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Seattle Personal Injury Law Blog

Understanding misdiagnosis and how you can prevent it

When you are feeling uncomfortable or experiencing suspicious pain, one of the first things you usually do is contact your doctor. As a patient, you rely heavily on your medical provider's ability to diagnose your symptoms and recommend a treatment option that will give you the best chance at regaining full health. At Elk & Elk, we have helped many people in Washington to become more educated about the danger of being misdiagnosed.

A misdiagnosis is when your doctor makes an incorrect assumption about what health problems you are having. Mistakes can be made because of a lapse in communication, carelessness and because some issues have the same symptoms. In fact, according to CBS News, nearly 12 million people who see outpatient care are incorrectly diagnosed every year in the United States. While your doctor may be confident in his or her ability to provide accurate diagnostic results, sometimes test results could be misread. Additionally, if your doctor is rushing to make a diagnosis and fails to spend time talking with you to really understand what you are experiencing, it could also increase your risks of being misdiagnosed. 

Car crashes and anxiety

There are many aspects of motor vehicle wrecks to take into consideration, such as the financial consequences of a crash (property damage, lost wages, and medical costs, among others) and the physical repercussions of an accident (broken bones, lacerations, etc.). However, there are other hardships victims endure following these wrecks, such as depression and anxiety. Moreover, anxiety may even play a role in a motor vehicle collision happening in the first place.

A traffic crash can generate anxiety for many reasons. Some people worry about their future, whether a permanent disability has disrupted their life or a temporary disability has resulted in serious changes, such as the loss of income due to an injury. Moreover, people may develop anxiety because they worry about litigation, whether they are unsure of their ability to hold a negligent driver responsible or have never been to court before.

Controversy after DUI driver escapes prison in cyclist's death

For some drivers in Washington, their personal agenda is far more important than their resolve to drive safely and follow the rules of the road. They may engage in negligent behavior such as speeding, change lanes carelessly and following other vehicles too closely. Negligence can also be when someone chooses to drive under the influence, or travel when they are fatigued. Unfortunately, these kinds of behaviors put the lives of other motorists at risk and can result in severe injury or even death if an accident occurs. 

This is what happened in a controversial case out of California when a man who was driving under the influence, crashed into a cyclist resulting in her death. The victim, a mother of five, was riding her bicycle across a street when she was hit by the driver. Investigators found that the man's blood alcohol content was nearly 0.18, which is roughly double the legal limit in the state of California.

When to call 911 to report a reckless driver

For many folks in Washington, the daily commute to get from one place to another can quickly turn monotonous with each repetitive minute. For some, the urge to get somewhere faster is satisfied by speeding or swerving around other vehicles to avoid traffic. For others, impatience can create danger when drivers engage in reckless behavior or allow themselves to get frustrated with other motorists.

When people are in a situation where they questioned if another driver is creating a dangerous risk with their poor driving practices, it can be difficult for them to assess whether or not it is appropriate to call 911 and report an emergency. According to Consumer Reports, individuals should only contact 911 if they feel that their life is in immediate danger because of the other motorist's actions. Minor traffic violations, albeit annoying, should not be hastily reported as one call could tie up a 911 operator when his or her assistance could be much more effective on other calls. If 911 is contacted, the caller should pull over and describe his or her location. A description of the perpetrator's vehicle is also recommended. 

Newborn head and brain injuries

There are quite a few ways that your infant's head could be affected adversely during labor and delivery. Often, head injuries can be natural outcomes of childbirth and may not even require treatment. However, if some injuries are not recognized and treated quickly, what might have been a minor issue could lead to serious brain damage. At Elk & Elk Co., Ltd., we often advise mothers on the best legal approach for dealing with infant brain damage that could have been avoided.

You may have noticed that many newborns have misshapen heads; the Merck Manual explains that this is not a problem at all. In fact, the ability of the unfixed skull bones to shift and elongate the head actually prevents injury as the baby goes through the birth canal. If there is a problematic skull fracture, though, you may see an indentation. This could lead to bleeding between the skull and the outer layer of brain tissue, also known as an epidural hematoma. Often, hematomas put pressure on the brain, and your baby may have seizures or apnea as a result. 

After a car accident, avoid these 5 mistakes


Driving is a mundane daily task for many people: Driving to and from work; dropping the kids off at school; running to the grocery store. Driving is something the average person doesn't think much about.

Which is why a car accident comes as such a surprise - such a shock. A car accident is impossible to prepare for. When it happens, adrenaline and panic may take over.

How can you protect your elderly loved one in a nursing home?

When you make the decision to place your loved one in a nursing home facility in Washington, chances are you spend considerable time weighing your options and comparing facilities to determine an optimal fit for your loved one and his or her needs. However, it can still be difficult to trust staff members to provide compassionate and vigilant care for someone you are so concerned about. Fortunately, there are proactive things you can do to check on your loved one's safety without getting in the way or exhausting your resources. 

According to SafeWise, each time you visit the nursing home facility where your loved one resides, here are some of the things you can do to check on your loved one's well-being and better protect him or her from unnecessary injury or stress:

  • Pay attention to things that seem out of the norm. This could be a change in your loved one's attitude, suspicious injuries or even sudden aversions to certain foods or activities.
  • Discuss any concerns you have with qualified staff members who can provide you with insight into your loved one's well-being. Report any concerns to staff in a timely manner to prevent problems from worsening.
  • Be vigilant in observing your loved one's surroundings. Are things clean and sanitized? Is bedding fresh? Do staff members interact with residents in a way that is respectful and genuine?

Why does a good night's sleep matter so much?

As you drive to work in Washington, you notice that the vehicle in front of you is weaving slightly in its lane and driving slower than the flow of traffic. It could be a drunk driver. But, it could also be a drowsy driver. 

According to the Sleep Foundation, about a third of all motorists in the U.S. have fallen asleep while driving, and 60 percent have driven while feeling drowsy. You do not actually have to nod off to pose a danger to yourself and everyone on the road around you, though. Fatigue can affect you in the same way that alcohol does. 

Lack of oxygen and resuscitation of newborns

One of the dangers that infants face during labor and delivery is the lack of oxygen to the brain. Washington doctors should be able to recognize and eliminate or mitigate the risk factors to reduce the chances that the baby will suffer birth injuries that could be permanently debilitating or fatal. A person with training specific to resuscitation of infants should be available at every delivery.

According to the Merck Manual, roughly 10 percent of infants need some level of respiratory assistance, often because of an obstruction of the airway is preventing lung expansion. Blood, meconium and mucus are commonly removed through suction, either with a bulb or a catheter. 

When can adverse medication events be prevented?

You need to undergo a procedure in a Washington hospital, but the idea of anesthesia makes you nervous. Should you be concerned? Patients Safety & Quality Healthcare reports that, according to one study, your chances of a medication mistake during pre-operative procedures is about one in 20. That same study indicated that there may be medication errors or bad reactions to drugs during about half of all surgeries.

Not all of these errors may cause problems, though. In the self-reported incidents of one large hospital, two-thirds of the mistakes did not lead to harm, although the potential was there. And while medication errors are preventable, you may still have a reaction to a medication that no one could have known about beforehand. Still, eliminating the potential for errors puts you in a much better position to recover from your procedure.

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