Articles Posted in Failure to Maintain Records

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A February 10th article in Medical Economics tackles the issue of legal responsibility for physicians treating one of the estimated two million patients with a BRCA mutation or Lynch Syndrome. 1 in 400 Americans are carriers of the BRCA gene mutation, said to be associated with a 50-70% higher risk of developing breast cancer and a 15-64% higher risk of ovarian cancer. Lynch Syndrome, a condition linked to a 70% higher risk of colorectal cancer, is found in 1 in every 350 Americans. The condition is also associated with elevated risk of endometrial, gastrointestinal, and genitourinary cancers. The problem with these conditions is that experts believe nearly half of those who carry the BRCA gene or Lynch Syndrome will find out they have cancer without knowing previously that they are carriers, leaving medical economists to speculate that a potential legal crisis will occur when patients realize that a simple screening recommended by their physician could have ultimately prevented their cancer or saved their lives. Giving clarity to the magnitude of the potential situation, Medical Economics says that the average medical practice has 2400 patients, 6 of whom will be carriers of the BRCA mutation and 7 of whom will be found to have Lynch Syndrome.

Giving Detailed Family History Could Save Your Life

Under the Affordable Care Act, most insureds who meet a specific set of criteria are eligible for cancer and genetic screening and according to Medical Economics, millions of them have not been referred by their doctor for testing. The journal recommends physicians obtain a complete family history as it relates to cancer, using whatever method of collection will gather the most thorough information without adding to an already robust workload. In the case of obtaining a proper cancer history for each patient, experts agree that the time spent to gather the information is a worthy cause. Even allowing a patient to self-report information through an electronic questionnaire that can be imported into their electronic medical record (EMR) is beneficial.

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Yesterday we discussed the importance of accurate information on death certificates and the errors that are too commonly made. The AMED News story on the subject explained that one big problem was a lack of proper training among physicians on best practices when completing these certificates. Doctors often are not paid for filling out the certificate, and so haste in filling out the form and unfamiliarity (at least for new physicians) can lead to mis-written details, vague information, and flat out inaccuracies making their way onto a death certificate.

As illustrated in the article, a death certificate is usually filled out by both a physician as well as a medical examiner or coroner. The doctor is usually charged with completing thing like the time, date, and cause of death. It is critical to understand the difference between the “cause” of death and the “manner” of death. The manner of death is a separate detail usually handled by the medical examiner.

The Cause of Death

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The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was passed in 2010. However, it was only last year that its constitutionality was upheld, and it is only this year (and subsequent years) that much of the plan actually takes effect. We can expect much discussion, argument, and confusion related to the bill as it rolls out. Hopefully the goals outlined in the measure are met and healthcare for all of us becomes more affordable and safer.

One of the most well-known components of the bill include a push to move toward electronic health records (EHRs). It seems natural that as technology advances the medical community would take advantage of the many benefits of electronic records, with easy storage, comparison, transfer, and safety checks. Of course, the switch is not without its issues, as it is incumbent that the transfer be done carefully to avoid issues like theft, unauthorized transmission, or glitches which risk the health and safety of patients.

Federal Government Patient Safety Plan

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A state’s officials have fined 13 hospitals for medical errors that have killed or seriously injured patients. A report shows that one hospital was fined $50,000 with the death of a patient that died after he pulled out his tracheotomy tube although there were instructions that that patient be restrained and supervised. There was also a fine given to a hospital that misdiagnosed an ectopic pregnancy. A woman’s oxygen levels were not monitored correctly, leading to another fine. A patient died after nurses failed to notice that his heart monitor was disconnected. These are just a few of the examples of the 98,000 people who die every year as a result of medical error. To learn more about the hospital fines, please click the link.

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A series of hospitals have been fined for serious medical violations, according to an article. Some of these medical violations led to either serious bodily harm or even death. At one particular hospital, a child suffered serious brain injury after the nursing staff failed to drain his head properly. Another hospital has claimed to counteract medical violations they will hire more staff and cut back on medical technicians’ duties so they can better concentrate on the patient’s care. If you have suffered due to a medical violation at your hospital you should consult a medical malpractice attorney to discuss legal options.

Read more about the serious fines dealt to the hospitals here.

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A man entered a hospital to undergo minor surgery to fix his broken leg. However, according to his medical malpractice lawsuit, the hospital committed a series of preventable medical mistakes and procedural oversights. The man left the hospital severely brain damaged, quadriplegic, ventilator-dependent and semi-comatose. The lawsuit claims that the hospital staff had many opportunities to prevent serious complications. The victim’s stomach started to swell after the leg surgery and they suspected he had developed fat embolism syndrome. The doctors inserted a tube to drain the fluid from his stomach but expert testimony shows that the tube was “pulled out too soon” after two days. After being taken in for a CAT scan the man was grasping for air. The emergency team was then summoned to the wrong floor and it took 10 minutes for someone to arrive. The victim stayed in full cardiopulmonary arrest for almost half an hour and he was significantly and permanently brain damaged. The victim left the hospital in a vegetative state and died within the next three years. The department of public health issued two violations to the hospital for failing to keep adequate medical records and failing to ensure diagnostic technicians had proper supervision. To read more about the medical malpractice lawsuit, please click the link.

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A jury verdict of $500,000 was upheld in court against a physician for medical malpractice. The suit arose from a patient of the physician who alleged the physician was negligent in the care he provided her during kidney disease treatment. The physician was also accused of professional malpractice for allegedly destroying pertinent medical documents regarding the patient.

Read more about the medical malpractice suit here.

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Recent reviews have found there are an abundance of cancer treatment errors found at various clinics throughout the United States, especially in outpatient clinics. In 1,400 patient charts that were examined, a total of 117 errors were found. 15 caused harm to patients while 64 errors had the potential to cause harm, according to the article. The study showed 60% of the errors associated with adult cases were due to administration of treatment. 64% of the pediatric errors was linked to the ordering of medication.

For the full story, click here.

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A family from the North Chicago suburb of Highland Park is suing Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago claiming doctors lost a tumor removed from their teenaged daughter. The teen had a tumor removed from her thyroid in 2006. The family claims that Children’s Memorial Hospital lost the tumor before performing a biopsy to determine if it was cancerous. The family alleges that without the tumor, they will never know whether their daughter has a potentially deadly disease. Her mother claims that the teen lives everyday in fear. The attorneys at Levin & Perconti filed the lawsuit on behalf of the family because they and the teen’s family does not want any other family to go through this turmoil. To read the full story, click here.

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The attorneys at Levin & Perconti filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court on behalf of a teen whose tumor was lost by Children’s Memorial Hospital before the doctors could perform a biopsy. A week after the surgery the young woman and her family returned to the hospital to receive the biopsy results, but the hospital informed them that they could not tell her whether or not it was cancerous because they had lost the tumor. The young woman not only must now endure ultrasounds every six months to monitor her thyroid, she also may have great difficulties obtaining individual insurance in adulthood. To read the full story, click here.