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Wrightsville Beach Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Abuse and neglect in nursing homes

Some North Carolina residents may be concerned about the quality of care that their loved ones are receiving in nursing homes. The unfortunate truth is that not all nursing homes are providing the level of care that should be expected. The Inspector General notes that about a third of residents in nursing homes have experienced harm. That harm was preventable in more than half of the cases.

A Senate Committee on Finance hearing that took place on March 6 looked at several cases where nursing home neglect and abuse took place. Both sides of the aisle were outraged over the mistreatment that took place. One case involved a woman in Arizona who gave birth after being raped despite the fact that she had been in a coma for 14 years. One chairman on the committee mentioned that the cases that were considered were not isolated. Rather, hardly a week would go by without nursing home neglect and abuse cases making national news.

Neglect and Mistreatment More Common at For-Profit Nursing Homes

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As the for-profit nursing home industry grows, the number of residents that show signs of neglect grows as well. According to a new article in the American Journal of Managed Care, residents of for-profit nursing homes are almost twice as likely to experience adverse health issues as a direct result of substandard care.

What should I look for in a nursing home?

Your mother, father or other relative is elderly, and you need to find them a nursing home or other type of adult care facility. This process is new to you, and you are not even sure where to begin. The residence must be a good fit for your loved one, so you know that they are happy, healthy and well cared for.

When you are researching senior care options, these are a few important things that you should consider.

What does the CMS nursing home star quality rating mean?

chess.JPGThe Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) created the five-star quality rating system as a resource to help individuals, families, and caregivers find out more information about nursing homes (skilled nursing facilities) that participate in Medicare or Medicaid. The rating system helps to provide an easy-to-understand summary of three aspects of nursing home quality: health inspection results, staffing data, and quality measure data. Using this information, along with further research, can help individuals and families differentiate between high-performing and low-performing nursing homes.

What complications can women face during labor?

Labor and delivery safety have come a long way in recent years, which is why many expectant mothers choose to give birth in a hospital. That being said, there are still situations where doctors fail to follow proper procedure during delivery or do not take the necessary precautions prior to labor. When that happens, women are in danger of experiencing complications.

According to the CDC, more than 50,000 women every year experience life-threatening complications during labor. Labor and delivery are already stressful events for women and having the right doctor can make all the difference. What complications may women face during the birth of a child?

Nursing home neglect: signs and types

Children of individuals in nursing homes want to make sure their parents are being well taken care of. This may mean watching for signs of abuse like bruising, cuts and scrapes, or emotional distress. However, these are not the only types of abuse that elders may be exposed to while in a nursing home. Unlike more active forms of abuse such as verbal and physical, neglect often goes unnoticed.

Research featured by the Nursing Home Abuse Center states that only 20 percent of neglect cases are reported. Because of this, it is important to know the signs of neglect as well as the different types that an elder may experience.

Road deaths fell but truck accident fatalities rose in 2017

Traffic accident fatalities in North Carolina and around the country rose alarmingly in both 2015 and 2016 after several years of steady decline, but data released recently by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals that 2017 was a safer year on the nation's roads. Figures from the federal watchdog's Fatality Analysis Reporting System shows that road deaths fell by 1.8 percent in 2017, but the number of road users killed in accidents involving commercial vehicles surged by 9 percent from 4,369 to 4,761.

During an October 3 conference call, a senior figure at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration pointed out that many of the road users killed in truck accidents in 2017 lost their lives in crashes involving commercial vehicles weighing between 10,000 and 14,000 pounds. Accidents involving such vehicles doubled in 2017, according to the FARS data. This is important because trucks weighing 26,000 pounds or less are not always subject to regulations enforced by the FMCSA.

Patient and pharmacist cooperation can reduce medication errors

Millions of North Carolina residents rely on pharmacists to dispense prescribed medicine and to offer assist patients in using their medications safely. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology indicated that approximately 21 percent of medication errors that cause injury to patients are attributed to dispensing errors that occur at the pharmacy. These errors are common; however, there are multiple measures that pharmacists and patients can exercise to prevent these potentially costly mistakes.

As the last line of defense between pharmaceutical companies and patients, pharmacies are tasked with intercepting unsafe medications that may otherwise cause injury to patients. Specialized computer software, strategically organizing and storing medicines at the pharmacy, and matching each drug to a photo image prior to dispensing are all methods pharmacies use to keep patients safe.

About ovarian cancer

Every year, over 250,000 women in North Carolina and the rest of world receive a diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Each year, 140,000 women will die from the disease. It is important that women do not mistake the early indications of ovarian cancer with medical issues that are less serious as doing so can lower their chances of having successful treatment.

Women who are experiencing symptoms such as belly pain, increased urination, indigestion or nausea, bloating, weight gain, shortness of breath or back pain for more than a week should speak with their physician as soon as possible. They should make sure that the physician verifies whether there are any issues with their ovaries.

Medical technologies raise new concerns about errors

According to researchers, medical errors of various types may be the third-leading cause of death in North Carolina and across the country. Various efforts to introduce artificial intelligence to the healthcare environment are often spurred on by an attempt to cut down on patient risks caused by human error. These machines often enjoy exceptional performance; one found in Oxford is reportedly capable of exceeding cardiologists' success rate in identifying a patient's risk of a potential heart attack.

Other types of artificial intelligence at use in the medical field include machines that diagnose skin cancer, identify a vision-threatening eye problem or recognize types of lung cancer. However, just as AI raises new potential for accuracy, it also raises new concerns about errors of a different type. Some medical mistakes may be caused by the machine or its algorithm rather than a specific physician or surgeon. It may not be immediately clear who is at fault if a machine fails to diagnose a patient or, in later iterations, improperly performs a surgery.

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