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Pittsburgh Medical Malpractice Law Blog

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.

Study examines whether military air evacuation exacerbates TBIs

Thanks to the efforts of researchers, we continue to learn more about traumatic brain injuries, including some of the causes of this devastating condition and some of the viable treatment options. In fact, a group of researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine recently completed a study that could have a profound impact on how military personnel who suffer TBIs are treated going forward.

Recognizing that over 330,000 service members suffered TBIs while serving in Afghanistan and Iraq over the last 15 years, making it one of the primary causes of disability and death, the researchers sought to determine whether the current treatment protocol for TBI patients in the military -- namely rapid air evacuation -- is causing more harm than good.

How delivering a baby can go wrong when the doctor is negligent

Modern childbirth in the U.S. is far safer for mothers and babies than it was in decades and centuries past. Most of the time, both patients leave the hospital in good health, and when there is a complication, doctors generally do everything they can to treat it.

Then there are cases where an incompetent or reckless doctor allows needless harm to come to the baby or mother. The resulting birth injury can be minor and heal in a short period of time. Or it can cause a lifetime of disability for the infant. In the worst cases, the child dies as a result of the doctor’s negligence.

Why does the military facilitate doctor-patient sit-downs after mishaps?

In the past, our blog has discussed how many hospital systems have introduced programs enabling patients and physicians to sit down and talk in a constructive atmosphere in the wake of a serious medical mistake, and how the majority of states, including Pennsylvania, have now passed so-called "doctor apology" laws.

Interestingly enough, this push toward greater transparency is not just confined to the civilian realm, as the Department of Defense has actually had a similar system in place -- known as the Healthcare Resolutions program -- since the early 2000s and, it too, has seen considerable success.

Study: C-sections rates too high at many U.S. hospitals

As much as expecting parents want to plan every detail when it comes to the impending birth of their child, the simple fact is that there is much that is simply beyond their control. Indeed, a mother may go into labor several weeks earlier or later than expected, or may even end up delivering the child via cesarean section rather than traditional delivery.

Regarding this last point, a recently released study by the Leapfrog Group, the health safety advocacy group, found that hospitals throughout the U.S. might actually be performing too many C-sections.

Why medical professionals must take fainting episodes seriously

Thanks to television and movies, many people believe that the act of fainting is nothing too serious and, if anything, an experience to share a laugh over once the person has recovered.

While it's true that many fainting episodes ultimately prove to be harmless, experts warn that medical professionals must not be too dismissive of them, as they could prove to be symptomatic of a more serious medical condition.

Report highlights growing problem of diagnostic errors

A recently released report by the Institute of Medicine, a division of the National Academy of Science, indicates that while many of the patient safety initiatives undertaken here in the U.S. focus on issues like surgical errors, medication mistakes and other types of harm in hospital settings, there is at least one major medical danger that is still going largely unnoticed and unaddressed: incorrect or late diagnoses.

In fact, the report determined that the majority of patients across the U.S. will be on the receiving end of either diagnostic error at least once in their lives after visiting a doctor's office or other outpatient facility, and cited at least one estimate showing that these diagnostic errors affect roughly 12 million adult patients every year.

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