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Seattle Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Discrepancies in care between the rich and poor need to end

While everyone in the United States has the right to access medical care, it's long been a problem that money plays a pivotal role in the kind of care received. Two people with the same conditions may not receive the same care because one can't afford the medical visits while the other pays for extra services to get better, faster care.

The disparity between the rich and poor when seeking medical care is enough that it actually results in those with lower incomes having reduced lifespans compared to those who live wealthy lives. Data shows that even though medical advances have made helping people easier, the gap in income still plays a role in determining who lives and dies.

Shoulder injury at birth gets $3 million verdict

When a baby is injured at birth in Washington, the family often has a long road ahead of them. The child may need considerable services in their lifetime in order to deal with the injury, which may last a lifetime. 

According to USA Today, a jury recently awarded $3 million in damages after a baby lost the use of his arm at birth. The boy, who is now 9 years old, became injured when his shoulder was lodged against his mother's pelvic bone and the doctor pulled too forcefully on the baby's head during delivery. This caused nerve damage and permanently damaged the baby's right shoulder. The doctor did not inform the boy's mother that this was a possibility before the procedure. While many birth injuries are awarded large damages because the child lives with the impairment his or her entire life, this is one of the biggest awards in recent memory. The doctor is unlikely to lose his license to practice medicine.

Communication in medical errors

If you or a loved one has ever been in the hospital in Washington State, you should expect that when staff shift changes occur, information important for your continued care is passed along from one set of employees to the next. In addition, these notes should be made in your chart for added protection. Sadly, these types of things do not always happen and it is communication gaps just like this that open the door for many potentially dangerous mistakes to be made.

Becker's Hospital Review explains that addressing the problem of poor communication among health care professionals can be very complex in part because of the human element involved. Every health care professional is a professional but they are also people first. This means they may have low emotional intelligence that may block their ability to put patients first and take the extra steps needed to properly communicate with their colleagues.

Medical misdiagnosis: a common occurrence

Physicians are widely known as experts who give straightforward and honest medical guidance to those in their care. Yet when a patient realizes they have been misdiagnosed with a serious illness, that trust can completely dissipate. Misdiagnoses of conditions are more common than one might assume. Washington law protects patients who have experienced physical and mental damage as a result of such medical errors.

 

Common causes of a brachial plexus birth injury

If you are expecting, you may worry about the birth of your child and what can go wrong. Some birth injuries occur simply by accident, through circumstances that no one could possibly control. Other injuries occur due to doctor negligence. For example, infant brachial plexus injuries might occur due to trauma that occurred prior to labor and delivery, or it could happen because of the doctor's actions during the birth.

The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that travel through the spine, neck and arms. In most cases, the brachial plexus suffers injury due to a longer than normal or hard labor and delivery. If the brachial plexus becomes damaged during the birth process, your child could suffer from a lack of sensation and movement in the shoulders, arms, hands, and parts of the back and chest. Often, this injury will occur as the baby passes through the birth canal. The effects can range from mild to severe depending on how the injury occurred, where the damage was done, and the type of nerve damage.

Rural and black babies have lowest survival rates

As any Washington parent knows, the birth of a new baby should be a joyous and momentous occasion. But new data finds that rural and black babies have much lower rates of survival.

According to NM Political Report, rural hospitals have drastically cut obstetric services. Research from the University of Minnesota found that in the nearly 2,000 rural counties in the United States, an increasing number of hospitals had no obstetric services being offered, and the number jumped from 45 percent in 2004 up to 54 percent in 2014. The hospitals most likely to see these services decline were in counties with large black populations and those with very strict Medicaid requirements. Women in these populations often have chronic health issues that affect pregnancy, and they also have higher rates of both maternal and infant death.

Understanding brain aneurysms

Many people in Washington may have heard references to brain aneurysms but may not really be familiar with what they are or how they might notice the symptoms of one. People who have brain aneurysms commonly are unaware of them because they can be free of symptoms until the problem becomes serious. 

According to WebMD, a brain aneursym develops when blood essentially pools in an area of an artery that is weak in the brain cavity. Over time, this may enlarge and create pressure in the artery leading possibly to an eruption of the artery. If the artery erupts, blood is released into the brain and a stroke results. A person may die from this or may experience damage to the brain.

Types of mistakes made in hospitals

If you or someone in your family has to go to the hospital in Washington, you will likely have many questions for the doctors and medical staff. When preparing for a hospital visit or even once a visit has already commenced, it is important that you know some of the things you should watch out for. While hospitals are the places that you should be able to count on to help you get well, they can also be the places that make you sick or even kill you.

Psychology Today inidicates that in addition to incorrect or even missed diagnoses, there are many other things that can happen to you in the hospital that may put your health and your life at risk. Hospital-borne infections can happen to people who have had surgeries or who simply have weak immune systems especially since so many germs are floating around a hospital. Watching for signs of potential infections is therefore important as these things can exacerbate other problems easily.

Reviewing hand hygiene standards for healthcare workers

You likely enter a hospital or medical center in Seattle with some basic expectations, such as having whomever assists you listen to your concerns and symptoms, and to recieve the highest level of care available. Even if a facility or staff seems unequipped to deliver one those, at the very least you expect that workers are washing their hands. Countless clients come to see us here at Miracle Pruzan and Pruzan after having suffered some sort of hospital-acquired infection, for which poor hand hygiene is often attributed as a cause. This may lead you to wonder just how clean are the hands that are treating you. 

Data shared by Becker's Hospital Review shows that hand hygiene compliance amongst healthcare workers may be as low as 40 percent. Standards for hand washing in healthcare settings have beebn established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They call for clinicians to wash their hands in the following scenarios: 

  • Before and after eating
  • Before and after touching a patient's intact skin
  • After coming into contact with any blood or bodily fluids 
  • After touching treatment surfaces
  • After using the restroom
  • After removing gloves

Study: Older surgeons could be a risk to patients

As patients in Washington try to find competent medical help, the population of doctors across the country is getting older. Some are concerned that the doctors who are aging may be more prone to errors than they were in their younger years.

As New Zealand Doctor reports, the American Medical Association is suggesting that as doctors age, a required exam should be conducted to test their cognitive functions to ensure a doctor is still up to par. The AMA also believes that gathering feedback from peers on the competency of the aging doctor could help to prevent a declining doctor from making an irreversible error with a patient. While the AMA believes the testing should be done "from a certain age," the actual age to commence examination is not identified.