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Oregon Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Study: medication errors common during surgery

Are you aware of the risks you face during surgery? A new study found that roughly 50 percent of surgeries in the United States involve a medication error or side effects from the drugs you are given. 

The study found that a third of these errors resulted in patient harm. This finding is serious. Patients need to be aware of the risks they face when having surgery. This study should help shine some light on an issue that was previously under reported. 

Prostate cancer statistics and early detection concerns

Cancer is a serious concern of many Oregon residents and their health care providers. Preventive measures that may be discussed during routine care include diet modifications, exercise and screening. However, medical recommendations related to cancer screening have changed in recent years. One example is PSA testing for prostate cancer. A task force noted in 2012 that this test was resulting in harmful treatments and negative outcomes for many men who showed little risk for the disease. In many cases, slow-growing cancers were treated aggressively, resulting in side effects because of unnecessary surgery and radiation therapy.

The task force still emphasized the importance of preventive screening for those in high-risk categories, including those with a family history of cancer issues. However, the relaxed recommendations for other groups is a concern to those who have evaluated statistics for screening and early prostate cancer detection in the years following the task force's report. A lack of screening could lead to the failure to diagnose aggressive cancer. Since more relaxed testing protocol was recommend, the number of men being tested in the over 50 age group has dropped by 18 percent. The group of men from 60 to 64 years old saw a similar drop in screening numbers. Meanwhile, the frequency of early prostate cancer detection also decreased.

Cellulitis diagnosis wrong for more than 1 in 5 patients

Although physicians in Oregon generally try to make accurate diagnoses, studies repeatedly reveal that mistakes are common. For example, cellulitis, a serious bacterial infection of the skin and soft tissue, is far too frequently misdiagnosed, studies have shown.

When someone with cellulitis enters the hospital, intravenous antibiotics will frequently be applied and the patient must remain in the hospital for days. For the one in five people who receive this treatment for an erroneous diagnosis, the risks and costs mount quickly. They might suffer a reaction to medication or catch an infection simply by being in the hospital. The average cost per admission runs about $12,000 for unnecessary treatments.

Liability issues with hospital falls

An Oregon hospital can be a busy place, and a patient may find that it is difficult to get attention in an understaffed situation. Even with a fall risk sign on the door, the patient may find that nurses and other caregivers are unavailable to provide prompt assistance for pain issues, nourishment needs, or trips to the restroom. However, dealing with the aftermath of a fall in this setting could be difficult, especially in the case of a joint replacement patient who suffers a serious injury to the involved joint. Determining whether such a fall is a case of medical malpractice can depend on the circumstances.

A medical opinion may be one of the most important needs in pursuing a claim of medical malpractice or hospital negligence. Medical malpractice actions may stem from a medical professional's acts or omissions that lead to a patient suffering some type of harm. On an orthopedic floor, nursing staff and other workers should be attentive to the call buttons of patients who are at risk for falls. Failure to respond could lead to a patient's injury. Such injuries might result from loose bed rails, a faulty trapeze for a knee patient or loose rails in the restroom.

Aspirin allergy errors

Although Oregon residents may demonstrate signs of hypersensitivity to medications such as aspirin, these reactions do not necessarily constitute allergies. Unfortunately, a misdiagnosis of allergic reaction could lead to halting a cardiac treatment that is typically effective and affordable. Although a true allergy to aspirin is possible, a patient with signs of a possible allergy could benefit dramatically from being referred to an allergy specialist for further evaluation.

The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology recently studied more than 5,000 medical records, identifying a hypersensitivity to aspirin in just 2.5 percent of the cases. However, the records of 34 percent of the patients studied noted aspirin hypersensitivity due to gastrointestinal history. Only one of the patients' records indicated anaphylaxis in connection with aspirin use. One patient was identified as having respiratory issues with aspirin use. Skin reactions were more common, occurring in 19 percent of the patients. Reactions were not properly documented for nearly 40 percent of the records studied.

Study released on liability of health care providers

A study recently published in a medical journal examines why medical malpractice lawsuits may escalate due to cost containment decisions. The study was conducted using doctors in Florida, and a pattern may point out that doing more testing may result in a decreased likelihood of a malpractice lawsuit in Oregon and around the country.

The study was undertaken for nine years and included more than 24,000 physicians in Florida. The results demonstrated a lower rate of malpractice lawsuits for doctors in six specialty areas who spent the most resources on their patients who had been hospitalized. No conclusion was reached as to why those physicians who conducted more medical tests were less likely to encounter a malpractice lawsuit.

Misdiagnosis of hernias

Oregon residents may not know that groin hernias are frequently not diagnosed correctly, especially when they occur in women. Although this problem has been known for 40 years, many doctors still do not know what to look for when they are reviewing CT scans of the region.

In men, a groin hernia, also known as an inguinal hernia, often shows up as a painless bulge in the groin region. This makes it easy for doctors to identify through an examination of the area. Women, however, often do not have a corresponding bulge and instead experience severe pelvic pain. When a doctor fails to diagnose and treat the hernia, women may be left to suffer in pain. Some are even told to get psychiatric treatment because the physician was unable to identify the pain's source.

Study finds medication errors occurred in half of surgeries

When Oregon patients go into surgery, they expect their doctors to make no mistakes when they are under the knife. A study found, however that mistakes were made during nearly half of the surgeries researchers analyzed.

Researchers analyzed 277 surgeries during which more than 3,600 medication administrations were given. Adverse drug events and errors were documented in 124 of those surgeries. About 80 percent of the medication errors were deemed preventable. However, 2 percent of the errors in medication that were made were considered life threatening, though no patients died during the study because of these errors. An author of the study stated that the results were not surprising.

Hemorrhoids could be a more serious condition

Many people living in Oregon may suffer from hemorrhoids. While the condition may be uncomfortable and can be embarrassing to talk about, it is not a serious matter in most cases. What can be a problem, however, is that blood in the stool, which is a common symptom of hemorrhoids, can also indicate a much more serious medical condition.

Many people do not realize that blood in the stool may be a symptom of colon cancer. Unfortunately, an individual who notices the blood may simply assume they have hemorrhoids and use an over-the-counter treatment for the condition. By the time their condition is diagnosed, their delayed treatment may not be as effective as treatment that could have been started earlier. It can also lead to the spread of the disease.

Health care providers and the duty of care

As many Oregon patients know, a medical malpractice lawsuit is a lengthy process. It must be initially established that the health care providers involved in the case actually owed a duty of care to the plaintiff. The appropriate level of care must also be determined and if this level of care was not met, the health care provider could be found to have committed medical negligence.

There are several steps that must be taken in order to prove that the health care provider owed a duty of care to the injured patient. First, it must be proven that the patient was under the care of the health care provider when the alleged malpractice took place. This can be determined from medical records. However, testimony can also be used and can include the fact that treatment with a certain health care provider was ongoing or that the patient specifically chose a certain health care provider for treatment of a specific condition.