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Dempsey & Kingsland, P.C.Founded in 1986

Kansas City, Missouri Medical Malpractice Blog

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.

Patient risks go north when nurses multitask

If you want some solid advice on cross-training athletic shoes, ask your primary care doctor’s nurse.

He or she can probably wax eloquent on stress-absorbing footwear, given all the scurrying about that a nurse typically engages in on a normal workday.

As patients, we hardly need to be told that nurses are busy -- very busy -- human beings while at the work place. So, too, are doctors, lab technicians and virtually all other medical industry workers who are on the front lines of patient care.

Phones ring, alarms buzz, shots are given, diagnostic exams are conducted, meds are prescribed and myriad other activities are being engaged in all at the same time that doctors and nurses virtually seem to be jogging between exam rooms to get things done.

Do residents in skilled nursing facilities have written rights?

Given the huge and growing population of baby boomers and other aging persons across the United States, it seems only logical that nursing home-related stories encompassing a wide range of themes pop up consistently in media outlets.

And, indeed, they do. And while commentators often take the necessary step of noting that many nursing home facilities across the country are firmly focused on routinely high performance and the delivery of impeccable care, they also point out frequently the shortcomings of extended care facilities.

That is, unfortunately, a repeated chore, as evidenced by many tales of neglect and abuse that recurrently focus on instances of residents’ mistreatment.

Close nexus: electronic health records and malpractice litigation

A revolutionary change involving patients’ medical records has been taking place in Missouri and everywhere else across the country in recent years.

That change has been strongly endorsed -- and driven -- by the Obama administration, with officials and health regulators consistently stressing that the replacement of paper charts and records by submissions in an electronic format will bring greater clarity and cost savings to the health care system.

Importantly, too, they note, so-called electronic health records (EHRs) promote safer patient outcomes to a much greater extent than handwritten notations ever did.

What are medical "never events," and why are they of dire concern?

If you’ve ever been to a hospital or surgical center in Missouri or elsewhere for an operation and been subjected to the same battery of questions over and over prior to the onset of your procedure, don’t become frustrated or angry.

Be thankful.

There are very good -- in fact, compelling -- reasons for hospital staff members to ask you to repeat your name, your birth date and the reason for your visit multiple times.

Doing so protects them -- and you.

Medical industry alarm: when bad doctors continue to practice

Lay persons -- that is, members of the general public -- are not often intimately familiar with important details relating to the medical profession.

For obvious reasons, that is hardly surprising. The practice of medicine is complicated by any measure. Those who can lawfully engage in it do so only after they receive due credentials following many years of arduous study and clinical experience.

Consequently, persons not commanding such intense training and expertise necessarily depend upon those who do when illness strikes. As we noted an article on our website addressing medical errors, “we rely on medical professionals to make [important medical] decisions for us” when we suffer a debilitating condition or disease.

And we generally do so with absolute trust in our family doctors and other care providers.

Cerebral palsy may be due to medical negligence during birth

For many parents the day that they welcome a child into the world is one of the most exciting they will ever experience. That excitement can quickly change however in situations where following the birth it becomes apparent that there is something wrong with the baby. Fear and confusion can overtake the day and when the condition is permanent, change things forever.

While on some occasions the medical conditions babies suffer from at birth are due to things that cannot be helped, in other situations it is possible that the medical condition could be caused by the quality of treatment provided to the mother in the course of the baby’s delivery.

Did Joan Rivers’ doctors pose for 'selfie' during fatal procedure?

Many Kansas City residents who enjoyed Joan Rivers’ no-holds-barred attitude and sharp wit were deeply saddened to hear of the comedienne’s passing in early September. However, following an investigation by federal officials, many of Rivers’ fans turned from sad to outraged.

Last week, an investigative report from the Department of Health and Human Services Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services showed that many lapses in judgment and protocol took place during the routine medical procedure Rivers was undergoing when she went into cardiac arrest due to a lack of oxygen. The 81-year-old was taken off of life support a week later.

Topic focus: incidental findings and the need to track them

It’s fortunate when an imaging scan picks up an adverse condition that was not on the radar of any health care professional. And once discovered, it’s obviously important to follow through on that so-called “incidental finding.”

Incidental findings, notes a media article on that topic, “are abnormalities discovered unintentionally and not related to the medical condition that prompted the test.”

In other words, you have an MRI following a sports-related head hit indicating, perhaps, a concussion, with the imaging test revealing a brain tumor. Or perhaps a pre-op scan focused on lung health finds a clogged artery.

Analysis of self-reported nursing home data sounds alarm bells

Adverse patient outcomes at nursing homes in Missouri and nationally can cover a lot of territory.

Bedsores -- often referred to as pressure ulcers -- are not an uncommon occurrence at nursing facilities. Stories from across the country chronicle with some regularity episodes of patient malnutrition and dehydration. Medication errors are an obvious source of concern in the industry. So, too, are facility-acquired infections. Sadly, media exposes sometimes reveal acts of physical, emotional and sexual abuse aimed at patients.

Just as the scope of potential problems in nursing homes is wide ranging, so, too, are the sources that centrally contribute to patient injuries. Bad management and unmotivated workers can foster an unhealthy environment for patients. Inadequately trained employees are an obvious concern.

And a lack of sufficient staffing -- that is, qualified, well-rested and motivated workers -- on hand to provide quality medical care can bring about especially egregious consequences.