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Calhoun Legal Issues Blog

Some improvements made in detecting, preventing medical errors

Back in 1999, the Institute of Medicine released a report saying that preventable medical errors were leading to at least a million cases of injury and some 44,000 to 98,000 fatalities in the U.S. More recent data tells a similar story. Georgia residents should know, though, that improvements have been made and that several medical institutions have established a goal of zero harm.

For one thing, the past 20 years have seen a clarification in the definition of a medical error and improvement, as well as expansion, in detection methods. There are roughly two types of errors, the first being those that arise while doctors are doing the correct thing, and the second being those that occur through doctors' own conscious actions. Medication overdoses would fall into the first category and misdiagnoses in the second.

Distracted driving is a serious threat on American roadways

Georgia residents have good reason to be concerned about distracted driving. According to the National Safety Council, accidents linked to driver inattention kill roughly nine people in the U.S. every day. The economic cost of these crashes also continues to pile up. Distracted driving crashes come with a $40 million bill annually, close to the $44 million annual toll of drunk driving crashes. While smartphones and texting while driving are perhaps the best-known culprits in driver inattention, they are far from the only factors. Drivers can be distracted by built-in touchscreen systems or even other accidents and problems on the side of the road.

There are three major types of distraction that can contribute to motor vehicle collisions. Visual distraction affects a driver's eyes, moving them away from the road ahead. Manual distraction takes a driver's hands off the wheel, leaving them ill-prepared to respond to emergencies or changes. Finally, cognitive distractions divert a driver's thoughts and attention. One reason why texting or surfing the internet while driving is so dangerous is that it involves all three types of distraction, making a car accident more likely.

Staying safe on the road is a priority this holiday season

With winter holidays just around the corner, you may be thinking about what dishes you will take to your big family gatherings. You may also be making sure that you have everything you need to make a road trip to the location of those gatherings. Though a long drive may be a tradition that you anticipate every year, you still need to prepare.

Because many people are traveling during the holiday season, you could easily end up in heavy traffic or surrounded by other drivers who are in a hurry to get their own holiday festivities. Certainly, you want everyone to arrive wherever they are going safely, so you do your best to remain a safe driver.

Malpractice can occur in familiar settings

When medical malpractice is mentioned, it's typically thought of as occurring in a high-risk, emergency medical situation such as an operation. Images of a botched surgery with the wrong body part operated on, unintentionally severing an artery or leaving a sponge or other item inside the patient might come to mind. However, for most Georgia residents, the danger of malpractice comes not from a complicated medical procedure but rather from what is generally considered a routine occurrence: a visit to a patient's local ambulatory care facility.

An ambulatory care center, according to health care researchers, is where most Americans interact with medical professionals and receive some form of treatment. Although a variety of medical procedures may be performed at such facilities, like a doctor's office or outpatient facility, most are routine in nature and seemingly carry a low risk of potential medical malpractice issues. However, recent studies prove to the contrary that even everyday interactions between patients and medical providers can result in harm to the patient. More specifically, diagnostic testing errors, medication events and the danger of patient falls top the list of malpractice incidents at ambulatory care facilities.

2019 Operation Safe Driver Week: Speeding the most cited offense

For one week every year, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance intensifies traffic law enforcement in Georgia and the rest of the U.S. This initiative, called Operation Safe Driver Week, has a special focus each year, and for 2019, that focus was on speeding offenses. The 2019 Operation Safe Driver Week took place from July 14 to 20 and ended with a total of 46,752 citations and 87,624 warnings issued to passenger vehicle and CMV drivers.

In all, law enforcement officials issued 17,556 citations for surpassing the speed limit or traveling too fast for conditions. Passenger vehicle drivers were the subject of 16,102 of those violations. The second and third most cited violations for both types of drivers were failure to wear a seatbelt (2,748 citations in all) as well as failing to follow traffic control devices (966 citations in all).

Tips for avoiding car accidents

Roughly 40,000 people in Georgia and throughout the country died because of traffic accidents in 2018. Another 4.5 million people were injured in traffic accidents during that same year. There are several steps that drivers can take to reduce the chances that they are involved in car accidents. For example, they should be sure to have at least one hand on the steering wheel at all times.

Individuals should refrain from using their cellphones whenever they are operating a motor vehicle. At a minimum, drivers should not use their hands to answer a phone call or respond to a text message. Those who are planning on driving should make sure that they are not impaired by drugs or alcohol. Anyone who is caught operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher could be sent to jail. It is estimated that 10,000 people per year are killed in accidents caused by drunk or impaired drivers.

Shooting victims file premises liability lawsuit against Walmart

Premises owners in Georgia and around the country are not generally held responsible when criminals commit violent crimes on their properties as long as they were not warned about any looming threats and the incident was not foreseeable. Challenges to this legal position have usually fared poorly in the courts, but the plaintiffs in premises liability lawsuits do score an occasional victory. In February, a case against Planned Parenthood was allowed to proceed when a judge in Colorado ruled that the nonprofit organization knew about potential threats and should have taken more robust security measures.

The latest case of this type was filed recently on behalf of a married couple who both suffered serious injuries in a mass shooting incident that took place in a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas. Almost two dozen people died in the store and a similar number were injured. The big-box retailer admits it once hired off-duty police officers to provide security in the store but ended the practice to reduce overheads.

Do you believe you were the victim of medical malpractice?

Feeling as if someone did not treat you in the best manner possible can be disheartening. In some cases, the issue may not have lasting effects, such as if someone says something rude to you. However, if a medical professional does not follow the standard of care when treating your health condition, the issue could have long-lasting consequences.

Unfortunately, some doctors and other medical staff members could act negligently or otherwise not follow the appropriate standard of care. In such cases, you may experience additional illness or injury when you had hoped that the staff would help you get better. Negative outcomes could prompt you to take legal action.

Red light running crashes and how to prevent them

In 2017, the number of red light running crash deaths in Georgia and across the U.S. totaled 939: the highest it has been in a decade. This made up 28% of all deaths at signalized intersections. In a recent Traffic Safety Culture Index from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 85% of drivers said running red lights is wrong, yet nearly one in three admitted to doing it in the past 30 days.

Even worse, more than two in five drivers thought it unlikely that they would be pulled over for running a red light. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has found, though, that red light cameras can do a lot to deter drivers from this illegal act. If properly implemented and regularly calibrated, they can reduce the rate of fatal red light running crashes by 21% in large cities.

What are the most common types of medical malpractice?

When Georgia residents need health care, they want to know that they can trust their doctor. Even so, medical malpractice does occur and can lead to more serious injury or even death. Knowing what the most common types of malpractice are is one of the best ways for people to avoid becoming a victim.

One thing that frequently happens is misdiagnosis. Doctors may diagnose patients with one condition when they actually have another. They may also fail to pinpoint a very serious medical condition such as cancer. Medication and anesthesia errors are another form of medical malpractice. Physicians may prescribe medications that negatively interact with other drugs a patient is taking or give patients too high a dose. Giving the wrong type or amount of anesthesia during surgery could render a procedure ineffective and cause serious side effects such as brain injuries.

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