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Los Angeles Medical Malpractice Legal Blog

Five errors that new nurses commonly make

In California and across the U.S., nurses sometimes face extended hours and a lack of breaks due to staffing shortages. This can lead to errors, especially among the newer nurses. Below are just five of the most common errors that new nurses can make.

First, and perhaps the most widespread, are medication errors. Nurses might give the wrong drug or fail to take patients' allergies and other conditions into account. They might also fail to update the list of drugs that patients are taking. Next, nurses are liable to neglect hygiene and increase the risk for infections. Every year, infections account for some 99,000 deaths in U.S. hospitals.

Solid doctor-patient relationships may minimize malpractice suits

Physicians in California looking to reduce or prevent medical liability claims may be able to do so by fostering strong relationships with patients. This advice is based on research involving communication differences between surgeons and doctors with malpractice histories and those without such backgrounds.

One study covering this topic found that primary care physicians without a history of malpractice suits took several steps to engage with patients. Such efforts included letting patients know what a visit would involve, discussing concerns, soliciting opinions, and verifying patients' understanding. They also spent more time with patients during visits. According to an analysis of more than 20,000-medical liability claims, communication failures were a factor in 30 percent of malpractice suits. With more than half of these cases, there were communication issues between healthcare providers and patients and/or families.

The difference: Birth injuries versus birth defects

The life of a child is a precious gift. When improper actions and methodologies put a child's life in danger, the harmful party should pay.

Thankfully, it may be possible to file a medical malpractice claim in the case of avoidable birth injuries. A critical aspect of a successful claim is being able to distinguish a birth injury from a birth defect.

Medical malpractice claims related to misdiagnosis

In California and across the United States, medical malpractice can result in permanent disabilities or even death. Many medical malpractice cases are caused by errors, especially misdiagnoses. Physicians often make mistakes when diagnosing significant illnesses. A recently published study conducted by the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine sheds some light on the issue. The report involved at least 50 organizations related to health care. An evaluation showed that misdiagnosis caused many patients to spend a lot of money on unnecessary medical bills.

According to the study, more than 33% of misdiagnosed patients develop life-long disabilities. Lung cancer, sepsis infection and stroke are the conditions most effected by misdiagnoses. During the 10-year study, patients received $1.8 billion related to medical malpractice lawsuits involving "the Big Three" conditions, which are infections, cancer and vascular events. Health care advocates say that doctors need to improve their abilities to diagnose medical conditions with more accuracy.

Medication errors, diagnostic mistakes most common EHR errors

Anyone in California seeking medical care has a right to assume their electronic health records (EHRs) will be accurate. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case. According to a study referenced in a healthcare industry publication, 30 percents of all patient harm events resulting in malpractice claims involving EHRs were related to medication errors. Diagnostic mistakes were also common.

For the study, researchers looked at medical malpractice claims over a two-year period and reviewed more than 200 claims involving EHR technology. Thirty-one percent of the claims were related to medication errors, another 30 percent were related to complications with treatment, and 28 percent were associated with diagnostic errors. The majority of the EHR errors that resulted in patient harm involved ambulatory care patients. Overall, ambulatory care EHR errors outnumbered inpatient care EHR-related issues for all medical services, except for nursing.

Delayed diagnosis tops allegation list in medical claims

People who work in emergency rooms and hospitals in California may be interested in a new report that gives insight into lawsuits filed against medical providers. The report found that more than 50% of allegations in civil claims filed against hospitals were due to a failure to make a prompt diagnosis. The report came from Coverys, a Boston-based provider of insurance.

Coverys looked at more than 1,300 closed emergency department-related medical malpractice cases. The cases analyzed were filed between 2014 and 2018. A delay of diagnosis was found to be the root cause in the majority of the examined cases. Not having a complete family history of the patient, failing to do a physical exam on the patient and ordering incorrect diagnostic tests were often the causes of the delayed or incorrect diagnosis. This lack of information is often due to the urgent nature of the emergency department.

New Harvard research model may help reduce prescription errors

Sound-alike/look-alike (SALA) medications cause an estimated 250,000 hospitalizations in California and across the United States each year. This number may soon be reduced thanks to a new model developed by Harvard Pilgrim researchers.

Medications that sound and look alike other medications can be inadvertently mixed up when they are being filled at the pharmacy. According to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), thousands of people are injured each year due to these medications. In one SALA case in 2016, there were 55 reported cases of medication errors between the prescriptions Brilinta, a blood thinner, and Brintellix, an antidepressant. At least two serious adverse effects occurred due to these medications.

New study: surgeons' unprofessional behavior can harm patients

A study published in JAMA Surgery shows that those who undergo surgery are more liable to develop post-operative complications if the surgeons display unprofessional behavior. Seven million surgical procedures are performed every year in California and across the U.S., and unprofessional behavior is estimated to impact the lives of at least 500,000 patients annually.

From two medical centers that were part of the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program, researchers were able to study 202 reports of surgeons' unprofessional behavior. Examples of such behavior included disrespectful communication, poor care and the failure to follow through with professional responsibilities. Researchers also examined 13,653 patients, 1,583 of whom developed a complication within 30 days of their operation.

Erb's palsy: what it is and how it is treated in California

One to two out of every 1,000 newborns around the country develop a condition called Erb's palsy. This refers to palsy, or weakness, caused by damage to the upper nerves of the brachial plexus, a collection of nerves essential for movement and sensation in the arms, hands, and fingers.

The brachial plexus is located near the neck. Erb's palsy can often arise when doctors stretch a baby's neck to the side during a difficult delivery. Because the upper nerves are damaged, the infant will likely be able to move the fingers but not the shoulder. This is one symptom of Erb's palsy, along with weakness and loss of feeling in the arm.

California's malpractice statute of limitations

Proper health is essential to all aspects of life. For this reason, society looks to medical professionals to provide an exceptional level of service.

Unfortunately, not all medical professionals rise to the occasion, and such action may lead to harm. In those cases, parties may be able to bring medical malpractice cases against the physicians. However, there are a few important facts to understand, particularly regarding the statute of limitations.

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