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Woodstown New Jersey Legal Blog

Optic neuritis frequently misdiagnosed

When people in New Jersey are diagnosed with optic neuritis, a sometimes-painful inflammation of the optic nerve that can be accompanied by vision loss, they may begin to receive treatment right away. However, up to 60 percent of those patients may in fact have received a misdiagnosis. This could mean that they are receiving unnecessary treatment or not being treated for a real underlying cause. In one study of patients from a Midwestern university clinic, researchers reviewed the medical records of 122 optic neuritis patients referred to the clinic from 2014 to 2016.

They discovered that only 49 were confirmed to actually have optic neuritis. On the other hand, 73 of the patients were misdiagnosed. Some had other optic neuropathies while others suffered from migraine or other types of headaches accompanied by eye pain. In some cases, physicians did not fully consider various aspects of the patients' symptoms or medical history, including how their episodes of vision loss took place. In other cases, patients were swiftly diagnosed with optic neuritis because they also had multiple sclerosis; the two disorders are commonly linked.

Medical errors pose a threat for American patients

While many people in New Jersey and across the county identify health care as a major political issue, the consequences of medical errors have largely been kept outside of the public debate. Across the country, medical mistakes are the third most common cause of death, a figure that first drew attention in 2000. The Institute of Medicine issued a report noting that over 100,000 Americans may lose their lives each year due to preventable errors. As health care technology has improved, the mistakes have continued, and some estimate that even more people may be at risk in the present from these types of issues.

Reports indicate that over 500 people die each day as a result of medical mistakes. Health care professionals themselves have indicated a high level of concern about safety issues. In one study, 35 percent rated their own workplace unfavorably for patient well-being. Some of the most common types of medical errors involve medication mistakes, from diagnostic errors to prescription problems. Around 4 million people each year suffer some form of significant harm due to a mistaken medication. Psychiatric patients may be particularly vulnerable to medication errors accompanied by other kinds of abuse.

Evening hours pose greatest risk for accidents

Motorists in New Jersey and across the United States are in greater danger of being involved in a motor vehicle accident when driving at night versus daytime driving. The National Safety Council estimates that driving at night puts drivers at three times a greater risk of being involved in an accident. When Daylight Savings Time ends each year, more people drive home from work in the dark. Because driving in the dark can alter depth perception, compromise peripheral vision and affect color recognition, this means that drivers need to take steps to be safe in the evening hours.

Headlights help drivers see the road ahead and other vehicles. Keeping them in proper working condition is critical in safe night driving. Check headlights regularly to ensure the lights are working and regularly clean them for optimal visibility. Additionally, headlights should be properly aimed to clearly show the road ahead. Unfortunately, regular headlights only provide visibility for 250 feet, and high-beam headlights only light 500 feet ahead of the vehicle. This means that drivers still can't see as well at night as during the day, so additional steps should be taken.

Cancer survivors face greater risk of suicide

Two recent studies show that the link between cancer survival and suicide is greater than previously believed. Not only do survivors suffer from depression, sadness, distress and grief, some survivors also face physical disfigurement and crushing debt that leads to a feeling of hopelessness.

One study looked at gender differences among cancer survivors who committed suicide. Using data from 2000 to 2014, it found that male cancer survivors older than 70 were 2.5 times more likely to commit suicide than male survivors who were 20 to 39 years old.

Surgeon faces penalties for mistaking kidney for tumor

New Jersey patients expect to be consulted before a medical procedure is performed on them. However, a Florida woman didn't receive that standard of care when she underwent back surgery in 2016. During the procedure, the surgeon mistook one of her kidneys for a cancerous tumor and removed it without her consent. The doctor has already settled a lawsuit filed by the patient and now faces potential penalties from the Florida Department of Health.

According to a report by the Palm Beach Post, the patient was suffering back pain as the result of a car accident several years ago. On April 29, 2016, she was admitted to Wellington Regional Medical Center to get bones in her lower back fused together. Two back specialists performed the spinal surgery, but a general surgeon performed the initial incision, which was on the front of her body. While performing this incision, the general surgeon thought he spotted a malignant mass and removed it. However, testing revealed it was a pelvic kidney.

Misdiagnosis of Parkinson's disease

Parkinson's is a common cause of mobility problems for New Jersey seniors. Trembling is one of the first signs that many people notice. However, it is important to be aware that trembling can also be a sign of some other type of condition. Getting the correct diagnosis is vital for getting the proper type of treatment.

One condition that mimics Parkinson's is called essential tremor. This condition causes shaking that may affect the hands, but it can also affect a person's head, neck, larynx and other areas. The condition is distinguishable from Parkinson's because it occurs most often while a person is moving affected areas. Parkinson's may occur while a person is at rest.

Study shows increase in fatalities with teenage drivers

New research indicates that New Jersey teenagers who drive with teen passengers may be at increased risk of being involved in a fatal car crash. The study, which was done by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, indicates that when teens drove with other teens in their vehicles, the risk of fatality increased by 51 percent.

The study also showed that when a teenage driver had a passenger who was age 35 or older, the risk of fatality decreased by 8 percent. This indicates that teenagers who receive driving instructions and sufficient supervised practice can decrease fatal accident risks.

Cybersecurity, dirty mattresses among top hospital hazards

Cybersecurity attacks present the greatest risk to health care facilities in New Jersey and elsewhere, according to a new report by ECRI Institute. Other top threats include contaminated hospital bed mattresses, surgical sponges accidentally left inside patients' bodies and improperly set ventilator alarms.

The ECRI report, entitled "2019 Top 10 Health Technology Hazards," found that hackers can exploit remote access functionality on hospital computer systems, infiltrate the network, steal data and potentially hinder patient care. In order to prevent such attacks, the organization recommends that hospitals have a strong password policy, properly maintain and patch network systems and log system access.

Is a delayed diagnosis grounds for medical malpractice?

When you are injured or unwell, health care providers are paid to use their knowledge to identify and treat your ailment. If the provider fails these duties and your condition worsens as a result, you likely have grounds for a medical malpractice claim.

Many of these claims include cases of misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis or treatment errors. But, when is the fault for these mistakes placed on a care provider?

Lewy body dementia

Dementia is a common problem for seniors in New Jersey and in other states. Lewy body dementia, or LBD, is one type of dementia that affects an estimated 1.4 million people nationwide. The symptoms of LBD can closely resemble those of other conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

LBD involves the buildup of Lewy bodies, which are made up of a protein in the brain called alpha-synuclein. The buildup of Lewy bodies affects the brain's production of acetylcholine. LBD may be present on its own, or a patient may suffer from both LBD and other types of dementia related to conditions such as Parkinson's.

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