Sunday, November 29, 2009

Deadly Weekend in Eastern CT

The Norwich Bulletin reports that "Despite a heavy police presence this holiday weekend, five Connecticut residents, including three from Eastern Connecticut, died in car accidents."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

NFL to Change Policy on Concussions

The NFL "will soon require teams to receive advice from independent neurologists while treating players with brain injuries, several people with knowledge of the plan confirmed Sunday." Read more.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Blumenthal Calls for Sweeping Changes to Adverse Event Reporting Law

The Hartford Courant reported that on Nov. 16, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal called for "sweeping changes to the state's 'adverse event' reporting law for hospitals, following a story in The Courant on Sunday showing that most reported mishaps are kept secret from the public and closed by the state without an investigation." Specifically, "Blumenthal said the law should be rewritten to promote greater disclosure of errors and accidents by hospitals and greater transparency to help patients evaluate medical facilities." In addition, Blumenthal "called for an increase in the number of state investigators, as well as statutory authority for his office to seek civil penalties against hospitals that do not comply with the law."

Blumenthal "said the vast majority of medical decisions and procedures are done correctly, but the minority that's driving down the state's high standards of care should be readily disclosed so the public can make 'informed decisions' about where they should seek care," the Connecticut Post reported. The attorney general stated, "We have now a culture of secrecy and concealment that is completely unjustified by any of the rationales given," adding that "the public needs as much information as possible from doctors, hospitals, and the state Department of Public Health." Blumenthal also stressed the "need for monetary penalties to hold hospitals responsible."

Monday, November 16, 2009

CT's Adverse Event Reporting Law Lets Hospitals Avoid Scrutiny

The Hartford Courant reported that a Connecticut law "intended to protect patients by making them aware of hospitals' errors has ended up making it easier for hospitals to avoid scrutiny." Currently, "under the state's 'adverse event' reporting law, hospitals are required to inform the state Department of Public Health when patients suffer certain serious unintended harm," but "public access to hospitals' adverse events has fallen 90 percent since the legislature redrafted the law" in 2004, and "hospitals now report a fraction of the mishaps they once revealed." According to the Courant, "that secrecy was written into the law after hospitals balked at the state's original adverse-event legislation, which gave the public broad access to reports of medical errors and accidents."

In a related piece, the Hartford Courant reported that even though "more than 1,200 adverse-event reports have been filed by Connecticut hospitals since the law was changed in 2004, including at least 116 in which patients died," only "about one in four are investigated, down from half of cases investigated before the law was revised." Although "the Department of Public Health launched investigations in most cases in which doctors performed surgery on the wrong body part or the wrong patient, as well as cases in which patients were killed or seriously harmed as the result of a medication error," Connecticut "officials investigated only about half the reported sexual assaults on patients, and half the cases in which sponges or other foreign objects were left inside patients after surgery."

Sunday, November 15, 2009

WSJ Criticizes Holder's Decision to Try Terrorist in Civilian Court

The Wall Street Journal describes Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to move the 9/11 terrorists' trial on war crimes from a military courtroom at Guantanamo Bay to a civilian federal court in NYC "intellectually and morally confused, dangerous and political to a fault." Read more.

Tips to Avoid Becoming Victim of a Hospital Error

CNN reports on Kerry Higuera, who went to a hospital after she started bleeding three months into her pregnancy, and was mistakenly given a CT scan of the abdomen after the hospital confused her with another patient, exposing her unborn child to radiation. These types of preventable errors are all too common. Some tips to avoid them happening:

1. Identify yourself to every doctor, nurse and technician you encounter by full name, date of birth and the reason you're there ("My name is Mary Smith, my date of birth is October 21, 1965, and I'm here for an appendectomy."). You might feel stupid doing so, but it will help prevent mistaken identity.

2. Also say: "Please check my ID bracelet."

One of the ways a hospital is supposed to confirm your identity is by checking your bracelet. "Of course, you should check your bracelet to make sure the information on it is correct."

3. Say: "Please look in my chart and tell me what procedure I'm having."

"Make sure the nurse is looking at your chart when she tells you what procedure or test you're having," says Ilene Corina, president of PULSE, New York, a grass-roots patient safety organization.

4. Say: "I want to mark up my surgical site with the surgeon present."

Hospitals these days often hand patients a pen and ask them to mark where they're going to have surgery. Corina says you should do it in front of the surgeon who will be with you in the operating room, and not just in front of the person who hands you the pen.

"If you mark it and the surgeon doesn't know about the marking, what's the point of marking it?" Corina asks.

5. Be impolite.

"If the nurse comes in and says, 'Are you Mary Jones?' and you're really Miriam Jones, you might just nod your head and say yes because you're too polite to correct her," Foster says. "Don't be polite."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Maclaren knew of stroller defect for "at least five years"

The New York Post reported, "Maclaren knew for at least five years that its strollers could lop off a child's finger, but did nothing about the dangerous defect until federal regulators all but forced it to, The Post has learned." Despite recently issuing a recall, Maclaren "failed to notify the Consumer Products Safety Commission when it first became aware of even a 'potential danger,'" and could "face a fine of $1 million or more, sources said." Robert Moro, an engineer and former compliance officer with the CPSC, "testified in 2007 that 'this stroller contains a substantial design defect when compared to other types of designs of strollers intended to be used by children.' The way the stroller was designed and manufactured in China violated federal guidelines intended to prevent a gruesome 'scissoring effect,' Moro said."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Freedom Isn't Free

A view of Ft. Trumbull, New London, CT

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

$875k Settlement by CVS for Selling Expired Goods in NY

New York officials announced an $875,000 settlement with CVS Pharmacy to stop sales of expired products — including food, medicine and baby formula. Read more.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Power Windows Endanger Kids

In the "Wheels" blog at the New York Times, Christopher Jensen wrote, "A consumer group says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is greatly underestimating the number of people – including children - injured or killed by power windows." of Leawood, KS, "wants the federal agency to require automakers to equip all power windows with an auto-reverse feature, so that a window would automatically stop and open if it encountered an obstruction while closing." The group obtained its information on power window-related injuries via two Harris Interactive surveys.

RI Hospital Fined, Ordered to Install Cameras Due to Surgical Errors

"Rhode Island's largest hospital was fined $150,000 and ordered to take the extraordinary step of installing video cameras in all its operating rooms after it had its fifth wrong-site surgery since 2007, state health officials said Monday." Read more.

Troops' Spinal Injuries Increase

USA Today says "Afghan insurgents are using roadside bombs powerful enough to throw the military's new 14-ton, blast-resistant vehicles into the air, increasing broken-back injuries among U.S. troops." Read more.

Monday, November 2, 2009

November Newsletter is out!

Lots of good articles including: Top 10 Riskiest Regulated Foods; Cheerios Sued Over Health Claims; Taser Maker Advises Police Not to Shoot Suspects in Chest; New Report on Dangerous Products and Corporate Misconduct; NASCAR Driver to Meet Injured Fan;
NYTimes: "Eating Ground Beef is Still A Gamble"; CPSC Studying Exploding iPods; US Supreme Court Takes Another 2nd Amendment Case; Tort Reform Should Not Deny "Just Compensation"; and more. Stay informed--read the November newsletter here .