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medical malpractice, Chicago personal injury lawyersSince the mid-seventies, tort reformers have put a lot of effort into getting the public to believe that the justice system is broken and that physicians and hospitals are innocent victims who must settle with patients to resolve unfounded claims to avoid ruin. But when you look at the facts, including those recently presented by the Center for Justice & Democracy, it is clear they are anything but. If anything, the evidence indicates that it is patients who are being treated unfairly by the courts.

The Human Impact of Medical Mistakes

Preventable medical errors are now considered to be the third leading cause of death in America, just after heart disease and cancer. Even more patients are seriously injured to the point that their lives are substantially and often irrevocably altered. The problem is so pervasive, in fact, that most Americans will experience a diagnostic error at least once in their life (which is twice as likely to result in death than other medical mistakes), and around half of all surgeries involve an adverse drug event or other medication error.

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tort reform, Illinois personal injury attorneysFor decades, Americans have been told that the sky is falling, that the economy is on the verge of crashing because of their frivolous claims against large corporations. But, like most carefully crafted lies, these claims are nothing more than a ploy to benefit those who wish to escape accountability. Do not be fooled; search, instead, for the truth.

Everything to Gain and Everything to Lose

Before the 1970s, large corporations were the subject of personal injury lawsuits for negligent, deceptive, and even outright illegal practices. Many were also forced to pay punitive damages, which were meant to deter other companies from committing similar acts. These lawsuits, and the forced accountability they brought with them, severely damaged the bottom line of these corporations. What they really needed was a loophole, a way to avoid large payouts and increase their bottom line.

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lumber liquidators, cancer, Chicago product liability lawyerAlthough there are regulations and protections in place to protect Americans from dangerous products, many still slip through the cracks. One such example is the laminate flooring from Lumber Liquidators which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), can increase the risk of cancer as much as three times because of its formaldehyde levels. Know your risks and what you should do if you have been exposed to this dangerous product.

What is Formaldehyde?

Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable, and strong-smelling chemical frequently used in building products and household items. These items, which include everything from clothing and paper product coatings to glues and pressed woods, can release gasses or vapors into the air, leading to human or animal exposure.

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pedestrian deaths, Chicago personal injury lawyersWhen a pedestrian is involved in an automobile accident, the results are often fatal. For this reason, many cities have taken significant measures to improve pedestrian safety. Despite those efforts, many parts of the country are still experiencing a rise in pedestrian auto accident deaths and the overall national average has continued to increase. Even more concerning is that 2015 proved to be the most fatal year of all.

An In-Depth Look at the Statistics

Ever since the establishment of the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, the year-to-year increase of pedestrian deaths has averaged between 8.1 percent increase and a 10.5 percent decrease. Then the statistics for 2015 came in and showed that 15 percent of pedestrians died in traffic-related accidents; that equals a 10 percent increase overall, which is the biggest increase ever recorded. Not all states performed poorly, however. In fact, 21 states had a decrease in pedestrian deaths, and three states had no change. It is these states that may offer some explanation.

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concussion prevention, Chicago Illinois personal injury lawyersContact sports are exciting for both the athletes and the fans, but they are also violent and competitive sports that cause millions of concussion injuries per year. While this is known and understood by the medical community, fans, and even the general public, the civil justice system seems to be oblivious to the risks, thanks to their lack of regulations and monitoring of concussions in athletes of all ages. A report from the American Association for Justice seeks to change that for both professional athletes and those participating in sports in schools and universities.

Just How Frequent Are Concussions?

While most people associate concussions with professional athletes in high contact sports, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that athletes of all ages and at all levels of sports experience around 3.8 million concussions per year.  Concussions are also experienced by the general public at a rate of about 2.5 million per year. Falls are the most common reason, but car accidents, falling objects, and assaults are some of the other potential causes.

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high deductible, Chicago medical mistake attorneysThanks to recent U.S. policy changes, more people than ever have affordable health care coverage. Unfortunately, that benefit is extremely limited since many are still stuck on high deductible plans, emergency care only plans, or subpar employer-provided insurance. So, even though many Americans are now protected in the event of an emergency, many still do not have the coverage they need to prevent serious illness. Even more concerning is that, despite the changes, many Americans may still lack the coverage they need to catch a serious condition before it gets out of hand.

What High Deductible Plans Can Mean for Your Health

While most healthy individuals do not have to worry too much about their healthcare coverage, anyone can suddenly find themselves in a situation where quality insurance is necessary. Moreover, many Americans are needing regular medical care for conditions like cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart complications much sooner than previous generations. Unfortunately, most people are less likely to seek treatment when they have high deductible insurance coverage. Or, if they do seek treatment, they may be less likely to probe the doctor further if no immediate cause for their symptoms is found.

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doctor medical malpractice, Chicago personal injury lawyerWhen people read the stories about medical mistakes and the resulting malpractice claims, they often begin to wonder if their own physician might be capable or responsible enough to care for them in a life or death situation. Many also begin to fear the idea of going to an unknown doctor. However, studies suggest that, while the vetting of a physician is certainly warranted and necessary, most patients are probably relatively safe; it is just a small portion of physicians that patients should be wary of.

One Percent of Doctors Linked to One-Third of All Malpractice Claims

Although they may not provide a complete and definitive guideline on just how many (or which) doctors are making the most mistakes, malpractice cases do give quite a bit of insight. As such, researchers at Stanford examined the information on more than 66,000 paid malpractice claims paid against 54,000 physicians nationwide between 2005 and 2014. Nearly one-third of those claims could be linked to just one percent of all doctors.

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arbitration, Chicago personal injury lawyerMost Americans know that corporations who make the products they enjoy are out for profit, and that they often bend the truth to do so. But what they may not know is that, behind those companies, there are organizations that seem to have the public’s best interest in mind. Nothing more than a set of smoke screens and mirrors, these organizations help hide the ugly truth: the corporate world can be an ugly, deceptive, and apathetic to the very consumers who purchase their products. Case in point: a recent blog post from the Chamber of Commerce on the “benefits” of forced arbitration.

What is Arbitration?

Used as an alternative to litigation, arbitration was originally intended for businesses. Similar to traditional courts, only less formal, it gave them a way to negotiate contracts and other business-related deals at a lower cost and in less time. These were collective agreements where both parties possessed similar levels of power, and that kept the playing field even and somewhat fair. But when arbitration made its way into consumer agreements, it became a way to abuse power and keep disgruntled consumers quiet.

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special needs abuse lawsuit, Chicago personal injury attorneyHealthcare professionals are meant to care for their patients, and the companies that hire them should vet their employees to ensure they are safe, of sound mind, and reliable. Sadly, a South Holland mother’s experience proves that this does not always happen. Now she is bringing a lawsuit against the facility responsible.

Special Needs Abuse

The woman’s daughter suffers from hypoxic-ischemic encephalogoy, cerebral palsy, and a seizure disorder – all results of a traumatic birth injury. She requires close monitoring, and when she started kindergarten she required the services of a personal nurse to assist with her daily activities and medical care while at school. This nurse, employed by the Pediatric Services of America, Inc. allegedly abused the child instead of caring for her.

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Xarelto lawsuit, Chicago personal injury lawyersWith nearly two billion dollars in sales in the United States last year, Xarelto is now considered a best seller among the category of drugs meant to replace the age-old anticoagulant, warfarin. And why not? After all, Xarelto users are not forced to follow the same diet restrictions and monitoring needed as their warfarin counterparts. Plus, patients only have to take Xarelto once daily. But, then again (as is often the case) not everything is quite as it seems.

Bayer and Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturers of Xarelto, are currently facing more than 5,000 lawsuits from patients and their families; 500 of those involve Xarelto patient deaths. Their attorneys say that the company knew their drug was dangerous, and that the company intentionally deceived doctors, patients, and even medical journals. Of course, the manufacturers continue to defend their drug, saying it is safer than its competitor, but recent documents suggest that the claims against them may actually hold some truth.

Clinical Trials Under Fire

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By Dave Savini, CBS Chicago

A mother speaks out after her disabled daughter was battered by a nurse in 2013. CBS 2 Investigator Dave Savini looks into the nurse’s background and a school’s failure to act quickly to protect the child.

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By Lorraine Swanson, Patch Staff

A South Holland mom is expected to file a lawsuit Tuesday against a home health care provider over claims that her disabled daughter was abused by an employee with a criminal record while attending a Chicago Heights special needs school.

The plaintiff, Veniscia Humphrey, is suing Pediatric Services of America, Inc., for physical abuse her young daughter suffered at the hands of one of the agency’s nurses, who had an extensive criminal background.

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Takata airbag injury, Chicago auto defect lawyersDefective Takata airbags, which caused one of the biggest automotive recalls in history, were linked to 10 deaths and more than 100 injuries. Exploding on impact, the defective airbags sent metal shrapnel flying throughout the car and at its occupants. But, until now, no one really understood why. Scientists say they now have the answer.

A Multi-Faceted Problem

According to NPR, ten automobile manufacturing companies banded together and hired a team of rocket scientists so they could better understand what exactly had caused the airbag problems. What they found was not just one contributing factor, but several. Exposure to humidity, problems with both the manufacturing and design, and the use of a volatile chemical known as ammonium nitrate are all to blame, the scientists say.

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avoidable medical errors, Chicago medical malpractice lawyersWhen people get sick, they visit their doctor to get better. When they are critically ill, they go to a hospital for treatment. But are doctors actually doing more harm than good? Evidence from the prestigious Journal of Patient Safety would certainly suggest as much. Published nearly two decades after the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) concerning report, To Err is Human, this new study indicates that people are not just dying by the very hands that are supposed to heal them; they are dying in significantly higher numbers than previously thought.

Preventable Deaths Now Third Leading Cause of Death

Using medical studies that were published between 2008 and 2011, researchers with Patient Safety America examined the occurrence of five commonly made medical mistakes: diagnostic errors, errors of commission, errors of context, errors of omission, and errors of communication. Overall, these mistakes caused as many as 440,000 deaths each and every year. That makes it the third leading cause of death in America, placing it beneath only heart disease and cancer.

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public duty rule, Chicago personal injury attorneysThe “public duty rule” has provided many government officials with protection from lawsuits when they fail to provide adequate government services.   A recent Illinois Supreme Court decision has abolished this rule, effectively restoring the public’s right to seek victim compensation when government employees and officials engage in reckless, willful and wanton behavior.

The Illinois Supreme Court Case

The recent Illinois Supreme Court ruling involved the death of a Will County woman. Suffering from difficulty breathing, the woman had called 911 and spoke to an emergency dispatcher, giving her name and address and requesting an ambulance.   When emergency medical technicians arrived, they found the house locked with no response, and decided to leave.

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drug shortages, Chicago medical malpractice attorneyIf two people you knew were in a life or death situation and you could only save one, who would you choose? This is the decision that doctors, surgeons, and anesthesiologists are making each and every day, but it is not for the reason you might think. Medicine shortages – everything from antibiotics to cancer drugs – are creating questionable practices and muddy ethical reasoning in the healthcare industry. So much so that ethicists and patient advocate groups have started to crop up with the hope of making the decision process “easier” and preventing malpractice cases.

Where Have All the Drugs Gone?

According to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, more than 150 drugs and therapeutics are in short demand. Some are allegedly due to problems in manufacturing. Others are said to be because of federal safety crackdowns on drug makers that have made it more difficult to meet public demand. And still others are said to be due to the increasing cost of the drugs themselves. Whatever the case or reason, it is creating a serious safety problem for patients.

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dangerous drugs, FDA approval, Chicago liability attorneysOriginally developed to protect consumers, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is responsible for monitoring and investigating the safety, efficacy, and security of drugs and medical equipment used and prescribed in the United States. But patient advocates, federal auditors, and health-policy experts have been voicing concerns over the FDA’s monitoring and surveillance systems since the 1990s. Now, with the number of defective drug and medical equipment injuries and deaths mounting, lawmakers are looking for a way to step in and take over.

FDA’s Concerning Failures Exposed

Over the years, the FDA has been cited for a number of failures in the way they approve and oversee the drugs and equipment they are responsible for monitoring. Part of the problem relates to outdated or inaccurate data. The system’s self-reporting reliance is another. All lead to one very concerning conclusion: their shortcomings are causing injuries and deaths to innocent people.

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malpractice cases, Chicago wrongful death attorneysEffective communication is an integral and essential part of our everyday lives, but there are few professions in which it can make the difference between life and death; in the medical field, it can and does often lead to the latter. In fact, a recent study on a selection of medical malpractice cases found that communication failures had contributed to nearly 2,000 wrongful deaths over the course of five years. Sadly, this is not a new or uncommon issue.

Communication Failure Not a New Issue

It has been more than 15 years since the Institute of Medicine released the report, To Err is Human, in which researchers found that nearly 100,000 patients die each year from medical mistakes. And more than two decades have passed since Boston Globe health reporter Betsy Lehman died from a chemotherapy overdose because of a communication error.

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truck driver fatigue, Chicago truck accident lawyersDriver fatigue is a universal problem that contributes to hundreds of thousands of motor vehicle accidents per year. In fact, according to a recent AAA survey, nearly half of all drivers admitted to falling asleep or nodding off while driving at least once in their lifetime. And an investigation by the NTSB of identified driver fatigue as a probable cause or contributing factor in nearly 20 percent of 182 major commercial-driver accidents; the implications in these sorts of accidents can be downright devastating for all involved.

A Sleep-Deprived Country

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, as many as one in five adults fail to get enough sleep. Some do so with sleep disorders, like insomnia. Others suffer sleep deprivation because of work hours, medical issues, or personal obligations that may restrict or diminish the amount or quality of sleep. Still others work hours that are constantly changing, making it nearly impossible to develop a healthy sleep schedule. Whatever the reason, a large percentage of Americans are working through the fog of excessive daytime sleepiness.

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superbug, medical scopes, Chicago medical malpractice attorneyOver the past few years, medical scopes have been linked to outbreaks of deadly, antibiotic-resistant "superbug" infections. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already recalled a disinfecting machine, but now one of the three brands of medical scopes used to drain fluids from the pancreatic and bile ducts is being recalled by the manufacturer, Olympus Corporation.

Disinfection and Sterilization Troubles Suspected in Scope Issues

According to a recent report, the bug and spread of infection may be due to the troubles experienced while attempting to sterilize and disinfect the Olympus medical scopes. It is possible that the issues with certain sterilizing machines may play a factor, but the scopes also play a factor, the FDA says. In fact, the organization alleges that they had already provided a warning to the manufacturers regarding their inactivity and delay in finding a solution to the problem.

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