Winter-Weather-300x204It’s hard to live in Indiana in the winter. While this year has been more mild than most, those trapped on Indiana roads in December know that conditions can change in a matter of minutes, making any commute a dangerous proposition.

It is critical that Indiana drivers prepare themselves for the sudden changes that winter can bring. A number of good safety tips can help make you and your loved ones safe while traveling on Indiana highways and byways over the next couple of months.

For instance, ensuring that your car is in good working order can reduce the possibility of being stranded on the side of the road. Winter temperatures that fall well below freezing are hard on batteries, belts and hoses. Have your car inspected, the battery tested, and make sure that all the fluids filled.  A full reservoir of windshield washer fluid can ensure that your visibility is at its best when driving in slushy, wet road conditions. If your tires are worn out, you will have limited control over your vehicle if the roads are covered in ice or snow. Having tires with a good tread is critical to safe driving.

apothecary-437743_1280-300x200Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, which is a horrible fact. Fortunately, in the future, we may have scientists and researchers who are much better equipped to deal with this severe health care problem.

The country’s first PhD in healthcare quality and patient safety is currently being offered at North Western Medicine. The aim of the program is to prevent the more than 440,000 fatalities that involve medical errors every year. The first batch of students with a PhD in healthcare quality and patient safety graduated in 2016. A second batch is already participating in the program.

According to experts who were involved in the program, medical errors are a major problem plaguing the healthcare industry, and over the years, too few concrete steps have been taken to reduce the errors and their impact. This is a problem that requires expert minds. In it’s current for, the medical community is ill-equipped to deal with the magnitude of the problem.

cloudy-1866581_640-300x200Even as many new big-rig trucks now come with safety features, factors like trucker fatigue and safety defects continue to persist, contributing to many truck accidents every year.  The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently conducted a truck safety study and found that two major factors contribute to truck accidents. Safety defects in trucks and extended driver work hours continue to be contributors to many trucking accidents every year and as a result, in 2015, there were a total of 3,815 trucking accident fatalities across the United States.

In the study, researchers found that approximately 75% of the trucks that had been involved in accidents had defects that only came to light during inspections conducted after the accident had occurred. Truck defects that were serious enough to qualify as “out- of -service” violations were more than four times as likely to be involved in an accident as compared to trucks that did not contain such defects. Examples of “out- of- service” violations include malfunctioning brakes, worn-out tires, and damaged headlights.

However, all kinds of vehicle defects increase the risk of an accident but brake violations were found to be some of the most dangerous increasing tractor-trailer crash risk by as much as three times.

Candles-00153-300x204The holiday season is definitely not when you expect to be visiting the emergency room, but emergencies occur when you least expect it and often when they are most inconvenient. Consumer Reports has plenty of tips and advice for those who might find themselves waiting at an ER for emergency medical treatment this holiday season.

You can reduce the chances that you will need emergency medical treatment by avoiding injury risks. Many of the injuries that result in emergency room visits over the holiday season involve falls while hanging decorations. Others are a result of fires involving Christmas lighting. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that as many as 15,000 people are injured and have to be rushed to emergency rooms every holiday season as a result of decoration-related injuries.  

Drive safely. Car accident rates spike every year between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Avoid driving under the influence of alcohol – drunk driving results in many serious accidents over the holiday season, many of which require visits to the emergency room. Have a plan to secure a designated driver and carefully plan out in your mind a safe route home. Be sure to avoid overcrowded routes. Be especially careful on the roads, and look out for intoxicated drivers when you are out and about, especially late at night. Drive defensively and stay alert.

mri-782457_1280-300x300When patients have more one-to-one face time with radiologists, it could possibly help them better understand their own results, and have a more proactive and informed role in their own care. Those are the results of a new study from the University Of Michigan Medical School.

The study focused on 1,976 patients of radiology, who were given a questionnaire about their understanding of radiology results. The researchers found that patients very often hoped for more face time with radiologists to help them better understand the results. As many as 84% of the patients in the study expressed interest in meeting with their radiologists in order to discuss the findings of their exams. About 20% were actually willing to pay at least $40 or more to see a radiologist. They were also three times more comfortable when an image was analyzed by a radiologist, than a non-radiologist.

The study also reveals that many patients continue to be uninformed about the various processes in radiology. Up to 10% of the parents incorrectly believed that radiation is used in ultrasound, while 45% believed that magnetic resonance uses radiation. However, the researchers also found that the patient’s knowledge about the processes and systems involved improved markedly when they received educational literature. 

corks-640362_1280-300x200Forget about old school Public Service Announcements. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched a new virtual reality effort that it hopes will educate people about the dangers of drinking, when they know that they’re going to be operating a motor vehicle.

The virtual reality game is called Last Call, and allows users to experience walking into a bar, and understand how they can easily become progressively drunk throughout the evening. The reality game allows you to choose whether you want to enter a cocktail lounge or a sports bar, and then from there on, make various choices – play darts, engage in a trivia game, and so on.  As you are given choices of various drinks throughout the evening, you are allowed to understand exactly how drunk you are getting. The drinkometer allows people keep track of the alcohol that they are imbibing and over the evening, as you get progressively drunk, your vision begins to blur.

There are consequences to that drinking. You could be pulled over by a cop as you are driving home, and get arrested for drunk driving.

motorcycle handlesMotorcyclists in Indiana can look forward to a future in which motorcycles will be so smartly designed that they will actually eliminate the need to wear any protective gear, like helmets.

BMW recently unveiled a motorcycle concept that the company believes would eliminate the need for wearing a helmet. The motorcycle is called Motorrad Vision Next 100. According to the company, the motorcycle would have features that would specifically reduce the risk of accidents that result in injuries.

One of those features is a unique self-balancing system that would keep the bike upright and in balance, both while it is in motion, and stationery. That significantly reduces or minimizes the risk of accidents caused by loss of balance or loss of control of the motorcycle.  The motorcycle would come with a visor that would allow for a display of all controls that were hitherto contained in the control panel. The control panel, as we know it now, would be completely eliminated from this new motorcycle.

car seatIndiana’s safety regulations, including its child car seat laws, help protect the lives of children involved in car accidents every year. According to a new study, there are wide differences in crash death rates among child passengers across the United States, and state regulations governing child safety are a major reason for this disparity.

A study by researchers at the Center for Surgery and Public Health at Brigham Women’s Hospital in Boston was conducted when researchers went through government data from between 2007 and 2014. The data revealed that fatality rates for children were several times higher in some parts of the country. For instance, researchers discovered that Mississippi experienced a child fatality rate of 3.2 for every 100,000 accidents, and that rate dropped to as low as .25 fatalities for every 100,000 children in a state like Massachusetts.

Why is there such a wide disparity in the number of children killed in traffic accidents across the United States? The researchers believe that it has much to do with the safety regulations that are in place in these states. Regulations that involve not just child car safety seat use or child restraint use, but also red light camera use and other safety policies have a significant impact on the likelihood that child passengers will survive accidents. For example, fatality rates were highest in those states that had larger percentages of children riding in cars without child restraints or without being safety buckled in or in child car safety seats. Child fatality rates also seemed to be much higher in those states in which most of the accidents occurred on rural roads. 

Handfulls of medsMisdiagnosis or wrong diagnosis is one of the most serious medical errors, contributing to delayed treatments, wrong treatments and other possibly fatal consequences. However, one consequence of misdiagnosis that very often slips under the radar is the high risk of antibiotic resistance linked to the wrong drugs that are prescribed after a misdiagnosis.

Some of the most commonly misdiagnosed conditions in the United States are urinary tract infections, kidney infections, and pneumonia. When a person is wrongly diagnosed, doctors may begin the wrong treatment including an inappropriate medication schedule. That generally means incorrect use of in antibiotics in hospitals or out-patient settings. When a person is given antibiotics for a misdiagnosed or wrongly diagnosed condition, the condition may not improve and there is also a serious risk that the effectiveness of the antibiotic is severely diminished.

There are reasons for the emergence of antibiotic-resistant superbugs in US hospitals. The indiscriminate use of antibiotics has been pointed out as one of the reasons for this scourge. When antibiotics are prescribed incorrectly, there is a much higher risk of the development of resistance to important and beneficial antibiotics.

Double YellowDrowsiness, medical emergencies at the wheel, or blackouts as a result of alcohol or drug use are linked to many lane departure accidents across the United States every year. That information comes from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, whose research focused on lane-drift accidents, in which drivers lost control of the vehicle and veered into the other lane. The researchers found that incapacitation was a factor in approximately 32% of all accidents linked to lane departure, and 42% of accidents that ended in fatal or serious injuries.

They also found that the driver fell asleep at the wheel in 17% of the accidents that were analyzed, and the driver was incapacitated either because he had suffered a medical emergency like a heart attack at the wheel, or blacked out as result of drug or alcohol use in another 17% of the accidents.

Crash avoidance technologies like lane departure warning systems are designed to reduce the risk of accidents that occur when a car veers into another lane. These accidents are much more common than you believe, and can have serious consequences. However, the crash reduction results of lane departure warning systems have been fairly disappointing thus far. These systems have not been found to reduce accident risks to the extent we had hoped. The systems are still fairly new, and we must wait many more years to see whether these systems can have the crash reducing effects that they promise.