South Carolina readers may take an interest in a recent $25 million award rendered by a jury in the case of a boy who suffered severe brain damage from jaundice that went untreated. The boy, who is now 6 years old, was released by a Brooklyn, N. Y., medical center without an exam or follow up, despite the fact that he had rapidly yellowing eyes and skin. The hospital has denied any failure to diagnose jaundice and has pledged to appeal the jury's verdict.
A new study of patients at risk for heart attacks shows that the so-called "July effect," once thought to be nothing more than urban legend, may actually exist in hospitals in South Carolina and nationwide. The phenomenon dictates that the month of July, typically the month when new medical school graduates take positions on teaching-hospital floors, can be deadlier than any other month of the year.
It is estimated that more than 440,000 people die each year in hospitals as a result of preventable errors on the part of doctors and hospital staff. Whether this is due to medical malpractice or negligence, avoidable mistakes are the third leading cause of death in the Untied States, only surpassed by cancer and heart disease. Part of the reason for the frequency of mistakes is likely due to the fact that doctors are sometimes more likely to hide an error that they see than report it, even if they were not the one who erred.