Protecting Health in a Heat Wave
June 28th, 2012
Baby, it’s hot outside…and it is only going to get hotter as the weekend and the summer progress. We thought we would pass along some words of wisdom from a variety of experts about how to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy during this heat wave.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the body normally cools itself by sweating. But in a heat wave, sweating just isn’t enough. In those cases, a person’s body temperature rises rapidly…and very high body temperatures may damage the brain or other vital organs. In extreme cases, heat stroke can be fatal.
People at greatest risk of heat illness are infants and children under age 5, people over age 65, and people who have heart disease or poor circulation. In addition, body temperature rises more quickly if you drink alcohol, and if you are sunburned.
Signs that the body may be overheating and on its way to heat stroke vary for every individual, but they include:
- An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)
- Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
- Rapid, strong pulse
- Throbbing headache
If you see someone with any of these signs, call 9-1-1 for immediate medical care. Be warned that a person with heat stroke may be confused, and could try to assure you that help isn’t necessary. You need to do the clear thinking and call for help.
Meanwhile, if you see any of these signs, do the following:
- Get the victim to a shady area.
- Cool the victim rapidly, using whatever methods you can. For example, immerse the victim in a tub of cool water; place the person in a cool shower; spray the victim with cool water from a garden hose; sponge the person with cool water; or if the humidity is low, wrap the victim in a cool, wet sheet and fan him or her vigorously.
- Monitor body temperature and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to 101-102°F.
- If emergency medical personnel are delayed, call the hospital emergency room for further instructions.
- Do not give the victim alcohol to drink.
- Get medical assistance as soon as possible.
Milder signs of overheating–what is called heat exhaustion– include:
- Heavy sweating
- Muscle cramps
- Nausea or vomiting
- Cool, moist skin
- Fast pulse
If you see these signs, take steps to cool the person before it progresses to heat stroke. Try to drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages; rest; take a cool shower or bath; sit quietly in an air conditioned room; change to lightweight clothing.
More Ways to Protect Yourself and Others
- Drink more nonalcoholic beverages than usual. In fact, you may be becoming dehydrated without even feeling thirsty.
- Do not take salt tablets unless directed by your doctor–that’s an old wives’ tale.
- Wear loose-fitting, light-colored, light-weight clothing.
- If you go outside, remember to use sunscreen–sunburn causes loss of body fluids and makes it more difficult for the body to cool itself.
- If you work outside, pace yourself. If exertion in the heat makes your heart pound and leaves you gasping for breath, STOP all activity. Get into a cool area or at least in the shade, and rest, especially if you become lightheaded, confused, weak, or faint. Watch your coworkers for signs that they might be overheating.
- Don’t let children or older adults sit in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked. The temperatures inside the car can soar to 120 degrees within minutes, putting everyone at risk. (For more information about Hot Car safety, watch our video: Preventing Hot Car Heat Injuries in Children)
Even Dogs Can Get Too Hot
According to our friends at CareFirst Animal Hospital:
- If you go on a daily walk, try to go as early in the morning or as late in the evening as possible. It is coolest before dawn and after sundown–the closest you can get to walking in the dark, the cooler you’ll both be.
- If possible, try to not leave your dog outside. If you don’t trust your dog alone in the house, this might be a good time to try crate training.
- Indoors or out, keep plenty of fresh, cool water available. If you’ll be away for a long period of time, consider adding ice cubes to the water bowl.
- During walks and after, watch for any signs of distress that may indicate your dog is experiencing a heat stroke or heat stress. These can include excessive panting, excessive drooling, restlessness, dry tacky gums, labored breathing, and anxiety. If you see any of these signs, call your vet. Heat stroke is dangerous and needs to be treated immediately.
- Just as with children, remember not to leave pets in a car, even for a minute and even if you leave the windows open a crack.
Smithfield Father Fighting For Guardianship Of Injured Son
June 28th, 2012
June 28, 2012
According to WRAL News, the father of a Smithfield, North Carolina, teen hospitalized at WakeMed is fighting to keep guardianship over his son.
The young man was a 17-year-old high school senior when he was involved in a car accident in March 2011 that left him seriously injured. Doctors determined that he had suffered a traumatic brain injury in the crash and that he would likely be in a vegetative state the rest of his life. Over the next 14 months, the majority of the teen’s nearly $4 million in medical expenses was initially covered by his father’s Medicaid, but the day he turned 18-years-old, he was dropped from the policy.
Since then, his father has been working to have the coverage of his son reinstated, but WakeMed is pushing the court system to appoint an individual from the state government or the hospital to be the teen’s legal guardian. The young man’s father is resisting because those individuals would be able to make medical decisions about the care of the teen.
A hearing on the case has been scheduled for the end of July.
The North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers with HensonFuerst Injury Lawyers understand how difficult and frustrating insurance disputes can be and the firm would like to wish this family the best of luck in getting this issue resolved as quickly as possible to get this young man the care he needs.
FDA Investigating Dialysis Machines
June 27th, 2012
People who require dialysis have it tough enough without also having to risk sudden death from faulty dialysis machines.
According to an article in The New York Times, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is looking into potential violations of federal regulations by Fresenius Medical Care, the nation’s largest operator of dialysis centers, which treats more than a third of the 400,000 Americans receiving dialysis.
Last November, Fresenius’s medical office sent an internal memo to doctors practicing in the company’s dialysis centers, warning them that failure to properly use one of the company’s products appeared to be contributing to a sharp increase in the risk of patients dying suddenly from cardiac arrest.
“In light of these troubling findings,” the memo said, doctors should take corrective action. “This issue needs to be addressed urgently,” the memo added later.
Great, right? Except that the memo only went to Fresinius’s own dialysis centers. The company did not warn other centers that use their dialysis machine, the GranuFlo.
“Personally, I’m troubled by the fact that Fresenius on its own initiative didn’t notify its entire customer base of this particular concern,” Steven Silverman, director of compliance for the F.D.A.’s medical devices division, said in an interview this week…. “Candidly, I just think it’s bad business and not in the interest of public health to sit on information about risks.”
Dialysis works by clearing toxic waste from the blood, a job typically done by the kidneys. Part of the process involves adding bicarbonate–an alkaline–to neutralize toxic acid in the blood. GranuFlo dialysis machines include adding an ingredient that the body converts to bicarbonate, and it adds more of it than other machines. Because many doctors have not been accounting for this extra bicarbonate, patients have been getting an overdose.
The result: In the Fresenius memo dated November 4, 2011, 941 patient had suffered cardiac arrest. The company’s medical staff figured out that the higher levels of bicarbonate gave patients a 6 times greater risk of cardiac arrest.
The memo only went o Fresenius clinics–not to all doctors, and not to the FDA. In fact, the FDA only learned of the problem in late March after it received an anonymous copy of the memo. In May, after its own investigation, the FDA issued an alert about GranuFlo and similar dialysis products.
So now, finally, patients can receive the treatment they need without an increased risk of sudden death. How many additional deaths occurred in the seven months between November 4, 2011, and late May 2012 that could have been prevented had Fresenius publicized its finding appropriately so that all doctors and all regulatory agencies had fair warning of the risks?
To read the full article in The New York Times, click here: Dialysis Company’s Failure to Warn of Product Risk Draws Inquiry
Winning a Single Battle Against Brain Injury
June 25th, 2012
As doctors like to say, “Time is brain,” meaning that every minute a brain injury goes untreated, more brain cells die. Swift, effective treatment can save a live and, if circumstances are right, prevent catastrophic brain injury.
With that in mind, we’d like to introduce you to the heroes of the day: trauma surgeon Dr. George Garcia, neurosurgeon Dr. Russ Bullock, and physician’s assistant Leo Harris. These medical professionals—and their team of nurses, anesthesiologists, and other workers at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida—saved 16-year-old Yasser Lopez from a dramatic and potentially lethal injury.
According to an article on Sun-Sentinel.com, Lopez had been on his way to go fishing when a friend accidentally discharged a spear gun. The spear entered the teen’s head about an inch above his right eye, and stopped just millimeters short of piercing the skin on the back of his head. The medical team burst into action and not only saved Lopez’s life, but worked quickly enough to preserve nearly all his brain function.
[Dr. George] Garcia said that he has seen some intense injuries in his career as a trauma surgeon, but he acknowledged that this case was “pretty unique because the spear was so long.” He said there was no time to get distracted by the sensational scene, and his team shifted into high gear of their “regimented” response routine.
After verifying that the patient had no additional injuries beside the obvious one, the first challenge was how to get Lopez into the doughnut-shaped CT scan machine with a three-foot spear protruding from his forehead. The paramedics had done an incredible job of getting the patient to the hospital without disturbing the shaft, said Garcia, but given the lucky — and precarious — trajectory of the spear through Lopez’s brain, any movement could have proven fatal.
The circumstances were in Lopez’s favor. His surgeon said that there was a 1 in 10 million chance that the spear would have gone in the one right direction to do limited damage: No major blood vessels were severed, and portions of the brain that control speech and movement were spared. Just two weeks after his injury, the only symptom Lopez reports is a bit of weakness in the left side of his body.
“There is a good chance that he will have a perfect recovery,” Bullock said. “Young people have this amazing capacity for the uninjured part of the brain to take over functions controlled by the damaged part.”
It’s amazing how such a potentially devastating injury can be resolved so successfully. In the race against time to save brain, these Miami doctors and professionals won big time.
To read the full story in the Sun Sentinel, click here:
To learn more about brain injury, visit our website: HensonFuerst Attorneys Brain Injury pages
North Carolina Ranked Number Two For Teen Accident Fatalities
June 21st, 2012
June 20, 2012
Speed-related motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of teen fatalities in the United States today, especially in North Carolina. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that in 2009, more than 3,000 teens lost their lives in car accidents. The number of North Carolina Auto Accidents involving young people made the state rank number two in the nation for fatal teen driving accidents. North Carolina accounted for 54 teen deaths in 2011, which was an eight percent rise over the total in 2010.
Studies have shown that teen drivers with their peers in the car have a more than 44 percent higher chance of being involved in an accident than those who drive alone.
An accident Thursday involving both speed and young passengers in Johnston County left one young girl dead and another seriously injured. According to WRAL News, the accident happened on Princeton Kinley Road around 8:00 p.m. when the 16-year-old driver of the vehicle was speeding and lost control of the car. It went into a ditch, killing the driver. Her passenger was airlifted to a local hospital, where she remains in serious condition.
The North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers with HensonFuerst say that graduated licensing programs have helped reduce the number of teen accidents; however, parents talking openly with their young drivers about the dangers of speeding and distractions will significantly decrease your teen’s chances of being involved in a Raleigh Car Accident.
North Carolina Worker Killed In Hit-And-Run Accident
June 14th, 2012
June 14, 2012
Estimates from the North Carolina Department of Transportation show that more than 400 hit-and-run accidents occur in the state each year. One such accident claimed the life of a Raleigh, North Carolina, worker when he was struck at a filling station earlier this week.
According to WRAL News, the accident happened just before 12:30 p.m. Wednesday at the BP station located on New Bern Avenue. Police reports indicate that the 50-year-old worker was performing maintenance work in a manhole when a vehicle driven by a 52-year-old woman hit him as she was pulling away from the gas pump and he was exiting the manhole. Police are unsure if the woman knew she hit the worker before fleeing the scene.
Witnesses came to man’s aid and called 911, but EMTs were unable to help and declared him dead at the scene.
The driver responsible for the accident was tracked down several miles away and was placed under arrest on charges of unsafe movement and misdemeanor death by motor vehicle.
North Carolina law requires all motorists to stop after an accident has occurred in order to report the crash and render aid to anyone who is injured.
The North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers with HensonFuerst Injury Lawyers know how difficult the untimely wrongful death of a loved one can be. That’s why the firm would like to send their deepest condolences to the family of the victim.
Health Danger in a Sippy Cup
June 13th, 2012
from The New York Times
Broken teeth, bleeding gums, facial cuts. These are some of the dangers of sippy cups, bottles, and pacifiers, according to two new studies published in the journal Pediatrics. Over the course of 20 years, more than 45,000 children under age 3 were treated in emergency rooms for these types of childhood injuries. According to an article in The New York Times:
“This is the equivalent of about one child every four hours,” said Sarah A. Keim, a study author and a researcher at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. She noted that the true number is likely to be much higher, since the study looked only at children who had been taken to emergency rooms. “We expect that less severe injuries were handled by the parents themselves, or that the child was taken to a pediatrician,” she said.
I must admit, I was shocked to read about these hazards. But after reading the articles, it makes more sense. What typically happens is that a toddler who is holding a bottle or sippy cup in his mouth falls over, jamming the hard plastic into the child’s face.
The recommendation is to transition children from bottles or sippy cups to lid-less cups as soon as possible. Not that regular cups are safer, but parents are more likely to require children to sit still while drinking from a lid-less cup than from a bottle.
While most of us grew up with the admonition: “Don’t run with scissors.” For this generation, maybe the new warning should be: “Don’t walk with a sippy cup.”
To read the full story in The New York Times, click here: Sippy Cups and Other Little-Known Childhood Hazards
Johnson & Johnson Stops Selling Surgical Mesh
June 11th, 2012
Surgical mesh is a common medical product used to repair conditions in which body organs need extra support because the muscles and ligaments supporting internal organs weaken, causing the organs to sag inside the body cavity. Surgical mesh is used to create a kind of sling or hammock to keep the organs in their proper place. In women, it can be used to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence.
Unfortunately, this surgical solution is flawed. Over the past three years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received nearly 4,000 reports of serious and severe complications associated with surgical mesh used to treat pelvic organ prolapse and SUI, including 3 fatalities. The most frequent complications include:
- Erosion through inner wall of the vagina;
- Mesh contraction, leading to vaginal shortening and pain;
- Urinary problems;
- Recurrence of prolapse and/or incontinence.
There were also reports of surgical complications when the insertion of the mesh perforated bowel, bladder, or blood vessels. In some cases, vaginal scarring and mesh erosion led to a significant decrease in patient quality of life due to discomfort and pain, including painful sexual intercourse.
Now, according to an article in The New York Times, some of the dangerous products will no longer be available. Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon division has decided to stop selling four types of mesh implants: Gynecare TVT Secur system, Gynecare Prosima, Gynecare Prolift, and Gynecare Prolift+M.
“This is very good news for women because it takes several products off the market that have harmed a lot of women,” said Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Research Center for Women and Families, a public health advocacy group. However, she said, “the bad news is that there are many other surgical meshes still on the market that are just as dangerous.”
And the products won’t be removed from market immediately, but phased out over the next three to nine months. That means more women will be put at risk before these brands of mesh are gone for good. And to add insult to injury, Johnson & Johnson is positioning this move to stop selling these brands of mesh as a response to “changing market dynamics,” not to safety or efficacy concerns. However, according to The New York Times:
In 2008, the Food and Drug Administration warned that use of the implants was associated with complications but that the problems were rare. But between 2008 and 2010, the agency reported a fivefold increase in reports related to the use of the devices. In January, the F.D.A. ordered makers of the implants to study their risks in patients.
Under the law, women who have been seriously injured by surgical mesh complications have the right to seek compensation for their losses and suffering from Johnson & Johnson, or any other company that manufactures the products.
If you or someone you care about has had surgery using transvaginal mesh to correct pelvic organ prolapse or urinary incontinence, you have the right to seek compensation for your losses and for your suffering. If you believe you have been seriously injured by transvaginal mesh, HensonFuerst Attorneys may be able to help. Someone is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to take your call, at 1-800-4-LAWMED; or contact us via our website at www.lawmed.com.
Life Doesn’t Wait, and neither should you. If you have questions, HensonFuerst has answers.
To read the full article in The New York Times, click here: Johnson & Johnson Unit to Halt Urinary Implants
We also have a YouTube video about the dangers of transvaginal surgical mesh (although it was created before this latest move by J&J): Dangers of Transvaginal Surgical Mesh
North Carolina Hospital Works To Reduce Rates Of Patient Infection
June 7th, 2012
June 7, 2012
More than two years ago, staff at the Duke Raleigh Hospital decided that something had to be done to reduce the number of deadly infections being contracted by patients in the intensive care unit. Now, according to WRAL News, those efforts are beginning to pay off as the facility announced there have been no central-line blood stream infections contracted by patients since the policy changes were implemented.
In order for the hospital to become safer for patients, the doctors, nurses, and staff decided that not only were procedure changes needed, but also a change in the way staff thought about infection. This led to the creation of an 89 point checklist in order to keep patients from being exposed to bacteria.
Staff members are now required to wash their hands more often. They must also wear gowns, masks, and gloves when in rooms with patients in the unit, as well as keeping all equipment in a single, sterilized location. More importantly though, patients receive antiseptic baths before procedures and receive more barriers of infection protection on their bodies where procedures are taking place.
With such a high rate of success, the staff hopes that other hospitals will soon use the procedure to better protect patients.
The North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers with HensonFuerst Injury Lawyers would like to applaud Duke Raleigh Hospital for protecting patients from infections that could result in medical malpractice claims.