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New Mexico Legal Issues Blog

Preventing wrong-patient errors

New Mexico patients may be interested to learn that situations where a treatment or procedure is administered to the wrong patient still occur in all stages of diagnosis and treatment. In some cases, health care providers may document a patient's information in the wrong medical record or fail to verify that they have the right patient before making a diagnosis or administering a treatment. These errors can result in serious medical consequences or even death.

There are ways health care providers can mitigate the risks of a wrong-patient error. The Joint Commission has mandated that health care organizations must use at least two patient identifiers. For example, the U.S. Air Force Medical Service uses the patient's full name and his or her date of birth. This was determined to be a more sound approach than relying on the information on a patient's Common Access Card.

Many breast cancer patients receive unnecessary testing

New Mexico women who have been examined for early-stage breast cancer may not be pleased to learn that, according to a study, they often undergo advanced imaging and tumor-marker tests even though some oncology guidelines do not recommend them. For asymptomatic patients, these unnecessary tests can be costly even though they have provide little to no benefits.

The results of the study showed that approximately 37 percent of patients received tumor-marker tests during the surveillance period after being treated for early-stage breast cancer. About 17 percent of patients also received advanced imaging. The study found that those who had advanced testing had costs that were considerably higher than the average figure of $18,403. As such, researchers said that patients' financial burdens could be reduced if oncologists were shown that the additional testing during the surveillance period were not needed.

Annual truck inspection event has concluded

From June 6 to June 8, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance conducted its annual International Roadcheck. The inspection was conducted in New Mexico and throughout the U.S. and Canada. The CSVA says that the purpose of the yearly event is to check for compliance, enforce rules and educate drivers. Cargo security was among the top priorities this year.

The non-profit organization says that drivers can avoid violations by loads and equipment are properly tied down. They should also make sure that tie-down equipment is not worn or damaged. Drivers may be cited for loads that shift or or fall out of the bed in addition to having insufficient or damaged tie-downs. Overall, one truck is inspected every 15 minutes during the inspection blitz, and in 2016, 21.5 percent of trucks inspected were taken out of service as well as slightly more than 3 percent of the drivers.

IIHS scores truck models based on rate of driver deaths

Many New Mexico motorists drive trucks, and the results of a study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety showed variations in the outcomes of fatal accidents among different truck models. The institute looked specifically at accidents that killed drivers of vehicles manufactured between 2011 and 2014. All types of vehicles taken together produced an average rate of driver deaths of 30 per million registered vehicles. The category of trucks proved safer than passenger vehicles with death scores of 26 and 39 per million respectively.

Within the truck category, however, big variations in driver death rates appeared. For example, the Frontier Crew Cab short bed 2WD earned a score of 42 whereas many Toyota truck models ranked very well.

Was It Medical Malpractice?

Everyone who goes through a medical procedure of any kind hopes that it goes well. However, there are always risks. There is always the possibility of a bad outcome

A bad outcome does not necessarily mean that the doctor or any of the medical professionals involved did anything wrong. Despite the best efforts of those involved, it is still possible for a medical procedure to turn out poorly. That being said, patients always have the right to ask questions. They have the right to be told what happened and why.

Learning more about informed consent

Patients in New Mexico and throughout the country are entitled to have all the information necessary to make informed decisions about their medical treatment. Medical professionals are required to discuss alternate treatment options as well as the risks and possible prognosis after going through with a specific course of action. This information must be presented in a manner that is both detailed and easy to understand.

A patient must be deemed competent in order to give informed consent. Most adults are considered to be competent unless they suffer from a mental illness. However, children are generally not considered competent, which means that a parent or guardian must be the one to give consent. Doctors must get informed consent before embarking on any procedure that is not deemed to be an emergency. Failure to do so could result in a charge of battery or unlawful touching of a patient's body.

4 (perhaps surprising) examples of medical malpractice

You may know that medical malpractice claims often arise from incidences like surgical mistakes or unlicensed performance of procedures. While these are certainly grounds to take legal action, there are many other situations that can and often do lead to civil claims when they cause patient injury or death.

Below are four different scenarios that can spark medical malpractice or negligence lawsuits. 

What makes a driver 'reckless'?

Imagine you are driving down the highway. You are wearing your seatbelt, driving the speed limit and obeying traffic laws. Seemingly out of nowhere, you are hit by another car. In the blink of an eye, you wind up seriously injured on the side of the road.

Drivers all across Albuquerque have experienced this unfortunately common scenario, and it is one that can happen to anyone. This is because there are reckless drivers on just about every road we travel on, and they put the lives of every other motorist in danger. Following are some ways to identify reckless drivers, as well as what you can do if you are in an accident with one.