Everyone procrastinates to one degree or another. For most people, it involves minor things such as putting off raking leaves or washing the car or visiting an optometrist. Sometimes procrastination can have serious consequences, however, as a professor of pharmacy law and policy at the University of Kentucky recently made clear.
We hope and expect that at each hospital in the Covington and Cincinnati area, there are regular conversations about how to prevent medical malpractice. As we all know, medical negligence by doctors, nurses and hospitals leads to an unknown number of deaths each year in our nation. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association said physician and hospital negligence is the third leading cause of death in the country.
Regular readers of our Kentucky medical malpractice blog might recall a case from a couple of years ago in which a woman south of Covington sued her dentist after he apparently dropped a small screwdriver down her throat. She later had to have the tool used on her implants surgically removed, Kentucky.com reported.
Making sure that medications are taken properly is a duty of people who dispense medications, such as nurses and doctors in hospitals and nursing homes. One thing that has to be considered is the best method for a patient to take the medication. In some cases, the choices are whether to swallow a pill whole or to cut it or crush it to make it easier to take. There are some instances in which crushing or cutting a pill isn't appropriate.
Mismanagement of patient records can lead to more than just health dangers to the patient; it can also lead to lawsuits. Plaintiffs are more frequently seeking judgments against physicians for a medication error resulting from the doctor's failure to note that a patient was already taking a drug that could be incompatible with the new prescription.In some cases, suicides have been pursued as wrongful death cases based solely on improper prescription practices. In one instance, a man threw himself down a flight of stairs after taking an antidepressant prescribed by his physician, who did not know that the man was already taking narcotics from his orthopedist. The family sued the doctor, citing negligence. The case was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount although the physician refused to admit any wrongdoing.
According to a new study conducted by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, patients are usually the last to know when a medication error is made in a hospital. While many mistakes do not cause harm to patients, personnel still tend to delay telling patients about these types of errors. The study also found that the most serious medication errors tend to occur in intensive care units where families are less likely to be told about problems than in other areas of the hospital. The study looked at voluntarily reported information from 537 hospitals covering 840,000 incidents between the years 1999 and 2005. About 98 percent of these errors resulted in no harm to the patients, but those that did were most likely to occur in ICU. About 110 of these errors led to patient deaths, 18 of which occurred in ICUs.
An alleged medication error and other neglect led to the death of a nursing home resident, according to a lawsuit filed by the family. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the facility's appeal of a judgment entered by a jury against the home, stating in its opinion that the organization was guilty of a "chaotic environment" that led to a probability of potential harm for patients.The victim was a six-year resident of the facility and was 80 years old at the time of her death. She was discovered to be unresponsive after allegedly being given anti-diabetes medication that caused a serious drop in blood sugar. She had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, dementia and other ailments, and had suffered a stroke before being admitted to the facility. The lawsuit claimed that her quality of life was seriously diminished after the incident. She survived
While a 45-year old woman's cardiac bypass surgery appeared to be a success, hospital officials did not anticipate a post-op error that was to be made just a few hours after the surgery took place. An evening nurse administered anesthesia called Propofol, and the patient soon after died of a cardiac arrest.
Kentucky and Ohio patients may be interested in knowing that most medication errors occur during the administration phase. And a recent study has shown that more than one-third of such errors involved the giving of medication intravenously.
Whatever residents of Ohio and Kentucky may be told by insurance companies and medical providers, the majority of individuals claiming injuries do to medical mistakes do not prevail at trial. A study has shown that 79.6 percent of medical malpractice cases end up with favorable verdicts for doctors - though as we will get to below, such a statistic can be misleading.