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January 2013 Archives

Do Kentucky and Ohio hospitals hide medication errors from patients?

According to a new study conducted by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, patients are usually the last to know when a medication error is made in a hospital. While many mistakes do not cause harm to patients, personnel still tend to delay telling patients about these types of errors. The study also found that the most serious medication errors tend to occur in intensive care units where families are less likely to be told about problems than in other areas of the hospital. The study looked at voluntarily reported information from 537 hospitals covering 840,000 incidents between the years 1999 and 2005. About 98 percent of these errors resulted in no harm to the patients, but those that did were most likely to occur in ICU. About 110 of these errors led to patient deaths, 18 of which occurred in ICUs.

Prisons pay $350K for medical negligence

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, which oversees the state's prisons, has agreed to a $350,000 settlement for a claim made by a former inmate for failure to diagnose a herniation of his spine. The victim was incarcerated at the Belmont Correctional Institution in 2008 when he visited the prison's physician for numbness of his left leg and weakness in his left hand. At the time, the prison physician recommended an electromyogram and a nerve conduction study rather than an MRI of the cervical spine. The MRI had been recommended by an emergency room physician but was not performed until seven weeks after the initial tests, at which time the spine herniation was discovered. The prisoner filed a lawsuit alleging that the prison doctor failed to properly diagnose his condition by refusing to perform the recommended test.

Copy-paste of records may endanger patients

A recent study found that many doctor and hospital errors regarding patient information may be due to a bad and widespread habit: copying and pasting old information into electronic records. Because so many hospitals and doctors' offices are cutting staff in an attempt to keep costs low, record keeping can be plagued by shortcuts. One of the most potentially dangerous practices is that of copying out-of-date information into new notes, which often occurs during the transfer of material into electronic format. This result is the opposite of what was intended when electronic medical records were introduced. Supporters of digital formats claimed that transferring information into computerized data would create searchable databases to streamline the diagnostic process and cut down on errors. However, reality has shown that the move to electronic media may actually, in some cases, cause errors or slow the process of data transfer down.

Previous brain injury can cause later trauma

A senior adult with a medical history including traumatic brain injury is four times more likely to suffer re-injury at a later time, according to a study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry. The study shows that adults more than 65 years of age who have suffered a previous traumatic brain injury that involved losing consciousness were 2.5 to 4.0 times more likely to experience a subsequent brain injury.The study was limited to 4,255 people over the age of 65 who were not suffering from dementia. The subjects who experienced traumatic brain injury prior to age 25 had a greater chance of a future traumatic brain injury at the rate of 2.54 to one when compared to those without a history of traumatic brain injury. Those injured after the age of 55 were 3.79 times more likely to have a subsequent injury.

Ohio nursing home sued over death of patient

An alleged medication error and other neglect led to the death of a nursing home resident, according to a lawsuit filed by the family. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the facility's appeal of a judgment entered by a jury against the home, stating in its opinion that the organization was guilty of a "chaotic environment" that led to a probability of potential harm for patients.The victim was a six-year resident of the facility and was 80 years old at the time of her death. She was discovered to be unresponsive after allegedly being given anti-diabetes medication that caused a serious drop in blood sugar. She had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, dementia and other ailments, and had suffered a stroke before being admitted to the facility. The lawsuit claimed that her quality of life was seriously diminished after the incident. She survived

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