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Wrightsville Beach Personal Injury Law Blog

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.

Causes and symptoms of a collapsed lung

North Carolina residents can suffer a collapsed lung if they experience trauma in the chest area or from certain lung diseases and disorders. Because a collapsed lung can result in complications, it is important for a person who suffers from this type of injury to seek immediate medical attention.

A collapsed lung occurs when the air that normally stays in the lung leaks into the pleural space between the lung and the chest wall. As the air escapes, it puts pressure on the lung, preventing it from functioning properly. In most cases, only a portion of the lung collapses, leaving a person with shortness of breath. However, in severe cases, a collapsed lung could cause a person to go into cardiac arrest, respiratory failure and shock.

Getting treatment for strokes

Many North Carolina residents believe that strokes only strike the elderly. However, a person can actually suffer a stroke in their 30s or 40s. Because there are more than 130,000 deaths across the nation caused by strokes every year, it is important to know the signs and symptoms as getting immediate treatment is imperative.

It is estimated that more than 795,000 people in the nation suffer a stroke every year. For about 75 percent of those individuals, this is the first stroke that they experience. For young people, the risk of stroke increases based on certain factors, including the use of illicit drugs, alcohol abuse, sleep apnea and obesity. Women who use oral contraceptives may also be at an increased risk for a stroke as many contraceptives raise the risk of a blood clot.

Causes of Erb's palsy

Some babies born in North Carolina might suffer a birth injury known as Erb's palsy. It commonly results when there is a problem delivering the shoulder part of the baby and excessive pressure is placed on the shoulder, neck or head. About 2 out of every 1,000 babies delivered have Erb's palsy. Symptoms may include a limp or paralyzed arm, little to no movement in fingers and hands or a lack of sensation in those areas.

Babies that have higher birth weights are more prone to developing Erb's palsy. Doctors applying too much pressure while using forceps or vacuum devices when delivering babies can also cause this condition. Nerves may be torn when the brachial plexus is stretched too much. A baby suffering from Erb's palsy might be unable to flex and rotate his or her arm. In some cases, nerve damage may be permanent. In some cases, the condition can be treated with therapy or surgery.

How telemedicine is changing second opinions

North Carolina patients who are seeking a second opinion about a medical condition might be able to do so virtually. Telemedicine and telehealth services are increasingly available, and people can use them to transmit information from monitoring devices and consult with a physician.

A consultation with a physician is also the first step in getting a second opinion. After a person meets with the physician virtually and transmits any relevant documentation or test results, the doctor then writes up a case study. This case study is then forwarded on to specialists who review the material and prepare a report for the patient along with further recommendations. Since misdiagnoses may occur because a condition is so rare that a doctor is unfamiliar with it or because a patient has symptoms that are not usually associated with the conditions, specialists might be better able to make a correct diagnosis.

The importance of early diagnosis for melanoma survival

When detected early, melanoma, a type of skin cancer, has a high rate for survival. However, the early detection survival rate of 94 to 100 percent drops to 20 percent if the cancer spreads. Although it accounts for only 1 percent of all skin cancers, melanoma also accounts for the highest number of deaths from skin cancer. North Carolina residents with fair skin and a family history of the disease are more likely to suffer from it.

Women are more likely to develop melanoma on their legs while men are more likely to get it on the back. However, people may also get melanoma on parts of the body that are not exposed to the sun including the bottoms of their feet. For young men in their 20s and 30s, melanoma is the most common type of cancer, and it is usually the result of a severe sunburn in childhood or regular sun exposure.

Hospitals collaborate to improve detection of deadly sepsis

North Carolina parents could easily fail to notice the warning signs of sepsis in their children. Sepsis, which can present as fever and fatigue, can rapidly advance to a lethal stage. A study in 2013 estimated that almost 7,000 children die every year out of the 75,000 admitted to hospitals for sepsis. To improve detection of the life-threatening blood infection that can result from a small cut or viral illness, 44 hospitals nationwide have agreed to follow diagnostic and treatment protocols aimed at reducing childhood sepsis deaths.

Organizers of the collaboration want to train physicians and nurses to recognize the early stage of the disease known as warm sepsis. An 18-point screening that can be accomplished in a couple minutes gives health care providers a tool to screen children with fevers in the emergency room. If enough warning signs, such as poor blood flow and abdominal pain, appear, then the patient should receive intravenous antibiotics as a precaution.

Some common types of surgical errors

When a surgical error occurs in a North Carolina hospital, patients or their family members might wonder whether they can sue for malpractice. There are several types of surgical errors that could lead to this course of action. Even refusing surgery or some types of treatments could result in a lawsuit, such as if a medical facility refuses certain procedures to women or to transgender people because of religious beliefs.

The growing use of automation in surgery means that overall procedures are safer, but robots can still make mistakes as well. A medical malpractice lawsuit involving a robotic error may have to establish who is at fault. A surgical mistake that may be caused by human error is wrong-site surgery, such as operating on the wrong organ or the wrong limb. The anesthesiologist may be liable if a patient wakes while surgery is in progress.

Getting a second opinion for a medical diagnosis

North Carolina patients may be interested to learn that approximately 20 percent of those who seek a second opinion learn that they were originally misdiagnosed. The study, which was published in the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, determined that about 1 in 5 of the 300 patients researchers examined learned that they were given the wrong diagnosis when they sought additional advice from other health care professionals at the Mayo Clinic.

Making a correct diagnosis can be difficult as there are about 10,000 solitary medical diagnoses available. However, there are only about 300 to 400 symptoms a patient can have. As such, complex medical issues can be very challenging to diagnose, especially if the patient is suffering from more than one condition. While improved technology can help, seeking a second opinion can also help patients ensure that they are being properly diagnosed.

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