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December 2013 Archives

Surgical errors may be fatal no matter how routine the procedure

In Massachusetts and around the U.S., patients undergoing surgery are usually asked to sign a detailed consent form before an operation. One reason might be that surgical errors by the doctor or other member of the OR team are always a possibility, even if they have performed a particular procedure thousands of times. Experts say that every patient is different and may react negatively to any aspect of a surgery.

Asthma misdiagnosis is a common and sometimes costly problem

Asthma affects nearly 15 percent of people in Massachusetts. But many people who are diagnosed with asthma don't actually have it. An asthma misdiagnosis can be costly in more ways than one. Inhalers and other medications prescribed to asthma patients can be harmful to a patient who does not actually have asthma, and the cost of these medications can be high for patients and insurance companies.

Vitamin B12 deficiency gaining attention as serious medical issue

For decades, Boston patients suffering from a deficiency in the vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, may have seen their condition dismissed by much of the medical world as not nutritionally caused. Misdiagnoses of various maladies may have been made due to a patient's B12 problem, a situation that is now receiving dedicated attention from doctors and other healthcare professionals. This attention has led to more data being collected and reported regarding the issue.

Parents get millions for baby's injury

Parents from Massachusetts agreed on a $4.25 million settlement to a medical malpractice case that concluded in early December 2013. The parents claimed that a birth injury during delivery caused the brain damage that lead their newborn to develop cerebral palsy. The parents sued three doctors at UMass Memorial Center after suffering complications in their child's birth during August 2010. The child is now 4-years-old.

Stalled robotic equipment may cause surgical errors

Surgical patients in Massachusetts may want to know that Intuitive Surgical Inc., a manufacturer of robotic surgical devices distributed worldwide, has announced that their units may stall and lead to surgical errors. Friction might build up in some of the robotic arms, interfering with smooth motion during surgery. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the friction can be felt by the surgeon as resistance in the robotic arm. If the surgeon pushes the robotic arm through the resistance, it might briefly stall then suddenly "catch up" to the surgeon's position. This type of jerky motion during surgery could lead to a worsened condition, serious injury or even a fatal surgical error resulting in death.

How can doctors learn from their mistakes if no one reports them?

From a very young age most people in Boston are taught to appreciate constructive criticism. While it may sometimes sting, when an individual makes an error, he or she should know about it, or how else will he or she avoid that error in the future? When a single error can cause serious health concerns, however, it is even more important to know about it. Unfortunately, as we have talked about in a recent article, many doctors are reluctant to point out each other's mistakes.

Virtual practice to help avoid surgical errors in reality

Patients needing surgery in Massachusetts might find it reassuring that technology is being developed to enhance the training of new physicians. More surgical errors might be avoided by new doctors using virtual reality simulation to practice their surgical techniques before trying them in the operating room.

Doctors reluctant to highlight others' errors

While Massachusetts doctors may see the need to disclose their own medical errors to patients, the question of what to do when they discover an error made by another medical practitioner is less clear. The situation of medical errors being detected by a second doctor is routine. A recent survey reports that over half of all doctors have spotted a colleagues error in a one-year period.

New research compares heart attack symptoms between men and women

Both men and women in Massachusetts could benefit from the results of recent studies that have been conducted regarding heart attacks. Although symptoms may vary from men to women, one common symptom seems to be consistent in both sexes. The chest pains experienced during an acute myocardial infarction, better known as a heart attack, do not differ much.

Hospital sued after kidney contamination during transplant

In a news item that may attract the interest of Massachusetts transplant patients, reports from late November said that a leading New York hospital was sued after potentially contaminating a vital organ during a delicate transplant procedure. Although a spokesperson for the care facility, Manhasset's North Shore University Hospital, claimed that it has performed at least 150 successful kidney transplant operations and denied any wrongdoing, the man who received the kidney alleged that a mid-surgery botch rendered it defective by the time he got it.

Vet awarded $8.3 million after brain injury and leg amputation

Massachusetts veterans who rely on the VA for their medical care may be interested to learn that a veteran won $8.3 million from John Cochran VA medical center after he suffered from brain damage and a leg amputation following a routine procedure. The verdict was handed down on Nov. 18 following a two-day trial in October.