

In general, a birth injury is the result of a trauma that occurs during the birth process. Some of the most common birth injuries include cerebral palsy, Erb's Palsy and even brain damage. Sometimes, these injuries are unavoidable but in other cases, they occur due to doctor or hospital staff error, or negligence.

Unfortunately, even a low-risk pregnancy can result in an injury to your baby. Furthermore, no matter your level of income, genetics or the prenatal care plan you follow, your child could still be at risk of a birth injury. But, by understanding the common types of birth injuries and their causes, you can be prepared to make the right decisions for you and your child.

Getting a mitochondrial disease diagnosis

Mitochondria are intercellular pockets that create over 90 percent body's energy. A projected 75,000 people living in Arizona and the rest of the United States have genetic conditions that stem from mitochondria failures. The results of new study show that people who receive their diagnosis of mitochondrial disease, which is a genetic disorder, endure a difficult and protracted time of misdiagnoses.

For the study, a survey was conducted of 210 patients who were diagnosed with mitochondrial disease and who were enlisted from the National Institutes of Health-funded Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network. Patients reported going to an average of eight different physicians before receiving their diagnosis. Fifty-five percent of the respondents stated that they had received a misdiagnosis before obtaining an accurate assessment. Out of these patients, 32 percent stated that they were misdiagnosed multiple times.

Worse patient care follows hospital data breaches

The risks of hospital data breaches for patients in Arizona can go beyond the threats to privacy. In fact, a researcher at Vanderbilt University says that more than 2,100 patients die each year in relation to hospital data breaches. Because these types of security problems lead to litigation, investigations and inquiries, hospital services can be diverted from patient care to rectifying issues caused by the breach.

The federal Department of Health and Human Services revealed data that showed 305 data breaches at hospitals from 2012 to 2016. In these breaches, 14 million patient records were exposed. The researcher sought to compare patient care at hospitals that had and had not experienced these types of breaches. The study noted that the rate of heart attack patients that die within 30 days of hospital admission increases by 0.23 percent on average the year after a breach. It goes up even more, by 0.36 percent, two years following a data breach.

Misdiagnosis persists as leading cause of malpractice cases

People in Arizona rely on medical professionals to diagnose their problems accurately, but diagnostic errors represent the top cause of medical malpractice claims. A study conducted by a provider of malpractice services looked at over 10,600 medical malpractice claims between 2013 and 2017. The data analysis revealed that 33 percent of cases arose from diagnostic mistakes.

Inaccurate clinical decisions accounted for half of the claims that involved misdiagnosis. One of the authors of the report noted that the rate of diagnostic errors has stubbornly remained high even though other sources of medical errors have gone down.

Financial damages high when misdiagnosis leads to wrongful birth

Many people in Arizona put a great deal of thought into the decision to have a baby, and medical information sometimes plays an important role in this decision. The term "wrongful birth" describes a birth that parents would not have wanted if they had received accurate medical information. Legal liability to pay for long-term care related to birth defects could emerge if a physician fails to fulfill the duty to educate parents about a pregnancy's risks and complications.

A wrongful birth scenario could involve a negligent physician who does not notice that a pregnant woman has rubella during her first trimester. This disease causes congenital rubella syndrome and results in babies with eye problems, deafness or heart defects. Another form of negligence could occur if a physician fails to inform parents about their genetic profile that could produce severe birth defects if they have a child. In both situations, accurate diagnoses from physicians could have allowed parents to avoid potentially lifelong financial and emotional hardship by terminating a pregnancy or choosing not to conceive.

Medication errors, and their most common factors

Residents of Arizona who rely on medication to address a condition may be concerned about the prevalence of medication errors. A 2016 study from Johns Hopkins University has found that more than 250,000 Americans die from medication errors every year. Despite the fact that digital technology simplifies the record-keeping process, healthcare professionals are liable to make errors, all of which are preventable.

Proper record keeping is key to preventing medication errors. If the patient has a drug allergy or a chronic health condition, these should be noted. Every drug administration, including data like its dosage and route, must be recorded. Nurses are advised to create a flow sheet to attach to a patient's chart so that the staff member for the next shift will know what prior actions took place.

State medical boards fail to consult problem doctor database

State medical boards in Arizona and across the country have access to a federal database that tracks actions taken against doctors. However, few state medical boards take advantage of the database maintained by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to record malpractice payments and medical board disciplinary action.

During 2017, research found that 30 of the the 63 state medical boards in the U.S. referred to the database on fewer than 100 occasions. In fact, 13 state boards never checked the database at all, despite the fact that the national database is one of the most important avenues for background research into a physician. State medical boards do have access to additional resources to learn about doctors' legal problems and serious doctor errors leading to successful malpractice claims.

Training kids how to avoid dog attacks

Imagine you take your small child to a friend's house on the weekend. Everyone loves your friend's Chihuahua because of its cute and grumpy attitude. Furthermore, everyone says that the Chihuahua is "all bark and no bite."

You might want to consider asking your friend to keep the dog away from your small child when you're not present. In fact, your best course of action is to: (1) demand that your friend keep the dog from making contact with your child, and (2) teach your child about dog safety. The risk of a serious attack and injuries is not something to play around with when it comes to children and dogs.

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Law Offices of Raymond J. Slomski, P.C.

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