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Lubbock County Texas Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Study sheds light on post-treatment Lyme disease

In Texas and elsewhere in the U.S. where ticks are present, Lyme disease has become a big problem. What's worse is that 10 to 20 percent of people who contract the disease continue to report symptoms even after the antibiotics have supposedly cured them. These symptoms range from joint pain to brain fog and even clinical depression, and they may persist for months after treatment.

This condition, known as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome, has been notoriously hard to diagnose, but new research from Johns Hopkins University has shed some light on it. Scientists from the Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Research Center analyzed 61 patients with PTLDS and compared them to a control group of 28 healthy patients. After a series of exams, including neurological tests and blood marker tests, scientists found that the 61 patients showed as little sign of unsound health as the 28.

System looks at ways to track misdiagnosis rate

When Texas patients go to the doctor, they expect to receive correct answers and diagnoses that fit their conditions. A misdiagnosis can endanger the health of a patient, leading to disability or even death when incorrect treatments are applied or an underlying serious illness goes untreated.

Delayed treatment due to a misdiagnosis can lead to very negative outcomes. Because of this, a researcher from the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality is working to introduce an approach to help hospitals monitor errors in diagnosis. The approach is called SPADE, or Symptom-Disease Pair Analysis of Diagnostic Error. Studies have shown that approximately 12 million people in the United States annually experience diagnostic errors or misdiagnosis. A full one-third of those cases lead to serious injuries.

Treating sepsis

About 1 to 3 million people throughout Texas and the rest of the nation receive a diagnosis of sepsis every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Up to 30 percent of those people will die from the condition.

The head of the Epidemiological Research and Innovations Branch at the CDC states that sepsis is the result of the body overreacting to an infection. Sepsis has the potential to be fatal because the inflammation and blood flow stoppage it causes can result in organ failure.

Conditions that are commonly misdiagnosed

In Texas and across the U.S., millions live with undiagnosed cancer. Unfortunately, missed diagnoses will increase the chances of failed treatments and death. Though cancer is the one condition that's most frequently misdiagnosed, there are many more to watch out for.

Depression is the second most frequently misdiagnosed condition. While it affects more than 350 million people worldwide, it's experienced differently by each person. Lyme disease, on the other hand, is often mistaken for depression. Its symptoms, which range from fatigue to fevers to mood changes, can be caused by a single tick bite. Celiac disease tends to be misdiagnosed because it can give rise to over 200 different symptoms. It is an intestinal disease triggered by the consumption of gluten.

Diagnostic procedure for multiple sclerosis under revision

Texas patients who are seeking a diagnosis for an unknown illness or condition may be interested to learn that the McDonald Criteria for diagnosing multiple sclerosis was revised. The revisions could help speed up the diagnostic process while reducing the potential for a misdiagnosis.

MS is an autoimmune disease that attacks the myelin, or protective sheath, that surrounds nerve fibers. Eventually, the nerves can become permanently damaged, causing some patients to lose the ability to walk. While there is no cure, a speedy multiple sclerosis diagnosis and early treatment can help those suffering from the disease manage their symptoms and even modify the course of the disease. However, obtaining one can be difficult as there are multiple tests that are needed before a diagnosis can be made. While the multiple tests can potentially rule out other conditions, the process can delay a diagnosis.

Study shows how drug histories are best left to pharmacists

A study led by Cedars-Sinai, a nonprofit medical center, shows that errors in drug and medication orders can be reduced by over 80 percent if pharmacy professionals take patients' drug histories in emergency departments. This is a significant find because in Texas and elsewhere in the U.S., drug histories are often taken by doctors and nurses.

The study analyzed 306 cases of patients visiting the Cedars-Sinai Emergency Department with medically complex histories. All the patients had a history of heart disease or another serious condition and were taking 10 or more prescription drugs. With pharmacists on the job, drug histories were marked by fewer errors, allowing the right drugs to be administered in the right dosage.

Lower testosterone levels reduce prostate cancer risk

Texas residents may be interested to learn that men who produce abnormally low amounts of testosterone may be less likely to develop prostate cancer at some point in their lives. According to a study, this is because male hormones, like testosterone, are known to promote tumor cell growth.

About 170,000 men in the United States are affected by prostate cancer every year. Of these individuals, approximately 30,000 die as a result of the cancer. While there are some known risk factors, which include ethnicity, age and genetic mutations, it is still not known what actually causes the disease. One theory is the androgen saturation model, which suggests that prostate tissue needs a specific amount of testosterone to grow regardless of whether the tissue is malignant or benign.

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.

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