Is Your Surgeon Double-Timing You During Surgery?

Doctors performing surgery in an operating roomAnyone needing either elective surgery or one on an emergency basis should rightfully expect the surgeon on hand to be singularly focused on them…

Right?

After all, surgery is serious stuff – and often life threatening if done poorly.

Did you know there’s been a practice for decades in so-called “teaching hospitals” of surgeons working on two patients in separate operating rooms “simultaneously?”

The practice is called “running two rooms” or double booking and involves a senior surgeon working with a team of trainees. The surgeon delegates aspects of the two surgeries between his trainees, moving from room to room to perform different aspects of the surgeries in question. Incredibly – sometimes these senior surgeons even walk away to visit other patients in other parts of the hospital entirely.

Alarmed yet?

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What If Computer Hackers Could Attack Operating Room Equipment?

 

Computers are a true marvel of the modern world. Capable of performing billions of calculations per second – these machines continue to transform the world as we know it.

Marvels, however, can sometimes come with risks.   It’s something we’ve written a great deal about. In particular, we’ve written a lot about the potential dangers associated with computer guided cars in recent months.

Did you know that medical experts are now growing increasingly concerned about the potential for medical equipment to be hacked? This concern particularly applies to equipment that can “talk” to other machines within a health or hospital system and centers on the potential for “inappropriate access to devices.” There is also the problem that one device might be transmitting data in metric units only to be misinterpreted by another machine set to accept data in pounds and inches. Miscues like these could prove fatal to any patients involved.

But hacking into medical devices – really?

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Could the Error Rate during Surgery Really be This High?

Photo credit: thinkpanama / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Photo credit: thinkpanama / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

A new research study has just been published on what really happens during surgery. The study was done at one of America’s better hospitals and the report is disturbing.

Researchers at Harvard were anxious to understand how many medical mistakes are actually made just before, during and immediately after surgery.

What did they find?

Not what they expected.

Half of all surgeries involve medical errors and medical malpractice.

Fifty-percent.

Another chilling fact… The study was conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital – considered by leading health authorities to be a U.S. leader in patient safety.

Not only did the Harvard team find a high error rate – mostly tied to medication errors – 30% of the errors resulted in significant patient harm.   Another 69% of the errors were defined as serious.

News of these results led one leading researcher at Yale to proclaim that “awareness of problems is where all solutions begin.”

So is the medical community just learning of the high rates of medical error (sometimes referred to as iatrogenesis) and medical malpractice for the first time?

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The Scary Truth About Modern Medicine

modern_medicine_and_medical_errors

Photo credit: Best In Plastics / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

 

As shocking as it is remarkable…

We just received a copy of an interview conducted by the Editor (Dr. Eric Topol) of the very popular medical website, Medscape, with internationally renowned author and physician Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD. (recorded 10.12.15).

Here is an excerpt from that interview:

Dr. Eric Topol: We are facing some very important issues today that suggest how bad things are still in 2015. One is that we (physicians) make 12 million serious diagnostic medical errors a year, and that is unchanged, as best we know, since To Err is Human was published in 1999. It seems that without any changes, this will continue, and it has become inhumane to have all of these errors. To the top 20 drugs that are prescribed, by sales, at least, 80% of people are nonresponders. We give these drugs. We have hope, but the fact is that the plurality of patients don’t respond.

Then we have the issues of false-positive results in screening (mammography, PSA levels) at rates that are greater than 60%. Yet these tests are done widely in millions of people every year.

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What’s the Annual Death Rate from Medical Errors?

The question in our headline is actually one that was recently asked of consumers by researchers here in the U.S.

The most common answer they got… 5,000 a year.

That’s not even close.

The actual number may be as high as 800,000 deaths per year from medical malpractice and drug related injuries – just in the U.S.

What’s more, the number of those suffering harm short of death may number in the millions per year when one includes medical malpractice (including surgical errors) and death from drug side effects.   The Institute for Healthcare Improvement estimates the rate of medical harm to be over 40,000 each and EVERY day.

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New Study Shows That Your Surgeon’s Skills Really Matter

Ok.  Seems logical.  The better the surgeon, the better the outcome.  Right?

But how can one know the skill of a surgeon in advance?  Well – researchers at the University of Michigan  were curious too and conducted an in depth study of gastric bypass surgeons to see if a way could be found to evaluate skills as well as surgical outcomes[1].

Step one in the project involved having each surgeon in the study videotape themselves performing this particular surgery.   A team of other surgeons then reviewed each video and graded the study subjects on their level of surgical proficiency. The follow-up involved actual surgery results of gastric bypass surgery on over 10,000 patients by these same 20 surgeons, between 2006 and 2012.

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Consumer Reports Grades Many of the Nation’s Hospitals with Surprising Results

It is an established fact that medical malpractice and medical mistakes in the form of surgical errors, mistakes, drug interactions and reactions are the third leading cause of death in America after heart disease and cancer.

Adding to what we know about this problem, Consumer Reports has just released a new study on hospital safety and surgical outcomes, and its results are surprising and disturbing.  The study authors used recently released federal government data to determine how patients did following surgery in 2,500 hospitals in the 50 states.

Surprisingly the report found that some of the most illustrious hospitals did not do a good job in a number of areas including the area of infection prevention – while other hospitals, some in the busiest and poorest urban centers, scored well in the study.

The report looked particularly at five common procedures largely effecting older Americans:  back surgery, hip and knee replacement, angioplasty to clear out clogged arteries of the heart, and carotid artery surgery to unplug the neck artery.

Study author, Lisa McGiffert, said “consumers have very little to go on when trying to select a hospital for surgery, not knowing which ones do a good job at keeping surgery patients safe and which ones don’t.  They might as well just throw a scalpel at a dartboard.”

Some really big named hospitals like Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MedStar Washington Hospital Center and Sibley Memorial Hospital, got the poorest ratings overall.  John Hopkins got only an average rating.

The ratings are based on the percentage of a hospital’s surgery patients who died while in the hospital or who endured a longer stay than typical, based on national averages for each procedure considered.

If you are ever the victim of medical malpractice call a qualified Connecticut medical malpractice lawyer.  A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can help to ensure that your rights are protected.

RisCassi & Davis has handled hundreds of medical malpractice cases over our more than 55 years serving the people of Connecticut.

What’s more, our Connecticut medical malpractice lawyers have received local and national recognition for our handling of these cases including:

  • Top listings in “The Best Lawyers in America” and “Best Law Firms”
  • Top listing by Martindale-Hubbell as a “New England Top Rated AV Preeminent® Law Firm
  • Admission of five of our personal injury lawyers as members in the very prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers.  The American College is a professional society of Fellows who become members only by invitation, with admission limited to experienced, outstanding trial lawyers who are unquestionably and eminently qualified as actively engaged trial lawyers.  Only 1% of all trial lawyers in any state are offered admission as members to the College
  • Listing in New England Super Lawyers published by Connecticut Magazine.  Less than 5% of attorneys in the New England states receive this honor
  • Lifetime Achievement awards from the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association and the Connecticut Law Tribune
  • Board Certification by the National Board of Trial Advocacy

We have a great team dedicated to medical malpractice cases. Our offices are in Hartford but we are available to meet with you in your home or office if that is easier for you.  Please contact us if we can help you. The consultation is free and there is no obligation of any kind.

 

 

Do Hospitals Profit From Their Medical Malpractice Mistakes?

It appears that there may be more profit for hospitals when they make mistakes than when theyDo_hospitals_benefit_from_medical_malpractice_mistakes? perform error free – this according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

How is this possible you ask?  Well… according to the study authors, complications and errors lead to longer hospital stays and extra care which in turn leads to more expensive treatment.  Sadly effective methods exist for reducing error rates dramatically but hospitals have been slow to make the necessary changes.  According to the authors, to do so would lead to lower revenues per patient in many cases.

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Are Patient Alarms Responsible for Medical Malpractice Cases?

The Joint Commission, the nation’s largest hospital accreditation Is_your_hospital_doing_everything_it_can_to_prevent_medical_malpractice?organization, has issued a warning to hospitals and the public at large about the dangers of patient monitor alarm fatigue, a syndrome that desensitizes physicians and hospital staffs and can lead to medical malpractice from patient alarms being ignored in critical circumstances.

These alarms are used for a variety of hospital devices, including ventilators, blood pressure monitors and infusion pumps.  In some cases use of these devices has been found to compromise patient safety – as their constant alarm sounds can go unnoticed for a number of reasons including a process called desensitization.

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