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Boston Medical Malpractice Law Blog

How common is failure to diagnose in the U.S.?

For people in Boston and across the nation, a medical issue that is enough of a concern to visit a doctor is bad enough without having to think about the possibility of a failure to diagnose what's really wrong. But this is a growing problem in the U.S. that is affecting scores of people and families. The relief that a person feels when the diagnosis given is such that it's not as serious as the worst case scenario can be rapidly punctured when the symptoms don't subside and it's discovered that there was a failure to diagnose a serious illness. This can lead to delayed treatment, a worsened condition and even death.

A study has shown that at least 12 million Americans are subject to misdiagnosis each year. To put that into context, out of 20 people who seek treatment for various ailments, one will be misdiagnosed. These errors can be for a variety of reasons from a negligent physician to misreading the records to a simple mistake. The consequences can be minor or catastrophic.

Study examines anesthesia errors and their aftereffects

When a person in Boston needs to be given anesthetic for a procedure large or small, it's unavoidable that there will be a certain amount of trepidation as to what can happen. While most doctors and anesthesiologists are conscientious and pay close attention to what they're doing, an anesthesia error can happen at any time and cause serious injury and even death. Although there are improvements being made at caring for patients who are under anesthesia, one negligent physician or staffer can make a mistake leading to severe damage.

According to new research, the number of complications from anesthesia has been dropping steadily. From the years 2010 to 2013, in which there were more than 3.2 million people who were placed under anesthesia, the percentage of complications reduced by 7 percentage points from 11.8 to 4.8. Thirty-six percent had a minor complication such as nausea. Twelve percent were affected by anesthesia errors. Although the complication rate has declined, the number of deaths remained the same with three people dying for every 10,000 instances in which anesthesia was used.

Knowing how to handle anesthesia errors

When a person in Boston has a surgical procedure and needs to be placed under an anesthetic, there are obvious concerns for that person and his or her family. Combined with the fears of surgery - no matter how minor - the idea of being put under anesthetic can elicit the terror of never waking up again. In most instances, the anesthesiologist is conscientious and makes certain that there are no mistakes that could hurt someone or cost a life. These incidents do happen, though. When they do, it's important that the injured party or the family left behind due to an untimely death knows how to move forward with litigation.

When anesthesia is administered, it must be given in the correct amount. A dosage mistake can be disastrous. There are various types of anesthesia negligence and it's important that the victims know how to recognize it. For example, spinal anesthesia is given in a delicate area to the patient's body. If there is any form of anesthesia negligence on the part of the anesthesiologist or any member of the surgical team, it can result in paralysis.

Man's symptoms ignored by negligent physician at VA

When a veteran serves his or her country, the one thing they should be able to expect is to receive quality medical treatment from the Veterans Administration hospital in their area when they return home. This is something that can affect everyone who served and begins to feel ill or suffers from the aftereffects of having been in combat. Whether the person is from Boston or anywhere else in the United States, a negligent physician can do a tremendous amount of damage with a misdiagnosis. This can lead to delayed treatment, worsened condition and even death.

A 29-year-old veteran and his family allege that poor care from the VA delayed treatment for an issue with his leg that involves swelling, blood clots and masses. After visiting the doctor complaining of groin pain, it was dismissed as a muscle problem. No tests were done to see if there was anything more serious. The man continued to struggle and visited the emergency room. Still, nothing was done. He was sent to a VA hospital in another state where the doctors suspect that he may have cancer. The claims on the part of the man and his family are currently being investigated.

Girl crossing street hit by pickup, suffers head injury

When there is an accident in Boston, one of the worst injuries that can be suffered short of a fatal one involves a head injury. An injury involving the head can lead to traumatic brain injury and all the potential problems resulting from it. These kinds of accidents can occur at work, while driving or as a pedestrian. Those who are hurt will have many concerns as they try to recover from brain trauma. These incidents are even worse when they involve children.

Two young girls ages 13 and 11 were hurt when they were walking across the street and got hit by a pickup truck. They were walking to the bus stop in the morning to go to school. According to the accident investigation, the 65-year-old truck driver might have had his view affected by the sun. The 13-year-old suffered a broken leg and is hospitalized. The 11-year-old is also hospitalized and is in critical condition with a head injury.

Cognitive bias is referenced as a cause of fatal surgical error

For people in Boston who require a surgical procedure, there is an incalculable amount of trust placed in the surgical team and medical professionals in whose hands the patient's life will rest. For the most part, that trust is rewarded as doctors and hospital staff act professionally and complete the procedures without a hitch. However, there are instances in which mistakes are made. Some mistakes are of the egregious variety and end up causing long-term injury and even death.

One such incident sparked significant changes at Tufts Medical Center. After a 74-year-old woman had the wrong dye injected into her during a minor surgical procedure on her back. Sadly, this caused her to become ill and she died. The dye in particular specifically says that it is not to be used on the spine. Doctors admitted to the woman's sons that they had given her the incorrect dye in error. The issue is believed to have stemmed from the neurosurgeon not bothering to read the label because he anticipated what it would say and felt there wouldn't be an issue injecting the dye into the woman.

The importance of legal help after brain trauma

The brain is such a delicate part of the body that any head injury has the potential to cause long-term damage. People in Boston who are injured in any kind of accident need to understand that they need to be vigilant if they were hit on the head and suffered an injury. There is always the chance that there will be a traumatic brain injury and there could be long-term consequences because of it.

With brain trauma, the symptoms are frequently ignored until it's too late. A victim may fail to see the connection between the head injury and the nausea, dizziness, irritability, trouble sleeping, memory loss and many other symptoms that arise when suffering from a traumatic brain injury. If the person waits too long to seek medical treatment, the prognosis could be much worse than it would be if he or she went to a doctor immediately.

Actress and comedian dies from alleged surgeon mistake

When a person in Boston has a medical issue that requires surgery, they must consider many different things. With a problem serious enough that it requires surgery, there are numerous worries. Most people won't think about the possibility of a surgeon mistake that will kill or cause serious injury to them. However, surgeon malpractice does happen and people are hurt or suffer a fatality because of it. It's important to know how to move forward after a mistake like this occurs.

The actress and comedian, Joan Rivers, died recently after a routine surgery went wrong. According to the investigation, Rivers was scheduled to have an endoscopy when a doctor from outside the facility where the procedure was being performed requested permission to use their surgical instruments to conduct a biopsy on her vocal cords. The clinic reportedly only handles digestive problems. When the biopsy was done, Rivers' vocal cords are believed to have seized and she was unable to receive any air. She was rushed to the hospital, placed into a medically-induced coma and died less than a week later. The investigation is still ongoing.

How common is Massachusetts misdiagnosed cancer and why?

People in Boston who are having symptoms or just go to their doctor for a checkup are relieved when they are told it is nothing or at least nothing serious. The worst possible diagnosis is to be told one has a terminal or potentially fatal illness like cancer. However, when a person is told that they have nothing to worry about there are times when they do have something to worry about and they've been subjected to a failure to diagnose cancer or misdiagnosed cancer. The number of times this occurs is much more common than is believed.

Over 60 percent of doctors who were spoken to in a study regarding how often they believed that there was an incident of misdiagnosed cancer thought that the numbers were between zero and 10 percent. The BMJ Quality and Safety Journal put the numbers at 28 percent. Doctors have reasons they believe that there is a common incidence of misdiagnosis. Many, over 38 percent, think that an absence of comprehensive medical information regarding the patients is to blame. Twenty two percent blame inadequate resources for pathology. Slightly over 20 percent believe the absence of genetic information is to blame. While it may be small consolation to those who were victimized by a failure to diagnose cancer, it is not believed that apathy is a frequent cause of the mistakes.

Important facts about MA prescription medication errors

With the increased use of medications in Massachusetts to treat various illnesses and ailments, people in Boston need to be cognizant of the possibility that prescription medication errors might be made. While it might be due to a negligent pharmacist, an illegible handwriting on the part of the doctor or a simple and unintended mistake, that does not diminish the amount of damage that can be done when there is any kind of wrong drug administered or improper amount dispensed. Those who are concerned must keep certain factors in mind when being given any kind of medication.

While they are often not considered to be a major problem, medical mistakes are a top ten reason for people to die. In fact, the number of people who died because of this in recent years has been higher than those dying of breast cancer, car accidents and other issues or incidents. Mistakes made at the pharmacy are a significant reason for the fatalities. Sometimes, the right medication is given, but in the wrong dosage. Other times, the wrong medication is given entirely.

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