It’s no secret that the cost of medical care in this country has skyrocketed. Medical errors and medical malpractice lawsuits are both major reasons for the increase in these costs. Barry Bialek, MD, Senior Contributing Editor to CoverMD.com, recently revealed the top ten most expensive medical errors that occur in the United States.
1. Newborn brain injuries
Babies delivered improperly can sustain brain injuries leading to lifelong problems and costs associated with the care of a child born with special needs.
2. Ventriculo-Peritoneal (VP) shunt failure
Doctors use what’s known as a cerebral shunt to help individuals experience swelling in the brain (due to excessive cerebrospinal fluid). The shunt is inserted, for instance, into the patient’s head to alleviate or prevent problems associated with the swelling. Many individuals with problems in the Perioneal Cavity are given a Ventriculo-Peritoneal Shunt (VP shunt). However, blockage or obstruction can result if not inserted properly.
3. Post-operative brain asphyxiation
Individuals can experience respiratory effects from too much anesthesia which causes the oxygen supply to get shut off from the brain. This in turn causes reversible brain damage.
4. Post-concussion hemorrhages
Individuals who experience a concussion (an injury to the brain caused by a sudden blow to the head or to the body) can experience bleeding inside the head. Patients, in some cases, underestimate the severity of their concussion and fail to seek treatment or do not get the proper treatment. The bleeding continues inside the brain which can result in a serious brain injury or death.
5. Hemorrhagic stroke from Warfarin toxicity
Warfarin is a drug used to prevent blood clots from forming, but it’s also a rat poison. If the drug reaches dangerous levels in a patient’s blood system, it can cause intracranial hemorrhaging (bleeding of the brain due to ruptured blood vessels in the head).
6. Untreated Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)-known as a “mini-stroke”-occurs when a blood clot temporarily blocks an artery. TIA’s are temporary, but are predictors that a real stroke is on the way. About 50 percent of patients have a stroke within one year of experiencing a TIA.
7. Brain injuries caused by falls
Hemorrhaging can occur when an individual falls and hits his or her head. If left untreated, the hemorrhaging can cause brain damage.
8. Spinal cord injury from vulnerable cervical spinal fracture
A cervical spinal fracture, commonly known as a broken neck, can happen from a variety of injuries. However, if a patient is moved, or handled improperly, spinal cord injuries like loss of sensation, paralysis or death can result. This is because of the highly sensitive nature of the bones in the neck.
9. Spinal cord injury from untreated spinal epidural abscess
A spinal epidural abscess is a formation on the spinal cord usually as a result of an infection. If untreated, the abscess can compress the spinal cord that results in motor dysfunction, paralysis or death.
10. Heart attack from irregular angina
An angina is a type of pain or discomfort in the chest area due to poor blood flow to the heart. An angina is a good indication that the patient will experience a real heart attack shortly thereafter. If treated as insignificant, then a heart attack can occur and result in death.
By continuing to highlight these particular health dangers, the more we can learn and reduce the frequency they occur.