Bus Driver Pleads Not-Guilty After Boston Overpass Collision

Bus companies are increasingly scrutinized in the wake of a number of accidents along the East Coast, which have resulted in serious injuries and death. The accidents have been caused by fatigued drivers, negligent maintenance, and other acts of negligence on behalf of drivers and bus companies. Last February, 35 teenagers and chaperones were injured after visiting Harvard University. Now the Philadelphia driver accused in the crash has pled not-guilty to the criminal charges stemming from the accident.

Our Boston bus accident attorneys routinely work with accident reconstructionists and other experts to determine the cause of the accident and identify all of the parties responsible for injuries or fatalities. In this case, our legal team would take a comprehensive approach, using witness statements, police records, and other reports to determine the cause of the accident and preserve necessary evidence for a civil case.

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Public and private schools, churches, and other organizations will often hire private bus companies to transport students and members to activities and events. In this case, the group of traveling teenagers was from a non-profit called Destined for a Dream Foundation based out of Bristol, Pennsylvania. Recent fatal accidents have raised awareness regarding the safety of these busing companies and the level of scrutiny faced by drivers. Sadly, it can take multiple accidents, injuries and deaths to raise the awareness of legislators and to improve safety regulations for these companies.

In this case, a 67-year-old driver was charged with misdemeanor negligent operation of a motor vehicle. He also faces two civil infractions for traffic violations. Evidence shows that older drivers may have slower reaction times or reduced vision. It is unclear whether the bus company properly screened the driver to ensure that he was capable of operating the bus.

Immediately after a highway bus accident, a private investigation on behalf of any victim can preserve evidence and help to support a claim. According to police, the accident occurred when the driver was following GPS directions but did not see warning signs that indicated a low overpass. The bus struck the overpass on the night of February 2.

While most passengers were not seriously injured, one of the teenage victims suffered a serious spinal cord injury. Spinal cord injuries often require significant medical attention and long-term care needs. Any serious permanent injury warrants a comprehensive financial recovery for medical expenses, long-term care needs, rehabilitative care as well as compensation for pain and suffering.

After a bus accident involving a private company, the driver, as well as the bus company can be held liable for injuries. If a victim can prove that the bus company failed in a duty to screen drivers, maintain vehicles, or follow safety regulations, that victim or the victim's family may be entitled to significant compensation for their losses.

In cases involving negligence, a driver may face additional penalties and criminal charges. Evidence of criminal negligence can also be used in a civil personal injury case. The driver in this case pled not-guilty to charges and will return to court on July 24.

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Swimming Pool Safety: A Summertime Concern for All

The weather's heating up and the swim suits are coming out. Swimming and other water-related activities are excellent ways to get the physical activity and health benefits needed after a long winter. Americans swim hundreds of millions of times in pools, oceans, lakes, rivers, and hot tubs/spas each year and most people have a safe and healthy time enjoying the water. However, it is important to be aware of ways to prevent drowning risks associated with this fun, summertime activity.
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Our Boston swimming pool accident lawyers understand that there are more than 10 million residential swimming pools across the U.S. and another 310,000 public swimming pools. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), close to 40 percent of children and about 20 percent of adults in the country swim about 10 times a year. When you add that all up, that's some serious risks for accidents.

Every day, roughly ten people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children under the age of 15. As a matter of fact, drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the nation.

An adult should actively watch children at all times while they are in a pool. For infants and toddlers, an adult should be in the water and within arm's reach, providing "touch supervision." For older children, an adult should be paying constant attention and free from distractions. The supervising adult must know how to swim.

So we know all about the risks, but do you know about ways to make your pool safer for everyone? Here are some simple safety tips to make sure everyone has a fun and injury-free day at the pool.

Tips for a Safer Day at the Pool:

-Make sure everyone can swim. Enroll your youngest family members into swim classes. They're affordable, they work and they can save lives.

-Protect your pool and protect young invaders with a four-sided pool fence. Make sure this fence is equipped with child-proof locks. You don't want your little ones venturing near the pool when you're not around to supervise.

-Make sure that you're cleaning up your pool, and by that we mean that you should clear the water and pool deck of toys and floatation devices when the pool is not in use. You don't want kids' attention to be attracted to the pool when you're not near.

-Learn CPR. Having these lifesaving skills can mean the difference between life and death while waiting for paramedics and emergency personnel to arrive.

-Always keep a phone with you. Whether it's a house phone or a cell phone, you always want to have one within reach while attending your pool, just in case an accident happens.

We're wishing you a safe summer season and a warm day at the pool, but we're asking that you do so safely and responsibly.

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Depression and Brain Injury Often Linked

Brain injuries are far too common in the United States, with the CDC indicating that around 1.7 million traumatic brain injuries occur each year as either isolated injuries or with other injuries. Brain injuries can happen in many different situations, from car accidents to slip and falls to military combat. Unfortunately, whenever a brain injury occurs, it can have a profound and devastating impact on the rest of your life. 1254880_shiny_brain_.jpg

Our Boston injury attorneys know that brain injury victims may need ongoing medical care and adaptive devices to cope with their injuries. Unfortunately, patients may never fully recover. It is important that every brain injury patient receive the full amount of compensation available from whoever caused the brain injury. This means that when your brain injury has far-reaching physical and emotional consequences, your compensation needs to take these issues into account as well. This includes taking into account depression or other emotional distress or trauma caused by the brain injury or accident.

Brain Injury and Depression Linked
Recently, News Fix reported that researchers at the University of Iowa discovered a potential correlation between depression and brain injury. Prior research suggests that depression may be one complication of a traumatic brain injury (TBI), but the research on this issue is limited.

The Iowa researchers decided to find more data to better understand the connection between TBI and depression. The study involved comparing 91 patients suffering from traumatic brain injury with 27 patients who experienced multiple traumas but whose nerve systems were not involved. The researchers discovered that approximately one third of the patients had clinical depression over the course of the year following their brain injury.

The one-third of patients who developed clinical depression generally had a history of mood disorders and/or anxiety disorders. The percentage of patients who developed clinical depression, in other words, was generally already more prone to mental issues than patients in the control group who had TBI but no depression.

Still, this does not change the facts that there may be a link between brain injury and depression.

Depression Can Change Your Life
Patients who are depressed can have a number of issues, including poor social functioning. Brain scans also revealed that depressed patients have a lower level of gray matter. An estimated 77 percent of patients with TBI and depression also exhibited aggressive behavior and reported anxiety.

These are serious issues and your quality of life can be changed dramatically if you are involved in a car accident or other incident and suffer brain injury. You need to ensure you have full and fair compensation to cover all of your losses - including depression and emotional distress compensation- so that you can get medical help with ALL issues caused by the accident.

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More Trouble at Compounding Pharmacies Highlights Risks to Patients

Just a few short months ago, many people had never heard of a compounding pharmacy. Now, however, compounding pharmacies have been in the news many times in recent months, starting with headlines about a devastating outbreak of fungal infections allegedly caused by the New England Compounding Pharmacy (NECC). 1396654_alchemic_vials_2.jpg

Infections and issues related to compounding pharmacies have prompted discussions of changing regulatory laws and created nationwide concern as people throughout the United States were diagnosed with meningitis due to the NECC's contaminated steroid medications. Unfortunately, our Boston injury attorneys know that the NECC case was not an isolated incident and that many compounding pharmacies are simply not producing drugs that are as safe as they should be. A recent incident involving a Tennessee compounding pharmacy has confirmed this and underscored the fact that compounding pharmacies can cause serious public health problems.

More Trouble at Compounding Pharmacies

According to Fox News, health officials are now investigating cases involving patients who were injected with medicines from a Tennessee compounding pharmacy called Main Street Family Pharmacy.

Main Street Family Pharmacy was creating injections with methylprednisolone acetate, which is the same drug that was produced by NECC and that caused the fungal infection throughout the entire United States. More than 55 people died and 740 more were injured by the fungal infection caused by NECC and this made patients and public health officials very nervous when news broke that a Tennessee pharmacy had sent out the same drug that was also contaminated.

As of now, however, authorities indicate that the current situation does not approach the level of severity of the fungal infections and meningitis outbreak prompted by NECC in 2012. However authorities also caution that it is still early and that investigation is still ongoing, which means that things could turn out to be much worse.

So far, seven cases of potential infection have been identified and traced back to drugs from the Main Street Family Pharmacy. Five of those cases are in Illinois and two more are in North Carolina. All five of the patients in Illinois had skin infections in the buttocks and hips. At least one of the North Carolina patients, on the other hand, is reported as having some type of fungal infection. However, a health-care epidemiologist leading the CDC investigation into the incidents reports that there is no current indication that the patient has meningitis or any other life threatening conditions.

As the CDC and other investigations continue into these infections, hopefully no more reports will surface of people developing complications or infections as a result of the injection of drugs from the Main Street Family Pharmacy.

In the meantime, until the investigations are concluded and cases resolved, the FDA has recommended that doctors stop using any sterile drugs distributed by Main Street Family Pharmacy. Main Street Family Pharmacy has indicated that it supports the FDA"s recommendation because in its 15 years of operation, "patient safety has always been and will always be," their top priority. Unfortunately, it seems as if the company may not have lived up to its obligations and may have let patients down.

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Food Poisoning Lawsuits: Infections from Foodborne Germs Increase

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, infections from certain foodborne germs increased in 2012 as compared with prior years, with some infections occurring at the highest levels since 2000. While new standards aim to make food safer, some restaurants and food distributors are still not doing enough to protect the public from dangers of foodborne illness. 1422473_grilled_sausage_patties.jpg

Our Boston injury attorneys know that foodborne germs can lead to devastating illness and even death. If you are made sick as a result of contaminated food sold in your supermarket or served to you in a restaurant, you may have a claim for damages. You will need to prove that someone was to blame and that the dangerous product or the negligence of the manufacturer, distributor, store or restaurant was the direct cause of your foodborne illness.

Foodborne Illness and Food Poisoning Lawsuits

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, infections from two germs that are commonly spread through food have significantly increased in 2012 when compared with the baseline period from 2006 to 2008. The two germs that have caused higher rates of infection include:

  • Campylobacter, which can be found in raw milk, produce and poultry. Infections from this germ have increased 14 percent in 2012 as compared with 2006-2008 and infections are at their highest level since 2000.
  • Vibrio, which is commonly linked to eating raw or undercooked shellfish. Infections from this germ are up 43 percent as compared with rates observed from 2006 to 2008.

Campylobacter infections can cause stomach pain, diarrhea and fever. The infections normally resolve themselves in around a week, but this is not always the case. Vibrio, on the other hand, is more rare but can cause more serious and potentially life threatening infections. Those who develop this infection who have liver disease are at the greatest risk.

Liability for Foodborne Illness

Efforts are continually underway to try to prevent foodborne illness from occurring and to try to minimize the dangers that people are exposed to in their food products. For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) both have certain requirements that must be followed as well as best practices that are advised. In 2011, FSIS updated its industry performance standards for both campylobacter and salmonella to reduce the presence of these germs in turkeys and chickens.

Manufacturers are expected to comply with guidelines, and restaurants and stores that serve food must also comply with local Board of Health requirements. Typically, people get sick only whens something goes wrong somewhere along the way and someone doesn't comply with the regulations. When this occurs, you may be able to sue if you were made ill due to foodborne bacteria or germs. For example, you could potentially sue:

  • A food manufacturer or distributor that produced contaminated products.
  • A grocery store that sold you tainted or contaminated food.
  • A restaurant that served you undercooked or dangerous food that caused you to develop food poisoning.

The key in these lawsuits will be showing that the manufacturer; grocery store; distributor or other defendant did something wrong or careless or breached some legal safety obligation. Provided you can show that something went wrong, you should be entitled to receive monetary compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages and other losses.

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Dialysis Patients Face Many Drug-Related Risks

Dialysis patients are dependent upon a number of drugs to help ensure that their bodies stay healthy and functioning even though their kidneys do not work. Unfortunately, the very fact that dialysis patients are dependent upon drugs makes them vulnerable to many health risks. 1421532_pills_drugs.jpg

Our Boston dialysis injury attorneys know that many people suffered cardiac events and were harmed as a result of dangerous dialysis drugs produced by Fresenius Medical Care. However, this is just one of many examples of dialysis patients who have been put at risk or who suffered harm as a result of the drugs that were administered to them. Only recently, for example, a pharmacist was found to be misbranding dialysis drugs and providing cheaper medications to patients.

Dialysis Drugs Misbranded

According to KSN.com, a pharmacist confessed to distributing misbranded dialysis drugs to patients. The pharmacist reported that he had substituted a Chinese-made drug for an FDA approved medication. The drug that the patients were supposed to receive was an iron sucrose drug that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved for dialysis patients.

Unfortunately, the pharmacist wanted to make some extra money and to earn a larger profit so the pharmacist decided not to give patients the drugs they needed. Instead, patients received the misbranded Chinese drug that had no FDA approval and that may very well have been a different drug, a placebo or a dangerous chemical substance.

Dialysis patients, especially, could be vulnerable to problems with dangerous medications since their bodies are unable to filter out waste on their own. A patient undergoing dialysis needs to take the recommended drug therapies as advised by a doctor in order to maintain strength and in order for the dialysis regimen to be effective in keeping the patient healthy.

Unfortunately, this means that administering the wrong medication to a dialysis patient could have devastating consequences. The pharmacist who was dishonest and who prevented people from getting the medications they need has thus committed a very dangerous and immoral act.

The pharmacist who distributed the mislabeled drug provided the medications to dialysis patients in Kansas, but this type of problem could happen anywhere and at any time. The pharmacist is facing criminal charges, will be required to pay around $849,000 in restitution, and will spend as long as 48 months in jail. He faces these penalties as he has been charged with distributing a misbranded drug as well as with healthcare fraud.

Hopefully, these penalties will be enough to deter others from providing mislabeled drugs to dialysis patients. Unfortunately, it seems that greed often gets the best of those who are in the healthcare business. This pharmacist was not the first to put the lives of dialysis patients at risk. When Fresenius failed to issue a widespread warning to patients or healthcare providers despite knowing that GranuFlo and NaturaLyte increased the risk of a cardiac event, the actions of Fresenius were every bit as egregious and dangerous as the actions of the pharmacist who provided the wrong drug to patients just to make a buck.

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Understanding What Settlement Means in Boston Scientific Transvaginal Mesh Lawsuits

Boston Scientific is a medical device company that has produced a number of products including transvaginal mesh. Transvaginal mesh is a type of surgical mesh that was used to treat women suffering from conditions including stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. Boston Scientific was a pioneer in the creation and sale of transvaginal mesh products, releasing a product called Protegen in 1996. 952313_gavel.jpg

Our Boston transvaginal mesh lawyers know that transvaginal mesh products have turned out to be very dangerous and that these TVM products cause significant health issues for many women. Boston Scientific's Protegen was one of the first of the transvaginal mesh products to begin to cause complications. As a result of problems with the product, Boston Scientific settled Protegen lawsuits back in 2003.

Understanding What Settlement Means

In 2003, Boston Scientific settled a reported 738 lawsuits that had been brought by women who had Protegen implanted. When a company settles a case, the company agrees to provide some benefit or compensation to the plaintiffs. In exchange for this compensation, the plaintiffs who suffered injury or who were harmed give up any and all future rights to file a lawsuit that arises from the same harm.

In other words, when Boston Scientific settled the 738 lawsuits related to Protegen after the transvaginal mesh products turned out to be defective, the plaintiffs received compensation as determined by the settlement agreement and were not able to make any further claims for damages if they accepted that compensation.

After Boston Scientific settled these lawsuits, the company went on to produce and sell other transvaginal mesh products including the Lynx Suprapublic Mid-Urethral Sling system; the Obtryx Transobturator Mid-Urethral Sling; the Pinnacle Pelvic Floor Repair Kit; the Prefyx PPS Pelvic Sling System, and the Solynx SIS Vaginal Sling system. Unfortunately, these products didn't really turn out to be any safer than Protegen (nor did any of the other transvaginal mesh devices made by other manufacturers).

As a result of the fact that their new transvaginal mesh products are just as dangerous as their old ones, Boston Scientific is now being sued again. Boston Scientific will thus again have to make the choice about whether to try to settle the claims or risk going to court.

Boston Scientific may wish to settle the claims if bellwether trials, or test trials, show that the company is likely to be held legally responsible for all injuries arising from itsTVM devices. If the bellwether trials result in large verdicts for the plaintiffs, Boston Scientific may be even more likely to try to settle in order to keep control on the company's litigation costs and to get more certainty as far as what legal issues the company faces.

Whether Boston Scientific decides to be serious about settling transvaginal mesh cases this time around remains to be seen. However, any plaintiff who is offered any type of settlement should always consult with an experienced attorney for assistance in how best to protect his or her interests.

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Dialysis Infections Down But Patients Still Face Many Risks

When a person does not have functioning kidneys that can remove waste from the body, dialysis is generally the only viable treatment unless or until a kidney transplant takes place. Dialysis can keep a patient alive for a long time, even indefinitely, provided that the patient's medical care is provided by professionals in accordance with best practices. 477799_hands_washing_female.jpg

Efforts are continually being made to improve the health and safety of dialysis patients to ensure these patients remain as healthy as possible. UPI, for example, reports that the CDC has recently provided tools and guidelines to dialysis centers in order to help prevent bloodstream infections from occurring. As a result, a 32 percent decrease in bloodstream infections occurred in dialysis patients in facilities that used the federal prevention guidelines.

Our Boston dialysis injury attorneys know that tougher guidelines protecting patients can have a major impact on saving lives. However, dialysis patients still remain at risk of complications, including the potential of infection or the chance that a drug will later turn out to be dangerous, as so many have before.

Dialysis Infections Down

According to UPI, the CDC and participating dialysis centers first began working together in 2009 in order to create and implement interventions and guidelines that would prevent or reduce the number of bloodstream infections in dialysis patients.

There is a real need to fight bloodstream infections because these types of infections are far too common in patients who undergo dialysis. As many as 8 out of every 10 dialysis patients has a central line implanted. A central line is a tube that a doctor puts in a patient's chest or vein in order to administer medical treatment.

Unfortunately, central lines can become dirty or can be put in incorrectly. When and if this occurs, the central line can provide a way for germs to enter into the body, where the germs cause infections.

To fight infection, the CDC made several recommendations including using an antiseptic for the skin called chlorhexidine. The CDC also issued guidelines related to catheter exit-site care; training for staff; and testing methods to determine if staff uses proper aseptic techniques and cares for the catheter properly. Finally, vascular access care audits, hand hygiene protocols and feedback systems are also part of the CDC guidelines.

Dialysis centers that implement the CDC guidelines can do a lot to protect patients, thus reducing some of the potential dangers. With a 32 percent decrease in bloodstream infections, every dialysis center should try to implement the CDC guidelines in order to reduce the risk to patients. If a patient does develop an infection and these best practices are not followed, then it could be argued that the dialysis center was negligent and is responsible for the injuries that the patient suffered due to the infection.

Of course, even when a dialysis center is able to reduce infections, this doesn't mean patients are guaranteed smooth sailing. From the risks of dangerous drugs such as the GranuFlo and NaturaLyte disasters, which caused thousands of deaths, to the risks of blood clots or uncontrolled bleeding, dialysis patients face many potential dangers. Doctors and care providers need to do everything possible to reduce the dangers from these complications and to keep patients safe.

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New Lawsuit Filed Against Boston Scientific Corporation

Throughout the United States, women have been taking action against medical device manufacturers that showed a callous disregard for their health and safety. These women had transvaginal mesh implants using surgical mesh that was approved by the FDA through a special shortcut process called 501(k) clearance. 1373700_blue_eyes.jpg

Recently, yet another transvaginal mesh lawsuit has been filed. This time, the claim was filed by a Wisconsin woman against Boston Scientific Corporation. The lawsuit was filed on April 30 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, Charleston Division. Our Boston transvaginal mesh lawyers know that this lawsuit is not the first against Boston Scientific and it won't be the last. The outcome of all of these lawsuits could help to shape the rights of women in the future.

Lawsuits Against Boston Scientific Corporation

According to the most recent April lawsuit filed against Boston Scientific, the plaintiff had the company's Pinnacle Pelvic Floor Repair Kit and the Aris Trans-Obturator Tape implanted in her in 2010. The plaintiff, like many women, had the transvaginal mesh device implanted because manufacturers had promised that these products would revolutionize the way certain medical conditions were treated.

The two medical conditions designed to be treated by transvaginal mesh products were Stress Urinary Incontinence (involuntary urination) and Pelvic Organ Prolapse (pelvic organs shifting out of place and protruding into the vaginal wall). Previously, these conditions had been treated by tightening the muscles but the transvaginal mesh products provided an easier alternative. The mesh products were essentially used to hold organs in place.

Unfortunately, the mesh began to create many problems once implanted in female patients. These problems included the mesh eroding through the vagina; the mesh causing infections, bleeding or significant pain; discomfort during sex; perforation of organs and urinary issues.

The plaintiff in this new lawsuit alleges that she suffered serious injuries and complications, including several of the side effects listed above that have been linked to transvaginal mesh devices. Her lawsuit indicates that the Boston Scientific products were defective and that they led to a number of serious injuries.

The plaintiff alleges that the harm she and other women are suffering occurred as a result of the negligence of Boston Scientific and other companies that make transvaginal mesh. Because these cases are product liability cases, strict liability rules apply to make manufacturers liable if there is some problem with their products that causes injury. The plaintiff is actually suing based on three counts of strict liability including design defects; defects in the manufacturing of the Boston Scientific Mesh products; and a failure to warn patients of the product defects. The plaintiff's new lawsuit against Boston Scientific also alleges breach of express warranty and breach of implied warranty and fraudulent concealment since Boston Scientific may have known about the dangers and kept quiet.

The plaintiff's newly filed lawsuit becomes part of a pending multi-district litigation action with many other patients who were also harmed by transvaginal mesh. The outcomes of these cases could encourage the company to settle and pay damages to all of the victims or the cases could be decided by judges and/or juries and each plaintiff would be awarded an appropriate amount of damage given her unique injuries.

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Drug Reps Rarely Share Side Effects with Doctors

When a patient is prescribed a drug, that patient has the right to know about any potential side effects the drug may cause. Doctors need to be aware of the potential side effects and risks so that patients can be kept informed, and it is essential that no important details be left out when a prescription is written. 1421532_pills_drugs.jpg

This is why it is so disturbing that a recent study shows drug reps are rarely forthcoming about harmful side effects of the drugs they are promoting to physicians. Our Boston drug injury attorneys know that doctors are more likely to prescribe drugs that are promoted to them by sales reps. Unfortunately, this means that many patients may be dosed with drugs without full and complete information about the risks.

Drug Reps Silent on Dangerous Side Effects

According to Futurity.org, a new large scale study on drug reps was conducted by surveying doctors in Canada, France and the United States. The study, which was published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, showed that sales reps routinely failed to be forthcoming with doctors.

In fact, in 59 percent of all sales visits to doctors' offices, drug reps did not volunteer details on:

  • Common side effects.
  • Serious side effects.
  • Patients who should not use their drugs.

Failing to provide this information is egregious. In fact, a U.C. Davis professor of medicine and one of the study's co-authors indicated that the interactions between the sales reps and the doctors "failed to meet even a minimum standard for the information needed for safe prescribing."

Patients are Put at Risk
This failure on the part of drug sales reps to keep doctors informed is a serious and large scale problem. The study involved more than 255 physicians who were asked to complete a questionnaire every time a drug sales rep visited their office. During the course of the study, these doctors were subject to more than 1,692 promotional visits from drug sales reps.

The reps were promoting medications for a variety of different conditions including Type 2 diabetes; hypertension; osteoporosis and depression. In some cases, these drugs had "black box" label warnings, which indicated that there were potentially serious or life-threatening risks associated with the medications.

Yet, despite the dangers of the drugs, drug reps mentioned serious side effects in only six percent of promotions. In 57 percent of the promotions that had a black box or governmental warning, no risk of harm was mentioned to physicians at all. These drug reps were keeping silent despite the fact that the laws require sales representatives to explain both the harms and the benefits of the drugs they are encouraging doctors to prescribe.

Tragically, this means that the drugs most prescribed by doctors may be offered to patients without essential information being shared. Patients who experience side effects may have a cause of action against doctors or drug companies for their failure to disclose side effects, but this is small comfort after a serious injury or death has resulted from an adverse drug reaction.

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Boston Youth Risk Survey Causes Concern Among Parents

Protecting kids is the top priority of every parent and parents need to know what types of risks their children face. Every year since 1998, a survey of Massachusetts students has been conducted in order to provide more information to educators and parents about some of the dangers that children in the area are facing. The survey is administered both to sixth grade students as well as to high school kids in eighth through twelfth grade. 1386665_lets_all_drink_lemonade.jpg

This year, the youth risk survey gave parents plenty of reason to be concerned. In addition to showing that as many as four percent of high school males and five percent of high school females had attempted suicide over the past year, the survey also showed that many kids were drinking alcohol despite being under the legal age to drink. The survey also showed that a lot of kids are using drugs. Our Boston injury attorneys know that when kids drink, they are at serious risk of sexual assault, alcohol poisoning and drunk driving accidents.

Teen Drinking And Drug-Use is a Dangerous Epidemic

The Harvard Press reported on the results of the Massachusetts Youth Risk Survey, indicating that:

  • Sixty-three percent of seniors at one local area high school had consumed alcohol over the past spring.
  • Thirty-five percent of all responding students in grades 9-12 indicated that they had consumed alcohol during the past spring.
  • For grades 9-12 combined, 32 percent of female students and 39 percent of male students admitted to using alcohol in the month prior to the survey.
  • Forty-percent of students in grade 12 indicated that they had recently used marijuana.
  • Among all students in grades 9-12, 22 percent admitted that they had used marijuana in the prior month.

Students who take drugs or who use alcohol are likely not just to stay at home while drunk or on drugs but instead to attend school dances or events, to go to parties or to go places with their friends. The Harvard Press, for example, indicating that schools expressed concern about students who had recently come to school dances while intoxicated in the prior year.

When these students drank or do drugs and they go places, they get behind the wheel of a car. They put themselves in danger when they do this, but they also put every other driver who is on the road with them at risk as well. A drunk or high teen may be even more dangerous behind the wheel than an intoxicated adult since teens are already more likely to get into car wrecks because of their inexperience.

Parents Need to Take Teen Drinking Seriously

As this data shows, teen drinking is not a small problem but is something that many teenagers choose to do. Parents need to be aware of the high numbers of kids who use alcohol or drugs and every parent should be sure to stress the dangers of driving drunk or high.

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NTSB Recommends Changing the Definition of Drunk Driving

Everyone today knows that it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) above .08. The laws impose this limit to ensure that people do not drive when they are too impaired to react quickly, to pay attention and to make safe choices behind the wheel. Unfortunately, the laws may not be doing enough, as it is possible that those with a BAC below .08 may still be affected by alcohol and thus unable to drive safely. 1231362_sign_no_alcohol.jpg

Our Boston car accident attorneys knows that drunk driving accidents can be devastating and that it is important to do everything possible to prevent intoxicated people from getting behind the wheel. This is why new NTSB proposals on lowering the alcohol level constituting drunk driving could be a good thing that helps to reduce the risk of drunk driving crashes.

NTSB Considers Changing Permitted BAC Levels
According to NBC News, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently voted to recommend that states lower the permitted blood alcohol content levels and change their definitions of drunk driving.

The NTSB recommends that states drop the permitted BAC level down from .08 to .05. Currently, all 50 states in the United States define drunk driving using the .08 BAC rule, so this would be a widespread shift in drunk driving policy in the United States. However, changing the BAC level from .08 to .05 would put the United States more in line with other countries.

Currently, only Canada, Iraq, the United States and a few other locations have their drunk driving BAC set at .08. The majority of locations throughout Europe, including Russia, define intoxicated driving as having a BAC of .05 or higher. Most of South America and Australia also have a lower permitted BAC than in the United States and when Australia changed their laws from allowing a .08 BAC to .05 BAC, provinces in the country reported between a five and 18 percent decline in the number of traffic deaths.

Arguments for Change
Of course, adjusting our laws to match the rest of the world's is not the only argument, nor the strongest argument, for reducing the allowable BAC level. The fact is that reducing the permitted BAC level could save lives.

According to the NTSB, some drivers begin to experience problems with depth perception and other visual functions once they have a BAC of .05 or higher. The chances of an accident at this level increase by 39 percent. By the time a person's BAC level reaches .07, his or her cognitive abilities are likely to be impaired, and by the time the BAC rises to .08 percent, then the chances of an accident are increased by a full 100 percent.

Since a person begins to suffer impairment at .05 and the accident risk increases so dramatically, there is little reason to allow people to drive after they are at this stage of intoxication. Changing the law could reduce crashes and save lives, and lawmakers should seriously consider embracing the NTSB's recommendation.

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Massachusetts Malpractice Watch: Hospital Infections Devastate Patients

When you go to a hospital, you expect that you will get treatment and hopefully get better. Unfortunately, many patients pick up something that they don't expect while they are in the hospital: a severe infection. A wave of dangerous "superbugs" has found its way into hospitals in Boston and throughout the U.S. and while hospitals are supposedly trying to battle the bugs, their efforts may not be enough. 1342025_medical_equipment.jpg

Our Boston medical malpractice attorneys know that hospitals fall short in many ways when it comes to ensuring the clean, sterile environment that a patient has the right to expect when getting medical care. When a hospital is negligent in its policies or in protecting patients, the hospital can become responsible for any losses incurred by the patient as a result of its failures.

Hospitals Allegedly Fight Superbugs, But it May Not be Enough

According to USA Today, the problem of patients becoming infected in hospitals is a growing concern. It is estimated that one patient out of every 20 develops an infection in a hospital. While these infections can sometimes be relatively minor, they can also be major health issues that are very hard to treat.

In fact, the problem has been exacerbated in recent years as "superbugs" have developed in hospital settings. Superbugs are antibiotic resistant and can be almost impossible to treat. They can also be both costly and deadly. For example, as USA Today points out:

  • Around 100,000 patients each year die as a result of hospital infections.
  • Hospital infections cost an estimated $30 billion to treat each year.
  • There are multiple different superbugs causing this devastation including methicillin-resistant staph (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile (C-diff), which is linked to an estimated 14,000 U.S. deaths each year.
  • New superbugs develop all the time, including a "nightmare" bacteria that showed up recently in at least 200 hospitals and that is resistant to antibiotics.
  • Infections can spread not just on surgical knives and in operating rooms, but also on bed rails, television remote controls and other nooks and crannies in hospitals.

Unfortunately, many hospitals simply are not doing enough to combat what has become a major public health problem. In fact, hospitals may actually have a perverse financial incentive not do to as much as possible in the way of prevention, since Hospital Infection.org indicates that a hospital can make an extra $15,275 on average when a patient contracts an infection and needs treatment as a result. With an estimated 2 million infections developing each year, this would make treating hospital infections a $30.5 billion dollar industry.

Taking Action Against Hospitals

Hospitals need to do more to fight infection. While USA today indicates new technologies are being tested, including germ-resistant copper bedrails and machines emitting ultraviolet light and hydrogen peroxide vapors, playing around with technology is simply not sufficient to ensure patients don't get sick from superbugs.

Hospitals need to take sterility very seriously and make fighting infection a top priority. It is important that hospitals have a financial incentive to take these steps, which means those who develop hospital infections should take legal action and ensure hospitals have to pay for the losses caused. Only by making sure that hospitals don't profit and that hospitals instead have to pay through a malpractice claim will these facilities really be forced to take infection fighting seriously.

Continue reading "Massachusetts Malpractice Watch: Hospital Infections Devastate Patients " »

Dog Bites Top Cause of Homeowner Insurance Claims in New England

You could potentially have your home insurance rates hiked because of your lovable pup. What's even worse is that you may even be refused coverage.
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According to KLS, many states have insurance companies that won't cover certain breeds of dog. Agents say that some breeds have a risk that is just too high to be included in home insurance coverage.

Our Boston dog bite lawyers understand that one insurance company's ad claimed that dog bite incidents accounted for about a third of all liability claims filed. The Insurance Information Institute reports that the insurance industry saw close to $500 million in dog bite-related liability claims in 2011. When you average them all out -- each claim costs about $30,000. That's a number that's up more than 50 percent in the last decade.

Commonly uncovered breeds:

-Dobermans

-Rottweilers

-Mastiff Breeds

-Preso Canarios

-Pit Bulls

-German Shepherds

-Alaskan Malamutes

And these companies can deny you coverage, even if your own dog has no viscous history. Thank the science behind the statistics.

"Those are the breeds that are more aggressive," said Craig Densley of Bear River Mutual Insurance.

What people on both sides of the debate agree on is that any breed of dog has the potential to bite.

It's difficult to determine just how much a dog's genetics influence behavior, just like it's hard to know how much of a person's personality is inherited. It's true that some breeds simply have more ability to injure people. Though it's no more likely to bite than a smaller dog, if it does bite, a Great Dane can do much more damage than a Maltese, for example.

Each and every year, there are close to 5 million people who are bitten by a dog in the U.S. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), one out of every five of these victims requires medical attention. Overall, close to 1 million Americans seek medical attention for a dog bite each year. About half of these victims are children.

Dog bite losses exceed $1 billion per year. In the past several years, there have been 30 to 35 fatal dog attacks in the USA annually.

Among children and adults, having a dog in the household is associated with a higher incidence of dog bites. As the number of dogs in the home increases, so does the incidence of dog bites. Adults with two or more dogs in the household are five times more likely to be bitten than those living without dogs at home.

Before bringing a pup into your home, make sure you talk with your home insurance provider. Make sure there are no limitations. It's also a good idea to talk with a professional, to see what kind of dog is best for your household. Dogs with histories of aggression are inappropriate in households with children.

National Dog Bite Prevention Week takes place during the third full week of May each year, and focuses on educating people about preventing dog bites.

Continue reading "Dog Bites Top Cause of Homeowner Insurance Claims in New England " »

Boston Scientific Transvaginal Mesh Lawsuits

Boston Scientific was the pioneer in the creation of transvaginal mesh products, releasing its first product called Protegen in 1996. Protegen was released with minimal clinical testing, including as part of its main evidence a three-month study on the safety and effectiveness of the mesh product in rats. Protegen cleared the way for other transvaginal mesh devices, which were released by both Boston Scientific and other manufacturers with minimal FDA oversight or requirements under special 501(K) rules. 117629_surgery.jpg

Unfortunately, the Boston Scientific transvaginal mesh products, including Protegen as well as subsequent mesh offerings, started causing problems for patients. Our Boston transvaginal mesh attorneys know that hundreds of women experiencing complications sued Boston Scientific back in 2003 and that more women today are attempting to take legal action against the company. Boston Scientific has settled such lawsuits in the past and may be forced to pay again, this time to new victims of transvaginal mesh products that the medical device company has continued to push on an unsuspecting public.

Boston Scientific Transvaginal Mesh Lawsuits

In 2003, Boston Scientific settled 738 lawsuits arising from Protegen. Boston Scientific continued to sell various transvaginal mesh products, however, including the Advantage Fit Transvaginal Mid-Urethral Sling system; the Lynx Suprapublic Mid-Urethral Sling system; the Obtryx Transobturator Mid-Urethral Sling; the Pinnacle Pelvic Floor Repair Kit; the Prefyx PPS Pelvic Sling System, and the Solynx SIS Vaginal Sling system.

Many of these new transvaginal mesh products began causing complications and problems as well including:

  • Infection
  • Severe pelvic pain
  • Discomfort or pain during sexual intercourse.
  • Repeated organ prolapse
  • Organ perforation
  • Urinary issues
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Vaginal scarring
  • Shrinkage
  • Neuro-muscular issues

These side effects of transvaginal mesh were not exclusive to Boston Scientific mesh products but began to occur among many patients who used transvaginal mesh from many different manufacturers. By 2010, for example, more than 4,000 reports of adverse events had been made to the Food and Drug Administration.

With more than 300,000 women estimated to have received transvaginal mesh implants, these complaints may only be the tip of the iceberg. Women have begun to take legal action against the manufacturers of the mesh products, including Boston Scientific.

Currently, there are multiple consolidated lawsuits underway related to vaginal mesh products. Boston Scientific has also faced individual lawsuits from injured plaintiffs. Boston Scientific has tried many tactics to fight these lawsuits, including claiming in one recent Ohio case that the statute of limitations rendered the claim time-barred. This claim was rejected, however, because the plaintiff did not yet know in 2008 that her occasional stress urinary incontinence was related to problems with the Boston Scientific transvaginal mesh device.

As the lawsuits continue, plaintiffs will need to prove that the transvaginal mesh had a problem or defect that directly resulted in complications occurring. The extensive evidence about transvaginal mesh product dangers and the many injuries caused by mesh released by Boston Scientific should be helpful in assisting plaintiffs in making a case that they deserve compensation. Boston Scientific may again choose to settle and resolve cases out of court or a jury may hear the cases and award damages to injured plaintiffs harmed by Boston Scientific's bad mesh products.

Continue reading "Boston Scientific Transvaginal Mesh Lawsuits " »