Routine wisdom tooth surgery turned deadly for one teen when she was deprived of oxygen during an extraction procedure. For parents in Ohio as well as throughout the country, the fear of hospital malpractice is at its highest when children are involved. In this case, the parents chose to file a malpractice lawsuit against the healthcare professionals involved in the teen's death.The 17-year-old girl died after routine surgery to extract a wisdom tooth. An autopsy revealed that she had been deprived of oxygen during the procedure, leading to a coma from which she never recovered. The parents filed a civil lawsuit, naming the anesthesiologist, the surgeon and the medical office as respondents. The suit claimed that the staff failed to revive the girl when her heart rate slowed dangerously, indicating that her brain was not receiving sufficient oxygen.
Ohio residents may have seen a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that shows surprising results. According to the report, shorter hours for residents actually increased medical errors by 15 to 20 percent. The original purpose of the study was to determine if decreasing hours that doctors worked without a break from 30 to 16 would decrease incidents of hospital malpractice. However, the results seem to show the opposite is true. Residency programs are not regulated by federal rules; instead, they are governed by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. This agency has been revising residency standards since 2003. While the shorter shift was believed to reduce errors, the study points out problems with that assumption. Apparently, asking doctors to perform the same amount of work in less time has increased medical errors as they become rushed to complete tasks.
Errors on the part of hospitals, doctors and other healthcare providers affect more than 1 million people each year. Hospital errors can be physically disabling but they can also have serious mental consequences for the victims and their families. Many victims suffer relationship problems, sleep patterns and depression. Patients from Ohio to Kentucky and elsewhere who have suffered from medical errors now have a new voice through a Facebook group.The psychological symptoms after a hospital or doctor error are similar to those displayed by people who have been sexually or physically abused. Victims expected to be safe with their doctors; instead, they found that they were harmed. This can lead to extreme stress, mental anguish and ultimately to psychological problems such as depression.
Ohio and Kentucky residents may have heard that a group of medical experts reported that almost 100 common procedures are overused and may be unnecessary. In some cases, these procedures can even be harmful and may lead to hospital errors or other complications that cause danger for patients. CT scans for head injuries, early C-sections and Pap smears are on the list of overused and possibly dangerous procedures and treatments.The list was compiled under the organization of the American Board of Internal Medicine and includes such prestigious groups as the American Academy of Neurology. Doctors are very concerned about the overuse of the identified procedures and the skyrocketing costs of healthcare. The United States currently spends over $2.5 trillion per year, or more than $8,000 per patient, on health care. This figure is 2.5 times the amount spent by other western nations. Part of this discrepancy is price-oriented, as American hospitals and doctors simply charge more than those in other countries. However, American doctors also order more tests and authorize far more elective procedures than their colleagues in other nations.
One Kentucky hospital and several cardiologists are facing lawsuits filed by patients who claim that they underwent unnecessary procedures. These hospital errors are being disputed by the defendants, although there is other evidence suggesting that there may have been unnecessary surgeries, catheterizations and other procedures performed on patients.Altogether, 400 patients are involved in the lawsuit along with 11 cardiologists. The hospital, located in the Kentucky city of London, was cited by Medicare and Medicaid for failure to review the necessity of some 3,367 catheterizations that were performed in 2010 and is currently being investigated by the Justice Department to evaluate the medical necessity of cardiac procedures performed by the facility.
The possibility of medical malpractice is always present, but some believe that the health care industry itself may be to blame. Between the physician, the hospital, the pharmacy and the insurance company involved in a patient's care, there is a great deal of room for hospital errors and miscommunication. Mistakes can occur at any point during a patient's treatment. When a patient first enters the doctor's office, his or her information is taken down and entered into a database. This is the first chance for costly or dangerous mistakes because a simple missed keystroke can mean a wrong diagnosis or incorrect directions for taking medication being given to the patient, opening the potential for injury and damage.
A recent study found that many doctor and hospital errors regarding patient information may be due to a bad and widespread habit: copying and pasting old information into electronic records. Because so many hospitals and doctors' offices are cutting staff in an attempt to keep costs low, record keeping can be plagued by shortcuts. One of the most potentially dangerous practices is that of copying out-of-date information into new notes, which often occurs during the transfer of material into electronic format. This result is the opposite of what was intended when electronic medical records were introduced. Supporters of digital formats claimed that transferring information into computerized data would create searchable databases to streamline the diagnostic process and cut down on errors. However, reality has shown that the move to electronic media may actually, in some cases, cause errors or slow the process of data transfer down.
Advocates of the use of electronic health records contend that the digitalization of medical records can reduce hospital errors, but a recent study suggests that this may not be the case. The Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority Report examined almost 3,100 error reports from hospitals in the state to determine if there were mistakes related to electronic records. They found that nearly 4,000 errors were related to EHRs between 2004 and 2012.Most errors did not cause harm to patients, but 10 percent concerned unsafe conditions. Of the many reports reviewed, 15 involved temporary potential harmful situations for patients, such as erroneous medication data, failure to note allergies or failure to document test results. Problems were particularly noted in hospitals that used both paper and electronic records. The difficulty in using some electronic systems also contributed to errors.
A woman was allegedly the victim of bedsores that went undiagnosed for a protracted period at a hospital. The family has filed a lawsuit alleging that hospital errors led to the woman's death. The hospital, another care facility and a nurse are named in the suit.According to the claims in the suit, the victim was admitted to the hospital with clear skin, but had developed bedsores by the time she was discharged to another care facility. No one at the hospital or the care facility diagnosed the bedsores or treated them in any way. The victim was later discharged but returned to the hospital with pneumonia, at which time her bedsores were observed. She underwent surgery to correct the bedsores, but the treatment failed and she died in January 2011 from alleged complications. The family claims that earlier intervention would have prevented the problems that led to the victim's death. They are seeking more than $50,000 in damages, including medical and funeral expenses.
Most people worry that hospital errors will occur during their stay. However, many do not realize that patients also have a good chance of being forced to return to the hospital within 30 days of discharge due to complications or problems related to the patient's stay. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine states that about 20 percent of Medicare patients return to the hospital within a month of their discharges due to medication errors, lingering infections, and misunderstandings about continuing care. Being readmitted for people can be quite expensive, depending on their health care coverage. Patients themselves often have to pay $1,000 out of a total bill of an average of nearly $15,000, but people whose plans have higher deductibles often end up owing more than that.