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Ohio Personal Injury Law Blog

Preventable medical error: Widespread, but remediable

That preventable medical error is an implacable and alarming foe of patients in health centers across the country has been manifestly evident for many years. The seminal “To Err is Human” report authored by the Institute of Medicine in 1999 estimated that nearly 100,000 people might be dying in American hospitals annually from the acts and omissions of medical professionals.

As shocking as many of our readers in Ohio and elsewhere might find that number, it must be noted that researchers in multiple studies now find it to be likely understated, and to a marked degree. A report appearing last year in the medical publication Journal of Patient Safety posited that the number of Americans killed each year in the nation’s hospitals and clinics from medical negligence could be far higher than what IOM researchers surmised.

Medical harm: seeking meaningful remedies for injured persons

As personal injury attorneys providing clients with broad-based representation that seeks to fully safeguard their interests and promote their rights when they are injured through third-party negligence, we know where we stand on the issue of medical malpractice.

And for strong and compelling reasons, it is not with so-called tort reformers.

Tort reform has for many decades now been pushed hard across the country, including in Ohio, by medical groups, insurance companies and hospital administrators.

Its central premise is this: Plaintiffs' recoveries in malpractice cases are breaking the bank, keeping good doctors out of practice and encouraging frivolous litigation.

Curbing medical misdiagnosis: a real problem, and a long way to go

Many medical commentators advance the same complaint when it comes to the medical industry taking really purposeful steps to identify and subsequently curb preventable medical error, namely this: Well-meaning initiatives are often introduced at particular medical institutions, but those programs are not expanded to any meaningful degree.

Thus, what seems to be working well at a select hospital in terms of identifying medical errors and ensuring that they are noted by all medical practitioners, with an attendant teaching opportunity followed through on, often remains a strictly local phenomenon.

That desperately needs to change, says one doctor and researcher in an article written recently for a national media publication.

Traumatic brain injury: a growing American medical concern

If there is a leading candidate for a medical ailment that has gone from seeming obscurity in past years to a persistent and high-profile -- as well as continuously growing -- presence currently, it could well be traumatic brain injury.

We have noted the central emergence of so-called TBIs in past select blog posts, as well as cited some of the reasons why head injury issues are now a front-and-center focus of medical researchers, numerous advocacy groups, school administrators, parents and other caregivers.

Misdiagnosis in the United States: startlingly widespread

As noted in a recent media article, the subject of preventable medical error is often couched in most dramatic terms and conveyed via nightmarish scenarios.

That is, a story concerning a so-called “never event” -- surgery conducted on a wrong body part, for example, or even a wrong patient -- is virtually guaranteed front-page play when it occurs in Ohio or anywhere else in the country.

Stories concerning medical mistakes that are not so immediately ghoulish are often accorded less prominent news coverage, and perhaps understandably so, given the voyeuristic thrust of many news pieces and the need for media outlets to make money through sensationalism.

Digital patients' records: ongoing debate and controversy

Most patients in medical facilities across Ohio are likely well familiar by now with the electronic health record systems that are being steadily implemented in hospitals and clinics across the country.

Often called EHRs, those systems have been strongly pushed for several years now by federal and state regulators. Proponents state that their supplanting of patients' paper records will greatly increase efficiencies in the medical industry, as well as enhance patients' safety and reduce costs.

That has proven true -- to an extent. As legions of critics continue to point out, though, the cost-benefit analysis is anything but clear regarding EHR implementation.

Two doctors accused of negligence in failing to diagnose young woman's cancer

With many medical conditions, time is often viewed as either an ally or enemy. When it comes to the diagnosis of cancer, however, timing can literally determine whether an individual lives or dies. Due to its pathology, prompt diagnosis and treatment of cancer is critical to ensuring that abnormal cells are not allowed to spread and affect an individual's lymph system or vital organs. In cases where a doctor fails to diagnose, misdiagnoses or delays the diagnosis of cancer; an individual may suffer tremendous physical and mental injury and even death.

Today, a young Ohio woman must face the reality that she will likely die from the cancer that was allowed to spread from her knee to her lungs. This reality alone is difficult to grasp, but knowing that her chances of survival have been reduced to only 30 percent due to the diagnostic mistakes of two doctors, is almost too much to bear.

Researchers: Medication errors following discharge a real problem

One important thing that might be missing for many people who are being discharged from a hospital is their participation in a course called "Understanding Medications 101" prior to their departure from the facility.

That is a strong takeaway from findings that starkly emerged in a recent study of patients discharged from hospitals following heart attacks and related ailments.

What researchers found is that many people heading out hospital exit doors don't remotely understand the prescription entries they're holding or what exactly it is they're supposed to do with medications after they return home.

Medical error in hospitals: a seemingly intractable problem

Understandably, people in Ohio and nationally were duly concerned 15 years ago upon hearing from an authoritative medical source that about 98,000 patients were dying in hospitals each year from mistakes committed in-house that were entirely preventable.

And that source was wrong.

In fact, that figure provided by the venerable Institute of Medicine in 1999 has since been pointed out as being materially understated. A recent and more widely acknowledged estimate puts a national annual fatality figure owing to preventable errors at about 440,000, a number that many people might simply find mind-numbing.

MD looks to aviation industry to reduce surgical errors

Many of our readers in Ohio and elsewhere are likely impressed by the precision in which the aviation industry seems to go about its business.

That is especially true with the industry’s laser-like focus on safety-related matters. When an error occurs, for instance, it is standard industry practice to instruct airlines across the world what the problem was, why it occurred and what should be done in the future to prevent it.

Central to that aim is the so-called “black box” that accompanies every commercial airplane and serves as a rich repository of accident data in the event of a crash or near miss. The boxes are usually recovered when crashes occur and painstakingly examined for clues into why a mishap occurred and how a recurrence can be avoided.