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Oregon Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Computer-aided-detection mammograms may be unnecessary

As many Oregon women know, screening for breast cancer may help detect anomalies at an early stage. With proper and timely diagnosis, breast cancer treatment may have greater efficacy. There are several methods used to detect breast cancer, but recent reports indicate that one does not provide additional support.

Computer-aided-detection, approved for use in 1998, has come under fire recently. According to a researcher in Boston, the technology has no advantage over routinely-read mammograms. The researcher stressed that the annual cost of approximately $400 million is wasteful without supplying any benefit. The technology is currently used in about 90 percent of mammograms.

New Jersey hospitals liable when doctors lack insurance

Oregon patients may be interested in a case where the New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled that an injured patient cannot sue a surgeon for the failure to have proper medical malpractice insurance. In a split decision, the high court held that the state medical board has jurisdiction over doctors who lack medical malpractice insurance, not the court system. However, the Sept. 29 ruling also stated that hospitals may be sued for hiring doctors who do not have medical malpractice insurance.

The case before the court involved a man who suffered a herniated lumbar disk and underwent a spinal surgery in 2005. The patient experienced foot pain after the procedure, and it was discovered that the surgeon had improperly placed screws in his foot, pinching a nerve. He filed a lawsuit against the doctor and the Market Street Surgical Center in Saddle Brook for medical negligence and negligence for not having proper medical malpractice insurance.

Hospital warns of possible HIV outbreak due to error

Seattle Children's Hospital has warned about 12,000 families that their children may have been exposed to HIV or hepatitis at its Bellevue Clinic. It is telling those who may have been exposed to get tested for hepatitis B and C and HIV. The hospital in Oregon's neighbor to the north says the issue stems from sterilization processes that were not always followed. It further stated that the call for testing was out of extreme caution and that no infections had been reported.

The testing is being done free of charge, and all potentially dangerous equipment has been removed from the hospital. This case is one of many involving possible exposure to serious diseases due to improper handling of medical equipment. In 2010, 1,800 members of the military were possibly exposed to hepatitis and HIV after having dental work done at a Missouri VA hospital.

New handbook could help Oregon surgeons and their patients

It is estimated that 12 percent of patients will experience an adverse event in a hospital, with half of those occurring while in surgery. Adverse events include leaving an object in a patient, infections that could have been avoided or the death of a patient. Researchers from the University of Aberdeen have identified several non-technical skills that those in an operating room may need to help avoid these accidents.

Based on their data, they came up with rating systems called the skills frameworks for nesthesiologists, surgeons and scrub practitioners. Their findings were published in a new book called "Enhancing Surgical Performance: A Primer in Non-Technical Skills". It examines how human error and the limitations of surgeons may impact the outcome of a surgery based on empirical evidence. It also encourages surgeons to look closer at their ability to communicate and work effectively within a team atmosphere to perform better in the operating room.

Failing to diagnose leptospirosis

Many Oregon residents may not be familiar with leptospirosis, a zoonotic disease that is caused by a bacteria that can found in rat urine. However, those who live in urban areas or areas that have high numbers of rats and other carriers should be aware that the disease causes almost 60,000 deaths every year worldwide and has a 10 percent fatality rate.

The symptoms for leptospirosis can vary widely, from no symptoms at all to those associated with other diseases. Incubation can last between two to 29 days with a sudden onset of symptoms that can include jaundice and anemia. After a time, the person may feel better. If the disease is not diagnosed and treated at this point, the person may experience another onset of symptoms that are much more severe. They may include liver failure, meningitis or even pulmonary hemorrhage.

Cancer patients with information have better outcomes

Oregon patients who have been diagnosed with cancer may have better outcomes if they are given detailed information about their condition. According to a British study of 10,000 cancer patients, people with more knowledge about the specific type of cancer that they had and how it was being treated were twice as likely to recover from their illness than patients who remained ignorant about the details of their illness.

Although knowledge is power for cancer patients, doing too much research into the potential side effects of a particular type of cancer has been shown to have a negative impact on patient health. Cancer researchers say that people who learn too many details about the potential side effects of their disease were 35 percent less likely to recover. An Australian study showed that depressed cancer patients had lower survival rates while people who remained balanced but not overly optimistic had the best outcomes.

The importance of prostate cancer screening

Doctors recommend prostate cancer screening for all men between the ages of 40 and 75, and Prostate Cancer Awareness Month in September is designed to remind people of the importance of this procedure. Medical studies have shown that black men are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than any other population. Furthermore, the type of prostate cancer that black men get tends to be more aggressive. When treated, they still to have a poorer outcome than Caucasian men.

One problem with prostate cancer is that it can only be detected early with regular checks. There are no symptoms in its early stages. Early screening involves a rectal exam and a prostate-specific antigen test. Later, prostate cancer can lead to complications such as erectile dysfunction and incontinence.

The prevalence of wrong diagnoses examined

Oregon residents may be interested to learn that the National Academy of Medicine has been working on a new study that examines misdiagnosis as a serious cause of medical error that harms patients. In one prominent case from 2014, a Liberian man in Texas was given antibiotics for an illness that later turned out to be Ebola.

Another case that gets reviewed yearly by pediatric residents at the University of Minnesota Medical Center involved a 15-year-old girl who was wrongly diagnosed with a gallbladder problem when she had an infection from the Epstein-Barr virus that made severe bleeding a risk. She died from internal bleeding after surgery. Although tests for Epstein-Barr have a high rate of false negatives, she was not retested after the initial one. Some experts believe she should have been.

New group aims to lower diagnosis error rate

Many Oregon residents suffer complications due to physicians' misdiagnoses yearly, and one study conducted in 2014 indicated that approximately 5 percent of all diagnoses issued annually across the country are erroneous. The problem has been difficult to overcome in the past due to its varied nature. The severity of its consequences can range from mild to fatal; furthermore, it can be caused by a myriad of issues including miscommunication, flawed imaging and symptoms connected to multiple conditions. In response to this widespread problem, a group of expert advocates from several organizations have formed a coalition meant to lower the national rate of misdiagnoses.

Members of the Coalition to Improve Diagnosis recently concluded their first meeting since the group's inception. Their initial intent is to develop a plan of responsive action to upcoming misdiagnosis research.

Diagnosing pneumonia leads to proper treatment

As many Oregon residents may know, pneumonia may initially present as an upper respiratory infection. However, unlike such an infection, the symptoms may worsen. Health care professionals use a series of diagnostic tests to determine whether pneumonia is present.

Pneumonia affects breathing by inflaming the air sacs in the lungs. Initially, a physician will obtain a medical history that includes questions about symptoms and exposure to other individuals who were ill. In addition, the health care professional may ask about travel outside the country or if the patient smokes.