Kenneth J. Bush, P.A.
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Miami Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Fewer being tested for prostate cancer

As Florida residents may know, a delayed medical diagnosis might lead to a poorer outcome, and routine screening is done to prevent that. After releasing new guidelines for prostate cancer screening, the number of men being screened for this disease has decreased.

The findings of a task force on prevention in 2012 concluded that testing for prostate cancer other than in high-risk individuals might result in radiation and surgery among those with a smaller risk of dying, since most prostate cancers grow slowly. The panel recommended that only those with a high risk of prostate cancer be tested. Because of this recommendation, a medical journal says the rate of testing has decreased, which might be a matter of concern.

Hospital falls and responsibility issues

A slip and fall on a wet floor in a Florida business may lead to a premises liability lawsuit against the property owner. However, the liability could be different if the business is a hospital, especially if the individual who suffers harm is a patient. As a patient or their loved ones consider legal action, the avenue to pursue may depend on the action or inaction of a medical professional.

Amedical malpractice action is typically based on the actions or omissions of health care professionals. Nurses, physical therapists, surgeons or other professionals in the hospital setting might contribute to a patient's fall through a failure to provide needed assistance or by ignoring the activities and needs of the patient. This may be especially true if the patient has been deemed to be a fall risk because of the type of surgery or procedure performed. Even if a patient is taking risks by getting out of bed without assistance, a nurse can expand monitoring of the situation by using a motion and weight alarm that will sound if the patient gets up.

Many patients incorrectly diagnosed with aspirin allergy

Many Florida cardiac patients who have been told that they have an aspirin allergy might have been misdiagnosed. A new study that was presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology found that patients are often misdiagnosed with hypersensitivity to aspirin and told to discontinue an effective therapy.

Researchers who conducted the aspirin study looked at the medical records of 5,052 patients. While aspirin hypersensitivity was noted in 131 of the medical records, not one of the patients was referred to an allergist. An allergist is a specialist who can perform tests to determine if a patient has a true allergy to a medication or is just displaying symptoms of an unrelated condition. According to the researchers, about one-third of patients with a history of gastrointestinal problems were falsely diagnosed with aspirin hypersensitivity.

Young women more likely to die from heart disease than men

A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology shows that young women in Florida and nationwide are more likely to die of a heart attack than young men. The reason is that women are often less informed than men about their risk of heart disease.

For the study, researchers examined 3,501 patients between the ages of 18 and 55 who suffered a heart attack. Almost all the patients had one of the five potentially preventable risk factors for heart disease, which are hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and smoking. Nearly two-thirds of patients had multiple risk factors. However, the authors of the study found that women were 11 percent less likely than men to say they recognized their risk for heart disease. Further, they were 16 percent less likely to report having a physician talk to them about heart disease and its prevention.

Symptoms of colon and rectal cancer

Florida residents should speak to their doctor about any changes in their digestion or their bowel movements rather than turning to the Internet for a diagnosis. While the most common cause of blood in the stool is hemorrhoids, it can also be a sign of colon cancer.

Other symptoms of hemorrhoids include itching in the anal area, pain while sitting or a lump in the anal area. However, pain or discomfort in this area may also indicate cancer. Some symptoms of colon cancer are weight loss, pain in the lower abdomen and a change in bowel movements.

Managing complications in orthopedic surgery patients

Mistakes by Florida health care professionals may have significant repercussions for their patients. Some issues include complications due to surgery. A study conducted by a leading medical malpractice insurance company looked at issues that led to lawsuits related to orthopedic surgery. Overall, the company found that 13 percent of the claims were due to diagnosis issues,16 percent to surgical patient management problems and 46 percent to surgical performance. The malpractice insurer went on to suggest ways in which malpractice claims might be reduced after orthopedic surgery.

Communication, the study reports, is a key factor in patient management. Team members should communicate with one another freely. Recommending a protocol that helps the team manage patient complaints might help the team approach them in an organized way. This may make it easier to differentiate between common post-surgical issues and complaints due to complications.

Early detection still important in breast cancer survival

Florida women may be interested to learn that according to a recently-published study, both early detection and the involvement of fewer lymph nodes are factors in surviving breast cancer. For the last several years, early detection has been downplayed as a factor in surviving breast cancer, but this study appears to contradict that.

Approximately 170,000 Dutch women participated in the study run by researchers at three different institutions in the Netherlands. The study linked tumor size to survival rates, and the researchers argued in favor of mammograms. In the Netherlands, over 80 percent of women who are eligible regularly get mammograms. However, in the United States, there has been some debate about the efficacy of mammograms. Some studies and reports have discouraged emphasis on them as an early tool of breast cancer detection and of the overall importance of early detection.

Lack of malpractice insurance a matter for state medical board

Florida patients may be surprised to learn that, according to a New Jersey court, doctors in the Garden State are not required to inform their patients they lack medical malpractice insurance. A man had sued a surgeon due to improperly placed screws in his foot. On Sept. 29, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the lack of insurance was a matter for discipline by the state medical board and not for a lawsuit. The court also ruled that medical facilities were required to do due diligence to check a physician's insurance or lack of credit and could be sued if they did not.

The man had already been awarded $750,000 by a lower court on the basis of medical negligence, but he had sought an additional sum on appeal. The Supreme Court agreed with the lower court's ruling that the facility where the surgical procedure took place could not be sued for allowing an uninsured doctor to work there. However, according to state law, doctors who do not have either malpractice insurance or a line of credit in the amount of $500,000 to cover any potential liability may receive civil penalties and disciplinary action from the state medical board.

Book outlines non-technical skills needed for safe surgeries

A new book aims to make surgery safer for patients in Florida and around the world by helping surgeons improve on the non-technical skills essential for a successful operation. The book, which is called "Enhancing Surgical Performance: A Primer in Non-Technical Skills," is based on 12 years of research by the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

Approximately 12 percent of all hospital patients experience some sort of "adverse event" while receiving care. Half of those incidents are related to surgery. A surgical adverse event is any mistake made by surgical staff during a procedure, including wrong-site surgery, leaving instruments in a patient's body, avoidable infections or drug errors. According to researchers, many of these incidents occur as a result of non-technical issues, such as lack of communication or cognitive errors.

Beating cancer with early awareness

There may be Florida residents interested in learning more about how the survival rate of a cancer patient can double when they gain understanding about their condition early on. According to a 2013 Boston study, physicians believe that misdiagnosis only occurs up to 10 percent of the time. However, a 2014 study revealed that around 28 percent of the information patients receive from medical staff and physicians is incorrect.

The Boston study also discovered that errors were occurring in over 70 percent of the lung cancer scans and in 75 percent of the mammograms screening for breast cancer. More recently, a British study involving 10,000 respondents determined that when patients receive detailed and accurate information on the cancer type, treatment options and life going forward, their survival rate is twice as high. However, when the patients were informed about the possible side effects, the likelihood of a positive outcome declined by 35 percent.