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Cancer and medical errors: an FAQ

Admitting the frequency of medical errors is difficult for the mind to do.

After all, these errors occur in a health care system to which we entrust ourselves and our loved ones for care. To keep anxiety at bay, you naturally want to believe the best about this system.

Unfortunately, evidence of errors continues to accumulate. And of course when the error involves failure to diagnose cancer, the consequences are potentially life-threatening.

In this post, we will address some common questions about cancer and medical errors.

The terrible 'never event' mistake that surgeons still make

It is amazing to think that surgical tools as small as screws and sponges can harm the human body so much when surgeons accidently leave them behind after an operation. This type of medical malpractice is considered so preventable that experts call it a "never event," or an error doctors should never make.

Still, surgical teams do sometimes commit this mistake, though it is thankfully rare. Healthcare Finance reports that patients wake up with surgical instruments inside them just once every 5,500 procedures. But these errors are nevertheless a huge drain on the healthcare system, costing about $2.4 billion per year in corrective surgeries and legal costs.

Overprescribing in Ohio: What is being done to stop the opioid epidemic?

Ohio's epidemic of lethal drug overdoses is still ongoing. The toll has been truly terrible - and has been building for years.

After all, it was way back in 2007 that unintentional drug poisoning first moved ahead of car crashes as the most common cause of death due to injury in Ohio. Most of these poisoning deaths involve prescription drug overdoses.

What are the state and the medical profession doing to respond? In this post, we will address that question.

Doctors and lawsuits: 3 common medical malpractice scenarios

Not surprisingly, failure to diagnose topped the list in a recent survey of doctors on reasons why they get sued.

After all, proper diagnosis is crucial - especially if cancer is involved. Yet diagnostic errors, including delayed diagnoses, are remarkably common.

In this post, we will take note of the results of the recent doctor survey on lawsuits. But we will also continue to keep asking the question: Why are there so many errors?

Hackers are Targeting Hospital Computers for Ransom

A new trend is emerging where hackers are infiltrating hospital systems and disabling their computer networks for ransom. This has the effect of bringing modern medicine to a halt, as many hospitals are reliant on technology to render care to its patients. Instead of asking for millions in return, it appears the hackers are asking for smaller amounts of money. This allows hospitals to get return to normal function and avoid bad publicity. It also allows hackers to avoid police intervention.

Recently, a Los Angles Hospital paid a ransom of nearly $17,000 in the form of bitcoins to hackers who infiltrated its system. In this article, the hospital's CEO stated, "the quickest and most efficient way to restore our systems and administrative functions was to pay the ransom and obtain the decryption key. In the best interest of restoring normal operations, we did this." 

Exclusion of a Party Admission Violates Evidence Rules and was Clearly Prejudicial to Plaintiff in Medical Negligence - Wrongful Death Trial

On April 12, 2016, the Tenth District granted a new trial to Kay Lynn Pontius on claims of medical negligence relating to her deceased husband. The appellate court determined that Pontius' case was clearly prejudiced by the trial court excluding damaging testimony that the defendant-radiologist's former partner, named Joseph Schultz, M.D., had reviewed the CT scan at issue in the case, and made statements that there were blood clots on the CT scan, that the defendant "blew it," and that "Todd (Pontius) should still be alive today." The Tenth District ruled that these statements were "party admissions" and should have been presented to the jury.

The case involved a radiologist employed by Riverside Radiology who failed to identify blood clots on Todd Pontius' CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis. The day after the CT scan, those blood clots broke loose, traveled to Todd's heart and lungs, and killed him instantly.

What Steps Do Hospitals Take to Avoid Retained Surgical Items?

There are certain things that should never happen when you go into surgery. These are aptly referred to as "never events" because of its seriousness and preventable nature. An example of this would be retained surgical items, such as sponges, needles, and components of a surgical device.

While it is true that surgery always comes with some risk (hence all the consent forms), there are ways to minimize, if not eradicate, some of those risks. The Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) Journal recently published updated guidelines for prevention of retained surgical items. In it, they emphasize the importance of establishing a conducive environment for preventing retention of surgical items, identify the best practices to account for such items, and how to effectively resolve any count discrepancies should they arise.

Anne Valentine on CNN questioning Hillary Clinton at a recent event in Ohio

Anne Valentine on CNN questioning Hillary Clinton

TAPPER: Madam Secretary, let's bring in Anne Valentine. She is a trial lawyer. She says if she had to choose right now, she would choose you, but she is still torn, and she has a question.


ANNE VALENTINE: Good evening, Senator Clinton, thank you for taking my question.

One of my concerns for the new president is the prospect of yet another war. I have nephews and a godson very dear to me. And my question is this, in a recent New York Times Magazine article for which you were interviewed, it was said about you given a choice between action and inaction, you'd rather be caught trying.

Does that mean that we are destined for more conflict under your watch?

Premature births: What are the risk factors?

The cute term - "preemies" - belies the serious consequences that babies born too soon can face.

The complications of a premature birth may be evident right away or take time to unfold. In the short term, a premature baby may have difficulty breathing or eating. In the long term, the complications can include cerebral palsy and cognitive impairment, as well as chronic health issues such as asthma or susceptibility to infections.

What are the risk factors for premature birth? In this post, we will address that question. We will also take note of a recent study suggesting that many premature births are connected to air pollution.

Our Recent Blog Posts

  • Jul 11 : Can Tonsillectomies Lead to Death in Children?
    The Case of Legge vs. Lees: Tylenol Toxicity, Impaired Metabolizers, Respiratory Depression, & the Death of Two Three-Year-Old Twins Tonsillectomies have often been considered routine childhood surgeries; they are in fact, one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures for...
  • Jul 11 : Ex-Congressman Planning Malpractice Suit Against Federal Government
    Steve LaTourette, an ex-congressman from Ohio, is planning to sue the federal government for malpractice. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year, and contends that his diagnosis could have been made much earlier if he would have been given...
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