Colorado parents may have heard of a newborn boy who remained untreated for jaundice and eventually developed serious disabilities. He was awarded $26 million in a civil lawsuit in Brooklyn in November. A jury determined that the hospital wrongly released the infant after the mother's complaints of her baby's symptoms to a doctor and to the hospital. Despite the victory in court, she would rather have a healthy son.
In a case that Denver parents may have taken note of, on Oct. 30, a settlement was approved by the Los Angeles Superior Court for the biggest medical malpractice settlement in the county in more than eight years, according to a county representative. Under the terms of the settlement, the county will be paying $7.5 million to a 25-year-old mother who was formerly homeless with two children. She filed the malpractice suit on behalf of her third child, now 1.5 years old. She alleged that inadequate medical care caused the boy to suffer a lack of oxygen during delivery.
Denver residents who visit the doctor with a new medical condition may not be receiving the correct diagnosis for their problem every time. Based on the results of a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, diagnostic errors occur in 10 to 15 percent of doctor's visits about a new condition. Misdiagnosis may not seem like a major issue, but in some cases, it can be as harmful as a surgical mistake. A misdiagnosis can lead to people getting no treatment or the wrong treatment, enabling their condition to worsen over time.
Guidelines aimed at increasing patient safety during surgery in Colorado and across the country have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Part of the factor in addressing the issue of improved patient safety lies in confronting an established machination of the U.S. medical industry, long characterized by an atmosphere of reluctance by medical specialists and personnel to disclose when a medical colleague makes a mistake.