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Wrightsville Beach Personal Injury Law Blog

Diagnosing sepsis

If a North Carolina patient begins to show signs of sepsis, he or she could potentially be facing a life-threatening condition. Since it can be difficult to diagnose sepsis, it is important that doctors, patients and their families be able to identify the condition so the necessary treatment can be administered as soon as possible.

The symptoms associated with sepsis can vary widely. Some patients, for example, experience abdominal pain, vomiting and nausea. However, these indicators can be linked to many other conditions, leading to misdiagnoses and the wrong treatment plans being prescribed. However, patients and families may be able to help doctors identify sepsis earlier by being extra vigilant about the signs and symptoms of infection. If anything appears out of the ordinary, they should alert the doctor.

Diagnosing endometriosis

North Carolina doctors may know that endometriosis affects approximately one out of every ten women. It is a condition that occurs when uterine tissue begins to develop elsewhere in the body. This can result in long-term pelvic discomfort and pain between and during periods. If the condition is not treated, it can cause infertility issues and pelvic inflammatory disease.

Many women who have the condition may mistake its symptoms as part of their monthly period pain. Symptoms may include painful sex, urination, bowel movements and various other issues in the pelvic area. The women tend to not mention the pain to their healthcare professionals, who in turn are not inquiring about the condition.

Many cases of kidney damage misdiagnosed

Many cases of acute kidney injury are misdiagnosed, according to a study from researchers at Columbia University Medical Center. The findings, which were published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, could change the way patients in North Carolina and elsewhere are assessed for kidney damage.

Every year, up to 7 percent of all patients admitted to American hospitals and nearly half of those placed in critical care units are diagnosed with acute kidney injury. To make the diagnosis, doctors use a blood test that measures the amount of serum creatinine in a patient's blood. However, the test only provides a snapshot of a patient's kidney function at a given moment, and it can be influenced by factors like dehydration and body size. This makes the test susceptible to false-positive results. In the study, the researchers studied the medical records of 61,000 patients diagnosed with AKI and found that 73 percent of them had their creatinine levels return to normal within three days, which could indicate they never had kidney damage.

Why misdiagnoses happen

People in North Carolina may be misdiagnosed for a number of reasons. In some cases, a patient might fail to report some symptoms that would a lead a doctor to a certain diagnosis. A patient may also not get follow-up tests ordered by a doctor that could diagnose their condition.

However, there are several other ways that misdiagnoses occur that are independent of the patient's actions. A few reasons a professional may misdiagnose a disease are that the patient has a rare disease that the doctor is unfamiliar with, the doctor does not spend enough time with the patient or the doctor mistakes a less common disease for one that is common and widely publicized. If a doctor thinks a certain diagnosis is unlikely, then a test for that diagnosis might not be recommended. The disease may be one that is better diagnosed by a specialist, but a person might be seen by a general practitioner. Some diseases may simply be very difficult to correctly diagnose.

Advantages of prefilled syringes

North Carolina residents who work in the health care industry may be interested to know that using prefilled syringes instead of vials can reduce costs and increase patient safety. This is according to studies and current hospital practices.

Anesthesiologists at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have started to use prefilled syringes for some of their operating room medications in the effort to reduce the occurrences of errors and to lower drug spending. Anesthesiology presents patient safety issues as it is the only medical specialty in which the same healthcare professional writes the prescription for a drug as well as obtains and administers the drug without any checks conducted during the process.

False positive results may discourage future treatment

Some North Carolina women may be more likely to skip or delay a mammogram after receiving a false positive on a previous test. A false positive may occur when a imaging or a biopsy rules out cancer after finding an aberration on the breast during a mammogram. According to one doctor, 30 percent of cases may be missed if a woman over 50 skips one test every other year.

A study of the issue was led by the manager of patient-centered outcomes research at an Illinois hospital. His team looked at more than 740,000 screening mammograms conducted on roughly 262,000 women in the Chicago area. Of the mammograms studied, 12 percent came back with a false positive. The research indicated that 22 percent of those who received a false positive did not have future mammograms in the database. That was compared to 15 percent who had received a negative result.

WHO says delayed cancer diagnosis killing millions

North Carolina residents may be saddened to learn that delayed diagnosis is causing millions of needless cancer deaths worldwide, according to a report by the World Health Organization. The report was released on Feb. 3 as a prelude to World Cancer Day on Feb. 4.

According to WHO, late cancer diagnosis limits treatment options and "condemns" millions of people to unnecessary suffering and premature death. The organization says early diagnosis is key for a cancer patient's chances of survival, particularly those with breast, cervical and colorectal cancers. Prompt diagnosis also cuts the cost of medical care, as early-stage treatments are cheaper than late-stage ones. The report says that poorer countries have the most problems with delayed diagnosis due to a lack of diagnostic services like imaging, laboratory and pathology skills. Meanwhile, out-of-pocket costs discourage many people from seeking treatment.

Factors that increase cervical cancer-related deaths

According to the National Cancer Institute, cervical cancer took the lives of 4,120 women throughout the United States during 2016. Also in that year, there were nearly 13,000 new cases of this disease, which North Carolina women should know is largely preventable.

A study performed by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health revealed that there are more women dying from cervical cancer than what experts previously estimated, especially among black and older women. Previous calculations failed to include women who had their cervixes removed during a hysterectomy because of the method that cancer statistics are gathered.

Tort reform may not improve doctor performance

North Carolina residents may believe that stronger malpractice laws could reduce surgical complications. However, a study finds that this may not be the case. According to the study leader from the Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, it may cause doctors to order unnecessary tests or pursue treatments that may not be necessary.

In states where doctors faced an increased risk of being sued, patients were 9 percent more likely to develop pneumonia. They were also more likely to have acute kidney failure as well as gastrointestinal bleeding. Those who were treated in states where there was a higher risk of a malpractice claim were 22 percent more likely to develop sepsis. The researchers admitted that they couldn't prove whether or not specific malpractice laws caused a particular outcome for a patient. This was partially because malpractice environment and surgical complications may be specific to certain types of procedures or fields of medicine, according to a law and medicine professor from the University of Texas who wasn't involved with the study.

Ban on mandatory arbitration for nursing homes stopped

North Carolina residents who live in nursing facilities or have family members who do may be dismayed to learn that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services has stopped enforcing a rule that prevents the facilities from forcing patients to enter into binding arbitration agreements. A memo was sent to Medicare contractors and states in December.

Arbitration agreements prevent lawsuits from families who believe that their loved ones were provided with poor care at nursing home facilities. Family members often do not understand what they are signing or feel pressured to sign the contract. However, nursing homes generally prefer arbitration because the legal costs tend to be less than if they go to court.

Butler Daniel & Associates, P.L.L.C.

Butler Daniel & Associates, P.L.L.C.
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Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480

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