Lights…Camera…NC Students Take Action for Bicycle Safety
March 12th, 2012
It is one of our favorite times of the year: Time for our annual “My PSA Contest!” for North Carolina high school and middle school students.
Each year, HensonFuerst Attorneys holds a bicycle safety public service announcement (PSA) video contest for local middle and high school students. The goal is to prevent serious accidents and injuries, and to help young people understand the importance of using proper riding skills, obeying traffic rules, and understanding helmet safety. The contest gives students a chance to make a difference and be creative while keeping everyone on the road safe and accident‐free.
“We’ve been helping victims of traumatic brain injuries for more than 20 years and understand the life‐altering consequences associated with these types of injuries,” said avid cyclist and attorney Thomas Henson Jr. “We want this contest to bring more awareness to safe cycling and accident prevention.”
How the Contest Works
The contest has two age categories: grades 6 to 8 and grades 9 to 12. Students must enter video PSAs, which should address the importance of bicycle safety. PSAs will be judged on students’ abilities to analyze the topic and produce a quality video. Entries must be submitted no later than Wednesday, April 18, 2012.
Prizes will be given to the students who produce the first‐place entries in each age category. The winning students can choose between an Apple MacBook with movie‐making software or a $1,500 gift card. The winning students’ schools also will receive monetary donations. Of the two winning entries, one will be selected to air on local television.
To see a complete list of rules, enter a PSA, and vote for your favorite videos, visit www.LawMed.com/contest/.
According to Sarah O’Brien, Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Manager at the Institute for Transportation Research & Education at North Carolina State University:
“Approximately five percent of all bicycle fatalities in North Carolina involve a cyclist under the age of 16. Through a 2011 public involvement process we conducted, people from across the state made it clear they feel North Carolina has a priority to raise awareness about bicycle and pedestrian safety through educational messages. The PSA contest conducted annually by HensonFuerst is a great tool to not only get the ‘rules of the road’ out to our citizens, but to also provide a valuable learning experience to our youth.”
How the Contest Began
Four years ago, the firm represented the husband of a local cyclist who was killed by a motorist while riding her bike. Members of the firm pledged all of the attorney fees from the case to fund bike safety awareness programs, such as the PSA contest and a series of cycling safety videos.
Past Winners on the Road to Success
We recently caught up with winners from 2011. Here’s what they told us:
Kyle Messina, who won first place in the highschool category last year with his friend and fellow filmmaker Frank Brechbiel: “Since the contest, I’ve shot multiple films—one being a music video for the band Onward, Soldiers—which was screened at the Cucalorus Film Festival. The contest definitely helped us gain experience in film.”
Makaila Roberts, who won first place in the middle school category last year: “I still love making videos. With my prize, I bought a green screen set, a video camera, and movie‐making software. Thank you so much for this opportunity! It really boosted my confidence and helped me move forward in my future career.”
We’re proud of all the students who submit videos–they are talented and passionate about their safety messages…and we’re looking forward to seeing the 2012 entries! Don’t forget: The deadline is April 18, 2012. For complete rules, information, and videos from previous years, visit www.lawmed.com.
Cautionary Tales from Nursing Homes
March 8th, 2012
In keeping with our on-going series, today’s blog is about nursing home tragedy. We collect stories from around the world to remind everyone that the elderly are vulnerable to abusers and unscrupulous care facilities. If there is a lesson to be taken from these stories, it is that friends and family of nursing home residents need to visit often, stay involved, and speak up if anything seems unusual.
Here’s today’s nursing home story round-up:
Whose Meth Lab Was It?
Investigation of a deadly fire at Park Haven Home in Ashtabula, Ohio, revealed that the blaze began in a resident’s room…where someone had created a shake-and-bake meth lab. The man who died, 31-year-old Shaun Warrens, was not a patient or an employee of the facility. As of this writing, it’s not clear what connections he had to the nursing home. Three residents and one non-resident were hospitalized with injuries caused by the fire.
According to an article by the Associated Press:
Police Chief Robert Stell told the Star Beacon of Ashtabula that police believe two visitors and one Park Haven resident knew about the meth lab. Police expect to charge two men who also were burned in the fire.
Methamphetamine, or “meth,” is a highly addictive stimulant. Mobile meth labs, also called one-pot or shake-and-bake labs, usually consist of a 2-liter bottle and the drug’s ingredients. According to Bob Frey, of the health department:
“Basically, you can take all of the components and equipment and put it in a backpack and use it to brew a small quantity of methamphetamine,” he said. “It’s a highly dangerous but very self-contained method of making methamphetamine.”
Shaking the mixture agitates the chemicals and produces the heat needed to cook the drug. But it can also cause a violent reaction that could melt or rupture the container. The explosion or fire usually is confined to the person making the drug and the surrounding area, Frey said.
Meth is a problem nationwide, but it’s highly uncommon in a nursing home setting. I’m not sure whether this speaks more to the expansion of meth’s addictive reach, or to the changing demographics of nursing homes. As addiction spreads, it eventually reaches all segments of society.
To read the full story, click here: http://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/nursing-home-with-meth-1374675.html
Jailed for Facebook Photos
According to the Daily Reporter, 26-year-old Oregon nursing assistant Nai Mai Chao served eight days in jail after a jury found her guilty of invasion of personal privacy. Some believe that her crime should have brought a much higher punishment.
“Invasion of personal privacy” sounds so innocuous, doesn’t it? What Ms. Chao did was awful: She took disturbing photos of elderly and disabled patients using bedpans, then posted them on Facebook. Ms. Chao surrendered her nursing certificate, and was fired from the Regency Pacific Nursing and Rehab Center where she worked.
To read the full story, click here: http://www.greenfieldreporter.com/view/story/5365bdb7f2544ef9a21be69e5d6f1d4f/US–Nursing-Home-Photos/
British Elderly Denied Basic Care
According to an article in The Telegraph, more than half of nursing home residents are denied even basic health services. Some have to wait up to three months for formal checks of painful conditions, such as bed sores… some face significant delays in getting their medication… and many are not given a choice of male or female staff to help them use the bathroom, raising issues of dignity and respect.
The Geriatrics Society issued results of a study that showed that about half of primary care facilities don’t even provide key services, such as continence assessments, physiotherapy, bed sore checks, and mental health services. According to the president of the society:
“What it shows is that there is a massive disconnect between what the NHS aspires to and what it actually delivers to people in care homes and they are the most vulnerable group of people.
To read the full story, click here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/elderhealth/9126976/More-than-half-care-home-residents-denied-basic-care-unpublished-data-shows.html
Vulnerable, Inside and Out
When you have to rely on other people for your daily care, you have to trust that you won’t be taken advantage of. Unfortunately, the elderly are often more vulnerable to scammers, cheats, and liars. Case in point: 64-year-old Surjeet Chana, a British “grandmother” who worked in the Land Registry office. She used her position to supply documents to a white-collar gang that stole houses from elderly people who had moved into nursing facilities.
According to an article in The Telegraph:
Using information she gathered, including title deeds and ownership signatures, the group targeted empty homes, pretending to be the owners and selling them on to third parties.
Over the past two years, the gang sold at least nine properties across London, worth a combined value of about $8 million. The judge who sentenced Chana to more than 3 years in prison called her “greedy” and “corrupted.”
You have brought great shame on yourself and your family, you have ruined your career and no doubt prejudiced your pension rights.
Judge Grieve added the gang preyed on “highly vulnerable” victims whose family homes which had a “lifetime of memories” were sold from beneath their noses. “It takes little imagination to realise the shattering trauma that this experience would bring,” he said.
To read the full story, click here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/9126384/Grandmother-jailed-after-plot-to-steal-homes-from-elderly.html
One Final Insult
Even after a resident died, one nursing home went the final, abusive step. In Great Britain, the Highcliffe Nursing Home sent a bill for the equivalent of about $4,740.00 because the dead man didn’t give 4 weeks notice of his death. Got that? The nursing home claims that unless they receive advance notice of a resident’s death, the resident (or his family) can be charged for an extra month’s stay at the facility. They claim that the charge is valid…similar to not giving a month’s notice before moving out of an apartment.
According to an article in the British newspaper The Daily Mail, the resident’s daughter felt that her father had been well cared-for while he lived at the facility, but she questions the crazy charge.
“I wouldn’t mind paying for a week,” she said. “But to pay for a month – which covers his food, laundry and nursing care – is daylight robbery.”
As if this wasn’t bad enough, the billing department was overly efficient. The bereaved daughter received the notice the day after her father’s funeral. The nursing home administrators claim they are reviewing this policy.
To read the full story, click here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2104184/Care-home-bills-grieving-daughter-3k-didnt-notice-fathers-DEATH.html#ixzz1oY2dZafV
“Organized Savagery” in the NFL
March 7th, 2012
New Orleans Saints coach Payton with quarterback Drew Brees; REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
About 18 months ago, we wrote with great excitement about the National Football League (NFL) and the new attention they were bringing to the crisis of concussion. The 2010 football season began with new concussion awareness posters in the locker rooms. As quoted in The New York Times, the Baltimore Ravens’ center, Matt Birk, said:
“To put it out there in writing in locker rooms, at least it’s publicly acknowledging that, ‘Hey, this is real.’ There’s risks in everything you do, and this one is real. You can’t sweep it under the rug anymore.
Unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be much change in the culture of the sport: Players were not removed from play after either giving or receiving hard head hits—the kind that are likely to cause concussion. The concussion prevention program was little more than words on a page, talk with no back-up action.
Now, a new scandal has rocked the NFL, and this one is difficult to understand, under any circumstance.
An investigation has revealed a “Pay for Pain” bounty program in the New Orleans Saints. Head coach Sean Payton and general manager Micky Loomis have taken full responsibility. According to a Reuters news article, under the bounty program, players were reported with payments of thousands of dollars for hard hits that knocked opponents out of games. Supposedly, players were paid $1,000 for a “knockout hit” and another $1,000 if a player were to be carried off the field.
The program was administered by former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who issued a statement acknowledging his involvement:
“It was a terrible mistake, and we knew it was wrong while we were doing it. Instead of getting caught up in it, I should have stopped it,” said Williams. “I take full responsibility for my role. I am truly sorry. I have learned a hard lesson and I guarantee that I will never participate in or allow this kind of activity to happen again.”
This seems like quite a cold-blooded apology for such a heinous and injurious program. Oops, sorry, won’t do it again. Perhaps he and everyone else who actively or passively condoned this program shouldn’t be allowed a chance to do it again…perhaps they should lose their jobs…perhaps they should pay restitution of some sort to the players who were seriously injured by this program.
As Charles P. Pierce wrote on the website Grantland.com:
“What we shave here now is the face of organized savagery, plain and simple…. These events were not incidental to the playing of the game. They were an essential part of it. The players who participated in the program did not do so accidentally. The coaches who designed the program did not do it without knowing full well what it entailed, including the possibility of retaliation if the story ever got out, and a subsequent football arms race that would end up with someone dead on the field.
How much violence and physical damage is too much before we start to realize that our national pastime needs to change the unwritten rules of the game? We have a crisis of concussion… players dying young due to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and dementia… players committing suicide as they experience catastrophic declines in their physical and mental health… and now aggression bounties. As Mr. Pierce wrote:
Gradually, football has seen its appeal slip at the most basic levels. Pediatricians are advising parents not to let young children play organized football too early in life. Local high schools are looking at skyrocketing insurance rates and wondering, in a time when school budgets are being squeezed to a pulp all over the country, whether this particular game is worth the candle. Major college programs have all the economic problems present in the high schools combined with all the workplace-safety issues with which the NFL is grappling. Football may be losing some of what once appeared to be its unbreakable purchase on the country’s soul.
I’ve always been one of those people who cringe and look away when aggressive football hits are replayed in slow motion, so maybe I’m out of touch with what football fans are willing to bear. But I’ll never again be able to enjoy the pure sport of football without wondering exactly what nefarious plays are being planned in the huddle or the locker room. And I’ll never be able to assume that any on-the-field injury was due to an accident, rather than a calculated hit.
And maybe it’s time for the New Orleans team to change its name. “The Saints” just doesn’t seem to fit anymore.
To read the full Reuters article, click here: Saints coach and GM take blame for bounties
To read the full article on Grantland.com, click here: The Saints, Head-hunting, and (Another) Disaster for the NFL
To read more about the scandal on ESPN, click here: Saints coach, GM sorry for bounties
Thomas Henson Jr. Expands Role As Advocate for TBI Patients
March 5th, 2012
Thomas Henson Jr., managing partner of the catastrophic injury and complex litigation division of HensonFuerst Attorneys, spends much of his time focusing on cases involving traumatic brain injury, catastrophic personal injury, and spinal cord injury. He has personally represented hundreds of people—children and adults—with every type of brain injury, including concussion, coma, and brain bleeds. Henson is also a member of the Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice.
BIANC Board Member
In recognition of his role as a passionate advocate for the causes of traumatic brain injury prevention and treatment, Henson was recently invited to serve on the Board of Directors of the Brain Injury Association of North Carolina (BIANC). In this new role, he will work with other BIANC board members to raise funds and raise awareness of the life-changing effects of brain injury.
Henson has been a sponsor and member of BIANC for several years and has led HensonFuerst’s cycling team in its annual participation in Ride for the Rock, a charity cycling event that benefits BIANC, named in honor of a cyclist who suffered brain injury during a cycling-related accident.
“I am pleased to find another opportunity to help victims of traumatic brain injuries and their families, and I am honored that I have been asked to serve in this capacity,” Henson said. “The consequences of brain injuries can be tragic and are often overwhelming for those affected. Traumatic brain injury victims need and deserve our help, and the BIANC members do everything they can to maximize the quality of life for these victims and their families.”
Speaker and Author
Henson has also recently completed work on a book chapter. The book—The Miracle Mind: Sonya’s Story—was designed to help people retrain their brains after stroke. Henson’s chapter is a perfect complement, focusing instead on brain injury due to trauma (instead of stroke), and discussing how lawyers are often a critical part of a successful treatment team.
The chapter was publicly introduced on February 24, 2012, at the BIANC conference called “Building Community from the Inside Out.” There, Henson spoke about how attorneys can benefit brain injury patients, including helping them seek compensation for their injuries, providing medical and rehabilitation resources, and planning for long-term financial needs.
“I am honored to have been part of such a special group of people who gathered to exchange information and resources about brain injury, its consequences, and successful techniques for managing some of those consequences,” Henson said.
Miracle Mind-TBI Chapter
Brain injury patients nationwide are lucky to have such a tireless and passionate advocate on their side.
Thomas Henson Jr. can be reached at HensonFuerst Attorneys at 1-800-4-LAWMED, or via their website at http://www.lawmed.com/. If you have questions, HensonFuerst has answers.
Britain Concerned About Hip Implants
February 29th, 2012
For over a year, we’ve been telling you about the problems with metal-on-metal hip replacement devices. Some, such as the DePuy devices by Johnson & Johnson, were recalled due to a higher-than-usual failure rate, causing patients to require second surgeries to replace the replacements. In May 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered all producers of “metal-on-metal” hip replacements to study the implants to make sure patients remain as safe as possible.
You can read those earlier blogs here:
Hip Replacements Fail, Sometimes Without Symptoms
Diagnosing Hip Replacement Injury
Now, according to an article in The New York Times, British help regulators recommend that patients in Britain who received metal-on-metal artificial hips — which were also used widely in the United States — should undergo annual examinations for as long as they have the device to make sure they are not suffering tissue damage or other problems. This recommendation was made out of concern that serious problems could surface 15 or even 20 years after the original surgery.
“By monitoring patients every year, any complications will get picked up earlier and more complex surgery on the patient can be avoided,” said Dr. Susanne Ludgate, the clinical director of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.
It has been estimated that about 500,000 people in the United States received an all-metal hip during the past 10 years. Thousands of them have been forced to undergo second surgeries to have the replacements replaced. Hundreds have suffered crippling injuries due to the tissue and muscle tissue damage caused by metallic debris shed by the devices.
In the U.S., the FDA is not changing its recommendation that all hip replacement patients undergo “regular” follow-up with their physicians. That’s good advice…and we recommend that these follow-ups occur even if patients don’t think they have any special problem with their hip replacements. Some people with significant damage to the surrounding muscle tissue don’t have any pain until the injury is severe.
If you have had a metal-on-metal hip replacement that failed early, or if you have had tissue damage due to the device and would like to explore your legal options, feel free to contact the attorneys of HensonFuerst. Someone is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-4-LAWMED…or view our website at http://www.lawmed.com/.
If you have questions, HensonFuerst has answers.
To read the full article in The New York Times, click here: Britain Extends Monitoring for People with Metal Hips
The Crisis of TBI is Physical, Emotional, and Financial
February 27th, 2012
Patrick & Sarah Jane Donohue
Patrick Donohue’s world is defined by two things: His daughter, Sarah Jane, and numbers.
When Sarah Jane was five days old, her baby nurse shook her violently, causing four broken ribs, two broken collarbones, and severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). That injury sparked the interest in numbers. According to an article in Utah’s Deseret News, some numbers that Mr. Donohue is obsessed with these days:
- 765,000: The number of children and young adults sent to emergency rooms for brain injury in the United States each year.
- 80,000: The number who go on to be hospitalized for TBI.
- 11,000: The number who die of their TBI injuries.
- $10 million: The amount spent on brain injury research. (He compares that to the $4 billion spent on AIDS/HIV research and $1 billion on autism research, which combined afflict fewer people each year than brain injury.)
- 10: The number of different treatment plans TBI patients are likely to get if they visit 10 different doctors.
- HR 2600: The name/number of the bipartisan bill currently being considered in Congress also known as the Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury (PABI) Plan Act. This resolution would endorse a master treatment plan for brain injury, and create a network of 52 State Lead Centers of Excellence–one fore every state plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
Dr. Ricardo Komotar, a noted brain specialist at the University of Miami Hospital, many people with brain injury may not even know it, especially if the injury happens during sports.
“It’s important to understand that only 15 to 20 percent of all concussions involve loss of consciousness. The other 80 percent are largely unrecognized.”
That has long-term consequences, he says, including cumulative brain damage. “You can present with early Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, dementia. We’re seeing it more and more, the hits in sports more violent.”
The dementia-related disorders are the biggest issues facing adults who suffer brain injury, even minor brain injuries like concussion…especially after multiple concussions. But for children, the biggest challenges of brain injury are getting appropriate assistance in the school system, and helping them make the transition to adulthood. Experts say that about 90 percent of children in juvenile detention have brain injuries, making it not just a personal health problem but a public health and social crisis.
Concussion may be a dirty word
Mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) is better known by its more common name: concussion. But TBI activists and many physicians would rather we call call it just plain brain injury. Why? Because, according to Mr. Donohue, there’s a tendency to disregard injuries classified as mild TBI. “Imagine someone saying you have mild cancer,” he says.
MTBI may not cause the kinds of dramatic and devastating disabilities seen in patients with more severe brain injury, these mild injuries still require medical attention and coordinated treatment plans. Especially children, the youngest victims. And we all deserve to know that scientific and medical research is progressing, and it would be nice if there were sufficient funding that we have hope that someday TBI might become a treatable disorder, as opposed to a permanent disability.
To read the full article in the Deseret News, click here: TBI crisis as evidence mounts
Dementia Training for Caregivers
February 27th, 2012
As the saying goes, you cannot fully understand what another person’s life is like until you “walk a mile in their shoes.” That’s the point behind an innovative training program designed to help caregivers truly appreciate what life is like for their loved ones with dementia. According to an article on GoErie.com, a division of the Pennsylvania newspaper the Erie Times-News:
“You don’t know what they go through until you do this test yourself,” said [Patty Gregory, a certified nursing assistant at Saint Mary's Home of Erie]. “I took care of my father for 12 years, and now I truly know what he went through.”
In order to give caregivers a taste of what what an elderly person with dementia experiences, this is what they go through:
- Kernels of uncooked popcorn are put in their shoes to make walking more difficult;
- Kernels of popcorn are dropped into rubber gloves before sliding them onto the caregivers’ hands;
- Some fingers of the gloves were taped together to make it more difficult to grab and hold objects;
- They wore goggles with dark circles taped to the middle of each lens to approximate what macular degeneration does to vision;
- A CD played loud static and other distracting sounds through headphones;
- Strobe lights flickered.
The caregivers were then escorted to an empty patient room and told to perform five simple tasks—such as pouring half a glass of water and folding towels—but they had to listen to instructions through the static and noise, or read a list in which the words were scrambled. It was a difficult chore. According to the article:
“Where’s the water, where’s the water, where’s the water?” nursing assistant Alice Flemings said after entering the training room. “Oh my, oh my. Where am I going?”
“Take your time and calm down,” said DeAndra Jackson, a Saint Mary’s Home employee whose job during training was to ensure the nursing assistant did not walk into a door or otherwise hurt themselves.
Some nursing assistants were able to complete most of their tasks, while others struggled to finish even one.
One nursing assistant, who asked not to be identified, was so visibly aggravated when she walked out of the simulation room that Jackson jokingly called her a “noncompliant patient.”
The exercise helped caregivers to understand that it takes more patience to work with people with dementia and physical impairments, and that hurrying them along may only serve to make them agitated.
“My love for people has never changed and never will change,” Gregory said. “But until you walk in that room, you will never know the deep impact a disease like dementia can have.”
Such a fascinating program. It seems that this type of training should be required for anyone who works in a nursing home.
To read the full article, click here: Erie nursing home shows aides what dementia is like
DePuy Manufacturer Knew of High Failure Rate
February 22nd, 2012
In 2010, DePuy Orthopaedics, a division of Johnson & Johnson, sent a letter to doctors announcing a recall of two of their hip replacement systems, the ASR XL Acetabular System, and the ASR Hip Resurfacing System due to their higher-than-usual failure rates. The failures necessitated that patients have a second surgeries to replace the replacement, but some people still ended up with severe tissue damage that left them in pain.
Before the recall, Johnson & Johnson refused to acknowledge that the medical device was flawed. But now, in an article published in The New York Times, it seems that Johnson & Johnson was aware of the high failure rate—and an email stating so was written by a DePuy vice president and sent to top executives in the corporation. In the email, Pamela Plouhar:
…reported that the device had not met F.D.A. approval standards and that a major concern was its high rate of early failure, or “revision,” during clinical trials. She also cautioned that providing the F.D.A. with more data might not change its stance and that it might take years to conduct new studies of the hip, known as the ASR, or articular surface replacement.
In addition, Ms. Plouhar’s email stated that there had been “a significant number of revisions in the ASR group” compared with “very few in the control group.”
That means that the FDA, Ms. Plouhar, and—after the email was sent—other J&J executives all knew that there were significant problems with the hip replacement devices. And yet, the company did not notify doctors or patients about the problems. In fact, they continued marketing and selling the device in the United States and around the world…at least until the recall was announced in August 2010. In all, about 93,000 people received a DePuy hip replacement.
Throughout the episode, DePuy blamed orthopedic surgeons for the model’s failures, saying that doctors were not positioning a component properly. But the clinical findings rejected by the F.D.A. came from A.S.R. studies run by surgeons hand-picked by DePuy, including some who had developed the implant and received royalties or consulting fees in connection with it.
This new information is not going to help Johnson & Johnson’s reputation, which has recently been turning from gleaming to rusty. Perhaps this is why J&J CEO William C. Weldon announced that he will step down in April. Analysts believe he would rather retire by choice than be forced to resign.
HensonFuerst Video about the DePuy recall: DePuy Orthopaedics Hip Replacement Recall
If you believe you have been injured by a DePuy hip replacement and would like to discuss your legal options, please feel free to call HensonFuerst Attorneys at 1-800-4-LAWMED, or visit our website at http://www.lawmed.com/. If you have questions, HensonFuerst has answers.
To read the full story in The New York TImes, click here: Hip Maker Discussed Failures
To read our blog about the DePuy recall, click here: DePuy Hip Replacement Recall
February 21st, 2012
If your loved one has become bedridden due to illness or infirmity, it is important to take steps to prevent bedsores, also known as “pressure ulcers,” which are areas of broken skin caused by the pressure of lying in one spot too long without moving. Bedsores themselves cause pain, but worse than that, if left untreated bedsores are prone to becoming infected. In severe cases, the infection spreads from the skin to the blood, and even the bone.
In extreme circumstances, bedsores can be deadly. According to an article on the British news site The Daily Mail, bedsores kill almost as many hospital patients as the “super bug” called MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).
According to the Mayo Clinic, bedsores can move through four stages of development very quickly:
- Stage 1: Closed wound. The skin appears red (on fair skin), or ashen, bluish, or purple in people with darker skin. The site may be painful, and may be either warmer or cooler than the surrounding skin.
- Stage 2: Open wound. The outer layer of skin is damaged, making the ulcer look like a shallow divot, or like a large intact or ruptured blister.
- Stage 3: Deep wound. The ulcer starts looking like a crater, possibly with some yellowish dead tissue.
- Stage 4: Large-scale loss of tissue. The would exposes muscle, bone, and/or tendons. The bottom of the wound may look dark with crusty dead tissue.
Treating bedsores can be difficult, which is why prevention is so important. Whether your loved one is at home, or in a nursing home or hospital, here are some steps you can take to prevent problems before they start, from Dr. Anthony Komaroff (AskDrK.com) and the Lake County News-Sun:
- Relieve pressure on vulnerable areas. Move your loved one every 2 to 4 hours—from lying on the back, to one side, then the other side, then the back again. According to Dr. Komaroff: “When she is on her side, she should be only partly on her side (about a 30-degree tilt); if she is completely on her side, her hip bone will push down hard on her skin.”
- Use pillows to keep vulnerable areas from pressing into the mattress.
- Reduce irritation. You know how a tiny pebble in your shoe can feel like a jagged piece of glass after walking on it for awhile? To the skin of a bedridden person, tiny irritations can cause big pain. Keep sheets smooth and not bunched… don’t allow books or other objects to remain in the bed when not in use… make sure crumbs are caught or cleaned after eating.
- Inspect sore-prone areas at least once a day.
- Get prompt medical care if you see suspicious areas of skin irritation.
- Encourage good nutrition. If you have any doubts or questions, talk with a nutritionist to make sure your loved one gets enough calories, protein, fats, vitamins and minerals.
- Encourage movement or exercise. Even stretches or simple arm or leg lifts can help the blood circulate, which can keep the skin healthy.
- Keep skin clean and dry. Wash with plain water and very gentle soap (when in doubt, ask a nurse for recommendations). If sweating is a problem, use absorbent pads to keep moisture off the skin.
- Communicate with nursing home staff about your bedsore observations. If your loved one lives in a nursing facility, ask what steps they take to prevent bedsores. Let them know if you discover early signs of problems. Ask if they have any recommendations about items you could purchase that might make your loved one more comfortable. If you work as a team, your loved one has a better chance of staying healthy!
To read the full article from the News-Sun, click here: Measures to prevent sores in the bedridden elderly
To read more about bedsores from the Mayo Clinic, click here: Mayo Clinic Bedsores
Germs in School: What You'll Wish You Didn't Know
February 20th, 2012
An article on WRAL.com reported on an investigation of germs in kids’ lunch boxes…and elsewhere around schools. This story will make you want to get out the extra-strength disinfecting scrub!
Dr. LeAnn Jaykus, a food science professor at North Carolina State University (NCSU), and her team examined the level of contamination in children’s lunch boxes, and on food trays in fast food restaurants and mall food courts. What were they looking for? (Are you sure you want to know?)
“We’re looking for evidence of fecal contamination, the presence of listeria, which is an indication of some sort of environmental contamination, and the presence of staphylococcus, which can come from mucous membranes or hands, or things like that,” said Dr. LeAnn Jaykus.
According to the results, the trays were clean, with no evidence of contamination from any of the measured microbes. Obviously, the restaurants did a good job of keeping the trays sanitary. The lunch boxes, however, were another matter—they were “fun” from a germ-hunter’s point of view, which means that they were a parent’s nightmare. Specifically:
- Many of the lunch boxes looked dirty, with visible mold and caked-on food.
- Half the lunch boxes tested positive for low levels of staphylococcus.
- 3% of the lunch boxes tested positive for listeria.
- 15% of lunch boxes had evidence of fecal contamination. This is the most worrisome result, and most potentially dangerous.
Dr. Jaykus says the likely source is kids who don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom. She suggests parents talk with their children about proper hygiene and wash their lunch boxes every week.
Good advice! (shudder)
Other High-Contamination Areas
As long as your mind is already thinking about germs, here are a few more areas to keep in mind.
Surfaces with highest concentration of germ contamination include:
1. Gas pump handles (71% of surfaces tested had a high level of germs)
2. Mailbox handles (68%)
3. Escalator rails (43%)
4. ATM buttons (41%)
5. Parking meters/kiosks (40%)
6. Crosswalk buttons (35%)
7. Vending machine buttons (35%)
(Source: Kimberly Clark study/MainStreet.com)
We get sick from bacteria (and viruses) when we get germs on our hands, then touch our eyes, mouth, or nose. So touching a contaminated surface isn’t what makes you sick…it’s the transfer of germs from your hand to those other parts of your body. To avoid the possibility of getting sick, some people take to pressing buttons with elbows, and opening doors with a tissue or with a sleeve pulled down over their hands. Although it seems late, we’re still in flu season. So stay healthy everyone!
To read the full article on WRAL.com, click here: Tests find mold, fecal bacteria