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Ohio Medical Malpractice Blog

New sepsis guidelines could cause misdiagnoses

Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that must be treated quickly in order for Ohio patients to have the best outcomes. However, an article is questioning the wisdom of a new protocol that calls for sepsis to be treated within one hour of a diagnosis.

According to the authors of the article, which was published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, the 2018 Surviving Sepsis Campaign care bundle could lead to misdiagnoses and unnecessary treatments for patients. Doctors are supposed to use the bundle to quickly diagnose and begin treatment of sepsis patients in hospital emergency rooms. Once sepsis is recognized in a patient, the protocol sets a one-hour timeline for doctors to measure lactate levels, obtain blood cultures, administer antibiotics, and perform other necessary treatments. Previous guidelines had called for sepsis to be treated within three-hour or six-hour windows.

Most doctors face malpractice claims sooner or later

Most doctors in Ohio and around the country will face medical malpractice litigation sooner or later. Studies reveal that more than half of the doctors in America over the age of 55 have defended themselves in such a lawsuit, and their legal costs average $30,000 even when the claims against them are dropped or dismissed. Female doctors tend to be sued less often than their male colleagues, but some experts say that this is because they are generally younger and specialize in areas where this kind of legal action is rarer.

The most common cause of a medical malpractice lawsuit is a delayed or missed diagnosis. The damages awarded in misdiagnosis cases are often high because the plaintiffs may have not received treatment that could have prevented serious injury or death or because they suffered the negative side effects of unnecessary treatment. Claims involving mistakes made during childbirth or prenatal care are also common, and the injuries involved, such as paralysis, cerebral palsy and seizures, are often catastrophic.

How is cerebral palsy diagnosed?

As a parent, it can be stressful and heartbreaking to wonder if your baby might have a disability like cerebral palsy. If your child has some known risk factors for cerebral palsy or is exhibiting developmental delays, you may wonder how you can help your child.

Although there is not a cure for cerebral palsy, there are treatment options available to help improve the lives of those affected by cerebral palsy. If you are concerned that your child may have cerebral palsy, it is important to share those concerns with your child's doctor. Receiving a diagnosis early can help your child receive appropriate treatment as soon as possible.

Common conditions that are often misdiagnosed: How to stay safe

When you put your trust in your medical team, you assume that you'll receive nothing but the best treatment and advice. Unfortunately, this doesn't always happen, as medical malpractice is always a concern.

Here are some common conditions that are often misdiagnosed:

  • Cancer: A misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of cancer can be fatal, as this gives the disease the opportunity to spread to other parts of your body. Medical malpractice can relate to all forms of the disease, but misdiagnosis is most common with colorectal, lung and breast cancer.
  • Heart attack: This serious health condition shares symptoms with indigestion, flu and even the common cold. If a doctor fails to diagnose a heart attack in a timely manner, it can result in a fatality or irreparable damage to your heart.
  • Stroke: A stroke can bring on symptoms in a hurry, including but not limited to weakness, confusion, inability to speak and poor coordination. However, some people experience a slower onset of symptoms, making it more difficult for their doctor to diagnose. It's not uncommon for a doctor to misdiagnose a stroke for something less serious, such as a migraine headache.

APGAR scores: Know their importance

When you're pregnant or expecting a child with your partner, one of the things you'll learn about is the APGAR score. an APGAR score is given to newborns to identify their overall health.

An APGAR score is important, because it identifies the baby's appearance, pulse, grimace, activity and respiration following birth (APGAR). Using this test, it's possible to check the baby's health and to make sure they don't need any further medical care.

ER diagnostic errors big source of malpractice claims

Medical professionals who work in Ohio hospital emergency departments face high pressure when diagnosing patients. They typically see people during a crisis, and they might not know much about the medical history of patients prior to seeing them. This sometimes disrupts their ability to accurately assess medical problems. A study of over 1,300 closed malpractice insurance claims over five years by an insurance company identified the initial history and physical evaluation stage of care as the source of 44% of the insurance claims.

The study also detected errors due to the ordering or failing to order appropriate diagnostic tests in 27% of the cases. In 44% of the emergency department malpractice cases studied, clinical judgment emerged as a contributing factor to the mistakes. Three kinds of drugs, anticoagulants, antibiotics and opioids, accounted for 49% of complaints related to medications.

Patients mistakenly diagnosed with burning mouth syndrome

There are many people in Ohio who may be experiencing a burning sensation in their mouth. If they go to their doctor, though, there is a chance that their condition may be misdiagnosed as burning mouth syndrome. BMS is a condition affecting anywhere from 4% to 10% of the population, and no one knows for certain what causes it. Some say the cause is a nerve disorder. But BMS shares symptoms with other conditions, which explains the misdiagnoses.

BMS is characterized by a chronic burning, tingling or scalding feeling. This can go together with a dry sensation or metallic taste in the mouth. Yet a burning mouth is a symptom in anemia, diabetes and dry mouth. Most doctors and clinicians, not being well-trained on BMS, diagnose a condition as BMS only by ruling out other disorders. There are no positive diagnostic criteria.

Why causation can be hard to prove in malpractice cases

One of the most challenging elements of a medical malpractice claim is proving causation. Malpractice laws in Ohio say that plaintiffs must prove two things: that the defendant did not adhere to a generally accepted standard of medical care, and that this negligence led to the injuries in question. It is that second step that can make or break a case.

The reason is that some injuries can result even where there is negligence on the doctor's part. For example, almost any surgical procedure comes with foreseeable side effects. The surgeon may have been negligent, and the patient may have developed these complications, but correlation does not imply causation.

How does hypoxia affect an infant?

Birth, as common as it is, is actually a complicated process with much that can go wrong. Infants are at risk of developing brain injuries while in the womb, during delivery or even afterward if they don't receive the correct care.

Part of the reason that infants are likely to suffer brain injuries is that there is such a high probability of going without oxygen. The umbilical cord can wrap around the baby's neck, the delivery can take too long or other problems can happen that hinder the ability for the baby to receive the oxygen they need.

What causes fractures and bruises to baby during birth

Childbirth can be both an incredible human feat for the mother and a challenge for the mother and child. Difficulties during childbirth can threaten the health and well-being of both the mother and the infant. In fact, nearly 30,000 infants become injured during childbirth each year in the United States.

Infants are particularly vulnerable as they’re pushed through the birth canal and contact their mother’s bones and tissues. This contact can result in broken bones and bruising. However, not all fractures and bruises from childbirth are so incidental. Medical tools can also cause injury to the child.

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