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Ohio Medical Malpractice Blog

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.

Immediate care is critical after spinal cord injuries

Spinal cord injuries can devastate the victims. Many people don't think too much about how critical the care that is provided within the first few days of the accident. During this phase, protecting the spinal cord is a priority to optimize healing and recovery potential.

Spinal cord protection starts immediately when the injury occurs. The first thing that must happen is stabilization, which is done through the use of a cervical collar and a backboard. These will usually remain in place until the person is evaluated at the emergency room and doctors there determine a course of action.

A reminder to review our birth injury white paper

If your baby fails to meet developmental milestones, discuss your concerns with a pediatrician and obtain the proper medical referrals. Then think back to the delivery process, was there anything that left you feeling concerned?

What are the symptoms of birth injuries? Learn why some that come with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy or shoulder dystocia are not always apparent right away. And you can usually go back to review and identify if something went wrong during delivery. Electronic fetal monitoring strips, for example, are one record of a chaotic time that you may not remember well.

How to lower the risk for radiology errors

Radiology plays a significant role in medical malpractice in Ohio and across the U.S. Some 30% of all diagnoses after CT scans and MRIs involve a false-positive reading. Roughly 80% of missed diagnoses in radiology can end in permanent injury or death. Medical errors in general are behind 10% of all deaths in the nation.

There are several best practices that the American Journal of Roentgenology promotes that can reduce the risk for radiology errors. One is to establish systematic procedures where peers can review each other's performance. Another is to address the widespread issue of physician burnout. Medical centers can do this by limiting work hours, mandating breaks at certain times and having a second radiologist read the results.

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