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Queens NY Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Diagnosing Lyme disease can be hard

If a New York doctor suspects that a patient may have Lyme disease, the first step is to do a blood test. The blood test will look for the presence of Lyme antibodies as antibodies are the body's way of trying to stop the infection from getting worse. However, the presence of antibodies means that an individual may have been exposed to the illness even if he or she doesn't actually have it.

The next step is to do a blot test that looks for more specific signs of the disease. However, it is still possible that a patient had the condition years ago or was exposed to it without experiencing any symptoms in the past. Therefore, a patient could have another condition while spending months or even years getting treated for a disease that he or she doesn't have.

Drunk Drivers: The Scariest Part of Halloween


It's no secret that drunk drivers are responsible for far too much mayhem on our highways, particularly at peak party times such as Halloween and New Year's Eve.

In fact, more than 40 percent of vehicle fatalities and 19 percent of pedestrian fatalities on Halloween night involve drunk drivers nationwide. Sobering statistics like this led Governor Cuomo to announce a New York State Police crackdown on impaired drivers Halloween weekend of 2015.

At the time, State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D'Amic said "Halloween can be fun, but it can also turn tragic if people get behind the wheel after drinking. Children will be out walking after dark and drivers need to exercise extreme caution. Never drink and drive."

We couldn't agree more.

Failure to diagnose cancer in children

When New York parents learn that one of their children has cancer, emotional turmoil can result. Every day throughout the country, 43 children receive the news that they have some form of cancer, and their families must prepare for the challenges that come with treatment. A misdiagnosis of cancer for a child, however, exposes the young person to treatments that might not be necessary. Physical harm could result on top of the fearful feelings experienced by the family.

According to research from Johns Hopkins Hospital, physicians could be incorrectly classifying approximately 20 percent of cancer cases. Outright misdiagnosis occurs in one out of 71 cancer cases, which includes child patients.

DOT sets goal of reaching zero traffic deaths

People in New York might be interested in learning that the federal government has set a goal to reduce traffic fatalities to zero within 30 years. The Department of Transportation outlined its plan in an official announcement on Oct. 5.

The U.S. Transportation Secretary stated that the DOT would first focus on campaigns targeting drunk and distracted driving, seat belt use and the installation of rumble strips. He said that technological advancements and autonomous cars can help make a zero-fatality rate possible. Autonomous vehicles are designed to eliminate human error, which is considered responsible for 94 percent of all accidents.

An overview of spinal cord injury statistics

There are many types of accidents that can cause health problems for New York residents, and one of the most serious types of injuries in such incidents is damage to the spinal cord. Spinal cord injuries can occur in accidents involving automobiles, surgery, violence, falls and other traumatic situations, and the damage can range in severity. A complete SCI may cause permanent neurological deficits, while an incomplete SCI might resolve in part or in full.

The National SCI Statistical Center has been monitoring data related to this area since the early 1970s, and the database maintained by the organization provides helpful insight about trends for those affected by such injuries. The average age for the occurrence of SCI has increased by 13 years since 1973. The number of men affected in new cases is approximately four times the number of women suffering such injuries. The time required in hospitals and rehabilitation facilities has significantly decreased over the period in which these statistics have been monitored. However, life expectancy for these individuals has not changed much.

Medical error as a leading cause of death

Individual medical needs can range greatly, and errors can occur at various points in a patient's treatment. New York residents might be surprised to learn that diagnosis is the point at which a deadly error is most likely. Furthermore, the majority of these mistakes do not occur in hospitals but rather in a doctor's office. This is one of several major areas that contribute to medical error being third highest as a cause of death in the nation.

Doctor errors connected to a diagnosis can range from missing cues for a disease to over-diagnosing. This may seem surprising in light of the increasing technologies and information available. Consulting with colleagues can be an important strategy for minimizing the risk of error. Electronic records could improve statistics in terms of medical errors, but systems that are not interoperable prevent important sharing of information that could head off issues such as diagnostic mistakes.

Imaging challenges in a hernia diagnosis

Abdominal pain could be troubling enough to cause an individual to seek help at a New York emergency room. What can be more troubling, however, is that many such patients do not get proper diagnoses. While issues such as fever or abdominal bulging might indicate certain conditions, the lack of these symptoms might interfere with a diagnosis. In the case of a suspected hernia, imaging might be used to further evaluate a patient. Unfortunately, radiology can also fall short in achieving an appropriate detection.

Experts note that occult hernias can be particularly difficult to confirm through CT scans and MRIs. With CT scans, only 7 percent of these types of hernias are accurately identified. The rate of diagnosis with MRI is better at 33 percent, but this still leaves two of every three cases undiagnosed. Hernias that affect both small and large bowels are more successfully diagnosed.

Causes of cerebral palsy before and during birth

Some New York infants may be born with cerebral palsy. The damage that causes it and leads to abnormal brain development results in a lack of muscle control. In some cases, CP develops because of abnormal development that does not have a clear cause.

Most cases of CP occur during or before birth. These cases, also known as congenital CP, have a number of risk factors. These include low birth rate, multiple births, premature births or the use of assisted reproductive technology. Congenital CP can also be caused by birth complications, medical complications the mother has or infections in pregnancy. Jaundice in a newborn that develops into a condition called kernicterus may also result in CP.

Improving PCOS diagnoses for teenage girls

Teenage girls in New York with polycystic ovary syndrome may have access to better diagnoses based on the results of a study that found high levels of testosterone and the hormone irisin in girls suffering with the disease. PCOS has no known cause or cure, but an earlier diagnosis could mean a decease in risks that accompany the disease such as fertility problems and Type 2 diabetes.

The study, which was published online and presented at the European Society for Pediatric Endocrinology, examined 23 patients with PCOS alongside a control group. PCOS occurs in around 12 percent of women. While one of its symptoms may be missed menstruation, this is often mistaken for normal changes in puberty and so it often goes undiagnosed and untreated in teenagers. Furthermore, physicians may be reluctant to treat it unless they have a definite diagnosis.

Autonomous cars and older New York drivers

The first members of the baby boom generation are turning 70 in 2016, and government data indicates that there will likely be more than 50 million at or over that age around the country by 2050. Older road users are less able to recover from serious car accident injuries, and their chances of being killed in a crash increase as they age. Road safety experts and legislators across the country hope that emerging auto safety technology may drastically cut collision rates in the decades ahead and prevent a sharp increase in the number of elderly car accident victims.

Modern automobiles already boast an impressive array of safety equipment ranging from dual-stage airbags to sophisticated anti-lock braking systems, but it is more recent autonomous vehicle technology that most impresses safety experts. Reaction times are far slower among senior citizen drivers, but many of the latest safety systems take over the driving duties automatically in emergency situations and apply the brakes or steer around obstacles to avoid a crash.

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