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Medical Malpractice Archives

Granting "Informed Consent"

Generally speaking, doctors must gain the informed consent of their patients before pursuing a course of treatment. Informed consent means that the patient agrees to the treatment after having been informed of the potential risks and consequences. The reality of consent in the medical field is often murkier than this definition might imply.

Old habits die hard in the medical field

Serious problems often inspire people to seek expert opinions. If an issue is complex, technical or otherwise confusing, we are often left at the mercy of people who have made it their business to address those issues. Doctors are the experts when it comes to medical care. Unfortunately, too many patients assume that their doctor is an expert on whatever is ailing them at the time.

Deaths from cervical cancer are far too common

Misdiagnosis is a troubling problem in the medical field. Certain conditions are more frequently misdiagnosed than others. In addition, some groups of patients are more likely to be victimized by misdiagnosis than others. A recent study suggests that one area where the medical field is falling short is in the diagnosis of cervical cancer.

Cleaning practices insufficient to prevent infection

A study published in the American Journal of Infection Control reveals that the current guidelines for disinfecting reusable medical scopes are not effective. The study tracked 20 endoscopes over the course of 7 months. By the end of the study, 12 of the 20 scopes suffered from microbial growth, despite having been cleaned according to current guidelines. In addition, all of the scopes had visible damage and 17 had to be returned to the manufacturer with serious defects. The study calls into question the safety procedures surrounding medical equipment in American hospitals.

Radiology errors threaten patient wellbeing

A new study conducted by the Hospital for Special Surgery casts doubt on one of the cornerstones of modern healthcare. The study involved an analysis of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) results gathered from a number of different facilities. The same patient was sent to 10 facilities to have an MRI done on her lower back. The results of these MRIs varied widely.

Electronic health records may pose a danger to patients

A vendor for electronic health records software released a statement earlier this month concerning potential safety risks posed by its products. The announcement listed the various parties associated with the health care process, including doctors, pharmacies, patients and their family members, and indicated that each needed to play a role in preventing the risks posed by the software. While the announcement is a dubious method of warning the public about the dangers of electronic health records software, the recommendations it lays out can help patients avoid potentially deadly medical mistakes.

Medical malpractice insurance premiums unchanged for more than a decade

For years, doctors and hospitals have fought for ways to reduce or eliminate the rights of injured patients to receive compensation. Massive lobbying helped them implement "tort reform" in a number of jurisdictions. These groups argued that spurious litigation and runaway insurance premiums were driving the sharp rise in the cost of health care. Those groups continued their lobbying efforts when the Affordable Care Act, sometimes referred to as Obamacare, was being discussed. Medical professionals claimed that lawsuits would spike and costs would rise under the ACA. A recent survey indicates that the Act has not made any difference in medical malpractice premiums.

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.

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.

Medical mistakes a leading cause of death in the U.S.

Stories of surgeons leaving surgical tools in patients or nurses confusing medications between patients command headlines. Yet these stories remain easy to dismiss. When you're a patient, you want to assume you're in good hands. Usually, you are. Nevertheless, even the best doctor or nurse can make mistakes. A recent study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine indicate that the prevalence of such mistakes can be eerily high. In fact, "medical errors" in health care settings account for the estimated loss of 151,000 lives every year, surpassing the number of deaths from stroke, Alzheimer's, accidents and respiratory disease. While the numbers are staggering, few people know about them. The reasons may surprise you. 

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