Articles Posted in Failure to Diagnose

medical errors

13 Ways to Protect Yourself from Medical Errors 

A newly released study highlighted the striking rise in preventable medical errors of more than 300,000 adult patients was published on July 17, 2019 in the medical journal, The BMJ. The data collected represented 1 in 10 patients harmed in the course of their medical care, half of which were preventable.

The study found:

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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. 

“Safety advocates said that without access to public data, it has been too easy for hospitals to excuse poor outcomes by blaming mothers’ health problems.”

-USA Today

Hospitals Blame Mothers When Things Go Wrong

“To know that this happens is our country, that’s unacceptable.” 

-Sue Sheridan, patient safety advocate, in To Err Is Human

The medical malpractice attorneys of Levin & Perconti recently watched To Err Is Human, a newly released documentary showing the frequency and impact of medical errors upon American families. To see the facts relating to the frequency and severity of medical errors combined with the heart wrenching story of a family forever changed by these mistakes has left a lasting impression on all of us.

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Medical Mistake Leads to Terminal Cancer Diagnosis for Green Beret

The story of Sgt. 1st Class Rich Stayskal, as published on January 14, 2019 in Stars and Stripes, an independent news source to the U.S. military community, is tough to get through. Stayskal is a former Marine who later became a Green Beret but is now battling a terminal stage IV metastatic lung cancer. The husband and father of two says his military doctors missed a diagnosis opportunity that could have saved his life in 2017 when he first presented symptoms and a scan showed the illness.

But unlike similar malpractice claims patients can bring against the private medical community, Stayskal can’t do much because of a military rule known as the Feres doctrine. Feres prohibits military servicemembers from suing the government and is a rule that can only be changed via an act of Congress or a ruling by the Supreme Court. The rule, which has been upheld for more than 68 years, was meant to maintain a “no-fault” compensation system in the military where combat-related deaths and injuries are possible.

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History of Common Malpractice Errors May Be Unknown to Patients

A recent investigation led by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, USA Today and MedPage Today found that even when surrendering a medical license because of unprofessional conduct such as sexual assault, medical malpractice or prescription abuse, physicians simply leave their bad history in one state and move their practice to another while continuing to make deadly mistakes as risky medical experts. Equally disturbing is that if a physician voluntarily surrenders his license, the public may not ever be able to access or gain knowledge about why the surrender occurred. Although the National Practitioner Data Bank has more than 1.3 million records of “adverse actions” going back to 1990, files can only be accessed by hospitals, insurers, and state medical boards. Individual states can file a complaint, but only if prompted to inquire of a physician offender’s harmful patient history.

Additional investigative findings published in December 2018 from the news organizations included:

The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit group dedicated to hospital safety, has released their biannual Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade report, showing an overall improvement in Illinois hospitals since the spring. According to Leapfrog, the survey measures hospital patient safety by the number of “errors, injuries, accidents, and infections.” Participation by hospitals is optional and this fall, 110 Illinois hospitals agreed to take part. According to the data collected, Leapfrog rated Illinois hospitals as #13 overall, an improvement from #15 this past spring.

In a time where the increasing problem of medical errors is finally being given the platform it deserves, the survey is more relevant now than ever. The Leapfrog Group, citing an often quoted 2016 Johns Hopkins study, notes that medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the United States. Patient safety and healthcare provider accountability is essential for all hospitals and healthcare organizations. Below is our analysis of the Fall 2018 Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade report for participating Illinois hospitals.


Illinois & Metro Chicago Hospital Results

The Center for Justice and Democracy (CJ&D), a consumer rights group out of New York Law School, has shared their list of 22 famous figures who have been harmed and even killed by medical malpractice.

Most of us are familiar with the high profile drug-related tragedies of Michael Jackson (2009) and Prince (2016) and even Judy Garland (1969) and Marilyn Monroe (1962). Some of us are familiar with the details surrounding the death of comedian Joan Rivers in 2014 during an endoscopy at a New York City clinic.  But it was surprising even to us to read the details of medical neglect in cases involving other beloved celebrities. As CJ&D pointed out in their report, no one is exempt from medical negligence or malpractice, not even celebrities with all the money and resources in the world at their fingertips. The report also shared several findings that now have become well known to the public. Among them, that medical errors are the 3rd leading cause of death in this country.

Each of the 22 cases highlighted in the report has resulted in a settlement or verdict (or is pending) and in many of them, grieving loved ones or the victims themselves have said that it’s not about money, but instead about enforcing a sense of right vs. wrong in the face of injustice.

A large study published August 6th in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) has connected higher heart attack survival rates to women patients treated by a female doctor. Heart attacks are the leading cause of death for both men and women in this country. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), a woman dies every 80 seconds from a heart attack. Women are also more likely to die from a heart attack than men, the reasons for which have never been proven.

Women MDs Linked to Heart Attack Survival

The study, entitled “Patient-physician gender concordance and increased mortality among female heart attack patients,” relied on hospital records of 582,000 heart attack patients in Florida hospitals over the nearly 20 year period between 1991 and 2010.

“Today, this is the most dangerous place in the developed world to give birth.”                                                                          -USA Today: “Hospitals know how to protect mothers. They just aren’t doing it.” (July 27, 2018)

Last Friday, USA Today published a report with findings from their investigation into hospital records and personal stories and has concluded that hospitals are failing mothers by missing symptoms that indicate serious maternal complications. The report, entitled “Hospitals know how to protect mothers. They just aren’t doing it.,” shared the CDC’s statistic that 50,000 women a year in this country suffer a serious complication during delivery. Around 700 mothers die a year.

These statistics alone might not sound significant given that there are nearly 4 million births a year in the U.S., but the frightening part is that despite being a wealthy, industrialized country, our maternal death rate is getting worse and is the WORST of any developed country. We are the only country besides Sudan and Afghanistan whose maternal death rate is on the rise, despite the belief by many that we have the best care in the world.

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