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North Adams Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Chronic subdural hematoma: Slow, subtle and dangerous

A head injury generally requires a trip to the nearest Massachusetts doctor. However, the chronic subdural hematoma can be tricky to identify because it may not result from standard head trauma and can take a significant amount of time to cause worrying symptoms.

According to Healthline, a subdural hematoma results when a vein bursts between the surface of the brain and the skull, allowing blood to pool and put pressure on the brain. Subdural hematomas come in two forms—acute and chronic. The former occurs quickly, often as the result of a serious injury to the brain, and symptoms appear rapidly. The latter variety, however, may form as the result of a gentler bump to the head or even have no apparent cause. Symptoms of these hematomas can take weeks to manifest.

Hospital culture and C-section rates

Cesarean sections are a common procedure, but recent evidence suggests that the surgery is perhaps more common than it needs to be. In particular, what hospital Massachusetts mothers-to-be choose can be a determining factor in whether they receive surgical intervention during a low-risk delivery.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, 31.4 percent of births statewide occurred via cesarean section in 2015, the most recent year for which data are available. This percentage was slightly lower than the national average.

Referrals often result in new diagnosis

When you visit your provider in Massachusetts because of troubling symptoms, he or she may determine a treatment plan for you. However, many doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners decide to refer their patients to a specialist. At Donovan O’Connor & Dodig, LLP, our team has advised many clients who discovered that the first opinion was not the one that resulted in the correct level of care.

The Mayo Clinic provides clinical services and performs research to advance the field of medicine. As you may have discovered, organizations such as this one often have patients referred to them for a second opinion. One recent study conducted by that institution involved a review of cases that were referred to its providers. Each of the patients had received a diagnosis from their original doctor, PA or NP which was then confirmed, refined or changed by the Mayo Clinic’s providers who accepted the referral.

Study finds misdiagnosis of strokes common in young patients

A stroke is one condition that requires rapid medical attention, regardless of the severity of the symptoms, and Massachusetts patients trust their doctors to recognize the warning signs. However, recent evidence suggests that physicians may misdiagnose strokes in an alarming number of cases, particularly among younger patients, minorities and women.

National Public Radio reports that a study completed at Johns Hopkins University indicated that doctors may misdiagnose strokes in 15,000 to 165,000 cases per year. This study was based on federal data for approximately 200,000 patients admitted to roughly 1,000 hospitals.

Pros and cons of operative vaginal delivery

Massachusetts mothers who are planning to have a natural birth should be aware of the options that are available if assistance is needed. Forceps and vacuum extraction are two of the most common tools obstetricians may use to expedite vaginal delivery, and there are risks associated with both.

Contemporary OB/GYN notes that there are several reasons doctors may choose to turn to operative vaginal delivery. For instance, existing medical factors, such as cardiovascular disease, may make unassisted delivery infeasible. Furthermore, if pushing during the second stage of labor is not effective or the mother is exhausted, assistance may become necessary.

What are the odds of ineffective treatment?

When you visit your doctor in Massachusetts, you have certain expectations that your treatment will be effective, current and supported by the latest research. A growing body of literature, however, suggests that this may not be the case.

A recent report in The Atlantic suggests that it is not unlikely that the treatment your doctor recommends may be either useless or downright dangerous. For instance, the popularity of the practice of implanting stents to treat narrowed arteries and relieve chest pain does not correlate with the procedure’s success in the research. Recent studies have shown that for stable patients, stents may not be beneficial when compared with noninvasive treatments.

Recovering from brain injuries: A slow and expensive process

Slow recovery and damage to cognitive and physical function are hallmarks of a traumatic brain injury. Massachusetts patients recovering from TBIs also may face additional stress because of the medical expenses incurred as a result of the injury as well as a loss of income during and even after the healing period.

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that in 30 percent of deaths from injury, TBIs play a role, making such brain injuries a significant contributor not only to hospitalization and disability but also to deaths in the United States. The most recent numbers suggest that doctors around the nation see more than 2.8 million deaths, emergency room visits and other hospitalizations related to serious brain injuries.

Difficulties diagnosing fetal distress

Fetal distress is a powerful warning sign that all is not well in a pregnancy or during labor, and Massachusetts health care providers must be able to recognize the warning signs and respond rapidly to protect the health of you and your baby. However, there remains a great deal of confusion surrounding the concept of fetal distress in the medical field today, and the potential for mistakes is high. We at Donovan O’Connor and Dodig, LLP, understand how state and federal laws protect expecting mothers from physician errors.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, the terms “birth asphyxia” and “fetal distress” are often used synonymously. Indeed, the confusion was significant enough to cause the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to recommend a shift in the lexicon to provide more specificity for both conditions.

Electronic health records linked to medical errors

Electronics are intended to make life easier, but the transition to electronic health records has not been smooth for many health care facilities in Massachusetts and around the United States. Indeed, recent reports indicate that in some cases, the use of electronic records has increased the incidence of doctor errors.

A federal program launched in 2009 incentivized the transition to electronic health records with the aim to reduce errors according to Modern Healthcare. Certainly, automated systems come with plenty of benefits, from making it easy for physicians to access patients records to eliminating the problem of hard-to-read handwriting. However, human error tends to have more severe consequences in the emergency room setting given the fast pace and high stakes, and the potential for error only increases if there are design flaws in the electronic system.

Failure to Diagnose

Chest pain is perhaps the most recognizable symptom of a heart attack, but sometimes it is minimal or not present at all. A patient suffering from one of these silent attacks may disregard other symptoms or not notice them. All heart attacks, diagnosed or undiagnosed, pose a serious threat, so it is crucial that Massachusetts physicians be aware of the risk of silent heart attacks.

Silent heart attacks are not uncommon in the United States, and a report by CBS News based on a recent study suggests that pain tolerance may be a relevant factor in diagnosis of these attacks. Participants in this study underwent several tests, including a test for sensitivity to pain that involves plunging one’s hand into cold water for as long as is tolerable (with a maximum time limit of two minutes). Participants also received electrocardiograms to identify previous heart attacks, either diagnosed or undiagnosed.

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