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Slater & Norris, P.L.C. Personal Injury Attorneys Serving Central Iowa
Personal Injury Attorneys Serving Central Iowa

West Des Moines, Iowa Personal Injury Blog

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Surgeon behavior and patient complications

Patients in Iowa may be interested to learn that there is a link between a higher chance of post-operative complications and surgeons whose bad behavior has been reported by co-workers. This is according to a study in which reports regarding the unprofessional behavior of 202 surgeons, as relayed by their coworkers, were examined.

The researchers focused on reports from two academic medical facilities that took part in the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program. Other factors that were examined included the medical and surgical complications that occurred no more than 30 days after the operation for 13,653 patients. The unprofessional behaviors that were reported pertained to polite and clear communication, worries regarding unsafe or inadequate care, an absence of truthfulness and not fulfilling professional responsibilities.

Medication errors are more common than you think

Your focus is likely on recovery when you’re laying in that hospital bed. After all, it’s difficult to get back to work, play with your children or play a round of golf from your hospital room. That means placing your trust in your medical caregivers to give you the proper medication in the correct doses to get back on your feet.

What may surprise you is just how common medication errors are in Iowa and across the country. A 2013 study revealed that nearly two-thirds of the nurses involved had committed a medical error at some point in their career. Of those, just one-half caught the error before it happened. It’s believed that these errors are most often attributable to nurses because they handle most of the medical order workload.

Establishing causation in medical malpractice lawsuits

When Iowa residents take legal action after suffering injury, loss or damage due to the negligent actions of doctors or hospitals, they must convince the jury of two things to be successful. They must first establish that the medical care they received was not up to the generally accepted standards of the health care industry. Once this has been done, they must prove that the harm they suffered was directly caused by the substandard treatment they received.

Convincing a jury that doctors or hospitals provided treatment that deviated from acceptable medical standards is sometimes reasonably straightforward in medical malpractice cases. Juries could be shown MRI scans or X-rays that reveal foreign objects were left inside patients who underwent surgery, and medical specialists could testify that a serious disease missed by doctors would have been detected if the correct tests had been ordered. Proving that these mistakes were the factual cause of harm is often a far more nebulous process.

Improving medication list accuracy with training

Many patients in Iowa are victims of medical malpractice due to medication errors. In a recent study, researchers found that medication reconciliation training reduces errors when it comes to medication lists.

Physician assistant researchers at the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center, Multidisciplinary Clinic implemented a patient medication interview to make sure that information on all patient medications was properly captured. They claim that many medical record technicians have not received enough training and are unfamiliar with patient records. In their study, the researchers also found that patients are often unable to recall all of the medications they were prescribed. Many patients did not bring their medications or a list to share with medication technicians.

Wrong site surgeries persist across U.S.

Wrong-site surgery continues to be a major problem in Central Iowa and across the U.S., according to medical malpractice experts. In fact, it is estimated that American surgeons perform between 40 and 60 wrong-site surgeries each week nationwide.

These surgical errors persist despite educational and awareness campaigns designed to reduce the risk. For example, National Time Out Day was launched 15 years ago to remind surgical teams to conduct effective preoperative "time outs," which are a series of safety checks meant to ensure a surgery is performed on the correct limb or organ. However, statistics show the annual event has done little to lessen the problem.

Schizophrenia is often difficult to diagnose

One disturbing study indicates that people in Iowa may be receiving unnecessary and potentially damaging schizophrenia treatment when they do not need it. Researchers studying a Baltimore medical center discovered that at least 50 percent of the clinic's patients diagnosed with schizophrenia had actually been misdiagnosed. Instead, they were actually only suffering from anxiety. The research points to a potential danger of widespread overdiagnosis of severe mental illness. As a result, patients may receive inappropriate treatment that is also ineffective for treating their actual underlying illnesses.

In order for people to be diagnosed with schizophrenia, doctors look for certain symptoms, including hallucinations, delusions, negative symptoms, disorganized speech and disorganized behavior. However, many general practitioners diagnose patients with schizophrenia without referring them to a psychiatrist. While lots of people with schizophrenia experience auditory hallucinations or "hearing voices," these reports are often linked to misdiagnosis. The symptom can actually be linked to a range of conditions and sometimes may be simply transient. Other times, patients may simply be speaking about their fear and distress rather than experiencing true auditory hallucinations.

Heart attacks among most common ER misdiagnoses

Something doesn’t feel right. Your chest may feel tight and have trouble catching your breath. Suddenly, the pain spreads to your arms and body. These are common symptoms of a heart attack and a frequent reason for emergency room visits.

A 23-year study of emergency rooms in the United States showed that more medical malpractice claims included heart attack and chest pain than any other condition. Courts also awarded damages in medical malpractice claims involving heart attack and chest pain than any other condition.

Risks of robotic surgery

When people living in Iowa seek medical care, they place a significant amount of trust in their physicians. This is particularly true when somebody undergoes surgery. While surgeries are often life-saving, they carry with them several risks. If a surgery goes wrong, the patient may die or suffer long-lasting negative effects.

In recent years, people have become more aware of robotic surgery. In robotic surgery, a robotic arm guided by a surgeon performs incisions and other aspects of the procedure. According to experts, correctly performed robotic surgery can benefit patients in many ways. These include lowered blood loss, less scar tissue, less pain and decreased recovery time.

Colorectal cancer goes undetected in many young patients

Cases of colorectal cancer are rising among patients under 55, yet it is being frequently misdiagnosed in this same age group. Iowa residents should know that the symptoms of colorectal cancer can be mistaken for those of other conditions. They include nausea and vomiting, gas pains, constipation, blood in one's stool, chronic fatigue and sudden weight loss.

The American Cancer Society has seen fit to lower the recommended age at which one should undergo a colorectal cancer screening from 50 to 45. Screening options range from fecal tests to colonoscopies. Yet many patients, unfamiliar with the symptoms of colorectal cancer, are not being screened. The doctors they see tend not to suspect cancer either.

Fibromyalgia and misdiagnoses

Iowa residents who suffer from fibromyalgia may be interested in the results of a study that was published in Arthritis Care & Research. According to the study, there should be agreement between both the criteria-based diagnosis of fibromyalgia and the clinical diagnosis of the disease. For the study, the investigators identified potential diagnostic misclassifications of fibromyalgia by comparing published criteria with clinical diagnoses.

The participants of the study were 497 patients from a university clinic. The patients were required to complete two forms. One was the 2010 American College of Rheumatology questionnaire regarding preliminary diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia, and the other form was the Multidimensional Health Assessment Questionnaire. After the patients completed the two questionnaires, they were examined by rheumatology personnel.

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