Cases of colon cancer among younger people is on the rise even as the rate for those older than 50 decreases, a phenomenon that is leading to more missed diagnoses. Such was the case for a 44-year-old Maryland woman who seven years ago went to doctors with all the symptoms of colorectal cancer, including diarrhea, vomiting, cramping, iron deficiency and extreme fatigue. Her doctors evidently thought she was too young to have the disease, so Carol Carr was never tested for colorectal cancer.
A new report out of Johns Hopkins estimates that diagnostic errors may cause as many as 40,500 patient deaths in hospital intensive care units. The university’s patient safety experts say the number of deaths of critically ill hospital patients die with unknown medical conditions may exceed the annual number of deaths due to breast cancer in the United States.
Rebecca Fielding remembered screaming aloud because it was taking so long for her to get a C-section to deliver her baby at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland. She went to the hospital after her baby got stuck following an attempt to give birth at home using a midwife. She was told while waiting that doctors were awaiting blood tests, but the waiting continued for two hours. During the wait, her baby, Enzo, was deprived of oxygen and suffered cerebral palsy. Today Enzo is unable to speak or walk or even sit up on his own.
Birth injury case brings large verdict
Charlene Whalen’s doctor prescribed methadone to help her deal with chronic back pain. But the dosage, according to testimony in a trial three years later, was too high. In the middle of the night, the 49-year-old Maine woman stopped breathing in her sleep and suffered brain damage resulting from oxygen deprivation. Defense attorneys argued that the dosage prescribed by her doctor was within “an appropriate range” and that neither the pharmacist nor the pharmacy’s computer system raised any alarms.
Maria Garcia underwent surgery to remove her thyroid and parathyroid glands in her neck but she never recovered from surgery. It turned out that during the procedure the anesthesiologist failed to realize the patient’s breathing tube had moved, preventing the 66-year-old woman from breathing on her own and depriving oxygen to her brain. The 2008 incident in Michigan resulted recently in a $1.23 million medical malpractice verdict for Garcia’s family.
It began with a migraine. It ended in a nightmare. In late 2006, Robyn Frankel entered the Stanford Hospital & Clinics in California where doctors ordered an angiogram to investigate an abnormal vein in Frankel’s brain to try to determine the cause of her headaches. When dye for the angiogram was injected into the blood vessels of her brain, Frankel suffered a stroke and fell into a coma, according to a news report of the case. As it turned out, the vein had nothing to do with the migraines and the angiogram had been unnecessary.
“Alarming” is how one state lawmaker sized up the situation at a struggling hospital in Brooklyn, NY. Medical errors at Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center have soared, with the New York Daily News tallying the number of lawsuits pending against the facility at more than 100, including at least a dozen in which patients died.
A Brooklyn mother of three went to her local hospital complaining of pain. She was treated in the emergency room, where she was diagnosed as having kidney stones, was given a painkiller and sent home. The next day, still in pain, she called 911 but the New York Fire Department did not send an ambulance. The day after that, her fiance took her to the hospital himself. The woman, Tabitha Millings, was diagnosed this time with sepsis that had become gangrenous. She lapsed into a coma. When she awoke, she found that her hands and feet had been amputated and she was legally blind in one eye.