Articles Posted in Medical Errors

A recent study highlighted the improving areas of medical care in the United States. Released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the study tracked seven main criteria related to healthcare between 2000 and 2014 – person-centered care, patient safety, healthy living, effective treatment, care coordination, and affordable care.

Here is the breakdown on how America’s healthcare system changed according to each of the metrics:

  1. Person-Centered Care. The study defined “person-centered care” as whether or not a patient achieves their healthcare outcomes, not merely whether a disease has been effectively treated or managed. Overall, the trend for this metric has markedly improved since 2000. A full 83 percent of patients who had visited a doctor in the last 12 months reported improvement in person-centered care. Perhaps as important, none of the patients indicated their care “worsened” on this metric during the fourteen-year period.
  1. Patient Safety. Keeping a patient safe while in a hospital or doctor’s office also saw an improvement during the study. Overall 66 percent of patients reported an improvement in this metric, which reflects broader trends of data available in this area. Between 2008 to 2014, the number of infections related to a central venous catheter dropped from 1.9 per 1,000 patients to 0.67 per 1,0000. Similar improvements in patients receiving hip joint replacement surgeries. In 2009 a full 16.4 percent of Americans undergoing this notoriously tricky procedure reported “adverse effects”, a number that dropped to 9.8 percent by 2014.

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Cindy Frey, the widow of late Eagle’s co-founder Glenn Frey, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Mt. Sinai hospital and physician Steven Itzkowitz. The lawsuit alleges the hospital and doctor were negligent in failing to properly diagnose and treat the health conditions that led to his untimely death in January 2016. Frey died at the age of 67 from complications resulting from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis, and pneumonia, according to The Rolling Stone.

glen-frey-wrongful-death-300x158According to the lawsuit, Glenn Frey was under the care of the Upper East Side hospital and Dr. Itzkowitz between October 2015 and November 2015. The lawsuit alleges that a competent doctor, acting in similar circumstances, would have diagnosed and promptly treated the Eagles co-founder’s “ulcerative colitis and associated symptoms.” Ulcerative colitis is a form of irritable bowel disease. Further, the lawsuit filed in New York Supreme Court, the lowest court in the Empire State, a competent doctor would have assessed Frey’s respiratory problems – the ultimate cause of his death. Dr. Itzkowitz, according to the lawsuit, did not properly check for the problems, diagnose the infection, or hospitalize him. Continue reading

med-errorThe third leading cause of death in America is death by hospital error, according to Johns Hopkins’ Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality. Following heart disease and cancer, hospital errors account for around 440,000 deaths each year. That means that there are more than 1,000 preventable deaths in hospitals across America every day.  Given these findings, its perhaps unsurprising that for Americans over the age of 65 – there is a 14 percent chance hospital visit will make them sicker.

Lacking mandatory reporting requirements, these kinds of errors are not typically tracked by hospitals and consequently, have escaped scrutiny by public health advocates and government officials. Speaking to The Post Star, Matt Austin, assistant professor at Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute, puts it more bluntly, “It tends to happen to a patient here, a patient there.” Continue reading

heathcare-technology-300x169The billions of dollars of investments in healthcare technology over the last decade have produced undeniable benefits. With the push towards electronic health records, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that prescribing errors will be reduced by 95 percent. In addition to making healthcare safer for many Americans, healthcare technology has also made the process more efficient – “doctor-on-demand” services proliferate across the internet, promising the availability virtual doctor within minutes and from anywhere in the world.  According to Slate Magazine,

However, while the delivery of healthcare by hospitals, doctors, and nursing homes may have improved over the last decade, healthcare technology has not reached its full potential. A growing chorus of medical professionals is pointing to several large blind spots in managing the healthcare of Americans. According to a report by Kaiser Family Foundation, just 10 percent of our health is determined by the care received in a clinical setting – such as a doctor’s office, hospital, or nursing home. The report found that individual circumstances and social factors are the largest determinants, accounting for 60 percent of a person’s health. Genetics account for another 30 percent. This explains why in the city of Baltimore, Maryland, residents of the affluent suburbs live an average of 20 years longer than their lower-income counterparts, who live just blocks away from the same grocery stores and world-class hospitals. Continue reading

The New York Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state, ruled in favor of two sets of parents who were pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctors that performed their in-vitro fertilization treatment. The issue before the Court of Appeals involved whether the statute of limitations for the medical malpractice began when the doctor committed the malpractice or when the child was born.

A “statute of limitations” is a legal term for the time period in which a person can file a lawsuit after they have been wronged, if the Court of Appeals had decided that the clock started running at the time of the medical malpractice then the parents would have been effectively barred from pursuing a lawsuit against their doctors.

wrongful-birth-300x180A parent typically files a “wrongful birth” lawsuit after a doctor negligently, or recklessly, fails to diagnose a serious birth defect and thereby deprives the parents of the opportunity to terminate the pregnancy. Because of advances in reproductive health and genetic testing, doctors and hospitals now have the ability to diagnose some serious genetic and birth defects during the early stages of a pregnancy. Continue reading

A New York woman filed a lawsuit against a Westchester doctor alleging that he used his cell phone during a medical procedure to take a Spanish language test. Mary Edwards is suing for damages caused by “severe emotional distress” after hearing her doctor speak Spanish phrases into his cell phone during the procedure.  Edwards is suing both Dr. Eric Fishman and Westmed Medical Group, the entity that owns the clinic where her surgery was performed.doc-on-phone-300x172

The 70-year-old woman was being treated for a varicose vein when she heard Dr. Fishman speaking in Spanish. According to the lawsuit, when Edwards asked the doctor what he was doing, Dr. Fishman amazingly responded that he was taking a Spanish language test on his smartphone. According to Edwards lawyer, that left her with an intense, and understandable, fear that the doctor was not paying attention to her procedure. Because her varicose veins were fixed without any issues, the emotional distress caused by the doctor is the basis for the lawsuit. Continue reading

Medical errors are gaining more attention as a whopping one-fifth of Americans admit to having personally experienced one. At the same time, Johns Hopkins University has released a new study that reports medical errors may be the third highest cause of death in America. With America’s healthcare industry continuing to reshape itself, healthcare advocates worry that unintentional harm caused to patients may not be receiving enough attention.

med-errorIn a survey of over 2,500 Americans by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement/National Patient Safety Foundation, most Americans reported generally positive experiences with the healthcare system. However, a full 21 percent reported that they had personally experienced a medical error. According to the survey, the most common errors were related to a person’s diagnosis and were most common in an outpatient care. Continue reading

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