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Queens NY Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Better technology may reduce dangers of driving while fatigued

New York residents who remember the 2014 crash that seriously injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed one of his friends may be interested to learn that one likely cause of the crash was fatigue. Their vehicle was hit by a truck driver who had been awake for more than 24 hours although it is unclear whether the driver fell asleep at the wheel. It is estimated that about 7,500 fatal accidents annually involve a fatigued driver.

However, the use of technology to prevent these crashes is growing. More car and truck manufacturers are installing devices that detect dangers and alert drivers. Some of these devices, such as anti-collision devices and devices that detect when drivers drift out of their lanes, may reduce the incidence of crashes overall. These devices may notify drivers of impending danger or make the corrections themselves. This might even include automatic braking.

Electronic fetal monitoring can cause problems

New York parents who are expecting a child may be interested to learn that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that, based on a review of multiple studies, electronic fetal monitoring is not advantageous for mothers or infants. Electronic fetal monitoring, which monitors the heartbeat of the infant during delivery, is supposed to alert medical staff if the infant becomes distressed and needs to be delivered immediately.

While the CDC did not find that electronic fetal monitors reduced infant death or illness, it was found that EFM was associated with an increased rate of C-section deliveries, which could cause harm to the mother. However, EFM is used on approximately 85 percent of delivering women.

Neglect and abuse in nursing homes

Families in New York are frequently concerned about the welfare of relatives in nursing homes. While most nursing home facilities provide quality care to their residents, there have been cases in which elderly or disabled residents have been subjected to abuse, sexual assault or neglect. In some cases, abuse and neglect can go on for some time before it is discovered and stopped.

Recently, two nurses aides in Massachusetts were arrested on charges that they abused and humiliated their charges while videotaping the abuse. The aides allegedly uploaded the videos to social media sites. This case has sparked increased interest in the issue of nursing home abuse and neglect, along with how these violations of trust can be identified, addressed and prevented.

New prosthesis could help those with spinal cord injuries

New York readers may be interested to learn about a new technology that enables people to more accurately control a prosthesis with their thoughts. The advancement, which was developed by a team of engineers at Stanford University, could allow people with spinal cord injuries or neurological diseases to regain some of their independence.

By studying the brain dynamics of two monkeys trained to use a simplified keyboard, Stanford researchers were able to build an algorithm that could analyze the electrical signals needed to more precisely operate a thought-controlled prosthesis. When tested, the prosthesis was approximately 90 percent as accurate as the monkey's own finger when striking keyboard targets. In comparison, thought-control techniques developed by other researchers have only been about 80 percent accurate.

Surgical black box evidence and malpractice

Patients in New York and other states may be interested to learn about proposed changes in the way surgeries are documented. A law proposed in Wisconsin could soon give patients the right to request that their surgeries be recorded. In addition to potentially serving as evidence in later legal actions, such surgery videos could provide a valuable source of information that helps medical practitioners learn from their mistakes. If the proposed legislation is enacted, patients who undergo multiple procedures, such as the elderly or terminally ill, may be able to stipulate that all their surgeries are recorded by creating advance directives.

Some medical practitioners in Wisconsin are fighting back against the proposed changes. News reports say that doctors who disagree with the idea are worried that the information revealed in such recordings could be held against them in subsequent legal proceedings.

Nursing home oversight changes ahead

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services published a proposed rule recently that will affect New York nursing homes as the first comprehensive update to national standards since 1991. Over the years, the number of recipients of Medicare who are residing in nursing homes has significantly increased, while 64 percent of nursing home residents are receiving Medicaid, making that program the leading payer of long-term care.

The new proposed rule will set higher standards for care quality in an effort to avoid nursing home errors that can lead to illness, injury and neglect for residents. According to the new standards, nursing homes must provide a number of services and establish protocols to ensure that residents receive a high degree of care. Failure to abide by these new rules could result in a nursing home losing its federal reimbursements from Medicare or Medicaid.

Modern maternal mortality rates in the U.S.

New York mothers may be interested in learning more about the recent statistics concerning maternal mortality rates in the U.S. The steep decline in pregnancy-related deaths since the 1930s has been described as one of the greatest achievements in the public health sector during the modern era. Before then, approximately one out of every 100 women died after giving birth. During the late 1980s, less than eight out of every 100,000 women in the U.S died as a result of childbirth.

However, since that time, the maternal mortality rate in the U.S. has risen. As of 2013, 18.5 women died for every 100,000 live births. This trend is in contrast with most developed countries, including Japan and Germany, where the maternal mortality rate has been declining steadily since 1990. The U.S, South Sudan and Afghanistan are three of just eight countries that had their maternal mortality rate increase between 2003 and 2013.

Frequent misdiagnosis of Lyme disease

Some patients in New York may be suffering from Lyme disease without even knowing it. According to the results of a survey published by LymeDisease.org, 61 percent of people with the disease do not receive a correct diagnosis for at least two years. In many cases, the symptoms of Lyme disease are mistaken for mood disorders, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.

The study, which was released in May, surveyed 6,104 people with Lyme disease. Nearly half of those surveyed said that they were not tested for Lyme disease right away due to false assumptions that the condition could not be contracted in their area. In reality, Lyme disease exists and can be contracted in every state.

Common doctor errors in New York

Despite advances in modern medicine, including sophisticated diagnostic machines and instruments, doctors in New York and around the country still make errors because they are human. Unfortunately, when a mistake is made, a patient may suffer significant harm or even die as a result.

The most common type of error is a misdiagnosis, and an estimated 15 percent of all cases are misdiagnosed. Approximately 160,000 hospitalized patients are seriously injured or die due to being misdiagnosed or diagnosed late every year.

Addressing and preventing elder abuse

New York music fans may be aware of the high-profile elder abuse case involving the survivors of Casey Kasem, who was known for his role as the DJ host of American Top 40. His children alleged that neglect by his wife hastened his death as she moved him from a California convalescent facility to other states. However, officials determined that there was not sufficient evidence to file charges. For those concerned about potential neglect or abuse of elderly family members, familiarity with a caregiver's background and vigilance over time could be important for protecting a loved one. However, dealing with abuse by a family member can be challenging.

Statistics indicate that the elderly population of the United States will increase dramatically in coming years. At present, at least 44 million individuals fill the role of caregiver for someone over the age of 50, and many of those providing care are family members. Unfortunately, only one of 14 cases of elder abuse is believed to be reported due to the fact that caregivers are often the sources of abuse or neglect. Abusive conduct can also be more likely to occur when an agency that lacks proper liability coverage and background monitoring is used for elder care needs.

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