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Des Moines Personal Injury Law Blog

Astounding death toll from medical mistakes

It has long been a challenge to collect accurate data when it comes to medical mistakes. Hospitals are reluctant to admit responsibility for any number of reasons. When hospitals hide information concerning fatal errors, they help perpetuate them. It is impossible to know where to direct safety efforts when the dangers are all hidden.

Leapfrog Group is one of the organizations working to help patients by shining a light on the the problems in American hospitals. It assigns the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade and raises awareness about medical errors. According to Leapfrog, medical errors are responsible for around 1,000 patient fatalities every day.

Heart disease fatality rates vary by location

In 1980, heart disease was responsible for an estimated 507 deaths for every 100,000 Americans. By 2015, that number had been trimmed to 253 deaths. The medical community has waged war on cardiovascular disease for 35 years, and in many respects they are winning. While the various forms of heart disease are still the number one cause of death, totaling 846,000 deaths in 2014 alone, the concerted effort has produced impressive results. Unfortunately, those results have not reached the public in a uniform manner.

Some regions do better than others

What are some common surgical errors?

If you are getting ready for a surgical operation, you may have all sorts of worries, from negative experiences during the operation to the recovery process. As a patient, you expect your physician to take care of you. Sadly, some surgeons in Iowa have upended the lives of their patients due to surgical errors. Whether you are preparing for surgery or recently had a procedure performed and think the surgeon may have made a mistake, it is vital to understand some of the common surgical errors that occur.

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, patients may suffer as a result of various surgical errors. For example, a surgeon may perform an operation on the wrong site of a patient, or on the wrong patient altogether. Moreover, a physician may perform the wrong procedure on his or her patient. There are many reasons why these terrifying mistakes take place. Often, they occur because of poor communication, but they may also be the result of a physician's lack of experience or failure to set aside enough time for an operation.

How can I protect myself from medical errors?

One common reason why you may avoid seeking out medical care in Iowa is the number of medical negligence and malpractice cases you keep hearing about. According to, the “third leading cause of death in the country is medical error.” As prevalent as these situations are becoming, you should not let them deter you from doing what is necessary to improve and maintain your health. Doctors and health care professionals work in a variety of medical settings and see many patients each day. Many of these professionals are tired and overworked which can lead to a breakdown in communication that often results in medical errors. 

Here is a brief overview of how you can protect yourself from medical errors. 

Potential poor reactions or side effects of anesthesia

At some point in the life of a Iowa resident, surgery or procedures that require anesthesia might be necessary. While licensed anesthesiologists know what they're doing and hospitals take care to ensure that patients are being dosed properly, mistakes may still be made, or issues may arise that hadn't been predicted before the procedure.

Some people, for example, can have adverse reactions to anesthesia that they aren't made aware of until the anesthesia has been administered. The World Allergy Organization lists allergic reactions ranging from mild rashes, itching, or hives all the way up to anaphylactic shock. In severe cases, damage to the cardiovascular system could occur. The patient may also struggle with breathing due to swelling of the throat.

Preventing medical negligence with personal attentiveness

Medical negligence is far more common than many people realize and can rob unsuspecting victims of health, confidence and overall quality of life. For people who are preparing to visit a doctor in Iowa, being extra vigilant about their treatment can be the difference between mediocre and high-quality care.

A story reported by The Gazette illustrates how dangerous medical negligence can be. The story details the case of a woman who went in to have two benign tumors surgically removed. During the surgery, a mistake resulted in a major artery being carelessly cut. The oversight resulted in a stroke which ultimately affected the woman’s ability to speak, caused paralysis and left her with other devastating limitations. She now has to rely on others for 24-hour care which could last the remainder of her life.

The sad history of dangerous medical products targeting women

The manufacturers of new drugs and medical devices have produced some frightening products over the years. Products aimed at female consumers have a particularly troubling history of being shoddy, ineffective and dangerous. Our firm, Galligan Reid, recently published a SlideShare outlining the problem, including the potential for more deadly products going forward.

Safeguarding a mother's health during and after childbirth

For many years now, hospitals and public health experts have focused attention on the problem of infant mortality. Infant mortality is often used as a benchmark for the quality of health care provided by a hospital, across a state or throughout a nation. Decades of effort have led to significant progress in the area of infant mortality. The U.S. currently enjoys its lowest rate on record. All the effort to protect and nurture infants through childbirth should not have come at the expense of the mothers delivering them, but there is troubling evidence that it has.

Maternal mortality is far higher in the United States than in Canada, Great Britain and many other developed countries. At a time when maternal mortality rates are dropping in most developed nations, the rate in the U.S. is rising. While there are demographic factors at play, including the increasing age of many new mothers in the U.S., the medical system is to blame for many tragic outcomes. Everything from an extreme and unwarranted emphasis on C-sections to a lack of training in maternal care among ob/gyn doctors has contributed to worsening outcomes for women giving birth.

Avoiding deadly hospital-acquired infections

There are a number of reasons so many people dread going to the hospital. In addition to the likelihood of pain and embarrassment, hospitals are places where lots of sick people congregate. That means they are prime locations to spread bacteria and germs. Some people avoid medical care for the fear of succumbing to new illnesses encountered at the hospital. While it is not a good idea to delay or avoid needed medical treatment, the fear of getting sick because of a hospital visit is valid.

Sepsis is a serious condition that occurs most frequently in hospital patients. Sepsis is not tied to a specific pathogen, but rather can result from any type of infection, including viral, bacterial and fungal infections. That said, sepsis is a growing concern due to the rise of drug-resistant bacteria in hospitals all over the country. Sepsis is painful, debilitating, and can lead to organ failure and death. In fact, the Sepsis Alliance reports that sepsis kills more than a quarter of a million Americans every year.

New side effects for already approved drugs

For some, the list of side effects for a particular drug may be alarming. Others might take comfort from the feeling that the drug has been thoroughly tested to reveal its potential dangers. One of the main reasons those side effects are listed is so that patients and their doctors can keep an eye out for adverse reactions associated with a medication. Unfortunately, many new drugs are approved without a comprehensive understanding of side effects, even deadly ones. According to a recent study, 32 percent of the prescription drugs approved by the FDA from 2001 to 2010 did not warn patients of all the potential side effects.

When drugs are tested

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