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October 2012 Archives

Technology can help or hurt medical practice

Technical advances have made possible many treatment options that were not available even 10 years earlier. However, doctors have to be careful not to develop and overdependence on technology. The use of technology will never replace skill, education and plain common sense when it comes to treating patients.Over the past 12 years, preventable deaths in U.S. hospitals have nearly doubled, from 100,000 to almost 200,000 per year. In fact, the U.S. currently has more preventable hospital deaths than any other developed country, and one in five patients in the U.S. suffer harm from medication errors or other medical errors.

Man suing doctor over improper medication administration

A $3 million malpractice suit against a doctor at a family practice center has been filed in another state. This case may interest Denver readers because it illustrates what can happen when doctors make medication errors. The petitioner claims that the defendants prescribed Proscar, a brand name for finasteride, in order to treat symptoms of male pattern baldness. The drug has apparently not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in this way. He also claims that he was prescribed 500 percent more than the recommended amount, and that the prescription was renewed 13 times over 13 months. A doctor and a physician's assistant are both named in the suit. They are charged with administering medication incorrectly resulting in permanent physical and mental injury to the patient. To compensate for both non-economic damages and medical treatment -- both past and future -- the patient is seeking $3 million.

Switching of surgeons can lead to surgical errors

Something known as "ghost surgeries" has become somewhat prevalent over the past several years. What this means is that expects one surgeon to do the surgery and then another surgeon steps in instead. It's unclear as to how often these types of surgeries occur, but they do occur throughout the United States. When this happens, it can prompt surgeon malpractice lawsuits.The American College of Surgeons explains to members that it is against ethics to mislead a patient about who the doctor performing their surgery will be. While this message is out there, it still happens. One person filed a lawsuit against their cardiologist when it was discovered that the surgeon she researched and booked wasn't the one that carried out the surgery.

Medical errors harm one-in-four patients

A well-kept medical secret is that one-in-four patients are harmed by treatment mistakes in hospitals. Perhaps more surprising, many hospitals do not track important quality indicators such as surgical errors. And hospitals that do track treatment problems don't usually make the information available to the public. However, an effort is underway to improve the tracking and sharing of medical data, making health care providers more accountable. To encourage the sharing of information about medical mistakes, some health care professionals believe that current medical students will drive the movement toward more transparency. Medical students are part of a rising generation that is less tolerant of dishonesty. It is hoped that they will bring a wave of accountability and transparency that will transform the health care system.

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