Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New CT Law Will Require Drivers to Move Over for Emergency Vehicles Stopped on the Side of the Road

Drivers are required to slow down and move over one lane of traffic, if they can, when they see an emergency vehicle with flashing lights on the side of the road. Violators will be served an infraction and can be fined up to $2,500. If there is an injury or a death, fines can be as much as $10,000. Article here.

GAO: CMS Nursing Home Program Omits Hundreds of Troubled Facilities

The AP reports that the GAO recently issued a report on CMS' Nursing Home Compare program, which "identifies up to 136 nursing homes as 'special focus facilities' subject to more frequent inspections because of their living conditions." The GAO found that the program "leaves out hundreds of troubled facilities" but does not identify them.

Merck Paying Over 3,100 Vioxx Death Claims

Bloomberg News reported, "Merck & Co. is paying claims by the families of more than 3,100 users of its Vioxx [rofecoxib] painkiller who died of heart attacks or strokes blamed on the drug, according to a law firm administering a $4.85 billion settlement fund." The company is paying "about 3,000 claims for heart attack deaths and at least 122 strokes," BrownGreer LLP, the claims administrator, said. The drug was "introduced...in 1999" and withdrawn "in 2004 when a study showed the drug doubled the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Merck set up the fund, which covers claims of death and lesser injuries, in 2007 after reserving $1.9 billion to fight 26,000 Vioxx suits." BrownGreer said that "families of heart attack victims who died will get an average payment of about $374,000."

Friday, September 25, 2009

Studies: Parents Impact Teen Drivers

USA Today reports: "Two studies coming out in the journal Pediatric Friday show that parents have a big impact on the safety of teen drivers. Parents who are actively involved in setting rules and boundaries, and following up on those rules, lead to safer drivers. Teens who say their parents are actively involved cut their risk of drinking and driving by 70%, are half as likely to speed and 30% less likely to use a cellphone. And kids who don't have access to their "own" car — they have to ask for the keys — are half as likely to get into a crash."

Falls Prevention Awareness Week

It's Falls Prevention Awareness Week. Learn more from the CDC.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

MA Law Would Permit Police to Forcibly Vaccinate Kids

H1N1 hysteria appears to be leading some of us down the path to dictatorship. Massachussetts, the cradle of liberty, has passed a bill, sooned to be signed by the governor, that will allow the police to forcibly quarantine adults, remove kids from their parents and forcibly vaccinate them against the virus. I hope this news piece was wrong: http://www.foxnews.com/search-results/m/26523575/rapid-response.htm#q=mandatory+influenza+shots

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

GAO: USDA Failed to Tell Schools About Food Recalls

The AP reported, "Federal authorities failed to tell schools about recalls of potentially tainted peanut products and canned vegetables, and cafeterias may have unknowingly served them to children, the Government Accountability Office reported Tuesday. A GAO investigation found the Agriculture Department didn't always make sure states and schools were notified promptly about recalled food distributed through the federal school lunch and breakfast programs, which serve 30 million students." According to the GAO, it took as much as a week for states to determine which products had been recalled, and schools could have served the suspect food in the meantime. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, in a written statement, said that the agency was working to develop a better food safety system; the US Food and Drug Administration also said it was moving to improve notification to schools.

FDA Bans (Some) Flavored Cigarettes

USA Today reports that on Tuesday, the FDA "banned the sale of candy-, fruit- and clove-flavored cigarettes. The move was authorized by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which President Obama signed in June."

"These flavored cigarettes are a gateway for many children and young adults to become regular smokers," FDA commissioner Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg said, according to a front-page story in the New York Times. The Times reports, however, that there has been confusion among distributors as to what constitutes a cigarette, and if flavored cigars or cigarillos are affected by the ban.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

AAJ President Responds to Obama Healthcare Speech

AAJ President Anthony Tarricone said last night: "Tonight, President Obama made clear that our current health care system is broken, and reform is needed to provide coverage for the uninsured and lower health care costs for all Americans.

“The pilot programs outlined by President Obama will require more detail. But the focus must be on reducing medical errors and improving patient safety. Over 98,000 people are killed every year by preventable medical errors. Reducing accountability won’t improve health care.

“Trial attorneys see first-hand the effects medical errors have on patients and their families. We should keep these injured people in mind as the debate moves forward.”

The AAJ suggests keeping the following points in mind when contacting your legislators on this issue:

* Medical malpractice is about real people, with real injuries. The Institute of Medicine estimates that 98,000 people die each year in the US from preventable medical errors. And, this number does not even include the countless other people who are injured by medical errors. Rather than reforming the legal system that provides protections to these injured patients, we must focus on reforming the medical system in this country to prevent these errors from ever happening in the first place.

* Americans should not have to give up rights, in order to gain the right to healthcare. President Obama has repeatedly stated that in America, healthcare is a right. Likewise, Americans should not have to relinquish their constitutionally protected 7th Amendment rights in order to gain access to quality healthcare. Patients’ rights are not a bargaining chip.

* Health courts would be an expensive, bureaucratic nightmare. They would exchange a patient’s constitutional right to a jury trial for a schedule of pre-determined outcomes that would be handed out by judges more interested in appeasing special interests than rendering justice to the injured patients standing before them. And health courts would not protect patients from wrongdoers, but instead, would shield doctors and hospitals from accountability for their careless, harmful acts. Health courts truly are an unfair proposition for patients.

* Practice Guidelines should not create immunity for negligence. Giving doctors immunity for complying with guidelines is an idea at odds with the fundamental principle of practice guidelines which has always been to improve patient quality by giving doctors some type of guidance when making decisions based on sound medical expert research. Practice guidelines were never intended to be stringent, inflexible rules for doctors to follow in exchange for legal immunity.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

AAJ President Responds to Bill Bradley's Comments on Malpractice Reform

Anthony Tarricone, president of the American Association for Justice (AAJ), wrote the following letter to editor of the New York Times:

The “grand bipartisan compromise” proposed by former Senator Bill Bradley would force Americans to trade one right for another: gain health insurance, but lose legal options if injured by another’s negligence through no fault of their own.

The Government Accountability Office and Congressional Budget Office have both studied medical negligence and determined that limiting the legal rights of patients would save the health care system little money.

Mr. Bradley’s “medical courts” concept would not only make it more difficult for injured patients to hold wrongdoers accountable, but also create an entirely new bureaucracy with costs far exceeding the system we now have to address medical negligence.

If we really want to lower health care costs, let’s find ways to lower the estimated 98,000 annual deaths that are caused by medical errors. Eliminating malpractice would lead to fewer cases being filed, and better yet, patients would be safer and have better outcomes.

This is the sort of grand compromise no one could disagree with.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Westerly Man Killed in Plainfield Accident

From the Day:

A Westerly man was killed Tuesday evening when he was thrown from his motorcycle after trying to avoid a car that was backing up on the road.

Police said Cynthia Cipriano, 45, of 368 Pond Hill Road, was driving a minivan on New Road when she missed her turn onto a residential driveway.

Cipriano started to back up on New Road. At the same time, 28-year-old Solan Bowen was driving his Harley-Davidson down the road, police said.

Police said Bowen approached the crest of hill as Cipriano was backing up, forcing Bowen to swerve to avoid the minivan. Bowen was thrown from the motorcycle.

He was taken by Life Star helicopter to Rhode Island Hospital, where he died, police said.

Members at the state police accident reconstruction team responded to the scene to assist with the investigation.

The accident remains under investigation

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

September Newsletter Available Here

The September newsletter is out; if you're not on the mailing list, sign up!

Professor: Tort Reform Will Not Lower Healthcare Costs

In its Prescriptions blog, the New York Times interviews Tom Baker, a professor of law and health sciences at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, on reasons why tort reform may not lower healthcare costs. He argues that "making the legal system less receptive to medical malpractice lawsuits will not significantly affect the costs of medical care." Baker calls tort reform "a red herring," arguing that "as the cost of healthcare goes up, the medical liability component of it has stayed fairly constant. That means it's part of the medical price inflation system, but it's not driving it." He calls the idea that there are many frivolous lawsuits "ludicrous" and points out, "We have approximately the same number of claims today as in the late 1980s. Think about that. The cost of healthcare has doubled since then."

Whistleblower Accuses Toyota of Hiding Data in Hundreds of Accident Cases

The Los Angeles Times reported that "Toyota spent years concealing evidence from victims of hundreds of rollover accidents that resulted in death and injury, a former top lawyer for the automaker says." Dimitrios P. Biller of Pacific Palisades, "a former managing counsel for Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc., said in the suit that the company repeatedly forced him to illegally withhold information from opposing lawyers and made him resign in September 2007." In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Los Angeles, "Biller accuses the world's largest automaker of destroying data in more than 300 accidents that proved vehicle roofs were substandard." Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, "said that if what Biller says is true, the financial repercussions for Toyota could be massive."