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Phoenix Personal Injury Law Blog

Brain injuries may make it harder to recover from PTSD

A new study suggests that post-traumatic stress disorder patients who also suffer from an underlying traumatic brain injury may have more difficulty recovering from post-traumatic stress symptoms. The research could impact future treatments for PTSD patients in Arizona and nationwide.

Medical professionals have long understood that individuals with either PTSD or TBI experience high rates of disability and suicide. The conditions are also known to frequently co-occur. In order to better understand which brain networks are disturbed by these disorders, researchers used a sophisticated MRI analysis technique known as graph theory to examine the brain networks of 208 military veterans who experienced a traumatic event. The technique allows scientists to observe brain connections at a new level of complexity.

Robotic surgery risks

As more and more Arizona patients have robotic surgeries that are touted as being safer because they are minimally invasive, they may not be aware that there are risks involved with such reliance. A new study demonstrated that 144 people died during the 14-year period encompassing the period from 2000 to 2013 due to the use of robotics.

The researchers were from MIT, Rush University Medical Center as well as the University of Illinois. They reviewed data from over 10,000 incident reports made to the FDA over the study's time period and found that robotic surgeries resulted in 144 deaths and 1,391 patient injuries.

Patients lack proper diagnosis for lyme disease, report says

Arizona residents may be familiar with the lack of proper diagnosis for people struggling with Lyme disease. According to a recent study, two-thirds of 6,104 Lyme disease patients surveyed said that they waited longer than two years before they were given an accurate diagnosis, while nearly 50 percent stated that their Lyme test results were either denied or delayed by their doctors who affirmed there had been no sign of the disease in the immediate area. Only one-fifth of the respondents stated that they received an accurate diagnosis within half a year from the start of their symptoms.

The report also noted that three-fourths of the patients surveyed stated their health was in poor or fair condition while half admitted to having suffered with the illness for more than a decade. A medical expert from San Francisco who specializes in tick-borne diseases said that if people suffering with Lyme disease receive immediate diagnosis and treatment, it can help to avert lasting complications.

Medical malpractice encompasses a variety of issues

There are a lot of variables that come into the picture when anyone goes to a doctor's office or hospital in Arizona. The medical staff is expected to listen to your symptoms, perform diagnostic exams, establish a treatment plan, and follow through with that treatment plan. During that entire course, there are several things that can go wrong.

By now, most people know the importance of hand washing. What some people might not realize is that improper sanitation procedures by health care personnel can spread germs and disease. Misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose, and improper interpretation of diagnostic testing are also problems that patients should be aware of when seeking medical care. When a patient sees more than one medical professional, as is often the case in a hospital stay, the lack of coordinated care can also lead to medical mistakes.

Current COPD guidelines may lead to patient misdiagnosis

According to a new research study, the guidelines currently used to diagnose chronic obstructive pulmonary disease may be leading to the misdiagnosis of certain patients in Arizona and around the world. The authors of the study, which was published in a British peer-reviewed medical journal in July, are calling for the guidelines to be modified to correct the issue.

The study shows that up to 13 percent of people diagnosed with COPD, which is a primary cause of death from disease in the United States, under the current guidelines are being misdiagnosed. The Global Initiative for Obstructive Lung Disease guidelines were introduced in 2001 as an alternative to a diagnostic method known as "lower limits of normal," or LLN. The authors of the study discovered there are discrepancies between the two diagnostic methods. For instance, in the United Kingdom, the GOLD method estimates that 22 percent of people over the age of 40 have COPD, but the LLN method only estimates the percentage to be 13 percent. Also, the GOLD method misses one in eight cases of airflow obstruction in young women when compared to the LLN method.

Car accidents involving teen drivers

Teen drivers in Arizona and around the country are at a much greater risk of being injured or killed in serious car accidents than drivers in other age groups. Not only do teen drivers lack driving experience, they are more likely to speed and less likely to use seat belts. Also, the presence of teen passengers can often distract teen drivers and make them more likely to crash.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 2,650 teenagers between 16 and 19 years of age died in car accidents in 2011. There were also 292,000 people between those ages who were treated for car accident injuries in that year. The CDC says that drivers who are in that age range are almost three times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than drivers who are at least 20 years old.

Questions can help to avoid prescription errors

Each year, many Arizona residents are hurt by prescription drug errors, and they are not alone. More than 7,000 people across the U.S. die each year due to prescription drug errors in hospitals alone, and more injuries occur at home.

According to the Mayo Clinic, around 70 percent of Americans regularly take at least one prescription medication in a given year. It is important to ask questions when prescribed a new medication to avoid potentially deadly consequences and side effects.

Accident rates among older drivers

Arizona is one of the country's most popular retirement destinations, and elderly drivers are a familiar sight on the state's roads. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that the chances of being involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident begin to increase sharply after a driver attains the age of 70, and the number of senior citizens behind the wheel increased by 34 percent between 1999 and 2012.

While older drivers may be more likely to die in motor vehicle accidents on a per-mile traveled basis, the data indicates that this is due to existing health conditions or general frailty rather than poor driving skills. According to the CDC, older drivers often behave far more responsibly behind the wheel, but injuries that younger drivers would be expected to survive often prove fatal to those in their golden years. However, declining eyesight and reduced cognitive abilities are sometimes cited as the reason for accidents involving older drivers.

Toxic residue left behind when using contrast agent during MRIs

As Arizona residents may know, magnetic resonance imaging is commonly used as a diagnostic tool to identify disease and injuries. Gadolinium is frequently used as an agent to enhance the image. However, new research on the use of gadolinium on patients with kidney disease says it may lead to serious consequences.

Gadolinium has been a commonly-used diagnostic agent for over 25 years when used with MRIs. However, two studies conducted in Europe showed that gadolinium, instead of being excreted as previously thought, might be related to incidences of a serious kidney syndrome with a high morbidity potential. As a result, the FDA requested a labeling change and added a warning in 2006. In 2010, labels were required to reflect the potential danger involved with the use of gadolinium in patients with kidney disease. In 2013, another study showed that the toxic gadolinium-based substances might remain in the brain and the body of the patient following an MRI.

Small-impact traumatic brain injury

Arizona parents, athletes and workers should be aware that despite the prevalence of traumatic brain injury, or TBI, reporting in the news, not every brain injury results from a major injury. Annually, about 1.7 million people are diagnosed with brain injury, and roughly 80 percent of these diagnoses are characterized as mild cases presenting as headaches and dizziness but not involving full-blown concussions. Due to the sensitivity of the brain, however, new research indicates that standards of "trauma" may need to be reduced significantly.

Brain injury is not caused by impact to the head or skull directly. Rather, the impact causes the brain to move within the skull and rebound off the inside. Researchers have determined that the brain moves at an oscillation rate of about 5 hertz, or cycles per second, when a person turns their head, but they believe that brain injury may occur at an oscillation rate of as little as 15 hertz.

*Certified Specialist in Injury and Wrongful Death Litigation by the State Bar of Arizona, Board of Legal Specialization