According to an article in Outpatient Surgery, every day, operating room (OR) teams nationwide leave almost a dozen surgical sponges inside their patients. To improve patient safety, Stryker implemented its “SurgiCount Safety-Sponge System” to keep track of surgical sponges. Reducing or eliminating the number of surgical sponges left behind reduces the risk of infection and permanent injury, the need for additional surgery, and even patient fatalities. Healthcare providers are hopeful to realize cost savings arising from legal expenses, malpractice settlements and awards, and non-reimbursable patient care.

Continue Reading Manufacturer Guarantees Surgical Sponge-Scanning System

On March 3, 2017, a bill that would require medical malpractice claims to be reviewed by expert advisory panels before proceeding to court won final passage in the Kentucky Senate, two days after it narrowly passed in the House of Representatives. The bill will now be sent to Gov. Matt Bevin.

Continue Reading Bill Creating Medical Malpractice Panels Passes in Kentucky

“Defensive Medicine” is a phrase used when doctors order extra tests or perform additional procedures because they are concerned about being sued for “missing something.” However, studies do not support the idea that the extra tests or procedures are warranted and actually reduce the risk of a physician being sued.

In fact, numerous studies have shown that the greatest predictor of whether a physician is likely to be sued is whether he or she has been sued before. In other words, physicians who have been sued once are much more likely to be sued again. Between 1991 and 2005, 6% of all doctors in the United States were estimated to be responsible for 58% of all malpractice payments.

Continue Reading Practicing Defensive Medicine: The Doctor’s Cure for Malpractice

Recently, New York Times journalist Robert Pear published an article on the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI). According to Mr. Pear’s article, in November or December of 2016 you may be selected to join the Precision Medicine cohort, a long-term population-based health research study that will provide valuable research on disease and illness in the United States.

Government scientists are seeking a million volunteers willing to share information on their genetic background, environment, and lifestyle choices.  The PMI hopes to collect ten (10) years of data related to diet, exercise, smoking, drinking, sleep patterns, and other social behavior that will permit researchers to identify possible risk factors for health, including from air pollution and lead levels in drinking water.

Continue Reading The Precision Medicine Initiative

A recent BMJ (British Medical Journal) study listed medical errors as the third leading cause of death in the United States. The BMJ recommends that healthcare providers make prevention of patient harm the top healthcare priority and institute policy and procedure changes directed toward that objective.

The study points out that the medical cause of an injury or death on the death certificate doesn’t reflect that “communication breakdowns, diagnostic errors, poor judgment, and inadequate skill can directly result in patient harm and death.”

Continue Reading Preventing Harm to Patients should be Priority #1 for Healthcare Providers

A Professor of Surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Martin Makary, M.D., M.P.H., has published his research into various categories of treatment of patients in hospitals. These categories ranged from more simplistic “bad doctors” to “more systemic issues such as communication breakdowns when patients are handed off from one department to another.”

Dr. Makary explained that “when a plane crashes, we don’t say this is confidential proprietary information the airline company owns… we consider it part of public safety. Hospitals should be held to the same standards.” The study and research was done to illuminate problems which are normally swept under the rug by hospitals and healthcare facilities. Often, these facilities will go out of their way to avoid discussing any issues or risks, and frankly bend over backwards to keep such information confidential, arguing it is “privileged.”

Continue Reading Medical Errors are the Third Leading Cause of Death in the U.S.

New Jersey Statute 45:9-19.17 requires physicians to maintain insurance and specifically states:

A physician who maintains a professional medical practice in this State and has responsibility for patient care is required to be covered by medical malpractice liability insurance issued by a carrier authorized to write medical malpractice liability insurance policies in this State, in the sum of $1,000,000 per occurrence and $3,000,000 per policy year and unless renewal coverage includes the premium retroactive date, the policy shall provide for extended reporting endorsement coverage for claims made policies, also known as “tail coverage,” or, if such liability coverage is not available, by a letter of credit for at least $500,000.

Continue Reading No Insurance, No Claim Against the Physician Individually – So Says the New Jersey Supreme Court in Jarrell v. Kaul, M.D.

You may not be aware, but medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the U.S., only surpassed by heart disease and cancer. Recently, the Huffington Post published an article which outlined some general steps that you can take to prevent becoming a victim of medical malpractice. Some of these recommendations include:

Continue Reading 6 Steps You Can Take in an Effort to Prevent Becoming a Victim of Malpractice

In a recent New York Times article, Dhruv Khullar, M.D., a medical resident in a large Boston teaching hospital, wrote about what often happens when a patient, especially an elderly patient, is discharged from the hospital. All too frequently, there is a high chance of readmission for many of these patients. Dr. Khullar notes that one-fifth of Medicare recipients are readmitted to a hospital within 30 days of discharge, and one-third are readmitted within 90 days.

One study found that 20% of patients have a complication within 3 weeks of leaving the hospital and that half of those complications could have been prevented or mitigated. Although many of these complications are minor, some are serious and life-threatening. Medicare spends $26 billion annually on readmissions, and more than half of that amount on readmissions that are considered preventable.

Continue Reading The Danger in Discharge from a Hospital