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New York City Medical Malpractice Law Blog

How instances of wrong-site surgery can be prevented

With less than 600 wrong-site surgeries reported nationwide in 2007, a New York resident might figure that the probability of experiencing such an incident is unlikely. However, specialization of a medical professional may cause a slightly different view as approximately one-fourth of orthopedic surgeons with 25 years of experience and one-fifth of hand surgeons are reportedly involved in wrong-site incidents during their careers.

In order to establish better reporting and preventive standards, the issue has been studied and addressed on a national level. Major goals have been adopted that focus on prevention through better patient-identification procedures. Additionally, efforts to include family members in the process have been important. A pre-operative process is integral to limiting the risk of a wrong-site event.

Death of Joan Rivers prompts medical safety questions in New York

After the death of comedian Joan Rivers in a New York outpatient center, some officials have questioned the safety of medical procedures done in these types of facilities in the state. According to media sources, the 81-year-old comedian went in for a low-risk surgery on her vocal chords at an outpatient facility. Complications occurred, and she was transferred to Mount Sinai Hospital. She was later declared deceased by medical staff. An autopsy has not yet confirmed the cause of death, and the incident is reported to be under investigation by the New York State Health Department.

Outpatient facilities routinely perform procedures that were previously done only in hospitals and surgical centers. Under New York law, such facilities are required to report the occurrence of any event in which a patient is harmed during care. Between the years 2010 and 2013, approximately 1,000 credited facilities reported about 2,200 events, and more than 250 of those incidents resulted in death.

New tech to record surgical data, may not be admissible in court

A New York University law professor says that most medical malpractice lawsuits come down to arguments due to a lack of information by all parties involved. A new technology being developed by Canadian researchers may have an impact if its data is allowed into courtrooms. Either way, the surgical black box reportedly promises to improve patient safety by preventing medical errors and helping doctors learn from the errors that do occur.

The technology is reminiscent of black boxes in airplanes which record relevant flight data for review if something goes wrong. According to a surgeon in Toronto, however, the surgical black box would give real-time feedback, allowing medical personnel to address potential problems before complications occur. It makes use of cameras and microphones in the operating room and records details about the surgeon's movements and the interaction of the medical team during procedures.

Wrong-site surgical errors in New York

If you have suffered from a medical malpractice incident such as a surgical error, you may be entitled to financial compensation from the hospital or surgeon. According to a 2011 study, preventable surgical errors occur in approximately 40 cases each week. Furthermore, wrong-site surgery cases have nearly doubled since 2004.

In some instances, surgical errors may be attributed to the surgeon or staff's failure to follow proper protocol. Errors could include amputating the wrong limb, operating on the wrong patient, receiving the wrong surgery due to an incorrect diagnosis or performing surgery on the wrong body part. Depending on where you live, the caregiver who committed the error may not even be required to notify an oversight organization or report the incident, meaning that without the right approach, it could be more difficult to bring a case against a medical professional.

Many factors influence the decision to settle a malpractice suit

According to a medical liability defense lawyer practicing in New York, there are several reasons a physician may choose to settle a case outside of court. For instance, a settlement may be a better option if an expert opinion reveals that the physician failed to provide the reasonable standard of care expected to a patient or if a doctor's actions are indefensible. Furthermore, if the malpractice insurance is inadequate, it could lead to loss of personal assets in the event litigation results in a high trial verdict.

Additionally, an early settlement could provide for faster compensation to a plaintiff and reduce the overall cost of a case. A trial may be lengthy, but a settlement offers a quick relief to both sides from the stress and burden of the litigation process.

8 hospital errors no longer disclosed

Many residents in New York may be surprised to learn that the federal government stopped publicly disclosing data regarding eight hospital-acquired conditions as of August 2014. Potential patients are no longer able to research the data on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website, although the agency denied it was making the changes in 2013.

The data used to be available through a public spreadsheet primarily utilized by advocates for patient safety and researchers, but that has recently been taken down as well. The eight avoidable HACs could be potentially lethal in many cases. The CMS's Hospital Compare website still lists 13 conditions, and the agency claims that the change is a reflection of more accurate data collection and incorporation from reliable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's bloodstream infection data.

Questions to ask during a doctor visit

When New York residents become sick, they may visit their doctor in order to get better. However, while they know that their doctor has a wealth of information available, there are certain things that they may not discuss with their patient. Asking the right questions during a routine doctor visit could prevent medical errors that may possibly be fatal.

Studies indicate that one in every 20 patients may be misdiagnosed. Although only a small percentage results in serious injuries, patients should express their concerns to their physician if they believe something does not feel right or if they need more clarification. Moreover, research has shown that when new medical residents begin caring for patients in July, there is a 10 percent increase in fatal medication errors. Patients may be proactive in avoiding such an error by confirming the details of their medication.

Experts speak out about medical errors

Residents in New York may benefit from learning more about the statements of concern health experts expressed to Congress on July 17. Multiple experts in the health care industry told members of the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging that one of the primary causes of the alarmingly high rate of preventable deaths from hospital mistakes is inaccurate reporting by public health agencies.

A professor at Harvard School of Public Health claimed that patients are just as at risk of suffering a death caused by medical error today as they were 15 years ago. The chairman of the panel, Sen Bernie Sanders from Vermont, noted that most patients are probably unaware that preventable deaths caused by medical error is the third largest cause of deaths in America each year. The president of the National Patient Safety Foundation cited research indicating 25 percent of all patients are at risk of suffering injuries from a drug, adverse drug effects or medication errors within the first month of receiving a prescription.

Preventing medication errors after hospital discharge

Health literacy in New York is defined as an individual's ability to interpret and follow health care instructions and information. A study now shows that people with the lowest health literacy levels are the most likely to make medication errors after they are discharged from a hospital. Common errors include failure to have a prescription filled and failure to continue taking the medication as recommended by the health care professional.

There are also cases of misunderstandings that have the potential to compromise a patient's health. This includes patients taking medications without understanding the purpose, frequency or proper dosage of the medication. There is a growing belief in the medical community that identifying the people most likely to make errors and providing them with more support may work to minimize the risk of medication errors.

Uncertain testing leaves lyme sufferers in poor health

New York residents may have heard that a Boston music professor suffering from Lyme disease found himself fighting his own physician's preventable errors as well as his worsening symptoms. While one test came back negative, another more comprehensive screen was not administered at all; the test needed to diagnose the disease was only available in Europe.

After a tick bite he suffered in Spain, the professor spotted the rash that reveals the serious infection. The standard Lyme disease test given in the U.S., known as the Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay, screens only for infection from a single, common tick species. It reportedly took 10 months for the man to locate a doctor that could properly treat and diagnose the disease.

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