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Medical errors result in 325,000 deaths annually, report says

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Medical Malpractice on Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

When a doctor, surgeon, nurse or any medical staff member makes a mistake, it can greatly affect a patient’s health. The patient may not receive the correct medication, or they may not receive the proper dosage of the correct medicine; the patient may suffer an injury or complications stemming from a surgical error; a doctor may misdiagnose a patient’s condition, leading that patient (and even medical staff members) down a treatment path that is completely wrong.

There are myriad other mistakes that can occur when you are receiving medical treatment, and they can cause a patient severe or even fatal harm. Granted, in the grand scheme of things, these mistakes are uncommon — but they still happen often enough that they are a concern. For example, did you know that a recent report found that roughly 325,000 people die every year as a result of medical errors?

Lives are turned upside down by medical errors, and it isn’t just the patient who is affected. The patient’s loved ones may be without one of their own as a result of a medical error, which greatly affects them emotionally and financially. When a medical error occurs, the victims need support during this time. One of the ways they can help themselves is by holding the responsible medical personnel and/or medical institutions responsible in civil court with a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Money may be the last thing you want to think about after a medical error has ravaged your life, but really a civil lawsuit isn’t always about the money. It’s about holding reckless people responsible for their actions, and hopefully that justice helps the plaintiff move on from the incident, while also spurring the defendant to become more responsible.

Source: FierceHealthcare, “Updated medical errors report shows progress,” Zach Burdyk, July 11, 2014

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How many medical errors could be avoided by slowing down?

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Medical Malpractice on Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

While there is no question that some injuries and medical conditions occur through no fault of attending New York physicians or other medical staff, many serious issues are a result of avoidable mistakes. And too often those mistakes are caused by medical negligence and a general lack of attention paid by doctors to their patients. It seems that a number of factors and changes within the medical industry have contributed to a patient-care environment that is not necessarily conducive to treating patients.

The standard of the 15-minute patient visit was established, at least in part, by Medicare back in the early 90s, and resulted in a widespread adoption of the practice. Interestingly, it is estimated that the length of the average doctor visit has increased by approximately 4 minutes over an almost 20-year period. Even so, there are still major concerns over the quality of doctor-patient visits.

According to one study, only around 25 percent of patients complete a sentence before being interrupted during their doctor visit. The issue is compounded by the fact that doctors commonly redirect patients after approximately 23 seconds of them speaking. And given that patients often arrive at their doctor’s appointment with more than one issue to bring up, visits can quickly become rushed for patients and doctors alike.

Ultimately, it does seem that time is still a major issue when it comes to patient visits, since physicians are primarily paid for the number of patients they see. And while the issue is not necessarily a new one, some suspect that the already hurried environment will be compounded by changes made by the Affordable Care Act.

Concerns must be raised to the fact that a lack of attention on the part of doctors can have serious consequences like misdiagnoses and pharmacy errors.

Source: PBS, “15-minute doctor visits take a toll on patient-physician relationships,” Roni Caryn Rabin, April 21, 2014

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High infection rates may be sign of serious medical errors

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Medical Malpractice on Thursday, April 10th, 2014

When someone is admitted to a New York hospital with a serious illness and/or injury, they are often in an extremely vulnerable state emotionally and physically. That is why many patients put a great deal of trust into their physicians and medical providers to ensure that they are cared for properly. But with the findings of a new study pointing to the extent and severity of infections developed in the hospital setting, some medical professionals are suggesting that patients put less trust in their physicians to avoid potentially fatal medical mistakes.

When discussing how well hospitals around the country address issues concerning infection prevention and patient care, one physician noted that patients should look at the rate of bloodstream infections spread in the ICU. By comparing local hospitals for factors like infection rates prior to being admitted, individuals can help to ensure that they are not victims to secondary infections. Beyond that, the medical expert conceded that nurses and physicians can need to be reminded about policies regarding sanitation, pharmacy errors and infection prevention.

Such comments came in response to the results of a study that surveyed over 11,000 patients in 183 hospitals during a five-month period in 2011. The study, which was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that approximately four percent of patients developed an infection while admitted in the hospital that year. And while bloodstream and urinary tract infections were common, approximately 22 percent of the total number of infections acquired were related to pneumonia and surgery sites.

The findings of the study point to the fact that infection rate statistics have changed in recent years. For instance, the CDC estimates that antibiotic-resistant infections are on the rise, while some bloodstream infections have dropped sharply.

Source: CNN, “1 in 25 patients gets infection in hospital,” William Hudson, March 26, 2014


Future of medicine and medical malpractice?

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Medical Malpractice on Friday, March 21st, 2014

The advancement of technology and medicine has always been intertwined as both fields challenge each other to set standards and meet difficult demands. It may come as little surprise to many New Yorkers, then, that leading figures in both industries are working hard to redefine how doctors interact with their patients and manage care by incorporating smart phone and cloud technology into how medical records are stored and accessed. With so much change coming to modern medicine, however, serious questions over patient rights and issues like medical malpractice are being posed.

From Microsoft to Apple to Nike, technology giants everywhere are investing their time and resources on developing technology to track and document users’ health. And while some programs are intended for purely recreational use, more emphasis than ever is being placed on providing doctors with instant access to their patients’ up-to-the-minute health information. Such efforts coincide with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, and reflect a shift to prioritize preventative care and the advancement of online medical records.

Patient rights advocates are concerned that the increased use of devices and applications to collect and store patient information may lead to major privacy and care issues. For one thing, there are doubts as to whether or not private information found on an app is protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Another problem many see is that not all programs have to comply with FDA standards.

As physicians and medical professionals are confronted with the prospect of an increasingly digitalized environment, they must also consider what that means for patient care and mistakes. After all, collecting patient information virtually can potentially lead to issues like pharmacy errors and misdiagnoses.

Source: PBS, “Doctors monitor patients remotely via smartphones and fitness trackers,” Daniela Hernandez, March 10, 2014

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Failing ER grades may point to serious medical mistakes

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Medical Malpractice on Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Serious and even life threatening mistakes can be made by emergency room physicians when they lack the resources and support necessary to treat patients effectively. Issues like ER overcrowding have posed serious dangers to patients throughout the state of New York and the entire country for years, and now there is evidence that the situation is only deteriorating further. Given that major errors and medical malpractice incidents thrive under such stressed conditions, the failing emergency care system must raise concerns for patients’ health and well-being.

States across the country were recently graded on over 130 factors that contribute to emergency care services. The study, which was conducted by the American College of Emergency Physicians, found that the majority of states scored below average and that the country actually received an overall grade of D+. Interestingly, factors like the amount of medical malpractice liability coverage offered to physicians played a role in the quality of emergency care services offered in various states. The level of reimbursement states offered to doctors for Medicaid patients also affected ER overcrowding rates.

Overcrowding and pharmacy errors are identified as major issues in emergency rooms across the nation, and are due to several factors. The number of patients being treated in the ER has increased by more than 30 percent in a 15-year period, and emergency department wait times are also on the rise. A significant part of the problem may be that ER doctors are now taking on some of the cases that were once be handled by primary care physicians in an outpatient setting. Furthermore, patients are being referred to emergency departments for diagnostic tests and other forms of care at increasing rates.

Straining and already stressed system could have disastrous effects on patient care and safety.

Source: philly.com, “Report finds ERs in crisis: Pa. Better than most, N.J. worse,” Don Sapatkin, Jan. 18, 2014

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Justice for one New York medical malpractice victim

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Medical Malpractice on Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

As many victims know all too well, it can be incredibly challenging to prove fault in some cases involving treatment errors. Many medical malpractice lawsuits take years to go to trial and do not necessarily end with a favorable verdict for the plaintiff, since the jury must be able to identify negligent or harmful behavior on the part of the defendant/s. One woman who survived serious medical errors may finally have some closure and to move forward with her life now that her weeks-long medical malpractice lawsuit is over.

The 34-year-old woman at the heart of the case endured 12 weeks of trial before learning that the jury would rule in her favor. After three days of deliberation, the Brooklyn, New York, jury found that the woman was the victim of medical malpractice and should receive $62 million for the trauma she endured. To account for her medical expenses, the plaintiff will receive $4 million; she is entitled to $38 million for any future pain she may experience; and the jury found the woman deserves $20 million for the pain she has already suffered as a result of being permanently disabled by the actions and negligence of the hospital and physicians identified as the defendants in the case.

Even now, the hospital responsible for caring for the plaintiff in 2009 denies any wrongdoing. During that time, the victim was admitted to the hospital to undergo a procedure to remove an ectopic pregnancy. As a result of mistakes made during and after the procedure, however, the victim developed a life-threatening infection, gangrene and blood poisoning. She ultimately sustained hearing loss and had to have both of her legs amputated below the knee.

Now that the trial is over, the plaintiff is reportedly pleased with the outcome of the case.

Source: International Business Times, “Stacey Galette Lawsuit: Double Amputee Awarded $62M After Routine Surgery Leaves Her Without Legs, Brooklyn Mom ‘Happy Justice Was Served’,” Philip Ross, Jan. 11, 2014

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