Avoid having surgery during the summer: What Ohio hospitals aren’t telling you

by R. Craig McLaughlin

It’s the championship football game and your favorite team is driving down the field to score a touchdown. Your star quarterback and seasoned offensive linemen are working together like a well-oiled machine. Everyone is in perfect sync and the entire team is seemingly moving as one. Your team can’t be stopped.

But wait! What’s this? A time out is called and in come a slew of substitutions. Your veteran quarterback and linemen are replaced by a rookie and four other practice squad players, who are being asked to play positions they have never played before.

For the rest of the game, lack of experience, unfamiliarity with each other and poor communication between the players lead to sacks, turnovers and a loss for your team.

Would the fans ever tolerate a change in personnel like this during the middle of an important game? No way!

But this is exactly the type of substitution that happens at Ohio’s teaching hospitals every summer and it puts patients at risk.

The most dangerous month for surgery

Every July, at teaching hospitals like The Cleveland Clinic, Ohio State University Hospital and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, there is a change of health care providers that threatens the safety of the patients at these facilities.

This is when the most experienced residents graduate and leave the hospital. These graduating residents have spent the past three to six years training under the guidance of more experienced doctors and the patients at these teaching hospitals served as their case studies.

However, these experienced residents are replaced by brand new doctors who just graduated from medical school. To compound the problem, the remaining residents who have been at the hospital for a year or two are now being asked to assume new and unfamiliar roles. Consequently, this can be a very dangerous time for patients at these teaching hospitals.

A medical team performing an operation
Do you know which month is most dangerous for surgery?

This is such a dangerous time of year for patients that studies show the rate of patient deaths and complications from medical procedures increases between 8% and 34% during the month of July.

Dr. John Young of the University of California, San Francisco, reported these findings in a study he published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Every year this “July effect” – as the hospitals sometimes refer to it – affects about 100,000 doctors in teaching hospitals around the country. According to Dr. Young, no other industry undergoes such a dramatic change in personnel on such a regular basis.

Steps for a safer medical operation

So what can you do to protect yourself and your family members? Here are three tips from an experienced Ohio medical malpractice attorney:

1. Ask your doctor if he or she will be performing your surgery at a teaching hospital where doctors in training may be involved in your care. Some hospitals are not teaching hospitals or your procedure might be performed at a surgery center that does not use residents. If that is the case, then you likely won’t be affected by this problem.

2. If your surgery is elective and it is safe for you to put it off, request that your surgery be scheduled during the first six months of the year. At that time, the doctors being trained at a teaching hospital will be more experienced and familiar with the hospital’s policies, procedures and nursing staff, and there will be less of a chance for a mistake to be made.

3. If you have to have your surgery during the summer months because it can’t wait, let it be known that you want the most experienced doctor to perform your surgery and to be very involved in your care. Ohio’s teaching hospitals are important to train the doctors of the future, but your health and well-being should not suffer because you are being used as the guinea pig for a brand new doctor.

 

Craig McLaughlin represents people who have been seriously injured or killed as a result of nursing home neglect, motor vehicle crashes, defective products, workplace accidents and medical negligence. He has been recognized by Super Lawyers, Martindale-Hubbell, AVVO and is a life member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

Medical Apps for Injury Victims

Forgetting or choosing not to take your medicine is never a good idea, but for injured clients, it’s imperative to follow their medical provider’s care plan. In both personal injury and medical malpractice claims, the validity of an injury may come into doubt if you don’t follow up with your doctor and adhere to all prescribed treatments. During a trial, jurors will question the motives of someone who stopped medical treatment and may assume they do not deserve full compensation for their injuries.

Medication Reminders

Medical apps can help you track your recovery after an injury.Anyone who has multiple prescriptions knows it can be difficult to remember to take medications. The following apps can help make medication compliance easier.

MediSafe helps you manage and take your medication on time and lets you know when it’s time for refills, provides doctor appointment reminders, and provides a place to store doctor phone numbers and addresses. Users also have the option to allow their family, friends and caregivers to help with compliance by being alerted as to whether or not you medication was taken.

MedCoach makes it easy for users to follow their medication and vitamin schedule as prescribed by a doctor. It delivers friendly reminder messages to your phone. The app can even connect you to your pharmacy for prescription refills.

Track Medical Records

Medical expenses are by far the most important component of any personal injury case. Whether your case is settled out of court or decided by a jury, you must have complete medical records to back up your claim.

My Medical™ for iOS is a comprehensive record-keeping app for your personal medical information. My Medical can keep track of medications, surgeries, hospitalizations, tests, physicians, allergies, immunizations, assistive devices and much more. It meets the industry standard Continuity of Care Record format, which makes it easy to transfer records from one system to another. For extra security, data is stored directly to your device and not on a remote server.

Healthspek for iPad allows you to easily track, collect and safely share your personal and family health records, manage medications and store legal documents. Account holders can manage medications, medical charts and images, track vitals, access care, and record physician, insurance and emergency contacts, among other features. With the patient’s permission, doctors can access records through Healthspek’s www.chartnow.com–providing convenience for both you and your physician.

Be cautious of apps that make bold claims

Medical apps abound for consumers looking to use their mobile devices to improve their health and users can easily find apps that promise to promote mental health, aid sleep, cause weight loss, control food allergies, aid self-diagnosis, manage pain, and help in every other conceivable medical condition. However, the FDA regulates consumer health apps at its own discretion, depending on the possible risks to users.

“If an app claims to treat, diagnose or prevent a disease or a health condition, it needs to have serious evidence to back up those claims,” said Mary K. Engle, associate director of the F.T.C.’s division of advertising practices. “We hope marketers will take heed of that and do their homework before they get into the marketplace.”

 


 Elk & Elk Co., Ltd. does not endorse or recommend any commercial products, processes, or services. This information is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material provided on this Site is provided for information purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider.

Using Technology to Prevent Bedsores

For millions of Americans, staying in a long-term healthcare facility means an increased risk of developing bedsores. Also known as pressure ulcers, these skin lesions can cause serious and painful infections of the skin, bones and joints. Complications can include tissue and nerve damage, organ failure and even cancer.

Bedsores can be prevented.The best way to prevent pressure sores from occurring is to reposition patients frequently – doctors recommend changing positions every two hours. Unfortunately, with many nursing homes and other long-term healthcare facilities woefully understaffed, many patients are neglected. As a result, more than 2.5 million people in the United States develop pressure ulcers every ear.

Preventing Bedsores with Patient Monitors

An exciting new medical device may hold the answer to this pervasive medical mistake. A company called Leaf Healthcare, Inc. has developed a wearable patient sensor, which can help medical professionals reduce bedsores. Created for healthcare facilities, the Leaf System is comprised of patient sensors and a wireless central monitoring system. The system electronically monitors patients’ position and movements, recording each time a patient is moved and alerting caregivers when patients need to be repositioned.

Leaf Healthcare recently conducted a multiphase clinical trial, which yielded encouraging results. According to a news release, “The study showed that use of the device increased compliance with hospital turn protocols – a standard of care method to prevent pressure ulcers – from a baseline of 64 percent at the start of the trial to 98 percent after the monitoring system was deployed.”

Nursing Home Residents’ Rights

Section 3721.13 of the Ohio Revised Code provides residents of nursing homes with certain rights. Among these is the right to an “adequate and appropriate” level of care, which includes taking steps to prevent bedsores. If you have questions about nursing home neglect or abuse, including whether standards of care are being met, contact our experienced attorneys for a free, confidential case review.

 

*Links to other sites are for informational purposes only. The inclusion of links to other web sites does not imply any endorsement of the material on the web sites or any association with their operators. 

 

Sources:

Tarver, Chris; Schutt, Suann; Pezzani, Michelle. “We’re Sensing You! A Multiphase Clinical Trial Examining Innovative Technology to Improve Patient-Turning Compliance.” [Presentation]. ANCC National Magnet Conference® Dallas, TX. 08 October 2014 to 10 October 2014.

 Leaf Healthcare, Inc., (16 Oct. 2014). “Study Shows Leaf Healthcare Wearable Sensor Dramatically Improves Compliance with Pressure-Ulcer Prevention Efforts.” [Press Release]. [Accessed 28 Oct. 2014].

Is Your Doctor Giving You Fake Drugs?

It seems that even doctors can fall prey to the same counterfeit drug scams that have plagued consumers. We received an email today, which announced the FDA has launched a new website, warning health care professionals about a growing trend: Fake drug distributors.

“There is a growing network of rogue wholesale drug distributors selling potentially unsafe drugs in the U.S. market,” read the email. The new website,“Know Your Source,” advises healthcare professionals to only purchase  prescription drugs from licensed wholesale distributors.

Too little, too late?

FDA: Know your sourceWhile we applaud the efforts of the FDA to combat this problem – fake drugs undoubtedly pose a serious risk to patients – the problem is anything but new. In a letter dated December 19, 2012, the FDA notified medical practices they may have received unapproved medications. According to the FDA, “These medications may be counterfeit, contaminated, improperly stored and transported, ineffective, and/or unsafe.”

In fact, consumers have been warned about counterfeit drugs for years, with “Canadian” distributors at the forefront of the problem. So, how is it that doctors are unaware of these scams—many of which appear to be rather obvious. For example, one flyer on the website warns doctors to “Beware of Offers Too Good to be True” and that, “Aggressive marketing tactics and deep discounts on prescription drugs may indicate that the products are stolen, counterfeit, substandard, or unapproved.”

The FDA also shared these rather common-sense signs that a drug may be fake:

  • The label is not in English.
  • The packaging looks slightly different from the FDA-approved product
  • The product names differs from the name of the FDA-approved drug
  • The dosing recommendations are unfamiliar
  • Safety information or warnings are missing
  • The dosage form or administration is different

How can we, as consumers, protect ourselves?

When a doctor administers medication in the office, you probably won’t see the packaging. A nurse may hand you a pill or give you a shot. So how can you be sure they received the medicine from a reliable distributor? ASK.

Don’t be shy about asking your doctor questions regarding your medication

  • Ask where the medication came from. While it is not a guarantee, medicines are generally safe if your doctor purchased them directly from the manufacturer or a state-licensed wholesale drug distributor.
  • Ask for a copy of the package insert, detailing the possible side effects and other important safety information.
  • Tell your doctor if you experience unusual side effects or if the medication doesn’t seem to be working. These may be signs of counterfeit medication. 

Remember, while most prescription drugs in the United States are safe, it is important to be a vocal advocate for yourself and your loved ones.

 

 

Resources:

FDA warns doctors to beware fake drug distributorsModern Healthcare /Associated Press, September 23, 2104

The Possible Dangers of Buying Medicines over the Internet” FDA.gov, January 26, 2011.

5 Birth Injuries for Which You May be Entitled to Legal Compensation

Although some birth defects occur due chromosomal abnormalities or genetics, others can birth injuries, which are the result of poor prenatal care or medical malpractice. Your baby may suffer from lifelong physical, emotional and mental issues as a result of the negligence of a healthcare provider that you trusted. In such a case, working with a medical malpractice attorney may help you get compensation under the law for your baby’s injuries.

Here are five common birth injuries for which you may be entitled to compensation:

Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy

Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy is caused by a lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain during delivery, and it can lead to life-long mental retardation or even cerebral palsy. As many as 9,000 newborns suffer from this condition each year.

Brachial Plexus Injuries

The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves around the shoulder. A brachial plexus injury occurs when the nerves are damaged during delivery. Sometimes this occurs when the baby becomes stuck in the birth canal, usually the shoulder getting stuck on the pelvic bone. When the baby is pulled out with a vacuum or forceps, or is pushed out by the mother, it can stretch or tear brachial plexus. Since  these nerves control movement and feeling in the arm, damage to the nerves can result in long-term paralysis.

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy involves a variety of neurological disorders that permanently impair movement or muscle function. Lack of oxygen to the brain due to improper monitoring of the fetal heart rate and other poor choices made by healthcare providers during labor and delivery can lead to one of the neurological disorders that is behind cerebral palsy.

Erb’s Palsy

Also known as Erb-Duchenne Palsy, Erb’s palsy is also caused by damage to the brachial plexus nerves and can lead to long-term paralysis. The condition can also be caused by shoulder injuries during childbirth.

Broken Bones

A difficult birth can also lead to broken bones in a newborn. Improper management of labor and delivery can cause the baby to be stuck in a bad position or to be handled too roughly, leading to the injuries.

If your baby has suffered one of these injuries and you believe it to be the result of negligent care, call an experienced malpractice attorney to discuss your case. Children with birth injuries frequently require a lifetime of special care.

4-Year-Old Boy Dies in Failure to Diagnose Case

Personal Injury Attorney Arthur Elk recounts the tragic story of a young boy who died due to a doctor’s failure to properly diagnose a serious medical condition.

As a parent, one of the worst things that can happen is for one of your children to suffer through a serious injury or harm. It’s devastating and heartbreaking.

Dealing with a sick child can be exhausting, especially when doctors and nurses are trying to sort out what’s wrong. But what happens when the doctor fails to diagnose your child correctly and sends them home?

Such was the case for one of our clients who brought in his very sick child. The boy was lethargic and covered in a rash. The doctor assumed it was the flu and sent the child home. Unfortunately, what he missed was a very serious case of bacterial meningitis that continued to plague the boy once he went home.

Later, the father returned to the emergency room in a frantic state with his young son who had fallen unconscious. He pleaded with the staff to provide his son with medical care. Doctors eventually determined the boy had bacterial meningitis, but by that time it was too late and the child passed away. While bacterial meningitis is a very serious condition that can sometimes result in death, it is treatable if detected. The signs and symptoms were there for the doctor to see and he failed to do so. As a result, this young boy died.

Failure to diagnose cases are not as rare as one may think. We often come across cases in which a doctor or health professional failed to diagnose a condition correctly or at all whether it was a severe infection like bacterial meningitis or a case of cancer. The harm caused by many diseases can be mitigated and sometimes prevented if detected early. A patient’s outlook and prognosis are much worse when a mistake is made by their treating health professional. Unfortunately, in some cases, a doctor’s failure to diagnose can result in a needless death. As experienced attorneys, we can review all of the medical records to reveal the truth about how you or a loved one was injured due to a failure to diagnose case.

To learn more about personal injury law, I encourage you to watch the video above and to explore our educational website at www.elkandelk.com. If you have legal questions, please call us at 1-800-ELK-OHIO. I welcome your call.

Arthur M. Elk

Our Paralegals: Great Assets and Backbone of Your Case


 

Ohio attorney Mindy Elk Fisher explains why paralegals are an integral part of your legal team.

It’s not uncommon to hear attorneys talk about their accomplishments and boast how they can win your case with wildly successful results.

However, the truth is, your personal injury case is a team effort – with most attorneys utilizing an entire team, including a professional known as a “paralegal.” A paralegal is a qualified individual who works under the supervision of an attorney in many aspects of your legal case, handling different tasks during the course of your claim.

There are two different types of paralegals here at Elk & Elk: litigation and non-litigation. Litigation paralegals help the attorney prepare for trial. They draft complaints and motions; they also assist in the discovery process and the deposition of witnesses for your case. By contrast, non-litigation paralegals assist with the medical aspects of your case. They gather medical records, bills, prepare medical histories and prepare demand packages for the attorney.

Without the help of a paralegal, an attorney’s job would be a very difficult one. While some cases are decidedly more complicated, there are numerous items with which to contend in any personal injury lawsuit. Paralegals assist attorneys throughout the entire process and are held up to the same high standards set for your attorney. They have to fight just as hard for your case to ensure it is successful. The hard work of diligent paralegals allows your attorney to devote his or her full attention to your claim – negotiating settlements, dealing with liability issues or taking your case to trial. At Elk & Elk, we feel it is important to educate you and all of our clients about the litigation process, including the many ways paralegals are critical for a successful resolution of your case.

To learn more about personal injury law, I encourage you to watch the video above and to explore our educational website at www.elkandelk.com. If you have legal questions, please call us at 1-800-ELK-OHIO. I welcome your call.

Mindy Elk Fisher

 

Cochlear Implant Shocks Patients’ Brains

For many families, cochlear implants are a modern miracle, restoring the hearing of a deaf loved one. Sadly, for hundreds of recipients of one cochlear implant, the dream of hearing birds sing or someone say “I love you” has turned into a nightmare.

Reports indicate that over 1500 HiRes 90k cochlear implants have failed due a leak that causes the build-up of excess moisture. This moisture caused some patients to experience severe electrical shocks, causing convulsions, vomiting, and other adverse effects.

Manufactured by Advanced Bionics, the device consists of two main parts: an internal component, which doctors surgically implant in the skull and an external component that sits outside the ear. These two parts are connected by the “feedthru,” which must remain waterproof.

According to an investigation by NBC News, Advanced Bionics knew as early as 2003 that the feedthru “may be vulnerable for a potential leak.” The device was recalled in 2004, but was quickly returned to the market later that same year. In 2005, the FDA sent a warning letter to Advance Bionics and in 2006 a second recall was issued, affecting more than 4,000 recipients of the device.

Despite a myriad of reports detailing device failure and other warning signs, such as internal Advanced Bionics memos, patients — including children — continued to receive implants during 2005 and into 2006.

“I think those human beings made a terrible decision,” said Dr. Arun Gadre, a professor of otolaryngology and head and neck surgery at the University of Louisville. “When you start putting profits before people, because that’s the only way I can interpret this, if you start putting profits before people it never comes to a good end. There’s no way that that could ever come to a good end.”

A third recall was announced in 2010, after recipients experienced severe pain, overly loud sounds and shocking sensations shortly after the initial activation of their device.

In March 2013, a jury awarded more than $7.2 million, including nearly $6.3 million in punitive damages to the parents of a West Virginia girl who had been severely shocked by the HiRes 90k.

The jury in the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for Western Kentucky, found that Advanced Bionics did not properly test the implant before it hit the market and never told the FDA that it had switched the manufacturer of a key component to a different vendor.

 

Source:Defective cochlear implants shocked kids — even though company had been warned” by Michael Kosnar and Lisa Myers, NBC News, March 14, 2014.