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Detroit Medical Malpractice Blog

Doctors and the refusal to provide medical care

  • 20
  • November
    2014

A recent article in the Huffington Post, looking at the current Ebola epidemic and the risk here in the United States, asked the interesting question of whether or not physicians have a duty to treat patients who present the symptoms of Ebola. While we would like to assume that physicians treat whoever walks into their clinic or hospital, this isn’t always the case.

Ebola, being the kind of disease it is, could conceivably create a situation where a physician has intractable concerns about exposing himself or herself to the virus. From the standpoint of professional ethics, the issue may be looked at from various angles, including the general ethical duty to treat those who are in need of medical care, as well as the degree of risk in treating the condition and the prospect of rendering successful medical treatment. Obviously, cases in which the risks of treating the patient are high and the prospects of success low, it is harder to find an ethical duty to treat.

Frequency of medication errors among children is surprising

  • 12
  • November
    2014

Medical errors come in a variety of forms, including birth injuries, surgical errors, failure to diagnose, and so on. One form of medical error that is often overlooked, though, is medication errors. Mistakes with respect to the type and amount of medication are very common, though, particularly among young children. According to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, medication errors occur, on average, every eight minutes among a certain subset of children.

According to that article, the study looked at medication errors which were reported to US poison control centers between 2002 and 2012. A total of 63,358 children below 6 years of age had been reported as experiencing a medication error, which amounts to one every eight minutes. The majority of these medication errors involved liquid medicine, with tablet and capsule errors being the next largest category. Many of the errors occurred when medication was given too soon. 

Researchers suggest developing blood test for general cancer screening

  • 05
  • November
    2014

What if there was a single test doctors could use to screen for various types of cancer? A recent research effort conducted at the National Cancer Research Institute in Liverpool looked at thousands of previous scientific publications with the aim of determining whether there might be a way to develop a general cancer screening test using blood samples. The idea, of course, would be to help health care providers better detect patients who are at risk for cancer so that they can begin receiving early treatment.

Researchers reportedly found that there are over 800 biomarkers in the blood of cancer patients, and it is suggested that a blood test could potentially be developed as a screening device for various forms of cancer. The idea is a relatively new one, though it isn't clear yet how feasible it is to develop a single blood test for early detection of multiple types of cancer.

CDC to establish guidelines for keeping Ebola at bay

  • 27
  • October
    2014

Medical errors can have serious consequences for patients, including serious injury and death. When it comes to fighting the potential threat of Ebola in the United States, though, medical error could have a much more wide-spread negative impact, potentially affecting large segments of the population, if the virus spreads unchecked.

Though some public health officials say the risk of Ebola spreading to significant numbers of Americans is small, others have raised more alarm. So far, several Americans have been confirmed to have contracted the virus. Healthcare workers returning from service in West Africa, of course, are most at risk of becoming sick. Because of this, the Centers for Disease Control will reportedly be announcing new guidelines for the care of healthcare workers returning from treating Ebola patients in Africa. 

Fremont pharmacy accused of medication mix-up

  • 22
  • October
    2014

In medical care, patients expect that those who give them medical advice, administer treatment, and write prescriptions know what they are talking about and are careful to avoid errors. The same is true for pharmacists—we trust that our pharmacists are doing their job correctly and watching out for potential errors. That is why it can be surprising for patients when careless mistakes do occur.

Here in Michigan, a family from Fremont is reportedly accusing Walgreens of filling a prescription incorrectly, which apparently led to a boy taking the wrong medicine for a month before the mistake was recognized. The bag that held the medicine bottle reportedly had the right name, address and medication label on it when it was picked up, but the family noticed the bottle itself was addressed to another person when they went to fill the prescription a month later. As it turns out, he had been taking a generic asthma medication rather than his ADHD medication. 

Careless prescription of NSAIDs can lead to serious consequences

  • 16
  • October
    2014

Most of our readers are probably familiar with the term NSAID, which stands for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Common examples of NSAIDs include ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen. As pain relievers, NSAIDs can be effective but they carry certain risks, such as stomach bleeding and ulcers, kidney or heart problems, and high blood pressure. Another potential risk, supported by some studies, is venous thromboembolism (VTE),

VTE is a condition which involves clotting in the blood, which can then travel to the lungs in some cases, resulting in deep vein thrombosis. Because of these risks of developing these conditions, it is important for people to be cautious in their use of NSAIDs and for doctors to be judicious in prescribing them.

Overuse of antibiotics increasing incidence of resistant strains

  • 10
  • October
    2014

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 2 million Americans are estimated to fall ill every year because of an antibiotic-resistant infection, with 23,000 of them ultimately succumbing to these illnesses. The problem is a growing one, and concerns all of us, particularly because studies have shown that part of the problem may stem from the unscrupulous use of antibiotics in medical care.

According to a study published in the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, hospitals in the United States used antibiotics unnecessarily in 78 percent of the 505 hospitals examined by researchers between 2008 and 2011. Not only is there a financial cost to prescribing unnecessary medications, there is also a public health cost. 

Ebola scare in Texas a reminder of the risk of ER medical errors

  • 10
  • October
    2014

Readers have probably all heard of the current concerns about the spread of Ebola from West Africa to other countries, including the United States. The scare came from the fact that a Texas man had contracted the virus while travelling in West Africa. When he checked himself into a hospital emergency room, he reportedly notified a nurse of his symptoms—consistent with Ebola—and the fact that he had been travelling in West Africa, but she failed to inform other hospital staff, which led to the patient being released with antibiotics and exposing numerous others.

As some commentators have pointed out, it is surprising—on the one hand—that a thing such as this could happen, putting others at risk of contracting such a highly fatal virus. On the other hand, doctors overlook serious medical conditions all the time, which can and does lead to worsening of the condition and sometimes death for patients.

Today is World Cerebral Palsy Day

  • 01
  • October
    2014

Most readers are probably not aware that today is World Cerebral Palsy Day, an effort which occurs on the first Wednesday of every October. The effort is promoted by a group of non-profit organizations and is observed in nearly 50 countries. According to the literature promoting the campaign, there are currently around 17 million people who live with cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy refers to a group of symptoms involving mobility issues, as well as problems with communication, depth perception and sensation. In some cases, cerebral palsy involves cognition errors and epilepsy. Fortunately, the problems presented by cerebral palsy do not get worse over time. Unfortunately, they are permanent. 

Hospitals named in med mal suits in connection with fraud charges

  • 24
  • September
    2014

Investigation continues in a case of health care fraud out of Detroit involving a physician who has pleaded guilty to putting patients through unnecessary treatments in order to be able to submit fraudulent insurance claims. The main doctor targeted thus far has pleaded guilty to 13 counts of health care fraud, as well as other charges. Now, eight other physicians have been implicated in the case.

According to authorities, the eight other physicians knew about the fraudulent activity but failed to report it. For that, the physicians are suspects for conspiracy. Already, multiple civil cases have been filed for medical malpractice in connection with the fraud, including several hospitals.

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