Lexington Kentucky Personal Injury Law Blog

Rheumatologists to look out for vasculitis mimics

Rheumatologists in Kentucky and across the U.S. often meet patients with what seems like vasculitis: that is, an inflammation of the blood vessels. However, there are many conditions that mimic vasculitis, so a high degree of suspicion is necessary. This was the statement of one of the presenters at the 2019 Rheumatology Nurses Society Conference.

The presenter, president of the Independent Healthcare Associates, says that misdiagnosing vasculitis can lead to injury. In one case, a rheumatologist had a patient with what was suspected to be rheumatoid arthritis, but the doctor disregarded the patient's fever and did not order blood cultures. It turns out that the patient had endocarditis, an infection of the heart's inner lining, and a classic example of a vasculitis mimic. The patient suffered a stroke afterwards and became permanently disabled.

Sepsis care bundle might lead to overtreatment, say researchers

An editorial published by Annals of Emergency Medicine advances an argument that a care bundle developed by the Surviving Sepsis Campaign may actually increase the risk of inappropriate treatment or misdiagnosis in Kentucky and across the country. The care bundle is supposed to help medical professionals quickly treat and identify sepsis in emergency departments. It is based on guidelines from 2016 and includes a recommendation that certain treatments begin within one hour of identifying sepsis in a patient.

Similar previous care bundles recommended three- or six-hour care bundles. The new one-hour recommendation was designed to shorten the amount of time between recognition and treatment. If the diagnosis is inaccurate, though, the risk of overtreatment or unnecessary treatment is significantly increased. According to researchers, the three- and six-hour care protocols were sufficient to treat many patients and to prevent dangerous complications. Patients who have early-stage sepsis may not need treatment immediately, and there are potentially serious consequences of administering antibiotics and other care to patients who do not need them.

Male-designed crash test dummies could be killing women

Women in Kentucky and across the U.S. are more likely to be injured in car accidents than men. According to a new study, one of the reasons for this issue is that the crash test dummies used by the auto industry don't represent the dimensions of the average woman.

Crash statistics have long shown that car crashes injure women more frequently than men. In fact, one study found that female car occupants are 73% more likely to suffer injuries or death in an accident than male car occupants. More than 10 years ago, traffic safety advocates noted that seat belts could be to blame for this phenomenon. Apparently, seat belts were designed for male bodies, and women who are short or prefer to sit in certain positions can counteract the device's restraint abilities, leading to more injuries and fatalities.

Allstate finds some cities are riskier to drive in than others

As Kentucky drivers know, car accidents are a constant risk on U.S. roadways. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 6,452,000 American drivers were involved in motor vehicle crashes in 2017. One might think these accidents were spread evenly across the country, but a report by Allstate Insurance found that some areas have more accident-prone drivers than others.

For example, the riskiest place to drive in 2019 is Baltimore, Maryland, where drivers go an average of just 4.2 years between crashes. In comparison, the national average between car crashes is 10.57. The next riskiest place for motorists is Washington, D.C., where drivers go just 4.4 years between accidents. Boston, Massachusetts, comes in third on the list, with drivers averaging just 4.9 years between collisions. Other risky cities on the list include Worcester, Massachusetts; Glendale, California; Los Angeles, California; and Springfield, Massachusetts.

Why do truck drivers deal with serious fatigue?

It's fairly clear, every time you pass a semitruck on the highway, that getting into an accident with one of these massive vehicles puts you at a serious disadvantage. Weight is incredibly important in a crash, and a semi may weigh up to 80,000 pounds. When a driver drifts over the center line or merges into your car, which probably weighs far closer to 3,000 or 4,000 pounds, you could suffer from some very serious injuries.

Truck accidents happen for all sorts of reasons, from drunk driving to distracted driving. These are professional drivers, but they make a lot of the same mistakes as other drivers on the roads. One potential issue that may hit truck drivers a bit harder than most, though, is fatigue.

Surgeons behaving badly raises risk of complications for patients

The way that a surgeon interacts with co-workers could influence outcomes for patients in Kentucky and around the country. A study published in JAMA Surgery looked at 202 surgeons who had reports of negative behavior filed against them by co-workers. The researchers then compared this data to patient outcomes and discovered a link between unprofessional behavior and an increased risk of post-surgical complications.

The medical records of 13,653 patients showed that 1,583 of them experienced a medical complication within 30 days of their surgeries. Patients operated on by surgeons with complaints on file against them had complications at a greater rate than patients cared for by surgeons with clean records. Surgeons who had between one and three complaints created an 18% higher risk of complications for patients. When surgeons had four or more complaints, their patients faced a 32% higher risk of surgical complications.

Report claims that Tesla's Autopilot feature is dangerous

The automotive innovations from Tesla might excite some consumers in Kentucky. However, the Autopilot technology in Tesla failed to impress researchers with Consumer Reports. The respected publication known for its product reviews reported that Tesla's Navigate on Autopilot feature took actions more dangerous than human drivers. The publication's senior director of auto testing described monitoring the system as more difficult than simply driving. He said the system required human intervention as if an inexperienced child operated the vehicle.

The automatic lane changing function, an optional feature in the Autopilot, troubled car testers because it changed lanes when other vehicles were too close. In some cases, the system initiated car passing in violation of state laws. The testers reported that they frequently had to take action to stop the Autopilot from making unsafe maneuvers.

How time outs affect the chances of wrong-site surgery

Wrong-site surgeries are all too frequent in Kentucky and the rest of the U.S. In fact, some reports say there are 20 to 40 wrong-site surgeries every week in this country. Orthopedic, dental and spinal surgeries are often wrong-site surgeries. WSS most often occurs with the laterality surgery, where an organ or extremity on the left or right side is operated on.

A WSS can arise from many issues, such as lack of teamwork (often the result of a silo mentality), lack of communication, communication errors on written or electronic orders and failure to educate employees on new policies. Above all, errors are rife wherever there is no safety-minded culture.

Preventable pregnancy deaths keep rising

One of the key traits of a highly developed country is usually that the country has a low rate of pregnancy-related deaths, both for women and their children. However, the numbers in the United States are frightening, and they are only getting worse.

Per new reports after a government study, about 700 women lose their lives every year while they're pregnant, during delivery or from complications after delivery. The numbers continue to rise every year, as they have been doing for decades. African American women face the greatest risks.

Electronic health records systems may be harmful to children

Persons in Kentucky as well as in other parts of the country may not realize the potential harm that electronic health records (EHR) may be exposing to children and infants. A study conducted by Pew Charitable Trusts in two separate children's hospitals identified system lapses that could contribute to errors in prescribing drugs as well as the administration of patient care.

Among the issues uncovered by Pew were the inconsistencies in software parameters for a child's weight, allergies, and vital statistics. When prescribing medications for adults, a weight variation of a few pounds means virtually nothing. When prescribing medications for children, a weight variation of even 1-2 pounds can result in a dangerous error.

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O'Brien Batten & Kirtley, PLLC

O'Brien Batten & Kirtley, PLLC
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Lexington, KY 40509

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