Toyota Suspends Sales Due to Faulty Accelerator
January 28th, 2010
In addition to Toyota’s recall of 2.3 million vehicles (see our January 22, 2010 blog), the company has now suspended sale of sales of all models affected:
- 2009-2010 RAV4
- 2009-2010 Corolla
- 2009-2010 Matrix
- 2005-2010 Avalon
- Certain 2007-2010 Camry
- 2010 Highlander, except hybrid models
- 2007-2010 Tundra,
- 2008-2010 Sequoia
The company claims that it has taken this enormous step in order to finalize “an appropriate remedy to address the potential for sticking accelerator pedals.” There is currently no announced plan for how they will fix the problem, nor for when Toyota owners might expect to have their cars fixed.
Toyota says that if you experience a sticking accelerator, contact a Toyota dealer immediately.
This is a frightening development. If you drive one of the affected cars, read this (provided by Toyota, in a press release):
If your gas pedal sticks while driving:
• If you need to stop immediately, the vehicle can be controlled by stepping on the brake pedal with both feet using firm and steady pressure. Do not pump the brake pedal as it will deplete the vacuum utilized for the power brake assist.
• Shift the transmission gear selector to the Neutral (N) position and use the brakes to make a controlled stop at the side of the road and turn off the engine.
• If unable to put the vehicle in Neutral, turn the engine OFF. This will not cause loss of steering or braking control, but the power assist to these systems will be lost.
If you had an accident because of a sticking gas pedal and want to share your story, contact HensonFuerst at 1-800-4-LAWMED
A Concussion by Any Other Name…is Dangerous
January 28th, 2010
On an early spring day not too many years ago, a friend was playing outfield in a corporate softball game. The ball was hit, and my friend scrambled backwards to snag it. He caught the ball, but lost his footing and fell backwards, hitting his head against the hard-packed earth.
When he came to after a few seconds of blackout, he saw double and had to be helped off the field. The team congratulated him on the catch (which, remarkably, stayed in the mitt), and then took him to the only place that made sense to them—the bar.
He did go to the hospital later that night (dragged there by his wife), where the doctor diagnosed concussion…and then jokingly asked if he could get a videotape of the catch. No special instructions…no actual diagnostic tests…no follow-up. After all, it was “just” a concussion.
A Gray Area in Gray Matter
In a recent online publication of the medical journal Pediatrics, researcher Carol A. DeMatteo and colleagues examined diagnosis and treatment of 434 children with head injury admitted to a children’s hospital. Their results suggest something astonishing: Children who have the same symptoms will receive different levels of treatment depending on whether they are diagnosed as having a concussion or mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI).
A child diagnosed with concussion will be discharged from the hospital earlier and will return to school sooner than a child with the same symptoms who is diagnosed with MTBI.
This study raises two main issues. First, the medical community needs a more consistent way to diagnose head injuries. With something as serious as head injury, it seems that there must be a way to have clearer guidelines.
Second, labeling any brain injury as “concussion” is potentially dangerous. “Concussion” is not taken seriously by just about anybody, including some doctors, parents, and the patients themselves.
Not to be Ignored
A single concussion can cause significant and lasting damage in the brain. Multiple concussions can sometimes cause a disorder call chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which leads to memory impairment, emotional instability, dementia, brain degeneration, and death. At autopsy by specialists at the Boston University School of Medicine, CTE was found in the brain of former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Tom McHale—the sixth former NFL player found to have suffered from this disorder.
In the Pediatrics article, DeMatteo and colleagues conclude that “perhaps we should use the term ‘MTBI,’” instead of concussion. Maybe then, everyone will take it more seriously—doctors, athletes, coaches, parents, patients, and …yes, softball players.
HensonFuerst will be following up with more information about concussions and MTBI in future blogs. Stay tuned, and stay safe!
Another Step toward Making Roads Safer
January 26th, 2010
In an effort to curb distracted driving and make roads safe for everyone, the U.S. Department of Transportation today made it clear that texting while driving is illegal for drivers of commercial vehicles, including large trucks and buses. Violators could face both civil and criminal penalties of up to $2,750.00.
The announcement cited Virginia Tech research, which showed that texting truck drivers are about 23 times more likely to get into a crash than drivers who keep their eyes on the road.
According to experts, there are three main types of distraction:
Visual—taking your eyes off the road
Manual—taking your hands off the wheel
Cognitive—taking your mind off what you are doing
Texting is so dangerous because it involves all three types of distraction.
Today’s announcement is part of the U.S. government’s ongoing—and from our point of view, highly welcome—campaign to combat distracted driving. Everyday, we hear from people who have been in serious car wrecks, and we are horrified by the role played by this type of distraction.
No message is so important that it is worth risking a life.
For statistics, specific state laws, and tips on what you can do to take action against distracted driving, go to www.distraction.gov.
Click here to read a transcript of today’s announcement.
Rating Nursing Homes
January 25th, 2010
Making the decision to find a care facility for a loved one is difficult and emotionally charged. We would like to think that all nursing homes are clean, caring, and compassionate places. Many are not.
There are many tools you can use to try to find a good fit for your family member. While we do not recommend using rating systems without hands-on investigation of your own, the magazine U.S. News & World Report recently released its list of the Best Nursing Homes.
The 5-star rankings give broad-stroke information in the following areas:
Health Inspections. This covers infections control, food safety, medication management, skin care, and residents’ quality of life.
Nursing Staff. This measures the average nursing time per patient per day. The highest ranking of 5 stars could be achieved with at least 33 minutes per patient per day. (Makes you wonder about how little nursing time residents get from 2-star facilities, doesn’t it?)
Quality measures. This category takes into account indicators for how well residents are cared for medically. For example, nursing homes report urinary tract infections, pain, bedsores, and patient mobility.
Click here to read the listings of the top-ranked nursing homes in North Carolina.
The list of all North Carolina nursing homes–even those with poor rankings–can be seen here: A-Z Nursing Homes Index NC. If your loved one is in a care facility, check its ratings. Two in North Carolina–Britthaven of Chapel Hill and Brian Center Health & Rehab in Gastonia–have received generally poor grades. They were identified by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in the 2008 list of the worst facilities in American (what are called “special focus” facilities). By the 2009 inspections, these two homes had not improved.
To see listings for all states, click here: Nursing Homes by State
HensonFuerst remains passionate about pursing quality care for elderly loved ones. Watch for more blogs (and videos) about this topic coming in the next couple of weeks.
American Diabetes Association Award
January 25th, 2010
On Saturday, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) awarded a Fundraising Achievement Award to Thomas Henson, Jr. The Tour de Cure is a two-day fundraising cycling event held in 43 states nationwide to help the ADA prevent and cure diabetes…and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. In 2009, 40,000 cyclists in 80 Tour events across the nation raised nearly $17 million. Team HensonFuerst, led by Thomas Henson, topped the fundraising boards with a total of $15,277.50.
Click here to learn about this year’s Tour de Cure 2010.
Large-Scale Food Recall: Italian Meats, Including Salami
January 25th, 2010
Some popular brands of salami and other packaged Italian meats have been recalled due to risk of salmonella contamination. The FDA categorizes this as a Class I Recall… Health Risk = High. The recall is in effect in 8 states, including North Carolina. At least 184 people have been sickened from these products, and 35 people had to be hospitalized.
Salmonella is not to be taken lightly. Infection with the salmonella bacteria can cause diarrhea, fever, vomiting, and abdominal cramps. Although most people will recover within a week, severe infection can cause significant complications, including infection of the heart (endocarditis) or bones (osteomyelitis). In rare circumstances, the infection can lead to death.
If you eat packaged Italian meats from Boar’s Head, Black Bear, Dietz & Watson, or Daniele, this recall may affect you. On the package look for the USDA mark of inspection, which will have an Establishment Number. The following numbers are recalled:
For more information, see the Recall Release distributed by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.
Outrage Over Driving and Cell Phone Abuse
January 25th, 2010
Rocky Mount resident Tyler Strandberg has a problem. In the past three years, she had wrecked and totaled three cars. The last one was borrowed from her grandma.
Tyler’s father, Buckley Strandberg, worries about her…but admits to having the same problem. He frequently drives impaired.
At this point, you have probably come to your own conclusion about the nature of the Strandberg curse. Could it be alcohol? No. Drugs? No. The Strandbergs simply cannot put down their cell phones.
An article in last week’s News & Observer highlights the extreme danger of driving while calling and texting. It also clearly illustrates the flippant attitudes of those who put the lives of others in danger.
In 23-year-old Tyler’s own words, “Sometimes I will zone out and forget I’m driving.”
Instead of taking firm action, dad Buckley says that during his 2-hour drives between Rocky Mount and Nags Head,
I’m not just going to sit there in the car….if I run off the road, there are rumble strips that divert me back onto the road.
That’s a plan. Let’s just hope that he doesn’t pull to the left into on-coming traffic instead of onto the rumble strips.
As of December 2009, it has been illegal to text while driving in North Carolina. A driver caught texting while driving will face a fine of $100 plus court fees. The violation will not add points to your driving record however and an insurance surcharge will not be assessed.
When I read about the Strandberg clan, I couldn’t help but think that the punishment might be too lenient. So far, they have only hurt cars. It’s only a matter of time until they hurt themselves…or others…or you or me.
Hey, Strandbergs: LOCK YOUR PHONES IN THE TRUNK!
(Full story: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local_state/story/301086.html)
Another Toyota Recall!
January 22nd, 2010
After a long “investigation,” Toyota has finally announced that a recall of about 2.3 million Toyotas that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says pose a serious safety issue.
According to the NHTSA website, the problem is that “the accelerator pedal may become hard to depress, slow to return to idle, or, in the worst case, mechanically stuck in a partially depressed position, increasing the risk of a crash” [italics added]. So far, Toyota has not released its plan to remedy the situation, or even contact owners about the problem. In its own press release, Toyota says that if this happens while you are driving:
…the vehicle can be controlled with firm and steady application of the brakes. The brakes should not be pumped repeatedly because it could deplete vacuum assist, requiring stronger brake pedal pressure. The vehicle should be driven to the nearest safe location, the engine shut off and a Toyota dealer contacted for assistance.
Both Toyota and the NHTSA documents say that Toyota owners who have questions or concerns should call Toyota’s Customer Experience Center at 1-800-331-4331. Good luck. I tried and got a recorded message that said that no one could answer the call due to high call volume, and then instructed me to “please call back” before hanging up.
You may recall (pun intended) that Toyota had similar accelerator issues in 2009, but the company blamed it on floor mats trapping the accelerator pedal, keeping it depressed even after the driver’s foot was removed. Toyota says the two recalls are not related. If that’s true and it is all a big coincidence, Toyota has had the worst luck with accelerator parts.
The cars involved in this current recall are:
TOYOTA / AVALON 2005-2010
TOYOTA / CAMRY 2007-2010
TOYOTA / COROLLA 2009-2010
TOYOTA / COROLLA MATRIX 2009-2010
TOYOTA / HIGHLANDER 2010
TOYOTA / RAV4 2009-2010
TOYOTA / SEQUOIA 2008-2010
TOYOTA / TUNDRA 2007-2010
To read the recall information posted by the NHTSA, go to their website:
To read Toyota’s statement, go to:
HensonFuerst will post additional updates as they become available. You can also visit our website at www.lawmed.com
Top Sports for Head Injury
January 21st, 2010
Reducing the number of sports-related head injuries remains a goal and a passion for the lawyers at HensonFuerst. I recently ran across this list of the sports with the highest number of head injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 2008 (as reported by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission).
We urge all parents and participants of sporting activities to take proper precautions to prevent brain injuries. If you do sustain an injury, make sure you receive prompt medical attention.
The Top 15 Sports for Head Injury
- Cycling: 70,802
- Football: 40,825
- Basketball: 27,583
- Baseball/Softball: 26,964
- Powered Recreational Vehicles (ATVs, Go-Carts, Mini bikes, Off-road): 25,970
- Soccer: 19,252
- Skateboards/Scooters: 18,324
- Fitness/Exercise/Health Club: 14,713
- Horseback Riding: 11,749
- Winter Sports (Skiing, Sledding, Snowboarding, Snowmobiling): 11,723
- Water Sports (Diving, Scuba Diving, Surfing, Swimming, Water Polo, Water Skiing): 11,239
- Golf: 8,420
- Gymnastics/Dance/Cheerleading: 6,364
- Trampolines: 5,971
- Hockey: 5,272
New Medication Alert System
January 20th, 2010
Medication errors cause at least one death every day, and injure approximately 1.3 million people annually in the United States, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. A new alert system designed to inform hospital and health system pharmacists, physicians and nurses of dangerous or life-threatening medication errors hopes to reduce such errors. For more information, click on the link below.