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Lubbock County Texas Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Variation of EHR error rates

Texas residents who are concerned about the accuracy of their health records may be interested to know that the results of a recent study indicated that the error rates for EHR vary significantly among different systems. The results of the study, which were released in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, also indicate that the providers in the different health IT systems take varying amounts of time to complete EHR tasks.

The high degree of variability among tasks, healthcare systems and EHR vendors indicates that implementation practices have to be enhanced and the standardization across the systems should be improved. This is very critical as the safety of the product and the patients depends on these factors.

IV drug shortages can lead to medication errors

Medication errors may cause serious injuries or fatalities, making it important for doctors and pharmacists to be careful with prescription and intravenous drugs. Intravenous drug shortages are one problem that can lead to medication errors. When a Texas pharmacy's supply of IV drugs runs low, it may lead the pharmacy to use high-risk compounding to make the drugs used in anesthesia.

According to Pharmacy Times, 40 percent of attendees at the annual ASHP meeting and exhibition reported that their pharmacies had run out of key drug components because of shortages. An additional 77 percent reported that medication errors had occurred at their locations because of shortages of drug components.

Dealing with surgical errors as they occur

While surgical procedures can save and improve the lives of many Texas residents, there are occasions when surgery goes wrong. When it does, complications that arise can result in errors that can have a negative impact on both the person's life and his or her family members' lives.

When complications from surgical procedures do arise, corrections can sometimes be made, especially if the patient alerts the doctors of any pain or other potential problems immediately after the surgery. For example, a 76-year-old patient who had a total knee arthroplasty immediately alerted doctors to her pain following the surgery. Her surgeon found a tear in an artery in the area of the surgical site after ordering a Doppler ultrasonography. The surgeon was able to fix the tear, allowing blood flow to be restored.

Artificial intelligence could reduce skin cancer misdiagnoses

Texas skin cancer patients could soon be diagnosed with the help of artificial intelligence, or AI. According to a new study, the advanced technology can diagnose skin cancer with more accuracy than experienced doctors.

In the study, which appeared in Annals of Oncology, a medical journal, on May 28, researchers from the U.S., France and Germany taught a convolutional neural network, or CNN, how to recognize malignant melanomas. To do this, they showed it more than 100,000 images of both benign moles and malignant skin cancers. The network was also given the correct diagnosis for each image.

The risks associated with LASIK eye surgery

For some, relying on contact lenses or glasses can be a daily annoyance. However, LASIK surgery can reduce a person's reliance on these medical devices while still having clearer vision. The surgery changes the shape of the cornea to make the person's vision clearer permanently. However, as with all medical procedures, there are some risks associated with this particular procedure.

The risks associated with LASIK are varied. For example, some people may develop debilitating medical complications with their vision, such as double vision, glare and haloes. If the surgery is not performed correctly, a patient could still have to rely on glasses or contacts to see correctly. Dry eye syndrome, which is a condition where a person's eyes cannot produce enough tears, is another health risk that can have an impact on a person's comfort. The surgery is relatively new, meaning the effectiveness of the procedure in the long term is not known.

Maker of more accurate lupus test promotes awareness of disease

Texas readers suffering from lupus know that many people are unfamiliar with the autoimmune disease. However, the manufacturer of a lupus diagnostic test is participating in "Lupus Awareness Month" in May to help more people learn about the condition.

Exagen specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of autoimmune rheumatic conditions. In 2012, the company released the AVISE CTD test, which helps doctors diagnose and manage systemic lupus erythematosus. To date, it has sold more than 225,000 of the tests to over 1,500 health care facilities throughout the United States. According to Exagen, AVISE CTD is the only lupus test that uses cell-bound complement activation products, which makes it more accurate than other testing methods for the disease.

Errors in cancer diagnoses lead to complications for patients

Although a misdiagnosis of cancer is rare, it can be devastating for Texas patients who undertake an aggressive treatment or delay treatment as a result. For example, one woman who was erroneously diagnosed with breast cancer had a double mastectomy before learning she had been misdiagnosed. Studies have estimated that the incidence of misdiagnosis ranges from under 2 up to 10 percent.

Misdiagnoses may happen for several reasons. Tests could be mislabeled or placed in the wrong file. However, interpreting biopsy results is also not an exact science. For some types of cancer, biopsy results tend to return a more objective picture than others. For example, diagnosing lung cancer is relatively straightforward, but prostate cancer, breast cancer and melanoma are more subject to errors in diagnoses. In addition to diagnosing the cancer itself, it is also necessary to determine what stage the cancer is at. Getting this wrong can be as harmful as a misdiagnosis because the stage the cancer has reached determines how the treatment will proceed. Studies have also shown that doctors may feel pressured by patients and family members to make a definitive diagnosis.

The symptoms of cancer in the small intestines

Some Texas residents who are eventually diagnosed with small intestine cancer, or adenocarcinoma, may find that it can take a while to obtain an accurate diagnosis. Part of the problem is that the symptoms of this type of cancer often have more common causes, so patients who exhibit these signs may be misdiagnosed with other conditions.

One of the first symptoms of small intestine cancer often is pain that occurs in the stomach area. Rather than being sharp or defined, this particular pain can feel similar to a cramp. Further, the pain is not constant and can worsen or lessen throughout the day or after a person eats. As the tumor grows, it can start to prevent the blockage of food as it travels through the digestive system. Severe pain and nausea can occur if the tumor grows large enough to completely block the small intestine.

Pharmacists can help diabetes patients with counseling

Texas residents who have diabetes rely not only on doctors but on pharmacists as well. About one-third of diabetes patients use insulin and may require counseling on how to correctly administer it. A new article that serves as a primer for pharmacists covers current diabetes treatment options and suggests ways that pharmacists and pharmacy technicians can offer counseling and increase patient safety.

In recent years, the Food and Drug Administration has approved many new treatments for diabetes. The peer-reviewed article, which was published by the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy, discusses how treatment options have changed and advises pharmacy teams on situations to be aware of. For example, because about 20 percent of insulin users administer the wrong dose, pharmacists are advised to counsel patients who have recently been prescribed a different dose or different product.

Avoiding medical errors with new technology

In 2016, researchers at Johns Hopkins University published a study estimating that more than a quarter of a million people die annually from medication errors in Texas and the rest of the U.S. Many of these errors are evident from the patient records themselves, which is why advances in record-keeping technology may help reduce the number of mistakes. Better technology can also simplify the process of determining liability in malpractice cases.

Still, digital record-keeping technology can give rise to its own set of risks. For example, nurses may neglect to record important health and drug information, such as any allergies or diseases that the patient has. It is essential that nurses ask patients for such information and correctly label patients' charts for others to see. Every nursing action should also be recorded. Nurses are encouraged to add a flow chart to the patient's chart for other staff members to see.

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