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Queens NY Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Robotic surgery raises new malpractice questions

Surgery patients in New York and around the country may soon have their procedures performed with minimal human intervention. Researchers at a District of Columbia children's hospital have demonstrated that robotic surgeons could perform delicate operations with even more efficacy in some cases than their human counterparts. Experts note that robots have already been used to help humans perform critical surgical tasks, but the researchers say this is a push towards having traditional doctors provide care in new ways.

The study, which involved a bowel operation performed on a pig, demonstrated that with supervision, the robot was able to successfully complete surgical maneuvers in soft tissue. The machine, stitched the bowel together in an open surgery. One of the proponents of the work said that the technique might help the medical profession establish better standards and practices as well as eliminate the need to wait for specific surgeons.

The prevalence of medical errors

According to data from researchers at Johns Hopkins, medical errors may be the third-leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease and cancer. However, it is difficult to determine the exact number of deaths attributable to medical errors because of a lack of official data. When a patient dies in New York or elsewhere in the country, the cause of death must usually correlate with an insurance billing code.

These codes may be inadequate in determining whether a death was caused by doctor or system error as opposed to other reasons. One example involved a patient who had a organ transplant and later returned to the hospital for unknown reasons. During testing, a doctor cut the patient's liver without realizing it. The patient later died, but the official cause of death was not a doctor error. Instead, it listed the official cause of death as a cardiovascular issue.

Computer errors could cause problems for medical providers

Patients in New York and throughout the country could be vulnerable due to computer systems failing or being hacked. At one hospital, a patient's heart surgery was interrupted because the computer began doing a virus scan. Surgeons were unable to access data and had to reboot the system.

In that case, human error was the problem. The virus software had been set to scan every hour even though this went against software guidelines. The Food and Drug Administration stated that the anti-virus software should have only scanned vulnerable files and should not have included patient data. The patient was sedated at the time and was unaffected by the event.

Former NFL team doctor accused of negligence

New York football fans were likely saddened by the suicide of retired San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau in 2012. Now the California state medical board has filed a gross negligence charge against the team's former doctor over the care Seau received prior to his death.

According to the complaint, Seau suffered from depression and sleep problems in the months before he killed himself, and Dr. David Chao prescribed him the sleep aid zolpidem, which is sold under the brand name Ambien. However, the medical board says that Ambien increases the risk of suicide and impaired driving and should be "prescribed with caution" to patients suffering from depression. In 2010, Seau drove his car over a cliff but survived. Many thought it was a suicide attempt, but Chao disagreed and continued to prescribe Ambien to Seau.

Spinal cord injuries may soon be treated with stem cells

People in New York who suffer from injuries to their spinal cord can have a range of different physical and neurological problems caused by inflammation and cell death in the spinal cord. Every year, around 230,000 people in the United States sustain an acute spinal cord injury that permanently alters their life.

It is possible that in the future many of the problems experienced by people with spinal cord trauma will be treated with stem cell therapy. Researchers from the Rothman Institute at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia recently claimed that stem cell treatments for spinal cord injuries are realistic and promising.

Workers' comp isn't your only option after a fall

If you were injured in a fall at a construction site, you have options. In addition to workers' compensation, you may be able to seek additional compensation under New York's scaffold law.

Labor Law Section 240 is known as the scaffold law, and it is unique to New York. It allows construction workers who were injured while working at an elevated height to seek compensation through a personal injury claim. This compensation is in addition to the coverage you would receive under workers' compensation.

Driver flees crash scene after hitting church van

A hit-and-run driver struck a church van in New York on Friday, April 22. The collision happened shortly before 11 p.m. while the 2000 Dodge van was traveling in Jamaica, Queens. According to the New York City Police Department, the van was hit by a 2016 Ford sedan that had failed to stop at a red light while going south on Princeton Street.

After T-boning the van, the Ford driver exited his vehicle and fled the scene of the auto accident on foot. The van tipped over, injuring the six people who were inside. The occupants of the van were a 23-year-old woman, a 22-year-old man, a 20-year-old woman, a 15-year-old girl and two 3-year-old boys. All of the victims were treated at Jamaica Hospital for minor injuries.

Study reveals misconception in spinal injury theory

New York victims of serious spinal cord injuries may be interested to hear about a potentially game-changing study published in April 2016. Researchers believe they have proven that the scars associated with spinal cord injuries could actually promote nerve growth. For the more than 12,000 U.S. residents who sustain such injuries each year, these conclusions may result in improved treatments.

Prior to this study, many medical theories held that when special cells, known as astrocytes, build scar tissue at spinal cord injury sites, the scars get in the way of subsequent nerve regrowth. Astrocytes are assistive cells that are more than five times as common as the neurons that make up nerves, and they can move to injury sites to form scars with the help of immune system cells.

Who will pay my wages if I am going to be out of work for a long time?

When you have been in a motor vehicle accident, your first priority is your health. You need to focus on your own recovery and getting the treatment you need before you consider going back to work.

This can be difficult, however. Bills keep coming, regardless of how your treatment is progressing. Your rent, mortgage, utilities and other bills will still need to be paid. Who will pay for the lost wages you need to pay those bills? What options do you have to secure compensation while you recover?

Entrepreneur's test identifies father's cancer

Although New York men may be encouraged to go through screenings for prostate cancer as they reach ages at which this disease is a serious risk, PSA testing can miss some cases. Unfortunately, false negative results could allow the condition to go undiagnosed. In cases of aggressive forms of the cancer, the consequences of a missed diagnosis could be deadly.

Innovation in testing for cancer proved helpful in the case of an entrepreneur and his father. The entrepreneur's startup company is working in an area of biotech research that is targeting diagnostics of cancers with blood samples rather than through tissue biopsies. When his father's PSA test showed no sign of prostate cancer, he offered to use his own test to confirm the results. As it happened, his father actually had an aggressive form of the disease, which could have been deadly. The test caught the cancer so that timely treatment could begin. As research in this area continues, the cost and convenience of these blood tests could minimize the risk of a delayed cancer diagnosis for some of the most serious types of the disease.

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