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Annual hospital deaths from preventable errors are high

People in New York who have been hospitalized recently may be surprised to learn how high the numbers are of patient deaths in hospitals due to preventable errors. As the third leading cause of death, preventable medical errors in those facilities are responsible for around 200,000 to 400,000 fatalities each year.

According to an article in the Journal of Patient Safety, such errors may also be under-reported. One study found that patients reported three times more mistakes than were noted in their charts. Among all physicians, cardiologists were the least likely to report errors, but physicians in other specialties were resistant to doing so as well.

Volvo pledging to make safer vehicles

After tracking traffic-related serious injuries and fatalities in its vehicles for many years in New York and throughout the world, Swedish auto manufacturer Volvo is making a bold promise: It will release a "death-proof" vehicle by the year 2020. This announcement comes on the heels of increased safety measures in a number of other vehicles on the market.

Volvo seeks to minimize the number of avoidable car accidents by first concentrating on the interior of the vehicle. These measures include improved airbags and safety restraints. Additionally, Volvo plans to integrate existing technologies for a safer experience. This includes its current adaptive cruise control that allows the driver to set a desired speed but adjusts that speed so enough distance is between the vehicle and other traffic on the road. Additionally, Volvo vehicles have a feature that allow for automatic braking. Features may be expanded to include full collision avoidance as well as features that are activated when it seems the driver is distracted, asleep or otherwise not in a safe state.

Dangers of trenching and excavation projects

New York jobs involving trenching can be extremely dangerous in spite of the best safety precautions. One of the most serious hazards is that of a cave-in, but the activity in a confined space can also expose a worker to breathing dangers such as inhaling toxic materials, being asphyxiated, or drowning. There is also the risk of workers coming into contact with utility lines, which could lead to explosions or electrocution.

Protective measures are particularly important for minimizing the risk of work-related injuries on trenching jobs. Protective systems that are consistent with OSHA standards are important, and planning is crucial. It is necessary to make contact with utility companies to ensure that the locations of underground pipes and lines are identified in advance of any digging. It is also necessary to test air conditions in a trench to ensure that sufficient oxygen is available. When oxygen levels could be questionable, workers need to be outfitted with appropriate respiratory equipment. It is also important to identify changes in the project setting after adverse weather events such as rain.

Brain death policies inconsistent among hospitals

Declaring a patient to be brain dead can be a difficult decision for a New York doctor. Ideally, great care should go into the decision because the resulting actions such as removing life support are expected to result in death. An error could lead to the death of someone who might have survived, and a 100 percent accuracy rate is desirable for declarations of brain death. Unfortunately, studies indicate that the procedures in many hospitals deviate from those prescribed by the American Academy of Neurology.

The AAN implemented its parameters for diagnosing brain death in 2010. However, compliance falls short of the 100 percent desired. Of 492 hospitals evaluated during a recent study, more than 40 percent allowed for the diagnosis of brain death by an attending physician, which is contrary to AAN guidelines. Because of potential inexperience, such a professional is considered to be more susceptible to erring in a diagnosis. The inconsistencies among the hospitals studied is a serious concern.

Research compares approaches to reducing surgical errors

New York residents who undergo surgical procedures may be safer in the coming years thanks to a study conducted over four years by a team from Oxford University in England. The goal of the study was to determine which of the two most prevalent strategies for reducing operating room errors worked best, but they found that neither of them on their own was as effective as a combined approach. The research team from the august institution's Department of Surgical Sciences published their findings in the journal Annals of Surgery.

Hospitals have generally tried to reduce the number of surgical errors by focusing on either improving the communication between and teamwork of operating room staff or refining the systems used and procedures followed during surgeries. Improving team interaction has yielded positive results for the aviation industry, and streamlining operations is a standard quality control measure in many sectors.

Tips to reduce medication errors in New York

A medication error could lead to serious injury or death to a patient. However, several changes can be made to reduce the odds of a mistake happening. For instance, a name alert could be used to differentiate between patients who have similar last names like Johnson and Johnston. Another step that can be taken is to add a zero in front of decimal points.

The use of the zero would clarify that a patient should receive 0.25 milligrams of a certain medication as opposed to 25 milligrams. Proper documentation in general can also reduce the number of medication errors and adverse outcomes for patients. This may avoid a situation where a bottle is incorrectly labeled and the patient gets the wrong medication or vice versa. Labels should also be read to check for expiration dates before being given to a patient.

The risks faced by health care workers

New York residents may not think of nursing as being particularly hazardous, but nursing assistants are injured on the job almost as often as police officers, firefighters and construction workers, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The problem is made more serious by the type of injury often suffered by nurses and medical orderlies. The back injuries and muscle strains suffered while moving heavy patients can lead to long layoffs, and they can also become persistent problems that may end health care careers.

The high rate of injury among health care workers has prompted action in the nation's capital, and proposed federal legislation introduced in December 2015 would require hospitals to follow policies designed to protect workers while patients are being moved. The U.S. Department of Labor would be required to issue a rule, which would also put measures in place to protect nurses who refuse to work in conditions that they believe to be unsafe.

Minor accidents have occurred involving self driving cars

Safely navigating New York highways can sometimes be difficult for motorists, but self-driving cars attempt to do it by mechanical means alone. These new vehicles have no drivers, which makes them a challenge both for humans who must learn to share the roads with these robots and authorities who must learn how the law applies to cars without drivers.

Self-driving cars are programmed to be extraordinarily cautious in their operations on the road. They tend to drive more slowly than a human driver might, and there have been isolated cases where they have gotten into minor accidents that are caused by their slow speed.

Visual inspection of skin cancer

Health practitioners in New York are generally aware of the dangers of skin cancer. Melanomas and other cancerous growths on the epidermis were once among the most feared diseases. Research has been conducted into common methods of early detection of skin cancer, especially visual inspection. However, the data assembled was found to be insufficiently conclusive, and experts have called for further study.

Most skin cancers do not result in fatality. The National Cancer Institute estimates that 74,000 Americans will be diagnosed with melanoma in 2015, but only about 10,000 of them will die from it.

ADT treatments and Alzheimer's risks

When men in New York and around the country are diagnosed with prostate cancer, it is likely that they will undergo androgen deprivation therapy. ADT reduces androgen and testosterone levels in patients in an effort to reduce the growth of tumors, which is something that testosterone is associated with. However, new research indicates that ADT treatments may not be without a cost.

Low levels of testosterone can lead to reduced cognitive function as well as the development of Alzheimer's disease. In an effort to see if there is a connection, researchers looked at patients who had received ADT treatment and checked to see if they had also developed Alzheimer's disease. Researchers discovered that people who underwent ADT were 1.88 times as likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's within an average of 2.7 years after the treatment ended compared to those who did not undergo ADT.

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