DC Metro Area Medical Malpractice Law Blog

New Dietary Guidelines Call for a Drastic Reduction in Sugar Intake – Cholesterol and Fat Limits Raised

Posted in Uncategorized

The Dietary Guideline Advisory Committee (DGAC) has changed its recommendations for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ dietary guidelines, which are used to create menus for schools and public food services and to outline food assistance programs like WIC and SNAP.

The Committee seeks to heavily restrict the amount of added sugar Americans use on a daily basis, along with some other changes:

• The guidelines recommend no more than 12 teaspoons of added sugar per day. Currently the average American consumes between 22-30 teaspoons.

• Sugary drinks and sodas will no longer be available in schools. A tax may be imposed on these products.

• Nutritional labels will now be required to have a line clearly defining the amount of added sugar. Labels may be moved to the front of packaging.

• SNAP and WIC policies may restrict people from buying “unhealthy” foods.

Previous guidelines have failed consumers by doing nothing for the population’s obesity and sickness rates. The guidelines – new and old — have been met with skepticism from contradicting research:

• When the guidelines were first issued in 1980, they encouraged Americans to cut back on fats. Trying to restrict fats led to the creation of highly processed foods, a staple of the American diet that is packed with sugars and stripped of fats. Last fall, the committee admitted that it is no longer following this restriction.

• The long-standing cholesterol-intake restrictions told Americans to stay away from foods with high dietary cholesterol, like egg yolks and shellfish. The claims that these foods drastically raise blood cholesterol have been debunked, and the committee finally acknowledged that by removing the restrictions.

• In 2013, an Institute of Medicine Study contraindicated the guideline’s sodium restrictions. The study initially found that lowering dietary salt intake too much may actually lead to adverse health effects.

• Several studies have found that saturated fats may not be directly linked to heart disease, and that replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats could exacerbate blood cholesterol problems and cause inflammation.

Diet is not the only element that can influence heart heath: check out Broken Heart Syndrome Leads to Increased Risk of Cardiovascular/Other Illnesses

Broken Heart Syndrome Leads to Increased Risk of Cardiovascular/Other Illnesses

Posted in Men's Health Issues, Women's Health Issues

The physical pain you feel after the loss of a loved one is real. Studies conducted in the UK indicate the first 30 days of grief bring immediate increased risk for heart attack and stroke. The body’s response to loss starts psychologically and impacts physical responses. Over a period of time, this can lead to adverse health outcomes.

Evidence of “broken heart syndrome” provides insight into how to cope after loss. Research shows that maintaining health during that first critical month after a loss significantly decreases the risk of death. Consider these shocking statistics from a UK study of 30,000 broken hearted individuals ranging in age from 60-89, when compared to those who had not experienced the recent loss of a partner:

  •  The risk of heart attack or stroke doubles in the first month after a partner’s death.
  •  The risk of blood clots found in the lungs is 2.5% greater.
  •  Older adults face a 25% increase in the risk of death stemming from grief within the first year of loss.
  •  After a year, the evidence suggests that increased risk of death starts to decline.

Protect yourself and your loved ones with these tips:

Encourage Stress Relief

Take advantage of loss support groups, yoga, meditation, and other stress relief exercises. These focused activities directly decrease the effect of stress on the body, thereby reducing the chance of cardiovascular events.

Take Cardiovascular Support Medicines and Improve Your Diet

 Aspirin or cholesterol reducing prescriptions may be able to support the body’s blood flow. Reducing consumption of sugar, refined carbohydrates and rancid vegetable oils may also provide some modicum of protection against inflammation and CVD risk. Ask friends and family to help you remember to take your medicines regularly.

Seek Advice From a Health Care Provider

 Everyone handles grief differently. Don’t be afraid to ask your physician about additional support methods. You or a loved one may need further medical care or emotional support to cope.

Disturbing Study Shows Psychiatric Illness More Likely After Brain Injury

Posted in Men's Health Issues, Patient Safety, Women's Health Issues

A 1999 study, Rate of psychiatric illness 1 year after traumatic brain injury, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, sought to determine whether patients who experience traumatic brain injury might be at increased risk of developing psychiatric illness. No prior study that had considered this possibility used accepted research standards or chose a sufficiently large sample size.

The researchers who designed this study relied on a traditional two-state diagnostic method. Over the period of a year, Wales’ Cardiff Royal Infirmary admitted 3,667 adults (over age 17) with a head injury. Each patient, admitted between July 1994 and June 1995, suffered from traumatic brain injuries. All participation was voluntary, and the study included 196 patients, 65% of whom were male. Patient ages ranged from 18-94 years. Each participant completed a questionnaire, and doctors conducted a standardized interview on 164 patients who exhibited high indicator levels for psychiatric illness.

One year following their TBI trauma, of 62 patients identified by the questionnaire, 30 had been diagnosed with a psychiatric problem, per the ICD-10’s criteria, and 20 patients had been diagnosed with multiple psychiatric issues.

The most common illnesses in the test group included depression and panic disorder. The study noted a higher rate of psychiatric illness in those who had suffered a prior traumatic brain injury. No statistically significant relationship existed between those who tested positive for mental illness and those who sought compensation in a legal claim.

As we’ve discussed in previous posts about scientific studies of TBI, correlation does not imply causation. In other words, just because researchers can find associations between two variables does not mean one has caused the other. In this study, for instance, many factors could have contributed to higher rates of psychological illness, including:

History of mental illness;

  • Age;
  • Diet;
  • Level of formal education;
  • Degree of brain trauma;
  • Nature of the TBI-induced disability;
  • Etc.

To strategize effectively to obtain fair compensation and excellent medical care after a brain injury, you need qualified, smart and skilled people on your side. Consider connecting with the Washington D.C. brain injury lawyers at Regan, Zambri & Long today for a consultation. Our D.C. medical malpractice attorneys can help you and your family understand your potential options to seek compensation.

As we’ve reported before, brain injury in sports is a huge and growing problem. Learn more here: How Is the NFL Handling Its Concussion Problem? A Look at the Statistics

9 Winter Safety Tips From the Red Cross

Posted in Patient Safety, Public Health

This winter is set to be one of the coldest on record, with massive cold air fronts predicted for most of the United States. Fortunately, the American Red Cross offers steps anyone can take to ensure their safety during this inclement season.

While we settle into the winter season, get acquainted with appropriate seasonal safety habits. A little bit of preparation can go a long way toward ensuring everyone has a great time in the snow. Follow these 9 safety tips from the Red Cross to avoid possible dangerous situations this winter:

  • Know the symptoms of frostbite, which can include: numbness, flushed gray, white, or blue skin, or numb or waxy skin.
  • Always shut down space heaters and ensure fireplace embers are fully extinguished prior to leaving a room or going to bed.
  •  The signs of hypothermia include shivering, dizziness, confusion, and exhaustion. If you notice these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.
  •  Layers of lightweight clothing trap heat and regulate body temperature. Also, don’t overlook necessities like gloves and a hat.
  • Continuously run water, even at a trickle, to prevent frozen pipes. Maintain a consistent thermostat night and day.
  •  Set space heaters on a firm, level surface, and keep flammable objects a minimum of three feet away.
  •  Stoves and ovens are not designed to heat homes; they are a fire hazard if left on.
  •  When using a fireplace, make sure you have a metal or glass fire screen large enough to prevent rolling logs or sparks from escaping.
  •  Protect your pets. If they must reside outdoors, ensure they have adequate shelter for warmth and a secure source of drinkable water.

The coldest, darkest poses quite a few safety challenges. Adhere to the tips above and stay safe, no matter what Old Man Winter throws your way.

For more insights, please see our earlier post: Tips to Protect Yourself Against Extreme Cold

Can Reducing Sugar and Starch Improve Health Outcomes for Diabetics?

Posted in Public Health

Diabetes is a growing problem in America; a well-documented type 2 diabetes epidemic has stressed our health care system’s infrastructure and sparked existential debates over the quality of our food supply and nutrition advice. Type 2 diabetes has been linked to high consumption of sugar and starches and has been associated with a variety of serious metabolic diseases, including heart disease, insulin resistance and cancer.

 

Many respected scientists and doctors have been arguing that the health outcomes for diabetics might improve through the careful monitoring of insulin levels and blood glucose as well as through dietary changes. New science suggests that eating foods high in sucrose can be dangerous to diabetics, but are the implications of this science even broader? For instance, do foods that generally have high levels of carbohydrates pose a threat to diabetics? If so, how might the dietary advice currently given to diabetics be changed to improve their quality of life?

 

One problem that many diabetics are faced with is obesity – diabetes and obesity are so closely linked that many medical professionals now call them “diabesity.” In an effort to control obesity, food makers now create and sell low-fat or non-fat varieties of various foods. This low fat paradigm, enshrined in the USDA Food Guide Pyramid, has not appeared to have slowed the growth of obesity. Similarly, in clinical trials, somewhat surprisingly, low fat diets have not shown a substantial ability to protect against cardiovascular problems or general metabolic health issues. Thanks in part to these lackluster clinical results, scientists have been looking at other nutritional approaches.

 

A recent study in Nutrition Journal reveals that lower-carbohydrate diets may be more likely to treat the symptoms of diabetes and other metabolic conditions, according to many biomarker results. In 24 trials comparing lower carb diets to lower fat diets, lower carb diets have come out ahead significantly in terms of being able to lower blood glucose and insulin levels, raise levels of HDL (the “good” cholesterol) and lower triglycerides. Much research needs to be done to determine what diets should be used with which patients under different conditions. But the “everyone should be on a low fat diet” paradigm is beginning to lose popularity among the leaders in the field of nutrition.

 

Our D.C. medical malpractice attorneys can help you and your family understand your potential options to seek compensation. Call us today for a free consultation.

 

Diabetics should consult their doctors before making any decisions regarding their treatments, and they should also be aware of the dangers involved in certain pharmacological treatments. See here for a specific and disturbing example: Compounding Pharmacy Report Reveals Limited Regulation.

 

 

Study Published in New England Journal of Medicine Says Medical Malpractice Reform Will Not Translate into Healthcare Savings

Posted in Public Health

In its quest to create healthcare savings, the medical malpractice reform movement advocates setting caps on malpractice lawsuits. But, does this strategy actually work?

It’s conventional wisdom that medical costs are “too high.” Likewise, physicians do worry about getting sued. As a result of these fears, doctors can order tests and other medical services for the sole purpose of protecting themselves from potential legal action. The advocates of reform say that these unnecessary, expensive tests bloat health care budgets and lead to much higher costs.

 

However, evidence abounds to challenge this narrative.

 

For instance, a Rand Corporation study just published in the New England Journal of Medicine examined what happened in three states that enacted tight, tough medical malpractice reform. Contrary to conventional intuition, these states dis not see any substantial savings regarding costs or improvements in ER care. Quite interestingly, the authors suggest that physicians “are less motivated by legal risks than they think they are.”

 

In South Carolina, Georgia and Texas, doctors can only be sued for malpractice in situations of “gross negligence” – a high bar to meet. Analysts have come up with different interpretations of this study. But it’s not an isolated piece of evidence. A study published just a month earlier in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that so-called defensive medicine costs (i.e. costs stemming from doctors ordering unnecessary tests to deflect possible liability) account for just 2.9 percent of hospital costs.

 

In other words, if reformers really want to make a dent in healthcare costs, they need to look elsewhere. For instance, they might consider making sure the next round of Dietary Guidelines for Americans (to be published in 2015) come into line with current thinking in nutrition science.

 

Doing so might help staunch the rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other metabolic diseases that have gotten much worst over the past three decades, since the first Dietary Guidelines for Americans launched in 1980.

 

For help understanding your rights and options regarding your case, call the Washington D.C. medical malpractice lawyers at Regan, Zambri & Long to set up a free consultation with us.

 

Here’s the reality about the scope of medical malpractice: Medical Errors More Deadly Than Car and Truck Accidents Combined

 

How Is the NFL Handling Its Concussion Problem? A Look at the Statistics

Posted in Men's Health Issues, Patient Safety, Public Health

Football is a dangerous sport. Players across the nation of all ages and levels of talent suffer injuries every day, from sprained ankles and pulled muscles to serious concussions, torn ligaments and tendons, and shattered bones. Fortunately, for the past several years, teams and leagues have made conscious efforts to decrease the number of player concussions. During the 2013 year, the NFL reported that the league saw a drop in concussions by 13 percent.

During the preseason and regular season in 2013, a total of 228 players got concussed. In 2012, by comparison, 261 players suffered concussions. Helmet to helmet contact, responsible for 53 percent of concussions in 2012, was responsible for less than half of concussions in the 2013 season. The NFL believes this improvement stems from a number of rule changes enacted to protect players from injury. Striking another player with the helmet can now be penalized, and intentionally striking another player in the head with the helmet, known as targeting, can result in an ejection from the game, The stiffer penalties and changes in culture – along with a growing understanding of the dangers of concussions – have led to positive adjustments that will hopefully continue.

Another potential method of protecting players from concussions has also appeared on the scene: head impact sensors. These devices can be used inside the helmet (and inside the mouth guard) to measure the force from a blow to the head. Developers hope the sensors can contribute to more sensitive safety engineering.

Do you need insight from an experienced Washington DC brain injury lawyer?

Players, parents and doctors alike hope these positive signs signal a change in football practices and safety culture, especially in light of studies highlighting the danger of concussions, such as this one: New Study Highlights the Dreadful Reality of Concussions in College Football.

Laws of the Game: FIFA the Latest Sports Organization to Face Concussion Suit

Posted in Public Health

On August 27, 2014, a coalition of soccer players and their parents initiated a class-action lawsuit against FIFA (the Fédération Internationale de Football Association). In the complaint, the plaintiffs charge the international soccer governing body of neglecting players in the monitoring and treatment of head injuries sustained during games.

Rather than pursuing financial compensation, the lawsuit seeks to change specific rules within the sport, including how many times players may “head the ball” during a match and how teams manage substitute players for individuals under examinations for head injuries.

The filing against FIFA notes high school soccer players suffer a disproportionate number of concussions compared to wrestling, softball, basketball, and baseball combined, representing nearly 50,000 injuries in 2010. Highly publicized head injuries during the World Cup event shed even greater light on the need for changes in rules and regulations within the sport.

The suit represents the most recent in a spate of concussion related cases, which have affected the NCAA, NHL, and NFL.

Steps to Take after Sustaining a Sports Related Concussion

Regardless of the rules, players of any sport should have the right to take proper measures after a head injury to get the treatment they need. When colliding with a ball, player, or other structure during play, take the following actions to protect yourself physically and legally:

  • Get immediate medical treatment. If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of a concussion, cease playing immediately and seek out the services of a physician.
  • Make a record. Retain any evidence that may have contributed to the injury, or ask a parent or other trusted individual to do this for you.
  • Watch for lasting effects. If a head injury continues to cause problems long after it happens, keep track of these issues and consider contacting a personal injury attorney.

Playing soccer – or any other sport – is an enjoyable and rewarding activity, but improper rules and management can be harmful to players. If you have been affected by a sports related concussion and believe your governing organization may be to blame, contact a D.C. personal injury attorney today.

Concussion lawsuits have been on the rise recently. Check out this article from 5 years ago, when our legal team reported on the dangers of early return to playing football: 
Sports Concussion Injuries Linked to Early Return

 

Insurance Industry Quashes Medical Malpractice Reform in California – Implications for the Rest of the Country

Posted in Medical Malpractice, Tort Reform

Few political issues have been distorted more than the concept of “medical malpractice reform.”

 

If you ask the average citizen what the consequences would be of raising medical malpractice damage caps, he or she would probably tell you the following:

 

  • Raising caps would threaten doctors and force them to practice “defensive medicine.”
  • It would also lead to spikes in insurance rates and put money into the pockets of lawyers at the expense of the citizenry.

 

But many respected studies and independent journalistic reports have shown, time and time again, that these fears are totally unfounded. They’re myths. But the insurance industry benefits from promulgating these ideas about medical malpractice reform.

 

Some voters, safety advocates and politicians (including California’s popular Senator, Barbara Boxer) believe that enough is enough. Golden State voters recently had a chance to vote on Proposition 46, a proposal that would have lifted a cap on medical malpractice damages. For almost four decades, that cap has stagnated at $250,000 without increasing or keeping apace with inflation. Voters ultimately defeated Proposition 46 on the ballot, thanks in part to a multi-million dollar “No on 46” campaign financed by insurance industry interests.

 

The measure would have also mandated drug and alcohol testing for doctors and forced physicians to refer to a statewide database before prescribing painkillers to their patients.

 

Bob Pack, who lost his two children (ages 7 and 10) after a nanny high on prescription medications ran them over in 2003, put the situation plainly: “insurance industry profits trumped patient safety.”

 

But the battle over Proposition 46 at least suggests that the timbre of the national debate has changed. Insurance companies are now on the defensive, and the myths about medical malpractice reform are slowly but surely fading in the light of objective media inquiry.

 

If you or someone you love needs help fighting for your rights regarding a hospital error or prescription drug related injury, the Washington D.C. medical malpractice lawyers at Regan, Zambri & Long would be happy to provide a free, confidential consultation. Call us now for the insights you need.

 

Can’t doctors police themselves? Not necessarily: studies suggest that supervision is needed: Physicians Reluctant to Report Impaired and Incompetent Colleagues

 

New Studies Highlight the Dreadful Reality of Concussions in College Football

Posted in Men's Health Issues, Patient Safety

The nation is obsessed with NFL concussions and wants to know why they happen, what long-term effects they have on athletes and how the game of football should be changed to protect players. Yet our collective concern for college football athletes leaves something to be desired.

 

A new study may change that attitude and shift the national conversation about concussions. Researcher Christine Baugh, working in collaboration with Harvard University and Boston University’s CTE Center, conducted a survey of 730 college football championship players to get a handle on the prevalence of concussions in college football and gain insight into what can be done about these events. Baugh’s research found that concussions in college likely go vastly under reported. For every instance of a medically-diagnosed concussion, she found 21 other instances of “bell ringers” that never got reported. Not all head injuries lead to concussions or injuries, obviously. However, it’s highly likely that medical practitioners only see the tip of the concussion iceberg, so to speak.

 

College athletes are, by their nature, competitive. They want to stay in the game and keep playing, even if it hurts. Likewise, coaches want to win, and they have strong incentives to keep hurt players on the field.

 

Baugh also conducted a study of FCS coaches and surveyed the attitudes of players towards their coaches. This research revealed that freshman feel relatively comfortable telling coaches about possible concussions, often agreeing with the statement “If I report what I think might be a concussion, my coach will think I think I did the right thing.” However, upperclassman did NOT agree with that statement nearly as much. This suggests that recent educational campaigns about concussions might be working. Younger players, who’ve received more intense education about head injuries than their older classmates, are more cognizant of the dangers. Clearly, however, we have a long way to go to understand and grapple with head injuries in college sports.

 

If you or someone you love suffered a head injury or other serious injury during a college sports match, call the Washington DC brain injury attorneys here at Regan, Zambri & Long for a free and confidential consultation.

 

President Obama’s White House says it wants to curb concussions, but is Washington doing enough? White House Summit on Sport Concussions