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Wrightsville Beach Personal Injury Law Blog

Faulty data on drug side effects

Every year, up to 40,000 people around the country die as a result of the side effects from the medications they take. To combat the issue, the federal Food and Drug Administration has been gathering information from patients in North Carolina and elsewhere who have had bad experiences after taking prescribed drugs. However, an evaluation of the data indicates that the information is unusable.

The Food and Drug Administration Adverse Event Reporting System receives reports regarding the side effects of drugs. The database is not limited to medical personnel, as it can be used by anyone. Researchers who want to gain a better understanding of the side effects of drugs and how to reduce the adverse effects access the database because it is constantly updated with new information. However, when one team of researchers tried to use the database to conduct a study, it discovered that the data was faulty.

Arbitration clauses hide nursing home abuse from public

When a family in North Carolina needs to find a nursing home for an elderly loved one, they may feel compelled to sign away the right to settle disputes within the judicial system. Known as a pre-dispute arbitration clause, this element of an admission contract forces a resident to address disputes, including cases of neglect and abuse, in a private arbitration process geared toward limiting the accountability of the facility and preventing cases from entering the public record.

Disputes with nursing homes often encompass severe claims of negligence and willful misconduct. Problems experienced by abused residents include physical and sexual assaults, suffocation by restraints and renal failure from dehydration. Excessive confinement of residents also inflicts preventable problems like infected pressure sores and muscle and joint pain.

Misleading results behind some high blood pressure diagnoses

North Carolina physicians will monitor a patient's blood pressure because elevated levels could lead to heart attacks and strokes. Blood pressure readings, however, could be inaccurate or incomplete, especially when obtained with manual devices. A professor of medicine from the Université de Montréal explained that a proper measurement of blood pressure required 12 to 15 minutes, which does not fit into the usual 10-minute appointments scheduled by general practitioners.

According to guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the reading taken at the beginning of an appointment represents an initial blood pressure screening. When an elevated reading appears, clinicians should perform more thorough screenings before making a diagnosis of high blood pressure.

Being diagnosed with brain cancer

When a North Carolina resident is diagnosed with brain cancer, it can be a devastating and frightening experience. The response to a diagnosis like this can range from anxiety and fear to a sense of calm. It should be noted how a person may react to such life-changing news is extremely personal.

People who are diagnosed with brain cancer have two main options. They can either decide to undergo treatment and try to fight the cancer or opt to not fight the disease and do their best to live a happy life for as long as possible. If a tumor is affecting a person's ability to make decisions, it can be especially difficult for him or her to choose a course of action, so it may take some time. If a patient makes the decision to fight, there are treatments available that can create positive outcomes for him or her. After all, not all brain cancer cases are terminal.

The effectiveness of surgery for early-stage prostate cancer

North Carolina doctors often recommend surgery as a matter of procedure for men who have early-stage prostate cancer. However, according to a 20-year study, surgery hardly provides any benefits to those patients. Washington University School of Medicine was a part of the national research team that conducted the study. The project was managed by the Minneapolis VA Health Care System.

For the study, 731 men with early-stage prostate cancer who received surgery were compared to other early-stage prostate cancer sufferers who were observed. The average age of the men at the time they were arbitrarily assigned to one of 50 health facilities was 67. The men in the observation group were treated only if they began experiencing symptoms like bone pain or urinary difficulties. These types of symptoms could mean that the cancer was developing. There were men in the observation group who received no treatment because the cancer is slow to develop and rarely presents symptoms at that stage. Sixty-one percent of the men who had surgery died from other reasons within the 20 years after the surgery. This is compared to 66 percent of the men in the observation group.

New endometriosis research could help speed diagnosis

Many women in North Carolina and across the country suffer from endometriosis, a chronic disease that can affect a number of organs and bodily tissues. Perhaps the best-known symptoms of the condition are severe menstrual cramps and escalating pelvic pain.

Research has indicated that identifying the biomarkers of endometriosis could significantly help doctors diagnose and treat the disease in its early phases. The research was presented in May 2017 at the World Congress on Endometriosis in Vancouver, Canada.

Getting an early diagnosis of ovarian cancer

North Carolina women often have many questions for their doctors regarding ovarian cancer. This disease is typically diagnosed in later stages, which can mean a lower survival rate. According to the medical director of integrative gynecologic oncology at Providence Saint John's Health Center, failure to diagnose ovarian cancer early is often caused by both women and their doctors overlooking early warning signs. A lack of knowledge or communication regarding risk factors could also lead to a late diagnosis.

There are a number of generic symptoms common to the early stages of ovarian cancer. The misdiagnosis of these as menstrual or gastrointestinal issues without considering the possibility of cancer could be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Without an up-to-date understanding of diagnostics, doctors can easily overlook chronic bloating, pain in the abdomen or pelvis, indigestion, rapid weight changes and other warning signs.

Jury awards $29 million to victim of delayed diagnosis

North Carolina patients who have struggled to get medical professionals to heed their complaints could find the experience of one family disturbingly familiar. A woman experiencing severe fatigue, fainting and shaking had her symptoms dismissed as anxiety and depression by a physician. Although the woman's mother asked for neurological testing, the physician refused for five months until the woman's symptoms worsened significantly. She was ultimately diagnosed with Wilson's Disease that could have been treated in the early stage, but she is now left unable to walk and taking nutrition through a feeding tube for the rest of her life.

The clinic named in the lawsuit refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing, but the jury sided with the family and awarded a verdict of $29 million in damages. Most of the sum will support the lifelong nursing care that the victim will require.

Misdiagnosis of Lyme disease can lead to complications

North Carolina patients who have been diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease may be interested to learn that, according to a report, an increasing number of patients who exhibit ambiguous symptoms are being misdiagnosed. In some cases, patients are being diagnosed with Lyme disease even though there is no evidence that they had been infected with the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria.

Part of the problem with being misdiagnosed with chronic Lyme disease is that it puts patients at risk for being given inappropriate and intensive courses of intravenous antibiotics. These antibiotic courses have led to septic shock and often show no signs of effectiveness. Some patients turn to alternative treatments as a result, which could include infusions of hydrogen peroxide, electromagnetic frequency treatments and stem cell transplants. Further, the misdiagnosis can prevent or delay patients from receiving appropriate treatment for their actual underlying condition.

Some diabetes drugs may come with added risk

>Some North Carolina diabetes patients could be at increased risk for a life-threatening complication called ketoacidosis if they take certain drugs to treate their disease. A study is warning that prescription medications like Invokana, Invokamet, Farxiga, Jardiance or Glyxambi could increase the risk.

In 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about risks of diabetic ketoacidosis linked to the drugs. The complication can cause vomiting, shortness of breath, pain in the abdomen and brain swelling. While the condition usually occurs in people who have type 1 diabetes, it is rare yet possible with type 2 diabetes as well.

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