Archive for the ‘Hospital Errors’ Category

Study Finds Older Anesthesiologists More Frequently Medical Malpractice Defendants

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

A new study published in this month’s issue of the journal Anesthesiology found that anesthesiologists age 65 and older are more likely to be sued for medical malpractice than their younger colleagues. The study did notidentify why medical malpractice lawsuits were more likely but did encourage more research into the potential causes for the discrepancy.

Researchers warn against conclusions that older anesthesiologists are necessarily more dangerous than younger doctors and remind patients that older anesthesiologists have more experience than younger doctors. However, they do encourage all doctors to know their personal limits, to be well rested, and to take time away from their practices to be recharged and keep up to date on the latest news in their practice areas.

Would you be comfortable with an older anesthesiologist for your upcoming surgery? Please leave a comment and let us know.

What Can Doctors Learn From Pilots?

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

A few decades ago the aviation industry began to encourage a different system of reporting errors. Instead of an error being used to shame and blame a pilot or other professional, the error began being used as a learning tool for the industry.
This shift in error reporting is seen as one of the reasons for the improved
aviation safety record in this country over the past few decades.

Now, Medicare and others want to bring the same system of communication and learning from adverse events to the medical profession. Yet, recent data released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality indicates that we still have a way to go before that is accomplished. The Agency found that most hospitals are still more interested in punishing medical professionals who commit an error than learning from those mistakes.

It is important to note that what Medicare and others are talking about are internal hospital and medical care procedures – not medical malpractice lawsuits. Patients who are harmed by medical errors, or their survivors, would still have the right to file medical malpractice claims for their injuries.

What do you think? Does fear of blame and shame prevent medical professionals from learning from their mistakes? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts with us.

Are Blood Transfusions Safe in 2012?

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Decades ago we used to worry about the possibility of infection or of tainted blood entering our bodies during blood transfusions. Better screening procedures and careful testing have reduced the risk of blood transfusion infections. However, blood transfusions are still not free of risk
for patients.

Many of the risks presented by blood transfusions today are caused by negligence or medical
malpractice
. Those risks include:

  • Giving the patient the wrong type of blood. The
    blood should be checked several times to make sure it is a type compatible with
    the patient receiving the transfusion.
  • Failing to monitor the patient for an adverse
    reaction after the transfusion.

Blood transfusions can be lifesaving. However, it is important to be aware of the risks so that you can confirm the type of blood  you are receiving and report any adverse symptoms as soon as possible.

Some PA Hospitals Score Poorly on Medicare Safety Study

Monday, February 20th, 2012

Recently, Medicare released its first official report identifying hospitals with high complication rates. The findings of that report may surprise you.

Many of what are considered to be Pennsylvania’s best hospitals have many more serious complications than the average hospital, according to the report. The specific hospitals identified as having serious medical complications in the report include: Temple University Hospital, Hahnemann University Hospital, Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and Geisinger Medical Center in Danville.

There are concerns not just about the hospitals identified, but about how Medicare reached its conclusions. Many hospitals and independent health care professionals are questioning whether the Medicare data is reliable and whether it took into account the level of illness of the patients admitted to hospitals. For example, they argue that many of the large teaching hospitals
included in Medicare’s list of hospitals with high complication rates receive the most complicated cases and the most critically ill patients. Thus, they  argue, it makes sense that their complication rates are higher.

What do you think? Are these Medicare ratings useful to you as a patient?

Children in Intensive Care May be at Greater Risk of Infection than Adults

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Patients in pediatric intensive care units (pediatric ICUs) are at greater risk of developing a dangerous infection than patients in adult intensive care units (adult ICUs) according to a new study conducted by Consumer Reports. The study found that pediatric ICUs had a 20% higher rate of dangerous infections than adult ICUs.

As a parent there are steps that you can take to help protect your child from dangerous infections. Specifically, you can:

  • Talk to the pediatric ICU staff about the steps they take to control infection.
  • Make sure everyone who comes near your child, and especially near your child’s central line, is scrubbed and uses sterile equipment.
  • Ask if the central line is still necessary for your child’s care and ask that it be removed as soon as it is safe to do so.
  • Keep your own hands clean and insist on the same from all visitors.
  • Speak up if you think something is wrong.

Remember, that while these steps may help protect your child, it is the hospital’s responsibility to prevent infections. If the hospital has failed to use reasonable care in the treatment of your child, including protecting your child from dangerous infections, then your family may have the right to recover damages for the injuries suffered by your child due to the hospital medical malpractice.