Should Older Drivers Be Required to Obtain Physician Screenings?

April 26, 2012 by  
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As the “baby boom” generation grows older, there are an increasing number of senior citizens on the road, and some doctors are suggesting that older drivers should be required to establish that they are medically fit to drive, in an effort to reduce the risk of serious and potentially life-threatening injuries from auto accidents.

In an editorial published last month in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Dr. Donald Redelmeier indicates that the current approach of restricting a senior citizen’s ability to drive only after they have a number of moving violations may need a more proactive approach.

According to the editorial, mandatory screenings should be required, because seniors are not only likely to have slower reflexes and perception, but may be on medications that impair their reaction and ability to drive well. A study by the AAA foundation in 2009 found that 69% of Americans 55 and older are using medications that may impair their driving skills.

While the odds any such a measure becoming law in the U.S. seems extremely remote, it raises the question of why stop with seniors? If doctors believe that drivers must establish that they are medically fit to drive, why not make that a requirement for all drivers, as even younger adults could develop conditions that impact their ability to safely drive?

Auto Accident Deaths Spike on Tax Day

April 13, 2012 by  
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According to new research, drivers should be careful on Monday, as tax day is consistently the deadliest day of the year on roads throughout the United States, with more auto accident deaths than any other comparable day.

The study was published in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), indicating that there was an average of 13 more road fatalities annually on the day income taxes are due in the United States than on any other day.

Researchers collected crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on tax day from 1980 to 2009.

They found a six percent spike in road fatalities that affected drivers, passengers and pedestrians. On a normal day around the same time of year, there were an average of 213 fatal crashes. However, on tax day the average rose to 226.

Although the data does not provide causes, the researchers speculate that the increase is a combination of the increased number of people on the road trying to file at the last minute, many of whom are stressed out. Some of that stress comes from waiting until the last minute, but in other cases it is possibly because tax filers waited until the last minute because they owe, often for the first time, and are worried about their tax situation.

The stress leads to distracted drivers, which leads to auto accidents which sometimes turn fatal, researchers said. While the study focused on fatal crashes, the researchers noted that they saw an increase in non-fatal accidents as well.

Although April 15 is typically tax day, this year tax day falls on April 17th due to the weekend, so be careful. While it is probably too late for advice like “file earlier”, hopefully with the increasing number of electronic filings, this increased risk of auto accidents on tax day will disappear in future years.

15 Passenger Van Rollover Risk Highlighted in NHTSA Safety Tips

April 3, 2012 by  
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Federal traffic safety officials have released a consumer advisory, providing a list of safety tips for those operating 15-passenger vans, which have been found to carry a particular risk for rollover accidents that can have tragic consequences.

The use of 15 passenger vans is particularly common among churches, colleges and other organizations, and they are typically not operated by commercial drivers or companies with a focus on the safe transport of people.

The advisory was issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on March 22, urging everyone travelling in 15 Passenger Vans to use a seat belt on every trip.

The NHTSA also warns that the vans are particularly sensitive to loading and warns that they should not be overloaded under any circumstances. When overloaded, the vans are at an increased risk of suffering a rollover accident, and the vans generally handle poorly and are more unstable when overloaded.

Another factor that could increase the risk of a rollover accident with a 15 passenger van is poor tire pressure. The NHTSA urges all vehicle users to insure that the tires for their vans are the appropriate size and properly inflated before every trip. Spare tires should not be used as anything more than emergency replacements, as they are often older, and most tire manufacturers call for vehicle operators not to use tires that are older than 10 years.

Other tips from the NHTSA include:

  • Owners should make sure the vehicles are regularly maintained.
  •  Owners should have suspension and steering inspected according to the manufacturer’s recommended schedule and make repairs and replacements as needed.
  •  Drivers should be properly licensed and should have experience operating 15-passenger vans.

Maryland Wrong Site Surgery Malpractice Lawsuit

October 19, 2011 by  
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A recent report in the Baltimore Sun highlights a recent medical malpractice lawsuit filed by a Maryland woman whose doctor allegedly removed the wrong ovary and fallopian tube during a cyst removal operation. Known as a wrong site surgery lawsuit, such types of medical malpractice are rare, but completely preventable.

According to the report, the complaint was filed last month in Baltimore City Circuit Court after a doctor who was supposed to remove a cyst on the ovary on the left instead operated on the ovary and fallopian tube on the right. The complaint alleged that the doctor was not supposed to remove any of the woman’s organs, failed to get proper consent and has left her with reduced fertility and the need for additional surgery.

Making matters even worse, the plaintiff alleged that the doctor did not tell her she had removed the wrong ovary, even after she returned days later complaining of pain on her right side. The lawsuit claims that the plaintiff did not discover the mistake until she went to a local emergency room, which discovered that the left ovary, with the cyst, was still in place and the right ovary and fallopian tube were gone.

Wrong site surgery is generally considered a “never event,” or a mistake that is inexcusable and should never occur.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has indicated that wrong site surgery is caused by “poor preoperative planning, lack of institutional controls, failure of the surgeon to exercise due care, or a simple mistake in communication between the patient and the surgeon.” The academy noted that 84% of wrong site surgery lawsuits against orthopaedic surgeons resulted in payments to plaintiffs, as opposed to 30% of other orthopedic surgery claims.

A number of studies have found that wrong site surgery mistakes can be almost entirely prevented when medical staff use extensive checklists, mark operating sites while the patient is still conscious, and confirm those sites with the patient, checklists and other members of the surgery team.

The Maryland malpractice lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. handle potential cases for wrong site surgery and other surgical errors.

To review a potential case with our Maryland surgical malpractice lawyers
Call 1(800) 522-0102 Toll Free 24 Hours a Day, 7 Days a Week
or Complete an On-Line Consultation Request

Maryland Lead Poisoning Rates Continue to Drop

October 12, 2011 by  
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State officials are edging closer to their goal of eliminating childhood lead poisoning in Maryland, but as they continue to win the battle against apartments, they are finding cases in other types of residences on the rise.

There were 531 Maryland children with harmful levels of lead in their blood in 2010, according to figures released by the Maryland Department of the Environment, 22 less children than the year before. The number represents less than .05 percent of the state’s youth.

Most of the cases of lead poisoning were in Baltimore, which also saw its numbers drop by 33 children for a total of 314 in 2010.

However, state officials say that while they are making progress in preventing lead poisoning in old rental units, they are seeing an increase in lead poisoning cases in newer, unregistered rental homes and owner-occupied homes. Neither of those type of dwellings fall under current state or federal lead poisoning prevention laws.

Investigators say 60% of the new cases of childhood lead poisoning in Maryland last year were in homes not covered by state and federal lead poisoning prevention rules. Lead poisoning cases in owner occupied homes rose to 149 in 2010, an increase of 20 cases. The number of cases in unregulated rental units nearly tripled, with 66 new cases last year. There were only 37 total cases in 2009.

Lead-based paint was banned in 1978, but many children living in older urban residences are exposed to old lead paint in poorly maintained apartments. Children can reach dangerously high blood lead levels through exposure to lead paint dust or by eating paint chips. Lead poisoning can cause developmental delays, behavioral difficulties and other health problems.

The Maryland legislature has commissioned a study group to make recommendations on how to prevent lead poisoning in homes not covered by state and federal laws.

MARYLAND LEAD POISONING LAWYERS

The Maryland accident lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. review potential claims for individuals who have experienced damages from lead poisoning throughout the state.

To review a potential case with our Maryland lead poisoning lawyers
Call 1(800) 522-0102 Toll Free 24 Hours a Day, 7 Days a Week
or Complete an On-Line Consultation Request

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