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Lubbock County Texas Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Certain PET scans could lead to prostate cancer misdiagnosis

Men in Texas and across the country may be concerned about prostate cancer, especially as it is one of the cancers most frequently suffered by American men. When diagnosing prostate cancer and making a plan for treatment, doctors frequently use positron emission tomography (PET) scans to detect certain types of activity. In particular, they may check for prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA), a specific type of enzyme that is included in prostate cancer cells and has a high level of reactivity. This means that it can be easily detected in a scan and can be used to determine the stage to which prostate cancer has progressed and whether it has spread through the body.

Researchers, however, have noted that PSMA is not only found in cancerous cells and metastases. It is also found in benign tissue in the bowels, kidney, salivary glands and certain ganglia. If a doctor relies solely on a PSMA PET scan, he or she may fail to properly diagnose the stage of a patient's cancer. In some cases, this could lead to unnecessary treatment, which can be seriously damaging to patients' health.

Pharmacist errors increased by 64 percent in 2018

Errors among community pharmacists have increased by 64 percent between April 2018 and June 2018, according to a quarterly report from the National Pharmacy Association. Texas residents should know about this trend as they may be affected by it too. In the wake of the creation of the General Data Protection Regulation and changes to the data protection law, there have been more breaches of patient confidentiality and dispensing errors.

Eight percent of the errors recorded in the three-month period involved breaches of patient confidentiality. Other cases had to do with pharmacists giving medications to the wrong patient and mixing up the prescription slips and names and addresses on medication labels. Workload and time pressures were cited as a factor in 45 percent of the errors. This is contrasted with the previous quarter, where workplace pressures contributed to 4 percent of the incidents.

No system helps anesthesiologists prevent wrong syringe errors

Many protocols have been developed by hospitals in Texas to reduce surgical errors, but anesthesiologists are largely on their own. An anesthesiologist calling for safety improvements within the profession pointed out that anesthesiologists have no assistants or technical systems to aid them when they select and prepare drugs for a patient.

He said that patients basically rely on an anesthesiologist to get every drug dosage correct every time all day long. Anesthesia drug errors fall into two groups. Either the anesthesiologist chose the wrong drug to begin with or grabbed the wrong syringe. Using a syringe filled with the wrong drug at the wrong time could have deadly consequences. This was the problem when an 11-year-old boy died during a surgery 15 years ago. The anesthesiologist had given the wrong drug without realizing it.

New tech developed to screen breast cancer tumors

Texas residents should know that the technology used to screen breast cancer may soon be improving. While many breast tumors can be detected right away, others are subtle because they exhibit heterogeneous behavior, including contrast-enhancing behavior, and cannot be classified based on shape. What seems malignant may be benign, and vice versa.

Screening during a mammogram is currently done through the Breast Imaging-Reporting and Data System. The BI-RADS does have issues with detecting lesions, however, as it is frequently unable to distinguish between the tumor and background tissue. The EU-funded MAMMA project may prove to have a solution. If so, it will save lives, reduce misdiagnoses and reduce the need for biopsies.

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.

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