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Pittsburgh Medical Malpractice Law Blog

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.

Spinal cord injuries at birth

Some Pennsylvania couples who are expecting the birth of a child may want to obtain some information concerning neonatal spinal cord injuries. This type of injury may result in significant consequences to the infant and possibly death. Neuropathologic changes may be caused by acute lesions that result in newborn hemorrhage. The hemorrhage may be due to lacerations, undue stretching or transection of the spinal cord. On occasion, the thick outer layer of the membranes covering the brain may be torn. This may be accompanied by vertebral fractures.

The area of the spinal cord that is injured may be related to the type of delivery. Breech birth, where the infant is born feet first, commonly involves the spinal cord in the lower cervical and upper thoracic spine. The upper cervical spine is involved with cephalic presentation of the infant. If the brain stem or the cervical spine is injured, the infant may be stillborn or may die shortly after birth. In some cases, the infant may experience low muscle tone and weakness, and alternate reasons may be given for the symptoms, including cerebral palsy.

Advocating for surgical infection victims in Pennsylvania

Many Pennsylvania residents are the victims of infections they contract as a result of a surgical procedure. Even when medical professionals catch and treat these infections early, they can lead to a host of consequences that may require victims to undergo further surgeries or other treatments to avert further injury or death. The expense of these treatments and the disabilities that often follow them are costly to treat and may send medical malpractice victims deep into debt.

Surgical incisions are vulnerable to infections, particularly in hospital environments where Staphylococcus, Salmonella, E. coli and C. diff. bacteria may be especially virulent. You may be a patient who contracted an infection by one of these bacteria as a result of contact with improperly-sterilized surgical tools or other surfaces in the hospital. A secondary condition such as sepsis may have developed if your medical team did not promptly diagnose and treat your illness.

Attorney Bill Caroselli successfully advocates for Greene County property owner against Big Oil and Gas

Big oil and gas companies do not back down to many of those whom they've worked over. Giant energy corporations have budgets for investments and when their numbers aren't reached or they think they can get away without paying out the full amount of royalties due to property owners, they will do it. This week, however, property owners from Western PA successfully held up an argument in court about not being paid full royalties and Caroselli, Beachler, McTiernan & Conboy attorney, Bill Caroselli, helped them do it.

Challenges faced by people with traumatic brain injuries

Among people in Pennsylvania with traumatic brain injuries, the symptoms can span a wide range of physical, behavioral and cognitive changes. Sometimes a person can recover, but others may require care and support for the rest of their lives.

Many cognitive problems result from traumatic brain injuries. An injured person may experience poor memory, inability to understand abstractions, loss of reading and writing abilities, poor judgment and a whole host of thinking difficulties. Physical problems that arise range from paralysis to seizures. Sleep loss, sexual function changes, weakness and vision problems are common as well.

Birth injuries in Pennsylvania

When a baby suffers from a laryngeal nerve injury, it could have trouble breathing or swallowing. This type of injury may occur because the baby had its head flexed and rotated both while inside of its mother and while it is being delivered. After the baby has been delivered, it may have a hoarse cry. Furthermore, it could be suffering from hypoxia and have trouble breathing when it is born.

In some cases, the baby could be suffering from an injury to the brain stem, which may explain some or all of the symptoms. However, a doctor will have to directly look at the baby and conduct a laryngoscopic exam to confirm a possible diagnosis. Other possibilities for symptoms include cardiovascular malformations or a tumor. The severity of the injury will determine what the course of action is. In less severe cases, the paralysis will go away in a matter of weeks.

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