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April 2016 Archives

When Summer Driving Turns Deadly

An increase of drivers can be expected on the roads this summer season as gas prices continue to remain at a reasonable level. As more families head out and hit the road for vacations or day trips, they are at increased risk for being in a serious car accident because there are more drivers on the road. This is especially true in highly populated areas, such as Chicago and throughout Illinois. 

When Surgical Tools Get Left Behind

4635539316_675333c777-300x214.jpg Patients continue to suffer at an alarming rate from surgical equipment left inside their bodies, despite efforts to reduce these mistakes. Retained surgical items can cause great harm and lead to additional surgeries or hospitalizations, and even death. What Gets Left Behind? In the United States, an average of 4,000 surgical errors take place each year. Though larger items have been found inside of patients, the most common tool left behind is a surgical sponge. These sponges are the squares of gauze used to soak up blood during surgery. Because of their consistency and the fact that they are generally covered in blood, sponges can easily become camouflaged in surrounding organs and tissues. A retained surgical sponge is most often left in the abdomen, where it can wreak havoc. Sponges have been known to wrap around and perforate a colon, causing hemorrhages and infections. Surgical sponges can also puncture vital organs or blood vessels, leading to internal bleeding. How Does This Type of Surgical Error Happen? Though strict guidelines are in place for Illinois medical professionals, including the counting of any and all medical equipment used during surgery, various factors can lead to a tool being left behind. Usually, nurses keep track of surgical sponges by counting them both before and after surgery. Fatigue, stress, the rush of an emergency surgery and even shift changes can contribute to distraction. Fortunately, technology is now aiding in the fight against retained surgical tools. Very small chips can now be sewn into each individual piece of gauze, which can be detected by a special mat or wand at the conclusion of the surgery. One study by the University of North Carolina found that this technology helped to find 23 sponges left in approximately 3,000 patients, over a period of 11 months. This technology is relatively inexpensive to implement, but not in use at all hospitals and surgery centers. Especially during complicated or emergency surgeries, leaving tools behind is a consistent problem. When a medical professional causes avoidable harm to a patient, it may be considered medical malpractice. Because the retention of medical instruments can cause extensive medical care and expenses, loss of work and pain and suffering, victims may be able to receive compensation to cover these costs. Chicago malpractice lawyers can provide further information regarding Illinois medical malpractice laws and how they relate to retained surgical tools.

Best Way to Avoid Medical Malpractice Lawsuits is to Stop Making Mistakes

pVitalsScreenSurgery_Dollarphotoclub_57054657.jpgA great number of fatalities are the direct result of avoidable medical errors. It's estimated that 225,000 Americans die as the result of some form of medical malpractice each year. As inevitable as some amount of human error is, certain protocols could eliminate many of these mistakes. How Important is Patient Safety? A new Public Citizen report on obstetric safety suggests that focusing on reducing the number of mistakes instead of fighting lawsuits, will help to lower malpractice cases. Obstetrics was used for this review because they are responsible for the highest proportion of the largest medical malpractice liability awards. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality estimates that over 157,000 injuries to newborns and their mothers could be avoided each year. Since incidents are drastically higher at some hospitals, even factoring in demographic differences, it is clear that good practices could make a huge difference. Hospitals that have made a commitment to improving their obstetric care and undertaken focused efforts to avoid preventable errors have shown great improvement. Patient advocacy groups suggest that many medical mistakes could be avoided by asking the right questions and making communication between patients and medical professionals a top priority. Thoroughly discussing a procedure and outlining the risks and benefits can go a long way toward ensuring that it is the appropriate choice for a patient, reducing the risk that it will cause an individual harm. Relying on thorough diagnostic tests and second opinions before moving forward with a procedure can also reduce the likelihood that a mistake will be made. Ongoing training and making efforts to stay up to date with current standards of care is also a vital for medical professionals who want to avoid mistakes. High Rates of Medical Malpractice Obstetrics isn't the only area that experiences high medical malpractice rates. Among inpatient incidents in the United States, surgical errors account for 34% of medical malpractice cases. For outpatient cases, diagnosis errors are responsible for 46% of medical malpractice cases. The reasons behind these cases span vary, from distraction and rushing through a procedure to simply not spending enough time consulting with a patient. As distressing as being the victim of medical malpractice can be, the problem is compounded by the efforts of hospitals, insurers and doctors who continue to lobby to reduce the legal rights of the injured. Those with question about medical malpractice laws may consult with personal injury lawyers for additional information.

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