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  • As Giffords Continues To Recover, U.S. Talks About Brain Injury

    News reports over the past week or so have covered the remarkable progress of Congresswoman Giffords as she makes strides towards recovery from a brain injury sustained in a shooting rampage in Arizona. A car accident law firm in Louisiana knows that brain injuries can arise in any incident that causes trauma to the head. Car accidents, sports injuries, slip and falls injuries and, indeed, injuries from firearms can all lead to traumatic brain injury.

    As the Congresswoman starts her journey to recovery, experts do not yet know the total extent of the damage caused when the bullet pierced her skull. The tragic incident sparked many debates across the country, some political, some not. One debate that has surfaced includes a radical surgery for patients with brain injuries.

    The procedure, called decompressive craniectomy, is not a new concept. The procedure was first introduced in the early 1900s, however, doctors shied away from using the procedure in the 1990s due to the extreme risks associated with the surgery. The procedure is still used in specific cases by civilian and military doctors

    A small section of the skull is removed from the patient to relieve pressure in the skull. Geoffrey Manley, chief of neurosurgery at San Francisco General Hospital, says when the procedure is “applied appropriately, it absolutely works.” Swelling inside the skull occurs in many brain injury cases. The closed cavity in the skull allows pressure to build. Brain structures, including the brain stem can be crushed from the increase in pressure. The procedure allows an avenue to ease the pressure and allow the brain to heal after trauma.

    Medical experts, including Manley, acknowledge that the procedure has not had adequate testing. However, studies are underway regarding the procedure to determine which head trauma injury patients will receive the most benefit from its use. Manley says that the surgery “is being applied too widely today.” Sometimes head trauma will cause the brain to twist inside the skull. There may not be swelling associated with that type of brain injury.

    Five years ago an ABC news correspondent was injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq. The correspondent was placed in a coma and he received a craniectomy. The correspondent has to wear a helmet and was not allowed to roll over in bed after the procedure.

    Eventually, the correspondent healed sufficiently for doctors to repair the man’s skull. Doctors patched the open area of the correspondent’s skull with a synthetic prosthesis. The correspondent says that the original section of skull that had been removed “did not survive.”

    Doctors can make a synthetic prosthesis that matches exactly through the use of CT scans of the patient’s head. Dr. Shelly Timmons, director of neurotrauma at the Geisinger Health System in Danville, Pennsylvania, says occasionally doctors can freeze the portion of removed skull and implant it in the patient’s abdomen in order to keep the skull fragment alive and protect it from infection.

  • Cameras at stop lights save lives

    Though many drivers believe that red light cameras are the bane of urban driving, a recent study shows that cameras at stop lights are effective tools that reduce car accidents and save lives. According to researchers from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, red light cameras saved 159 lives during the five year time period of 2004 to 2008. Researchers believe that if red light cameras had been installed in all large cities in the United States during the same time period, around 815 lives could have been saved.

    The researchers who conducted the study reviewed statistics from 99 cities in the United States with populations over 200,000. The researchers compared the statistics from cities with red light cameras to cities that did not. Researchers also measured the rate of change in cities that introduced red lights cameras and compared two different time periods, 1992 to 1996 and 2004 to 2008. Fourteen cities had red light cameras during the time period of 2004 to 2008 and deadly car accidents caused by drivers who ran a red light decreased by 35 percent in those cities. In comparison, cities that did not have red light cameras saw a decline for similar accidents but only by 14 percent.

    Researchers extrapolated further conclusions from the comparison above. They concluded that cities with cameras from 2004 to 2008 saw a 24 percent lower rate of fatal red light car accidents than without cameras. Based on the percentage, researchers estimated those cities experienced 74 fewer fatal red light car accidents and based on the estimated number of fewer accidents, cities with cameras prevented 83 Battle Creek car accident deaths.

  • New York’s infant medical malpractice fund takes effect Oct. 1

    Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo didn’t get everything he wanted in his first budget battle as head of state government. Patient advocates fought back Cuomo’s efforts to have a cap imposed on awards in medical malpractice and Denver assault cases, for instance, but he did prevail in overseeing the creation of a fund to pay medical expenses for some birth injuries caused by medical errors.

    Proponents of the measure say it will allow medical costs for babies neurologically damaged by medical mistakes to be paid annually; parents and guardians can still pursue medical malpractice cases based on emotional distress and other damages. The law goes into effect on Oct. 1 of this year.

    Cuomo’s Medicaid reform adviser, Jason Helgerson, says between 150 and 200 babies are expected to qualify for access to the fund each year.

    Helgerson said the fund will be a better vehicle for providing medical care costs for injured infants than judges and juries.

    “Almost always, the court is going to be incorrect because it is very difficult to project the length of a child’s life, and the changes in technology or treatment,” Helgerson said. “The court tends to be quite conservative and, as a result, we think that courts tend to over-allocate for the children’s health-care needs. When you do it on a pay-as-you-go basis, like this approach does, we think we will save money.”

    Under the new law, the fund will pay for “birth-related neurological injuries,” defined as brain or spinal cord injuries caused by oxygen deprivation or mechanical injury during labor, delivery or resuscitation. The injury leaves the baby with a permanent, “substantial motor impairment or with a developmental disability.”

    While the law might sound like a good idea to many, at least one aspect bothers many patient advocates: the fund will pay for care at prevailing Medicaid rates, meaning those babies aren’t going to always get the best of care; a level of care most would say they’re more than entitled to.

  • Alcohol Possible Factor in Southern California Auto Accident

    Auto accidents are an unfortunate part of driving but sometimes they can be avoided by obeying the law. Wearing a seatbelt is not just the law but it can prevent injuries and even save lives. Driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol is against the law and if done can have devastating consequences.

    On December 17th in Southern California , four passengers were in a car accident. According to authorities, the four passengers were driving home around 2:30 am in the morning when they had apparently “drifted off the road, crossed another lane of traffic and struck a utility pole. “

    Authorities with the San Bernadino County Sheriff’s Department have confirmed one victim in the accident was pronounced dead at the scene, while the remaining victims were taken to the hospital with only minor injuries.

    Authorities believe alcohol may have played a role in the car accident case but charges have yet to be brought against the driver as a final accident report is still under investigation.

    Accidents such as these can usually be prevented. It is important to exercise extreme caution during the holiday season, as many drivers are not aware of the dangers they may encounter.  

  • Concussions and Youth Sports

    Youth sports have always been a great outlet for kids. Most people have at least one fond childhood memory of playing a youth sport. However, while kids should have the opportunity to play sports, efforts need to be taken to make sure they are safe when they play. This is particularly the case when it comes to preventing brain injury.

    Concussions have unfortunately become fairly common in youth sports. In fact, they are the second most common youth sports injury.

    Concussions can be a serious health problem if not properly treated. Concussions are caused by an electrical surge which can occur in the brain when it comes to a stop quickly, like from a head impact. Doctors treat concussions through having patients rest and avoid activities which could risk further injuring the brain.

    Thus, it is important for concussions in youth athletes to be spotted quickly, so as to avoid further injury. When a child is suspected to have a concussion, they should see a medical professional. Also, it is important for youth who suffer a concussion to not be allowed to start athletic activity again until they are cleared by a doctor.

    Concussions can also pose long term problems. This is particularly the case when one suffers multiple concussions, as this could possibly lead to permanent brain injury. This is why it is not only important to increase efforts to spot and treat concussions in youth athletes, but to take measures to prevent them from occurring.

    Thankfully, as concussion risk in youth sports has increased, so too has concussion awareness. However, organizations and schools need to be careful not to rest on their laurels when it comes to youth concussions. While good steps in concussion awareness and prevention have been taken, further action should be taken to try to reduce the risk of serious injury children face when they play organized sports.

  • About the Employment Firm

    The Law Offices., is engaged exclusively in the practice of labor and Norfolk employment law, with a concentration in the areas of unpaid minimum wages and overtime compensation.

    The number of lawsuits seeking recovery of unpaid wages and overtime compensation pursuant to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act has increased dramatically in recent years. This trend will likely be enhanced in the State of Florida as a result of the 2004 passage of a an Amendment to the Florida Constitution which increased the State minimum wage to $6.15, with potential for future inflation based increases (currently $6.40). Our mission is to assist employees in recovering unpaid wages and overtime compensation, and helping employers comply with federal and state wage laws.

    The “Overtime Puzzle”
    Most employees and employers are aware of the general requirement that “non-exempt” employees be paid time and one-half when they work more than 40 hours in a workweek. However, the determination of whether an employee is exempt is one of the most complicated puzzles in employment law. In 2004, the Department of Labor attempted to clarify these issues by implementing the new “Fair Pay” regulations. Nonetheless, determining which employees fall within the various exemptions remains a complicated task that employees, employers, lawyers and courts will likely struggle with for years to come.

    Other Wage Claims
    In addition to claims for unpaid minimum wages and overtime compensation, the firm regularly handles claims for unpaid wages arising from breaches of employment contracts and the failure to pay wages, commissions and/or accrued paid time off benefits upon termination of employment.

    Our Mission
    Our main goal is to remain on the cutting-edge of the developing law relating to unpaid wages and overtime compensation. In addition to representing employers and employees in lawsuits arising in this area, the attorneys of the firm and its affiliate offices’ attorneys frequently provide instruction to employees, employers and other attorneys. In doing so, the firm and its affiliate offices are able to provide efficient, creative and effective representation of both individual and corporate clients. We welcome you to contact us, and to use this site, including the Free Overtime Quiz, as a resource.

  • Report: Doctors overlook as many as 90 percent of hospital errors

    A recent study that uses a new method for identifying medical errors indicates that as many as 90 percent of hospital mistakes are overlooked. The study suggests that the prevalence of medical malpractice is grossly underestimated and the hospital error rate may be 10 times greater than previously believed, USA Today reports.

    “The more you look for errors, the more you find,” one researcher said.

    The majority of hospitals track errors through voluntary error reporting or coding systems recommended by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The researchers conducting the study used a new method called the Global Trigger Tool.

    When the Global Trigger Tool and AHRQ methods were tested on 795 patient records, the AHRQ method revealed 35 errors but the Global Trigger Tool found 354 errors in the same records, USA Today reports. Some researchers are not surprised by the large disparity in the numbers.

    “Nobody is surprised that systems that rely on voluntary reporting would tend to let a high percentage of cases fall through the cracks,” a researcher said. “It’s not a surprise that a method based on careful chart abstraction by knowledgeable reviewers would do a much better job in tracking adverse events.”

    Researchers also noted that the number of errors is likely greater because both error tracking systems rely on medical records and cannot detect as many errors as in-person observation.

    The most common errors found were medication errors which are common portland personal injury. Errors in surgical and nonsurgical procedure, and common infections were also found. “These are the areas where we have always found problems,” a researcher said. “Obviously, we still have a lot of room for improvement.”

  • Researchers create a formula to detect texting drivers

    The dangers of texting while driving are now well known. Studies have shown that the level of impairment and distraction for a driver while texting is similar to that of an intoxicated driver. Reaction times are much too slow and we have seen countless car accidents caused by texting drivers. Regulators have struggled to create laws that act as an effective deterrent, although efforts in some states have had noticeable benefits.

    Now, a physicist has found a way to stop the behavior at the source – the phone. Researchers have detected a pattern in finger movements for text messages being typed while driving. People apparently have more erratic typing motions while driving, much like someone stumbling while they walk.

    Researchers have created an equation that predicts whether or not a phone user is driving that is 99 percent accurate. The equation would theoretically allow software developers to create an application that locks the phone or shuts it down if a user is driving and texting.

    This is an exciting safety innovation and would help act as a deterrent to the dangerous behavior without necessary legal reform in every state. The physicist who developed the equation says that he thought of the idea when contemplating his daughter getting behind the wheel. He said that an application could help prevent accidents and help parents enforce safe driving habits for their teens.

    It could also have applications in law enforcement, similar to the use of ignition interlocks for repeat DUI offenders and other palm beach criminal charges. “Eventually you might see something like this required on the phones of distracted drivers who’ve been involved in accidents,” he said.