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June 2011 Archives

Heart Attacks

Heart Attacks

"I feel like I am having a heart attack!" These words must be taken very seriously by any emergency room staff. Failure to follow proper procedures can result in a patient being sent home only to experience a sudden and fatal event. Too often heart attacks are missed by hospital emergency room staff because it did not present in a classic or usual fashion and the staff fails to follow protocol. I have seen emergency room doctors broom a patient out of their emergency room in less than an hour. The patient goes home and dies.

The move toward electronic medical records; follow the audit trail

The move toward electronic medical records; follow the audit trail

More and more, hospitals, clinics, and doctors' offices are making the move to an all electronic medical record (EMR). The benefits of EMR include a reduction in medication errors caused by doctors' notoriously poor hand writing. The goal of reducing medication errors is laudable; however, what stops a less-than scrupulous health care provider from going in and changing critical information in the EMR to cover up a medical mistake that causes a patient to be injured or worse yet die? The answers may lie in what is called the audit trail. In EMR programs the audit trail keeps track of when charting is done and who does the charting. If a health care provider goes in at a later time and changes the medical records, the audit trail will list when the change was made and who made the change. This information can be critically important when representing a person injured or killed by medical negligence especially when the records are completely inconsistent with what our client or family says happened. For example, when the records says "patient refused diagnostic test" and the patient or family say that the diagnostic test was never even offered.

Shoulder Dystocia

Shoulder Dystocia

Shoulder dystocia is an issue which complicates many deliveries. Once the head has been delivered, the infant's anterior shoulder will sometimes become stuck behind the mother's pubic bone. The obstetrician then has a window of opportunity to deliver the baby without permanent injury to the brain. If improperly handled by the obstetrician, shoulder dystocia can lead to many serious complications including death, brachial plexus palsies (Erb's palsy), clavicular (collar bone) and humeral (upper arm) fractures.

Time for routine screening of all newborns for congenital cytomegalovirus

Time for routine screening of all newborns for congenital cytomegalovirus

A recent study published in the esteemed New England Journal of Medicine should prompt a move toward routine screening of all newborns for congenital cytomegalovirus, a leading cause of congenital hearing loss. The test, which uses a small sample of saliva and costs about $3, was found to be 97% accurate in identifying babies infected with the virus. The screening test is important because only 10% of babies born infected with cytomegalovirus show any symptoms.