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Dayton Personal Injury Law Blog

How older communication tools could be endangering patient safety

Electronic communication technology has evolved at a particularly rapid pace over the past few decades. Many of our readers likely remember marveling at the novelty of pagers, for example. Although these devices were considered cutting-edge and the height of sophistication less than 20 years ago, they are now primarily used by members of the medical profession. Individuals not affiliated with heath care now primarily rely on cellphones, laptops and tablets for their mobile electronic communication needs.

There are many practical reasons why health care providers still rely on seemingly outdated modes of communication like pagers. These devices can convey concise, urgent messages in a rapid fashion and can be easily clipped to clothing without pockets. However, pagers and other older electronic communication devices may ultimately be compromising patient safety in the U.S.

Why Congress needs a long-term Highway Fund fix

Earlier this month, House Republicans passed a bill which would solve the Highway Trust Fund cash-influx problem on a very short-term basis. It is critical that Congress finds a long-term solution to the financial crisis plaguing the nation’s highway funding issues. Failure to do so could lead to an untold number of otherwise preventable car accidents.

No matter what your political views are, you likely have read that the nation’s highways and bridges are aging and many are in dire need of repair. Many member of Congress disagree about how the nation’s Highway Trust Fund should be saved from insolvency, but it needs to be saved nonetheless.

Responding safely to reckless drivers

If you have been driving longer than six or seven months, chances are that you have encountered a reckless driver. Perhaps that driver tailgated you on the highway until you moved over into another lane. Or perhaps that driver swerved in front of you only inches from your bumper. Whatever the scenario, it is likely that the reckless driver or drivers you have encountered have made your blood pressure rise.

It is normal to react in primal, physical ways when encountering reckless drivers. After all, humans are biologically programmed to fight or flee when their safety and wellbeing is threatened. However, it is important to react to reckless drivers in safe and controlled ways in order to avoid otherwise preventable car accidents.

Why Ohio should follow another state's lead on patient safety

We frequently write about the numerous kinds of medical negligence that patients in Ohio are exposed to on a fairly regular basis. Federal regulators, safety experts and numerous organizations are working hard to mitigate the risks associated with human error and other forms of medical negligence that too often rise to the level of medical malpractice.

Despite these efforts, far too many patients across the nation suffer significant harm as a result of medical errors. A staggering number of patients even lose their lives as a result of this phenomenon. In response to this public health crisis, one state has passed landmark patient safety legislation that Ohio legislators should consider mirroring.

Physicians often don't warn pregnant women about certain hazards

If you browse the pregnancy section at your local Barnes and Noble, you will likely notice a trend in the table of content of nearly every book in the section. In addition to explaining what happens to both a pregnant body and a fetus during its gestation, pregnancy books list seemingly endless “dos and don’ts.” Pregnant women have to be careful when coming in contact with everything from tuna to kitty litter. And the majority of pregnant women try very hard to stick to these dos and don’ts both for their own benefit and for the benefit of their fetuses.

Of course, pregnancy books are not gospel and many contain conflicting information. As a result, women must rely on the expertise of their physicians in order to ensure that the dos and don’ts they are attempting to follow are rooted in sound medical advice. Unfortunately, while most physicians will answer safety-related questions about pregnancy when directly asked, many fail to disclose important information that pregnant women might not think to ask about.

A doctor reflects on being a patient after a pedestrian accident

It has often been said that doctors make the worst patients. Of course, this is not a universally true statement. However, in some cases physicians can become “difficult” patients for one or two reasons. First, physicians are trained to understand the consequences of certain behavior. A physician who refuses to give up smoking could be considered a terrible patient because no amount of knowledge on the subject of smoking and health will get him to changes his ways.

Additionally, physicians may become “difficult” patients when their knowledge of medicine inspires them to over-analyze their own doctor’s recommendations or to otherwise interfere with their doctor’s routine. However, a recent article published in The Washington Post illustrates how a patient may actually benefit from his or her expertise as a physician for the benefit of all.

The prevalence of potentially dangerous C-sections

Over the past several years, both the medical community and the public have become increasingly educated about the potential risks and benefits of Cesarean sections. C-section procedures can be lifesaving for mothers and for babies when medical emergencies arise. However, C-sections can be dangerous for both mothers and babies and should therefore generally be avoided as elective procedures. In addition, they should generally be avoided as a medical solution to numerous labor-related problems unless necessary due to the risk of birth injuries and injuries to the mother that they pose.

However, it seems that C-sections remain extremely commonplace, even when mothers and their pregnancies are not in any real danger. Why, if the medical community and mothers are being increasingly educated about the risks of elective and non-necessary C-sections are these kinds of procedures being performed with such frequency?

How new technology may affect primary care diagnosis error rates

When primary care physicians meet with patients, they generally interview them about their medical history, assess their current symptoms and then construct an initial diagnosis based on that interaction. After an initial diagnosis is made, the patient care process becomes more complex, as physicians must then determine whether or not to prescribe medications, order tests and/or refer the patient to more specialized physicians for care. However, the initial diagnosis process is generally based on relatively straightforward questions about one’s medical history and current symptoms.

It is for this reason that medical researchers and numerous medical professionals are looking to technology to aid in constructing a more efficient and more effective initial diagnosis process. Just as the Watson supercomputer is able to defeat Jeopardy champions through a fairly straightforward question and answer sequence, new medical technology is aiming to help primary care physicians make more accurate and efficient initial diagnoses.

Sepsis contributes to a staggering number of hospital deaths

A new study indicates that bloodstream infections contribute to a startling fraction of deaths among hospitalized patients. Bloodstream infections are commonly referred to as sepsis. When an individual develops sepsis, he or she can be treated. However, these kinds of infections can be so aggressive that they can resist various medications and other protocols designed to contain them.

According to the new study, which was recently presented at the American Thoracic Society’s annual meeting, approximately one out of every 10 hospitalized patients develops sepsis. In addition, sepsis contributes to as many as half of all hospitalized patient deaths in the United States.

Infection risk may be high at ambulatory surgical centers

Ambulatory care centers often help to provide much needed care to patients who may not have easy access to a hospital. Even within urban areas, many patients opt to schedule surgeries at these facilities because they may cost less or may simply be more convenient than area hospitals are. There are numerous benefits to scheduling a procedure at outpatient ambulatory care centers. However, there also seems to be one major drawback to scheduling surgeries at these facilities as well.

Tracking patient safety data is a critically important process. When patient safety data is not properly tracked and reported, the public has little way of knowing just how safe a given facility, physician or procedure is. For example, when hospitals track surgical errors, patients, hospital administrators, safety experts and federal regulators are given insight into how often these errors occur at any given time and place. This information is invaluable for a number of reasons. However, ambulatory care centers are not required to track certain patient safety information.

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