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Miami Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Giving birth may be more dangerous for Florida mothers

According to a recent report, the United States has seen an increase over the past several years of maternal deaths stemming from childbirth, placing it in the company of nations like Sudan and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, German, Japanese and Czech mothers fare much better on average than their American counterparts. This alarming trend raises questions as to why the danger to mothers is steadily increasing and what can be done about it.

In 1987, the death rate for American mothers from pregnancy complications was approximately eight out of 100,000. By 2013, the rate had increased to 18.5 out of 100,000. One explanation is that states have become better at tracking maternal deaths and the reasons for them.

Lyme disease patients report misdiagnosis is common

Some Florida residents who have Lyme disease may have waited a long time to get properly diagnosed. In a survey that published its results in May, nearly two-thirds of the 6,104 people who responded said that they were not diagnosed for more than two years.

Fewer than one-fourth of individuals said they were diagnosed within six months, and almost 50 percent reported that their diagnosis was in part delayed because their physician said the disease did not exist in their area even though cases have been reported in all 50 states and in more than 60 countries. Almost three-quarters of respondents reported their health was fair or worse, and half said they had been ill for longer than a decade.

Common diseases and disorders that are misdiagnosed

It can sometimes be difficult for doctors to provide a correct diagnosis for a patient. This is because many common diseases or disorders often present as something else, leading some doctors to misdiagnose a patient in order to attempt to provide a treatment. Some of the most common disorders can be extremely debilitating or even cause a person to have a lesser quality of life.

When a person suffers a migraine, many physicians prescribe an over-the-counter pain medication to take care of the symptoms. However, a majority of migraines are food-related. Without investigating the cause, the person could continue to suffer episodes. Thyroid disorders affect many of the body's systems, making it very difficult for doctors to diagnose. Lupus is often misdiagnosed as seborrheic dermatitis as the rashes are similar. Lyme disease, which can be debilitating if not properly diagnosed, often presents as joint pain or a rash.

New study blames existing standards for misdiagnosis of COPD

People in Florida who have been diagnosed with chronic obstruction pulmonary disease, commonly known as COPD, might wish to know how clinical standards were applied by their health care practitioners. A study authored by researchers in the United States and the United Kingdom cited problems with airway obstruction definitions that lead to over-diagnosing older men with the condition and under-diagnosing younger women. The researchers estimated that 13 percent of patients receive an improper diagnosis of COPD.

The diagnostic criteria in question were established in 2001 by the Global Initiative for Obstructive Lung Disease. Widely adopted by clinicians globally, they are now coming under scrutiny for not allowing enough consideration of a patient's age or gender.

How patients can help prevent hospital negligence

Hospital errors are unfortunately common in Florida and around the country. Many of these mistakes do not result in serious harm to patients, but some can be deadly, and it has been estimated that upwards of 400,000 people die each year prematurely as a result. Making sure that a hospital is safe prior to admission, if possible, is important.

Patients should bring a trusted friend or family member to help prevent hospital errors when they are too sick or weak to advocate for themselves. The friend or family member can bring the staff's attention to problems and help decrease wait times in an emergency. Patients should bring all their medications, including any supplements, with them to the hospital. This can help prevent potentially deadly medication errors. Bringing the medications or taking a photo of them will help ensure accuracy better than lists or trying to list them from memory.

Patient awarded $500,000 for remarks made by doctor

Most Florida patients expect to be treated with dignity and professionalism when they are undergoing a treatment or a procedure. However, there are some cases where physicians or other health care workers are caught treating patients in a disrespectful or even harmful manner.

In a lawsuit, a Virginia man claimed that he used his phone to record instructions prior to undergoing a colonoscopy; however, he reportedly forgot to turn the recording device off during the actual procedure. When he replayed the instructions, he reportedly found that his anesthesiologist had made numerous disparaging remarks regarding his genitalia. In addition to joking about firing a gun up the man's rectum, she also reportedly remarked that the man "probably" had tuberculosis and that her assistant could contract syphilis if she touched a genital rash.

Surgical errors and their possible causes

Although major surgical mistakes rarely happen, a recent study conducted for the Veterans Affairs National Center for Patient Safety reveals that preventable errors still occur in hospitals in Florida and across the country. The root cause of many surgical mistakes is poor communication between medical professionals.

The researchers in the study assessed 138 studies that were published between 2004 and 2014 and reported a preventable surgical error, including surgical fires, wrong-site surgery and leaving items in patients' bodies. It found that wrong-site surgeries happen in about one of every 100,000 procedures. This occurs when the surgeon does not operate on the correct side or area of the patient or performs a procedure on the wrong patient. Additionally, it found that surgeons leave medical tools and supplies, such as scalpels and sponges, in one of every 10,000 surgeries.

Some of the causes of surgical mistakes

Florida residents who have been through surgical procedures may be interested in a recently-released study on the causes of some surgical mistakes. Major surgical errors are sometimes referred to as 'never events" because they should never happen, but they still do, often as a result of human error. Researchers from the Mayo Clinic identified 69 'never events" among 1,500,000 procedures that had been performed at the Minnesota facility over a period of five years. They discovered that a total of 628 human factors largely contributed to the 69 incidents.

The surgical errors the researchers examined included wrong-site or wrong-side surgery, not performing the correct procedure, implanting the wrong medical device and leaving objects such as sponges inside the patient's body. None of the errors were fatal, and most of them occurred during minor procedures such as skin surgeries and anesthetic blocks.

Study finds antibiotic misuse may be common in hospitals

Some Florida residents may be interested in a new study that has shown that while antibiotics are prescribed to more than half of the patients in hospitals in the United States, those drugs are inappropriate in nearly half of those cases. Furthermore, in many cases, the inappropriate use of antibiotics is linked to a misdiagnosis.

The study appeared in "Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology" on May 18 and was conducted by researchers at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System using data from 500 patients at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center. According to the study's findings, 95 percent of those who received no diagnosis, an indeterminate diagnosis or a wrong diagnosis were inappropriately treated with antibiotics. Among patients who were correctly diagnosed, antibiotics were improperly prescribed nearly 40 percent of the time.

Pre-surgical education leads to better patient outcomes

According to a new Gallup poll, patients in Florida and across the country do better after surgery when they receive good pre-surgical education. The survey contains significant insight into how patients and those who are involved in their care could achieve better surgical outcomes.

The survey asked post-surgical patients to rate how well they had been informed about what they should expect after the procedure, how they should manage their post-op experience and how they should follow post-surgical instructions. Patients who highly rated their education in at least one of those areas reported greater satisfaction and fewer complications than patients who rated their education lower. Those who said they were well-informed in more than one category experienced even better results.