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Appleton Area Law Blog

When healthcare heuristics become a problem

Many in Appleton may wonder how, with the advances made in healthcare in recent years, can diagnostic errors still be an issue. Medical practitioners have numerous resources at their disposal designed to help them arrive at an accurate diagnosis. Yet despite the tools, diagnostic issues remain the most prevalent type of medical error (with Johns Hopkins Medicine reporting that 80,000-160,000 injuries or deaths occurring each year as the result of them). 

One problem that could potentially be contributing to diagnostic errors is the reliance on heuristics in healthcare. Heuristics are generally accepted practices or "rules of thumb" that practitioners in certain field follow. They typically arise out of best practices within an industry. This explanation not only makes heuristics seem harmless, but also beneficial in conducting one's business. Heuristics are indeed helpful in healthcare, as they set to establish the standards against which clinicians are judged. Yet it is when doctors rely too heavily on them that diagnostic errors often arise. 

5 brothers injured, 1 killed in Wisconsin rollover crash

Licensed teenaged drivers in Wisconsin may transport immediate family members as passengers. However, the advisability of allowing teens to do this may be in question following a rollover crash last week that injured five brothers, one of whom has since died. 

A 16-year-old boy and his four younger brothers, ages 7 to 15, were traveling from their home in Kewaskum, Wisconsin, to a soccer game in Germantown. The driver has since received medical treatment at a hospital, which released him last Thursday. When authorities first arrived at the scene, however, he had been unable to tell them what happened due to severe injuries.

Multi-vehicle Wisconsin crash kills 1, injures several

Authorities cite speed entering a construction zone and inattentive driving as factors in a multi-vehicle crash near Columbus, Wisconsin, on Highway 151 last week. Helicopters and ambulances were necessary to transport five people injured in the collision, four men and a woman, to the hospital, and another man died at the scene. An investigation into the accident is ongoing, and cleanup required the closure of the northbound lanes where the crash occurred for five hours thereafter. 

Vehicles involved in the crash include three cars, a minivan, a pickup truck and a commercial truck. For reasons that are still unclear, the commercial truck struck the pickup and the minivan, either at the same time or in rapid succession. Both the commercial truck and the pickup struck two other cars, and the commercial truck pushed the pickup into a third car. 

Did your crash result in a brain injury?

In Wisconsin, there are plenty of big trucks on the road. When they share road space with smaller personal passenger vehicles like yours, there can be big consequences for crashes. Today, we at Peterson Berk & Cross will take a look at the possibility of brain injury post-crash and how it may affect you.

Brain injuries can easily happen after a crash, especially when a big vehicle like a truck is involved. The speed and size can make any impact a hefty one, especially if your car is much smaller than their truck. Brain injuries can be caused by many things. One example is whiplash, an injury in which your brain could hit the inside of your skull if the force is intense enough. Traumatic damage can also be done if you hit your head on the steering wheel. If you were not wearing a seat belt, you may even hit the windshield.

How should you plan for long-term care?

If you are an older Wisconsin resident, you may be thinking about health care options for yourself and/or your partner. If you sustain an injury from an accident or end up with a cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer's disease, you may end up needing long-term care. Even if you never end up requiring this type of health care, planning for it may provide you and your loved ones with peace of mind.

The National Institute on Aging estimates that approximately 70% of people over 65 years old will need a form of long-term care at some point in their lives. The NIA provides essential information on how to effectively plan for long-term care. You may first want to consider ways in which your personal circumstances may affect your health care needs. For example, if you have an existing medical diagnosis or a family history of certain conditions, it may increase your chances of needing long-term care.

How to have a safe boating season

Boating is a favorite pastime for Wisconsin residents. With the snow melting and temperatures rising, boats will soon be filling our lakes again. After all, what’s better than spending a beautiful afternoon with friends and family on the water? While these days make for great memories, tragedy can strike if you don’t take proper care before heading out.

The Coast Guard reported 4,291 accidents and 658 fatalities involving boats nationwide in 2017. Despite being a downward trend from the previous year, it’s clear that there is room for improvement. There are many simple things boaters can do to keep themselves safe on the water.

Is there a cap on medical malpractice damages?

If you have suffered harm due to the negligence of a health care provider, you have the right to seek monetary damages as compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering. In Wisconsin, economic damages receive unlimited coverage from the malpractice compensation fund. However, according to the Washington Post, there is a $750,000 cap on payouts for noneconomic damages. Wisconsin is one of 31 states to have such a cap. 

Legal challenges to the cap on noneconomic medical malpractice damages have taken place in the past. Court records indicate that in 2011, a Wisconsin mother of four lost her limbs to amputation due to gangrene that resulted from a septic infection of which her doctors allegedly did not inform her. A jury awarded the woman and her husband $15 million in noneconomic damages in compensation for inconvenience, suffering, pain and disfigurement as well as $8.8 million in economic damages, for a total award of $25.3 million. 

What are Wisconsin's contributory negligence laws?

If another person or entity causes you to sustain harm, Wisconsin law provides you the opportunity to sue for damages on the premise of negligence. However, the party you sue has the opportunity to refute your claim by proving your own negligence played a role in the incident. This is thanks to the theory of contributory negligence.

According to Wisconsin State Legislature, Section 895.045, the state abides by a contributory negligence law. Though contributory negligence typically means that a person is barred from recovery if the defendant can prove that he or she was partially responsible for his or her accident, the Badger State takes contributory negligence to mean more or less what comparative negligence means.

Convictions for small crimes can have big consequences

It is becoming increasingly clear that there are major problems with the criminal justice system in the United States, including racial and socioeconomic bias, wrongful convictions and overly harsh prison sentences. But there is also a problem with the way that the criminal justice system influences life in the rest of society.

A criminal record of any kind can have consequences that reach far beyond just serving jail time or paying fines. Even minor offenses can haunt someone for years to come. This problem was discussed in a recent opinion piece about how misdemeanors are and should be dealt with. 

No death with dignity in Wisconsin

"Death with dignity" is a popular phrase used to describe situations in which a patient requests a medical practitioner to help him or her die. This is common in patients with a terminal illness or a severely debilitating condition.

Wisconsin law does not allow these assisted suicides. However, you can gain some control over how your life is handled in these circumstances through your estate plan.

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