Monthly Archives: August 2016

Is This Illness the Most Misdiagnosed Disease in the World?

Tens of thousands of Americans have been afflicted by a mysterious illness that causes chronic fatigue, muscle aches, night sweats and chills. No, this is not the flu, it’s Lyme disease, a vector-borne illness (meaning it is caused by bites, mostly from ticks). The illness mimics so many other conditions that it’s frequently called ‘the great imitator’. Centers for Disease Control statistics show 30,000 to 300,000 Americans are stricken with this disease every year (many of whom are children). This huge variation suggests the medical community is having problems accurately diagnosing patients. If Lyme disease is not diagnosed and patients go without treatment, they can develop chronic symptoms. Why Lyme Disease Misdiagnosis Can Ruin Lives An Every Day Health blogger described her struggle of living with chronic Lyme disease. She spent years in pain, too weak to perform even the most basic tasks. After years of bouncing between doctors, she…
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Can Hospital Interpreters Cause Medical Mistakes?

Hospitals across the country use interpreters to help doctors communicate with patients who primarily speak foreign languages. In some cases, hospital interpreter mistakes cause patients to suffer permanent or fatal consequences. Several years ago, NPR wrote an article that shared the story of Willie Ramirez, an 18-year-old man who suffered a catastrophic injury due to a translation error. In 1980, Ramirez was taken to the hospital by his Spanish-speaking parents after falling ill. His parents used the word ‘intoxicado’ to describe his symptoms to the translator, who then relayed what was being said to doctors. The translator assumed intoxicado meant “intoxicated”, and believed Ramirez was suffering from a drug overdose. In Spanish, intoxicado means that a person became sick from ingesting something – whether it be food, water or anything else. Ramirez was treated for a drug overdose, but it turns out he had been suffering from bleeding in his…
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What You Should Know About Wrong-Patient Surgeries

Wrong-patient surgeries have horrific and permanent consequences for patients and their families. Doctors may sometimes remove limbs or other body parts from the wrong patients. A wrong-patient surgery that occurred in Massachusetts is gaining national media attention. According to St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, a doctor removed a kidney from the wrong patient. St. Vincent Hospital claims the doctor who performed the surgery is not an employee. Similar scenarios unfold thousands of times each year in American hospitals. A 2012 Johns Hopkins medical malpractice study discovered wrong-patient surgeries and similar errors occur at least 4,000 times per year! Why do mistakes like this happen? Poor communication between staff or a failure to double check work are primary culprits. The Joint Commission, the agency responsible for accrediting hospitals, has identified other factors. Wrong-patient and site surgeries can happen when multiple surgeons are involved in a case or when multiple procedures take…
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