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Des Moines Personal Injury Law Blog

Some Iowa patients at risk for medication errors more than others

In Iowa and throughout the nation, hundreds of thousands of people (if not more) will undergo some type of medical treatments or procedures this year. Many will have necessary or elective surgeries. Some will go to hospitals or doctors' offices when they're not feeling well and get prescriptions for medicine to help alleviate their symptoms. Whenever medicine is involved, there's always a chance for medication errors to occur.

Making a mistake when dispensing or ordering medicine for a patient is a grave matter that often results in serious consequences, even death. There are any number of reasons such errors might occur, including but not limited to medical negligence. Most medications are labeled with clear instructions regarding dosage and usage of the product.

No two recoveries the same re medical malpractice brain injuries

One can only imagine sitting in an Iowa hospital waiting room while a loved one is having surgery only to later learn something went terribly wrong and the condition of the patient is actually worse than it was prior to the operation. Medical malpractice brain injuries often leave more than just patients' lives devastated. Spouses, parents and adult children who care for injured medical patients often suffer in many ways as well.

No two patient situations are exactly the same; neither are any two recoveries. There are certain things to keep in mind that may be helpful to those recovering, as well as those caring for others following traumatic brain injuries (TBI). If a loved one is in a coma due to a brain injury, even though he or she can't respond to external stimuli, it doesn't necessarily mean he or she can't hear sounds, such as voices speaking nearby.

Parents said pitocin overdose likely caused child's brain injury

When something goes wrong during childbirth, the aftereffects of the situation may be present for a lifetime. If, for instance, medical negligence results in a newborn infant suffering a traumatic brain injury, the years ahead that an Iowa family may have been greatly looking forward to may be wrought with adversity and challenge instead. This isn't to say such parents would not still find joy and blessing in raising their child; only that the road ahead would be starkly different from the one they'd anticipated.

It's understandable that parents may feel angry and frustrated upon learning their child's injury may have been prevented. Such situations often lead to medical malpractice lawsuits when parents seek justice for their children. A couple in another state filed a claim against a hospital in 2013. 

Unnecessary surgery and medical malpractice

What does an average patient think when their doctor recommends surgery? They likely think that extensive research has proven that surgery is beneficial for patients in their position. They assume that evidence has been gathered and rigorous scientific analysis has been conducted. After all, surgery, even minor surgery, carries serious risks. Would doctors really recommend a risky procedure without proof that it is effective?

As it turns out, yes, many doctors recommend surgeries that have scant evidence of effectiveness. Recent research into the ethically questionable practice of sham surgeries suggests that surgery in many cases is no more effective than the belief that surgery has been performed.

Be proactive to prevent medical malpractice medication errors

Any type of medical procedure carries an inherent safety risk. Most Iowa patients understand this when they entrust their personal care to doctors, surgeons, nurses and other medical staff members. Problems, such as medical malpractice medication errors, wrong-site surgeries and other mishaps continue to plague many hospitals and nursing facilities throughout the state.

This begs the question whether anything can be done to prevent such errors from occurring. There are several recommendations on the books that might help patients who are preparing to take medication for an extended period of time. A high priority is to make sure that the person taking the medication knows the name of it.

How to separate the good hospitals from the bad

The process of choosing a hospital when seeking medical care can be haphazard. Many choose the nearest hospital. They may assume all hospitals are created equal, or they may just not know how to tell a good facility from a bad one. There has been an increase in the information prospective patients can find when it comes to hospital quality. More information is not better information, however, if it does not help you choose the best hospital to treat your condition.


Medical malpractice and tort reform

Health care costs are a serious concern for many Americans. The price of a serious injury or illness is bankruptcy and financial ruin for all too many families in Iowa and across the country. The fear caused by runaway health care costs has led to the rise of a particular proposed remedy known as tort reform.

What is tort reform?

Would this help reduce medical malpractice doctor errors?

A resident of a southern university medical school recently published an article that may be of interest to Iowa doctors and medical patients alike. She wrote that perhaps more upfront discussions regarding mishaps may help reduce possible medical malpractice doctor errors down the line. The general surgery resident claims the difference between bad doctors and good doctors is that bad ones refuse to admit their mistakes.

The article suggests a silent solidarity exists among medical professionals that helps conceal error.  It goes on to say that freely admitting when a mistake is made may help colleagues learn from a particular experience so as not to repeat it in the future. The belief is that by allowing oneself to be vulnerable (to criticism and perhaps reprimand) the overall quality of medical care throughout the nation would likely improve if more doctors would come forward to admit their errors.

Parents say doctor errors caused their daughter's death

When parents in Iowa (or anywhere in the nation) entrust their children to medical professionals for care, they have the right to reasonably expect that those treating their loved ones will act according to the highest levels of accepted safety standards and procedures. This goes for dentists as well as medical surgeons. In a situation in another state, parents of a toddler age girl say doctor errors cost their precious child her life.

The child underwent oral surgery under general anesthesia. After she died, her devastated parents determined through their research that, not only was the anesthesia not necessary, but she did not even need surgery in the first place. An independent forensic odontologist substantiated that claim when he reviewed the dentist's records and said there was not enough evidence of tooth decay or other problems to warrant oral surgery.

Patient attentiveness can reduce the risk of medical malpractice

Every day, hundreds of Iowa residents seek medical treatment from the hands of trusted health care professionals. However, just because a doctor appears to be reputable and professional, does not mean he or she cannot make mistakes.

When a patient takes the initiative to understand, control and contribute to his or her medical treatment, he or she can significantly reduce the risk of becoming a victim of medical malpractice. According to Consumer Reports, there are several primary steps that a patient can take to guarantee understanding. These include the following:

  • List questions: In anticipation of a doctor’s appointment, patients should take the time to write down their questions and concerns about their health. They may also wish to include information about conditions they have experienced in the past, medications they are taking and complications they have heard about. Thorough research and prepared questions can help any patient gain a stronger understanding of why his or her treatment has been recommended.
  • Show interest: Patients who are assertive and not afraid to engage in a conversation are more effective at showing an interest in their health. As a result, their doctor may feel especially responsible for providing optimal care and more motivated to thoroughly diagnose and treat whatever their patients are dealing with.
  • Repetition: Once a patient has received a diagnosis or treatment plan, he or she can benefit greatly from repeating what has been heard from the doctor. Confirming an understanding can reduce the risk of improper treatment or confusion that could lead to worsened conditions.
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