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April 2013 Archives

Medical robots raising safety questions

Medical technology keeps advancing, and most doctors and healthcare professionals consider these advances beneficial for patients. However, cases of medical malpractice have been reported involving one new and widely used technology: the robotic multi-armed da Vinci, used in nearly 400,000 surgeries in 2012.The robotic system has been linked with reports of deaths and injuries as well as elevated costs over other forms of surgery. Some doctors are concerned that there was too much advertising and hype associated with the introduction of robotic arm surgery and not enough research to support its use or to show that it is more effective than other, cheaper surgical methods.

Future of Wisconsin intersection unclear after several accidents

An intersection in the town of Brussels is getting plenty of attention these days, and it was even set to be discussed at the April 4 Door County Highway Safety Commission meeting. After more than 20 vehicular accidents occurred at the junction over a span of just five years, many are starting to think the intersection of County C and Wisconsin 57 is simply accident-prone. Set to appear at the meeting was an engineer from the state's Department of Safety. The possibility of making "J-intersections" at the intersection was on the table as an option. These "intersections" would have drivers go past the physical intersection and then loop back around to get to their destination. One Brussels Town board member said that this option could actually make the problem worse, however, for semi-trucks and vehicles with large cargo.

Surprise study shows shorter shifts increase medical errors

In an effort to study the effects of reducing the shift times of hospital residents in Wisconsin and other states, two research groups surveyed more than 2,300 interns going into residency programs. Residents were sent surveys every three months, asking questions about their performance on the job, sleep habits and mental health. The surprising results of the study are that the risk of medical malpractice increases when residents are assigned shorter shifts.According to the studies that are being published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, residents who worked a maximum of 16 hours without a break instead of 30 hours were up to 20 percent more likely to make a mistake. This finding clearly runs counter to the goal of the medical oversight board's decision to reduce shift times, which was to improve patient care and decrease errors made by sleepy doctors.

Wisconsin legislature considers "I'm sorry" bill

A doctor and a nurse serving in the Wisconsin Legislature have introduced a bill that would allow medical practitioners to apologize to patients when a mistake is made without the words being used against them later. Thirty-five states have similar laws.In 2006, a similar bill was introduced and approved by the legislature. Governor Doyle vetoed the measure. In 2011, the bill was reintroduced but did not pass the Senate. Some lawyers fear that the bill goes too far. However, proponents of the bill say that an apology can go a long way toward helping medical malpractice victims heal. Some patients do not wish to file a lawsuit at all. What they really want is to talk to the medical provider about what happened and understand what went wrong. Under the current state of the law, doctors and nurses cannot apologize to patients without opening themselves up to civil liability.

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