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A recent New York Times article examined recent programs calling for lightened hours for medical residents. The Times piece says that for the standards to be enforced, they need regulations. The panel proposed that residents or no more than 16 hours straight and that every 30-hour shift needs a five-hour sleep break after 16 hours. Such regulations would be great and likely lower rates of medical malpractice and surgical error.

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A physician who practices out of an Endoscopy Center has been hit with a medical malpractice complaint by the state’s board of medical examiners. The former gastroenterologist faces four medical malpractice allegations relating to the care he was provided to patients. Officials believe that one of the patient’s hepatitis C was transmitted to seven others. Medical malpractice complaints have already been filed against the clinic’s majority owner as well, and their licenses have been suspended pending an investigation. The allegation is that it was the physician treating the source patient that led to the other patients acquiring hepatitis C later that day. Claims of medical malpractice against the doctor focused on treatment of not only that first patient, who underwent a colonoscopy, but on a patient the doctor treated later in the day. The medical board complained that the doctor failed to exercise proper skill and diligence and that he brought the reputation of the medical profession into disrepute. It is believed that the reuse of syringes in a manner that contaminated multiple vials of anesthesia used for more than one patient led to the transmission of hepatitis C. The state board is investigating whether this has contributed to a widespread outbreak of hepatitis C. To read the full story, click here.

A report shows that a germ that wreaks havoc in people’s guts is infecting hospital patients at a much higher rate than had been previously estimated. The study found that slightly more than 1 in every 100 hospital patients are struck by Clostridium difficle which is commonly referred to as C. diff. The bacterium can cause severe diarrhea nausea and abdominal pain and sometimes can lead to colon failure or even death. Experts suggest that we need programs to improve cleanliness and hand-washing by hospital staff. Additionally there should be better control over antibiotics that can increase susceptibility to infections. The study was conducted by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology and was done in 648 hospitals in 47 states. It found that 13 out of every 1,000 patients in the hospital either had C. diff infections or carried the bug on their bodies. This figure is 6.5 times higher than previous estimates. C diff. spores can live on heard surfaces for weeks or month and resists every-contaminant except bleach. A problem is that the alcohol-based hand gels now omnipresent in hospitals aren’t effective against C. diff spores. Additionally, hospitals are failing to identify patients hit by C. diff. One patient lost 55 pounds in four moths as antibiotics failed to control her diarrhea from C. diff. To read the full story, click here.

Blacks and Hispanics who receive treatment for head injuries and other trauma are more likely to die afterward than whites with similar injuries and, regardless of race, trauma victims who lacked insurance died much more than those who were insured. The study offers the latest evidence of how race and insurance status affect patient outcomes. The data showed that trauma victims who were white and had health insurance fared better than blacks, Hispanics and the uninsured, even when the severity of the injury was the same. The study showed that uninsured and minority patients might be more likely to have pre-existing medical conditions that would lower their chances of surviving a serious trauma wound. They are also more likely to be treated in under-resourced hospitals that tend to have worse patient outcomes. This racial medical malpractice needs to be examined in order ot insure everyone proper health care. To read the full story, click here.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is planning to strengthen the warnings on the diabetes drug Byetta after receiving reports of another 6 patients being admitted to the hospital. Two of these patients died because they got hemorrhagic or necrotizing pancreatitis after taking the drug. Byetta is a drug that is administered by injection for treating adults with type 2 diabetes. The total number of people that have fallen ill with pancreatitis after taking Byetta is 36. The FDA said that the there is “an association between Byetta and acute pancreatits is suspected in some of these cases.” However, most of the reported cases involved at least one other risk factor. The agency did say that it is not advising doctors to stop prescribing Byetta and will be posting further advice and alert updates if they receive anymore information. To read the full story, click here.

A new hospital comparison website has expanded to inform the public about more than just a hospital’s negligent, proper or above average performance. Hospitals keep track of hospital deaths from a wide variety of illnesses and conditions. A new website has listed the hospital death tolls for hospital pneumonia deaths, hospital heart attack deaths and hospital heart failure deaths. Although some hospital deaths are natural, medical malpractice and hospital negligence does play a role in a significant number of preventable deaths. This new website is a great source to make sure the hospital you or a loved one is to visit is acting in a reasonable manner and that the hospital is not full of negligent hospital staff and negligent doctors. In order to prevent wrongful deaths and medical malpractice lawsuits hospitals must learn to operate reasonably, efficiently and safely. To read the full story on this new website click here.

The Illinois Department of Financial Professional Regulation has posted a new website database where you can find out more about your doctor or health care professional. The Physician Profile Search allows visitors to see where the doctor went to medical school, if the doctor has been involved in any lawsuits, and determine if the doctor is licensed to practice.

Find the Physician Profile Search here.

The generally accepted medical opinion for decades has been that diabetes patients should lower their blood sugar in order to reduce the risk of death from heart disease. However, a recent extensive federal study has been cut short after the middle-aged and older participants had a higher risk of death after lowering their blood sugar. For people with diabetes, lowering blood sugar can have benefits such as protecting against kidney disease, blindness and amputations. The increased risk of death exposed in the study has been alarming in the medical community. Doctors have frantically began searching for an explanation.

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The United States ranked worst among 19 leading industrialized nations in preventable deaths due to treatable conditions. France, Japan and Australia were ranked the highest. The study that created this ranking showed that if the United States had preventable death rates more comparable to those countries, there would be 101,000 less deaths in the US each year. The parameters for deaths counted in this study were those that could have been prevented if patients had access to effective and timely health care. The 47 million Americans lacking health insurance accounted for a large percent in the US preventable deaths, but deaths contributed to by medical mistakes are also frighteningly prevalent. The president of the company that backed the research, Commonwealth Fund (a New York-based health policy foundation), Cathy Schoen said, “The fact that other countries are reducing these preventable deaths more rapidly, yet spending far less, indicates that policy, goals and efforts to improve health systems make a difference.”

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The Illinois Hospital Report Card, the Illinois Consumer Guide to Health Care and another project meant to monitor medical malpractice issues in Illinois hospitals were groundbreaking and exciting initiatives passed in the state in the last four years. However, not much has been done to follow through on these laws. The Chicago Patient Safety Forum has been a strong critic of the delays in implementation even though last year’s Patient Safety Summit in Chicago produced few results. The purpose of the laws was to provide the public with information about their doctors and the medical mistakes they make as well as the hospitals and issues like hospital-acquired infections.

One goal of this legislation was to examine instances of medical malpractice such as birth injuries and surgical errors. The Illinois Hospital Report Card was meant to monitor hospital-acquired infections and if the hospitals are adequately screening patients. It also was to focus on the quality and skills of nursing staffs. The lack of progress has been blamed on problems with the legislation itself, a lack of funding and staff, and bureaucratic delays. Legislators and other officials alike, such as the Illinois Hospital Association, have stated that patients have the right to be informed about their doctors and hospitals.

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