3 reasons not to sign a blanket medical authorization

Car accidents are a leading cause of both serious injury and death in the U.S. In fact, roughly 38,000 Americans die and another 4.4 million suffer bodily harm in car crashes every single year. Even though car accidents are common, you may never have been through one.

Following an accident, an insurer may try to take advantage of your inexperience by asking you to sign a blanket medical authorization. Like anything else, you should not sign this authorization until you understand all its consequences for three reasons.

1. The insurer obtains all your medical information

During your life, you may have seen a physician countless times for minor ailments, serious injuries or something else. You may also have undergone surgery or therapy. If you sign a blanket medical authorization, the insurer may access all your medical information. This is true even if your medical history has little or nothing to do with the accident or your injuries.

2. The insurer may blame a pre-existing injury

Not only do car accidents cause new injuries, but they also often aggravate existing ones. If you sign a blanket authorization, the insurer may use your pre-existing condition to deny your claim or to offer you a low settlement. Consequently, it is usually better to provide specific medical details that are relevant to your claim.

3. You have a right to privacy

Your medical records likely include sensitive information about you. Even if you have nothing to hide, you have a right to privacy. Letting an insurer access your medical history waives this right. Put simply, you may want to keep private details private.

Ultimately, you probably need to give the insurer access to some medical records. Signing a blanket authorization, though, is not likely to help either your accident claim or your recovery.

3 reasons not to sign a blanket medical authorization Read More »

The outer limits of medical malpractice: “Never Events”

Tennessee residents may have varied expectations concerning processes and outcomes when they seek medical attention, but they uniformly share one common belief.

That is this: The health care professionals they rely upon for guidance and treatment will act competently and be guided by the bedrock medical principle of “do no harm.”

That is certainly a reasonable expectation, and one that is similarly shared by regulators within the health industry as well. Doctors and other medical practitioners become eligible to practice only after years of arduous education and training. That is followed by additional requirements they must satisfy before being deemed experts in their fields and duly licensed to work with the general public.

As such, they are held to a high – but reasonable – standard of care. That measuring stick applies uniformly to all their credentialed peers and can be turned to for guidance regarding the level of delivered care and instances where competency lacks.

The bottom line, as stated in one legal overview of medical care and expected performance, is that “we believe the advice we are given” when we visit a physician. We have every right to do so.

So-called “never events:” when things go seriously wrong

Every medical outcome is ideal – in a fictional universe.

Conversely, real-world medical problems aren’t always responded to in an error-free manner promoting perfect health. Medical professionals do sometimes make mistakes grounded in negligence, with their lapses spawning serious – and sometimes catastrophic – results for patients and their families.

A representative list of claims filed by victims of medical malpractice is long and varied. It ranges from diagnostic error (missed, delayed or wrong) and medication mistakes to birth injuries, hospital-acquired infections and more.

Including “never events.”

Readers might readily grasp what such an event signifies. An in-depth primer on the topic authored by the research/advocacy group Patient Safety Network describes never events as “particularly shocking medical errors.” The bottom line regarding never events is that they should absolutely never occur.

Absent flat-out medical negligence, they never do. When doctors and linked medical teams simply go about their work with due care and competence, events such as the following are not even remote concerns:

  • Surgeries performed on wrong patients and wrong body parts
  • Wrong surgery performed
  • Retention of foreign object in patient following surgery (e.g., a sponge or scalpel)
  • Major medication error leading to serious disability or death
  • Contaminated drug and/or improper use of medical device
  • Indifferent or ineffective post-operative patient care
  • Patient harm owing to faulty supervision (for example, patient falls, sexual abuse/acts of violence and premature release)

Health care advocates and industry regulators retain a continuous focus on never events, and understandably so. They are outliers in the medical realm and must be entirely eliminated.

Patients and families adversely affected by a never event or any other negligent act or omission that inflicts serious injury can respond by seeking a legal remedy that establishes accountability and secures maximum compensation.

A proven personal injury legal team can guide the process and work diligently to promote those worthy goals.

The outer limits of medical malpractice: “Never Events” Read More »

How silence around a “near-miss” can lead to cases of malpractice

When a medical malpractice case makes the news, it’s because something has usually gone horribly wrong. However, cases involving a “near-miss” rarely attract any attention. In fact, most patients are never aware of how close they came to disaster.

Doctors don’t like to admit that they made a mistake, but this reluctance can come at a cost. One doctor claims that hiding mistakes may result in serious cases of medical malpractice.

Why doctors keep secrets

In a national radio interview, a medical doctor spoke about a near-miss she had when she first started her medical career. The patient ended up being fine. However, the incident left the doctor shaken up. A sense of guilt and shame prevented her from telling anyone about the mistake.

The doctor believes that shame is what keeps others from reporting their mistakes. If mistakes are unreported, it’s impossible to learn from them. This means that one person’s near-miss could very well be another’s direct hit, resulting in serious injury and medical complications.

A mistake alone is not malpractice

It’s important to keep in mind that a near-miss isn’t malpractice in and of itself. To have a malpractice claim, you must show that you suffered actual harm from medical negligence. If you suffered no ill-effects, you would not have a strong claim of medical malpractice. However, you should discuss your options with a skilled legal professional. The more that medical mistakes, including near-misses, are left out in the open, the greater chance that instances of medical malpractice will be reduced.

How silence around a “near-miss” can lead to cases of malpractice Read More »

The deadly effects of road gators

It’s summer in Tennessee. That means that things get heated up on the roadways suck as I-81. It also means that road gators could be lurking about, ready to strike.

What is a road gator?

While it’s true that we do have alligators in Tennessee, a road gator is not an actual animal. It is the blown out tire tread from a semi that lies in the road. Called road gators, these pieces of debris can cause serious accidents as drivers swerve to avoid them. Road gators can also fly up off of moving semitruck tires and hit your car or windshield causing you to stop suddenly or to not be able to see what is in front of you.

Top 3 causes of road gators

  1. Underinflation is the number one cause of a semi-truck tire blowout. A tire is meant to be inflated to handle the weight of both the semi and its load. When not properly inflated, the tire will be forced to flex beyond its limit and blow.
  2. Hot weather and hot road surfaces can mean more road gators. Overheating breaks down the tire’s fabric and the bonds that hold the different layers of rubber together. May through October means more road gators in Tennessee.
  3. Wear and tear can mean a blown tire and road gator. Truck drivers and those who service the truck should be aware the the age, tread and condition of all of a truck’s tires before and after each haul. When proper service and replacement doesn’t happen, road gators are born.

While the moniker is humorous, the hazard and accidents that road gators cause are not. Semitruck tire blow outs have caused serious and deadly accidents on our nation’s interstates. A howl, or “whap-whap-whap” sound coming from a big rig ahead of you is a warning that a tire is likely to blow.

How to best avoid a road gator

If you are on the interstate cruising at a high rate of speed and a road gator is on the road assess your options. First, stay calm and reduce your speed. If the gator is a small flap of rubber and you are able to drive safely over it this may be the best option. If the gator is large and will hit the undercarriage of your car you will want to avoid it by moving to the shoulder if possible. You need only to be inches, not feet, from the gator, so do not “over-swerve.” Remember to keep two tires in the traffic lane as you move around the gator. Then slowly move fully back into your lane.

Road gators in Tennessee can be the cause of serious accidents and even death. Those who have been injured because of a road gator should speak with a personal injury attorney who handles serious motor vehicle accidents and wrongful death.

The deadly effects of road gators Read More »

Know the signs of workplace asbestos exposure

Exposure to asbestos, which most commonly occurs in the workplace, can lead to serious health problems even decades later. Prior to the 1970s, floor tiles, cement, installation and other building materials typically included this material.

If you or a loved one had past asbestos exposure, learn more about asbestosis, a chronic lung disease.

Symptoms of asbestosis

Asbestosis results from tiny inhaled fibers that become embedded in the lungs and lead to scarring. The tissue becomes stiff and fluid builds up, causing breathing difficulties. Between 10 and 40 years later, individuals who once had asbestos exposure may develop shortness of breath, chest pain or tenderness, clubbed fingertips and toes, unexplained weight loss, loss of appetite and a dry cough.

Commonly exposed occupations

Asbestosis may affect individuals who worked these or similar environments in the late 1970s or earlier:

  • Shipyards
  • Residential and commercial construction
  • Refineries and mills
  • Railyards
  • Airplane and auto garages
  • Mines

The longer the person worked in one of these industries, the higher the risk of exposure and the more severe the disease will likely be. Asbestosis may also affect family members of the exposed individual and those who lived close to the mine.

Treatment for asbestosis

Left untreated, asbestos can lead to mesothelioma, a cancer of the tissue surrounding the lungs. Lung cancer is also more common among people who have asbestosis. Exposure raises the person’s risk for laryngeal and ovarian cancer.

Although no cure exists for this condition, people who have advanced asbestosis may benefit from pulmonary rehabilitation and oxygen therapy. Some individuals may require a lung transplant. In addition, those diagnosed with this disease should quit smoking, get an annual flu vaccine and limit additional exposure.

Today, employers must take safety measures to eliminate asbestos exposure. However, individuals who worked at Tennessee Eastman or other local industrial firms may still be susceptible to asbestosis from earlier exposure. Some people may be eligible for legal damages.

Know the signs of workplace asbestos exposure Read More »

Top causes of medical malpractice lawsuits

When you get to a medical clinic, you naturally assume that the person who will attend to you has your best interests at heart. To this end, you expect nothing but the best treatment. Unfortunately, this is no longer a guarantee. Medical malpractice cases are unfortunately common.

While little may alleviate the pain, damage and scars, filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against the health care provider or clinic at fault may offer some reprieve and compensation. The following are some of the medical malpractices that are challengeable in a court of law.

Delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis

A delay in diagnosis may cause you to miss treatment. This may further complicate a condition if proper treatment is not offered in good time.

On the other hand, a wrong diagnosis report may lead to incorrect administration of medications. As a result, the underlying condition may worsen. To prove a delayed or incorrect diagnosis, you should demonstrate that your healthcare provider did not uphold proper care standards.

Lack of informed consent

Before surgery, you should have all the details about the procedure and any side effects you are likely to experience. A physician’s failure to provide adequate information on what he or she is doing constitutes a violation of your rights. If an undesirable outcome arises from the procedure or the drugs administered, you may successfully sue.

Surgical errors

These constitute a third of the malpractice cases against healthcare providers. Common surgical errors include:

Conducting surgery on the wrong surgical site or patient
Nerve and organ damage
Use of unsanitary tools
Most of these errors should be preventable if a surgeon exercises appropriate caution when conducting a procedure.

Childbirth injuries

A majority of childbirth injuries occur because of a relaxed safety protocol and failure to pick up problems beforehand. These injuries, unfortunately, can lead to long-term disabilities. Negligence lawsuits for childbirth injuries encompass mistakes from the prenatal care period through to delivery time.

Top causes of medical malpractice lawsuits Read More »

Be aware of these types of surgical errors

The medical industry holds some of the most trusted professionals in the nation. People place their lives in the hands of physicians, nurses and surgeons on a daily basis when taken into the operating room to have procedures performed.

What people may not realize is that medical professionals are human and make mistakes that may put patient lives in danger. Surgical errors, negligence and other factors come into play when evaluating this type of medical malpractice. According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 4,000 medical errors, including surgical mistakes, occur every year in the United States. Many of these errors are preventable and put lives at risk.

Factors that lead to surgical errors

Miscommunication is one of the many factors involved in surgical mistakes. Surgeons may operate on the wrong body part, perform the wrong procedure or operate on the wrong patient altogether. Miscommunication may occur with the following:

  • Between medical professionals, such as physicians, nurses, surgeons and medical assistants
  • Errors involving electronic health care records
  • Between patients and the operating professionals

Another catalyst for surgical errors involves surgeons leaving instruments in patients’ surgical sites. While physical counts help to locate all surgical instruments before, during and after the procedure, simple mistakes may lead to items left inside a patient. These instruments are often surgical sponges, which when saturated with blood and bodily fluids, can disappear next to body organs. Retained surgical items can lead to serious infections that endanger the lives of patients.

How do we prevent surgical errors?

It is critical that surgeons speak with patients beforehand to verify the patient’s personal information as well as details about the procedure. Medical professionals must document all interactions involving patients and surgical procedures. New technology that helps surgeons account for all equipment and minimize the risk of something getting left behind is being introduced in more healthcare facilities across the country.

Be aware of these types of surgical errors Read More »

4 tips for safe driving around commercial vehicles

You will constantly be around commercial vehicles on Tennessee roadways. As part of being a safe driver, it is essential to understand how to drive around these large vehicles. They are not simply just bigger than your vehicle. There are many different aspects of a commercial vehicle that make them perform differently from yours. In addition, the drivers have limitations that you do not have.

While every driver is responsible for driving safely and obeying road laws, it is also important that you are aware of those drivers and vehicles around you. Understanding how to safely drive around large vehicles can help you to prevent or avoid accidents. Here are four tips to always keep in mind when you are on the road.

1. Make contact with the driver

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration suggests that you always try to make eye contact with the driver of a commercial vehicle or at minimum make sure you can see the driver in the side mirror before maneuvering around the vehicle. This will help you to ensure the driver knows you are there or can see that you are there.

2. Give them space

Large vehicles need more room. If there is a sudden stop, it will need more room to stop. It needs more room to turn. You need to give it that room. Do not crowd a large vehicle by riding too close or driving too close.

3. Know physical limitations

Large vehicles have many physical limitations that your vehicle does not. For example, you can stop pretty fast if you recognize a danger up ahead while a large vehicle cannot do so. It is heavier, so it takes longer to stop. Maneuvering the commercial vehicle also takes more room. When you turn, for example, you take very little space to do so, but a large vehicle needs additional space because of its design.

4. Recognize visual limitations

The large size of the vehicle also means minimized visuals from the driver’s seat of a commercial vehicle. While you can see almost completely around your vehicle, a large truck, for example, cannot see directly behind it nor can it see right up beside its bed.

Commercial vehicles have several blind spots where the driver cannot see. If you are hanging out in a blind spot, you subject yourself to a potential collision.

Commercial vehicles serve important roles in our society, so we need them on the roads. However, they also pose huge safety risks to others on the roadway in an accident situation. To avoid getting into an accident with one, you need to learn how to drive safely around them.

4 tips for safe driving around commercial vehicles Read More »

Birth control pills recalled due to mistakes in packaging

If you’re a woman on birth control, it might be wise to take a look at your latest prescription and make sure that it hasn’t been recalled.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a national recall on March 4, 2019, of birth control tablets produced by Apotex. Apotex voluntarily recalled four lots of Ethinyl Estradiol tables and Drospirenone tablets because of missing or incorrectly arranged pills.

Typically, birth control packets contain 21 active doses with the actual medication and 7 inactive pills that function as placeholders so that patients have an easier time tracking their doses. The packaging mistakes could leave patients without protection from unwanted pregnancies. It could also negatively affect others who use birth control to treat various other medical conditions, including things like migraines and hormone disorders.

If you use either of these types of birth control, check the lot number on the packaging. The defective lots were distributed throughout the nation, so people should look for the following identification numbers on the packages:

  • 7DY008A
  • 7DY009A
  • 7DY010A
  • 7DY011A

In addition, all of the affected pills have an expiration date of August 2020.

If you’re one of the people affected by this recall, you’re urged to get in touch with your doctor as soon as possible in order to get a replacement prescription. You can also contact Apotex directly if you have further questions.

Defective drugs are more than a mere inconvenience for many people. While there have been no reports (so far) of unwanted pregnancies, that’s a real possibility. Depending on what they are being treated for, other women may also suffer complications from the disruption in their medication that can last for quite a while.

If you’ve been harmed by a defective drug or a prescription error, it’s smart to find out more about your potential right to compensation. An attorney can help you learn more about your options.

Birth control pills recalled due to mistakes in packaging Read More »

Why are medical product recalls constantly increasing?

When your health care provider treats you with a drug or medical device, you expect it to be safe. Unfortunately, there are many dangerous medical devices and pharmaceutical drugs. In fact, the number of recalls for medical products is steadily increasing. In 2013, the number of recalls was 2,303, compared to 3,202 in 2017.

Half-a-million pacemakers with hazardous software errors and contaminated valsartan blood pressure drugs exposed thousands of people to impurities that cause cancer. Dangerous medical products are not only life-threatening, but they also cost millions of dollars for the health care industry. Here are some of the main contributing factors to the steady increase in recalls reported to the FDA.

Complacent inspectors

The FDA inspects plants every two years to ensure quality. While this may sound like a good practice, it does not always go according to plan. When inspectors become familiar with plants, their inspections are more likely to be inaccurate. This is because repeat inspections can result in complacency. The FDA should use new inspectors to improve this problem.

Excessive competition

Competitiveness in the health care industry can lead to good outcomes, such as lower costs, better quality and increased access. Unfortunately, too much competition can backfire. Competition can result in firms cutting corners in quality control practices to be as profitable as possible. This leads to an increase in dangerous drug defects and recalls.

Biased managers

Of course, one of the main issues is with who makes recall decisions. Interestingly, managers at firms make almost all recall decisions voluntarily. Without the FDA mandating recalls, things can go wrong. The fact that most recalls are voluntary gives managers too much discretion.

There are plenty of other reasons why recalls are an ongoing issue, but these are some of the clearest ones. More research is necessary to ensure consumers are not exposed to harmful products.

Why are medical product recalls constantly increasing? Read More »

Skip to content