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Profits Over People? Most Children’s Traumatic Brain Injuries Linked to Consumer Products

Paul A. Slager

August 16, 2019 


Consumer products were involved in nearly three out of four nonfatal traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) to U.S. children treated in emergency rooms between 2010 and 2013.

According to a new study published in Brain Injury, a startling 72.2% of TBI-related emergency room visits and hospitalizations among children and adolescents up to 19 years of age are caused by consumer products. Most injuries in infants (71.3%) and children ages 1 to 4 (60.6%) were related to home furnishings and fixtures, such as beds and flooring.

Using the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System—All Injury Program, research scientists at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Beltsville, MD, identified 4,091,376 nonfatal pediatric TBIs seen in emergency rooms between 2010 and 2013. Divided by age, there were 380,842 TBIs in infants under a year; 1,085,680 in children ages 1 to 4; 682,826 in kids ages 5 to 9; 834,565 in 10- to 14-year-olds; and 1,107,463 in those ages 15 to 19. These numbers reflect only emergency room visits, not visits to doctors outside of hospitals.

Prevention strategies across pediatric age groups start with awareness, and ultimately should include changing our behaviors. Wherever feasible, manufacturers should learn from this data and modify product designs and surfacing to reduce avoidable brain injuries. At the same time, children and adults supervising them should be aware of how certain products and activities can lead to head injuries and take steps to avoid them. Together, we can reduce pediatric head trauma without radically changing healthy and active childhood activities.

Paul A. Slager
Silver Golub & Teitell LLP
pslager@sgtlaw.com


The Need for a National Database of Negligent Doctors Open to the Public

Richard A. Silver

March 13, 2019 


A recent USA Today and Naples Daily News article headlined “Florida plastic surgery clinics cut prices, boost ads, and eight women died” (February 1, 2019) lays out in painful detail the life-threatening consequences of states failing to regularly and thoroughly inspect healthcare facilities.

According to the article, a Miami physician built a national plastic surgery business using aggressive marketing tactics and discounts that targeted working class minority women from around the country. So far, eight women, most of them young mothers, have died because of alleged medical errors at the clinic founded and overseen by Dr. Ismael Labrador.

There is no reason the death toll should have reached these heights. All deaths tied to surgery centers are supposed to be reported to the state health department, which is supposed to investigate them in a timely manner.  Only then can troubling evidence of critical breakdowns in care be assessed and corrected so that the standard of care is followed and so that physicians and facilities are held responsible for their actions.

The public needs to be made aware of physicians and facilities that have a troubled past, including companies that close and then reopen under a new name – like Dr. Labrador’s Vanity Cosmetic Surgery reopening as Eres Plastic Surgery.

Why doesn’t the National Practitioner Data Bank function as it should as an accurate, updated national database that collects instances of medical malpractice and then makes this information freely available and easily accessible to the public? Isn’t it worth the effort if it saves even one life?

Richard A. Silver
Silver Golub & Teitell LLP
rsilver@sgtlaw.com


The Dangers of Interstate Truck Driver Fatigue

Joaquin L. Madry

January 28, 2019 


With a standard car on the road today weighing an average of 4,000 pounds and a tractor-trailer truck carrying up to 80,000 pounds, collisions involving cars and tractor-trailers are some of the most devastating motor vehicle accidents. Many of these catastrophic, life-changing accidents are caused by negligent truck drivers who are tired from lack of rest.

By law, truck drivers are mandated to follow the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules and regulations. According to the FMCSA, a truck driver may drive a total of 11 hours a day during a 14-hour work period.  This 14-hour work period begins when a driver starts any type of work, such as loading or unloading a trailer.  Once a driver has reached the end of the 14-hour period, he or she cannot drive again until he or she has been off duty for another 10 consecutive hours.  The FMCSA also requires all drivers to keep accurate daily logs their time.  These daily logs are in written form, unless a driver’s time is being recorded electronically.

However, because of strict deadlines, payment structures and bonus allotments, drivers and the companies they work for often forgo adequate rest and required driver time off. By choosing profits over safety, they create a dangerous environment for Connecticut drivers.  Tired drivers are more likely to be distracted, are slower to react and are more prone to dangerous decisions than well-rested drivers.  Some studies, including one done by the American Automobile Association, found the risks of fatigued driving comparable to drunk driving.

Truck accident lawyers will investigate the unique cause of each car-truck accident, including driver fatigue. Most trucks manufactured in the United States since the 1990s have an Electronic Control Module (ECM) integrated with their engine components, similar to that used in commercial airliners.  These ECMs are designed to capture a variety of on-going data regarding the operation of the truck.  Specifically, ECMs record operational data over a period of time (usually 30 days), including overall average speed, highest speed and time driven.

Truck drivers can fudge their log books; however, experienced truck accident lawyers work with top experts in the trucking field, including accident reconstructionist and FMCSA experts, to analyze ECM data against a driver’s log books to determine if driver fatigue played a part in each accident.

In Connecticut, injured persons have up to two years to file a lawsuit and also have two years to file a suit for property damage, such as compensation for vehicle repairs. Failure to bring a lawsuit within this time frame will prevent any recovery regardless of the merits of the case.

Joaquin L. Madry
Silver Golub & Teitell LLP
jmadry@sgtlaw.com


Court Secrecy: The Importance of Open Proceedings

Michael R. Kennedy

January 3, 2019 


For centuries, our civil justice system has relied on open trials, ultimately evolving into a presumption of public access to court proceedings and records, which remains a fundamental part of our judicial system today. This presumption of public access is grounded in the public’s interest in monitoring the judicial process.  Such access enhances public confidence that the judicial system is operating fairly, impartially and in accordance with established norms. Transparency is necessary to ensure accountability and effect change. This is especially true because our civil justice system serves both as a vehicle for compensation and a powerful societal force to hold people and entities accountable for their conduct.

Today, however, wealthy and powerful defendants are increasingly using secrecy as a weapon to prevent consumers, employees, injury victims and victims of sexual assault, abuse and harassment from their day in court. Rather than punishing bad behavior, such secrecy enables wrongdoers, silences victims, prevents the public from learning of dangers existing in society and can embolden bad actors.  While secrecy may have a role in some limited circumstances, e.g., protecting trade secrets, too often these defendants – corporations, institutions and individuals – are instead trying to shield litigation from public view through forced arbitration, protective orders, confidentiality agreements and secret settlements.

It is critical not just to the claimants, but to society at large, that these types of cases remain open to the public. Survivors of sexual abuse are empowered to confront their experiences in positive ways when their stories are available to the public.  This been poignantly illustrated by other public cases of institutional sexual abuse or harassment, where lawsuits against the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of America, Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCAs and, more recently, multiple news broadcasting agencies, have been filed by survivors, thereby exposing the institutional enabling of such conduct.  These examples clearly illustrate the importance of open proceedings that have given sexual abuse survivors and victims of sexual assault, who previously felt voiceless and alone, the courage to come forward.  As attorneys who represent victims of sexual abuse and harassment, we should vigorously fight the imposition of any defense effort to shield a case or documents obtained through discovery from public scrutiny.

Michael R. Kennedy
Silver Golub & Teitell LLP
mkennedy@sgtlaw.com


Advances in Medicine and Recognition of the Validity of Medical Malpractice Cases

Richard A. Silver

December 11, 2018 


 

The Merck Manual of 1899 was a guide to the general practitioner as to the appropriate remedy or remedies for various illnesses.

Some of the following are treatments and poultices recommended in the 1899 Manual:

Headaches

  • Bleeding
  • Chloroform
  • Mustard: Poultice to nape of neck

Palpations of the Heart

  • Cocaine
  • Digitalis
  • Hot bath

Diabetes insipidus

  • Arsenic
  • Creosote
  • Opium: Most useful; large doses if necessary

Hysteria

  • Alcohol
  • Camphor: in hysterical excitement
  • Cod liver oil

Insanity and Dementia

  • Codeine
  • Opium
  • Zinc phosphate

Prostatitis

  • Leeches to perineum

Obviously, in the past 100 years there have been enormous advances in medical knowledge and practice. There also have been advances in the public recognition of the role of medical malpractice actions in promoting patient safety.  Numerous advances in medical procedures, medical products and drugs have come about as a result of this litigation.

An excellent example is in the field of anesthesia.  As a result of very significant malpractice verdicts which occurred as a result of poor monitoring, the anesthesia profession took significant measures to develop mechanical safety procedures and devices which have greatly reduced injury and death.  The effect of these changes has improved patient safety and significantly reduced anesthesia malpractice claims.

In addition, a vast number of medical products and drugs that have caused harm to patients have been removed from the market or redesigned as a result of lawyers bringing cases for injured patients.  Products that have gone under public scrutiny as a result of litigation include:

  • Artificial metal on metal hip implants
  • Vaginal mesh
  • Various implantable cardioverter-defibrillators
  • Several birth control devices, such as Essure

Litigation has also exposed dangerous drugs that eventually got taken off the market, such as:

  • Accutane
  • Darvocet
  • DES
  • Quaalude
  • Vioxx

Dramatic advances have occurred in medicine as well as in the recognition of the social good of medical malpractice actions.

Richard A. Silver
Silver Golub & Teitell LLP
rsilver@sgtlaw.com


Protect Yourself Against Connecticut Drivers with Little or No Insurance Coverage

Joaquin L. Madry

November 12, 2018 


In Connecticut, drivers are required to have a minimum amount of liability car insurance — $25,000 for bodily injury, per person per accident, and $50,000 for bodily injury, total per accident.  As such, there are many Connecticut drivers that choose this minimum amount of coverage over a much more comprehensive, but only slightly more expensive, policy.  The 25/50 policy is wholly inadequate to compensate an individual with a significant permanent injury or death from a motor vehicle accident.  It is even more problematic if there are multiple individuals injured in the same accident that need to share in this limited policy.  Importantly, there are people driving illegally in Connecticut without any insurance.

In order to protect against these underinsured or uninsured motorists, drivers can purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) insurance coverage.  As part of an automobile insurance policy, it provides some protection in the event of a catastrophic injury in a motor vehicle accident when the individual who caused the accident does not have insurance or has insufficient insurance to pay for the injuries and other losses. Most insurance carriers will allow drivers to purchase a maximum of $1 million dollars in UM/UIM insurance coverage on a primary automobile.

Two additional ways to protect against Connecticut’s uninsured/underinsured motorists are through:

  • An umbrella policy with UM/UIM coverage
  • Conversion insurance

Designed as secondary insurance, an umbrella policy provides excess coverage above and beyond homeowners and auto insurance policies.  It has underlying insurance requirements so that drivers must have a certain amount of auto insurance and homeowners insurance coverage as a condition of being approved for an umbrella policy.  However, an umbrella policy alone does not protect you from Connecticut drivers with little or no insurance coverage.  You must purchase UM/UIM coverage on the umbrella policy.  Not all umbrella insurance carriers will offer UM/UIM insurance coverage on an umbrella.  The insurance carriers that do offer it generally provide a maximum of $3 million dollars in additional insurance coverage as a purchase option.

Conversion coverage is an option that insurance companies must offer you by law.  With UM/UIM conversion coverage, the insurance company must pay the full amount of coverage and is not permitted to reduce this coverage by any amounts paid by the negligent driver’s auto policy.

The bottom line is that the safest course of action is to be fully insured in case of a serious automobile accident.

In Connecticut, persons injured in a serious auto accident have up to two years to file a lawsuit and also have two years to file a suit for property damage, such as compensation for vehicle repairs. Failure to bring a lawsuit within this time frame will prevent any recovery regardless of the merits of the case.

Joaquin L. Madry
Silver Golub & Teitell LLP
jmadry@sgtlaw.com


Decisions in the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit

Richard A. Silver

November 9, 2018 


In this week’s New England Journal of Medicine, November 8, 2018, Vol. 379, No. 19, Page 1851, there is a detailed discussion of decision making for neo-natal babies in reference to hypoxic encephalopathy, degenerative neurologic diseases and even brain death. This article discusses ethical decisions in reference to when treatment is futile or should be withdrawn.

It further discusses disagreements between doctors and parents and family members as to the decision making. In this very sensitive issue, it discusses the information to be given to parents to make a final decision.  It also discusses focusing on shared decision making. While it is rare that attorneys become involved at this stage, it is a very important article discussing these very sensitive issues.

Richard A. Silver
Silver Golub & Teitell LLP
rsilver@sgtlaw.com


Private Foundations: A Guide To Organization and Administration

November 6, 2018 


A PROBATE & ESTATES COMMITTEE LUNCHEON PROGRAM CO-SPONSORED BY THE FAIRFIELD COUNTY BAR ASSOCATION (FCBA) WITH THE FAIRFIELD COUNTY BAR FOUNDATION

FCBA Co-Chairs: Mark Chioffi & Michael Clear

At the office of Fairfield County Bar Association

970 Summer Street, Stamford, CT

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2018                                  NOON to 2:00 PM

PRESENTED BY: 

Stefania L. Bartlett, Esq. & Cara Howe Santoro, Esq.
Cummings & Lockwood LLC

Jennifer Pagnillo, Esq., Day Pitney LLP

Jay H. Sandak, Esq., Carmody Torrance Sandak & Hennessey LLP 

Ernie F. Teitell, Esq., Silver Golub &Teitell LLp

  • Have you ever considered starting a charitable foundation?  Don’t know where to start?
  • Talk with local lawyers who have started their own foundations for their insights.
  • Our panel will also include representatives from Foundation Source and Fairfield County Community Foundation to discuss other types of charitable vehicles

TOPICS:

  • Statutory Framework
  • Characteristics of a Private Foundation and their alternatives
  • Considerations when forming a Private Foundation
  • Qualifying for and maintaining tax exemption
  • Administration of a Private Foundation (including compliance, grant-making and investment considerations)

Registration: 12:00 to 12:15 pm


Pricing, including lunch & materials: $50 (Members); $75 (Non-Members)

*Reduced Rate FCBA Members: $35 *(Legal Administrators, Paralegals, Law Students & Law Clerks)

  • THE FAIRFIELD COUNTY BAR ASSOCIATION IS AN ACCREDITED PROVIDER FOR NY & CT CLE
  • 2 TRANSITIONAL & NON-TRANSITIONAL NY & CT CLE AREA OF PRACTICE CREDITS
  • FULL REFUND WITH 48-HOUR CANCELLATION NOTICE
  • Information on financial assistance is available upon request

http://fairfieldbar.org/?post_type=events&p=8617

 


The Enormous Cost of Cerebral Palsy Caused by Doctor Negligence

Richard A. Silver

November 6, 2018 


The cost of care for a brain-damaged child as the result of physician medical negligence is enormous.  Extensive, costly supportive care is required for cerebral palsy in children and often continues into adulthood.  The lifetime cost of caring for someone suffering from cerebral palsy at birth is projected into the millions of dollars (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. MMWR 2004; 53-57-9).

The services that can be needed for Connecticut cerebral palsy care include:

  • Medical evaluations and medical care
    • Neurologic, orthopedic, gastroenterological, surgical
  • Hospitalizations
  • Home nursing and/or skilled nursing facility
  • Diagnostic tests and laboratory procedures
  • Therapeutic evaluations and treatments
    • Occupational, speech, physical, feeding/oral/communication
  • Rehabilitation, orthopedic, mobility equipment
    • Braces, walkers, wheelchairs, modified vans
  • Prescription medication
    • Tube feeding nutrition
    • Gastrostomy tube equipment
  • Support care for family (respite, family counseling, education)
  • Home modifications
  • Special education

The costs of medical care, psychologic and physical therapy continue to increase every year – and at rates greater than the inflation rate.  As a whole, consumer prices for medical care have increased 98% since January 1997 — compared with a 50% increase for all items over that same period.  Specifically, since January 1997, consumer prices for inpatient healthcare services have increased 195% and prices for outpatient healthcare services have increased 200%.  Over that same period, consumer prices for prescription drugs have doubled, as have prices for nursing homes and adult day services (Bureau of Labor Statistics. Spotlight on Statistics: A Look at Healthcare Spending, Employment, Pay, Benefits, And Prices. June 2016)

Unfortunately, public funding, support services and facilities for Connecticut brain-damaged children and adults are extremely limited and are often simply not available.  Parents of these children need to rely on their recoveries from medical malpractice cases to provide the required lifetime care for their children.  Without those funds, average parents do not have the resources they need and cannot provide adequate care for their children.

Richard A. Silver
Silver Golub & Teitell LLP
rsilver@sgtlaw.com


Medical Literature Resources for the Medical Malpractice Attorney

Richard A. Silver

November 2, 2018 


Medical malpractice attorneys conduct medical research on medical issues in the particular cases in which they are involved. It is my opinion that in addition to this case-specific research, it is helpful to keep up-to-date with current medical literature.

The New England Journal of Medicine is an excellent source to keep current with major medical breakthroughs. This periodical comes out weekly.  The articles are peer reviewed and are heavily relied on by experts in the field.  https://www.nejm.org

In addition, I have found the New England Journal Watch monthly publications are extremely helpful.  They contain summaries of important, peer reviewed articles that have been published throughout the U.S. and internationally.  These include, for example, Obstetrics and Gynecology, The Lancet (an English publication), Nature, JAMA and Journal of Urology.  https://www.jwatch.org

I have found that the series that are helpful in my work are Women’s Health, Emergency Medicine, General Medicine and Hospital Medicine. Other Watch series include Cardiology, Gastroenterology, Infectious Disease, Neurology, Oncology, Hematology, Pediatrics, Adolescent Medicine and Psychiatry.  These publications can be ordered through the Massachusetts Medical Society — Jwatch.org.  The Journal Watch publications also include comments on recent medical news; for instance, the FDA approval of a new migraine drug.

In addition, I have found The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics periodical to be helpful in evaluating drugs in cases that involve malpractice in prescribing pharmaceutical drugs.  https://secure.medicalletter.org

Richard A. Silver
Silver Golub & Teitell LLP
rsilver@sgtlaw.com

 


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