Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog

Going UnderBack in the 1940’s, approximately 69 out of every million who underwent a surgery under anesthesia, died as a result of anesthesia-related injuries. Over the next few decades however, those numbers were dramatically reduced, and going under anesthesia doesn’t automatically mean a much higher rate of death now.

However, despite great advances in anesthetic medicine, anesthesia is still not 100% safe. One of the responsibilities of your medical/surgical team, which includes your anesthesiologist, is to ensure that you’re not at a high risk for anesthesia injuries. They must account for those factors that put the patient at higher risk for complications related to the use of anethesia.

For instance, older patients are at a much higher risk of injury from anesthesia. In fact, the worldwide rate of anesthesia injuries has actually been inching upwards in recent years, and researchers point to the increasing numbers of older people going under the knife as one of the main factors contributing to this increase. As life expediencies increase, the numbers of older patients undergoing surgery has also increased. Older patients, who may have a history of cardiovascular problems including heart attacks, heart problems, or high blood pressure, have a much higher risk of anesthesia-related complications.

worker-safetyThe construction industry sees thousands of injuries and deaths each year and many of them are a result of fall accidents. In response, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently conducted its third annual National Safety Stand Down to Prevent Falls in Construction. The campaign encouraged employers to stop work for a while and discuss fall prevention strategies with their employees.

The construction industry has a poor record in fall protection. Every year, federal inspectors cite more employers for failure to provide fall protection and safety, compared to any other type of violation. That specific failure by construction employers has terrible consequences for those who do the work. In 2014, as many as 40% of construction-related fatalities were caused in fall accidents and there is no indication this rate has decreased.

The good news for workers and their families is that many of future construction fatalities can be prevented. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has put basic guidelines in place that encourage employers to provide fall protection gear, like helmets, safety harnesses and nets, in order to reduce the risk of falls. In addition, workers need to be educated about the risk of falls, especially in certain construction-related operations, like roofing, and painting.

Memorial Day PicThe Memorial Day Holiday is the national holiday dedicated to remembering those who have served and gave the greatest sacrifice for our nation’s security. It’s timing at the end of May also establishes it as the holiday that represents the official beginning of summer.

While many will honor their fallen warriors with flying flags and flowers on graves, most American’s celebrate by listening to the Indianapolis 500, taking advantage of newly opened community swimming pools, enjoying family cookouts, and camping.

It is also a time when those warm weather activities can result in increased risk for serious personal injury. In a press release from 2003, the CDC outlines those summertime activities that pose the greatest risk to participants as the “pursue summertime fitness and fun”. Those risks include increased exposure to sun and heat, an increased risk of danger in and near water, and the importance of food safety.

surgery-676375_1280A new Johns Hopkins study establishes that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. The study calls on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to include medical errors in its annual list of the top causes of death in the United States.

This is not the first study that establishes the role of medical errors in causing injuries and fatalities across the country, but this study is garnering attention for two reasons.  First, it is from a respected institution like Johns Hopkins.  Second, the report calls on the US federal government to name medical errors as a leading cause of death in the country. That step would immediately increase awareness about the dangers patients face every year from medical negligence at hospitals and care facilities across the country.

The Johns Hopkins researchers are also calling for changes in the current system for death certification in order to better record medical errors that cause fatalities. The study estimates that there are more than 250,000 fatalities every year from medical errors. That means medical errors rank just below heart disease and cancer as the top causes of fatality in the United States. Medical errors kill more people every year than even respiratory disease.

Pill BoxMedication errors occur more often than you think, and many of these occur when you are in the safety and security of your own home.

Many of those errors occur because of miscommunication or lack of communication between doctors and patients. If you have not been adequately and correctly informed about dosage instructions and other specifics about the medication you are taking, you are much more likely to make errors. These errors could be serious, or even fatal.

Be smart and informed. Educating yourself is the first step to preventing injuries from medication errors. If you have been prescribed a medication, know what the medication is for. Ask the doctor the brand name of the medication as well as its generic name. Many doctors will expect or encourage such questions, but if your doctor seems brusque and uninterested in answering your questions, you may need to consider changing your doctor.

WheelchairChildren who suffer from cerebral palsy have impaired motor movements, and many of these children are put through invasive surgeries to help deal with those impairments. The surgeries aim at strengthening and lengthening the tendons, and moving muscles to help the child improve their physical capabilities. However, the success rate for these surgeries is only about 50%, which means that a vast number of children who undergo the procedures simply do not see the promised benefits.

That could soon change, however.

Researchers have developed a new assessment tool that will help determine if a child with cerebral palsy is an ideal candidate for invasive surgeries. The assessment tool was developed by researchers at the University Of Washington Department of Mechanical Engineering, and the quantitative tool is called Walk-DMC.

tired driving picDrowsy driving is one of the most underestimated safety risks in the United States, and according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has contributed to more than 7,000 deaths in accidents over the past decade alone.

Contrary to popular expectations, it’s not just people who have not had enough sleep who may be at risk of a drowsy driving accident. There are lifestyle factors that can increase your risk of drowsiness, and therefore make you susceptible to an accident.

For instance, consumption of alcohol is likely  to magnify the effect of lack of sleep, increasing the risk of drowsiness, and causing you to possibly doze off at the wheel. If you have not slept well over the past few days, avoid drinking before you drive. The combination of alcohol and lack of sleep can be deadly.

Several rough sports, like football, have a bad reputation when it comes to brain injury. However, the most brain injury-prone sport, may be something else altogether. According to a recent study by the journal Neurological Focus, the sport that causes the highest number of brain injuries every year is not even a contact sport.

horse ridingSurprisingly, the sport of greatest concern is horse riding. According to the study which focused on brain injuries documented in a database, the sport that caused the highest number of brain injuries was horseback riding, contributing to approximately 45% of brain injuries involving adults. Horse riding, in fact was the single leading cause of brain injury, with the second leading cause of brain injury involving contact sports like football and soccer. However, these two sports accounted for just about 20% of all brain injuries that occurred while playing sports.

That’s not the only study that points to the dangers of riding a horse. Another study that focused on children and adults found that horse riding was the third leading cause of brain injuries. In fact, horseback riding is actually much more closely linked to injuries that result in hospital admissions, than other types of high-risk activities, including motorcycling.

plane 128
On the face of it, it appears that flying is much safer than it used to be. There are statistics to back that up. Over the past few decades, American airlines have managed to fly for years without a single major incident. However, a number of recent fatal accidents show how dangerous it would be for us to become complacent about aviation safety.

The fact is that there are newer risks that are emerging on the horizon, even as the industry battles with older, better-known threats. One of those new threats has to do with the increasing dependence of American carriers on maintenance companies. Many airlines now outsource their maintenance activities to offshore companies, and that has raised the specter of substandard work and ill-maintained aircraft, posing a safety threat.

Another serious issue has to do with the rapidly aging planes in several large fleets. Many carriers continue to maintain older aircraft that may be well past their prime. Older aircraft may not be equipped with safety technology that can possibly divert a safety threat. This is a particularly serious problem among low-budget, so-called discount airlines.

anesthesia bottle 2The frightening phenomenon of anesthesia awareness is a nightmarish one that is fortunately much more rare than you would think. In this phenomenon, a person under anesthesia is able to recall the events surrounding his surgery, while under sedation. Simply put, anesthesia awareness occurs when the medication that is given to the patient to sedate him before the surgery, fails to have the intended effect. In such cases, the patient is not completely sedated, and is actually aware of his surroundings.

In some very rare cases, the person directly feels pressure and pain. These are obviously some of the most severe cases of anesthesia awareness, and can lead to long-term anguish and trauma for the patient. In some of the most severe scenarios, the combination of medications that is given to the patient fail in varying degrees. For instance, medications that regulate sleep and pain control in the patient may fail, while paralytic drugs do not. This means that the patient may actually be awake throughout the surgery, and may even feel pain, but may be paralyzed and unable to explain or articulate this to the surgical team.

Anesthesia awareness is rare, but there are cases of less severe forms of anesthesia awareness that do occur. Medical estimates hold that approximately one patient in every 1,000 experiences some form of anesthesia awareness. In most cases, this is just a fleeting sense of awareness.