The ER is a daunting place – and lately, the anxiety of an unexpected health problem has been compounded by the hazards associated with overcrowding. ER visits across the country reached a 10-year high in 2015, and in 2016, there were 145.6 million ER visits, with 12.6 million of them leading to hospital admission. These numbers have a significant impact on quality of care – and the resulting mistakes and lack of adequate attention are putting patients at risk.

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A new study published by the medical journal The Lancet, has revealed that sepsis accounts for 1 in 5 deaths globally. Additionally, sepsis is the most common cause of deaths in the hospital in the United States. According to the study, it is estimated that there were 48.9 million cases of sepsis in 2017, resulting in 11 million deaths. The study also found that highest incidence of sepsis occurred in children and the elderly. This is concerning because sepsis is most dangerous for these populations.

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Hospital safety grades have been released for Pennsylvania Hospitals. The grades are handed out by The Leapfrog Group. The Leapfrog Group is a national non-profit organization that collects and reports hospital performance data. The organization’s mission is to improve safety, quality, and affordability of health care in the U.S.

The Leapfrog grading system rates hospitals based on incidence of infections, problems with surgeries, incidence of falls, incidence of bed sores, quality of medical staff, among other safety issues.


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Stated simply, medical malpractice, or medical negligence, is medical care or treatment that falls below the accepted standard of care and causes actual harm to a patient. In a medical malpractice lawsuit, the law places the burden on the patient to prove that a medical provider deviated from the standard of care and caused harm. The first part of the test, establishing the medical provider deviated from the acceptable standard of care, can be fairly straightforward and is often the easier question to analyze and answer.

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The June 2017 issue of the American Journal of Infection Control included a report from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) which described 23 infants in their intensive care unit (ICU) who contracted eye infections after eye examinations. In the report, CHOP attributed the cause of the outbreak to some medical staff not wearing gloves, and a “lack of standard cleaning practices” of equipment used in the exams.

This outbreak occurred in August 2016, and a recent lawsuit has been filed on behalf of a family who alleges their premature baby died as a result of her contracted infection at CHOP in September 2016. The premature infant had been transferred to CHOP in July, and by mid-August had tested positive for infection with an adenovirus and was suffering from respiratory symptoms. She eventually developed a bacterial infection on top of the viral illness, and died on September 11, 2016.


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Telemedicine” or “Telehealth” are the terms most often used when referring to clinical diagnosis and monitoring that is delivered by technology. Telemedicine encompasses healthcare provided via real time two-way video conferencing; file sharing, including transmission of health history, x-rays, films, or photos; remote patient monitoring; and consumer mobile health apps on smart phones, tablets, and devices that collect data and transmit it to a healthcare provider. Telemedicine is increasingly being used for everything from diagnosing common viruses to monitoring patients with serious long-term health issues.

The American Telemedicine Association reports that majority of hospitals now use some form of telemedicine. Two years ago, there were approximately 20 million telemedicine video consultations; that number is expected to increase to about 160 million by 2020. An estimated one-third of employer group plans already cover some type of telehealth.


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In the 1980s, journalists used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain data on individual cardiac surgeons’ surgical outcomes from the New York State Department of Health. A recent JAMA article discusses that type of data and takes the position that despite its limitations, the data should be publicly reported.

Debate Surrounding Reporting of Individual Surgeons’ Outcomes

The debate centers on whether data should be reported on the hospital level only or also reported as to individual surgeons.

According to the article, several objections to reporting data relating to individual surgeons have been raised.

First, an individual surgeon may perform a low number of procedures, possibly leading to an unreliable measure of performance. However, the author notes that performance can be aggregated across multiple years or a surgeon’s performance across a range of procedures can be used. Also, the data can be presented in a way that highlights the statistical limitations.


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After the sudden deaths of five people following the placement of inflated silicone balloons in their stomachs to treat obesity, the Food and Drug Administration sent a letter to health care providers on August 10, 2017, warning of potential risks associated with the intragastric balloons. All five reported deaths happened within one month of the procedure, with three of the five people dying one to three days after the procedure. The agency said two more death reports happened within the same time frame and may be related to complications from the balloon treatment. The agency has not yet determined whether any of the deaths were directly related to either the devices or the insertion procedures.

Potential Risks of Intragastric Balloons

One risk is over-inflation. Overinflation may occur when the intragastric balloon inflates with more fluid or with air after placement in the patient’s stomach. Overinflation symptoms include abdominal swelling, severe abdominal pain, breathing problems, and vomiting. Acute pancreatitis is a separate type of risk, caused when the balloons compress other gastrointestinal structures. Symptoms include back and abdominal pain.

Both types of complications can happen within days of the procedure and may require doctors to remove the devices.


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A recent New Jersey case addressed a statute of limitations issue pertaining to claims arising from a physician’s disclosure of a patient’s HIV-positive status to a third party without his consent.

Plaintiff was a patient of the defendant physician, a board-certified nephrologist. He was being treated for acute kidney failure. During an emergency consultation in plaintiff’s private hospital room, defendant discussed his medical condition and disclosed plaintiff’s HIV-positive status in the presence of a third party without plaintiff’s consent.


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