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Ohio Medical Malpractice Blog

CDC investigates Legionnaires' disease outbreak

The Ohio Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have sent personnel to a Clermont County hospital to trace the source of a recent outbreak of Legionnaires' disease. Two patients at the Mount Carmel medical facility have already been diagnosed with the potentially deadly condition. A hospital representative said that the facility was cooperating with health inspectors and is continuing to provide medical services during the investigation.

Legionnaires' disease is a severe type of pneumonia that is caused by bacteria that is commonly found in fresh water sources like lakes and streams. The bacteria thrives in hot water tanks, air conditioners and cooling towers when it finds its way into the water systems of large buildings. People usually become infected after inhaling mist that contains the bacteria. Symptoms of Legionnaires' disease include nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, and shortness of breath. About one in 10 of the people who become infected die of the condition.

Why is it hard to identify a heart attack?

You were running with some of your friends when you felt an unusual sensation. Your chest was tight, and you felt lightheaded. Shortly after the symptoms, you passed out, but the emergency team that was called was able to stabilize you and take you in to the hospital for care.

There, it wasn't clear what happened. It was suggested to you that it may have been a panic attack and that everything appeared normal. A week later, you suffered a major cardiovascular event and ended up in an emergency surgery to correct a problem with your heart valve.

Diagnosing skin cancer alongside other skin conditions

Ohio residents and millions of other Americans are dealing with skin cancer. Even more individuals are dealing with skin issues like psoriasis, eczema and rosacea. Some may wonder if having one of these skin conditions can make it more difficult for a dermatologist to spot skin cancer.

Rosacea affects around 16 million Americans. It can cause redness and bumps on the skin, especially the facial skin. Squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma can have a similar appearance to rosacea, appearing as red patches on the facial skin. One way to tell the difference between the two is to see how the skin reacts to minimal trauma, like drying off the face after washing it. With skin cancer, the patient is likely to bleed. However, rosacea sufferers will not.

Nine conditions that doctors commonly misdiagnose

Below are nine conditions that doctors commonly misdiagnose in Ohio and across the U.S. Someone who has been diagnosed with a serious condition, regardless of whether it's on this list or not, should consider getting a second or even third opinion.

First, doctors often mistake fibromyalgia for lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or another rheumatic disease. Celiac disease is second on the list with some 83% of people being either misdiagnosed or going undiagnosed. This autoimmune disease causes the body to attack the intestines as a reaction to eating gluten. Another autoimmune disease, multiple sclerosis, is on the list too, as patients may be treated instead for migraines or nerve damage.

Union leaders express frustration over nurse treatment

The president of the national union of nurses had some harsh words for the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, calling the hospital system "so stupid and tone-deaf "for the way it has dealt with nurses and their concerns about patient safety.

Judge upholds record medical malpractice award

The damages in medical malpractice cases in Ohio and around the country are often high because the patients who are affected may require costly medical treatment for the rest of their lives. This is especially true when the victim is an infant. In July, a jury in Maryland awarded the mother of a baby who was born in 2014 with brain injuries $229 million in damages. The award, which was more than the plaintiff had asked for, was subsequently upheld by a judge but reduced to $205 million due to a state cap.

The jury heard that doctors at a leading Baltimore hospital mistakenly told the woman that her baby was not viable. Based on this erroneous advice, the woman decided not to get a C-section and hospital staff discontinued monitoring the fetus. The female baby was diagnosed with cerebral palsy shortly after her birth. The condition has been linked to a lack of oxygen to her brain prior to childbirth. Experts say the complication could have been avoided if the fetus had been monitored.

CDC issues warning as vaping injuries spread nationwide

People in Ohio may be at risk of injury or serious illness linked to e-cigarette use, commonly known as vaping. After a spate of reported vaping-related illnesses across the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning about an unknown lung disease. Doctors and researchers nationwide are struggling to diagnose at least 450 people in 33 states with a clear illness linked to vaping. In many cases, the vape cartridges involved may have been knock-offs purchased on the street with unknown ingredient lists.

Five people across the country have reportedly died of illnesses linked to vaping even as physicians struggle to find a diagnosis. Some people may even have experienced misdiagnosis after reporting confusing symptoms associated with their lungs. They were told they likely had bronchitis or a viral respiratory infection and sent home. In most cases, the people affected by the illness have admitted to vaping products containing THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis. Many of these THC cartridges are not sold by licensed vendors. Because cannabis is still illegal in much of the country, the vape cartridges involved were often sold on the street or online. Some of them may have been contaminated with an unspecified substance.

A single brain injury may lead to significant issues

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a condition only found in the brain during a post-mortem examination. There are no tests for it. However, it has some specific signs that manifest as it progresses, including aggression and suicidal thoughts. A build-up of the protein tau causes CTE, and it is usually associated only with individuals who have suffered multiple concussions. Professional football players and boxers are two of the more common demographics of individuals who have been diagnosed with CTE after their death.

A recent study published in "Science Translational Medicine" reports that multiple brain injuries aren't necessary for a person to have a presence of tau in the brain. It found that it is present in some patients who have a history of only a single brain injury, and the tau level remains elevated even decades later.

Misdiagnosis can lead to issues for OHS patients

When Ohio residents go to a doctor or hospital for treatment, they expect to receive a correct diagnosis and effective treatment. However, far too many patients continue to receive inaccurate diagnoses. As a result, they may not get effective treatments for their conditions, which can progress and worsen over time. One condition that is often misdiagnosed is obesity hyperventilation syndrome, or OHS. It can be very serious, but doctors often do not screen effectively for the condition. Analysts expect more people to be affected by OHS, especially as rates of obesity in the general population continue to rise.

There are effective treatments available for OHS. However, most people with the disease are not promptly or accurately diagnosed. This failure to diagnose the disease can lead it to progress to respiratory failure. People with OHS may find themselves seeking treatment for a range of unexplained medical symptoms. Even some patients who are hospitalized with respiratory failure may remain misdiagnosed even though effective diagnosis of the disorder can save lives.

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