"The Bleeding Edge" is a new documentary out on Netflix that examines the potential dangers of different medical devices and treatments. We are all aware of the dangers of human error as well as the failure of products to work as designed. This film, however, graphically details how medical devices in particular can be dangerous and yet less regulated than pharmaceuticals. The strength of the documentary message is getting coverage in the media.
A federal jury in Denver ruled against dialysis provider DaVita and awarded $383.5 million settlement in three wrongful death lawsuits. The victims suffered cardiac arrest and died after treatment with GranuFlo, which DaVita knew could cause toxic levels of pH imbalances and alkalosis. This remarkable number includes $125 million to each family in punitive damages with addition compensatory damage ranging between $1.5 and $5 million.
In 2011, a New Mexico woman was hospitalized for several months as the result of a botched gynecological procedure. She filed a lawsuit against the obstetrician-gynecologist who performed the operation, as well as her health care provider. A court granted her over $2 million in damages.
The United States currently has the highest maternal mortality rate of any industrialized country in the world. Approximately 4 million women give birth in the country every year. Of these women, 50,000 will endure serious or life-threatening complications related to their pregnancy.
In July, a New Mexico psychiatrist was arrested on six counts of criminal sexual penetration as well as five counts of criminal sexual conduct. The sexual abuse occurred during "visits to his office during office hours that were part of supposed treatment," according to a Farmington police detective. The doctor was denied bond and is awaiting trial.
Hurricane Irma slammed into South Florida on Sept. 14. The next day, eight residents of the Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills died. The facility did not seek evacuation even though the air conditioning was knocked out by the storm, and some elderly and disabled people are medically sensitive to heat.
New Mexico patients may be interested to learn that some harmful errors in drug prescribing occur because of 10-fold dosage mistakes. For example, a trailing zero, such as 1.0 mg, might be misread as 10 mg. Similarly, the lack of a leading zero could lead to confusion between .5 mg and 5 mg.
New Mexico patients who are concerned about whether their illnesses have been properly treated may be interested to learn of a case in which a hospital was required to pay $29 million to a patient because of a failure to diagnose her condition. The patient, who has Wilson's disease, is now suffering from significant complications because of a delayed diagnosis. According to the jury, the rare condition the woman had may have been treated with little difficulty if the hospital had given a diagnosis and treatment in a more timely fashion.
Someone designated as allergic to penicillin in New Mexico might not really have the allergy. It's important to know that being misdiagnosed with this allergy could alter someone's health care for a lifetime. Less effective and more expensive alternative drugs might be necessary when patients have penicillin allergies.
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.