As sick and injured people take fewer and fewer trips to the hospital emergency room, urgent care clinics in Arizona are becoming more heavily trafficked. In fact, a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine in September 2018 found that “emergency department visits from 2008 to 2015 for low-acuity conditions dropped by 36%, while visits to non-emergent care facilities, such as urgent care centers or calls in to telemedicine services, grew by 140%.” That is an astounding number, but should not be surprising to anyone who has driven around Phoenix or Tucson lately. It seems that every strip center now has an urgent care clinic. The problem with this “convenience” is that the care provided at urgent care clinics is notoriously poor.
Each year, thousands of women suffer life-changing injuries or die during childbirth because hospitals and healthcare providers fail to take basic safety measures to prevent postpartum hemorrhage. Postpartum hemorrhage is a very serious medical condition when the woman suffers extensive bleeding following the birth of her baby. The hemorrhage can occur immediately after delivery, or in the hours or days following. Whenever it occurs, it is an emergency that must be recognized and treated by the healthcare team. If they fail to diagnose the postpartum hemorrhage, the woman may suffer permanent, devastating injuries, or she may die.
One thing we often hear from prospective jurors in Phoenix (and throughout Arizona) is that medical malpractice should have caps on damages because high verdicts cause medical costs and insurance for doctors to go up. Study after study proves that this is simply wrong, but the insurance companies have done a great job (read: spent hundreds of millions of dollars) convincing people that it is true. In Arizona, our state constitution prohibits a cap on damages for medical malpractice or wrongful death cases (and for any personal injury case). Since we have no cap on medical malpractice damages, the cost of medical malpractice insurance for doctors must be through the roof, right?
Today, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a statement that a salmonella outbreak that has been linked to 73 people over 31 states is actually linked to Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal. Of the 73 people, 24 have been hospitalized. While not all boxes of Honey Smacks are affected, Kellogg has announced a recall of 15.3-ounc and 23-ounce packages of the cereal that have a “best if used by” date of June 14, 2018 through June 14, 2019.
For years we have been telling the public all of the statistics supporting the finding that medical malpractice accounts for one of the leading causes of death in our country. A new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine, and reported by NPR, now confirms it.
Based on the research, Johns Hopkins now estimates that more than 250,000 Americans die each year from medical errors. That ranks medical malpractice as the 3rd leading cause of death in our country, behind only heart disease and cancer. The study also noted, however, that the numbers may be even more significant, as the current coding system used by the Center For Disease Control does not account for very important factors that lead to medical malpractice, including communication breakdowns, diagnostic errors, and poor judgment.