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defensive medicine, Chicago medical malpractice lawyerAccording to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, medical malpractice costs in the United States amount to approximately $55.6 billion each year. The majority of this money ($45.6 billion) is spent on defensive medicine—care that does not further diagnosis or treatment and is intended only to reduce the risk of a medical malpractice claim. But does this methodology really work, or are physicians simply driving up the cost of healthcare? A recent study published in the medical journal BMJ may have an answer.

The Critics’ Case Against Defensive Medicine

Despite estimates that between half and two-thirds of all U.S. doctors use defensive medicine, there is almost no evidence supporting its use. Critics of the practice also point out that a substantial fraction of medical malpractice claims actually stem from communication issues, and many contain no medical error whatsoever. And, although diagnostic errors are the leading cause of malpractice claims, most are said to be attributed to cognitive or system errors rather than a lack of resources.

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arbitration, consumer rights, Chicago personal injury lawyersDeveloped to protect Americans from government corruption, the Bill of Rights has afforded us with many freedoms. Yet, behind the scenes, Wall Street companies are silently stripping away some of those very same rights with their muddy legal jargon, intentionally deceptive practices, and carefully planted arbitration clauses. Unfortunately, most Americans are unaware of such practices. It is not until they are completely blindsided that they realize just how much corporations are taking advantage of them today.

How the Legal Landscape Has Changed

Comprised of individual plaintiffs that have banded together, class-action lawsuits are meant to force corporations into admitting their wrongdoings (or, at the very least, paying for their mistakes). They give individuals an effective and low-cost means with which to challenge ill-behaving corporations with seemingly endless resources. Unfortunately, class-action cases have become almost non-existent now that companies have found a way to work around them with arbitration clauses.

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diagnostic errors, Chicago medical malpractice attorneyProper treatment for a medical condition hinges on a correct diagnosis, but the wrong diagnosis can be a death sentence. Valuable treatment time is wasted. Conditions may worsen. And, in some cases, the wrong treatment can be dangerous. Unfortunately, the misdiagnosis of medical conditions happens all too often—a lot more frequently than most people realize.

Diagnostic Error Statistics

According to the study from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), diagnostic errors (inaccurate or delayed diagnoses) touch five percent of all Americans seeking outpatient care each year. Postmortem examinations reveal that those errors contribute to approximately 10 percent of all patient deaths, and a review of patient medical records suggests that such errors could be responsible for up to 17 percent of all adverse events in hospitals. However, what is most concerning about all of this is that, for the most part, diagnostic errors have not gone largely discussed and are highly underresearched.

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Few medical situations have the ability to invoke the kind of fear and anxiety felt by patients about to undergo surgery, and for very good reason. Their life is, quite literally, in the hands of the surgeon and his or her medical team. The patient is completely vulnerable—unconscious and unaware of their surroundings and circumstances. Potential risks and unexpected surgical complications can, and sometimes do, arise. But now there is a new surgical danger that patients fear… or they would if they were aware of its presence.

The “Secret” Risk of Surgery Today

There is a secret inside of operating rooms today; it is shared among nurses, surgeons, anesthetists, and even hospital administrators but often kept from the patients being operated on. Surgeons—in an attempt to balance out the high demand for their skills and the increased pressure to earn more capital—are double-booking surgeries. Their time and attention are split between two or more operating rooms at once, sometimes for the entire duration of one or more surgical procedures, and some of the responsibilities are handed off to student residents or other attending surgeons.

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Compartment Syndrome, Chicago medical malpractice lawyersCompartment syndrome, a serious condition that causes increased pressure in the body’s muscle compartments, can be caused by even minor trauma to any part of the body. Its consequences, which can take hold quickly, can be devastating if not properly addressed by medical professionals. Indeed, in many cases, it is only their suspicion of the condition and prompt treatment that have the ability to save a patient from permanent and potentially fatal side effects.

Understanding Compartment Syndrome

Within any given muscle group, one will find thick layers of tissue, called fascia, separating it from the other muscle groups. Inside of each layer of fascia, there is a confined space, called a “compartment,” and within each one of those, there are blood vessels, nerves, and tissue. Swelling within the compartment, usually caused by injury, will place pressure on the internal parts and, if allowed to build up enough, blood flow to the compartment will become blocked.

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stair injury, Chicago personal injury lawyerHome to approximately 2.7 million people, Chicago is a city full of life, culture, and picturesque skylines. But there is a personal injury threat hiding inside the city’s skyscrapers, complexes, and tall buildings. It is one that many Chicagoans encounter on a daily basis, but rarely ever discuss or think about: stairs.

Whether it is a part of your daily routine or something that looms in the hidden halls, waiting for the day an elevator stops working, stairs are found in a large majority of Chicago’s buildings. Governed by building codes and city codes, one would think that stairs are relatively safe; they have been around for centuries, after all. Nothing could be further from the truth, however.

Alarming Stair Statistics

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medication errors, Chicago personal injury attorneysSurgical intervention—be it lifesaving or elective—is a dangerous business. Unexpected emergencies, postoperative infection, and delayed healing are just a few of the possibilities that are commonly discussed with patients. However, there is one risk that is not largely discussed, despite the fact that it may be one of the most commonly experienced: medication errors.

The Real Risk of Perioperative Care

Because medication mistakes during perioperative care (immediately before, during, and immediately after a procedure) are mostly self-reported, experts have long suspected that the numbers are much higher than those on record. A research group from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) has now proven it with an analysis of 277 randomly selected operative procedures.

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DUI deaths, Chicago drunk driving injury lawyersAccording to the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, drunk driving costs the United States (and its taxpayers) more than $132 billion each year. Higher insurance and tax rates, even for those not driving under the influence, time and gas expenses for traffic congestion, and long-term medical bills of those severely injured are just a few of the factors involved in that cost. Probably the most devastating cost of all is the lives lost to drunk driving.

Nearly one-third of all automobile deaths involve a drunk driver, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. Mothers Against Drunk Driving says that drunk driving crashes cause one death every 50 minutes. And an emergency physician with the University of Michigan Health System says that each drunk driver will make about 80 trips under the influence before they are stopped—either by the police or because of an accident.

It is clear that we must do something, not just because of the damage that drunk driving is having on society and our pocketbooks, but because of the devastation that it is causing American families, each and every day. Most efforts have only been reactive, but a recent analysis suggests being proactive in the approach by installing sobriety tests in all new cars, not just in those that belong to convicted DUI offenders.

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Kia gear shift recall, Chicago defective autoparts lawyerIn a year in which vehicle recalls have hit record numbers, Kia issues its fifth one for the year. This time, the South Korean automaker is recalling 377,000 vehicles because of gear shift defects that can cause the vehicle to roll away or cause an accident. So far, there have been three injuries from the defective car part, but no reported deaths.

Too Much Pressure Reportedly Causes Gear Shift to Break

According to the press release issued by Kia, the gear shifts crack if they receive too much pressure. Once cracked, the vehicles can then shift out of gear on their own. Vehicles affected by the recall include all Kia Sorentos manufactured from 2011 through 2013—a total of 377,000 vehicles.

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Volkswagen injury, under-reporting, Chicago personal injury attorneysStill in the midst of handling its diesel emission scandal, Volkswagen is coming under question for another, unrelated problem: the possible under-reporting of U.S. deaths and injuries. Though they would be far from the only auto manufacturers to have done so, a recent study reveals they may be one of the worst offenders, having nine times fewer injuries and deaths than the average manufacturer and half the injuries and deaths as those that have already been cited for failure to comply with reporting regulations. If found to be true, this could mean serious trouble for Volkswagen.

Volkswagen and Reporting Statistics

Fifteen years ago, Ford Explorers equipped with Firestone tires were blowing out and failing at an unusually high rate, causing numerous rollover accidents. It was not until more than 200 people had died before anyone realized that a defective car parts were causing the accidents. This was when and why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) started requiring that auto manufacturers report deaths and injuries that occurred in their vehicles.

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physician error, Illinois medical malpractice lawyerIt is true: Physicians are only human, but they also have the unique responsibility of protecting and saving lives. They went through years of intensive schooling, were required to show they were proficient in both knowledge and skills, and they vowed to uphold a specific set of standards. Unfortunately, there are physicians who, for whatever reason, commit medical malpractice by failing to fulfill their responsibility. Sadly, it is always patients who pay the price.

Physician Faces Lawsuits from Nearly 300 Patients

After 30 years of practicing medicine, a cardiologist in the Midwest is facing nearly 300 lawsuits from former patients. They all claim that to be victims of unnecessary procedures, all of which were performed by the physician or his colleagues. Though still in the early phases of litigation, the buzz surrounding the case has left many feeling wary of medical professionals, and angry that their health had been taken so lightly by someone who had vowed to protect it.

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bicycle helmets, Chicago personal injury lawyersRoad and traffic safety are not just the responsibility of motorists; cyclists must learn how to prevent accidents effectively as well. This goes well beyond simple rules, such as wearing a helmet. Keep Illinois’ roads safe with the following cycling safety tips.

Know and Follow Local Traffic Laws

Cyclists are bound by many of the same traffic laws as motorists—do not run stop signs or red lights, ride on the appropriate side of the street, obey posted traffic signs, and use appropriate signals when making turns, for example. Because each state is different, it is important you familiarize yourself with the laws in your state and obey them.

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child injuries, Chicago car accident attorneyAn alarming number of children are injured or killed because of automobiles. In fact, a total of 638 children under the age of 12 died in a motor vehicle accident in 2013, and another 127,250 were injured, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). KidsAndCars.org reported that another 184 children were killed in 2013 due to non-traffic incidents, including back-overs, front-overs, heat stroke, a vehicle accidently being set into motion, underage driving, power window accidents, and falls from vehicles.

Keeping Kids Safe While Driving

There are a number of contributing factors in the deaths and injuries of children in car crashes—intoxication of the driver, lack of proper vehicle restraint, and even the car itself. Keep your kids safe while on the road with these tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

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3d printing, Chicago medical malpractice lawyerThe emersion of 3D medical printing has created quite the frenzy due to the stories of lives saved or improved because of the technology. Medical professionals, the media, and even the general public are mystified and entranced by the possibilities, the lives that could be enhanced, and the money that could be saved. But is it really all it is cracked up to be? Or is 3D medical printing a super storm of medical malpractice lawsuits waiting to happen?

What is 3D Medical Printing?

Three-dimensional printing, more commonly called 3D printing, works a lot like regular printing in the respect that it must have a template or format from which to create the printed item. But, unlike typical printers, the ink (or solution) adheres to itself in droplets, creating a three-dimensional item. In medical printing, the most commonly used solutions are comprised of powders or cells.

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traumatic brain injury, Chicago personal injury attorneysA traumatic brain injury (TBI) can affect every aspect of your life—work, school, relationships, and even your own sense of independence. Most common in car accidents and construction accidents, the symptoms most typically displayed are dizziness, irregular breathing, poor balance, lack of coordination, and lessened endurance. But a new study has revealed some other symptoms that may make it difficult for our veterans when it comes to receiving a TBI diagnosis, especially if they suffered through a traumatic event while protecting our country.

Symptom Similarities between TBI and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

TBIs and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) both affect the brain, but while one is the result of a traumatic injury, the other is the result of a traumatic event. Still, a study published in the journal Psych Central found some odd similarities between the symptoms of both disorders, including aggression and destructive or reckless behavior. The overlapping of these symptoms, paired with other symptoms that may be misunderstood, could have serious implications for veterans.

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tort reforms, Chicago product recall attorneysThere was a time when corporations cared about their products and the effect they had on the general population. It was a time when companies worked hard to prevent the distribution of defective products; when the system failed and a defect did make its way to the public, the issue was quickly rectified. In some ways, it is an indication of just how much values have changed over the years, but it is an even stronger indication of how the decisions made by lawmakers, legislators, and courts have diminished the sense of accountability for large corporations.

Punitive Damages and Corporate Accountability

Punitive damages and corporate accountability go hand-in-hand because, when a corporation has the fear of being hit with damages above and beyond just the typical damages, they are less likely to gamble with the lives of their consumers. But punitive damages have become nearly non-existent, with some states placing caps on the amounts and others doing away with them altogether. As a result, corporations have begun to weigh the cost of continuing to produce defective products against the cost of correcting the problem or pulling the product altogether.

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oxygen tank recall, Chicago personal injury attorneysOxygen, though essential for breathing, is a volatile substance with the potential to ignite, explode, or catch fire. Thankfully, modern medicine discovered how to harness this substance so that those that need it on a regular basis could use it.  However, the risks are still present, especially if the product is mishandled or ends up being a defective medical device. One of the two scenarios are behind a recent recall on portable oxygen tanks manufactured by Western/Scott Fetzer Company; which scenario has yet to be determined.

Reason Behind the Recall

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Western/Scott Fetzer Company received reports that their OxyTote canisters could ignite and cause an internal flash fire if dropped or mishandled. Two incidents—one resulting in injury, the other in death—were also allegedly received by the company, prompting the oxygen tank recalls. In the case of the injury, the unit was reportedly dropped from a height of approximately four feet; when the death occurred, the unit was not dropped but was reportedly set at the side of the handler.

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statute of limitations, Chicago medical malpractice lawyersDespite receiving overwhelming bipartisan support from the Assembly, sponsoring from the majority of the State Senate, and endorsement from New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomono, a bill that would have changed New York’s statute of limitations on medical malpractice will never come up for a final vote. Instead, the bill, named Lavern’s Law, was shot down by the Senate majority leader, John J. Flannagan. As a result, victims of medical malpractice in New York will continue to suffer.

Lavern’s Law and the Statute of Limitations on Medical Malpractice Suits

Lavern’s Law was named after Lavern Wilson, a Brooklyn woman who died from a curable form of lung cancer. Doctors at Kings County Hospital had found a suspicious mass during an X-ray three years prior to her death, but never told her about it. And, because New York’s statute of limitations only gives victims two-and-a-half years from the date a mistake occurs to file a lawsuit, no action was ever taken against the negligent physicians.

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back to school driving tips, Chicago car accident attorneysWith school now in full swing and social activities heating up, more drivers are on the road. More importantly, there are more inexperienced teen drivers on the road, and that means the risk of a vehicular accident is higher. Of course, the only way to become experienced is to practice safe driving. So take a deep breath and encourage your teen to use these back-to-school driving tips while navigating the Illinois roads.

General Driving Safety Tips

General safety rules apply whether your teen is driving through the city of Chicago (recently named eight worst city for drivers), in the country, or in your local hometown. They are even a good refresher for parents who, amidst all the distraction and day-to-day craziness, often forget to abide by these simple but important safe-driving rules:

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semi truck accidents, Chicago personal injury lawyerVehicle accidents that involve semi-trucks or other oversized vehicles are often the most catastrophic. Many end in death, and those that do not typically cause severe, long-term health problems. Surprisingly though, most collisions with oversized vehicles are caused by the mistakes of other motorists. Thankfully, you have the power to make the roads and highways safer for everyone by learning how to share the road with semi-trucks and other oversized vehicles.

Understand the Limitations of Oversized Vehicles

Semi-trucks and oversized vehicles operate very differently than cars, trucks, and motorcycles. Their massive size creates very large blind spots and makes it very difficult to navigate turns. Most are also loaded with heavy freight, which also limits their ability to stop quickly. If you understand these limitations, and know how to effectively accommodate them, you can decrease your risk of a collision with an oversized vehicle.

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