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Des Moines Personal Injury Law Blog

Patients may have been exposed to bacteria during surgery

According to leaders at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, Iowa, approximately 2,600 open-heart patients may have been exposed to a bacterial infection. Those patients had their procedures performed between 2012 and 2015, and they may have been exposed to germs called Nontuberculous Mycobacteria. The bacteria is frequently referred to as MTM, and it is a less potent form of tuberculosis.

While healthy individuals have a relatively easy time overcoming the issue, those who have open-heart surgery have a weaker immune system. The infection usually takes several months or years to develop and is not contagious. It can generally be treated effectively once it is detected in an individual. Signs of a possible infection include redness or pus around an incision made during the surgery as well as lingering fever or night sweats. Doctors first discovered the issue when preparing two patients for follow-up procedures.

Sleep cycles: Interruption affects cognition

Drowsy driving is as dangerous as driving while texting or intoxicated because it affects your ability to react and make decisions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has estimated drowsy driving is the cause of approximately 1,550 deaths and 71,000 injuries each year. While they believe the numbers may actually be higher, it is difficult to calculate potentially related accidents because there is no test like the breathalyzer for alcohol detection. In some cases, accidents characterized as alcohol related may have actually been caused by a drowsy driver.

Sleep deprivation and fatigue cause changes in behavior, mood and cognitive performance. Sleep deprivation can also cause negative changes in hormones, metabolism, the immune system and is related to higher rates of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Assuming The Risk Of A Dangerous Drug

Under normal circumstances, most patients would not take a drug or rely on a medical device that had not been properly tested and approved. But there are situations where a patient may be desperate enough to consider a risky treatment with little guarantee of improvement. When it comes to deadly illnesses with no known cure, patients have little to lose in volunteering to be test subjects. One particular case has drawn attention and led to questions about a patient's right to try an unapproved course of treatment.

Right To Try Laws

The Food and Drug Administration has the power to allow doctors to prescribe unapproved drugs through a special application process. The process is relatively quick and the FDA claims to approve the vast majority of these applications. Many states have passed laws to make this step unnecessary. More than 30 states have "right to try" laws protecting doctors who choose to provide unapproved therapies in certain circumstances. These laws vary by jurisdiction and it is unclear to what extent doctors are aware of them. Some are pressing for a federal law meant to protect terminally ill patients and their doctors in cases where the medication in question has passed minimum safety testing requirements. 

Understanding breast cancer misdiagnosis

October is recognized as breast cancer awareness month. More than 200,000 American women are diagnosed with this form of cancer each year, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC estimates that roughly 40,000 women lose their battle with breast cancer each year. Woman over the age of 50 are at the highest risk, however, about 10 percent of new cases involve women under the age of 45. Notably, about 1 percent of all breast cancer diagnoses involve men.

As with most any form of cancer, early diagnosis is critical. Self testing and diagnostic screenings, including mammograms are often the processes that first indicate that breast cancer may be present. However, the medical profession does not always properly detect or diagnose breast cancer in its earliest stages.

Surgeon admits to lying during medical malpractice trial

Iowa residents may be shocked to learn that a distinguished surgeon has admitted to lying under oath during a medical malpractice trial. The South Dakota doctor says that he lied while testifying on behalf of one of his medical partners who had been sued by a patient left permanently disabled after an operation. The patient lost the case.

While this kind of admission from a doctor is rare, health care research has revealed a disturbing pattern of disregard for patients when doctors or hospitals fear medical malpractice lawsuits. Studies have found that patients who suffer injuries are sometimes not told the truth, and less than half of the doctors who responded to a Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety survey felt that patients should be told about serious medical errors.

Protecting consumers from harmful cosmetics

In recent years, a number of lawsuits have been filed on behalf of individuals who have suffered chemical burns, hair loss and other challenges simply because they used certain cosmetics. In particular, a number of popular hair care products sold to both men and women have resulted in significant injuries.

Why are certain hair care products allowed to remain on the market despite their dangerous nature? And why are lawsuits so important to the future safety of cosmetics? The answers to these questions begin and end with the authority of the Food and Drug Administration. 

New federal recommendations address driverless car safety

Iowa farmers are discussing automated tractors. Driverless Ubers are being tested on the streets of Pittsburgh. But until this week, the federal government had little in the way of regulations addressing the new technology.

The new recommendations issued September 19 by the U.S. Department of Transportation are a long-awaited start for getting automakers, transportation companies and government entities on the same page.

Samsung recall raises smartphone safety concerns

If you own a Galaxy Note 7 smartphone, power it down immediately and visit Samsung's website to see if your phone might have a defective battery. The recall of 1 million smartphones announced last week was prompted by over 100 reports of phones overheating and bursting into flames, resulting in burns, property damage and even house and car fires.

As CNET reports, other brands and models have exploded in recent years, including iPhones, so no smartphone is 100 percent safe. Yet the sheer number of explosions in a short period of time has made the Note 7 seem particularly dangerous.

The difficulty of identifying hernias in imaging tests

According to a hernia specialist who spoke at the 2016 annual meeting of the Americas Hernia Society, radiologists often overlook inguinal hernias when they are unable to identify them using imaging tests despite patient symptoms that suggest them. A radiologist replied that they may notice but not report on certain inguinal hernias. He said that the link between pain and the existence of these types of hernias is not conclusive. However, based on the specialist's recommendation, patients in Iowa and throughout the country might want to have additional imaging tests done if they have hernia symptoms.

One problem is that the most commonly used imaging tests are more accurate in their positive identifications than in their negatives. For example, an ultrasound is a good tool for positively identifying a hernia, but a negative from an ultrasound is much less reliable. With CT scans, negatives are accurate only 4 percent of the time.

Radiology and medical malpractice

In order to accurately diagnose the conditions of their patients, many Iowa doctors rely on imaging technology. Sometimes, radiologists read the images incorrectly, resulting in patient harm caused by failures to diagnose, delays in diagnoses and incorrect diagnoses. If you have suffered because your images were read incorrectly, you may be able to recover damages through a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Several things may lead to inaccurate diagnoses with imaging technology. Sometimes, people's images are mixed up with those of other patients. Communication problems between the medical staff may also cause an issue. In some cases, the images are simply not read correctly. You will need to investigate to determine what happened in your case.

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