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Des Moines Personal Injury Law Blog

How do brain injuries affect children?

If your child has experienced a brain injury, you likely have a lot of questions and concerns. Perhaps the most common fear you share with other parents in Iowa is how the injury will affect your child in the long term. You have a good reason to be concerned because children’s brains are not fully developed. It is natural to wonder if there could be lasting results of the injury.

Immediately after the injury, you are likely to see symptoms of it. The Brain Injury Association of America notes common signs of brain injury include headaches and fatigue, along with problems involving vision, balance, motor coordination and hearing. Your child may also begin suffering seizures and have problems talking. It all depends on the area of the brain that was affected.

Still a long way to go to prevent medical misdiagnosis

America is reported to have the best health care system in the world. We trust our doctors and most of the time, with good reason. However, recent research published by the Mayo Clinic and reported in the Washington Post reveals that we haven't yet reached a point where we should trust our medical providers so completely.

According to the research, as high as 20 percent of seriously ill people will be misdiagnosed by their primary care physician. According to a 2015 report put out by the National Academy of Medicine, roughly 12 million adults do not receive an accurate initial diagnosis, often resulting in delayed medical treatment for serious conditions. The moral of the story, says Dr. James M. Naessens, of Mayo Clinic's Department of Health Services Research, it that, "The second opinion is a good approach for certain patients to figure out what's there and to keep costs down."

The risk of a vacuum-assisted delivery

When a woman is in labor in Iowa, it is essential that the doctor monitors the mother and baby to assure safety and health. If a baby shows signs of distress or the mother is having a difficult time during labor, then steps are taken to speed up the process of delivery to ensure neither’s health is compromised. Typically, in this type of situation, a mother will either undergo an emergency Cesarean section or the doctor will use a vacuum extractor to assist getting the baby through the birth canal, according to Healthline.

When a vacuum-assisted birth is conducted properly, there are minimal risks. In fact, it is safer than a C-section and the risks are less severe. However, if anything is done incorrectly or something goes wrong, the risks can be increased. Typically, though this is due to medical negligence. Furthermore, the risks are not just to the baby. The mother also may suffer from increased issues after delivery.

Mild brain injuries can have long-lasting effects

Whether people have been involved in a motor vehicle collision or have been in a slip-and-fall accident, they may have received a traumatic brain injury. When the head experiences a forceful impact, it may make the brain reverberate within the hard, skull cavity. The soft brain tissue may bruise, bleed and become inflamed as a result of the damage. Depending on the severity of the force and what part of the brain was injured, the damage can have long lasting cognitive effects on a person’s life. Studies show that this is even true for people suffering from mild brain damage.

Research published in the journal Neurology indicated that through the use of diffusion tensor imaging, physicians are able to better spot the signs of mild brain damage that occurs within the brain’s white matter. The white matter is responsible for language processing and memory development, among other things. The study looked at participants one year following the initial injury to follow the rate of improvement people experienced with their mild brain trauma. At the 12-month checkup, some patients’ brain damage showed marked improvement, as the brain rewired itself to compensate for the damage. Others, however, still showed marked dysfunction, which could affect their ability to work, focus, plan, write and interact with others.

Iowa medical malpractice legislation advances

An Iowa legislative effort some feel would help draw much-needed doctors to the state would mean big changes for how plaintiffs can secure damages following medical malpractice lawsuits. Per the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Iowa Senate File 465 would set limits to how much plaintiffs can receive in non-economic damages for mental anguish, pain and suffering and related areas after suing on the basis of medical malpractice.

Proponents for the new legislation believe it would make Iowa more competitive to doctors than neighboring states, many of which have an easier time attracting trained physicians because of existing limits on malpractice awards and lower costs for medical liability premiums. Currently, Iowa is experiencing a physician shortage, ranking 42nd in the nation in terms of the number of physicians operating in the state, per capita. The new legislation, should it pass, would cap the amount that could be awarded to a plaintiff for non-economic damages at $250,000.

Anesthesia error rates high in perioperative phase

Patients heading into surgery in Iowa hospitals are most likely grateful for the possibility of anesthesia to make the procedure as painless as possible. Though anesthesia provides many benefits before, during and after a surgical procedure, patients also should be aware of the accompanying risks.

According to Medscape, minor complications from anesthesia are common among patients and may include a sore throat, pain or discomfort around the site of the incision, nausea and vomiting. Severe complications, such as malignant hyperthermia and fatality, are quite rare. Nevertheless, anesthesiologists must prepare patients prior to the operation and remain vigilant to avoid errors and identify any worrisome physiological changes as a result of anesthesia.

Drunk drivers get many opportunities to harm others in Iowa

More than 90 Iowans die each year in alcohol-related car accidents. Roughly 40 percent of those accidents involve a driver who has been arrested in the past for drunk driving. One-third of Iowa drivers who are charged with vehicular homicide while intoxicated have been caught drinking and driving at least once before. Such a high percentage raises the question of whether Iowa is doing enough to get drunk drivers off the roads and keep them from re-offending.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, a typical drunk driver has driven drunk 80 times before they are first caught and arrested. In addition, somewhere between half and three-quarters of drunk drivers continue to drive even when their licenses have been suspended. At the current levels of enforcement and punishment, too many people feel free to drink and drive. The penalties are not a sufficient deterrent to this dangerous activity.

Dresser-drawers and toddlers: A dangerous combination

A recent recall of millions of popular dressers sold by Ikea highlights the ever-present danger of dresser-drawers. Late last year, the largest furniture store in the world settled a lawsuit with the families of three toddlers who were fatally injured when Malm dressers tipped over on them.

While no amount of money can ever bring back their young children, the $50 million settlement serves as a warning to other companies who fail to warn of the potential dangers of their furniture. The publicity of the wrongful death lawsuits also helps parents realize what they can do to make their homes safer for their children.

How to help avoid furniture-tipping dangers

New medical scope, same infection concerns

In January 2016, Olympus Corp. decided to voluntarily recall one of its medical products. The TJF-Q180V duodenoscope is a commonly used scope used in a number of procedures. In 2015, the Olympus scope was linked to an outbreak of drug-resistant bacteria, which led to the death of multiple patients. Olympus committed to redesigning the scope to address the risk of infection posed by the product. The company also released new guidelines concerning the proper cleaning of the devices by hospitals and medical staff.

Another outbreak

The redesign and cleaning protocol may not have resolved the problem. The new scope has been connected to another outbreak this past December. The device in question received the new mechanism, designed to eliminate the threat of infection, in October. The latest outbreak includes five patients infected by a drug-resistant bacteria that can lead to pneumonia, meningitis and other infections. 

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