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Houston Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Peripheral artery disease: what it is, how to diagnose it

Peripheral artery disease may not be well-known, but it affects about 5% of people over the age of 50 in T,exas and across the U.S. That comes to between 8 and 12 million people. If left untreated, it can lead to a heart attack, a stroke or the need for a foot or leg amputation.

It all begins with a build-up of plaque in the veins, a condition called atherosclerosis. This is caused by high cholesterol levels. PAD occurs when the build-up starts to restrict the flow of blood to the limbs. There are three signs that one should look for to determine if one has the disease.

Non-traumatic brain injuries as possible medical malpractice

March is brain injury awareness month, implemented to bring attention to how challenging life after a brain injury can be for survivors. These injuries happen in a variety of ways, and most people associate them with some sort of trauma, such as an accident involving blunt force.

However, a brain injury can also happen without any force applied to the head. In some cases, a non-traumatic brain injury could result from a mistake, a misdiagnosis, or a delayed diagnosis or treatment by medical personnel. 

Diagnosis and misdiagnosis of testicular cancer

Many Texas men may be concerned about the dangers posed by testicular cancer. Like other forms of cancer, it is a progressive disease. It can become worse and spread throughout the body, making treatment more difficult, when a diagnosis is delayed or missed. In most cases, people become aware of it when they find a painless, hardened lump inside the testicle. Some men may conduct testicular self-exams on a regular basis in order to detect lumps and other changes. Like other types of lumps found throughout the body, most are not malignant. However, in order to ensure that any testicular tumor is benign, a medical examination is necessary.

In most cases, physicians will first use ultrasound to examine the area for the presence of a tumor. They may also order blood tests to detect certain substances called tumor markers, which are more likely to appear when a person has cancer. A surgical biopsy or removal of the affected testicle may be performed if cancer is strongly suspected or confirmed. Of course, if cancer is found, it can also be important to check to see if it has spread.

Surgical errors among the most common reasons for lawsuits

When Texans need medical care, they expect physicians and staff to provide it without making errors. Unfortunately, mistakes that cause harm to patients can happen. These errors often spark medical malpractice legal claims. Surgical errors are a common reason for filing these lawsuits.

According to a recent report by Coverys, surgical mistakes are the second most frequent reason for medical malpractice claims. The statistics of lawsuits filed through Coverys, a medical liability insurer, from 2014 to 2018 were analyzed. One-quarter of the claims were due to surgical errors. This category fell behind only diagnostic errors, which came in at 32%. There were nearly 2,600 claims due to mistakes in surgery. Of those, 78% were filed because of a mistake on the part of the practitioner during surgery.

Misdiagnosis may put patients at risk

In Texas and across the country, medical misdiagnosis may be a largely unrecognized crisis. Every year, roughly 12 million people are affected by some kind of medical diagnostic error. While many of these situations are quickly resolved and do little long-term harm, other cases are much more serious. Up to 80,000 Americans could be losing their lives annually due to worsened health conditions and other complications caused by mistaken diagnoses. Patients may receive incorrect treatment, causing dangerous side effects, or they may not receive treatment for their illness, resulting in worsened symptoms.

When progressive diseases like cancer are involved, the risks are particularly great. The failure to diagnose cancer may mean that a patient loses out on all of the benefits of early diagnosis and treatment. In many cases, the cancer is only discovered when the patient is too ill for treatment to be successful. While some medical errors may be difficult to prevent, others could have been avoided if the physician had performed their job properly. Doctors should correctly evaluate tests/imaging and take patient complaints seriously.

Overcrowding in ERs puts patients at risk for errors and delays

More and more people in Texas and across the U.S. are visiting the emergency room for primary care. In 2015, the U.S. saw a 10-year high in the number of ER visits, and in 2016, the number of such visits exceeded 145 million. At the same time, overcrowding in ERs has become a serious threat to all those who go to them.

In particular, patients in overcrowded ERs may suffer from delays, such as delays in treatment or in the administering of medication, and from errors, especially diagnostic errors. Patients who are admitted to the hospital may be forced to stay longer than necessary because of overcrowding. In general, the issue has been linked to higher mortality rates.

New technology may help in early PD, MSA diagnosis

Texas residents battling neurodegenerative disorders may be interested in new technology that could help doctors distinguish better between two progressive forms of the disease. Both Parkinson's disease and multiple system atrophy (MSA) present similar early symptoms, but they require different treatments. The technology will help patients with neurodegenerative disorders get the treatment they need in a shorter period of time.

Researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston looked at deposits of a protein that are responsible for both disorders forming. The proteins attach themselves to the cells in different ways. Though both disorders present with tremors, shaking, stiffness and loss of balance, MSA progresses quickly and causes brain cells to die. The only way to differentiate between Parkinson's disease and MSA in the past was by monitoring symptoms to see if they progressed to a worsened condition.

Being overdue can lead to serious birth complications

By the time you reach your 40th or 41st week of pregnancy, you are probably ready or nearly ready for it to be over. The problem is that your unborn child is already setting your schedule for you and is already not listening to you. After all, your baby's lungs are functional enough for delivery, and you are full term, so why not get a jump on life outside the womb?

All kidding aside, the longer you remain pregnant past the 41st week, the more dangerous the situation becomes for your baby. A number of complications could put your unborn child's life in jeopardy, and if your doctor fails to take action within a medically reasonable amount of time, your child is the one who suffers.

What happens once sepsis takes hold of your body after surgery

Infection is one of the biggest post-surgical complications people experience. In the ordinary course of events, medical personnel properly monitor you and catch the infection before it progresses into a life-threatening situation, such as sepsis.

If those attending to your medical care fail to meet the minimum standard of care you deserve, then your infection may go unchecked until it does turn into sepsis, which can quickly put your life at risk. By the time doctors correctly diagnose you with sepsis or septic shock, you will more than likely require care in the intensive care unit for an undetermined amount of time.

4 in 10 primary and outpatient care patients hurt through errors

Texas residents may think that most medical errors occur in hospitals, but a new report shows that as many as 4 in 10 patients in primary and outpatient healthcare settings are injured globally because of errors. Of these errors, 80% are deemed to have been preventable. The report comes from the Foundation for the Innovation and Development of Health Safety.

The report focused on the 34 countries that are part of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development. Every year in these countries, over 8 billion people receive primary and ambulatory care. The poor quality of care in low- and middle-income countries leads to an annual 5.7 to 8.4 million deaths and a burden of $1.4 to $1.6 trillion due to lost productivity.

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