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New Jersey Medical Malpractice and Product Liability Law Blog

2 'superbug' deaths pinned on unclean instrument

One of the great concerns for our society going forward is "superbugs." These are nasty bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and, as you can imagine, they are very difficult -- if not impossible -- to treat. Our penchant for antibiotic use has led to an increased chance of bacteria growing resistant to some of our medicines that were formerly hailed as miracle drugs. As you can imagine, infections caused by "superbugs" have a high fatality rate.

If there is a silver lining to the "superbug" problem, it is this: these bacteria aren't airborne, and there is an extremely low chance anyone can get these bacteria in public. Usually superbugs are transmitted in hospitals when medical equipment is not properly sterilized.

Respect plays huge role in medical care according to study

As you may be aware, heart disease and cancer are the two leading causes of death in the United States. But can you guess what the third leading cause of death is? It's preventable medical errors. Such a sobering and shocking fact may make you think that going to the hospital could do more harm to you than good, but obviously going to the hospital when you're dealing with a medical emergency is absolutely necessary. You shouldn't be scared to receive medical treatment.

Now, if that medical treatment goes wrong, you should absolutely hold the liable person, party or parties responsible for their negligence. But what if you could influence these entities in a positive way to prevent any medical errors or negligence? One study thinks patients have this power.

How doctors' cellphones can present a danger to patients

Cellphones are an amazing technological advancement in our society, but they certainly have a way of invading our mind and tweaking our behavior in the most unfortunate of ways and at the most unfortunate of times. People willfully (and seemingly blissfully) text while they are driving. People bust out their cellphone during a nice dinner with friends or family. For all of the positive things the cellphone brings to the table, it certainly has some significant drawbacks.

So now imagine that you are about to head into surgery, and right before the medical staff on hand put you under, the surgeon is texting away on his or her phone. Imagine if after you were put under and the procedure was under, your surgeon said "oh wait, let me check one thing" and then he or she opened up an app on his or her cellphone.

The tragedy of birth injuries, and why legal help is necessary

The birth of a baby is supposed to be a happy moment; a time when a family becomes whole. The birth of a baby is routine at this point for most medical professionals, and that would make you think that mistakes are very rare. Although they are rare, they do still occur, and a mistake during the birth of a baby can have dramatic and life-changing consequences for the entire family.

A doctor could botch the C-section that the woman is being given, causing irreparable damage to the baby or the mother. The medical professionals on hand could delay or hesitate for too long, creating complications with the birth. Any doctors or nurses on hand could make a bevy of other mistakes that result in an unfortunate outcome with the birth of the baby.

Medication error report paints ugly picture

We've talked about medication errors on this blog numerous times before, but we bring up the topic again because a new report is out about medication errors and pediatric care -- and the numbers aren't good.

The new report found that an average of 63,358 medication errors occur every year in the U.S. in children who are younger than the age of six. Of those errors, one quarter of them are in children aged 12 months or younger. What this means is that one every eight minutes in this country, a child no older than six is victimized by a medication error. The study also admits that these figures could actually be low, since they depend on poison control reports. Many medication errors go unreported. So who knows how much worse it really is.

Poor medical care results in woman suffering undisclosed injuries

While the following story did not occur here in New Jersey, it does display some unfortunate decisions by a hospital and the inadequate response the hospital and medical professionals had towards a patient with a serious issue.

The story involves a woman and her husband, who went to the hospital after the woman complained of an inability to urinate. She had atrial fibrillation due to a prior condition and used blood thinners. As a result, the proper action for the hospital would have been to check on her coagulation times, but medical professionals never did. In fact, according to the story, the medical professionals on hand did very little at all -- except release the woman without properly treating or dealing with her clear medical issue.

Medical field and product liability are connected

You may not inherently think about product liability when it comes to medical care, but the two areas are tied at the hip. There are plenty of medical products out there that offer potent effects and actions on the human body and, when improperly used -- or made improperly -- they can be a real danger to the patients they are supposed to be helping.

Look no further than our last post about a woman who suffered fatal conditions as a result of an improperly filled IV bag. Medical professionals have to be as close to perfect as possible. Perfection is impossible, but mistakes such as a botched IV bag or, in other circumstances, an incorrect medication or improperly filled medication, are just unforgivable.

IV bag with wrong medication causes fatal condition with patient

An incredible sequence of events -- including a fire alarm, a medication error, and a patient's weakened medical state -- resulted in a tragic death in a hospital recently. The 65-year-old patient was in a hospital receiving treatment after she had brain surgery. She was supposed to receive an anti-seizure medication, which she did.

The only problem was that the anti-seizure was supposed to be mixed with an anti-anxiety substance as well. When the IV bag that contained this supposed mixture was being put together, the pharmacist accidentally combined the anti-seizure medication with a paralyzing agent instead. Medical professionals at the hospital had no way of knowing this error had occurred as the IV bag had all the necessary markings on it to make it seem as though it had the anti-anxiety medication in it.

Defensive medicine can lead to serious problems

Have you ever considered why the doctors, nurses or surgeons that you see make the decisions that they do? Even if you didn't understand the medical technicalities involved in the decision, it would still be fascinating to learn why they make the moves that they do, wouldn't it? We bring this up because there is a growing sentiment that medical professionals take certain courses of action and perform certain procedures and tests as a means of "defensive" -- or maybe more accurately, "protected" -- medicine.

What this means is that medical professionals may make decisions in order to protect themselves or their medical institution -- instead of making decisions that are best for the patient.

The frantic nature of the medical field, and what it means

Imagine your typical hospital lobby or emergency room. You probably see plenty of patients patiently (pardon the pun) waiting for someone to treat them. You also probably see medical personnel frantically, or at least quickly, moving around to get all of their work done. Records need to be updated, tests need to be performed, procedures are on tap, treatments need to be recorded and implemented. The list goes on and on.

With all of this chaos, an issue should be immediately clear to anyone imagining (or living) this situation: medical professionals don't have enough time to get everything done. They are always hustling around that it can lead to more mistakes and worse care. And yet, more patients keep piling up and medical professionals are asked to do more with less time seemingly with each passing year.

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