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Connecticut Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Measures to identify the correct patient

It is important for Connecticut health care professionals to be sure that they are treating the correct patient. Problems with patient care such as surgical errors and misdiagnosis can occur if hospital workers do not verify that they have the right patient beyond just one form of identification.

Aside from using the first and last name of the patient, The Joint Commission recommends that hospitals also use the date of birth of the patient as another identifier. This second piece of information can help to disambiguate two people with the same or a very similar first and last name.

Hospital water systems pose Legionnaires' disease risk

Hospitals in Connecticut and around the country are concerned after a report has shown Legionnaires' disease present in the water supplies of a number of healthcare facilities. The disease is a type of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria. It is preventable but can be deadly.

The report was published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers examined 20 states and New York City. Of those, 16 had some hospital-acquired cases of Legionnaires' disease. The infection is most frequently contracted through inhalation of small droplets of water contaminated with the bacteria. In health care facilities, these droplets can originate from showers, water therapy tubs, cooling towers and even medical devices. While the symptoms of Legionnaires' disease are similar to general pneumonia and include fever, coughing, shortness of breath, headaches and muscle aches, the disease is much deadlier.

Anticoagulant use a risk for nursing home residents

For Connecticut families who cannot provide the care their elderly loved ones need, putting them in a nursing home may be one of the few options available. Although nursing home facilities are supposed to be able to provide proper medical care to their residents, reports suggest that many are not properly administering anticoagulants or monitoring patients after giving them such a drug.

Anticoagulants are vital in reducing the risk of stroke in patients who have heart or blood conditions that could cause clots to form. However, they can also prevent the patient's body from being able to stop internal bleeding. Further, anticoagulants can be deadly if a patient is given an excessive or insufficient dose.

Causes of strokes

According to statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, strokes kill more than 130,000 people a year in Connecticut and the rest of nation. This figure equates to 1 out of every 20 deaths in the U.S. Although every stroke that occurs is not fatal, they can eventually result in death or any number of lifelong disabilities.

Some of the most common causes of strokes include high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, old age and high cholesterol. Other conditions, such as heart valve disease and atrial fibrillation, can also contribute to a stroke.

More doctors relying on AI to make diagnoses

Connecticut patients may already know that medical errors are one of the top three causes of death in the United States. However, artificial intelligence, which is being relied on more frequently in medical practices, can reduce the number of medical errors being made. In fact, AI systems have shown that they are just as capable of diagnosing skin cancer or even rare eye conditions as are human specialists.

There are certainly some benefits when it comes to using AI systems. For example, patients may be able to receive their diagnoses faster and with reduced cost. Further, AI systems may be able to provide more personalized medicine. On the other hand, there are some downsides. AI systems are expected to be used as an aid and not as a complete replacement when it comes to making diagnoses. As such, the doctor using the AI system may still be held responsible for any errors that the system may make.

Virtual connections reduce misdiagnoses

The health care industry has become a complicated network of doctors and specialists. Patients are often required to visit first with their primary doctor and then one or more specialists in order to get a clear diagnosis. This can become a major headache for Connecticut residents who may not have nearby access to specialists. If they cannot reasonably see a specialist, then it is left to their primary care physician to make the best diagnosis possible. This often leads to problems that could be avoided.

Technology has stepped in to address these issues at many hospitals and clinics. Patients and doctors can choose to get a virtual second opinion on a diagnosis, symptoms or test results. Relevant files on a case are prepared by the primary care physician and then forwarded to whatever specialists may be needed to help reach the best diagnosis and care plan. The patient often doesn't have to travel anywhere or meet with the providers in person.

Multiple sclerosis diagnoses and treatment difficulties

According to a recent study, patients with multiple sclerosis in Connecticut and the rest of nation have to deal with improper diagnoses as well as ineffective treatments. The nationwide survey, which involved over 5,300 patients and was conducted from Jan. 25, 2017 to March 1, 2017, also found that pain and fatigue are the two symptoms that severely affect the patients' quality of life.

The survey respondents stated that obtaining an accurate diagnosis of their condition was difficult. Nearly half of those surveyed reported that they had to make over five trips to the hospital or doctor's office before receiving the correct diagnosis. Those who received incorrect diagnoses of chronic fatigue, depression or fibromyalgia accounted for 42 percent of the survey respondents.

Suing a federal medical facility under the FTCA

Connecticut residents who have been victims of medical malpractice at a facility run by the federal government can file a lawsuit because medical malpractice lawsuits are an exception to the prohibition against suing the government. Such lawsuits can be filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act. Physicians working in federal hospitals who are independent contractors are not subject to FTCA rules, but doctors who are employees of those facilities are.

To file a lawsuit under the FTCA, a plaintiff should make a note of the different statute of limitations and notice requirements. Furthermore, no punitive damages are permitted against the federal government. It is necessary to first send the federal agency involved in a potential lawsuit a notice of claim describing the case. The time frame for sending this notice is two years from the time the plaintiff discovers the injury or has had reasonable time to discover it. The agency must then respond within the next six months. Within the following six months, the plaintiff must sue the agency. It is critical to adhere to these requirements in order to prevent the case's dismissal.

Failure to diagnose CTEPH

Some Connecticut residents who have chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension may have not had it properly diagnosed, according to a study that appeared in the European Respiratory Review. Also known as CTEPH, it is rare and involves the pulmonary arteries becoming blocked by thromboembolic materials. The result can be pulmonary hypertension. The right side of the heart may fail.

There are a number of risk factors for CTEPH including including cancer, lupus, cardiac shunt infections, thyroid replacement therapy, and splenectomy. Early symptoms of the condition are nonspecific, and not everyone who has it is at risk for a blood clot. These factors mean that the condition might be missed or diagnosed late.

Medication errors often caused by technology

Technology usage in the medical industry has dramatically increased in the last decade. Most hospitals in Connecticut make use of computerized systems to manage patient treatment information. This includes medication dosage and instructions. While the technology is designed to reduce human error and increase patient safety, it has the potential to breed new types of errors and concerns for patients.

A 2016 report on patient safety described that three commonly reported technology errors involved dose omission, wrong dose or overdose, and extra dose. Dispensing the incorrect dosage to a patient or omitting a dose may be dangerous and could lead to death in many situations. Sometimes, technology has built-in failsafe features such as an infusion pump able to automatically limit dosage based on information about safe dosage amounts.


Tooher Wocl & Leydon LLC is a law firm experienced in handling wrongful death, medical malpractice, auto accidents, fall down claims, nursing home negligence and abuse, car crash and motor vehicle collision lawsuits. The personal injury trial lawyers handle cases throughout Fairfield County. If you have been seriously injured in Stamford, Norwalk, Fairfield, Bridgeport, or anywhere in Connecticut, please call one of our litigation attorneys at 203-517-0456, or email the firm to schedule a free consultation.

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