Medical diagnostic errors, such as the failure to diagnose a disease or condition or reaching an incorrect diagnosis, are a very serious type of medical malpractice. Diagnostic errors can lead to serious injuries and even death, and unfortunately this happens more than many New Jersey residents may be aware.
The incidence of pertussis (whooping cough) has risen dramatically in recent years reflecting the relative weak immunogenicity of the acellular vaccine compared with the prior whole-cell vaccine used prior to 1996. The vaccine is typically given as a combination known as Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis). To compensate for the reduced effectiveness of the acellular form, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) now recommends that adults and adolescents get booster shots to provide protection from infection. However, the booster has not lowered the incidence of the disease in neonates. The recommendation is supported by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) except for women who have been previously vaccinated.
The risk of developing dementia was closely correlated with Framingham Risk scores in a recent study that looked at 10 year cognitive decline. The findings provide doctors with information about middle aged risk factors for cardiovascular disease and later cognitive decline. Not only is increased risk for stroke and cardiac disease predictable, but now future dementia risk is also measurable. The good news is that by identifying risk factors early and treating them both with physical activity and diet as well as medication where appropriate, these adverse outcomes can be decreased.
Late stage breast cancer in young women is increasing in frequency according to a new report that analyzed the U.S. National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database. The incidence of Stage IV breast cancer in young women has increased at a rate of about 2% a year since 1976. Although the absolute number of young women who are diagnosed with advanced disease is a small one, it has doubled from 1.5 women per 100,000 to 2.9 per 100,000. This increased incidence of Stage IV disease was found in young women of all races, but was especially prominent in blacks and non-Hispanic whites.
Although the HPV vaccine has been recommended for teenage girls to help prevent the development of cervical cancer caused by infection with high risk serotypes of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), about 75% of teenage girls were not current with the HPV vaccination. More than 40% of parents reported that they had no intention of having their daughters complete the HPV immunization process. Parents' reasons for not completing this immunization schedule included beliefs that it was not needed or necessary (17%), safety concerns (16%), lack of sexual activity in the children (11%) and lack of knowledge (10%). This study was conducted between 2008 and 2010 and included a review of the tetanus diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap), the quadrivalent meningococcal (MCV4) and the HPV immunization. About 20% of teens were not up-to-date for the Tdap immunizations and approximately 65% were not up-to-date for the MCV4 immunizations.