In an effort to reduce the number of medical malpractice cases in Texas and throughout the United States, an attorney has proposed a system that would allow these cases to be used as teaching tools to prevent future medical errors. The attorney, who represents patients in medical malpractice cases, has stated that these cases represent a large amount of information that could be used to help doctors avoid similar behaviors. The proposed program would remove the names of the patients, protecting their anonymity. This would be done by having lawyers from both sides create summaries of the trial and highlight important information. These summaries would then be made available in a database that doctors and hospitals would have remote access to via the Internet. This database could also allow other practitioners to leave notes regarding their experiences, vastly expanding the amount of information about malpractice cases and helping to make doctors more attentive.
Texas residents and people throughout the country should be concerned about the type of public health issue exemplified by a recent extreme case involving an Oklahoma dentist who may be facing felony charges along with charges of creating a public health menace. The practitioner, who has been practicing for 36 years, had voluntarily given up his license, but the dentistry board has now asked the local prosecutor to investigate charges of practicing dentistry without a license among other felonies that could carry a penalty of four years in prison. The incident that started the investigation occurred when one of the dentist's patients tested positive for HIV; although more complete testing found them free of HIV, they tested positive for Hepatitis C too. The dentist had two offices, in which investigators found "rusty instruments," sterilization equipment being misused and potentially contaminated drugs. This dentist had previously been sued for medical malpractice in a case that settled over 10 years ago.
In an effort to increase the level of care patients receive, a medical oversight board decided that residents would start working 16 hour shifts without a break instead of 30 hour shifts. However, this change to shorter work shifts might have actually led to an increase in hospital negligence in Texas. Based on research from two studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, residents working shorter shifts make 15 to 20 percent more mistakes on average.In addition to decreasing patient care quality, the new shorter shifts did not increase the amount of sleep residents got or lower their likelihood for depression. Researchers surveyed students entering residencies in 2009, 2010 and 2011, and every three months they were asked about their mental health, sleep habits, performance on the job and work hours. It was discovered that 20 percent of residents screen positive for depression and sleep habits remained largely unchanged.
Houston doctors, like those in other parts of the country, are sometimes guilty of prescribing neuroenhancement drugs to children and adolescents who want to excel in their studies. However, the American Academy of Neurology has issued a warning about this practice and how it could lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit if complications arise.The AAN's Committee on Ethics, Law and Humanities has reviewed hundreds of studies to identify key concerns with the use of stimulants by youths. They have identified problems such as increased risk of cardiovascular problems, nervous system issues, and the possibility of addiction. The Academy issued a similar statement in 2009 regarding the use of neuroenhancers by adults, but this is its first statement regarding the use of these drugs by children.
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that a Guamanian man can sue the U. S. government for injuries he suffered as a result of an unsuccessful cataract surgery at the hands of a Navy doctor. The original lawsuit cited both medical malpractice and battery since the victim alleges that he withdrew his consent to the surgery prior to the operation but that doctors proceeded against his will, causing complications that have extended to the present time. Lower courts threw out the malpractice claim but kept the battery charge. Later, the 9th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the government is immune from being sued for battery, effectively negating the man's claim altogether. Upon appeal to the Supreme Court, the justices reversed this decision. They ruled that the man can sue for battery based on the evidence presented in the case and that the government is not immune from this type of lawsuit.
The concept termed "defensive medicine" is under fire, according to a study that was recently published in a medical journal. Defensive medicine is the term used to describe the phenomenon of doctors ordering excessive tests to avoid the possibility of being seen as liable for medical malpractice. While doctors have dismissed the notion as "rubbish," studies claim that as many as 150,000 people per year may be harmed or killed due to misdiagnosis and that 4,000 people will receive the wrong surgical procedure or find foreign objects left in their bodies as a result of a surgical error. Medicare laws, which only pay for procedures that are deemed "medically necessary," and the False Care Act, which is in place to prevent the prescribing of medicine or referral to a specialist in medically unnecessary instances, are cited as reasons that medical professionals would use the practice of defensive medicine. These regulations are in place to help reduce medical expenses.
The jury in a wrongful death action against a physician and Longview Regional Medical Center has awarded the plaintiff, a widow, $1.9 million. The action for surgical malpractice came about following the death of a 63-year-old man who had an EGD procedure at the facility. The patient was reported to be suffering from a Mallory-Weiss tear, which the surgery aimed to repair. The procedure was reportedly started without the patient being intubated. A hospital staff member testified that the man was not advised of all the risks of the surgery and that he did not have knowledge of the diagnosis of the Mallory-Weiss tear. Expert medical testimony at the trial stated that intubation in such a procedure would have been the standard of care.
Primary care settings were scrutinized in a study that recently appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine. The study, which may be of great interest to Texas practitioners and patients alike, considered 190 cases at two sites in an effort to discover the rate of diagnostic error. Findings indicated that primary care physicians often fail to identify serious conditions that pose a significant harm to the patient and consequently increase the risk of medical malpractice lawsuits.On the whole, physicians missed 68 of the 190 diagnoses considered in the study. Of the 68, many were common conditions that would likely have been diagnosed properly with a thorough examination and reference to the patients' medical histories. Moderate or severe damage to the patient was likely in the majority of cases. Pneumonia, cancer, urinary tract infections and congestive heart failure were among the most commonly missed diagnoses.
Residents of Houston may have recently read that medical screening has, in many cases, led to more harm than good, according to several experts and studies. They cite the profit concerns in the medical community as a major reason for the large number of frequent screenings, despite a lack of evidence that such screenings offer benefits to patients. Evidence against the use of certain testing protocols may change this. Patients who suffer injury from procedures resulting from the physician's poor understanding of tests or poor explanation of the potential benefits and costs may see medical malpractice lawsuits as a viable method of recovering damages.Several common diagnostic procedures have been found lacking in benefits. Prostate screening is a good example. Testing for prostate cancer is done without there being evidence to show the benefits. If detected, physicians may begin aggressive treatment for a cancer that may never become life threatening for the patient. With treatments involving toxic chemicals and invasive surgeries, patients may suffer any number of complications, including an increased risk of cancer. Other risks of routine screenings include false positives and invasive procedures to determine the validity of results.
According to a study by a doctor of Harvard Medical School, Texas accounts for 13 percent of medical malpractice suits stemming from laser surgeries. The study tracked data regarding medical malpractice cases related to procedures using lasers going back to 1985. They found that Texas is tied for second place with New York, having a total of 23 cases for each state.Of the 174 cases of medical malpractice related to laser surgeries, only 100 cases had doctors who actually performed the surgeries. This is because there is no federal law regulating these procedures, so it is up to the states to create guidelines for laser surgeries. According to the research, in 40 percent of these cases, a nurse or aesthetician was operating the laser.