Articles Tagged with Failure to Diagnose

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New mothers in New York are often overwhelmed caring for the needs of their babies, but it is important that mothers take time to check in with their own health, too. Health complications for new mothers can arise even after the birth is over and they are settling in back home.

NPR reports that 700 to 900 women die each year as a result of pregnancy or childbirth in the United States. Over half of these deaths are preventable, but a recent study found that even obstetric nurses were ill-informed of the risks and warning signs that mothers should be aware of after childbirth. More than 80 percent of obstetric nurses were unaware that most maternal deaths occur at home after the baby is born. But there is hope. Researchers found that shortcomings in medical knowledge could be overcome with simple education programs employed by hospitals for the nursing staff. They also found that sending new mothers home with a handout describing warning signs empowered new mothers to come back in for treatment before it was too late.

The Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses handout promotes awareness of postpartum health risks for new mothers and is available at Health4Mom.org. For some symptoms, women are encouraged to contact their medical provider. These symptoms include excessive bleeding, C-section or other incisions that are not healing, one leg becoming red and swollen, fevers or persistent headaches. For other symptoms, women should call 911. These include shortness of breath, chest pains, seizures and thoughts of self-harm or of hurting the baby. Caregivers, new mothers and loved ones who stay on the lookout for these symptoms can help avert tragedy.

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When a woman discovers she is pregnant, the visits to her New York health care provider will typically become more and more frequent, the closer she gets to the birth. The standard examinations and tests allow the doctor to identify the most commonly occurring pregnancy issues. According to the American Heart Association, for many women, these are not enough.

Research indicates that cardiac arrest kills approximately one out of every 12,000 American women who are admitted to the hospital for delivery. This does not include pregnant mothers who are not at the hospital when their heart malfunctions and stops beating. Researchers believe one problem is a lack of education for those who treat women suffering from cardiac arrest. For example, while CPR should be performed the same, a first responder, emergency room provider or staff member in the obstetrics department may not understand the minor differences in defibrillation protocols or other important details.

The AHA points out that there are many contributors to the increasing number of pregnancy-related fatalities, but statistics show cardiovascular disease is at the top of the list. This could be in part because of the number of high-risk pregnancies. The following health conditions could contribute to the likelihood of cardiac arrest:

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While people may believe they are leaving the emergency room or outpatient clinic with a diagnosis and treatment plan, they may be surprised to learn that they have received the wrong diagnosis. Medical misdiagnosis occurs at an alarming rate in these types of medical settings, and this can be a real cause for concern. When physicians misdiagnose patients, or fail to provide a diagnosis at all, people run the risk of developing a worse condition or undergoing treatment that would otherwise be unnecessary.

The study, which was published in BMJ Quality and Safety, found that one in 20 adults in the U.S. who are seen in community health clinics or emergency rooms leave these facilities with the wrong diagnosis. This equates to approximately 12 million Americans each year. In at least six million of those cases, people were at risk of being seriously harmed because of the wrong diagnosis. For example, patients may have been diagnosed with pneumonia when they actually had lung cancer.

One possible reason for these acts of medical negligence is the chaotic environment of these facilities. Physicians and nurses see multiple patients, and may not have an accurate and comprehensive medical history of the patient. Furthermore, physicians are often unable to spend an appropriate amount of time with each patient, as they are often rushed from one room to the other. Physicians may order the wrong screening tests or misread reports, leading to medical errors as well.

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A former Google executive has launching a startup with a personal agenda. After losing his wife to colon cancer, Jeff Huber hopes his new startup, Grail, can develop a test that will detect cancer early. He hopes to prevent more late diagnoses, like his wife’s, that can make cancer more difficult to treat.

The startup is looking to raise $1 billion in venture capital to develop a test that can detect any of the main types of cancer, Forbes reported recently.

If the venture is successful, it could potentially save or extend lives. And the promise of making it easier to detect cancer early on could possibly help prevent a certain type of malpractice claim: delayed diagnosis.

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Why aren’t doctors paying more attention to injured mothers?

In our culture, new mothers face a tremendous amount of pressure. In addition to caring for a new child, many women are expected to recover quickly and get back to their normal lives very soon after giving birth.

Unfortunately, many new moms struggle with postpartum pain while trying to adjust to motherhood. Many try to ignore it, hoping that it will go away on its own, but studies show that this pain is often serious and frequently misdiagnosed.

Why is postpartum pain so widely ignored?

Nearly 30 percent of new mothers show evidence of pubic bone fractures without having any idea that they are there. And nearly half of women experience incontinence a year after giving birth.

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Five critical errors that can lead to misdiagnosis

When your body is fighting cancer, a prompt and accurate diagnosis can literally be a matter of life and death. So why do doctors keep getting it wrong?

According to the New York Times, doctors and pathologists misdiagnose up to 28 percent of patients — an alarmingly high number when you consider the damage that an inaccurate diagnosis can cause.

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In our last post we discussed the various stages of cancer. There are other ways for doctors to describe and understand the progression of a patient’s cancer. Doctors typically use the American Joint Committee on Cancer’s TNM system when describing a cancer’s stage. It’s important to remember that each type of cancer has its own TNM system as well.

TNM stands for tumor, node, and metastasis. Each one of these is used to describe the cancer. A number from zero to four is used after the letter “T” in order to explain the location and size of the tumor. It also describes how much it has grown into the tissue nearby.

The letter “N” will also include a number ranging from zero to three. This letter explains whether the cancer was found in the lymph nodes and how many lymph nodes have cancer.

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There are many cancers out there that can quickly become deadly. Doctors often discuss cancer in terms of what stage it is in. It is important that a doctor performs all of the necessary tests in order to understand whether a patient has cancer and if so, what stage that cancer may be in. The stage a cancer is in has a lot of implications in terms of a person’s chances of survival. Let’s take a look at the different stages of cancer.

–Stage 0: This stage is known as ‘in situ,’ which means in position. In this stage the cancer can produce a tumor right where it started. The cancer poses little or no threat to a person’s life and may never go beyond this stage. It can be easy to cure by removing the tumor.

–Stage 1: This stage is often known as early-stage cancer and is basically localized. It is usually small and has not grown deep into nearby tissue. It also has not spread to other parts of the body.

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In our last post we started a discussion on the different types of cases that may involve misdiagnosis. While a small misdiagnosis may be temporarily inconvenient and may cause some serious frustration, if an individual lives out their life not treating the proper condition, it can be devastating.

As an example we can discuss a story that comes from abroad. Back in 1972 a woman was pregnant and started feeling weakness down her left side. The following year the woman was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

According to the Mayo Clinic website, multiple sclerosis (or MS) is a disease that affects the spinal cord and brain. Basically a person’s own immune system attacks a protective sheath in the body that causes communication issues between the brain and the body. Over time the condition can cause nerves to deteriorate and they may become permanently damaged. There is no cure for the condition, although there are some treatments that may help manage the symptoms.

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We often talk about cases where someone was misdiagnosed by a medical professional. These cases can be extremely stressful because the victim may not be able to treat a condition properly if they do not know the facts. This situation can happen in many different ways.

For some people, it may be that the medical professional diagnosed them with the wrong ailment, causing them to put money and energy into treating the wrong condition. For others, the main issue may be that the doctor dismissed the patient’s concerns and told them there was no ailment in the first place. This can often happen if the proper medical tests are not ordered and the patient is not properly examined.

Finally, an individual may actually be diagnosed with a very serious condition that they do not actually have. Imagine being told that you have cancer and then later getting a second opinion just to find out that you are actually cancer-free. It seems unlikely, but it has happened before.

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