Law Offices of Judy Snyder

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Portland Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Elopement: When patients flee in poor mental states

Imagine taking someone you love to the hospital. She wasn't acting normal when you saw her, so you rushed her there. She had been acting like she didn't know who you were and was confused about where she was. You thought she must be ill.

At the hospital, the doctors discover that your loved one has an illness that has affected her memories temporarily. After proper hydration and rest, they think the illness will resolve within a few days. The problem arises later when you go to check on her. She's nowhere to be found.

What common surgical errors can hurt patients?

Every surgery has the potential to be dangerous to the patient. Even an experienced surgeon could make a mistake depending on if he or she has had enough sleep or if he or she is used to this particular surgery. It's important for patients to understand common errors so they can better recognize when they have been a victim of a mistake.

One mistake that comes up often is when the wrong type of anesthetic or medication is used. General anesthesia in particular requires precision. If any medication is in too high or too low of a dose, it could cause problems for the patient. If the patient is allergic to a drug that is used in the general anesthetic despite the surgeon or anesthetist being told about the allergy, this could lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Mystery ailments: Some diseases are hard to diagnose

Missing or getting the wrong diagnosis is a problem for patients. When patients go longer without the treatments they need, there is a real risk that they could end up with serious or fatal injuries.

Many diseases are hard to diagnose, though, so how much of the late diagnosis really falls on a doctor's shoulders? It depends. If you've complained over and over about an issue but your bloodwork was accurate and didn't suggest a disease, the doctor might not be liable. On the other hand, if the bloodwork or tests were inaccurate, there's a good chance you could win a case for malpractice.

Diastolic heart failure more prevalent than once believed

There are several reasons for heart failure, but one common cause is when the left ventricle no longer has the ability to fill with blood during the relaxation phase, also known as the diastolic phase. At that point, there is little blood in the heart, which means blood can't be pumped to the body in the right increments.

Over time, the left ventricle muscle could become thickened or stiff. If that happens, diastolic heart failure results. Symptoms of this include fluid congestion in the lungs and heart failure symptoms as blood backs up into the left atrium.

Hospitals can become dangerous places for patients

Hospitals are supposed to be safe havens for the sick and tired. They're meant to be places where you get better when you're sick and bring new life into the world.

Unfortunately, not all hospitals are the perfect, idealized centers of health care you'd hope to visit. In fact, some facilities don't have the equipment needed to help you in a crisis, while others may make errors that leave you with more serious injuries than you arrived with.

What is the importance of informed consent?

As a patient, it's important that you're given all the information you can get about your upcoming medical procedure. Whether it's a minor surgery or major treatment program, it's necessary for you to know all the potential side effects, complications and factors that could play a role in your recovery.

If a doctor does not take the time to talk to you about those things, then you are not informed about your procedure. As a result, you have no documents showing that you have been informed, and even if you consent to the procedure, you didn't provide informed consent.

Gastrointestinal perforations can be a sign of medical errors

Gastrointestinal perforations happen for many reasons, including appendicitis and diverticulitis. It may also occur because of trauma to the intestines, though, which is possible during certain types of surgeries.

Your surgeon may have warned you about the risk of gastrointestinal perforations or not. If not, then it's important that you speak up and explain that you had no idea of this potential complication, which should have been explained to you prior to your operation.

New technique using squid ink could replace dental probing

A mouthful of squid ink may not sound like something you'd want in your life, but it could help replace the probes used to test for gum disease. Presently, dentists use sharp instruments to look at patients' mouths for signs of gum disease. This is painful and often bloody for patients, and it's frustrating to dentists and hygienists who have to worry about missing symptoms due to patients' fears.

Dental probing is important, since it helps identify gum disease. It's painful and can transmit bacteria from one part of the mouth to another, but it's still the only process dentists have used, and it's been used for decades. That's a problem, since failure to diagnose is the main cause of worsening gum disease and eventual tooth loss.

What's happening to prevent sponges from being left in patients?

If there was a way to make sure nothing would be left behind during surgery, you'd want to make sure you implemented those procedures. The good news is that there is a new way to avoid leaving sponges in patients. The company Stryker has built a surgical safety system that has "no-mistake" sponges.

These no-mistake sponges are difficult to leave in a patient because they're barcoded. Each sponge is tracked when it enters and comes out of a patient's body. This makes sure that all the sponges come out. This system, which has a "no sponge left behind" model, boasts that zero sponges have been left in patients over the course of 11 million procedures and over five years.

Transferring patient information can lead to mistakes

As a patient, all you want is for your medical provider to know you, your symptoms and what to do to help. One way medical technology has changed is by increasing the use of digital systems. These systems help catch medical errors and inform your provider.

The problem with these systems is that not all patient information goes into the same systems. If you go to an emergency room, that hospital's system may not have access to your records on your primary care doctor's medical system. As a result, there's a potential for errors and for medical providers to have a lack of information on your health.

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