Friday, April 23, 2010

Check Out Our New Blog

Our new website is almost ready, but our new blog is up and running! Check it out and let us know what you think.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New Paper Describes Why Even Using a Hands-Free Cell Phone While Driving is Dangerous

A white paper recently published by the National Safety Council concludes that even hands-free cell phone use while driving is unsafe.

“Understanding the Distracted Brain: Why driving while using hands-free cell phones is risky behavior” was published following a January 2004 incident in which a motorist talking on a cell phone ran a red light and hit another car in the intersection, killing a 12-year-old boy. "The driver sped past four other cars and a school bus stopped at the red light, and the car the woman hit was about the third or fourth vehicle that entered the intersection on the green light." Researchers call these situations "inattention blindness." Dr. David L. Strayer of the University of Utah found that drivers using cell phones "fail to see up to 50 percent of what's on the road." This is true even for hands-free calls, though "most legislation targeting distracted driving only focus on texting or using hand-held communications devices." The white paper includes references "to more than 30 scientific studies and reports, describing how using a cell phone, hands-free or handheld, requires the brain to multitask – a process it cannot do safely while driving. Cell phone use while driving not only impairs driving performance, but it also weakens the brain’s ability to capture driving cues." Read more.

Many Hospitals Fail to Report Disciplined Doctors to National Practitioner Data Bank

The Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported that "for almost 20 years, federal law has required hospitals and medical boards to report doctors they discipline -- for medical incompetence, unprofessional conduct, substandard care, and the like -- to something called the National Practitioner Data Bank." However, "many hospitals don't appear to be following the law, says the nonprofit consumer group Public Citizen." Investigators "there found that 49 percent of hospitals in the United States hadn't reported a single doctor to the Data Bank from when it began, in 1990, until the end of 2007."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Quaid Becomes Advocate for Hospital Safety

USA Today reported that ever since actor Dennis Quaid's 10-day-old twins were given an adult dose of the blood thinner heparin, not once but twice, he "has become the self-described 'frontman' for a campaign to improve patient care with the implementation of 'safe practices' as simple as hand-washing and the use of technologies such as bar codes to match medications to patients."

Study: Almost 25% of Cardiologists Ordered Tests for Fear of Malpractice

The AP reported that "substantial number of heart doctors -- about one in four -- say they order medical tests that might not be needed out of fear of getting sued," according to a study published in the Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. Almost "600 doctors were surveyed for the study to determine how aggressively they treat their patients and whether non-medical issues have influenced their decisions to order invasive heart tests." Nearly one-quarter "of the doctors said they had recommended the test in the previous year because they were worried about malpractice lawsuits."

Fewer Preventable Patient Injuries Means Fewer Malpractice Claims

Healthday reported that "a decrease in preventable patient injuries in California hospitals from 2001 to 2005 coincided with a drop in malpractice suits against" physicians, according to a study from the Rand Corporation, a nonprofit research organization. Investigators "analyzed 2001-05 data and found that there were about 365,000 adverse events among patients, such as post-surgical problems and hospital-acquired infections, and about 27,000 malpractice suits in California during that time." The researchers "found a significant association between the annual number of safety lapses that put patients at risk in each county and the number of malpractice claims." Read more.

Immunity for Medical Device Makers Could Cost Medicare Over a Billion Dollars

In a blog at, Jill Replogle wrote, "Medicare could be stuck paying more than $1 billion for monitoring and replacement of faulty pacemakers, according to a statistical analysis commissioned by a group of plaintiffs lawyers. The report says the cost to taxpayers results from the Supreme Court's 2008 ruling in Riegel v. Medtronic, which greatly limited the legal exposure of manufacturers when FDA-approved medical devices were later found to be defective." The proposed Medical Device Safety Act, which "would expand liability for manufacturers of faulty medical devices," is supported by the American Association for Justice.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

IG's Report Finds "Significant Weaknesses" in FDA Inspections of Food Facilities

On The Hill (4/7) "Congress Blog," Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) wrote that "the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General released a new report on the Food and Drug Administration's inspections of domestic food facilities." The "report identifies significant weaknesses...including the fact that FDA inspects less than a quarter of food facilities each year, and that more than half of all food facilities have gone five or more years without an FDA inspection," facts the senator calls "unacceptable."

Toyota Quote of the Day

"We are not protecting our customers by keeping this quiet. The time to hide on this one is over. We need to come clean." ---former Toyota US VP Irv Miller

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

More On Bysiewicz Deposition

The Courant has more on the Secretary of State's deposition, including links to the transcripts for each of the 3 sessions: Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Suicide May Lead to Lawsuit

The Boston Herald reported, "The heart-broken kin of Phoebe Prince are poised to break new legal ground if the lawyer they just hired files a civil suit against [South Hadley High] school officials accused of failing to crack down on the teen tormenters who drove her to suicide, experts said." Attorney Bradley Henry said, "If the school administrators have specific knowledge of harassment and assault and stalking and intimidation and fail or refuse to take steps, then they need to be held accountable." Boston attorney Anthony Tarricone, "president of the American Association for Justice, said Prince's family could consider bringing claims of negligence or civil rights violations." He added, "Parents have a right to expect that their children will be in a safe environment in the schools, public or private."

Monday, April 5, 2010

Bysiewicz Deposition Reportedly Not Going So Well

CT Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz is suing the state Democratic Party to determine that she has the necessary legal experience to run for the position of Attorney General. But the Connecticut Law Tribune reports that her deposition "is apparently going very badly, according to lawyers closely watching the case. In mid-stream, her lawyers on Monday sought to have a judge impose a protective order forbidding the public release of the deposition video or transcript." In the deposition, which "started with a grueling five-hour session last week and continued on Monday, Bysiewicz has had to answer deeply embarrassing questions. She has reportedly been forced to admit that she had never authored a legal brief. Furthermore, according to second-hand reports from lawyers connected to the case, she acknowledged she had never participated in a legal strategy session for a case. The sources said Bysiewicz was asked under oath to list the times she had officially appeared in a courtroom. Her answers were minimal -- in law school, when being sworn in to the bar, and when representing herself in a small claims action."

These questions and answers are important because they are linked to a statutory requirement that candidates for state attorney general have 10 years "active practice" at the bar. "Exactly what that term means has been in debate," and the purpose of the case is for a court to decide the issue. "Bysiewicz has had a license to practice law in Connecticut for well over two decades, but has spent only eight years working for law firms and corporate legal departments. Two of the eight years were spend with a New York firm." Bysiewicz argues that her 11 years serving as secretary of the state should count toward the experience requirement "because she oversees lawyers on her staff and makes legal determinations on the elections issues her office oversees." Read more.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Pfizer Discloses $35M Paid to Doctors, Medical Centers in Last 6 Months of '09

The New York Times reported that "Pfizer, the world's largest drugmaker, said Wednesday that it paid about $20 million to 4,500 doctors and other medical professionals for consulting and speaking on its behalf in the last six months of 2009." The company "also paid $15.3 million to 250 academic medical centers and other research groups for clinical trials in the same period."