Aug 18 2016

Initiatives New Yorkers Can Take to Prevent Medical Errors

As cited in a previous blog article, medical error is now the third-leading cause of death. Medical error may involve medication mix-ups, mistakes made during surgical procedures, misdiagnoses, or improper use or care of equipment and lab reports. Although some instances may not be avoidable, an individual can take proactive measures to prevent themselves from becoming a victim of medical error.

Although many medical errors may occur as a result of the complexities of the health care system, some may be caused by miscommunication between medical staff and their patients. For this reason, it is important for patients to keep doctors informed about the medications they are taking, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs, as well as dietary supplements such as herbs and vitamins. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests patients keep their records up to date by bringing all of their medicines and supplements to their doctor’s visit at least once a year. Patients should alert their health care professional of any allergic and adverse reactions they’ve had to these medications that may cause them harm.

A patient should be proactive when it comes to staying informed about their prescription medication by asking questions about its intended use, dosage, and side effects. Patients should ask if the medication is safe to use in conjunction with other drugs or dietary supplements and what food, drinks, or activities should be avoided while using the medicine. In 1979, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) revealed that one-third of medical professionals’ handwriting was illegible. It may be presumed that handwriting may still be a factor in medical errors today. For this reason, patients should make sure they can read their prescriptions; if a patient has difficulty reading it, the person filling the prescription may also encounter a similar issue.

For surgeries, there should be a mutual agreement among the referring doctor, the surgeon and the patient about what will be done. If a patient has a choice in hospital location, he or she should pick one that has a history of treating many patients for that particular condition. When being discharged, a patient should ask the doctor to explain the treatment or recovery plan to be followed at home.

If you know you are entering the hospital to be treated for a severe condition, try to bring a friend or relative who can participate in the discussion about your care, and maybe even take notes.

The complexities surrounding medical malpractice and errors can be difficult to navigate, especially when victims and their families are dealing with its physical and emotional after effects. The medical malpractice attorneys at Alegria & Barovick LLP are experienced in handling complex negligence cases resulting from medical errors, including misdiagnoses, mistakes made during the birth process, surgeries, and aftercare. Contact the firm at (914) 761-1133 or (212) 861-2800.

Aug 4 2016

Study Shows Team Training of Medical Staff Can Reduce Medical Errors

Researchers at Rice University, the Johns Hopkins University of School of Medicine, the University of Central Florida, the U.S. Department of Defense and the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center recently released a study which showed that health care employees who are trained in a team environment can reduce the number of medical errors made by hospital staff.

According to an article from News Medical, the study, titled “Saving Lives: A Meta-Analysis of Team Training in Health Care,” showed that team training can lower the risk of medical errors by 19%. Further, patient mortality would be reduced by 15%. Researchers found that such interaction in a learning environment would not only save lives, but save hospitals money as well. Researchers stated that medical errors occur in more than 30% of all admissions, costing U.S. hospitals between $735 billion to $980 billion a year.

The study looked at the impact of a team-training environment among 23,018 participants — consisting of physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, therapists, medical and nursing students, and other health care staff members — in 129 previous studies. Among the findings, employees improved their learning of new skills by 31% and their use of these skills on the job by 25%, while health care groups saw a 15% improvement in financial outcomes. Results also showed clinical performance improved by 34% and patient satisfaction was up by 15%.

Researchers concluded that team training helps employees and medical staff communicate better, learn to cooperate and resolve any conflicts that might arise. This, in turn, lowers incidents of medical errors, many of which, they said, are preventable.

Medical errors occur when a doctor fails to provide proper care to a patient, often resulting in serious injury or even death. If you or a loved one has been hurt by medical errors and/or medical malpractice, contact the experienced attorneys at Alegria & Barovick, LLP by calling (914) 761-1133 or (212) 861-2800.

Jun 16 2016

Did Your Newborn Infant Suffer from a Brachial Plexus Injury?

Childbirth is stressful enough for expectant parents. What can make it a traumatic experience for them is to find that their infant has suffered brachial plexus injuries during the childbirth process.

The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that conducts signals from the spine to the shoulder, arm and hand. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), during birth, brachial plexus injuries occur when the infant’s shoulder gets caught at the pubic bone during delivery, or the doctor tries to force the baby out by pulling too hard, causing the baby’s brachial plexus nerves to become stretched or torn. The child may suffer from paralysis of either the upper brachial plexus (known as Erb-Duchenne, or Erb’s, palsy) or the lower brachial plexus, which is referred to as Dejerine-Klumpke (or Klumpke’s) palsy. Those with Erb’s palsy may lose motion around the shoulder and around the elbow, according to Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, while those with Klumpke’s palsy cannot move their wrist or hand.

Johns Hopkins Medicine lists six different types of brachial plexus injuries. The prognosis for recovery for each of these injuries is dependent on how complex and severe the injury is. They are:

  • Avulsion — this occurs when the nerve is torn from the spine. Prognosis: no chance for recovery
  • Rupture — the nerve is partially torn and stretched, but not at the spinal attachment
  • Neurapraxia — the nerve is gently stretched or compressed, but not torn. Prognosis: excellent
  • Axonotemesis — the axons (long, slender projections of a nerve cell or neuron) have been cut. Prognosis: moderate
  • Neurotemesis — the entire nerve has been cut. Prognosis: poor
  • Neuroma — the nerve has torn and is now healed, but a tumor has grown from a mass of severed axons, which fail to regenerate. Prognosis: depends on the number of axons that regenerate

Although some of these injuries can heal by the time the child is three to four months old, treatment for brachial plexus injuries includes physical therapy and, in some cases, surgery, according to NINDS.

If your newborn child has been injured or suffered brachial plexus injuries due to a doctor or hospital’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Seeking the guidance of an experienced attorney is vital in protecting your rights. Contact the dedicated, experienced attorneys at Alegria & Barovick LLP for the representation you deserve. Call (914) 761-1133.

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