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New City Personal Injury Law Blog

How and why misdiagnoses occur

New York residents who are concerned about the quality of their medical care may be interested in learning about the common circumstances that can cause a misdiagnosis to occur. Doctors, other health care specialists, patients and laboratory or pathology tests can all contribute to a misdiagnosis in some way.

Patients may attempt to diagnose their own medical conditions without consulting medical professionals. If they do see doctors, they may refrain from mentioning all their symptoms due to embarrassment or the belief that they aren't worth mentioning unless specifically asked about.

Younger drivers more dangerous on the road

Millennials in New York might be less safe on the road than drivers in other age groups. Almost 90 percent of millennial drivers admitted to driving dangerously, according to a survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. For example, almost twice as many millennials confessed to texting or sending emails while behind the wheel compared to other age groups.

More than twice as many millennials said they thought it was acceptable to drive more than 10 miles per hour above the speed limit in a school zone compared to 5 percent of people in other age groups. While just over one-third of drivers said they thought it was acceptable to run through a red light when they could have stopped, almost half of millennials said the same.

Most fibromyalgia diagnoses are wrong

Most New York patients who have received a fibromyalgia diagnosis don't actually have classic fibromyalgia. That's because many doctors use the term fibromyalgia to diagnose patients who have widespread pain and fatigue of unknown cause. In reality, about two-thirds of the patients who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia actually have something else.

When a patient is misdiagnosed with fibromyalgia, they may be prescribed a treatment plan that will not actually help them to recover from their underlying condition. These misdiagnosed patients could have one of a wide range of different conditions including hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune connective tissue disorder, anemia or cancer. Musculoskeletal problems can also lead to pain and fatigue that is commonly mistaken for fibromyalgia. Unless a patient receives a correct diagnosis, it will be difficult for the patient to receive effective treatment for their symptoms.

Potential workers' compensation issues

Workers' compensation provides injured workers with the resources they may need in the event that they are injured on the job. Employees in New York and the rest of the nation may benefit from knowing about workers' compensation issues that may arise due to the recent presidential election and upcoming gubernatorial elections.

A recommendation that was made last year by the United States Department of Labor for an overhaul of the workers' compensation system may be placed on hold. Any repeal or replacement of the Affordable Care Act is likely to have an impact on workers' compensation. An initiative of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that directed resources for workplace safety toward enforcement rather than education might also be affected.

Medical conditions that are often misdiagnosed

For many New Yorkers who have health problems, the road to recovery begins with an accurate diagnosis. Once their condition is properly identified, they can start receiving the treatment and care that they need to get better. However, many people get an erroneous diagnosis, and the treatment that they receive could end up hurting them.

One of the most commonly misdiagnosed health problems is asthma, and research has shown that one-third of all asthma diagnoses are incorrect. Asthma may be misdiagnosed because the illness has gone into remission or a patient is displaying asthma-like symptoms. Either way, it is important for people who have been diagnosed with asthma to be reassessed so that they do not continue to take unnecessary medications.

Surgical complications not affected by tough malpractice laws

New York residents who are receiving medical care should be informed about the findings of a recent medical study. The report indicates that aggressively pursuing malpractice cases does not protect patients from surgical complications.

Advocates of medical malpractice legislation that makes it easier to file a lawsuit against doctors assert that the laws are necessary for better care. However, according to the study, the risk of litigation did not correlate with better medical outcomes. Instead, a malpractice environment tends to cause doctors to engage in defensive medicine in which excessive treatments and tests are ordered in the attempt to reduce malpractice risk.

Cancer deaths falling by about 1.5 percent each year

Cancer death rates around the country have fallen by a quarter since 1991 according to a report released on Jan. 5 by the American Cancer Society. The number of deaths caused by cancer has been falling by about 1.5 percent each year for both men and women over the last 25 years, and the health organization says that this is largely due to the development of more effective cancer screening methods and a sharp decline in the number of New Yorkers and other Americans who smoke.

Detecting cancer in its early stages is extremely important. Colonoscopies are becoming more common in the United States, and the ACS report credits this procedure with a steep decrease in colorectal cancer deaths since 1991. Death rates are also declining because less-effective cancer screening methods are being abandoned. The prostate-specific antigen blood test is no longer recommended in prostate cancer screenings due to its unreliability. PSA blood tests often fail to detect prostate cancer in patients who suffer from the disease and diagnose it in men who are cancer free.

New York manufacturers may benefit from new safety tech

Some workers in the manufacturing and fabrication industries might soon enjoy improved conditions that give their hands a break. In late 2016, a team led by professors from the University of Wisconsin-Madison received funding to continue its research into algorithms that could analyze hand motions using available cellphone technology.

The research team had already created algorithms that let computers analyze hand motion and deliver a measurement of how much hazardous activity was associated with different tasks. Following this initial success, they hope to use the additional money to apply their techniques to a broader pool of data from different facilities over a period of three years. In the process, they believe that they can create a completely new, more objective means of measuring the injury risk levels associated with individual job tasks.

Improving survival chances with a female doctor

According to a study published in Dec. 19 in a peer-reviewed medical journal, there is a clinical difference in the outcomes of certain patients who have female doctors and those who have male doctors. New York elderly residents who are sick and have to be admitted to a hospital to receive care may be interested to know that having a female doctor increases their chances of survival. In addition, such patients have less of a tendency to be re-hospitalized within a month of being discharged.

The purpose of the study was to determine if the differences in medical care resulted in better outcomes. The researchers examined the records of over 1.5 million Medicare patients who were 65 years of age or older and had been admitted to the hospital for non-surgical care between 2011 and 2014. They discovered that 11.49 percent of patients treated by male internists died within a month, while 11.07 percent of those treated by female internists did the same. Researchers believe that if male doctors could achieve the same results as female doctors, there would be an additional 32,000 Medicare patients whose lives would be saved. This is roughly the number of U.S. traffic fatalities each year.

The layers of workplace hazard control

New York companies should take several steps to keep workers safe while they perform hazardous work. The 'layered approach" to workplace safety is recommended by the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety. Each layer of workplace hazard control is important, and employers should not think of the layers as a list of options.

According to Liberty Mutual, employers should begin by eliminating all safety hazards that can be eliminated. For example, workers that are performing jobs at heights for no particular reason should conduct their work on the ground instead. After elimination, the second layer of hazard control is substitution. If a hazardous substance or tool can be replaced with something safer, it should be replaced in order to prevent injuries.

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