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Appleton Personal Injury Law Blog

Dropping prostate cancer rates may not mean less cancer

Men in Wisconsin might be aware that data shows the early detection rates of prostate cancer in men over age 50 has been dropping. The problem, however, is that fewer men are receiving prostate cancer screening, meaning the declining rates may not actually reflect the true extent of prostate cancer among men.

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force concluded in 2012 that too many prostate cancer screening tests were being conducted. Many men end up developing prostate cancer when they are elderly, but since the cancer is normally a slow-growing one, it often doesn't cause them to die. The task force felt that aggressive treatment of prostate cancer might thus do more harm than good, and doctors reacted to the report by significantly dropping the number of screenings performed.

The impact of concussions

According to the National Institutes of Health, there are nearly 4 million concussions that stem from sports and recreational activity. This is in addition to the untold number that occur after car crashes and falls. About 80 percent of those who suffer a concussion will recover in three weeks, but the other 20 percent may have long-term symptoms. In some cases, Wisconsin residents who have suffered a concussion don't even know that they have one.

One woman who suffered a brain injury in a car crash didn't see doctors for a diagnosis for a week after the event occurred. She reported being tired, feeling foggy and forgetting her PIN number at the grocery store. The woman finally got a diagnosis after going to the wrong house to pick up her son. Doctors say that brain injuries are a silent epidemic because most people don't realize the relationship between personality changes and a possible concussion.

Duty and standard of care in medical malpractice claims

A patient who has been damaged during the course of being treated in a Wisconsin hospital may want to file a medical malpractice claim against the health care facility or provider. In order to establish that the health care provider was negligent, patients must show evidence that they were owed a duty of care and that the medical professional failed to provide the accepted standard of care during treatment.

All health care providers owe a legal duty of care to a patient who they have agreed to treat. A patient who is filing a medical malpractice claim can prove that a nurse, physician or therapist owed them a duty of care at the time of their injury by presenting evidence from their medical records. The records must show that the relationship between the health care provider and the patient was a mutual agreement that was entered into voluntarily.

Research examines brain inflammation and traumatic brain injury

For Wisconsin residents who have incurred a traumatic brain injury, there might be certain assumptions as what it can lead to. Research is trying to get a firmer grasp on TBIs and their symptoms. One particular study suggests that long-term inflammation is a bigger culprit than other diagnoses.

The authors of the study believe that the issues that victims suffer from in the aftermath can be addressed by concentrating on more common problems after the injury. This research implies that those who have had a mild TBI or have endured concussive impacts on a repeated basis should receive treatment to avoid long-term damage with brain inflammation taken more seriously.

New CDC opioid guidelines could harm patients

Wisconsin readers may be interested to learn that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued new draft guidelines for opioid prescribing. However, some patient advocates fear that the rules are more concerned with avoiding patient drug addiction than with providing quality care.

Advocates claim that the CDC opioid prescription guidelines overstate the addiction risk of opioid use and ignore the legitimate pain management needs of patients, which is tantamount to institutionalized medical malpractice. They believe doctors are moving toward an overly conservative prescribing model that will expose patients to a lifetime of needless pain.

Misdiagnoses lead to costly mistakes

The problem of misdiagnosis affects patients in Wisconsin and the rest of the nation every year. Although many misdiagnoses are either inconvenient or harmless to patients, others could cause severe consequences such as the patient's death or, in some cases, unintended exposure to a contagious disease. Although the amount specifically attributed to misdiagnoses was not specified, a 1999 report from the U.S. Institute of Medicine estimated 98,000 fatalities from medical errors in general each year. A more direct figure may be available soon thanks to a new report scheduled for release this month that focuses on misdiagnosis.

Technical causes cited in misdiagnosis errors include poorly functioning imaging devices as well as written and verbal miscommunication. Errors also result due to some doctors' cognitive mistakes, such as focusing on an initial diagnosis without adjusting for changes to a patient's symptoms.

New study links ADHD and TBI in adults

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder complicates the daily lives of many Wisconsin residents of all ages. Traumatic brain injuries subject millions of individuals to an assortment of cognitive problems yearly. A recent study has helped to affirm a potential correlation between these problems, raising the possibility that more might be done to screen adults with past brain injuries for ADHD.

The study pulled data from a telephone survey monitoring the general health of adults in Ontario. Some of the individuals in the survey reported a history of traumatic brain injury. Of these respondents, the researchers discovered that 5.9 percent had received an ADHD diagnosis at some point either before or after their injuries; furthermore, an extra 6.6 percent took a self-reporting ADHD exam during the phone survey with positive results. According to one researcher, the data suggested that adults suffering from traumatic brain injuries had double the chance of reporting ADHD symptoms compared to adults without such a history.

Common drugs could delay brain injury recovery

According to a new study, a class of drugs commonly prescribed to treat conditions like depression, insomnia and bladder issues could make it more difficult for Wisconsin patients to recover from brain injuries. The medications, called anticholinergics, are given to up 50 percent of older patients around the country.

The study, which was conducted by a group of British scientists and published in the journal Brain Injury, examined 52 patients who were treated at a neuro-rehabilitation unit for brain injuries or spinal injuries. Patients in neuro-rehab are often prescribed anticholinergics to alleviate pain, urinary incontinence and other problems. Researchers discovered that patients with higher levels of anticholinergic drug burden, or ACB, in their system had longer average rehab stays than patients with lower levels of ACB.

Wisconsin legislature mulling bill to allow recording of surgery

Proposed legislation in Wisconsin would allow patients to film any surgery or medical procedure which they may undergo. The law would require the medical service provider to offer all patients the option of recording what happens in the operating theater. Although many conjecture that this would lead to fewer cases of surgical error, major Wisconsin medical advocacy groups have spoken out against the proposed legislation.

According to the bill, citizens would also be able to issue advance directives requiring videotaping of any medical procedures in the case of their incapacity. The data from this recorder would be useful for several reasons. The doctors and medical team could review the recording later, seeking answers for unusual circumstances that may have occurred during the procedure. If there is some sort of surgical error or easily preventable negative outcome from the surgery, then any tape may also be reviewed by the patient and their legal counsel.