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A look at medical errors in Pennsylvania

When you or a family member in Pennsylvania becomes sick or injured, the last thing you should have to worry about is the safety of your medical care. However, in today’s society, this concern is a valid one. Many a medical error has been known to leave patients with serious injuries. In some cases, patients even die due to the negligence of the professionals that were supposed to cure or take care of them. But, just how often does this happen?

While there may be no way to know for sure exactly how many medical mistakes are made in a given period of time, it is possible to know how many suspected cases of mistakes may exist. The Pennsylvania Courts publish data that shows the number of claims for medical malpractice that are filed each year in the state. Data is available county by county and highlight the risk that exists all throughout the state.

Commonly misdiagnosed conditions

If you have ever struggled with getting answers to some of your most pressing medical concerns, you know how hard it can be to get the help you need. Sadly, you are not alone. Many other Pennsylvania residents have experienced this same thing. While much of the time, health care professionals can give you the care you deserve, there are times when errors happen. One type of medical mistake is the incorrect diagnosis of a condition.

According to Everyday Health, the 10 health conditions that are most frequently misdiagnosed impact people both physically, mentally and emotionally. Data shows that some people struggle with the effects of Lyme disease for more than a year before finally getting accurate diagnoses. As many as 83 percent of people with Celiac disease are told they have other conditions or not even diagnosed with anything at all.

Oxygen deprivation during birth and cerebral palsy

Expectant parents in Pennsylvania know that there always exists the chance of complications developing during pregnancy, labor and delivery. However, parents should also be able to feel confident in the ability of their obstetricians and other providers to properly handle these situations. Sadly, this confidence is not always earned. Mistakes made during the birthing process can leave families struggling with the effects for life. Cerebral palsy is one condition that can result from a birth injury.

As explained by WebMD, approximately 20 percent of cerebral palsy cases are associated with birth injuries. These injuries generally involve a reduction in or lack of oxygen flowing to babies’ brains. This, in turn, causes damage to the brain. Effects of cerebral palsy are frequently exhibited in motor skill difficulties. Both fine and gross motor skills can be impacted.

Types of medication errors and tips for patients

Pennsylvania residents who must take prescription medications can be vulnerable to becoming the victim of a medical error. Just like surgical errors or missed diagnoses, mistakes involving prescriptions can and do claim the lives of innocent people. In addition, countless others are injured due to medication errors.

MedicineNet suggests that as many as 1.3 million medication errors are made in the United States each year. Older people may have a higher risk of being injured by a medication error simply because they tend to require more medications than younger persons. Mistakes involving medications can involve any preventable action that is involved in injury to a patient or the incorrect use of a drug. This can occur when a drug is under the control of the patient or a health care professional.

CDC makes alarming findings concerning rate of birth defect

Last month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a rather shocking report indicating that maternity wards across the nation have seen a dramatic spike in the number of children with a rather severe birth defect.

The birth defect in question is known as gastroschisis and it essentially involves infants being born with their intestines protruding through an opening in their abdominal wall. Indeed, the opening is sometimes large enough that other major organs, including the liver and stomach, are actually located outside the abdominal cavity.

Study: Some work hour restrictions on surgical residents may be too strict

Training for future physicians underwent a significant change back in 2003 and again in 2011 when the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education made the decision to overhaul work hours for both interns and residents.

Among other things, these new rules set a maximum workweek of 80 hours per week, mandate one day off for every seven days on, allow interns to work no more than 16 consecutive hours, and allow residents to work no more than 28 consecutive hours. 

Study: Communication failures among medical staff often prove deadly

From kitchens and warehouses to industrial plants and office settings, the simple reality is that no single place of employment is immune to breakdowns in communication. However, while breakdowns can be time-consuming and inefficient, the fallout from something like a misplaced order or a failure to complete a report on time is generally limited in most instances.

There are some places, though, where breakdowns in communications can have dramatic and even life-threatening consequences, including hospitals and doctor's offices. Indeed, a recently released study by researchers at one Massachusetts-based research and analytics group linked communication failures to an alarming number of patient injuries and fatalities.

Are discharge instructions understandable to the average patient?

Many people may be surprised to learn that the American Medical Association has taken a rather firm position on the degree of difficulty with which patient health information -- discharge instructions, etc. -- should be drafted. Indeed, the AMA is of the belief that this information should be written for a sixth grade audience.

While this may seem like a questionable stance to some, the AMA argues that it's entirely necessary given that almost 50 percent of the U.S. population can be classified as either functionally illiterate or marginally literate.

The most significant patient safety issues of 2015

As patients, physicians and lawmakers look ahead to the issues that will most critically impact patient safety in 2016, it is important to obtain a firm grasp on the issues that most significantly impacted patient safety in 2015. Not only will reviewing these issues give patients, physicians and lawmakers insight into matters that may continue to impact medical care in 2016, reviewing these issues may aid concerned individuals in helping to solve both entrenched and emerging patient safety threats.

Each year, the ECRI Institute compiles a list of the current top 10 most pressing patient safety concerns. Interestingly, five of the concerns that made the 2015 list were not present on the list for 2014. This suggests that emerging safety concerns may be just as pressing as those that are heavily entrenched in the health care system.

Veronica Richards named AVVO Medical Malpractice Clients' Choice Award for 2015

Richards & Richards, Attorneys at Law, is proud to announce that partner, nurse practitioner, and attorney Veronica Richards has been presented with the 2015 AVVO Medical Malpractice Clients' Choice Award.

AVVO is an online legal forum and directory that provides listings and reviews from previous clients about legal professionals throughout the United States. The AVVO Clients' Choice Award is presented to lawyers based on both the quantity and quality of client reviews that the attorney receives on his or her online AVVO profile. When clients post reviews on AVVO, they provide an overall rating of the attorney and also rate the attorney's trustworthiness, compassion, responsiveness, empathy, knowledge, and how well they were kept up-to-date during their legal experience.

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