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November 2015 Archives

Doctor tried to cover up wrong-site brain surgery

Eleven years after a surgeon operated on the wrong side of a patient’s brain and attempted to cover it up, the hospital where he worked has been ordered to pay $2 million to the patient and his family. Few wrong-site surgical errors could have so profound an effect on a patient’s health as removing healthy parts of a brain, as this surgeon did.

Who pays the bill after a surgical error?

Besides causing injury and suffering to the victim, medical malpractice can be very expensive. A 2013 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that a surgical patient’s bill more than triples, on average, when there are complications -- going from about $17,000 to $56,000.

Mass. med schools to step up anti-painkiller addiction training

In our country’s “war on drugs,” one problem that is gaining increasingly more attention is addiction to prescription drugs, especially painkillers. Many of these powerful drugs are highly addictive, and patients who take them at first to deal with chronic pain often find that the pills have taken over their lives. Trapped in their addiction, they go from doctor to doctor, searching for someone who will write them their next prescription.

The vital role communication plays in medical diagnosis

The National Academy of Medicine reported that diagnostic errors often result in devastating consequences for patients. In fact, an error in diagnosis reportedly is a factor in 10 percent of patient deaths. Hundreds of thousands of individuals every year face tragic consequences because of some caregiver's failure to timely diagnose their medical condition. And ultimately, allegations of failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis are at the center of a large number of medical malpractice cases.

Hospitals can be secretive about mistakes

Experienced medical malpractice attorneys have long known that it can be difficult to discover information about a mistake made in the operating room. The patient is usually sedated or unconscious, after all, and has no idea what is going on during surgery. And in the U.S., unlike in many other countries, most surgeries are not recorded.

Abdominal pain said to be misdiagnosed by ER docs 1/3 of the time

If you ever get a stomachache so bad that you have to go to the emergency room, watch out: there is a good chance that ER doctors will misdiagnose your condition, according to a news report.

How often do anesthesiologists make drug mistakes during surgery?

Before a surgery takes place, a doctor or surgical nurse will sit down with the patient. In this pre-operative meeting, the doctor will explain the surgical procedure. There is a measure of uncertainty in any surgery, which is why a doctor will discuss the health benefits as well as the potential risks or side effects.

Advanced patient-record systems: where money could be well-spent?

A patient and LifeHealthPRO columnist recently wrote about his back-to-back medical appointments. They were “different” to say the least. While there may have been some personality variations between staff members, technology was the driving factor in making these two experiences drastically different.

Does increased spending increase quality of care?

New, attention-grabbing research out of the British Medical Journal has indicated that specialists who spent more on patient care were less likely to be sued for medical malpractice. The study looked at 24,000 physicians in Florida over nine years. Researchers published their findings on November 4, 2015. 

How an MS misdiagnosis can lead to a med-mal lawsuit

Multiple sclerosis, also referred to by its short-hand name MS, is a disorder in which the body's own immune system attacks the fatty material that surrounds the nerve fibers, causing damage in the process. This damage, which can occur in places such as the optic nerve, brain and spinal cord, prevents the body's nerve fibers from sending signals correctly, which can result in symptoms such as fatigue, muscle weakness, numbness or tingling, pain, and difficulty walking, just to name a few.

Mother suffers a stroke after delivering her child

Because a Massachusetts woman suffered a stroke in 2010 shortly after giving birth to her daughter, a jury in Dedham awarded her a medical malpractice verdict of $35.4 million. The resulting paralysis due to the stroke was so severe that the mother now only has movement in her right arm. She also requires round-the-clock care.

Cancer screening guidelines can potentially play role in medical malpractice litigation

In our last post, we spoke about the American Cancer Society’s updated recommendations for breast cancer screening, particularly with respect to mammograms. As we noted, medical guidelines seem are frequently updated, and it is important for physicians to keep up with these updates and the research behind them to understand how to best serve their patients. Failure to do so can have serious consequences.