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Woodstown New Jersey Legal Blog

Doctors often misdiagnose side effects of immunotherapy

Immunotherapy offers hope to some cancer patients in New Jersey, but many doctors lack familiarity with the side effects of these new and experimental medicines. Most medical providers know how to recognize side effects from chemotherapy because that approach to cancer treatment has been used for decades. Chemotherapy tends to produce predictable side effects, but immunotherapy might induce a wide variety of symptoms that doctors might misdiagnose and then apply unnecessary treatments.

Unlike chemotherapy that attacks any type of rapidly dividing cells in the body, immunotherapy medications seek to boost people's immune systems. The medication produces checkpoint inhibitors that block specific molecules that are impeding cells in the immune system. When successful, immunotherapy enables the body to destroy cancer cells.

Veteran misdiagnosed, wrongly accused of addiction

For people in New Jersey, going to the hospital can be a time for stress and uncertainty. In most cases, however, that is because a patient is concerned about the outcomes of their medical procedures, not because the hospital itself could be the cause of new problems. For one Navy veteran who went to a VA hospital, however, his attempt to seek diagnosis and treatment for abdominal pain was met with admonitions to seek help for a cocaine addiction that he did not have.

In reality, the man's urine sample was switched with another patient's at the Dorn VA Medical Center in Columbia, South Carolina. When he spoke with medical staff, he was given pamphlets about addiction and no medical treatment. He was told that his pain was caused by excessive cocaine use and other illegal drugs. The 47-year-old man returned to another hospital's emergency room six days later with even more severe pain; there, he was diagnosed with gallstones and rushed into emergency surgery.

Erb's palsy: what it is, how it can be treated

Erb's palsy is one form of brachial plexus palsy, a palsy affecting the nerve system near the neck that controls sensation and movement in the shoulders, arms, hands, and fingers. It occurs in one to two out of every 1,000 newborns and can have permanent effects on them, including arm weakness and loss of motion. New Jersey parents might want to know more about this condition.

Erb's palsy affects mostly the upper nerves in the brachial plexus, and so it tends to affect the shoulder the most while leaving the fingers, which are controlled by lower nerves, alone. The cause could be a stretch injury of the nerves, or neurapraxia; the pressing of scar tissue from a stretch injury onto a healthy nerve, or neuroma; a rupture in the nerve; and the splitting of a nerve from the spinal cord. The last two are the most serious and will likely require nerve grafting.

About Erb's palsy

Expectant parents in New Jersey should be aware of Erb's Palsy, a type of brachial plexus palsy. It is a condition that can occur in one or two out of every thousand deliveries. The most common cause for the condition is when the baby's neck is overextended to the side during a complicated delivery.

The brachial plexus consists of the nerves that extend from the spinal cord to the finger, hand and arm. The nerves pass in between the vertebrae located at the neck and extend into the arm. The nerves merge along the side of the neck and branch out. The upper brachial plexus nerves are affected in the majority of brachial plexus birth palsy cases, causing Erb's palsy. The infants may be able to move their fingers, but not their shoulder. Cases in which the lower and upper nerves are both stretched are referred to as total brachial plexus birth palsy, which is more severe than Erb's palsy.

Burden of proof significant in medical malpractice cases

When someone suffers a horrible injury or medical condition because a surgeon botched a procedure, you would think it would be obvious why medical malpractice is being alleged. When a doctor misdiagnoses a patient with the wrong condition, you would think it is obvious why the doctor should be held liable for his or her decisions. And when a medical institution fails to follow regular protocol or medical standards, you would again think that the malpractice case would be obvious.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Medical malpractice cases must be sufficiently proven by the plaintiff, and sometimes that can be more difficult than it seems.

15 common medical errors that can lead to death

Before going to the hospital, residents of New Jersey will want to be aware of what medical errors are commonly made. Doctors can make these errors whether it's during a complex surgical procedure or a simple appointment. First, and perhaps the worst of them all, is when doctors operate on the wrong patient. This usually happens when there are name mix-ups and poor communication. Sometimes the wrong part of a person's body can be operated on.

Foreign objects left in the body are a third cause of medical-related injuries. Infections are also frequent. For example, urinary catheters that stay in too long can lead to urinary tract infections, and ventilators can spread pneumonia, especially when patients are lying down flat. Doctors or nurses could also mistake chest tubes for feeding tubes. Breathing tubes, if removed too early, could kill patients. IV or syringe injections can cause air bubbles to enter the bloodstream, which causes death when undetected.

Negligent doctors may fail to take headaches seriously

If you were to visit your clinic for a splitting headache, your doctor might brush it off and send you home with aspirin. You might insist that you already tried over-the-counter medication. You may plead with your doctor, certain that something isn't right, but they refuse to take the time to properly examine your illness. Unfortunately, this situation could eventually lead to grave misdiagnosis.

Most New Jersey residents will experience multiple headaches over their lifetime. Despite how common headaches are, however, they aren't always harmless. Sometimes, they can alert you to critical health issues that require urgent attention.

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