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Portland Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Tired, sick nurses make more mistakes, study finds

There's no question that working at a hospital is complicated and stressful. Patients come into the hospital in pain, under stress and fearing the worst. For nurses who are the front-line advocate for the patient, this can mean extreme stress or anxiety on the job.

It's important for nurses not to be too stressed, though. A study in 2016 showed that nurses under extreme stress due to high workloads, violence from patients, off-shifts and other issues were more likely to suffer from physical and emotional distress. This distress could, then, lead to errors that harm patients.

Robotic surgeries: The risks are still present

When you think of robotic surgeries, you probably have the preconception that the surgery is safer. You think that a robot is so technically sound that it couldn't make an error. What people tend to misunderstand is that robotic surgeries aren't necessarily fully automated. Human bodies aren't identical, so there's no way to have a surgery performed without the watchful eye and control of a doctor.

Robotic surgeries are enticing because they have the potential to perform surgeries with fewer incisions. They are more precise in some ways, cutting smaller holes, searing off tissues with tiny lasers and literally cutting the smallest pieces of skin or tissues possible. Patients tend to heal better because they have fewer internal injuries or wounds thanks to the smaller size of the instruments. On top of that, there's usually a lower risk of infection.

What should you do if you're hurt at the hospital?

It should go without saying that people go to hospitals to get better. While most people survive their visits, not everyone does. Sometimes, even those who do leave with injuries that are permanent or painful.

Sadly, many of the injuries people suffer in hospitals are preventable. Those may include surgical errors, medication errors or even infections caused by a dirty environment with poor sterilization procedures. It's never okay for patients to suffer as a result of neglect, and it's well within your rights to make sure a hospital pays for any injuries you suffer while you're in its care.

You may have a wrongful death or medical malpractice case

When your loved one went into surgery, you thought everything would go fine. It was a standard procedure, and the risks were low. When it began to pass the time when the surgeon told you the surgery would be finished, you began to worry.

Those worries ended up being for good reason. Later that day, you were told that your loved one had passed away due to anesthesia complications, and now you're looking at your legal options because those issues never should have happened during the surgery.

Waking up during surgery: The facts about anesthesia

If there is one thing that scares many people about surgery, it's the potential to wake up during it. While it's unlikely, it certainly is a possibility in a couple of circumstances.

General anesthesia is used to prevent you from recalling anything that happens during surgery. This prevents some forms of emotional trauma and helps prevent anxiety and distress during the surgery itself. Other types of anesthesia don't make patients forget. Instead, they only make them relaxed and tired. Some sedate patients but don't necessarily cause memory loss.

What are some common misdiagnoses?

There are many different medical conditions people suffer from that doctors can misdiagnose or not diagnose at all. Delayed diagnoses and missed diagnoses put people's lives at risk, which is why it's so important for medical providers to do all they can to identify a person's health issue as quickly and accurately as possible.

Around one in 20 adults is misdiagnosed, receives a delayed diagnosis or gets no diagnosis at all, according to the Institute of Medicine. That doesn't seem like a lot of people, but when you consider how many people live in the United States, those errors end up making a huge impact. The errors above lead to, or at the very least contribute to, around 10 percent of patient deaths.

Are expert testimonies necessary or reliable?

In a medical malpractice case, you may need to have experts testify on your behalf. It's important to have an expert in the same field as the doctor who made an error that caused your injury speak about the situation and what could have been done to prevent it. The courts often rely on the professional knowledge of an expert to dictate what is or is not professional behavior and an appropriate standard of care.

Expert testimonies can't always be trusted, though, so it's important to guarantee that the expert you have testify in your case doesn't have any conflict in interests. It would be bad, for instance, for an expert to testify in your case if he or she has a long-standing relationship with the defendant.

Radiology errors matter to patients

You fell outside when you were running, and the angle you caught yourself caused your wrist to make a snapping noise. You're fairly certain you broke your wrist, but you need to get an X-ray to be sure.

Radiologists are usually the first people who see X-rays and other imaging tests. They have the power to review the tests and indicate their findings. The problem with that is that interpretation errors or a failure to communicate can leave a patient with serious injuries.

Preventing eye injuries is important as surgery becomes common

One kind of surgery that is becoming more common is eye surgery. With the invention of Lasik and other alternative laser surgeries, more people are choosing to have their vision corrected in this manner. Errors made during an eye surgery can leave a person blind, though, so it's vital that surgeons and their staff members are focused and well-versed in the treatments they offer.

Most eye surgery errors are preventable, fortunately. A study from 2007 showed that eye surgery-related injuries were rare, happening at a rate of around 69 errors per million. That number has improved over time as the surgeries have become more precise and commonplace.

Is an infection something to sue a hospital over?

Imagine going into the hospital for a minor medical procedure. It's an outpatient operation, but you end up staying overnight because of complication. That's fine, there was no way for the medical providers to know you had an allergy to one of the medications being used.

You stay a few days for monitoring, but then you realize your arm is extremely sore near the surgical site. What's happening? After running several tests, the nurse informs you that you have an infection and that it's resistant to the antibiotics they wanted to give you.

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