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Portland Medical Malpractice Law Blog

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.

A failed diagnosis could mean death for a patient

An interesting factoid about medical malpractice is that the top cause for suing doctors comes down to a failure to diagnose a patient's problems. No, making mistakes in the operating room or giving out the wrong medications doesn't top the list; not knowing what ails a patient is.

Failing to diagnose a patient can have fatal consequences. When a doctor fails to diagnose a patient who presents with common symptoms that he or she should recognize, that's when he or she faces a medical malpractice lawsuit and the potential to lose the case. With patients suffering from life-threatening illnesses, even a short delay in a diagnosis can be the difference between a successful treatment or leaving the hospital for a funeral home.

Medication mistakes threaten patients' lives

Medication errors are some of the easiest to miss but have the potential to be life-threatening. Medication mistakes range from being given the wrong dose to taking the wrong medication completely. Around one out of every 1,000 prescriptions is wrong in some way, which means that patients are under threat every day.

As a patient, you can make sure you don't end up ill by talking to your doctor about your medications. Talk to him or her about the name and what it's for. When you speak to a pharmacist, clarify that the drug is what it is supposed to be and in the dose you were expecting. Clarify that it won't interact with any of your current medications with your medical provider and the pharmacist; it's better to ask too many questions than to end up with serious injuries.

Surgical fires: A real risk for patients on the operating table

It may be a shock to you, but catching on fire is actually a legitimate risk in the operating room. As a patient who won't be aware of what's happening around you, that is a terrifying thought. What is supposed to be a simple operation could end up being an event that causes scarring, burn wounds or your death.

Operating room fires happen around 100 times yearly. Why? It's a combination of the anesthetics, gases and heat. The most common cause of operating fires is too much oxygen being used around the surgical site; combined with cauterizing agents and hot surgical equipment, the risk of a fire is higher than you may think.

Hospital errors threaten lives every day

You go to the hospital when you're in pain or when you're sick. You trust the people there to help you, not to make matters worse.

Hospital negligence and errors have the potential to put your life at risk. These errors happen more often than you may believe, which is something to be concerned about. Here are a few common mistakes hospitals make that you should watch out for.

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.

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