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Kansas City, Missouri Medical Malpractice Blog

Endoscopes: Does disinfecting absolutely ensure cleanliness?

A Missouri-based story does not yet prominently feature alongside other recent tales concerning frightening outcomes associated with endoscope use.

In time, though, that could change.

A “deadly pattern of illnesses” was recently noted in a media expose concerning the use of so-called duodenoscopes that are inserted down patients’ throats to probe for digestive disorders such as gallstones and cancerous tumors.

The use of scopes for that purpose is widely acknowledged as beneficial in a high number of cases, with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration noting the scopes’ “lifesaving” ability.

Electronic health records: not a seamless process, Part 2

Part of the bait extended by government officials to doctors to entice those physicians to vigorously participate in the transformation from paper medical records to digital patient records has been money.

And no small amount. Doctors who have transferred over to electronic health records and demonstrated “meaningful use” of such systems have reportedly received about $9 billion in federal funds from Medicare officials.

Along with that carrot, though, comes a stick, with physicians who fail to demonstrate meaningful use now potentially facing fines.

As noted by Politico, a national news group, those “angry doctors facing a punch in the wallet” are more than a bit piqued by that prospect, with many of them being highly critical of electronic health records in general.

Electronic health records: anything but a seamless process

It might have struck you as an immediate apparency or, rather, dawned on you only over time.

We’re talking about your recognition as a patient of electronic health records. For years, your doctor busily scribbled away in your patient records, making handwritten notations. Then, suddenly, he or she began interacting with a computer screen each time you came in for an appointment.

How’s that working for you?

Concededly, your physician might still be hunched over your records with pen in hand, but that would be an anomaly; reportedly, a clear majority of all doctors across the country are now participants in the EHR revolution, with hospitals using a digital record format in almost every instance.

Novel teaching assist targets shoulder dystocia

As we noted in a relatively recent blog post (please see our entry dated December 24, 2014), the outcome of any birth injury incident involving shoulder dystocia “is often materially connected to the manner in which medical personnel detect and respond” to the sudden danger.

As with any birth-related injury, that means this: The medical outcome following a complication that arises during the birth process -- whether oxygen deprivation, the sudden potential for brain injury, uterine rupture, an infant’s shoulder dystocia or anything else -- is often critically linked to the ability of a medical team to take timely and proper action to prevent or minimize the consequences of harm.

With shoulder dystocia, failure to act properly and with requisite swiftness can bring dire consequences. We noted some problems that can result from medical negligence in dystocia cases in the above-cited post. They centrally include paralysis and brain injury.

Taking a close look at outpatient surgical clinics, Part 2

We queried in our immediately preceding blog post whether it seemed reasonable to throw up any red flags concerning the care provided patients in America’s outpatient surgical centers.

Here’s why, as posed in a question: How can there be any real concerns when, as noted in a recent media article discussing ambulatory surgical clinics, many millions of patients across the country visit them each year for operations?

In fact, that Washington Post piece states that about 23 million people had surgeries performed in outpatient clinics in the United States in a recent year.

Do outpatient surgical centers pose special risks for patients?

In the realm of medical malpractice, preventable surgical error surely ranks high among patient concerns. When undergoing surgery, patients are absolutely vulnerable and must rely upon a reasonable expectation that all medical professionals in an operating theater will do their duties in a competent manner.

Tragically, that sometimes does not happen, with patient injuries resulting from medical malpractice acts or omissions. Surgeons and other members of operating teams in hospitals across the country simply make mistakes sometimes that result from care delivery at variance from what is the typical standard of care -- that is, negligent-free care -- delivered by peer professionals.

That happens in all hospitals, even the most modern and well-equipped facilities staffed by eminent doctors in all specialties.

Topic: Assessing and publicizing hospital performance

Administrators of hospitals in Missouri and all other states across the country that receive public dollars are unquestionably focused on the federal “Hospital Compare” website and the list of medical facilities nationally that have been deemed comparatively problematic.

“Problematic” in this instance means that, when compared with other hospitals, a particular medical facility has what is considered a troublingly high rate of patient-related complications that are preventable.

Government safety regulators have been strongly focused on hospitals’ performance for some time now, with the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act seeking to guard taxpayer outlays by penalizing poorly performing providers caring for patients on Medicare and Medicaid.

Is there a link between shoulder dystocia and medical negligence?

Even a cursory look at representative literature concerning birth injuries reveals that many things can go wrong prior to, during and immediately following a baby’s delivery.

Indeed, the types of birth injuries that can occur span a wide spectrum, ranging from cerebral, Erb’s and brachial plexus palsy to fractured bones, paralysis and spinal cord injuries.

Shoulder dystocia is yet another type of birth injury that can happen during labor, with various studies indicating that it occurs in about two percent of all births.

Although that might seem to be a relatively small number of cases, it equates to an unquestionably high number in the aggregate.

Birth injury: the need for a meaningful legal response, recovery

For obvious reasons, birth injuries that occur during or closely following upon a newborn’s entry into the world are highly distressing for a mother and family members.

Even in instances where long-term and adverse birth-related injuries do not result, the fears and stresses associated with a botched or otherwise confused medical response during birth can be notably stressful and even devastating. A birth mother is, of course, intimately affected, as is a father and other loved ones who have long waited for a newborn’s arrival.

And it is unquestionable that lifelong pain and turmoil can result for all family members in instances where a medical malpractice act or omission has clearly contributed to -- or even caused outright -- permanent physical and/or cognitive damage to an infant.

Dialysis mistakes: Wide-ranging errors do occur

Federal government scrutiny of dialysis administration some years back sadly revealed a high number of mistakes that routinely occur with this important care-delivery function.

Indeed, and as noted on a website page at Dempsey & Kingsland, P.C., discussing dialysis monitoring, “substantial deficiencies in the quality of care” were discovered by investigators from the Government Accounting Office at about 15 percent of all the dialysis centers they looked at across the country.

That is truly alarming, given that fatalities and instances of wrongful death can occur following negligent dialysis-related monitoring and administration.

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