June 2009 News: Injured
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June 2009 Archives

Walkers and Canes Linked to Falls for Older Adults

Many older adults rely on walkers and canes to help them get around and remain active, but a new study shows that these devices are also causing falls and emergency room visits for thousands of older Americans every year.

Every day from 2001 to 2006, an average of 129 older adults (age 65 and over) were treated in emergency rooms nationwide for injuries from falls that involved the use of walkers and canes, according to researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That adds up to over 47,000 injuries each year. The study will be published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Take a look at some of the key findings from the CDC's research of fall-related injuries involving walkers and canes:

Car Accident Response Fees Banned in Florida

Imagine that you're to blame for a car accident, and on top of all the stress and anxiety you're feeling over what happened, you receive a bill in the mail for the services of emergency responders who were dispatched to the scene. It happened to some Florida drivers in a number of communities in the state, but the controversial practice will be banned beginning on July 1st, according to a report from Fox13-Tampa Bay.

Florida Governor Charlie Crist has signed Senate Bill 2282, which prohibits cities and counties from imposing fees or seeking reimbursement for costs associated with emergency services sent in response to a car accident -- including expenses related to emergency personnel, medical supplies, motor vehicles, and equipment. Read the full text of the new Section 125.01045 of the Florida Statutes.

E. Coli Confirmed in Nestle Toll House Cookie Dough

The presence of the E. coli O157:H7 bacterium has been confirmed in prepackaged Nestle Toll House refrigerated cookie dough, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Monday.

The agency discovered the foodborne illness bacterium in a testing sample of the recalled cookie dough products, during inspection of a Nestle facility in Danville, Virginia on June 25.

The nationwide recall of all varieties of pre-packaged Nestle Toll House cookie dough was announced on June 19, after the products were linked to multiple E. Coli illnesses in consumers who ate the dough raw. So far, 69 people in 29 states have been infected with E. Coli related to the cookie dough, with 34 hospitalizations, according to the latest numbers from the FDA. Nine patients have been diagnosed with a serious kidney complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome.

FDA Looking at Acetaminophen and Liver Damage

Update: Vicodin, Percocet Bans Could Be on the Way

The safety of popular painkilling medications is under the regulatory microscope again this week, as drug makers appear before an FDA advisory panel that is considering ways to reduce the incidence of liver problems linked to products containing acetaminophen.

When over-the-counter (i.e. Tylenol) and prescription (i.e. Vicodin) acetaminophen products are used properly, there is very little risk of liver damage, according to the FDA. But that risk is raised significantly when people take more than the recommended dosage, or when they use acetaminophen painkillers in conjunction with other products that also contain acetaminophen.

For example, someone with a bad cold might take Tylenol (pure acetaminophen) to bring down a fever, and also take NyQuil (which contains acetaminophen) for the cold symptoms, without paying attention to dosage limits and health risks.

Patients Not Getting Key Info from Doctors, Study Finds

When It Comes to Medical Test Results, What You Don't Know Can Hurt You

Your doctor may not be telling you everything you need to know about your health -- including bad news from lab tests -- according to a new study that looked at the exchange of information between primary care physicians and their patients.

The study Frequency of Failure to Inform Patients of Clinically Significant Outpatient Test Results examined the recent history of 5,434 randomly-selected patients who were 50 to 69 years old.

The study found that in just over seven percent of cases, the primary physician either failed to inform the patient of "abnormal outpatient test results" -- the potentially bad news from things like blood tests, MRIs and X-rays -- or failed to properly document informing the patient. The research was published earlier this month in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

'New' GM Wants Vehicle Liability Claims to Stay with 'Old' GM

GM's new tv spot recently made clear to us that the only chapter the "leaner, greener, faster and smarter" New GM cares about is chapter 1. If this is chapter 1, some would say there was a prequel -- in which lots and lots of people had claims regarding defective GM cars. New GM thinks those claims are sooo Old GM, and would prefer not to have to pay any of them. If things go the way of Chrysler, they will get their wish.

Those who have sued GM regarding injuries from defects in GM cars purchased before its bankruptcy are amongst GM's unsecured creditors. Being an unsecured creditor simply means that you have a claim for money against the other side, but there is no collateral backing their debt to you (no house you can foreclose or car to repossess, etc.).

As Chrysler successfully did, GM has asked the bankruptcy court to allow the New GM to run free from any vehicle liability claims for cars purchased before the reorganization. In a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, a company's different types of creditors form committees who weigh in on the proposed reorganization plan. As reported by the Detroit Free Press, the official committee of GM's unsecured creditors has asked the judge to reject GM's request.

Bus Safety: Next Stop, Seat Belts?

With a number of recent fatal bus accidents as a tragic backdrop, federal safety regulators are urging motorcoach carriers to consider seat belts on their buses, to help protect passengers.

NTSB Chairman Urges Bus Industry to Add Seat Belts. In a speech before the Greater New Jersey Motorcoach Association earlier this month, Mark Rosenker, Acting Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), discussed four recent fatal bus accidents in which the NTSB played a major investigatory role, and noted that those four accidents resulted in 35 fatalities and 92 passenger ejections.

Fireworks Laws and Safety Tips for July 4th

The Fourth of July is almost here, and nothing symbolizes Independence Day quite like fireworks. While it's usually best to leave pyrotechnics to trained professionals, that doesn't always happen at this time of year. Chalk it up to that historical independent streak we're celebrating. So when it comes to the private purchase and use of fireworks, here are a number of legal and safety concerns to keep in mind.

Fireworks Laws. Laws on the sale and use of fireworks vary from state to state, and even from municipality to municipality. Depending on where you live, laws regulating fireworks might:

  • Ban all private sale and use of fireworks.
  • Legalize the sale and use of only certain types of fireworks, like sparklers, "fountain" fireworks, and smoke devices.
  • Set minimum age requirements for buyers and sellers of fireworks. In California, for example, sellers of fireworks must be at least 18, and buyers at least 16.
  • Limit the sale of fireworks to certain times of the year, i.e. around July 4th and January 1st.

Employee Safety Tips: Working Outdoors in Summer Heat

Jobs that take employees outside definitely have their appeal, especially to the office-based cubicle crowd. But people whose line of work requires them to be outdoors in the hot summer months -- from construction and agriculture workers to parks employees -- face unique health hazards. So, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is offering some tips on Working Outdoors in Warm Climates.

Clothing and Sunscreen. Employees who are working outside in the heat should wear light, loose-fitting clothing. But to avoid harmful UV rays, stick to long pants (no shorts) and long-sleeved shirts, and apply plenty of sunscreen.

Breaks for Water and Shade. If you're working in the heat, your employer should provide you with plenty of water, and breaks to drink it. Drink small amounts frequently, rather than a lot of water all at once. If your work is particularly strenuous and takes place in direct sunlight, you should also be given regular work breaks in a "shade tent" or other rest area.

D.C. Train Crash Lawsuits on the Way?

Injury lawsuits are all but inevitable in the wake of this week's tragedy in Washington D.C. Nine people were killed and at least 75 more injured when a six-car D.C. Metrorail train rear-ended a second stopped train on the rail system's Red Line, during Monday's evening commute.

The latest news from the ongoing investigation is that the moving train was operating under automated control at the time, but neither the computer's anti-collision system nor the operator's apparent efforts to apply the emergency brake could prevent the crash, the Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting.

The main target of lawsuits over the D.C. commuter train crash will likely be the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), which operates the train system. The WMATA was created in 1967 by an interstate compact between the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia.

Cancer Treatment Errors, Cover-Up at Philadelphia VA Hospital

Patients who received treatment for prostate cancer at Philadelphia's Veterans Affairs Medical Center were victimized by a disturbing pattern of medical errors involving radiation therapy, and the situation has members of Congress calling for a federal inquiry.

The stories emerging this week -- as reported in the New York Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer -- detail a number of cases in which radioactive seeds were implanted into patients' healthy organs instead of into cancerous prostates, and outline a cover-up that made sure the errors went unreported (and therefore uncorrected).

Less than a week after consumers were warned not to eat Nestle "Toll House" cookie dough products because of E. Coli fears, health problems linked to the pre-packaged dough are coming into clearer focus, and the first lawsuit has been filed against Nestle.

A brief recap: Last Friday, Nestle and the FDA announced that all prepackaged and refrigerated Nestle Toll House cookie dough products were being recalled due to fears of E. Coli contamination, especially when the product is eaten raw. Consumers were advised to throw out any Toll House cookie dough products in their home, because even if the dough is cooked, bacteria can still make its way onto hands and cooking surfaces.

Tainted Cookie Dough: Health Data. Federal and state public health officials know a little more about cases of E. Coli O157:H7 infections that are likely caused by Toll House cookie dough products. Here are some highlights from a CDC Press Release issued Monday:

D.C. Subway Crash: Transit Authority Warned on Older Trains

As investigators look for answers after Monday's Metrorail Red Line commuter train crash in Washington, D.C., reports are surfacing that D.C. transit officials had been warned in 2006 about safety problems posed by older subway cars.

The Monday evening accident occurred on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Red Line, when a six-car train rear-ended a stopped train on an above-ground track between the Takoma and Fort Totten stations, according to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

Nine passengers were killed in the accident and at least 75 more suffered injuries, the Washington Post is reporting this morning. The crash is the deadliest in the WMATA's 33-year history, the agency says.

Ammonia Leak at NC Plant Kills 1 Employee, Injures 6 More

An ammonia leak at a poultry processing plant in North Carolina killed one employee and injured half a dozen more over the weekend. It's the second high-profile workplace accident at a North Carolina food processing facility in recent weeks.

Saturday's ammonia leak at the Mountaire Farms poultry plant in Lumber Ridge, North Carolina killed 49 year-old mechanic Clifton Swain, injured at least six of his co-workers, and caused the evacuation of as many as 40 employees. Ammonia was released through a break in a high-pressure refrigeration line at the facility, which employs 2,500 workers, according to the North Carolina News & Observer.

Turbulence on Qantas Airways Flight Injures Seven

Seven people were injured early Monday morning when a Qantas Airways flight encountered serious turbulence en route from Hong Kong to Perth, Australia.

Qantas Flight 68 was over Borneo (about four hours after departure from Hong Kong) when the turbulence hit, according to Qantas officials. Seven people (six passengers and one crew member) who suffered minor injuries were treated at hospitals in Perth and then released.

"The aircraft most likely encountered what is known as convective turbulence, which led to it rapidly gaining around 800 feet in altitude before returning to its cruising altitude of 38,000 feet," the airline said in a media statement. The captain of Qantas Flight 68 reported minor damage to two overhead panels in the cabin, and said that two oxygen masks became dislodged during the incident.

ConAgra Contractor Sued Over Plant Explosion

A fatal explosion at a ConAgra plant in North Carolina may have been triggered by a gas leak from a water heater that was being installed at the facility. And a contracting company that was working on the natural gas lines at the plant is now facing lawsuits from victims of the explosion.

The June 9 explosion at ConAgra's "Slim Jim" production facility in Garner, North Carolina killed three employees and injured dozens more.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board, the federal agency that is investigating the explosion and its possible causes, is focusing on the installation of a new industrial water heater and gas line, work that was being performed at the time of the accident.

Nestle Recalls Toll House Cookie Dough Over E. Coli Fears

All varieties of pre-packaged and refrigerated "Toll House" cookie dough are being recalled by Nestle, because the products have been linked to multiple E. Coli illnesses in consumers who ate the dough raw.

Investigation by federal health officials is in progress, but the FDA says that since March, 66 reports of E. Coli illness (in 28 states) have been tied to the consumption of raw Toll House cookie dough. 25 people required hospitalization, with seven consumers developing a severe E. Coli-related complication called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). There have been no deaths reported.

If you have any prepackaged Nestle "Toll House" cookie dough in your home, you should throw it away, the FDA advises. Since there is a chance that the dough is contaminated, eating it raw should definitely be avoided. And cooking it isn't a good idea because the bacteria can make its way onto your hands and onto cooking surfaces.

Starbucks Recalls 530,000 Coffee Grinders Over Laceration Risk

Starbucks Coffee Co. is recalling over 500,000 coffee grinders, because of a defect that poses a laceration hazard to people using the small appliances.

The 530,000 Starbucks BaristaŽ Blade Grinders and Seattle's Best CoffeeŽ Blade Grinders being recalled were sold at Starbucks and Seattle's Best Coffee locations nationwide from March 2002 through March 2009, for about $30 each. The grinders were manufactured by China-based Tsann Kuen (Zhangzhou) Enterprise Co. Ltd.

For detailed product information on the recalled coffee grinders -- including product colors and SKU numbers -- see a News Release on the Starbucks Coffee Grinder Recall from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Traffic Safety: A Global View

Traffic accidents kill 1.27 million people every year around the world, but almost half of those accident victims are pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists -- not drivers or passengers in automobiles -- according to a new global road safety study from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The first global analysis of road safety looked at road crashes in 178 countries (98 percent of the world population) to gauge worldwide progress on the effectiveness of safety measures like speed limits, crosswalks, seatbelt and child restraint devices, motorcycle helmets, and anti-DUI efforts.

Here are some highlights of the WHO's Global Status Report on Road Safety:

Minnesota I-35W Bridge Collapse: New Wave of Lawsuits

Dozens of lawsuits being filed this week over the 2007 Interstate 35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis represent the largest wave of litigation yet over the tragedy. The claims have been filed against two companies that played a role in the inspection and repair of the bridge.

The August 1, 2007 collapse of the I-35W bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis killed 13 people and injured 145 more. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, this week's suits -- filed on behalf of almost 80 victims, survivors, and family members -- accuse two companies of wrongdoing in connection with the collapse:

  • URS Corp., an engineering company that had inspected the bridge at the behest of the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
  • Progressive Contractors Inc., a St. Michael, MN construction company that was performing repairing work on the bridge at the time of the collapse.

Asbestos Health Emergency Declared in Libby, Montana

A public health emergency has been declared in Libby Montana, home to a mine formerly owned by chemical manufacturing giant W.R. Grace, and ground zero for hundreds of cases of death and illness tied to asbestos, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today.

According to the EPA, the declaration of an asbestos-related public health emergency -- which covers the towns of Libby and neighboring Troy in northwest Montana -- is based on the incidence of the lung disease asbestosis in the Libby area, at a rate "staggeringly higher than the national average" from 1979 to 1998.

Air France Flight 447: Where Will Lawsuits Be Heard?

Even as accident investigators continue to piece together the last moments of Air France Flight 447 and pin down the cause of the plane's crash into the Atlantic, legal experts are already debating where the inevitable lawsuits over the air disaster will be heard, as the Wall Street Journal's Law Blog and Bloomberg.com are discussing this week.

So, where to file lawsuits over the crash of Flight 447? It becomes a more complex question the closer you look at the United Nations-esque circumstances of the accident: a French air carrier, Brazil departure, Paris destination, crash in international waters, with passengers and crew representing 30 different countries, as the WSJ's Law Blog points out.

Target, KMart, and Illegal Hazardous Waste Dumping in California

Retail Giants' Waste Disposal Practices are No Bargain for the Environment

Target stores throughout California have been unlawfully disposing of hazardous waste materials for at least eight years, according to a lawsuit filed against the retail giant this week by the California Attorney General and a number of local prosecutors.

Another big-box retailer, KMart Corporation, reached a settlement in May over similar waste dumping allegations, agreeing to revise its disposal practices and pay more than $8 million in penalties, the state's AG announced.

The same lasers military officials say have saved civilian lives might be blinding some US troops. Troops at checkpoints, on vehicle patrol and in military convoys use "green dazzler" lasers to get drivers' attention. One problem with this: it looks like the lasers can cause permanent eye damage including blindness, at least when used improperly.

Military officials credit the use of green dazzlers with saving civilian lives because they give soldiers an option between shouting and shooting when approached by what they deem to be a suspicious vehicle. The lasers temporarily disorient and blind drivers who don't stop. What has some military personnel worried, however, is the fact that in some cases the lasers have caused permanent eye damage to some US troops.

As detailed in Star & Stripes, there have been 45 documented injuries to soldiers from lasers, with at least two including permanent eye damage. According to Stars & Stripes, inquiries with military officials, Iraqi hospitals and human rights groups have revealed no data on laser related eye injuries to Iraqis (which of course does not mean civilians have not been injured).

Zicam Cold Products Linked to Loss of Sense of Smell

Use of certain Zicam Cold Remedy products may cause permanent loss of the sense of smell, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers.

The following over-the-counter, zinc-containing nasal cold remedy products (marketed by Matrixx Initiatives) should not be used by consumers:

  • Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Gel
  • Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Swabs
  • Zicam Cold Remedy Swabs, Kids Size (discontinued, but may still be in your medicine cabinet)

Chinese Drywall Class Actions Combined in New Orleans

First the 2013 Super Bowl, Now This. . .

Federal class actions over tainted China-manufactured drywall -- the defective home-building material that is being blamed for home damage and health problems nationwide -- will be combined and heard before a federal judge in New Orleans, according to an order issued on Monday.

The decision in the case (titled "In Re: Chinese-Manufactured Drywall Products Liability Litigation") came in the form of a Transfer Order from the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, which is charged with funneling similar federal lawsuits into a single action that will be presided over by one judge.

Study Links ADHD Drugs to Sudden Death in Kids

Some older stimulant-based drugs used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in kids may cause rare cases of sudden cardiac death, according to a new study. But the FDA is telling parents not to stop their children's ADHD stimulant medication, in part because the study's limitations may not significantly affect the overall risk-benefit analysis tied to the medications.

The researchers' key finding on the death risks associated with ADHD drugs was based on a comparison of 564 children who died of sudden unexplained causes, and another 564 children who were killed in motor vehicle accidents. Based on autopsy reports, toxicology tests, and parent interviews, researchers found that 10 of the kids who died suddenly had been taking an ADHD stimulant medication, compared with only two of the car accident victims.

The study, Stimulant Treatment of ADHD and Risk of Sudden Death in Children, is published in The American Journal of Psychiatry.

FDA: Medtronic Pacemakers Recalled Over Failure Risk

Over 20,000 "Kappa" and "Sigma" pacemakers manufactured by Medtronic, Inc. are being recalled because of a wiring problem that can cause the devices to fail, posing an obvious and very serious health problem for patients.

While more than 1.7 million Medtronic "Kappa" and "Sigma" pacemakers have been implanted in patients worldwide, the recall announced last Thursday affects about 21,000 of those devices: specifically, the Kappa Series 600/700/900 and the Sigma Series 100/200/300. The FDA says that most of the affected pacemakers have been implanted in patients for five years or more.

Coming Soon: Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Limits?

There may be a big splash in the medical malpractice reform pool coming soon. President Obama is privately urging that medical malpractice lawsuit limits be included in any federal health care package, as a means of keeping overall health care costs down, the New York Times is reporting.

President Obama is attending the annual American Medical Association meeting this week. And recently, in what the Times calls "closed-door talks," Obama has been "making the case that reducing malpractice lawsuits -- a goal of many doctors and Republicans -- can help drive down health care costs, and should be considered as part of any health care overhaul, according to lawmakers of both parties, as well as A.M.A. officials."

FDA to Regulate Tobacco Under Law Passed by Senate

If the Health Agency Takes Up Smoking, It Could Be Bad News for Big Tobacco

The U.S. Senate has passed legislation that would give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) broad authority over cigarettes and other tobacco products -- including the power to regulate product ingredients, monitor sales, inspect tobacco industry facilities, restrict advertising, even control the "Surgeon General" warnings that come on every pack of cigarettes.

The Family Smoking and Tobacco Control Act passed in the Senate Thursday, by a 79-17 vote. According to Reuters, supporters of the bill see it "as a way to rein in cigarette makers and reduce smoking, especially among teenagers and children."

Micro-Cars: Minor Accidents Cause Major Damage

People who drive very small "mini" and "micro" cars may be saving big at the dealership and the gas pump, but they're also paying big when it comes to car repairs after minor fender-bender accidents, according to bumper crash test ratings released this week by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The IIHS performed low-speed crash tests on seven "mini" and "micro" cars: the Chevrolet Aveo, Honda Fit, Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, Mini Cooper, Smart Fortwo, and Toyota Yaris. Five of the seven micro-cars received the IIHS's "poor" rating. Only one (the Smart Fortwo) earned an "acceptable" score, and the Chevrolet Aveo was given a "marginal" rating. See the Complete Test Results from IIHS.org.

Anti-psychotic medications Seroquel, Zyprexa, and Geodon should receive FDA approval for prescription to adolescent patients, an advisory panel of medical experts told the agency this week.

As the Washington Post points out, doctors have begun prescribing these drugs (which are currently approved only for adult use) to younger patients in recent years, and now the advisory panel wants the FDA to officially endorse such use "for children 10 to 17 years old who suffer from schizophrenia and manic depression." The FDA is not legally obligated to -- but usually does -- follow the recommendations of its advisory panels.

Over 600,000 pounds of frozen "Buffalo Style Chicken Wings" sold at Kroger stores nationwide are being recalled, because the food may contain undeclared ingredients like milk, soy, and wheat. The recalled chicken products pose an obvious health risk to consumers who need to avoid those ingredients because of food allergies, although no related illnesses have been reported so far.

The recalled "Buffalo Style Chicken Wings" are produced by Pilgrim's Pride Corp. (based in Mt. Pleasant, Texas) and sold at Kroger stores nationwide in 2-pound (32-ounce) bags. Check out this product label photo to see what the packaging looks like.

Don't Leave Kids Alone in Cars, NHTSA Reminds Parents

Parents and caregivers need to be especially vigilant in making sure that young children aren't left unattended in park cars, especially as the weather gets warmer.

An average of 27 children each year are killed from hyperthermia that is caused by excessive heat in parked cars, and these accidents account for about 60 percent of non-crash vehicle fatalities involving children, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

In a Consumer Advisory issued this week, the NHTSA recommends that parents and caregivers take a number of steps to make sure that these accidents don't happen, including:

ConAgra Explosion: Employees, OSHA and Workers' Compensation

An explosion this week at a ConAgra food processing facility in North Carolina killed three employees and injured dozens more. The story puts a renewed focus on federal regulation of workplace safety, the legal rights of injured employees, and navigation of the complex workers' compensation systems in place in most states.

Although the cause of Tuesday's explosion and roof collapse at the ConAgra Slim Jim production plant in Garner is still under investigation, witnesses reported smelling a strong ammonia-like odor before the blast. Reuters is reporting that "State workplace safety officials inspected the plant last July, but found no violations."

What should employees know about their legal rights to a safe workplace, and the legal hoops they may need to jump through if the filing of a workers' compensation claim becomes necessary?

Consumers should stop using (and immediately throw away) a number of popular skin sanitizing and skin protectant products, because they may contain high levels of disease-causing bacteria, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced earlier this week.

The affected products are all manufactured by Clarcon Biological Chemistry Laboratory Inc. of Roy, Utah, and marketed under a number of different brand names. According to an FDA Consumer Warning, the following Clarcon skin products (all of which have been recalled) may be contaminated by bacteria and should be discarded as soon as possible:

LaJobi Cribs Recalled: Defects Pose Danger to Kids

Baby furniture manufacturer LaJobi Inc. is recalling almost 5,000 of its drop-side cribs because of defects that can pose an entrapment and strangulation risk for infants.

The specific crib models being recalled by New Jersey-based LaJobi are:

  • Babi Italia "Pinehurst" Drop Side Cribs - Sold exclusively by Babies "R" Us from December 2006 through December 2007, for about $300.
  • Bonavita "Hudson" Drop Side Cribs - Sold at Baby Basics, Beautiful Beginnings, and Buy Buy Baby stores from December 2006 through December 2007, for about $300.
  • Bonavita "Cabana" Drop Side Cribs - Sold at USA Baby, Beautiful Beginnings, Buy Buy Baby and other stores nationwide, between January 2006 and May 2009, for about $450.

Study Finds Rise in Computer-Related Injuries

Since the prehistoric Information Age days of the Commodore 64 and the TRS-80, injuries linked to personal computers have typically been of the repetitive-stress variety (i.e. carpal tunnel syndrome), coupled with concerns over long-term vision problems. But a new study finds that the incidence of "acute" physical injuries caused by computer equipment -- everything from falling equipment to tripping over wires -- is on the rise.

The study Acute Computer-Related Injuries Treated in U.S. Emergency Departments, 1994-2006, to be published in the July issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found a seven-fold (732 percent to be exact) increase in acute computer-related injuries from 1994 through 2006, with a spike in cases involving young children.

Horse-Riding Helmet Law Signed by Florida Governor

In Florida, horse riders aged 16 and younger will need to wear a helmet while on horseback on most public roads, trails, and other public property -- whether riding recreationally or taking equestrian lessons -- under a new law signed today by Governor Charlie Crist.

The new Florida equestrian helmet law is part of a renewed focus by U.S. lawmakers, on how to best utilize state laws to prevent the incidence of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that occur from falls during recreational activities like bicycle riding, skiing, and horseback riding.

Older Drivers and Licensing: What Does Your State's Law Say?

Restrictions on the licensing of older drivers have taken center stage for some lawmakers in recent weeks, in part because of high-profile accidents involving older drivers. Massachusetts, for one, is taking a closer look at possibly requiring driving tests for older drivers who want to renew their licenses.

Currently, only two states (Illinois and New Hampshire) require additional road tests specifically for older drivers. In both of those states, drivers age 75 or older must take and pass a driving test before they can renew their driver's license. But a number of states place different kinds of restrictions on older drivers' license renewal, including limitations on the ability to renew by mail, and additional vision test requirements.

Tire Safety: It's in the Air and Tread Wear

Hey Baby, What's Your PSI?

As Americans take to the highways for summer vacations -- and just in time for National Tire Safety Week (July 7 - 13, 2009) -- FindLaw's Injured puts the focus on tire safety, with tips on proper air inflation and watching your tread wear.

When it comes to tire safety and the steps you can take to avoid tire failure, the three most important things to watch out for are:

  • Underinflation of tires (proper pounds-per-square-inch, or "PSI" ratio)
  • Overloading of vehicles
  • Worn tire tread

Lead Paint in Toys: Mattel Fined $2.3M

Mattel Inc., the world's largest toy maker, has been fined $2.3 million by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) for importing toys that violated federal laws banning lead paint in consumer products. The landmark fine is tied to lead paint violations that prompted the recall of millions of Mattel and Fisher-Price toys in 2007.

In 2007, about 95 Mattel and Fisher-Price toys -- including the "Sarge" car and a number of Barbie toys -- were found to be in violation of a 1978 federal law prohibiting toys from containing more than .06 percent lead in their paint or surface coatings. More than 2 million affected toys were recalled nationwide.

Child Safety Seats: Minnesota, Texas Pass Tougher Laws

In recent weeks, Minnesota and Texas joined the growing chorus of states that are strengthening laws on the use of child safety restraint devices in cars, by raising the minimum age at which young passengers must be secured in special safety seats.

On May 15, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty signed a law that will require kids age 7 and younger (or less than 4'9" tall) to be in a child safety seat when they ride in cars, as of July 1st. And on May 29, a new Texas law that mirrors the Minnesota child restraint legislation was passed, to take effect on September 1 of this year.

So, Minnesota and Texas now join 22 other states that already require children aged 7 and younger to be in a special child passenger restraint system, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Air France Flight 447 Crash: Airbus Warns Pilots on Airspeed

Airbus, the manufacturer of the Air France aircraft that crashed into the Atlantic last Sunday, has issued a warning to airlines and pilots on the protocol that crew members should follow if the aircraft's airspeed indicators appear to be malfunctioning during flight.

The warning to other operators of the Airbus 330-200 aircraft comes as investigators take a closer look at the possible failure of Air France Flight 447's flight control system shortly before the crash.

The warning from Airbus does not indicate that the pilots of Flight 447 did anything wrong, nor does it imply a defect in the aircraft itself, according to Reuters, but "such warnings are only sent if accident investigators have established facts that they consider important enough to pass on immediately to airlines."

From concussions to severe head trauma that can result in permanent disability or death, brain injuries affect millions of Americans every year. And the prevention of brain injuries has received particular attention in recent months, beginning with the March death of actress Natasha Richardson, who suffered an epidural hematoma (or bleeding of the brain) and fell into an irreversible coma after hitting her head during a seemingly minor ski accident.

Now, the effective treatment of brain injuries and the long-term effects of head trauma suffered by children are the focus of new research at UCLA and a nationally-published study.

Bisphenol-A Exposure: FDA to Take Closer Look at Safety

The safety of Bisphenol-A, a dangerous chemical that can still be found in baby formula bottles and other products, will undergo stronger FDA scrutiny after a back-and-forth between federal lawmakers and new FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg earlier this week.

On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Henry A. Waxman and Congressman Bart Stupak sent a letter to Hamburg, expressing concerns over the possible dangers of Bisphenol-A (BPA).

In a Press Release from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce announcing the letter, Committee Chairman Waxman said "It is critical that we know for certain whether BPA is safe to use in consumer products and food product containers. . . We need to make sure that FDA thoroughly and fairly reviews the best science on BPA so that the public - and especially infants and children - are protected."

Smoker's Widow Gets $30M Verdict Against R.J. Reynolds

Florida Jury Hits Big Tobacco in the Pocketbook

A Florida jury has ordered cigarette maker R.J. Reynolds to pay $30 million in damages to a woman whose husband, a long-time cigarette smoker, died of lung cancer.

Benny Martin of Pensacola, who died in 1995, took up smoking 20 years before cigarette packs carried health warnings, according to lawyers in the case, who argued that R.J. Reynolds hid the health risks of smoking while making cigarettes increasingly addictive.

The Pensacola jury agreed, ordering R.J. Reynolds to pay $5 million in compensatory damages and another $25 million in punitive damages to Martin's widow and family.

'Bugaboo Bee' Strollers Recalled Over Brake Defect

Over 22,000 "Bugaboo Bee" baby strollers are being recalled because of a brake defect that can cause the strollers to roll away.

The affected "Bugaboo Bee" strollers were sold nationwide from August 2007 to April 2009 -- in blue, dark khaki, pink, red, yellow, and black color options -- for about $530.

If you think you might own one of these strollers, here's what to look for, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:

  • "bugabooŽ bee" printed on the left side of the seat.
  • Item code 580210 on a label on the back of the seat
  • Item code 50100 on a label on the plastic support under the seat.

China's New Food Safety Law Takes Effect

On Monday, a new food safety law took effect in China. After a rash of scandals related to unsafe food products, the new law attempts to increase safety standards, institute a food product recall system, raise penalties for violators, and create a better system for risk assessment. With the enormous number of producers, and local interests in keeping manufacturers open, however, many predict enforcement will prove a key hurdle.

US consumers have an active interest in Chinese food safety considering that China is the third largest source of US food product imports, according to a September 2008 Congressional Research Services report.

As reported on NPR's Marketplace, China's image as an exporter has taken a hit due to the multitude of food product scandals over recent years. As detailed by Time, these include baby formula exported to Fuji which killed 13 and melamine tainted baby formula that sickened around 300,000 kids in China. In 2007, tainted wheat gluten from China made its way into pet food that sickened thousands of American pets. Additionally, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned multiple Chinese seafood products because they contained forbidden veterinary drugs.

Kids and Cars: 10 Safety Tips

Summer is the time when many families pack up the minivan or the SUV and take to the highways for vacation, so it's time to pay extra attention to the safety of our littlest passengers.

Parents and caregivers who may be driving kids around should check out this list of 10 "kids and cars" safety tips, on everything from choosing the right safety seat option, to preventing injuries from power windows -- even tips for avoiding little-known hazards like backovers and trunk entrapments (with links to more information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).

If anyone has to use the bathroom, go now, because we're not stopping until we get to the end. . .

1. Securing Infants (Rear-Facing Seats) - Always keep babies in the back seat, in rear-facing child safety seats, up to the height or weight limit of the particular seat. At a minimum, keep babies rear-facing until a minimum of age 1 and at least 20 pounds. More: Rear-Facing Infant Seats.

2. Using Toddler Seats (Forward-Facing Seats) - When babies outgrow their rear-facing seats, they should ride in a forward-facing toddler seat, in the back seat, until around age 4 and 40 pounds. More: Forward-Facing Toddler Seats.

Most antidepressant medications come with FDA-ordered "black box" warning labels on their packaging, advising patients and care providers of the potentially deadly side effects of the drugs' use -- specifically, the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior, especially in young patients.

These warnings, while necessary, may also raise a barrier of fear and apprehension that's keeping adults and children from getting help for serious mental health problems, according to a study released this week.

Trends in Warnings and Diagnosis. The study Persisting Decline in Depression Treatment After FDA Warnings, published in the June issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, traces trends in depression diagnosis and treatment alongside the timeline of FDA warnings on popular prescription antidepressant medications like Celexa, Cymbalta, Paxil, Prozac, Wellbutrin, and Zoloft.

What Did the Study Find? The study concluded that, from the time of the first strong FDA Public Health Advisory linking antidepressants with suicidality in children (in late 2003), through the "black box" warning for pediatric patients (2005) and its extension to young adults (2007), the rates of diagnosis and treatment of clinical depression have declined rather dramatically across all age groups: down 44 percent for kids, 37 percent for young adults, and 29 percent for adults.

Today the Supreme Court reversed the award of damages to a former railroad worker based on his fear of developing cancer in the future. The Court held that the damages award could not stand because the jury was not specifically instructed that a plaintiff claiming fear of cancer must prove that the fear is "genuine and serious."

In the case, CSX Transportation Inc., v. Hensley, a former railroad electrician claimed that his old employer caused him to develop asbestosis (noncancerous scarring of the lung tissue) through long term exposure to asbestos. He was also exposed to a solvent which caused irriversible brain damage, ending his career. The plaintiff sought pain and suffering damages that included damages for his fear of developing cancer in the future. At both the trial court and appellate level, Tennessee courts agreed with him. Today, however, the Supreme Court reversed the lower court and remanded the case back down because the trial court did not include instruction to the jury that the plaintiff must prove his fear of cancer to be genuine and serious.

Tiger Maul Victims Reach $900K Settlement with S.F. Zoo

A lawsuit filed by two brothers who survived a 2007 tiger attack at the San Francisco Zoo has been settled for $900,000, and the agreement likely defused a legal escalation involving new allegations against local law enforcement and the city over the incident.

On December 25, 2007, a 243-pound tiger jumped out of its enclosure at the San Francisco Zoo and killed Carlos Sousa Jr., who was 17 years old at the time. The two plaintiffs who settled with the zoo last week -- Kulbir Dhaliwal, now 25 years old, and Amritpal Dhaliwal, now 20 -- were both injured in the incident.

The pair's lawsuit accused the zoo and its employees of negligence on a number of fronts, including the height of the wall in the enclosure from which the tiger escaped, which was four feet lower than the height recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Tesla Motors Recalls Most "Roadster" Electric Cars

Tesla Motors, the maker of cutting edge all-electric cars, announced last week that it is recalling most vehicles in its "Roadster" model line because of a defect that could cause suspension problems.

The recall affects all 345 of the all-electric Roadster model vehicles manufactured prior to April 22 by Tesla Motors, based in San Carlos, California. The company's other all-electric vehicle, the "Model S," is still in the prototype development phase and is not impacted by the recall. 

Tesla Motors says that no accidents have been reported in connection with the defect -- an "improperly torqued" bolt -- which was discovered after a Roadster owner reported "uncharacteristic handling," according to a Press Release from Tesla Motors.

The Solution Was the Problem in a 2006 Recall

Bausch & Lomb has settled almost 600 lawsuits in the past year, personal injury cases that were filed over eye problems caused by ReNu with MoistureLoc contact lens solution. The lens cleaning product was pulled from the market in 2006 after it was linked to a fungal infection that caused blindness and necessitated eye removal in the most serious cases.

According to the Boston Globe, details of the ongoing lawsuit settlements -- believed to total about $250 million -- aren't currently available, and the lack of a complete resolution to the legal claims isn't the best avenue toward a full understanding of what really went wrong: "Some eye doctors are still hoping that some of the lawsuits. . .will end up in court, so that the events that led to hundreds of fungal infection lawsuits will be aired publicly."