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Slater & Norris, P.L.C. Personal Injury Attorneys Serving Central Iowa
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West Des Moines, Iowa Personal Injury Blog

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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.

Surgical errors and non-technical skills

According to one researcher, as much as 45 percent of adverse events in medicine are related to surgical patients with 35 to 66 percent of the events taking place in the operating room. People in Iowa who may be having surgery in the near future may be interested in learning that while the technical skills of surgeons are vastly important, the skills that determine how surgeons may react when something unexpected occurs are those that are not technical.

The characteristics of the ideal surgeon include ambition, ability, adaptability, attitude and humility. Having enough humility is necessary for surgeons to be able to admit that they made a mistake or do not know the answer to a problem.

Erb's palsy birth injury could produce lifelong impairment

Many risks accompany pregnancy and birth, and parents in Iowa sometimes must cope with a birth injury known as Erb's palsy. This condition results from injury to the brachial plexus nerves during a difficult or poorly executed delivery or cesarean section. The brachial plexus nerves govern the shoulder and arm. Stretching them too much during delivery by moving an infant's head in the opposite direction of the shoulder results in damage that leaves the infant with loss of sensation or muscle control of the shoulder or arm. Symptoms range from weakness to paralysis.

Over time, an infant might recover naturally from the injury and regain function. Physical therapy also plays a role in helping infants restore nerve connections. Physicians treating infants with Erb's palsy observe symptoms during the early stages to detect signs of recovery. Surgical intervention is often undertaken when improvements are not evident. Surgery has the best chance of correcting problems when completed during an infant's first year. Studies who investigated long-term results for infants who did not receive surgery showed that between 20 and 25 percent of them had impaired shoulder or arm function throughout their lives.

A pulmonary embolism misdiagnosis doesn’t take long to settle in

You can attribute breathing difficulties to several diseases and conditions. Even if you were to combine it with massive chest pain and excessive coughing, it can be difficult to narrow it down. At this point, people recommend someone that has these symptoms to go to the doctor to determine what they have. They might hear that it could be an asthma attack, bronchitis or maybe a case of pneumonia. The doctor prescribes them to some medications and tells them to rest easy before sending them home.

Unfortunately, that person might find it difficult to heal. In fact, they feel their chest pain is getting worse and it is getting harder to breathe. Several instances like these occur to many Iowans because the doctor misdiagnosed their condition. According to the AARP, pulmonary embolism is one of the most frequently misdiagnosed diseases due to how closely it may resemble other conditions. If the victim is unaware for too long, they heavily risk suffering further from this devastating sickness.

Minor stress increases the chances of an operating room error

Medical mistakes claim hundreds of thousands of lives each year around the country, and many of these errors happen in operating rooms. Surgeons in Iowa work under incredible pressure, and even minor distractions like loud noises or negative thoughts can make a potentially deadly mistake 66 percent more likely. This was the conclusion reached by researchers from Columbia University after observing how a surgeon reacted to stress during operations.

The researchers issued the surgeon with a special shirt that measured electrical impulses and heart rate variations during surgical procedures. The surgeon wore the Hexoskin Smart Shirt under his scrubs as he performed 25 operations on 12 patients at Stanford Medical Center in California. Researchers also installed video recording equipment in the operating room so they could identify mistakes. The timing of the operating room errors were then compared to the surgeon's heart rate to see if they were stress-related.

Seven conditions that migraines are most mistaken for

Migraines are easy for doctors to misdiagnose, and according to one study, only one in 20 patients get the correct headache or migraine diagnosis. Below are seven conditions that migraine sufferers in Iowa may be thought to have. On the other hand, patients may have one of these seven conditions and be misdiagnosed with a migraine.

First, any invisible chronic illness will be misdiagnosed as an anxiety or panic attack. The symptoms, which include nausea, vomiting and head pain, are similar to those of migraines. Migraines are also commonly mistaken for sinus headaches. In fact, most migraine sufferers start out thinking they have this. However, sinus headaches are relatively rare.

Children at risk from medication mistakes

When Iowa parents take their children to the doctor, they may not even consider that their kids could be at risk of a medical mistake. However, like all patients, children's health can be put at risk when medical professionals make errors. The results of these doctor errors can be significant, and they may happen for a number of reasons. While some medical mistakes come down to misdiagnoses or errors in judgment, others can be exacerbated by confusion stemming from the use of electronic health records (EHRs).

A recent study analyzed over 9,000 reports of medical errors related to pediatric patient safety at three different health care facilities between 2012 and 2017. The researchers found that over half of all recorded mistakes were related to medication and the use of EHRs. Researchers said that the user interfaces of these systems can be confusing. In addition, EHR systems often fail to issue any kind of alert if a medication dosage appears to be incorrect. Most of the errors related to incorrect dosages of medication given to children, especially overdoses.

How adverse drug events impact patients and doctors

Adverse drug events (ADEs) are the No. 4 leading cause of death in the world. An Iowa resident could be a victim of an ADE if they receive too much of a drug or have an allergic reaction to it. An ADE can also occur because of a medication error either when a medication is prescribed or if it is used incorrectly. However, many of these events are not reported, and there are many reasons for that.

First, it may be difficult to determine the actual cause of an ADE. This can be especially true if an individual takes more than one medication at a time. Furthermore, some patients aren't aware of the side effects that a drug has or how to report them. While doctors can report adverse events to the FDA, they are not required to do so. However, patients themselves can report adverse events to the FDA.

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