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Pittsburgh Medical Malpractice Law Blog

The effects of brain injury

For people in Pennsylvania and throughout the country, a brain injury can have many long-lasting effects on one's well-being. The exact effects of such an injury depend on which side of the brain was hurt. For instance, if the right side of the brain was hurt, an individual could have trouble moving the left side of their body. It may also be harder to think of "the big picture" when making plans or trying to solve problems.

Additionally, it might be more difficult to perceive music or be creative after suffering an injury to the right side of the brain. While these effects may seem overwhelming, an individual who has suffered an injury to left side of their brain might deal with a vast array of impairments as well.

Diagnosing coronary heart disease

Most Pennsylvania residents know that coronary heart disease can be potentially deadly; as such, a timely diagnosis is incredibly important. There are certain symptoms that may indicate that a person has coronary heart disease. For example, a person suffering from the disease may experience chest pain or shortness of breath when exercising, they may have an abnormal change in their heart rate or they may experience a change in their heart's rhythm or electrical activity.

There are several tests that can be used to diagnose coronary heart disease. One of the most common tests is an electrocardiogram, which measures the rhythm of the heartbeat in addition to the strength and time of the heart's electrical signals. A second test is called stress testing, during which the patient exercises while their heart rate is recorded. An imaging stress test allows the doctor to visualize how well the heart is pumping blood. Other tests that can potentially be used to make a diagnosis include blood tests, chest X-rays and echocardiograms.

The prevalence of diagnostic errors in radiology

The term "diagnostic error" is often used interchangeably with the term "misdiagnosis." The definition of a diagnostic error is a missed, delayed or wrong diagnosis that is later detected in a definitive finding or test. Many medical malpractice suits are filed because of the misinterpretation of radiographic images or not seeing abnormalities. With a prevalence of diagnostic errors in radiology, some patients in Pennsylvania might wish to seek second opinions.

In radiology, diagnostic errors have been recognized since 1949. Since then, research has identified suboptimal processes that contribute to a sizable number of errors and rising economic costs, which are projected at over $38 billion a year. About 30 percent of abnormalities are missed during radiographic assessments, while around 4 percent of assessments are misinterpreted. In 1999, it was concluded that 19 percent of lung cancer nodules at a median of 16 millimeters in diameter were missed in chest imaging. Although this figure was lower than the 25 to 90 percent found in studies from 1978, 1983 and 1984, respectively, it shows that there is still much room for improvement.

The long-term consequences of a traumatic brain injury

Pennsylvania residents may be surprised to learn that a serious brain injury may lead to the early onset of Alzheimer's disease as well as other forms of dementia. Researchers from the Imperial College in London came to this conclusion after comparing the brain scans of healthy individuals with those of 99 people who had suffered a traumatic brain injury. The results of the study were published in April 2015 in the Annals of Neurology.

According to researchers, a serious brain injury appears to age the brain by approximately five years. Details of brain scans taken up to 46 years after a serious injury had occurred were entered into a computer model that compared the amount of the brain's white matter with the amount of its gray matter. The findings indicated that the brains of individuals who had suffered an injury took on the characteristics of older brains. It is believed that the changes observed were caused by inflammation.

The Hepatitis C virus can be contracted at the hospital

Hepatitis C is a virus that can be contracted by patients who are staying at Pennsylvania hospitals or undergoing medical procedures at other facilities. This virus can be fatal, and it is untreatable in about 50 percent of the people who contract it. When a patient is infected with Hepatitis C at a medical facility, medical negligence is the most likely cause.

At our law firm, we have extensive experiences in providing representation to people who have become Hepatitis C carriers as a result of medical negligence. If you discovered that you became infected with Hepatitis C after a medical procedure or hospital stay, we will work hard to help you to claim the compensation that you deserve for your injuries.

Surgical errors result from confusing left and right

Many people actually have difficulty in distinguishing between left and right, and according to a recent report, some of those people may work in the medical profession. Pennsylvania residents may have heard of cases of medical malpractice in which an individual had the wrong limb amputated or surgery performed on the wrong side of the body.

Although distinguishing left from right might come almost automatically for some people, doing so is actually part of a neurologically complex process. Furthermore, distraction can make it even more difficult. In a study that appeared in one journal, researchers tested 234 medical students on how well they could tell right from left with the distraction of noise resembling that of a busy hospital ward.

Safety initiatives at hospitals can reduce birth injury rates

Pennsylvania hospitals may be able to reduce the occurrence of injuries and fatalities in childbirth by implementing a simple safety initiative, according to a recent report issued by a consumer advocacy group. The report, which analyzed four medical organizations over 15 years, demonstrated how a dramatic reduction in medical errors could be seen when hospitals take a few relatively basic safety measures.

The medical organizations that were studied used safety initiatives that included communications training, emergency situation simulation training, the use of emergency care bundles and the use of more caution before going forward with cesarean section deliveries. All of the medical organizations saw positive results that cut down on both maternal and neonatal fatality and birth injury rates.

Failure to diagnose breast cancer

Most Pennsylvania women are aware of how important it is to be checked out for breast cancer. However, the results of a study published in a medical journal on March 17 indicated that doctors may misinterpret up to 75 percent of breast cancer biopsies. This can potentially lead to both the under-treatment and over-treatment of the cancer.

According to the report, approximately 1.6 million women in the United States each year undergo a breast cancer biopsy. Of these women, approximately 320,000 are either diagnosed or misdiagnosed with breast cancer. Approximately 160,000 women are diagnosed with atypia, or the abnormal growth of cells in the milk duct. These cells are not considered to be cancerous. However, because there are so many cases of breast cancer misdiagnosis, it can be difficult to determine who is receiving the treatment they need or who is being over-treated.

The treatment and management of sports concussions

In March of 2013, the guidelines on how to manage and evaluate sports concussions were updated by the American Academy of Neurology. These guidelines, which had not been updated since 1997, were changed significantly. Pennsylvania residents should make note of these recommendations, especially if they are active in sports or if their children participate.

According to the report, the risk for suffering concussions is highest among those who play football and rugby. For girls and young women, soccer and basketball pose the greatest risk. The report suggested that wearing a helmet may decrease the chances of suffering a concussion, but no clear evidence shows that one type of football helmet provides better protection than another kind of helmet.

Checklists improve the safety of giving birth

In Pennsylvania, mothers-to-be expect to have safe deliveries or expert care should something go wrong. However, this is not the case in other parts of the world. In low-income countries, it is estimated that more than 4 million children and 300,000 mothers die in childbirth. To combat this, researchers developed a checklist program to address and mitigate the risks of childbirth in these countries.

In order to develop the checklist, the researchers involved studied just under 500 deliveries in an Indian hospital from when the mother was admitted to when she was discharged. After the checklist was implemented, the researchers then compared just under 800 births to the original results. Ultimately, the researchers discovered that the checklist greatly improved healthcare practices, including hand-washing and assessments of both mother and baby after birth.

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