Law Office of JoJene E. Mills, P.C.
520.529.3200 Toll Free 866.529.3201

Tucson Medical Malpractice Law Blog

The catastrophic costs of traumatic brain injury

Arizona residents who become the victim of a traumatic brain injury face not only catastrophic physical and mental consequences, but also catastrophic financial consequences. The Mayo Clinic defines a TBI as an injury to the body, particularly the head, that causes dysfunction of the brain.

Most TBIs happen when the victim receives a violent blow to his or her head, usually as the result of a fall. However, a TBI also can occur as the result of the following:

  • A sports injury, such as a concussion sustained during a football, baseball or basketball game
  • A vehicle accident, including car, truck, motorcycle and bicycle accidents or being a pedestrian struck by one of these vehicles
  • An explosive blast that occurs at work or while in combat
  • An act of violence, particularly being shot

Do not just assume your provider's hands are clean

While the hospitals and medical centers in Pima and the surrounding areas are looked to as places of healing, you have likely also heard stories of how people have acquired illnesses and infections stemming from visits to such facilities. The clients that we here at The Law Office of Jojene Mills, P.C. have worked with after having dealt with such issues often express surprise that one of the major sources of hospital-acquired infections are not the conditions of such facilities, but the caregivers found therein. You might automatically assume that hand hygiene is not something you have to worry about when dealing with healthcare professionals, yet you may be surprised as how clean the hands treating you truly are. 

Information shared by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that studies have revealed that healthcare providers, on average, clean their hands less than half as often as they should. Hand hygiene standards call for healthcare workers to wash their hands: 

  • Before and after direct contact with a patient's skin
  • After contact with bodily fluids (including blood), mucous membranes, wounds and wound dressings
  • After contact with surfaces in patient treatment areas
  • After removing gloves
  • After using the restroom
  • Before moving their hands from a contaminated area of the body to a clean-body site

What are the signs of a TBI?

It is essential if you or someone you know suffers from a traumatic brain injury that you know what signs to look for. Any brain injury needs to be treated as soon as possible to prevent more serious injury and to start healing. If you notice any TBI signs, you should head to an Arizona hospital for care. 

The Mayo Clinic notes a TBI can be mild, moderate or severe. The symptoms vary based on which type it is. In addition, symptoms may not show up right away. It can take weeks sometimes for symptoms to appear. This is important to note because it is common to watch for signs right after an injury and then if nothing comes up to forget about it. With a brain injury, though, you have to be diligent for a few weeks.

Is Alzheimer’s related to brain injuries?

Alzheimer's is a scary disease. You may know someone in Arizona who has it or even have a loved one affected by it. One thing many people believe is that this disease is only genetic. The truth is that new information leads experts to believe there may actually be links between brain injuries and a person developing Alzheimer's. 

The Alzheimer's Association states that moderate to severe brain injuries or repeat brain injuries have been linked to Alzheimer's but more research is needed to make a definitive connection. However, the studies so far show promising information that a link exists.

The problem of overdiagnosis

While you may have heard of instances in Arizona of diseases not being diagnosed by doctors, there is another form of medical malpractice you may not be familiar with. Just as some conditions are not detected by doctors through a failure to diagnose, conversely some people will actually be overdiagnosed, or diagnosed for a disease or condition they do not possess.

Overdiagnosis can be harmful to people because it results in a person taking medicines and treatments that the body does not require. Additionally, a patient may pay far more in medical bills than is necessary to treat a condition when exercise or lifestyle changes are sufficient. A Time magazine article chronicled a recent study that showed people are being overtreated for hypertension, even though they possess only a mild form of it. Hypertension patients are taking drugs to lower their blood pressure, even if the drugs’ ability to prevent cardiovascular disease and death remained unknown. The researchers of the study concluded the overdiagnosis was not needed and racks up costs of $32 million per year in the United States.

Are emergency room delays dangerous?

You have likely visited an Arizona emergency room and seen how busy it was. In emergency rooms, the most critical patients are seen first. However, when there are a lot of patients to be seen, sometimes even serious situations do not get the attention they require. This can lead to problems and even become a dangerous situation. 

According to The Heritage Foundation, emergency rooms are in a crisis due to too many patients and not enough staff or time to treat them all effectively. Because the law requires emergency rooms to treat any patient that presents for care regardless of ability to pay and due to the health insurance issues in the country, the ER gets flooded by people who cannot visit a regular doctor. 

Signs of a concussion

Concussions are one of the most prevalant types of brain injuries. They can happen when someone is playing a sport or be the result of a car accident. Anytime a person is hit in the head or otherwise experiences trauma that shakes the brain, a concussion can occur. Knowing if a person has a concussion, though, is not a simple diagnosis. 

Healthline notes that signs and symptoms of a concussion may not always show up right away and could even take months to appear. There are also a large number of symptoms, which can be different from person to person. While one person may experience memory loss, confusion and double vision, another person may have a headache, slight dizziness and nausea. 

How common is medical misdiagnosis?

When you visit a doctor or specialist in Arizona, you have little choice other than to place your faith in the hands of the professional you have entrusted with diagnosing you. Because medical professionals are held to such high standards, and because they have to go through so much schooling to practice medicine, many people think that physicians are immune from making mistakes.

On the contrary, however, the Washington Post notes that medical misdiagnosis is quite common in America, with more than 20 percent of all patients seeking second opinions learning they do not, in fact, have the condition they thought they did. Not only that, but in more than 60 percent of all cases of misdiagnosis, patients learn that the condition they actually have is “distinctly different” from the one named during their initial diagnosis.

Why are children so difficult to diagnose?

When your child is sick, you trust your Arizona pediatrician to ask the right questions, run the right tests, and then come up with an effective treatment plan. However, in many cases, a parent's trust may be misplaced. According to PinnacleCare.com, one insurance company providing medical malpractice policies to pediatricians revealed that 61 percent of the claims against these doctors were for a wrong diagnosis.

Pediatricians face unique difficulties that other doctors may not encounter. For example, your child may not be able to tell the doctor what is wrong. Instead, you provide a list of symptoms, and you may not know, for example, whether your child is lethargic because of fatigue, shortness of breath, a headache or some other issue that an older child would be able to describe. Another challenge your child's doctor faces is the similarity in symptoms across many vastly different conditions. For example, flu-like symptoms could be a sign of lyme disease. If your child has a hard time paying attention, it could be one symptom of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but it is also a common sign of a sleep disorder.

Understanding Arizona's medical malpractice laws

Understanding Arizona's medical malpractice laws

At the Law Office of JoJene Mills, P.C., in Tucson, Arizona, we understand that medical malpractice is a serious public health issue. That is why our mission is to hold doctors and other health care professionals accountable for medical negligence that results in injury to or the death of their patients.