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POSTS TAGGED "doctor negligence"

The "July Effect": Do You Receive Worse Medical Care in July?

 Rumor has it that July is the worst time of the year to go to the hospital. This is due largely to the influx of brand new residents, fresh from medical school, who are more apt to make medical mistakes.

But is that all there is to it? Is it simply urban legend or does the rumor hold true?

Does experience correlate to better care? The answer to this is even more complicated: it depends.

On the one hand, doctors with more experience tend to have more practical working knowledge. They've seen symptoms in action and have a better idea of what treatments work best under what conditions. But on the other hand, doctors fresh out of medical school may be more up to date on the latest technology, cutting edge of education and are usually less susceptible to falling into biased ways of thinking. And that thinking outside of the box can arguably lead to better care and improved patient safety at times.

But it does still depend - largely on why a patient is at the hospital in the first place.

Missed Cancer Diagnosis: One Woman's Cautionary Tale

 Several years ago, a 51-year-old woman begged her doctors to explain her back pain. Little did she or her doctors realize that the pain stemmed from breast cancer. And now, that failure to diagnose breast cancer will most likely result in the woman's death.

In 2007, the woman began experiencing back pain and other symptoms. Seeking an explanation, she visited over 50 primary care doctors and specialists. Despite ordering many tests, she received no definitive diagnosis. One 2008 test that raised red flags for possible cancer was later dismissed as arthritis, and a radiologist declined to order a follow-up biopsy. Assured by the radiologist's opinion, her doctor told her that she didn't have cancer.

Thereafter, the woman suffered violent muscle spasms and other worsening symptoms that left her unable to walk. On her first visit to the emergency room, she was sent home after a brief stay and some painkillers. The final diagnosis came only after a doctor intervened to request an emergency MRI at her next ER visit. In 2010, her doctor said she had Stage IV metastatic breast cancer that had spread through her entire spine and to the rest of her body. She was given three years to live.

Surgeons Who Drink Before Operating Put Patients at Risk

 For many, it is no surprise that people who work in high-stress occupations are vulnerable to alcohol abuse. Unfortunately, many of these same occupations require a great deal of skill. This is particularly troubling when the abuse might affect a medical practitioner who needs to operate at peak performance to ensure the safety of a patient.

A recent survey has revealed that a high percentage of medical surgeons have a drinking problem. A survey published in the February edition of Archives of Surgery found that 14 percent of male surgeons and 26 percent of female surgeons are alcoholics. One analyst has said the numbers might even be higher, since only about 29 percent of those surveyed actually responded. Researchers do not find this surprising since people with drinking problems often are reluctant to reveal that problem to others.

The survey did not specifically attempt to learn if surgeons who drink more have higher rates ofmedical negligence. But an earlier study in the same publication indicated this might be the case if the surgeon operates the day after a night of drinking.

Hospital Negligence Leads to $22 Million Verdict

 In an outrageous case of medical malpractice, a hospital was hit with a $22 million medical malpractice verdict after causing a patient's stroke and subsequent loss of both her arms and legs. The stroke was the result of an unnecessary procedure.

Hospital doctors requested an angiogram to look into an unusual vein in the patient's brain. The woman was seeking treatment only for migraine headaches that were increasingly hard to bear.

Apparently the vein had little, if anything, to do with the migraine problem.

Dye injected into the woman's brain for the angiogram caused her to enter into a coma. When she finally woke up two weeks after the procedure, she found that she could not move her arms or legs.

What Price Can Be Put on the Loss of a Limb?

 One might think that it's not possible to put a price on a body part, but that is not entirely true. In fact, there are people who do that for a living - put a price on the financial impact of undesirable events, such as a serious injury leading to amputation, quadriplegia or even death.

For a New York City woman the price of all four limbs and one eye was $17.9 million.

In 2008, while experiencing extreme pain, the then-32-year-old woman from Brooklyn went to theemergency room at Brooklyn Hospital Center. The ER doctor diagnosed her with kidney stones, gave her pain killers and sent her home. The next day, the pain had worsened so she called 911 - twice. Emergency responders with the FDNY refused to take her back to the hospital.

Cancer Misdiagnosis Could Cost NY Woman Her Life

 Misdiagnosis can have serious consequences - in some cases, a missed diagnosis or delayed diagnosis can even be life ending. For one New York woman, a delayed diagnosis of breast cancerhas left her life hanging in the balance.

In 2002, the 50-year-old Long Island woman discovered a lump in her breast. Concerned about the marble-sized lump, the woman went to see a doctor at the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Care Center in Stony Brook. The doctor determined that it was not a malignant lump, and told her to return for her annual exam the next year.

Sixteen months later, she went in for her annual exam. The lump had grown to the size of a golf ball. After running a number of tests, another doctor diagnosed it as breast cancer.

Improving Patient Care in New York Hospitals Through Federal Funding

 A federal contract for $7.59 million was recently awarded to the NYS Partnership for Patients (NYSPFP) program in order to fund efforts across the state to reduce hospital readmissions and "preventable patient harm" by decreasing the number of errors made in emergency rooms, by doctors and nurses, and with medications.

The federal funding is part of 2010's Affordable Care Act - $1 billion in funding was pledged for Partnership for Patients programs nationwide. In New York, the program is being headed by the Healthcare Association of New York State and Greater New York Hospital Association. Together these two associations represent all of the hospitals throughout the state - including large academic medical centers in urban areas and smaller hospitals in rural areas.

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