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Ohio General Law Blog

Studies examine reasons for most malpractice claims

Ohio patients may be more likely to suffer from a misdiagnosis than any other form of malpractice. According to studies by two different malpractice insurers, misdiagnosis is the main reason for malpractice claims.

One company, Coverys, reported that 46 percent of closed malpractice claims between 2013 and 2017 were diagnosis related, and the patient died in 45 percent of those cases. The other insurer, The Doctors Company, looked at 1,215 claims closed between 2008 and 2017. It reported that misdiagnosis was the issue in nearly 40 percent of claims that involved the treatment of children. The study author said this pointed to the necessity of providing adequate information to parents about symptoms that indicate the need for immediate care.

Colon cancer more commonly misdiagnosed in younger patients

Colorectal cancer (colon cancer) is a condition not relegated to just the elderly. That's why Ohio residents who suspect they have it should not wait for a screening. Unfortunately, it seems that younger patients with colon cancer are more commonly misdiagnosed. This was the conclusion of a study by Colorectal Cancer Alliance.

The study involved 1,195 colon cancer patients, 63 percent of whom said that they had to wait between three and 12 months to be screened for the cancer. Of these, many had to visit two to four physicians before being accurately diagnosed. Among those patients under 50, 71 percent were found with stage 3 or 4 colorectal cancer. Patients over 50 were more likely to have stage 1 or 2.

Rare disease patients often face misdiagnosis

For people with rare diseases in Ohio, misdiagnosis and the consequent inappropriate treatment may present additional threats to their health and well-being. Around the world, there are over 400 million people with rare diseases, but most of these illnesses are the subject of little research or attention. Because relatively few people are affected by each condition, most rare illnesses receive little funding that could help to move research forward. As a result, many patients with these conditions are often inaccurately diagnosed and may receive useless or even harmful treatments.

In the United States, diseases are considered rare if less than 200,000 Americans are affected annually. A full 50 percent of patients affected by these conditions are children, but they can affect people throughout the human lifespan. For example, around 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. This cancer is generally caused by asbestos exposure and develops later in life. However, it is frequently misdiagnosed as pneumonia, asthma or even the common cold. When there is a failure to diagnose cancer at an early stage, patients could miss out on a critical stage where it may have been possible to treat the malignancy more effectively.

Divorce could impact your child's college fund

When a couple in Ohio is going through the divorce process, there are a lot of matters to consider. The emotions involved in the situation could make it difficult for both parties to see things clearly. This is especially true when finances or children are involved. Things can get especially heated when the divorce negotiation touches financial issues that could negatively impact a divorcing couples' children's college savings fund.

After the divorce, the ex-spouses will likely face a reduction in income. This will have an impact on any plans that they have for funding a child's college education. Even if each spouse on their own still makes the same amount, they will have to use that money to care for two households.

Alternatives to incarceration for violent crimes

Some federal prisoners in Ohio might have their sentences reduced by the First Step Act, which became law in 2018. However, the reach of this legislation is limited. Incarcerated people who are not federal prisoners are not eligible, and it only applies to nonviolent offenders.

While many people who have committed violent crimes should remain imprisoned as a matter of public safety, this isn't the case with all offenders. It is possible for someone to be charged with simple assault without actually doing physical harm to a person. Furthermore, not all offenders incarcerated for violent offenses are in serious danger of recidivism.

How doctors can limit liability for medication errors

Doctors in Ohio can often find themselves in a bind when prescribing medication, especially pain medication. If they prescribe too much, they are accused of aiding an addict, and if they prescribe too little or dismiss a patient's pain, they are seen as being negligent. It's important, then, that they take certain steps to limit their liability in case medication errors do occur.

The FDA estimates that 1.3 million patients are injured every year as a result of preventable medication errors. These mistakes can arise at the prescription, dispensing and administration stages or in the administration records. As two studies published by the BMJ illustrate, the majority of mistakes in pediatric facilities are administration errors whereas family practices usually make prescription errors.

Tips for dividing a 401(k) in a divorce

When a divorcing couple in Ohio needs to divide a 401(k), they must be careful to avoid potentially costly errors. A 2016 survey of the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers found that pensions and retirement accounts were second only to alimony as the most contentious issue in a divorce.

A document called a qualified domestic relations order is necessary to divide a pension plan or a 401(k) in a divorce, and multiple accounts will require multiple QDROs. The QDRO must be consistent with the divorce agreement, specify how distributions will be made and get accepted by the plan administrator. If the distribution is rolled into an IRA, taxes will not be incurred. A direct distribution following divorce is exempt from the early withdrawal penalty but still subject to income tax.

Can I refuse a sobriety test?

After a night of fun, you find yourself on the side of the road, headlights in the rearview mirror. You’ve been pulled over and you’re worried you may be considered legally impaired. What can you do?

Many people in this same scenario may consider refusing a sobriety test if the officer asks for one. Can you do this legally?

Electronic record systems can cause medical errors

Ohio patients may be vulnerable to safety errors when being treated by a medical professional. According to one study, electronic health records (EHRs) could be a reason why they occur. Specifically, issues with electronic records could result in medication errors including prescribing an inappropriate level of a given medication. These conclusions were drawn after looking at 9,000 patient safety reports from 2012 to 2017.

Medication dosing was a common problem resulting from issues with being able to use electronic record systems. This can be an even bigger problem when dealing with children as there are no differences in the systems used for younger patients as opposed to adults. According to the study, 36 percent of errors were caused by usability issues, and it was believed that 18.8 percent of those errors resulted in harm to the patient.

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