Ohio Personal Injury Law Blog

Can patients up their prospects for a positive medical outcome?

So, you’re in an Ohio hospital room, surrounded by loud and clunky machines, alarms going off, employees constantly shuffling in and out as work shifts change, patients coughing and groaning, food carts chugging up and down hallways and other stress-inducing elements.

You’re likely thinking about purposeful ways to get the best possible care and to reduce the potential for any medical error being visited upon you in such a cacophonous environment. What strategy might you employ to optimally effect that result?

Try scattering family pictures around the room. Instruct everyone entering your room to call you by your personal name or a nickname that others commonly call you that readily establishes your identity as a person. Tell hospital staff members about that time you went gold mining or skated at the Olympics or ran for president or ….

Endoscope-acquired infections: a topic of notable concern

Although a duodenoscope is likely something that not many lay persons have heard of, the device is often used in the medical industry, with its efficacy for treating many digestive disorders widely acknowledged.

Indeed, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration notes the central role of duodenoscopes in discovering and treating serious -- sometimes potentially deadly -- conditions and diseases.

At the same time, though, as noted in a recent story on bacteria and scope-acquired infections, the FDA is working with scope manufacturers to better ensure patient safety, looking at possible changes in device design and alternative methods for disinfection following scope use (scopes are inserted through patients’ throats, disinfected, and then typically reused with other patients).

Electronic health records: Jury still out, years after rollout

Electronic health records have been called a lot of things over the past several years, ranging from terms of the most laudatory nature to depictions laden with expletives.

A recent media analysis of digital patient records terms them “a two-edged sword.”

And that they appear to be. On the one hand, nearly all medical facilities in Ohio and across the country have reportedly ditched patients’ handwritten charts and notations in lieu of so-called EHRs in recent years, with it being highly unlikely that there will ever be a return to doctors’ handwritten scribblings.

On the other hand, though, that widespread adoption of computerized recordkeeping has hardly been a seamless and error-free process; doctors across the country -- and in high numbers -- routinely complain about various aspects of computer-controlled records, even after having worked with the systems for years.

When hospices underperform: regulatory concerns, Part 2

OK, so what’s really the story with federal regulation of hospices across the country, including in Ohio?

We raised the topic in our immediately preceding blog post (please see our January 12 entry), noting therein that, although hospices are inspected from time to time, regulators seldom stay on top of those with overt issues regarding deficient care delivery or other troublesome matters.

In fact, the so-called “inspection gap” revealed in a recent media overview of federal hospice regulation leads to a near certainty in every case that a problem hospice with one or more material violations -- such as wrongful administration of medications -- can easily avoid punishment over the long term.

When hospices underperform: regulatory concerns

The term “hospice care” undoubtedly elicits a positive response from many Ohioans, just as it does from high numbers of people all across the country. As noted in a recent media article discussing the hospice industry in the United States, many Americans contrast hospice care in a person’s dying days with impersonal and sometimes problematic care provided in a hospital or nursing home setting. Hospice care, conversely, is often closely associated with “a dignified death, surrounded by loved ones.”

The experience related in millions of accounts across the country indicates that such is the case and that, indeed, care rendered pursuant to the hospice model often brings pronounced peace to a person in his or her final days and to loving family members.

Ohio's handling of infectious diseases: not a stellar rating

Concerning the subject of disease control, one estimate posits that approximately $120 billion is spent annually in the United States in efforts to both contain the spread of and eradicate infectious diseases.

That’s likely not near enough.

In fact, a recent report on the nation’s response to ongoing and emerging health threats authored by a tandem team comprised of two health-focused nonprofit groups concludes that many states are underperforming in their efforts to fight against infectious diseases.

Ohio is one of them.

Hospital operation or outpatient clinic surgery: Does it matter?

Perhaps you’ve got a medical condition that requires surgery. Does it really matter one way or the other whether you have your operation at a hospital where surgeries are routinely performed or at an outpatient surgical center?

Based on recent information provided in a media commentary addressing ambulatory surgical clinics, it conceivably could make a difference.

At the very least, notes one commentator contributing to the discussion on the subject, would-be patients should be asking a surgical center’s administrators and doctors some pointed questions prior to agreeing to an operation in their facility.

Topic focus: VA medical facilities' singular care problems

Is your typical military hospital -- like, say, the large Wright-Patterson Medical Center, an Air Force facility outside Dayton -- different in material respects from most civilian hospitals? Are there singularities that render that result simply because it caters primarily to military servicemembers?

Arguably, there are, and the criticisms of many commentators voiced in a recent media article on substandard military hospital care spotlight a concern that a distinct military culture could be contributing in many instances to deficient medical care and reprisals for workers who report it.

How and why would that be so?

Patients' preventable complications: seeking greater transparency

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is a federal agency with regulatory oversight over the large national medical programs that are funded by taxpayers’ dollars. As such, the CMS is logically focused at all times on cost efficiencies -- that is, the most optimal delivery of medical care for patients, coupled with accurate billing and reasonable charges levied by providers.

Over the past several years, a new idea has taken hold in regulatory circles regarding the attainment of such aims, namely, that providers falling short in care delivery metrics should be penalized for substandard performance.

That idea is now part and parcel of official bureaucratic thinking, being crystallized in the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as “Obama Care”).

Birth injury focus: when a C-section delivery is called for

Medical delivery teams are tasked to command the requisite skills and experience required to do their jobs competently.

That is simply a given, being nothing more than an expectation that is similarly applied to other occupations and specialties.

As such, there is an unvaried expectation that obstetricians, anesthesiologists, delivery-team nurses and other care providers performing important functions during a baby’s birth will do their jobs capably. They bring years or relevant study and training to the task.