Archive for January, 2015

Medical Helicopter Crashes on the Rise

January 29th, 2015 at 7:00 am

medical helicopters, Westport wrongful death attorney, medical helicopter transports, aircraft crash, medical helicopter crashesWhen a major accident occurs and severe injuries are sustained, victims may be airlifted to a medical facility for treatment. Typically, the mode of transportation used as an air ambulance is a helicopter. However, there have been major concerns raised over how safe these air ambulances really are, especially in light of the number of crashes that occur every year.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), there have been 185 medical helicopter crashes since 1998—the latest occurring just this past October in Wichita Falls, Texas. Three people were killed in a crash, bringing the total number of victims killed in medical helicopter crashes to 174. This total includes both crew members and patients being transported to medical facilities.

One of the reasons cited for this increase in crashes is the incredible growth the air ambulance industry has seen over the past two decades. Up until 2002, the only air ambulances in operation were owned solely by hospitals. These ambulances were typically twin-engine aircrafts and the medical staff who flew with patients was comprised of emergency room physicians and critical care nurses. The hospitals usually lost money in these transfers, and, after much lobbying, Medicare agreed in 2002 to reimburse hospitals for the actual costs of these patient transports.

However, instead of using the increased funds from Medicare to ensure equipment and staff was of the utmost in safety, companies instead downgraded. They began using single-engine helicopters to transport patients and hired crews with limited experience. The number of air ambulance companies in operation exploded, from 545 medical helicopters flying in 2003 to 1,020 medical helicopters in operation as of 2014.

Most air safety analysts agree that it is the for-profit companies who are responsible for the dramatic number of crashes and fatalities. Even though for-profit air ambulance companies only make up 40 percent of the number of businesses in operation, it is their aircrafts that account for 80 percent of helicopter crashes.

The NTSB also points out that one popular model of air ambulance—the Bell 206—are well-known for problems which cause the aircraft to spin uncontrollably. This is what happened in the Texas crash. Also contributing to safety issues is the shortage of available pilots. This has caused many companies to lower their flight hour requirements when hiring people to fly air ambulances.

Tragically, it appears that the profits companies are making on these medical helicopter transports have taken priority over the safety and welfare of both patients and medical and flight crews. If you have lost a loved one in an aircraft crash, please contact an experienced Westport wrongful death attorney to find out what compensation you may be entitled to for your pain and loss.

Spewing Shrapnel from Defective Air Bags Leads to Automotive Recall

January 22nd, 2015 at 7:00 am

automotive recall, chest injuries, defective air bags, defective car part, nationwide automotive recall, Westport personal injury, product defects, Westport personal injury attorneyImagine being involved in a low-impact car crash and having your air bag, a device designed to protect your safety, explode causing shrapnel to spray throughout your vehicle. This is the type of situation that many drivers have faced over the last several months due to defective air bags manufactured by Japanese automotive supplier Takata.

What began as a regional recall, focused specifically in high-humidity states, has now become a nationwide safety concern affecting approximately 7.8 million vehicles from 10 different automakers, according to Consumer Reports.

The catastrophic events linked to Takata air bags have included explosive shrapnel as a result of air bags inflating too quickly after collisions such as rear-end car accidents. Over 100 personal injuries and at least five fatalities have been reported thus far, which has prompted the recall expansion. Honda was the first to take its recall nationwide as demanded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but in recent weeks, Ford, Mazda, Chrysler, and BMW have also followed suit, as reported by The New York Times.

Takata’s president has stepped down as the company continues involvement in this worldwide safety issue linked to its air bags installed in vehicles from 2002 through 2008. There are still lingering questions about the cause of more recent air bag injuries and which cars specifically are at inherent risk.

Car manufacturers are responsible in alerting consumers of any defectiveness regarding their products in a timely manner. If they are negligent in doing so, injuries can occur for which they hold accountability. Takata air bags have been directly linked to tragic events putting millions of people in danger. A woman in South Carolina has been the most recent victim reporting chest injuries sustained as a result of excessive force of the Takata air bag installed in her 2001 Honda.

If you or someone you know have been seriously injured as a result of a defective car part in Connecticut, contact a qualified Westport personal injury today. You may be eligible for compensation, which could help pay for any medical expenses acquired as a result of your injuries. Call our office for a free case evaluation.

Jaundice in Newborns Can Lead to Catastrophic Brain Injury

January 19th, 2015 at 7:00 am

catastrophic injuries, Connecticut malpractice lawyer, Connecticut medical lawyer, Connecticut medical malpractice attorney, hospital negligence, medical malpractice lawyer, negligence, permanent disabilities, severe brain damage, jaundice in newbornsThe most catastrophic injuries in hospitals are not always the ones seen in an emergency room. In 2010, misdiagnosis, failure to diagnosis, and medical error—generally described as “bad hospital care” by the Office of Inspector General for Health and Human Services—contributed to the deaths of 180,000 patients in Medicare. Additionally, in 2013, a study published in the Journal of Patient Safety stated that those numbers are much higher—between 210,000 and 440,000 patients annually. 

Brain Injury and Jaundice in Newborns

Kernicterus, a relatively rare yet severe form of jaundice, can cause brain damage in babies if left undiagnosed and untreated. Surprisingly, 60 percent of newborns are diagnosed with jaundice, which is the result of a baby’s liver not adequately removing excess bilirubin.

Bilirubin is a naturally occurring substance in the blood, which is removed by the liver. A low-level build-up of bilirubin is normal in newborns, and can often cause mild jaundice in babies. Additionally, it can sometimes take a few days for a newborn’s liver to function properly to remove the excess bilirubin, which is why mild jaundice is normal. However, if a newborn has jaundice and it is not properly monitored by doctors and hospital staff, it can become a serious problem and lead to severe brain damage for which the hospital would be liable.

Treatment for severe jaundice can include phototherapy, which alters the bilirubin in a baby’s blood from toxic to non-toxic. But in some severe cases, such as those that lead to kernicterus, a more extreme treatment such as a blood exchange transfusion may need to be employed to ensure the safety of the child. Hence, diligent monitoring is essential to help prevent the extreme from occurring.

Contact a Compassionate Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you or someone you know had a newborn suffer from misdiagnosed jaundice or kernicterus, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact a compassionate Connecticut medical malpractice attorney today to discuss your case and your options.

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