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Week in Review

by Kroger Burrus on February 4th, 2014

Kroger | Burrus Week in Review


Columbia North Hills Hospital v. Bowen
A patient sued a hand surgeon and hospital, alleging caused an injury to his left ulnar nerve during elbow surgery. The hospital challenged the patient’s Chapter 74 expert’s qualifications to opine on the standard of care for nurses and hospitals, and argued his report was inadequate as to causation. The Fort Worth appellate court affirmed the trial court’s refusal to dismiss, noting that the patient’s expert was familiar with the standards of care for nurses and hospitals. It found that the expert adequately described his opinions that the hospital should have questioned the rush to perform non-emergent surgery, and that if its nurses had documented the intraoperative injury an unnecessary exploratory surgery could have been avoided.

Plum Creek Healthcare Center v. Kirkland
A man undergoing rehabilitation for a broken leg filed suit alleging a nurse negligently applied antibiotic cream to his injuries that caused an allergic reaction resulting in skin necrosis and an above the knee amputation. The healthcare center appealed an adverse verdict, arguing that expert testimony linking the medicated cream to skin necrosis was purely conclusory. The Amarillo appellate court found the plaintiff’s expert sufficiently reliable, noting that he considered factors such as the pattern of necrosis, witness accounts that the plaintiff experienced significant pain after the cream was applied, and supportive medical literature regarding allergic reaction to the medication at issue.

Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital v. Galvan
A hospital visitor who slipped and fell filed a premises liability claim. The hospital sought dismissal after the visitor failed to file an expert report, arguing that per the Texas Supreme Court’s holding in Texas West Oaks, claims involving safety qualify as health care liability claims, even if not directly related to health care. The Houston appellate court agreed, reversing the trial court’s refusal to dismiss the case.


Wait Times Down, But May Increase Under Health Law
At 45.4 days, the average wait time to see a physician in Boston is more than double of reported wait times across 15 metropolitan areas recently surveyed. The average wait time throughout the cities surveyed was down from 20.4 days in 2009, the year before the Affordable Care Act was enacted. The report found that the drop in wait times may be due to fewer people having sought care during the recession, as well greater efficiency associated with mid-level practitioners. The study’s authors speculate Massachusetts’ 2006 health law initiative may be responsible for the lengthy wait times reported in Boston. They anticipate the Affordable Care Act could have a similar impact nationwide.

More Republicans Favor ‘Fixing’, Rather Than Repealing Health Law
A shift in tone among some influential conservatives suggests the Republican party may be shifting toward pursuing ways to alter the Affordable Care Act, rather than attempting to have it repealed outright.

Silencing Some Hospital Alarms Could Improve Outcome
At a hospital in Boston, researchers found more than 12,000 alarms were sounding daily, desensitizing staff and contributing to “alarm fatigue.” After determining that some low-level “warning” alarms do not need to make an audible signal to be effective, the hospital turned many off. Staff and patients have responded favorably, noting that it is easier to hear and respond to critical alarms and patients’ call signals.

ICU Infection Control Practices Not Adequate at Many Hospitals
ICU units throughout the country showed uneven compliance with infection prevention policies, according to a recent study in The American Journal of Infection Control. The study found adherence to prevention policies ranged from 37% 5o 71% for central line-associated bloodstream infections, 45% to 55% for ventilator-associated pneumonia, and 6% to 27% for catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI). The authors encouraged more focus on CAUTI, noting that it is the most frequent healthcare-acquired infection, yet only 27% to 68% of ICUs had CAUTI prevention policies in place.

Uninsured Patients, Women Less Likely to be Transferred Between Hospitals
Contrary to popular perception, women and uninsured patients are less likely to be transferred among hospitals than others, according to a study by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. These results may mean uninsured patients and women are not being transferred as often as other patients to facilities that offer more advanced treatments, according to the study’s lead author. The trend may also mean that men and insured patients are at greater risk of exposure to more costly procedures and excessive treatments than women and the uninsured.

Veterans Dying Due to Delays in Diagnosis
At least 19 veterans have died due to delayed diagnoses that could have been made through simple screenings such as colonoscopies or endoscopies, according to an internal document from the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Recently, as many as 7,000 veterans were on a backlog waiting for these procedures at VA facilities in Washington D.C., South Carolina, and Georgia. The VA has since resolved the delay issues at those facilities and reports it is working to prevent similar delays in the future.

Wikipedia Top Source of Health Care Info For Patients and Doctors
Wikipedia is the leading source of medical information for patients and healthcare professionals, with 50% of the latter reporting that they have consulted the online encyclopedia for information on health conditions, according to a study by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.

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