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Illinois patients beware of missed diagnosis

In the state of Illinois, as in many other parts of the U.S., patients rely on reliable and competent medical care. While medical errors and negligence may be rare, there are times when the odds catch up with us.

Recently, there has been some attention on proper labeling, strict monitoring and adequate storage of medical equipment such as syringes. In one hospital operating room, a physician tragically watched a little boy die in front of him due to an error on a mislabeled syringe.

A healthy child had been admitted for a routine operation. No one suspected he would never leave the hospital. Medication vials were sterile and unmarked, but the anesthesiologist noticed that after an injection of what was supposed to be lidocaine, the child was unresponsive.

The staff frantically administered CPR but to no avail. The little boy had mistakenly received a very concentrated solution of epinephrine. It was a similar medication, but with vastly different results on children. The surgeon lives with that haunting memory.

Simple medical errors can have devastating results, whether they take place in Illinois, in an operating room, or in a doctor's office.

Safe medication regulatory agencies strive to emphasize the critical nature of correct labeling of syringes, medical containers and other drugs by recommending sizes for specific medications. While relying on this system frequently works, in a small number of cases, human error trumps the best efforts. Operating room personnel may have conflicting systems of identification with fatal results.

Experts recommend a uniform standard for labeling of syringes, but changing situations mean adaptation on the part of everyone. Propofol was one syringe substance that had never been labeled due to its unique appearance and texture, but with each innovation in creating new medications, it can make it impossible to discern this substance from other drugs.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of medical error of any kind, you have rights under Illinois malpractice guidelines. Anyone who feels they have been subjected to missed diagnosis, surgical error, anesthesia error or any other tragic accident caused by negligence from a hospital or physician, should know that a medical malpractice lawsuit may be an option.

Source: Outpatient Surgery, "The Real Consequences of Medication Errors" Mathew Fricker, May. 14, 2014

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