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Boston Medical Malpractice and Workers' Compensation Blog

Can understaffing lead to negligence?

Data from England's University of Southampton confirmed what astute patients and their advocates have known all along: Hospitals with fewer registered nurses on staff experience higher mortality levels. It's logical to extrapolate that a dearth of nurses means that those who are working will not be able to deliver adequate care to their patients.

According to the university's principal research fellow, the research indicated that care that was not administered was the "missing link" to comprehend hospitals' death rate fluctuations.

Workplace violence is threatening your safety

You may associate workplace injuries with things like falls, broken machinery or lax safety protocols. While all of these things certainly can and do contribute to worker injuries, most people leave out the third leading cause of worker death in the United States -- workplace violence. 

Workplace violence is a widespread epidemic. Unfortunately, Massachusetts workers are not immune to this danger, and it is not clear if employers are taking the problem as seriously as they should. 

Did your nurse get enough sleep last night?

When you are a patient in a hospital or a resident of a nursing home, the last thing that you want to worry about is whether the nurse in charge of providing your care is sleep deprived. After all, patients are both vulnerable and dependent upon their nurses for the most basic tasks when they are hospitalized.

But sleep deprivation in the medical community remains a significant problem in the United States. Research shows that Americans sleep fewer hours than ever, with the average night's sleep netting roughly 6.8 hours, as reported by bettersleep.org. It should be noted that most doctors recommend that their patients get an average of seven to eight hours of sleep each night.

Recreational pot is legal but could still affect workers' comp

Regardless of where you stand on marijuana legalization issues, there are many reasons to be glad that recreational marijuana is now legal here in Massachusetts. For one, the new laws protect otherwise law-abiding people from getting arrested on pot charges. However, that does not mean that all residents are free to light up without consequences.

For instance, your recreational marijuana usage could affect the viability of your workers' comp claim if you suffered a workplace injury here in Boston or elsewhere in the state. It's likely that you won't think that is very fair if you weren't getting high on the job.

Workers' comp may cover PTSD, other mental distress

Most people understand that if they break a leg on the job while carrying out their duties that they can file for workers' compensation benefits. They may realize that they also qualify for injuries and conditions that occur over time, like mesothelioma from asbestos exposure or repetitive stress injuries from an assembly line job.

But fewer know that they may be covered for certain psychological illnesses that they are diagnosed with due to their jobs. Conditions that might make a worker eligible for cash and other benefits include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety or depression.

Workers' compensation claim denials

Suffering an injury on the job can be frustrating, to say the least. Even a minor injury requiring stitches in your hand or a boot on your foot can make it difficult for you to perform the tasks of your job. Medical bills, prescriptions, missed work and other factors may create a financial struggle for you and your family. If your injury is more severe or results in permanent damage, such as a head injury or amputation, you may have many concerns about the future.

Fortunately, Massachusetts workers' compensation provides financial assistance to cover your medical needs and lost wages, among other benefits. You may have felt relief as you completed the paperwork for your coverage and dismay when you learned the insurer had rejected your claim.

Dangers may be present in hospitals, so be aware

Hospital patients are vulnerable to negligence because their debilitated states make them less able to discern whether there is a problem with their treatment. It's estimated that annually up to 440,000 hospital patients succumb to hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) and medical errors in the United States. These two categories combined comprise the number three cause of death in America.

If you are a hospital patient, don't be afraid to ask questions about your care, medications, treatment plans and prognosis. Tell your family members to ask and intercede on your behalf should they notice anything unusual or potentially harmful.

Can you claim benefits for injuries in an office setting?

When you consider all the ways in which employees can get hurt on the job, most people think first of more obvious hazards and workplace accidents like those affecting construction workers and others in typically dangerous jobs.

But the truth is that workers in many settings can get hurt on the job. While the injuries may differ, the end results are the same — pain, suffering and the inability to continue working while they heal from their injuries.

Dog detects cancer that emergency room doc misdiagnosed

One woman in another state proved that dogs can be women's best friends, too. Her Siberian husky's odd reactions to her led the woman to seek treatment for abdominal pain. However, the doctor at the Emergency Room only prescribed a narcotic painkiller after diagnosing her condition as an ovarian cyst.

Spooked by her dog's response to her — extended sniffing of her lower abdomen followed by the dog recoiling and retreating in fear — led to the woman insisting her gynecologist do lab tests and give her a pelvic ultrasound.

Impaired health care professionals pose risks to patients

Patients have to have a certain level of trust in their doctors, nurses and other health care providers. Otherwise, they would never be able to place their lives in these medical professionals' hands.

But in some cases, that trust may not be warranted. Intoxicated and impaired health care professionals often cause their patients irreparable harm. They may fail to diagnose ailments, prescribe the wrong treatment course or medication or even operate on the wrong limb or organ. The havoc they wreak can be devastating to the patients, their families and their survivors when the worst occurs.