Archive for February, 2014

New Program Ranks Best and Worst Hospital for Hip and Knee Replacements

February 28th, 2014 at 12:04 pm

joint replacement surgery, knee replacement surgery, hip replacement, hospital safety, Connecticut, lawyer, attorneyKaiser Health News is reporting on a new Medicare program that tracks the results of hip and knee replacement surgeries. Medicare has released the names of the 97 best and the 95 worst hospitals to have these procedures at.

Over 500,000 Medicare patients have either hip or knee replacement surgeries each year. In 2010 alone, between Medicate patients and those with private health insurance, more than 332,000 patients had hip replacement surgery (costing $8 billion) and 700,000 patients had knee replacement surgery (costing $12 billion).

The tracking system looked at operations performed from June 2009 through July 2012. It looked at how often patients were readmitted within a month after replacement surgery. Serious complications from the surgery, like infections, blood clots, problems with the replacement joint or death, were also tracked. An average was determined by Medicare, and most hospitals fell in that average. Two hospitals from Connecticut fell on that list, with one falling into the best category and one falling into the worst category.

Several of the hospitals that fell in the worst list complained about the procedure that was used to determine these results. They said that the results were outdated given the time-frame that Medicare used to track results. New technologies and new treatment models were two examples of how treatments have improved over the past year or two.

Medicare is going to add the results of this tracking as part of its formula when deciding to penalize hospitals. After conducting a similar tracking on readmission rates for patients with heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia, the federal agency has already penalized more than 2000 hospitals nationwide by paying those hospitals less. Once these new figures are factored in, a hospital could lose as much as 3 percent per patient stay.

If you’ve had side-effects or injuries from joint replacement surgery, contact an experienced Westport medical malpractice attorney today to find out what compensation you may be entitled to for pain and loss.

Unsterile Medications Recalled

February 21st, 2014 at 12:00 pm

medication recall IMAGEIn late December, Abrams Royal, a compounding pharmacy based in Texas, voluntarily recalled all products produced at its Dallas plant meant for sterile use, according to a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) press release. “Recalled products include injectable medications, intravenous (IV) injections, eye drops, pellet implants, nasal sprays, inhalation solutions, and eye ointments that were distributed between June 17, 2013 and December 17, 2013,” the FDA reports. Because these products are meant for sterile use, patients who come into contact with them face serious risk of infection or injury.

Abrams was made aware of the situation after just one adverse event. A patient in California who received a mineral IV injection “had blood cultures that tested positive for Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, a gram-negative bacterium that can cause many types of infection,” according to the FDA. Such infections range from pneumonia to meningitis.

Howard Skalmberg, director of the Office of Compliance at the FDA said in the statement that patient safety is the agency’s top priority. “Using these products puts patients at an unacceptable risk,” Skalmberg said, “and we urge health care professionals to follow recall instructions issued by the firm.”

It’s not just unsterile medications, such as those recalled by Abrams, which cause infections in the hospital, however. Dr. Peter Pronovost, director of the Quality and Safety Research Group at Johns Hopkins told CNN that about 100,000 people die every year from infections they receive at the hospital. “Take the two most deadly types of infections hospitals give their patients: infections from ventilators and infections from catheters. Together, those kill 65,000 people a year,” he said.

If you or someone you know has been infected while at the hospital in Connecticut—either from faulty or unsterile medications, such as what has been recalled by Abrams, or because of hospital conditions—the most important step is to seek legal counsel. Don’t go through it alone. Contact Richard H. Raphael, Attorney at Law, today.

Misdiagnosis the Number One Reason for Medical Malpractice Claims

February 13th, 2014 at 9:38 pm

misdiagnosis IMAGEA study by John Hopkins University reveals that the most common error made by physicians is misdiagnosis, which often leads to permanent disability or even death. The study also found that misdiagnosis is also the number one reason for malpractice claims, accounting for 35 percent of those claims. Between 1986 and 2011, there was almost $39 billion paid out to patients and their families for physician misdiagnosis.

The medical community, realizing that most of these errors are preventable, is focusing on fixing the reasons those errors occur.  Computers and automation are a big component of ensuring misdiagnoses doesn’t occur. Having computers automatically analyze medical records searching for possible oversights or other mistakes by doctors is one way. Alerting doctors to make sure they follow up on questionable lab results is another way automation can help alleviate these errors.

There is also a different trend in the way doctors are being trained. Instead of deciding on just one diagnosis for a presented set of symptoms, they are now being trained to not be so quick to put a definite label on  symptoms and to keep an open-mind, even as treatment is occurring. The Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine is in the process of developing a curriculum for medical schools that will help physicians in training develop their diagnostic skills. It will also help reveal to the schools whether these future doctors are competent in their field.

It is hoped that the new health care law will also curb physician misdiagnosis since the law requires all of a patient’s medical providers to coordinate his or her care.

Other solutions include running automatic queries of patient records that meet certain criteria (i.e. abnormal blood tests), utilizing electronic decision-support programs to help with diagnosis, new and improved testing apparatus and also stressing the importance of doctor/patient communication.

If you’ve suffered permanent disabilities because of a doctor’s misdiagnosis, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact a Westport medical malpractice attorney to find out what legal options you may have.

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