Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

surgery-1807541_1920-1024x676About one in every twenty patients is harmed by a medical mistake that could have been prevented. That is the finding of a recent report published in the medical journal, The BMJ.

Understand, we are not talking about medical mistakes that sometimes just happen during medical care. We are talking about medical mistakes that should not have happened. Worse still, 12% of these preventable errors lead to permanent disability or death.

And this is not new information. The medical community has known for twenty years that medical errors cause the deaths of as many as 98,000 Americans every year. Yet, twenty years later, the rate of preventable medical mistakes continues to be unacceptably high.

The FDA announced recently that they plan to surgery-1822458_1920-300x200review and address the safety of surgical staplers.

Surgical staplers are specialized devices used in surgery to close wounds or connect tissue, instead of using traditional sutures.

The FDA‘s decision comes after a recent Kaiser News Health Report revealed that thousands of malfunctions and injuries related to staplers were hidden from the public in private internal FDA databases. In fact, in 2016 alone, while the FDA’s public database received less than 100 stapler malfunction reports, their hidden database received about 10,000 reports.

Going to the hospital can save your life. If you arecare-928653_1920-300x200 a patient at a hospital with a poor safety ranking, however, it could cost you your life.

That’s the conclusion of a recent report by the nonprofit group Leapfrog, which also gives 2600 hospitals a Hospital Safety Grade twice a year based on 28 measures of safety.

The report, prepared for the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality, found that an estimated 160,000 lives are lost annually from avoidable medical errors, and hospitals with a poor safety grade have twice the mortality rate of hospitals with a good grade.

If a doctor had lost multiple medical malpractice doctor-563428_1920-300x200lawsuits, you would think that he or she would stop practicing or, at the very least, move to a new town to flee their reputation for harming patients. According to a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine, that is not happening.

Doctors with more than four successful malpractice claims against them are, for the most part, continuing to see patients in their home community. In fact, the study’s lead researcher, David Studdert, a professor of medicine and law at Stanford University, found that more than 90 percent of doctors who have lost 5 or more malpractice claims against them, continue to see patients as if nothing happened. That is not a comforting thought for patients who need medical care.

Now, before you say that every doctor gets sued for malpractice so this doesn’t mean much, the study did not look at physicians who had malpractice claims filed against them; it only looked at physicians who lost malpractice claims. In those cases, either the malpractice was so egregious that the insurance company settled the case, or a court of law concluded, based on solid evidence, that the doctor did commit malpractice and injured his patient as a result. This is even more significant when you understand that only about 27% of medical malpractice plaintiffs win their court case.

The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 30% of birth injuries are preventable. Sadly, medical negligence is one of the leading causes of birth injuries in the United States. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), determined the following to be the most common types of birth injuries due to medical negligence:

Brachial Palsy Injuriesnewborn-2553566_1920.jpg

Brachial palsy injuries involve damage to the bundle of nerves responsible for moving the arms and hands (brachial plexus). The result of this damage can be mild and temporary, or severe and permanent (in about 10% of cases the damage is permanent). The most serious injuries can even cause complete paralysis. A common cause of brachial plexus injuries is shoulder dystocia, which occurs when a baby’s shoulders are trapped in the mother’s pelvic bone during delivery. If a doctor pulls too hard while attempting to deliver a baby who is stuck, the brachial plexus can be damaged. Brachial palsy injuries include Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s palsy.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for headache-1540220_1920.jpgPatients undergoing major surgery or those dealing with chronic pain are often prescribed opioid medications. These opioids have given rise to a crisis of massive proportions. Opioid addiction and overdose deaths are increasing dramatically. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of all fatal opioid overdoses involve a prescription. Furthermore, for every one of these opioid overdose death, experts estimate nearly 130 people abuse or have a dependency on these drugs.

In Illinois, opioid use is rampant. According to Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) data, there were 1,826 opioid-related deaths in the state in 2016. This represents an increase of over 70 percent from the number of opioid-related deaths reported in 2013 and a 32.1 percent increase over the 1,382 opioid-related deaths reported by IDPH in 2015.

Once people begin taking opioids, many of them become hooked on these highly addictive drugs. Often it is the result of patients obtaining prescriptions from “pill mills”, where doctors perfunctorily write opioid prescriptions without first examining the patient.

Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that results from damage to the brain. CP can lead to problems with movement, posture and muscle coordination. Additionally, CP can shorten the lifespan of a child and require that the child have around the clock care.

Thumbnail image for little-girl-1381471_1920.jpgCerebral palsy is often caused by insufficient oxygen to the brain, also known as hypoxia, or insufficient oxygen to the body, known as asphyxia. Premature delivery or trauma during birth have also been known to cause CP. This life-altering condition can be caused by medical malpractice. If a doctor, nurse or hospital fails to properly monitor or treat a mother and her fetus, significant damage can occur.

However, just because a baby is born with cerebral palsy, it doesn’t always mean that medical mistakes have been made. There are times when doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals act with the greatest care while attending to mother and baby, and there are still negative outcomes.

surgery-880584_1280.jpgAbout 80 times each week, patients undergoing surgery experience mistakes that safety advocates say never should happen. They’re called “Never Events,” but these events are happening far too often and costing patients significant pain and suffering. The types of surgery errors being made include:

· surgical instruments such as sponges or needles are unintentionally left behind in the patient;

· the wrong procedure is performed;

An investigation by the USA Today Network and Kaiser Health News has uncovered evidence that more than 260 patients have died since 2013 after outpatient procedures at surgery centers across the country. Dozens of people – including children as young as two – have died after routine operations, such as colonoscopies and tonsillectomies.

The investigation revealed:surgery-79584_1920.jpg

· Surgery centers have dramatically expanded their business by taking on increasingly risky surgeries. The results have been tragic. Investigators found that at least 14 patients have died after having spinal surgeries that were typically reserved for the best hospitals and surgeons.

The third leading cause of death in the United Sates may come from those you trust the most. A new study published in The BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) found that medical errors may cause over 250,000 deaths a year in the United State alone. Topped only by heart disease and cancer, these errors by medical professionals include diagnostic errors, surgical errors, infection, medication errors, communication breakdowns, failure to perform the necessary tests and even healthcare worker fatigue. The findings were created from studies done at Johns Hopkins Medicine starting in 1999.

The study calls for wide ranging changes in the medical field, not only to correct these possibly deadly errors but also in how the errors are reported. “Medical error” is not a reported cause of death on death certificates. Similarly, there is not a “medical error” category in the annual reports on deaths and mortality from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC only focuses on the “underlying cause of death” in their statistics, so even if a medical error is present in a case, the focus for the CDC remains on the reasons that led a person to seek medical treatment. Also, billing codes, the codes used when categorizing inpatient and outpatient treatment, are focused on maximizing billing and not recognizing medical errors. The death certificate and cause of death listed must line up with the aforementioned billing code.

Over the last ten years, Illinois public hospitals have paid out more than $180 million for patient deaths resulting from medical errors. Cook County paid out $93.2 million in settlements for 79 wrongful death cases at four different Chicago hospitals in the same span. The Johns Hopkins study is an attempt to shed light on these errors. “The inability to capture the full impact of medical errors result in a lack of public attention and a failure to invest in research”. The first step in making medical facilities safer is by creating a proper way to report these deaths caused by medical errors. Johns Hopkins Medicine, as well as other medical groups, are calling for reform starting with creating a “medical error” box on death certificates. By first creating a proper and efficient way to collect data on patient death and medical errors, medical professionals can then create the proper safety nets and protocols to address the problem.

badge
badge
badge
badge
badge
badge
badge
badge
badge
badge
badge
Contact Information