Does the response time in medical emergencies significantly affect mortality? Studies show that the response time in medical emergencies, including motor accidents, does indeed have an impact on mortality and in life threatening situations. The lower the response time, the higher the chance of saving the patient.
Although the response time is usually lower in emergencies featuring cardiac arrests, there is no doubt that fast response times matter in other emergency cases as well. There have been several technological advances created for decreasing response time in medical emergencies, as well as preventing those emergencies.
Call to Shock Time
According to an article on the Huffington Post, the average response time to get to a building on fire in New York City is 4 minutes and 12 seconds, while the response time for a life threatening emergency in the same city is 6 minutes and 17 seconds. However it is generally acknowledged that these are merely official response times, and that the actual response time is usually much more in most cities in the US, including Los Angeles. Each year, several lives are lost which could have been saved if emergency services had gotten to the scene on time. As a result of this, many cities are now deploying technology to save lives. One such city is Rochester, Minnesota. Rochester has issued defibrillators and the appropriate training on how to use these devices to police officers. They have placed a high emergency on those who suffer from cardiac arrest. If there is an emergency, an alert goes out to every officer all over the city. This has been met with incredible success. With patients who suffer from cardiac arrest, every second matters.
Every year, more than 30 thousand people die from automobile accidents in the US. Teens form a large percentage of this number. To that effect, there are now several companies using technology to diminish the number of teen mortality in automobile accidents. The strategy is a preventive one. Through apps and virtual technology, parents can now keep tab on their teen’s driving habits. Beyond that, car manufacturers are beginning to include systems on their vehicles which provide parental controls. Taking it a step further, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has been working on an automatic breaking technology. These preventative measures could potentially save lives.
Mobile and Cloud Technology
Data is an integral part of efficient medical emergency response and law enforcement firms are harnessing the potential of mobile and cloud technology to make the sharing of data between emergency response teams seamless. This has always been a problem for emergency response teams. Having access to a platform that is web based and can be shared seamlessly across mobile devices is expected to significantly diminish response times.
Word of Caution
As with anything that is newly emerging, there may be faults with the application. These technologies are relatively new, so use caution. Keep in mind that a glitch in a hospital’s electronic health records can result in major medical errors, as stated by Indianapolis medical malpractice attorneys. Be sure to always communicate your medical information to the appropriate personnel when receiving care. Carrying important medical information in a hardcopy can also be useful.
Many more technologies are emerging which make use of mobile and cloud technologies to improve response times. If mortality can be affected by a delay of mere seconds, the importance of improving response time in medical emergencies cannot be overemphasized.
Have you been in a medical emergency where help took too long to arrive?
A trip to the emergency room can catch anyone of guard. However, it is crucial to be prepared for even this type of scenario. The Colleran Firm reports that, “emergency room errors may be caused by doctors’ fatigue, poor decisions, and overcrowding…The consequences are serious: delays in treatment, inappropriate diagnostic testing, medication errors, and failure to call in specialists (among other errors) can all lead to a patient’s injury or death.” Knowing this, it is important to know what to do if there is a medical emergency. Knowing what to expect can help you better understand the chaos in an emergency room. Being prepared before you are taken to an emergency room can prove to be just as important.
Keep things handy: Whether it is for you or your loved ones, you need to keep emergency contact numbers handy. Save the contact details of the nearby hospital or doctor on your cell phone. You can also consider keeping an emergency contact number on the lock screen of the phone itself. This would mean that you can make a call to the emergency contact even when your phone is locked. You can save important medical information in your mobile phone or in just any other form you want. Information regarding diabetes, allergies, and the medicines you take should always be kept handy in case of an emergency. In case of an accident, people often do not remember such details. That is the reason you should make it a point to carry important documents digitally or as hard copies. The information list that you keep should also contain important facts like allergies and ailments.
Speak up about your ailments and repeat yourself: If you ever fall victim to an emergency situation, you should communicate and speak up as much as possible with the doctors and caregivers. You must make sure that they understand the exact problems you are in. If possible, relay the same information to all the caregivers who come to treat you. Do not assume that if you have told a particular thing to the nurse, the doctor will surely know it too. Repeat, repeat, repeat to help avoid medical malpractice. You must provide a clear picture of your health condition before the doctors make any decisions about your care.
Give Information and ask for information:You must remember that a lot of cases of medical malpractice occur due to improper, delayed, or incorrect diagnosis of health problems. Do not hold any sensitive issue from the doctor who is treating you. When you are prescribed any medicine, you need to ask which medicine you need to take for what problem and when. You should also ask when to follow up. Do not be hesitant to question emergency room staff and doctors until you are completely clear, and understand all details.
Plan ahead: Know what your payment method will be ahead of time. It is important to keep credit cards handy in case you must rush out the door. This way you are able to pay for any emergency related medical costs using these cards at a medical facility. Keep a change of clothes and other essentials in a bag nearby for unexpected overnight stays.
Medical emergencies are scary and usually unexpected experiences. You may not always be able to avoid them, but there are a number of things that you can do better handle a crisis situation.
Surgical Errors Based on Wrong Medication Not Uncommon
You may have suffered a surgical error and are dealing with terrible consequences, or have lost a loved one due to a surgical error. Some surgical errors relate to instruments or sponges being left in the body after surgery, but there can be other causes. For example, administering a wrong medication or wrong dosage is also a common type of medical negligence.
How Could This Type of Error Happen?
Surgeons and other medical professionals (as well as people generally) have a tendency to see what they expect to see. This tendency even has a name – “ascertainment bias” – a form of cognitive error. A team of medical providers in a hospital setting who work together often may tend to trust each other based on prior knowledge. So, when a medication is brought to a surgeon to give to a patient, the surgeon may trust all those who handled that medication, beginning with the pharmacist and ending with the person holding the medication who hands it to him.
That expectation held by the surgeon that others can be trusted to provide the correct medication plays a role in this ascertainment bias.
A Quick Check of Medication Can Drastically Change a Patient’s Outcome
Medical malpractice errors related to giving the wrong medicine or an incorrect dosage can sometimes have terrible results. A recent tragic case in Massachusetts exemplifies the problem of a doctor having an ascertainment bias and trusting in all those who handled a medicine before him.
The surgeon looks at a drug handed over by a nurse, and is convinced that it is the right medication because it appears to be the correct medication – yet it is not. He did not read the label. The wrong medication can cause serious medical conditions, some permanent, or in many tragic cases, loss of life.
Although medical professionals must have a high level of trust in each other, every possible point at which an avoidable error is detectable should be part of standard safety protocols for surgery and all treatments involving the administration of medications. Surgeons and nurse practitioners should be required, for example, to submit detailed written prescriptions to pharmacists.
Avoidable Injuries in Hospitals at an All Time High
Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the nation, following heart disease and cancer. Overdoses due to wrong amount of medication, or the wrong drug being administered are of great concern because these errors add to those unfortunate deaths.
A recent report estimates that 210,000 people die each year due to a preventable medical error, with the actual numbers estimated to be closer to 440,000. Serious harm to a patient is estimated to be 10 to 20 times more common than these lethal mistakes. These numbers are unnerving and are certainly cause for patients to be vigilant and proactively involved in their medical care. Sometimes simply stepping outside the norm of fully accepting all that a doctor says and does at face value and asking questions about treatment can be enough to make a doctor be more attentive. If a doctor knows he or she is being questioned, they may be more concerned about potential medical malpractice suits and therefore do their work more mindfully.
Roughly a sixth of all deaths in the USA could be attributed to a medical error, according to the report. Some disagreement exists about the numbers of deaths due to avoidable mistakes, but no one is disputing the fact that no matter what tracking system is used to measure the numbers, deaths resulting from medical errors is a serious problem.
A New, Evidence-based Estimate of Patient Harms Associated with Hospital Care. Journal of Patient Safety
How Many Die from Medical Mistakes in U.S. Hospitals? NPR
The New Jersey Supreme Court recently ruled that a hospital involved in a medical malpractice case did not have to turn over the results of its internal investigation concerning an infant’s brain injury during delivery.
The court’s Sept. 29 decision could potentially impact other medical malpractice cases across the country, including in Indiana.
The baby’s parents demanded access to internal documents spelling out mistakes that were made that led to the baby suffering seizure disorder in May 2007. However, the court upheld the confidentiality claim of Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, N.J.
A trial court judge had previously ruled in favor of the hospital, according to an NJ.com article published Sept. 30, on the basis that the internal memos were protected under a 2004 law known as the Patient Safety Act. The law allows hospital personnel to freely discuss mistakes without fear of recrimination in an effort to prevent errors from recurring.
The parents’ medical malpractice attorneys appealed the trial court judge’s decision. They argued on appeal that the hospital was not protected under the Act because it had not performed its internal investigation in accordance with rules the state health department enacted in 2008.
Valley Hospital argued that it could not be in violation of a rule that wasn’t in effect at the time the 2007 investigation took place. That argument ultimately proved successful.
Supporters of the Act told the website they believed the New Jersey Supreme Court made the right decision. They said the law was never intended to protect doctors and hospitals from liability. Patients and family members are still able to subpoena other types of records, and can also attempt to compel doctors and other professionals who participate in confidential investigations to testify in medical malpractice cases.
Medical Malpractice in Indiana
The Indiana Medical Malpractice Act specifies that a panel of healthcare professionals must review any sort of malpractice claim before it can be filed in court. The panel issues an opinion on whether enough evidence exists to show that either the medical facility or its staff members did not provide the correct standard of care. Once the report is filed, it can be admitted in court but it is not binding.
Indiana’s Hospital Medical Error Reporting Rule states that hospitals are required to implement a process that details the occurrence of several types of “reportable events.” These include surgery performed on the wrong body part or the wrong patient, death or disability due to contaminated drugs or devices, and many others. These reports, according to the rule, “shall be used by the department for purposes of public reporting the type and number of reportable events occurring within each hospital.”
The Indiana Code states that medical staff committee members conducting retrospective reviews are immune from civil liability in regard to their deliberations. (Section 16-21-2-8.) However, confidential records and proceedings “may be produced on court order in a cause in which the records and proceedings are relevant or material.”
It remains to be seen what effect, if any, the New Jersey ruling will have on medical malpractice cases in Indiana and throughout the country.
A medical malpractice case can be based on the failure of the healthcare worker to warn a patient of known risks of a procedure or a course of treatment. The law imposes upon physicians and other healthcare workers a duty to secure informed consent from a patient before going forward with a procedure or course of treatment. An Indiana medical malpractice attorney explains that if after being informed of the risks the patient would not have chosen to have the treatment or procedure, then the doctor would have committed medical malpractice if the patient is injured by the procedure in the manner that the doctor should have warned could happen. However, if the patient consents to the treatment or procedure after being warned of the risks, the doctor still may be liable for medical malpractice should the patient suffer injury during the treatment or procedure. A recent medical malpractice case demonstrates that a doctor cannot hide behind informed consent if he was negligent.
Because most medical procedures and treatments involve some risk a doctor or other healthcare worker has a responsibility to let the patient know about such risk. This allows the patient to make a decision as to whether or not to undergo that procedure or course of treatment. Such consent it typically given by the patient in writing. However, in emergent cases where physicians must act immediately to save the patient’s life, the law allows them to do so without first obtaining informed consent.
The Case of Vickie Tatlock
In 2004 Vickie Tatlock was admitted to Bloomington Hospital with a serious heart condition. Tatlock’s condition required a procedure called an angioplasty. There was no issue concerning informed consent, and Dr. James Faris performed the procedure. A known risk of angioplasty is that a coronary artery may be perforated. That is what happened to Tatlock. A perforation of a coronary artery increases the risk for cardiac tamponade, which is a dangerous condition that develops when too much fluid builds up in the sac in which the heart is enclosed, causing pressure on the heart. Thus, when an artery is perforated, the patient must be watched closely.
Negligence Despite Informed Consent
Dr. Faris failed to watch Tatlock closely and instead tended to another patient. Furthermore, Dr. Faris did not request that another physician check in on Tatlock. Tatlock did suffer a cardiac tamponade, her condition steadily deteriorated, and she eventually died. Tatlock was just 49 years old. Tatlock’s husband and son sued Dr. Faris. The case finally came to verdict in October 2013 with the jury awarding the plaintiffs over $5 million in damages. In this case Tatlock consented to the angioplasty knowing that a perforated artery was a risk. However, when Tatlock did suffer the perforated artery, Dr. Faris and the hospital staff had a duty to follow accepted medical practice to treat the condition. Since Dr. Faris failed to do so he was liable for medical malpractice. The type of malpractice that Faris committed was not that he failed to warn Tatlock, but that in treating Tatlock Faris failed to meet the appropriate standard of care.
While informed consent is indeed necessary to ensure that the patient understands the risks associated with a treatment or procedure and to protect the physician from legal liability, in reality is such consent given freely in cases where the alternative is the worsening of a condition or even death?