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January 2013 Archives

Medical Malpractice: "Never events" occur too often

There are approximately 50 million surgeries performed in the United States each year. Denver readers might find a recent study of medical malpractice claims rather interesting in that researchers discovered that there were about 10,000 cases of what are commonly referred to as "never events" over a ten year period. Never events include instruments or sponges being left in the patient, wrong site surgery and even surgery done on the wrong patient.

Study shows more than 3,000 errors with electronic health records

Denver readers may be interested in a study that found more than 3,000 incidents of errors in Electronic Health Records (EHR). The study shows an increase of double the number of health safety issues in a one year period. Sixteen cases in question were noted as causing "some kind" of harm. However, only one medication error was considered to have caused significant harm.

Pregnancy complications on the rise in the U.S.

Most pregnancies are normal and result in a healthy mother and child. However, recent statistics from the Centers For Disease Control shows a 75 percent increase in birth injuries and complications in the period from 1999 to 2009. Hospitals are seeing an increase in medical problems in mothers, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. Women are also waiting longer to have children, so age is becoming a factor as well. Even a seemingly healthy mother can suddenly go into cardiac arrest. In the past, the health worries centered on the baby, but now thoughts are turning to the idea that even a healthy mother may have a complicated pregnancy.

Surgical mistakes that should never occur

Surgical "never events" encompass incorrectly operating on the wrong patient, conducting the wrong procedure on the correct patient, performing wrong-site surgery, improper organ transplant or leaving surgical equipment inside the patient such as operating tools or sponges, and they cost healthcare facilities billions of dollars in the form of surgery malpractice claims. These surgical errors or mistakes, performed by careless surgeons or negligent operating staff and their improper use of surgical equipment, may result in serious injury or even death. Research results from 1990 to 2010 estimated that malpractice costs paid out to patients reached $1.3 billion; the research results were provided by the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), a federal reserve of medical malpractice claims. An estimated 96 percent of claims were settled and never went to court, but findings show higher compensation was paid to patients who proceeded to trial, sometimes tripling the amount of payment with court settlements. Over 4,000 yearly claims were estimated in the research time frame for surgical "never event" mishaps.

Former Colorado doctor faces malpractice charges in Illinois

An Illinois neurosurgeon faces four lawsuits stemming from accusations of medical malpractice. The case closest to going to trial involves a woman from Poplar Grove, Illinois, who had surgery on the left side of her back. Her lawsuit claims that after the surgery, problems in her right foot became worse. While practicing medicine in Colorado, the doctor admitted to four serious surgical errors and agreed to allow her Colorado medical license to be placed on inactive status. At the time she accepted this plan, the state did not consider such an agreement to be a disciplinary action. This policy has since been changed.

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