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The misdiagnosis of rare diseases

The World Health Organization reports that rare diseases affect 400 million people throughout the world. A West Virginia resident might be considered to have a rare disease if fewer than 200,000 people in the United States are affected by the same disease. There are no treatment options for most rare diseases, and for others, diagnosis comes so late that treatment may be far less effective.

One reason a disease may go undiagnosed is because it is symptomless. This is the case with gallbladder disease. A rare disease might also be misdiagnosed because of symptoms that are common to a wide variety of illnesses. This may happen with mesothelioma, a type of cancer with early-stage symptoms, such as chest pain and shortness of breath, that may also indicate pneumonia, asthma or just a cold.

State law sets guidelines for construction defects claims

Perhaps you discovered a defect in the master bedroom ceiling of your home, which is currently undergoing renovations.

The work overall is nearly finished, but the contractor has not responded as you wished to your request to fix the defect. What are your next steps according to state law?

NTSB addresses truck safety in 2019-2020 Most Wanted List

The 2019-2020 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements released by the National Transportation Safety Board should be of interest to truck fleet owners in West Virginia. Six of the 10 listed items address safety issues in the commercial trucking industry. For example, distracted driving is a serious issue among truckers, and the NTSB wants to see it eliminated. It encourages states to ban the non-emergency use of handheld electronic devices save for navigators.

In the effort to reduce the use of impaired substances, including synthetic cannabinoids, among truck drivers, the NTSB has solicited a plan from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. It has also asked the FMCSA for access to all its positive drug and alcohol test results.

Study links stress with higher risk for surgical errors

Researchers have found that surgeons are 66 percent more likely to make errors on patients during stressful moments. West Virginia residents who are about to undergo surgery should know that medical errors contribute to between 250,000 and 440,000 deaths every year in the U.S. Many of these occur in operating rooms.

For the study, researchers at Columbia University's Data Science Institute asked a professor of surgery to perform several operations while wearing a Hexoskin Smart Shirt under his scrubs. This shirt measured the electrical impulses that trigger heartbeats, and the variation in times between heartbeats let researchers determine the surgeon's momentary stress levels. At the same time, laparoscopic video recordings were able to document any errors made.

Nursing home misses signs of pregnant resident

A woman in a nursing facility in Arizona delivered a baby on Dec. 29. She has been in a vegetative state for over 20 years and unable to get out of her bed. Officials are treating the incident as a sexual assault since there wasn't a way that the woman could have consented to interaction with another person to get pregnant. The CEO of the nursing facility resigned from his position a few days after the investigation was launched. The woman's family is seeking the assistance of an attorney.

The woman has been at Hacienda HealthCare since she was a toddler because she is a quadriplegic and has a disorder that causes seizures. The baby who was delivered in December appears to be healthy, but the woman's family wants to know how she got pregnant. Nurses and other staff at the home didn't notice a difference in her condition. She didn't gain weight and seemed to be the same as she had been for the duration of her time in the facility, so they never thought that she was pregnant.

How motorcyclists stay safe on winter roadways

Few things are more fun than hitting West Virginia’s roadways on the back of a motorcycle. Every time you climb behind the handlebars of your bike, though, you must understand your increased risk of sustaining an injury. 

Motorcycle accidents in West Virginia are about on par with the national average. While there are usually more riders on the road in summer months, the state’s climate allows for year-round riding. If you routinely ride on winter roadways, though, you must take additional steps to stay safe on your bike. 

FMCSA notes rise in dump and ready-mix delivery truck crashes

In West Virginia and throughout the country, the trucking industry is experiencing more and more accidents. This is due to the prevalence of bad driving habits like speeding, distracted operation and fatigued driving. All of these issues have been compounded with the lure of by-the-load incentives.

Another factor, experts say, is a poor effort to prevent truck accidents. This is contrasted with the early 2000s, which saw a decline in accident rates due to improved technology and more effective driver safety campaigns. However, some are working to cut down on fatigued driving and improve in-cab monitoring technology.

EHRs linked to medical malpractice

West Virginia residents who have been subjected to medical negligence should be aware of a study that found a link between malpractice and electronic health records, or EHRs. The study, which was published in Health Affairs, revealed that more than half of pediatric safety errors were related to these records. For example, the study found that one physician ordered five times the recommended dose of a medication because the electronic health record did not alert properly.

The lead author of the study, who is also the director of the National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare, explained that the usability of EHRs plays a major role in medication errors. For example, the visual display can become cluttered, raising the odds that mistakes will be made. The record may also fail to provide feedback when a medication is improperly prescribed.

Several conditions commonly misdiagnosed in women

Misdiagnosis is a common problem for women in West Virginia who seek medical care with symptoms that could be attributed to many different issues. People who suffer harm due to a misdiagnosis or other medical error might be entitled to compensation for lost wages, pain and suffering, medical expenses or other damages. Among the conditions that are commonly missed in women because of equivocal symptoms are diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome, thyroid disease and heart disease.

Diverticulitis can be missed by doctors when women seek treatment because they have serious bloating. Bloating can be the result of stress, the menstrual cycle or other causes. Because of the number of causes of bloating, doctors might misdiagnose it. Serious bloating might mean the patient has diverticulitis, a bacterial infection or ovarian cancer. Irritable bowel syndrome, too, is commonly misdiagnosed because it can look to medical professionals like a symptom of premenstrual syndrome. IBS might cause stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea, gas or cramping. Dietary changes and low-dose antidepressants can be effective against IBS once it is accurately diagnosed.

HOS rules blamed for contributing to rise in trucking deaths

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires that commercial truckers take a 30-minute rest break after eight consecutive hours of driving. Many in West Virginia and across the U.S. complain that this rule is inflexible and that the result is more truckers speeding to meet deadlines. Some also say that if they could drive straight through their 11-hour shift, they would not be so drowsy by the end.

These complaints come in the wake of a recent increase in large-truck fatalities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 4,761 people, including about 1,300 truckers, were killed in large-truck crashes in 2017. That's 392 more lives than the previous year. It also marks a 29-year high.

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