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Tucson Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Medication errors by nurses

Doctors are not the only healthcare providers who make medical mistakes. Nurses in Arizona and around the country are often a patient's primary caretaker during the course of a hospital or nursing home stay, and medication errors are common. These mistakes can lead to serious issues, and healthcare facilities should work on improving systems to reduce these types of errors.

According to Sanford-Brown, medication errors are one of the top five mistakes made by nurses, especially new ones. When it comes to medication, there are numerous factors to consider, and an error related to any of them can be disastrous. When a nurse gives medication to a patient, first it is important to make sure it is the right medicine and the right patient. The nurse needs to then give the right dose at the right time. It also needs the right route, whether that is orally, intravenously, nasally, intramuscularly, rectally or subcutaneously.

Are you able to return to work following a TBI?

If you suffer from a traumatic brain injury, you may be dealing with a wide-range of symptoms that can affect many areas of your life. You may find it difficult to concentrate, remember things, communicate with others, reason, problem-solve and schedule appointments. Furthermore, you may experience physical and psychological limitations, such as muscle weakness, fatigue, vision and auditory problems, depression, anxiety, and impulsivity. All of these things may affect your ability to return to work, or at least the position you held prior to being diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury.

When you do return to work, you may not be able to perform all of the tasks that you once did. Some employers will make changes to accommodate your limitations. Yet, you may be able to facilitate your transition back to work by incorporating the following:

  •          Take frequent rest breaks throughout your shift
  •          Take on less responsibilities when you first return
  •          Start by working shorter shifts then gradually increase to longer shifts
  •          Communicate your needs with your employer

Patients should stay involved to avoid misdiagnosis

Diagnostic errors are a serious problem in the United States. Studies suggest that more than 12 million adults seeking medical attention are given the wrong diagnosis every year. The numbers are even higher when looking at children. At least half of these misdiagnoses end in serious injuries or death. Many experts complain, however, that little is being done to improve the problem. When people are not able to receive a diagnosis and a treatment plan that is helping them to improve their situation and heal, they should take action to seek other answers that might lead to a solution. When patients stay active in their healthcare, they know when they are not receiving the medical attention they need.

If patients feel as though they have not received the right diagnosis, they should seek a second, third or fourth opinion. Not every doctor may have the right answer, as there are more than 10,000 conditions that can be diagnosed and more than 200 being added every year. With over 5,000 potential laboratory tests that may be ordered by a physician, not every doctor may be the right one to find the proper diagnosis.

Will your surgeon tell you (s)he made an error?

When you undergo a surgical procedure at an Arizona hospital, you put your life in the hands of your surgeon and the other operating room doctors, nurses and ancillary personnel. You expect all of them to possess the necessary skill and experience to operate on you and make you better. The last thing you expect is for one of them, particularly your surgeon, to make a mistake that could result in your injury or death.

As CBS News reported, when such a surgical error occurs, your surgeon should divulge the mistake to you per the national guidelines recommending such disclosure. Unfortunately, however, barely three-fifths of surgeons do, in fact, disclose the following things to their affected patients:

  • What type of surgical error occurred
  • How the error occurred and why
  • How badly (s)he feels about having committed the error
  • The level of concern (s)he feels with regard to your welfare
  • The steps (s)he intends to take to treat any problems you incur as a result of the error

How dangerous are hip replacements?

Hip replacements have long been the medical treatment of choice for people suffering from a variety of hip problems. However, if you underwent a pre-2014 hip replacement in Arizona, you should know that your metal-on-metal hip could be highly hazardous to your health.

The New York Times recently reported that one such patient, himself an orthopedic surgeon, ultimately suffered life-threatening injuries and medical conditions based on his 2006 hip replacement. The specific hip in question was a Johnson & Johnson ASR XL metal-on-metal hip. The patient continued to experience hip pain after his surgery that ultimately increased in severity to the point where he elected to undergo a second surgery in 2011 to remove it. His surgeons were shocked to discover that during the five years the hip had been in his body, it had leaked cobalt into it, resulting in metallosis, a build-up of metal debris, that not only destroyed his hip’s nearby muscles, tendons and ligaments, but also invaded his heart and brain.

Can miscommunication lead to medical mistakes?

As in any industry in the United States, communication is critical. Yet, when peoples’ lives are at stake, communication takes on even more importance. When you go to see a medical professional, you may be given a diagnosis, require a surgical procedure, need to have labs taken or need a prescription for medication to treat your condition. Your medical information may be traveling between physicians, surgeons, nurses, medical assistants, pharmacists and other medical professionals. During each transfer, there is room for error, and a simple misinterpretation or miscommunication can lead to an error that could leave you significantly harmed or cause death.

A study in the Journal of Patient Safety found that between 210,000 and 440,000 people die every year in America as a result of a preventable medical mistake. This number has such a wide range because many medical errors go unreported or are covered up in an attempt to not receive repercussion that may follow a medical error. Poor communication may be one of the leading causes of medical errors. Miscommunication in the medical industry may be involved in a number of situations. Some of these include the following:

  •          Surgeon performing a procedure on the wrong patient
  •          Medical assistant calling in a prescription for the wrong medication
  •          Pharmacist overlooking a deadly medication allergy
  •          Physician miscommunicating a patients’ history to a colleague
  •          Physician misdiagnosing a condition

ER doctors' assumptions result in brain damage for thousands

One of the most important ways for a doctor in Arizona to minimize the damage caused by a stroke is to diagnose it right away. However, when a woman, a person of color or someone under the age of 45 goes to the emergency room complaining of dizziness or a headache, many doctors fail to consider these as signs of a stroke, researchers from Johns Hopkins say.

Medical specialists gathered data from over 187,000 patient records in more than 1,000 hospitals. After being told they had issues such as migraine, or an inner ear infection, many of the patients returned home from the ER only to be hospitalized within 30 days for stroke. In fact, more than a quarter of them had a stroke within 48 hours of their ER discharge. Minorities were between 20 and 30 percent more likely to receive a misdiagnosis than white males over the age of 45, and women suffering from early stroke symptoms were 33 percent more likely to be sent home. 

Doctors remove organ mistaken for cancer

Few things are more nerve-wracking than undergoing surgery. In fact, many people choose Arizona doctors only after reviewing performance records and qualifications.

There is some uncertainty involved with any invasive surgery, but few people would expect catastrophic mistakes, such as that which befell a Florida patient undergoing back surgery a number of years ago. This particular case was recently the subject of a half-million dollar settlement.

3 common anesthesia errors

Going under anesthesia is a serious concern for many patients across Arizona, and if you are among them, you may find yourself preoccupied with all the “what ifs” that could potentially happen because of your anesthesia treatment. At the Law Office of Jojene E Mills, P.C., we recognize that serious, and in some cases, potentially life-threatening situations can arise because physicians make anesthesia errors, and we have helped many patients who suffered injury because of a medical provider’s negligence or mistake pursue appropriate recourse.

According to Elcam Medical, more than 250,000 Americans lose their lives every year because of medical errors, and some of those errors involve medical professionals making mistakes while treating patients using anesthesia. Just what types of anesthesia errors are endangering today’s patients?

Problems with diagnosing Lyme disease

At the Law Office of JoJene E. Mills, P.C., we know that it can be frustrating when you are sick but you don’t know what’s wrong. With some serious conditions, such as cancer or brain injuries, the results can be devastating if you don’t receive an accurate or timely diagnosis. The same can be true for Arizona residents who are suffering from diseases that are difficult to detect and not widely understood in the medical community, such as Lyme disease.

Lyme disease cases in Arizona are relatively rare compared to many other states, which can complicate diagnosis and treatment. The Lyme Disease Association reported only 168 cases of the tick-borne illness in Arizona between 1990 and 2015, as opposed to 93,481 cases in Pennsylvania during the same period. As you can imagine, doctors who don’t see this disease as often can have difficulty pinpointing what’s wrong or might give a wrong diagnosis.