DC Metro Area Medical Malpractice Law Blog

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

 

 

What Patients Need to Know about Electronic Medical Records

Posted in Patient Safety

The proliferation of electronic medical records has, in many ways, benefited the health care industry. In theory, these sophisticated systems provide a centralized location for medical professionals to access and update patient information, instantaneously making data available to all of the patient’s providers. These systems can lower costs and reduce opportunities for error.

But are these systems safe?

Truth be told, the advent of new records systems has challenged many health care facilities and led to devastating complications, such as:

•    Decreased efficiency. As professionals attempt to learn complex new medical records programs, they can lose valuable time with their patients. Red tape can slow down critical patient care processes.

•    Medication errors. Typos and other similar discrepancies can cause deadly mistakes in the types and amounts of medications dispensed to patients.

•    Incompatibilities. Facilities that use different types of electronic medical records can have compatibility issues when sending patient information back and forth with partner hospitals and doctors officers.

•    Fraudulent billing. Computers generate an increasing number of medical bills; providers can more easily add confusing line items on purpose that increase insurance payments.

•    Downtime. When electronic records systems crash, health care facilities must scramble to use alternate databases – or paper records – until they come back online. The time spent reconciling these two methods can be considerable.

Clearly, electronic medical records systems can benefit patients, doctors and hospitals. But we cannot ignore the possible adverse effects of these systems. Health care facilities and providers must work together to improve their functionality, reliability, and compatibility to keep patients safe.

Have You Suffered As a Result of Medical Records Error?

When medical offices fail to coordinate patients’ medical records, the quality and continuity of care can suffer dramatically. If a medical records error harmed you or a loved one, call a DC medical malpractice attorney to discuss your legal options.

How do you find and track such errors? Read "DECODING MEDICAL RECORDS IN MALPRACTICE CASES" to learn more.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month: What Are Some Promising Advances?

Posted in Women's Health Issues

Frustratingly, breast cancer continues to be one of the leading causes of death among women, despite 40+ years of research into its etiology and billions of dollars spent to develop treatments for the disease and related cancers. However, some glimmers of hope may be emerging in the desperate fight to eradicate this disease and to help women survivors and their families cope.

 

In the world of treatment… a relatively new and exciting procedure known as Seed Localization has made it easier for surgeons to operate on women. This process is used for non-palpable tumors (i.e. you can’t feel them), and it’s an alternative to the standard care, which involves placing a wire in the breast on the day of the surgery. In Seed Localization, a surgeon implants a small radioactive seed in the breast at the site of the tumor five days prior to surgery. On the day of the surgery, the surgeon uses a special probe, called a gamma probe, to sweep over the patient’s breast while she sleeps to identify the seed. This process allows him or her to extract the seed and the cancer with it in a very precise way, leading to less disfigurement and more accuracy. The process is very safe, even though it involves a radioactive implant.

 

On a more global front, powerful new research suggests that certain dietary strategies might be useful not only for preventing breast cancer but also for treating it or at least restraining it. One globally renowned cancer specialist, Thomas Seyfried, has been building a case that cancer is a metabolic disease. Seyfried and other likeminded cancer specialists point out that cancer rates closely correlate with rates of obesity and metabolic diseases. Also, many indigenous cultures throughout history and throughout the world have effectively been cancer free. The lack of cancer in these diverse cultures cannot be explained by genetics alone; something (or some things) in their diets and lifestyles clearly protect against cancer.

 

One increasingly popular theory is that the low carbohydrate loads of traditional diets may help explain these populations’ resistance to breast cancer and other cancers. Along those lines, many prominent researchers are now testing so-called "ketogenic" diets (low carb, high fat diets) to treat various cancers. The basic theory is that low carbohydrate diets are low in glucose (which cancer cells need to live), and they also minimize the secretion of insulin and insulin-like growth factor, both of which have been implicated in cancer development.

 

These developments are encouraging, and we hope that scientists will soon turn the tide and win this important fight. Contact the team here at Regan, Zambri & Long if you need help with a personal injury or D.C. medical malpractice case.

 

Cancer is a mysterious disease. Could radiation from our cell phones also play a role in its etiology? Experts Say Cell Phones Are "Possibly Carcinogenic"

 

 

6 Dangers of Pharmacy Compounding: What Patients Need to Know

Posted in Medications

For millions of Americans, prescription drugs provide the help they need to live healthy, independent, pain-free lives. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) carefully examines each new drug before allowing pharmaceutical companies to release them onto the market.

However, patients sometimes have special needs that standard prescription medications cannot meet. Compounding pharmacies present solutions to these anomalies, creating customized formulations or delivery methods for patients with allergies or other special considerations. Since a licensed pharmacist must change the ingredients of a medication to meet individual needs, the practice comes with heavy inspections and heightened accountability. Unfortunately, many compounding pharmacies fail to protect public health adequately.

Compound drugs can and do save lives. However, when pharmaceutical companies engage in unapproved compounding practices, the ramifications for patients can include:

•    Contamination. Individual or small batches of medication are more vulnerable to harmful fungi or other particles.

•    Incorrect potency. While FDA-approved formulations have been shown to produce consistent results, custom mixtures may be too weak or strong for patients.

•    Diminished quality. Drugs mixed at independent compounding facilities often lack the quality control of major pharmaceutical manufacturers.

•    Impurities. Outside agents in compound drugs often reduce their efficacy.

•    Exacerbated illness. Patients with serious health issues often receive compound formulations. These can fail to adequately treat conditions, and their side effects can in turn severely impact an individual’s wellbeing.

•    Higher costs. An unfortunate number of compounding pharmacies take advantage of insurance billing policies by loading compound drugs with expensive ingredients. Prescription plans often pass these costs to customers or refuse to cover medications.

When patients receive compound medications from pharmacies, they expect these drugs to perform as indicated without causing unexpected side effects or illnesses. If a compound medication has harmed you or a loved one, a Washington D.C. medical malpractice attorney can help you hold the pharmacy accountable and obtain the compensation you deserve.

Curious about the diverse dangers of the compound pharmacy industry? Read Pharmaceutical Compounds: Investigating and Regulating Their Use (Part 2)