Archive for the ‘Medical Malpractice Prevention’ Category

How Safe are Outpatient Services?

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Study after study has been published about the risks of medical errors in hospitals. However, a new report recently released by the American Medical Association (AMA) indicates that more information is needed about the dangers of medical errors in ambulatory or outpatient settings.

The AMA report looked at outpatient data over 10 years (2000 -2010) and concluded that errors are occurring. Specifically, there are concerns about misdiagnoses, prescription mistakes, and other errors. The AMA is suggesting that more work needs to be done to study these problems, to find out how prevalent they are, why they are occurring, and how they can be prevented in the future.

Are you concerned about outpatient safety in Pennsylvania? What do you think should be done to make things safer and prevent medical malpractice?

Fatigued Physicians – Sentinel Alert Issued by Joint Commission

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Last month the Joint Commission issued a sentinel alert informing healthcare practitioners that drowsy doctors and nurses are more likely to be involved in adverse medical events than their rested counterparts.  The Commission is asking hospitals to make sure that doctors, nurses, and others do not work too many extended hour shifts consecutively and to allow workers to give feedback on scheduling.

The Commission does not want to tell hospitals exactly how to handle scheduling or how to solve this problem. However, it is offering advice to the hospitals it accredits. Specifically, it is urging hospitals to:

  • Review extended work shift or hour policies.
  • Assess patient hand off procedures at the end of shifts.
  • Invite staff to be involved in making work schedules.
  • Offer workers tips to fight fatigue.
  • Educate staff about the need to be well rested.
  • Consider fatigue as a possible reason when reporting adverse events.
  • Provide appropriate nap rooms and accommodations, such as letting staff turn off pagers between shifts.

What do you think? Can fatigue and medical malpractice be prevented?

How Safe are Outpatient Facilities?

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Last month an important report was issued that looked at 100 outpatient facility safety studies completed between 2000 and 2010. The report, issued by the American Medical Association’s Center for Patient Safety, found widespread problems including, but not limited to:

  • Incorrect prescriptions.
  • Misdiagnoses.
  • Missed test results.
  • Poor communication.

Yet, unlike similar studies done in hospitals there is no estimate on how many people are hurt or killed each year by these mistakes in outpatient facilities. Accordingly, the AMA is calling for more research to be done to protect patients at ambulatory facilities from medical malpractice mistakes.

Recent Trends in Autopsies and Why They Matter

Friday, December 30th, 2011

Fifty years ago almost fifty percent of people who died in hospitals in the United States received autopsies. Today only 5% of those who die in hospitals receive autopsies.  Why the decrease in autopsies and why does it matter?

Why Fewer Autopsies are Performed

Quite simply, fewer people are requesting that autopsies be performed. Doctors don’t want autopsies performed because autopsies could reveal medical malpractice mistakes. Hospitals don’t want autopsies performed because they are expensive and health insurance does not typically pay for autopsies. Families may not know that an autopsy is an option because doctors and hospitals are not required to tell them that an autopsy is available. Likewise, medical examiners only have an interest in autopsies when foul play is suspected.

Why Autopsies are Important

Autopsies can provide definitive information about why a patient died. They can also provide valuable information for doctors and researchers. Doctors may learn if a mistake was made so that future mistakes are not made on other patients. Researchers may discover whether a particular treatment was more or less effective than thought.

Do you think incentives should be put in place to encourage autopsies? Would you consent to an autopsy for your loved one? Please share your thoughts with our Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawyers.

Is Distracted Doctoring a Problem?

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

There are certain benefits to using a doctor who has up to date cutting edge technology, but there may also be drawbacks. Today, doctors routinely use gadgets such as smartphones and tablets to get instant access to patient records, information about prescription drugs and other data. However helpful these tools are they also pose a possible distraction and thereby danger for patients.

Specifically, some medical professionals including doctors and nurses may be distracted by the gadget in front of them rather than focused on the patient they are treating. Just as a car driver is distracted by a text message behind the wheel, a doctor may be distracted by a text message in the examining room. Just as a truck driver may be tempted to check the latest scores so too may a nurse in the operating room.

Are these distractions different than the more traditional beeper carried by doctors for decades? Can distracted doctors make mistakes that cost patients their lives? Research studies are beginning to address this question.

What do you think? Are you more comfortable with a doctor who uses this technology or are you afraid of potential medical malpractice by a distracted physician?