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Phoenix Personal Injury Law Blog

Similar-sounding drug names causing dangerous confusion, says FDA

At least 50 medication mix-ups recently prompted the Food and Drug Administration to issue a warning to the public. Specifically, the warning pertains to two drugs with very similar-sounding names: Brintellix and Brilinta.

Brintellix is used to treat depression, and Brilinta is an anti-clotting medication. The FDA says that doctors and pharmacists have been getting the names confused, potentially causing harm to patients, though no injuries have yet been reported. More than 1.5 million prescriptions for Brintellix and Brilinta have been written, so the FDA's warning is relevant for many Americans.

Birth injuries may be caused by accepted monitoring procedure

Arizona expectant parents may want to forgo a prevalent procedure known as continuous electronic fetal monitoring. Continuous EFM involves observing babies in the womb using externally placed ultrasound transducers and internal devices, such as heart rate monitors, but observers note that since their introduction in the 1960s and subsequent widespread adoption across the nation, such actions have done little to improve birthing outcomes.

According to a recent report, EFM lacks the statistical backing to prove its worth. Multiple studies have noted its potential to increase the occurrence of birthing problems, and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted its association with heightened incidences of C-sections as early as 1995. Notably, there are other alternatives to EFM that let professionals monitor babies and mothers without making them uncomfortable or putting them at risk.

Study shows that some antibiotics may cause hearing loss

Infants dealing with serious infections may require strong treatment. An antibiotic used to treat issues such as meningitis, respiratory infections, and other dangerous infections in newborns could be connected to potential hearing loss. While Arizona physicians may have little choice in the antibiotic used in these situations, it is important to understand the risks.

The connection between aminoglycosides and hearing loss was discovered as researchers tracked hearing loss in laboratory mice. The study showed that mild loss of hearing occurred when healthy mice received the antibiotic. The loss of hearing was much more pronounced in mice that had inflammation similar to that experienced when an infection is present. Statistically, hearing loss levels are significantly higher among infants surviving after being treated in neonatal intensive care units than among full-term babies.

Brain injuries, medications and rehab

Arizona residents might benefit from learning more about how recovery from a brain injury can be hampered by medications prescribed for commonplace conditions. Nearly half of the older patients who take prescriptions for insomnia, depression and bladder problems may suffer delays in recovering from brain injuries. Researchers at the UK's University of East Anglia studied the effects anticholinergics have on patients who've been diagnosed with brain injuries.

Anticholinergics have already been linked to significant side effects such as dizziness, confusion and temporary cognitive impairment. Spinal and brain injury patients typically participate in neuro-rehabilitation, where anticholinergics are often prescribed for urinary incontinence and pain. The study discovered that the patients with a higher rate of anticholinergic drug burden (ACB) in the system averaged a longer stay than those without the higher levels. The direct correlation observed in the study also showed that the respondents with the lower ACB levels spent less time in the hospital.

Hospital errors that lead to medical malpractice lawsuits

Far too often, patients in Arizona hospitals are harmed as a result of medical errors. Nationwide, there are about 1 million medical injuries each year, including 7,000 fatal injuries from medication errors and 12,000 deaths from unnecessary surgery. All of these preventable injuries result in about 85,000 medical malpractice lawsuits being filed against health care providers every year.

One case of medical malpractice that received widespread publicity involved the late comedian Joan Rivers. She died while undergoing an endoscopy, which is considered to be a routine surgery. An investigation into her death revealed that health care providers might have performed an unapproved biopsy, and at least one physician took a completely unnecessary photo of Rivers while she was unconscious.

Maternal mortality rate rising in the U.S.

Having a baby can be more dangerous than a lot of Arizona people think. The United States has a relatively high maternal death rate compared to other first-world countries. In fact, women who give birth at hospitals in the U.S. are three times more likely to die from birth-related complications than women who give birth in hospitals in Germany, Japan, the Czech Republic or Great Britain.

The maternal death rate in the U.S. has improved significantly compared to what it was one hundred years ago. Before the 1930s, almost one in every 100 live births resulted in the mother's death. By 1987, advances in medicine had caused the maternal death rate in the U.S. to decline by nearly 99 percent. However, researchers have found that the maternal death rate in the U.S. has started to rise over the past 25 years.

Doctors and hospitals resist recording surgeries

Patient advocates in Arizona might some day request that hospitals and surgery centers give people the option to record their surgeries with audiovisual equipment. Lawmakers in two other states have introduced bills promoting this idea in order to support patient safety and provide evidence in malpractice cases.

Activists for better patient safety have proposed audiovisual recording. Two specific incidents have spurred the movement. Both involved anesthesia errors that resulted in the deaths of two women. One woman was 38 years old when she died during her breast-implant surgery. Cardiac and respiratory arrest ended the life of the other surgical error victim, who was only 19.

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.

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