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Breathing Tube Removal Mistakes Can Be Deadly for Hospital Patients 

During sedation or illness, many hospital patients may require breathing assistance through intubation. The device used in this procedure is called an endotracheal tube (ET) which is placed through a patient’s mouth and then into the airway so that a breath can be delivered when used with a ventilator. The sensitive intervention can be especially necessary for patients with respiratory failure in both hospital intensive care units (ICU) and pediatric intensive care units (PICU).

Unplanned extubation (UE) is the uncontrolled and dangerous removal of this life-sustaining breathing tube. Sometimes the removal is self-induced by a patient, but healthcare providers also make deadly mistakes during the repair of a tube, suctioning, weighing, or replacing a ventilator circuit. Sadly, UE is a complication that occurs in more than 121,000 adult patients every year in the U.S. and kills 33,000 American adults, as noted in a recent article published in MedPage Today, authored by Art Kanowitz, MD, FACEP.

As Malpractice Laws Changes, Patient Safety Concerns Grow

The 12th edition of Medical Malpractice: By The Numbers is now open for review and examines the latest statistics, facts, and research concerning unsafe hospitals, preventable patient injuries, negligent clinicians, and medical errors. Authored by the Center for Justice & Democracy at New York Law School (CJ&D) researchers say the 172-page volume includes over 500 linked footnotes and sources and was released at a time when laws are making it harder for patients and their families to place accountability on wrong-doing hospitals and incompetent physicians.

Briefing book statistics are shared for topics such as:

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Information About Sepsis Dangers and Sepsis-Associated Deaths in Hospital Settings 

When a person’s immune system becomes compromised, the body can respond in deadly ways, such as septicemia, a lethal condition more commonly known as – sepsis. A 2019 Critical Care Medicine investigative report confirmed that sepsis is highly present in hospitals and that it contributes significantly to patient deaths, some preventable. About one-third of people who develop sepsis will die from it, and as many as 65 percent of those people were being treated for another issue in a hospital setting at the time of their sepsis diagnosis.

Sepsis occurs when a person develops a bacterial infection in their bloodstream. It can happen to any patient, at any age. For those who survive, many will be left in a life-altering state and battle conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic pain and fatigue, organ dysfunction, brain and heart conditions, and disabling amputations. Family members and caregivers may also become exhausted and depressed due to the difficult recovery and therapies their loved one now requires. 

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New Survey Shows Women Deserve Better Treatment While in Labor 

After the review of a recent survey of American women, Giving Voice to Mothers (GVtM), conducted by both clinicians and researchers using World Health Organization frameworks, it is now known that one out of six women surveyed reported being mistreated while in labor.

Examples of their mistreatment included:

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Westlake Hospital Stays Open for Now, Community Leaders Say There Are Not Enough Staff to Care for Patients 

By court order, Westlake Hospital in Melrose Park is to stay open and keep patient safety a top concern. Previously, a Cook County Circuit Court judge granted Melrose Park a temporary restraining order, prohibiting Pipeline Health (owners of Westlake) from further minimizing services or staffing after they had announced the hospital would no longer be admitting new patients and transferring others.

But local lawmaker Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch of Westchester says that despite the newest court order to stay open and treat patients, Pipeline Health is still “turning employees and staff away.”

Public Policy Polling (PPP) recently released data from phone polls conducted in late March on the topic of H.R. 1215, a House bill that will be voted on in the next several weeks. H.R. 1215 seeks to limit non-economic damages to $250,000 in medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, prescription and OTC drug and medical device lawsuits. PPP asked the same set of questions to between 500-700 registered voters in 7 red (Republican) and purple states (those that have voted both Republican & Democratic in the past several elections). Polling only red & purple states was intentional, as  Republicans have traditionally leaned towards tort reform, the act of limiting medical malpractice and nursing home abuse lawsuits in favor of protecting big corporations. PPP found that in the polled states of Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Alabama and Arizona, support for H.R. 1215 was virtually non-existent, with over 60% of polled citizens in every state disagreeing with the bill.

Even more impressive was the percentage of voters in each state that believed nursing homes should be held accountable if acts of negligence caused the injury or death of a loved one. The amount of support for nursing home abuse and negligence lawsuits was 77% at its lowest (Florida), and 86% at its highest (Georgia).

Finally, each state’s opposition to H.R. 1215 grew stronger as the person conducting the phone interview gave more information on the bill to voters.

An article posted yesterday on Huffington Post examines how Republicans’ plan to repeal and replace parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will force Americans to be treated as a diagnosis and not an individual with personal or legal rights. This past May, Tom Price, now Trump’s pick for Secretary of Health and Human Services, released the ‘Empowering Patients First Act,’ his alternative to healthcare reform known as the Affordable Care Act.

Price’s plan, known as the Empowering Patients First Act, would require doctors to administer medical treatment for symptoms based on a set of guidelines established by the Secretary of Health & Human Services in conjunction with a currently unidentified  ‘qualified physician census organization.’ According to Price, these clinical guidelines would be updated every two years and would be made available to the public. Should the Empowering Patients First Act pass, Americans would no longer be treated as an individual, but rather as a set of symptoms resulting in a one size fits all diagnosis.

Why Americans Should Worry

In November, Americans for Insurance Reform (AIR), a coalition of nearly 100 consumer interest groups, released the results of two studies they conducted based on new insurance data. The studies reveal that contrary to Speaker Paul Ryan’s claims, states that allow caps on damages and other tort reform measures actually have higher doctor’s rates. These same studies also show that premiums and claims for doctors are at their lowest levels in 40 years.

Tort reform supporters frequently claim that medical malpractice insurance rate hikes are directly linked to increases in malpractice payouts. AIR found that rising rates were tied to the economy and the financial losses of the insurance industry, relating to their investments in the stock and bond markets. In years where the stock market was strong, insurance companies lowered premiums in an effort to attract customers and quickly invest the profit made from their premiums.

Based on these findings, AIR concludes that insurance companies are allowing tort reform supporters to believe that taking away the right to fair compensation for those injured by negligence will reduce insurance rates. According to AIR, ‘Lawmakers should focus instead on controlling the power and the abuses of the insurance industry.’

A couple filed a complaint against doctors, medical facilities, and a laboratory claiming that negligent care led to the woman’s injuries. The woman was eventually diagnosed with endometrial carcinoma, a very serious type of uterine cancer. However, her delayed diagnosis allegedly caused a delay in treatment, which allowed the disease to worsen. The lawsuit was filed in Cook County and is requesting damages of more than $50,000.

Failure to Diagnose

The failure to make a diagnosis or an error in diagnosis may be considered negligence on the part of the doctor or medical staff. Doctors are held to a high standard of care because they have specialized education, training and experience. Sometimes a missed diagnosis does not do any harm to the patient. However, sometimes it can cause additional injuries or can make the condition worsen. In this case, the woman’s cancer was not diagnosed or treated so it caused a serious decline in her health.

When we go to the hospital or seek treatment from a doctor we expect that we will receive the attention and care that is necessary. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. The family of a man who died because of alleged medical negligence filed a lawsuit in Cook County against Vascular Specialists S.C. and a doctor. The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and damage in excess of $50,000.

Failure to Provide Proper Care

The family in this case state that the doctor did provide treatment quickly enough. This delay led to the man’s death. Had the man received prompt medical attention and treatment he may not have died. Delay of treatment is often considered a form of medical negligence or malpractice. The man was seeking treatment for vascular problems. Many times, vascular disease can be very serious and even life-threatening.

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