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Lubbock County Texas Medical Malpractice Law Blog

How doctors diagnose nasopharyngeal cancer

Doctors throughout Texas and elsewhere in the country perform a range of tests to diagnose cancer and determine if it has spread, or metastasized, to other areas in the body. The most basic way to diagnose cancer is a physical examination and blood test. The only sure way to detect most common cancers is with a biopsy. This procedure involves removing a small amount of tissue for pathologists to analyze.

Nasopharyngeal cancer affects the nasopharynx, which is the upper part of the throat just behind the nose. While it is a rare form of cancer, treatment options are the same as with any other form. Besides the two options mentioned above, doctors can perform basic tests, like X-rays. To obtain a clearer view of the mouth and throat, they often coat the area with barium.

Opioid and anticoagulant use can be vulnerable to error

Some of the most popular classes of drugs prescribed to Texas patients can also be some of those most frequently involved in liability claims related to medication errors or dangerous prescription combinations. Opioid painkillers and anticoagulants, which discourage blood clots, are the two drug types most frequently involved in claims related to medication.

Together, the two types of drugs are involved in up to 40 percent of nationwide claims related to medication errors or problems caused by prescription drugs. Opioid painkillers are the single type of drug more likely than any other to be involved in liability claims at 24 percent of overall claim volume. Most of those claims focused on primary care providers while 22 percent were related to opioids prescribed in emergency facilities.

Diagnosing cancer

Diagnosing cancer can be difficult, though there are certain steps that Texas doctors can take. When a patient has a potential cancer symptom or a screening test result suggests that the patient might have cancer, the doctor may order a number of different diagnostic tests or procedures in order to make a formal diagnosis.

When a doctor suspects cancer, he or she may order lab tests to look for certain substances in the body. High or low levels of certain substances can potentially be a sign of cancer, so the doctor may order tests that measure these substances in the blood or urine. It is important to note, however, that additional tests will need to be performed before a diagnosis can be made.

What to know about skin cancer

Texas residents who are over the age of 50 may be at an elevated risk of Merkel cell carcinoma. However, the majority of those who experience this condition are over the age of 70. Other risk factors for this condition include being a male and having light or fair skin. Those who have immune suppression or spent time in the sun or in tanning beds may also be at a higher risk for this type of cancer.

Signs of this type of cancer include lesions appearing anywhere that has been exposed to the sun. However, they most commonly appear on the head, neck and on the eyelids. They are painless and may be skin-colored. Lesions may also appear purple, blue or red, and they are generally the size of a dime. Early detection may make the condition easier to cure, but it can spread rapidly if not caught and treated soon enough.

Lump in the foot could be sign of serious cancer

When someone visits a Texas physician complaining of foot pain or a foot lump, the chances of bone cancer are very low, but the possibility needs to be considered. A physician might easily misdiagnose a malignant form of bone tumor known as osteosarcoma when it appears on the foot of an adult. Physicians tend to expect to see osteosarcoma in other parts of the body and among teenagers.

Someone with a foot lump, especially accompanied by pain or night sweats, should seek a medical evaluation. A physician will attempt to rule out common foot problems, like stress fractures or infections. Medical personnel should ask patients for details about medical histories, particularly if tumors or cancer have been occurring in other family members. Physicians might call for X-rays or magnetic resonance imaging to get a better idea of the extent of the tumor.

The importance of nurses in medical teams

Texas hospitals employ people in many different capacities, and all of them are responsible for providing efficient service and care to the many patients who enter their facilities every day. Nurses play one of the most important roles in health care, providing direct assistance to patients and doctors, including surgeons.

Surgical nurses may spend more time with each patient than a surgeon does. The surgical nurse usually sees the patients before and after surgery and may be more aware of individual aspects of each patient's case than the surgeon is. The surgical nurse assists the surgeon during surgery and has knowledge of surgical operations, instruments and procedures. In addition, he or she provides a second set of eyes and ears to the surgeon and can call attention to issue the surgeon might miss.

Treatments available for patients with urea cycle disorders

When Texas patients are facing genetic conditions, there are often multiple different types of treatment available. For patients suffering from urea cycle disorders, for example, the treatment options range from supplements that help their body remove ammonia to liver transplants if the milder treatments do not work.

Urea cycle disorders occur when a person is missing certain enzymes that help to remove ammonia from the blood. In children with this condition, symptoms include failure to thrive, hyperactive behavior and inconsolable crying. In adults, the symptoms can include slurred speech, extreme combativeness and disorientation. Using dietary supplements that include special amino acid formulas developed for patients with this disorder and vitamins can reduce some of the symptoms. Combining this with the drug phenylbutyrate can lower the amount of ammonia in the patient's bloodstream.

Medication errors and excessive dosages

Some medications have a variety of different dosages. Because these dosages often vary by a factor of 10, mix-ups in the prescribing and dispensing of the medications is not uncommon. However, if Texas patients are given doses that are too high due to a mix-up, they can be seriously harmed.

The risk for these medication errors, often called 10-fold overdoses, is increased when health care professionals and computer systems use trailing zeros or do not use leading zeros. For example, a 1.0 mg dose of a medication could be misread as a 10 mg dose. Likewise, a .5 mg dose could be misread as a 5 mg dose. In one case, a consumer who was prescribed 75 mcg of buprenorphine was accidentally given 750 mcg by the pharmacist. However, it was not known how the error actually occurred.

Sherman pain doctor’s license suspended after deaths, indictment

Medical malpractice is defined essentially as causing harm to a patient by failing, negligently or intentionally, to perform medical services to the generally accepted standard of care. When we talk about malpractice, we usually do so in the context of a civil lawsuit brought by the patient or surviving family members.

Sometimes, an act of malpractice can also be criminal in nature. That appears to be the case with a North Texas doctor who was recently arrested after seven people died of overdoses after being treated by him at a pain clinic. He is accused of conspiring with others to distribute controlled substances and possession of controlled substances with intent to deliver, along with healthcare billing fraud and money laundering.

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