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Pittsburgh Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Study numbers on misdiagnosis in outpatient setting truly alarming

You’ve got to know the extent of the problem before you can fix it.

That is true in virtually every arena where problematic issues arise that urgently demand remedies, including the medical industry.

Especially the medical industry, where a mistake can bring consequences far more dire than a missed schedule, a botched corporate opportunity, a few wasted dollars or a manufacturing process that needs to be broken down and reconfigured.

Errors in the medical field take lives. That is, they can kill patients, and frequently do.

Math doesn't add up: two surgeries, one appendectomy

He “should’ve known what an appendix looks like.”

Words like those, which were uttered by a plaintiff’s medical malpractice defense attorney to a media outlet recently, are likely to resonate with any jury if a case alleging egregious surgical error ever reaches trial.

Chances are it won’t, given what might likely be the stunned reaction of jurors after hearing the details of one man’s story after his admittance to a hospital early last year to get his appendix removed.

As is so often the case, art is used to spotlight human tragedy

People who see the play “Lady from Limerick” during its run at a Manhattan theater this month are not likely to soon forget it.

That owes in large measure to its subject matter, which is surgical error and other medical mistakes. A recent article discussing the play states that it “examines the human cost when things go wrong in the nation’s healthcare system.”

And, indeed, they do go wrong. Readers of this blog and other sources of medical information know that medical mistakes -- including preventable medical errors -- occur at a shockingly high rate in the United States and other countries. The Institute for Healthcare Improvement, a nonprofit group that advocates for optimal patient care globally, states for example that patients suffer medical harm from negligent care about 15 million times each year.

Diabetes during pregnancy: birth injury trigger

A common belief among many people is that a birth-related complication that arises either during delivery or thereafter owes to something that went wrong during the delivery process.

Although that is certainly true in Pennsylvania and everywhere else where birth injuries occur, it is hardly the case that medical negligence leading to significant injuries to a baby or mother arises only from error committed at the hospital during the birthing process.

In fact, medical negligence that subsequently leads to birth injuries can rear its ugly head many weeks and months before a scheduled delivery date.

Johns Hopkins study team: Stroke too often missed in ERs

Researchers in a recent medical study strongly stress that, when a patient comes into an emergency room in Pennsylvania or elsewhere with head-related symptoms, doctors need to consider the possibility of stroke.

 In fact, misdiagnosis of stroke is a huge concern across the country, note Johns Hopkins researchers, with study leader Dr. David E. Newman-Toker stating that ER physicians "need to be more discerning and vigilant in ruling out stroke."

The research conducted by Newman-Toker and associates took a comprehensive look at emergency room records over the course of two recent years pertaining to nearly 190,000 patients seen in more than 1,000 hospitals across the country.

Tort reform, Part 2: State's AG intervenes in malpractice cases

As we have noted in prior blog posts, Pennsylvania imposes a constitutional ban on damage ceilings for victims injured through medical negligence.

That is a minority stance highly differentiated from the tort reform regimes focused upon medical malpractice that are operative in a number of other states, including Texas.

In our immediately preceding blog entry, we referenced an ongoing litigation matter in that state that is currently receiving a lot of attention. Immediately following are some material details regarding that matter, which we pass along to our readers for the broad relevance we believe they command.

Tort reform focus, Part 1: Texas litigation matter looms large

Commentators on medical negligence frequently note the central role that tort reform plays in the vigorous debate surrounding malpractice lawsuits and recoveries for victims injured through shoddy medical treatment.

On one side of that debate are the collective voices of doctors’ groups such as the American Medical Association, medical administrators and insurance companies, who argue that strong doctor protections -- low medical malpractice damage ceilings, high standards of proof that plaintiffs must clear and so forth -- are necessary to keep good physicians in the profession and to curb spiraling costs.

Critics of tort reform, on the other hand, say that implementing strong doctor-protective measures at the expense of injured persons merely harms victims and rewards bad practitioners by not sufficiently punishing them for the deficient medical care they provide. Tort reform is criticized by myriad groups ranging from plaintiffs’ attorneys and the families of persons harmed by substandard care to many industry commentators and conscientious practitioners themselves.

Traumatic brain injury: still widely misunderstood

According to one estimate, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is suffered by a person somewhere in the United States every 21 seconds.

Persons inclined to do quick math calculations will readily note that, extrapolated across a calendar year, the aggregate number of brain injuries across the country is flatly staggering.

And yet, despite the frequency with which TBI episodes occur in Pennsylvania and nationally, many medical commentators say that brain injury continues to be a mystery to much of the general public, as well as to many medical professionals.

Drug-dispensing robots: consumers' friend or foe?

Don’t fear the robot. Instead, fear the human being that is interacting with it.

That seems to be the bottom-line opinion forthcoming from commentators in the pharmacy industry, who note that drug-dispensing robots are not inherently a major safety concern. Rather, they only become a concern when the medical professionals filling the drug bins from which robotic arms pull medications and place them into bottles make mistakes.

Nursing home concerns, part 2: medical harm far too common

Our immediately preceding blog post (please see our entry dated March 18, 2014) introduced a government report that, for lack of a better word, excoriates the nation’s skilled nursing homes collectively as breeding grounds for medical error and resulting harm visited upon patients.

Why would resident homes be so roundly condemned in a comprehensive study that points above all else to glaring deficiencies and substandard care?

Indeed, some of the numbers released by the United States Department of Health and Human Services are truly alarming and have medical commentators strongly calling out for change.

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