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Boating Accident:FL East Coast Boating Incident ends in multiple deaths!

June 3, 2010

As my parents have now headed back to Florida from their Memorial Day Weekend visit up here to DC, a bit of nostalgia overtook me, and I decided to look at my old hometown paper online, Florida Today.  The first article to catch my eye was a tragic story about a boating trip during the holiday weekend, gone terribly wrong:

Cyril Holley, 46, and his daughter, Madison Holley, 19, were riding in a boat when they were struck and killed by another vessel, which was carrying other family and friends near Disappearing Island.

Two other people were taken to nearby hospitals.

Witnesses told Local 6 that one of the boats appeared to jump over and crash on top of the victims’ watercraft.

I will tell you from first-hand experience that the waterways and ocean along the east coast of Florida are packed with boats of varying sizes on any given Memorial Day Weekend.  Ponce Inlet (where this horrible incident occurred), an area on Florida’s east coast just south of Daytona Beach, is an area known for its significant boat population.  What makes this story even more tragic, is that Ms. Holley was due to give birth in two weeks, and the unborn child’s father was also on one of the two boats involved in the collision.

An eyewitness briefly describes what he saw as the tragedy unfolded before his eyes:

“The larger boat was just jumping off waves,” said Ryan Yadav, who watched the collision from a nearby beach. “I think it just took too much speed on and went right over. Cut the awning right off.”

Our thoughts are with the families who lost their loved ones.

Brian Nash’s comment: For those of you who have been on our wonderful waterways of D.C. and Maryland, I would imagine you have your own tales of accidents and numerous near-misses. A year ago, I saw a father flying around the Bay in a speed boat in the shipping lane with his kids screaming for joy as they hung on for dear life in a plastic raft being towed behind. Jet skiers, drunks at the helm – they’re all out there. Enjoy the water, but for goodness sake, use some common sense. If you are a boater, you know how fast it can all go so wrong.

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Child Safety Tips: As mercury goes up, so do safety risks for kids!

June 2, 2010

By picpoke.com

Yes, it is really getting hot out there this week!!!  Coming from Florida to DC last year, I thought “OK, so it will not get nearly as hot up here, or at least not as early in the summer.”  Yes, I was wrong.  This thought brought me to thinking about some of the fun things to do in the summer, but also the dangers for our little ones during this time if we are not extra careful.  Lo and behold, I found this article today, courtesy of the Dallas Morning News and reprinted by the Kansas City Star:

Emergency-room professionals have their own name for the long, lovely, lazy days that kids look forward to in summer: trauma season. Because that’s when hospitals see a spike in drownings and heat-related accidents.

The article discusses several myths and related facts associated with those myths.  Here are a few samples from the article:

MYTH: Pool parties are safe as long as adults are around.

FACT: Many drownings happen when adults are close by. The problem is too much commotion. The key is to have a designated adult watching the water because that is where the danger is. The pool should be free of excess toys that can block the view of the water.

MYTH: Floaties keep little ones safe in the water.

FACT: Floaties are designed for fun, not safety. They give a false sense of security, can deflate and can slip off.

MYTH: The kids will be fine in the pool for the short time it takes to answer the phone or get a cold drink.

FACT: In a minute, a child can go under water. In two or three minutes, the child can lose consciousness. In four or five, the child could suffer irreversible brain damage or die. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional, injury-related death for children 1 to 14 years old, second only to car and transportation-related accidents.

The article states several other myths and facts, which include the hazards of leaving children unattended in cars and car seats, as well as sun exposure and dehydration.  We encourage you to read the article in its entirety.  Let’s all have a safe summer out there, please!!

Florida’s doctor discipline system not tough enough, critics say

May 30, 2010

As a Florida-licensed attorney who spent 15 years working in consumer justice law firms in the ‘Sunshine State,’ I keep a watchful eye on trends and developments within various personal injury practice areas in Florida.  There is currently a real, legitimate concern regarding the system that is responsible for disciplining doctors who are licensed to practice medicine in Florida.  The Orlando Sentinel recently published an article how some believe there is much to be desired when it comes to how the  Florida Department of Health handles these matters.  

Consumer group Public Citizen last month ranked Florida the eighth most-lenient in the nation for disciplining doctors. The ranking stems from the number of serious actions per 1,000 doctors last year, when the state revoked the licenses of 94 and suspended 18 others. The toughest state disciplined doctors at rates three times as high. The trend has been true for a decade, the group said.

Critics contend the state does not act fast enough or toughly enough against the small share of practitioners accused of substandard care, negligence, crimes or improper behavior. Too often, they say, the state lets professionals such as Lan continue practicing while officials probe allegations of crimes or serious violations and injuries.

Regulators dismiss 90 percent of complaints that patients or others file against practitioners, more than 95 percent of those against doctors. When action is taken, the state rarely imposes serious punishments, such as revoking or suspending licenses.

There is ‘the other side’ of the story.  According to the article, some of the advocates for the way the system works take the following position:

State officials and some attorneys defend the system and say the criticisms are overstated. They say any system can be improved, but contend the state focuses on protecting the public from professionals who commit the most serious wrongs, and demands remedial training for professionals who make errors.

“I don’t see the evidence to support [the criticism]. We believe we are doing a good job,” said Lucy Gee, the health department’s director of medical quality assurance.

Gee said the process moves deliberately so it can be thorough. Cases remain secret because laws aim to keep baseless complaints from becoming public and unfairly tarnishing professionals, she said.

What about the doctors and individuals within the medical profession that repeatedly cause harm to patients or are charged with serious crimes (felonies) but are permitted to continue practicing medicine?  What about these same individuals within the profession, who do not receive ANY form of discipline whatsoever, or are allowed to continue practicing, while the investigation against them is pending. Here are just a few examples of such real world cases:

Dr. Stuart F. Tillman, a Tallahassee anesthesiologist arrested in July and charged with soliciting sex online from a police officer posing as a girl of 14.

Dr. Joseph M. Hernandez, formerly of Fort Lauderdale, who was arrested in Lake City in February and charged with trafficking narcotic pain pills and prescribing drugs for monetary gain. In 2006, records show the state banned him from doing surgery and temporarily suspended his license because his vision was severely impaired. In 2007, he was fined $5,000 for leaving part of an IV tube in a patient’s chest.

Dr. John N. Mubang, an internist in the Tampa suburb of Seffner who was arrested and charged in July 2008 with drug trafficking and prescribing controlled substances for monetary gain.

All three have pleaded not guilty, with trials pending. Hernandez and Mubang are practicing, according to their offices. Hernandez declined to comment. Mubang and Tillman could not be reached for comment, despite calls or messages left at their offices.

What does this say about the system that disciplines doctors in Florida?  Sure, there are many great doctors in Florida, but for the ones who put their patients’ lives at risk (through negligent treatment or otherwise) or are charged with serious crimes that may have an impact on their practice/medical license, the question remains: Would YOU want to have a surgical procedure performed by a doctor that has a criminal investigation pending against him or her that may land them in jail? I suspect you would prefer your doctor to be completely focused on your surgical procedure and not thinking about other ‘outside distractions.’  Shouldn’t there be additional aggressive safeguards in place that will IMMEDIATELY prevent the medical provider from committing more harm?

We leave you with this: Yes, emergency suspensions were put into effect 248 times in 2009.  However, compare that with the approximate 24,000 complaints that were filed against doctors and other members of the medical profession the same year, by both individuals and other agencies.  Are we really to believe that only 248 of those 24,000 cases required emergency suspension of one’s practice…??

Actor Dennis Quaid sues drug maker

May 27, 2010

Last month, we reported in a blog through our website, how actor Dennis Quaid is involved as a patient advocate, after his newborn twins nearly lost their lives back in 2007, from a medical error that could have very easily been prevented.  Put simply, the precious twins were given two doses of Heparin instead of Hep-lock (an anti-coagulant medication widely used for children).  Why is this significant?  Heparin is a drug one thousand times stronger than what the twins were supposed to have received.

Earlier this week, it was reported in the Contra Costa Times, that Mr. Quaid has filed a lawsuit on behalf of his children.  As far as the extent of his children’s injuries, the article states “The children suffered internal injuries and shock, but the extent of what happened to them will probably not be known for years, according to the suit.”  The lawsuit alleges that vials of the 10,000 unit Heparin should have been recalled previous to what happened to his children, because other infants had already died from similar medication errors.  The suit also claims that the company responsible for making the drug, Baxter Healthcare, “was obligated to warn healthcare providers of the previous medication mistakes.”

We wish the best for the Quaid family, and hope that the discovery in this case shines a light on not only finding out exactly what happened in this case, but also makes information available that may be able to save the lives of other children from future similar medical errors.  We will continue to monitor the course of this case.

Child Health: Labels Urged for Food That Can Choke

May 27, 2010

Earlier this year, we posted a blog on our website in regard to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) policy statement in regard to the prevention of choking among children.  Earlier this week, the New York Times featured an in-depth story on an issue that is very much a part of this policy statement:  food choking hazards among small children.  The article discusses the advocacy efforts to place warning labels on foods, which pose a choking hazard to small children, as well as the proposition that small children should not be allowed to eat certain foods at all.  The article starts with an all too familiar setting that ended in tragedy:

On a July afternoon in 2006, Patrick Hale microwaved a bag of popcorn for his two young children and sat down with them to watch television. When he got up to change the channel, he heard a strange noise behind him, and turned to see his 23-month-old daughter, Allison, turning purple and unable to breathe.

As a Marine, he was certified in CPR, but he could not dislodge the popcorn with blows to her back and finger swipes down her throat. He called 911, but it was too late: by the time Allison arrived at the hospital, her heart had stopped beating. An autopsy found that she had inhaled pieces of popcorn into her vocal cords, her bronchial tubes and a lung.

Does this story make you think twice before giving your little ones popcorn?  On a personal note, I called my wife immediately after reading this story, and we discussed the fact that we should no longer allow our son, who is now two and a half, to have any popcorn. Ironically, she was on her way to take him to a movie that was going to be serving….you guessed it, popcorn.

Now, some of you may say “Well, little kids can choke on anything.”  Well, that is true.  However, there are some foods that pose an increased risk of choking.  Consider the dynamics of how a small child eats, as well as the size of their airway:

Children under 4 are at the highest risk, not only because their airways are small (the back of a toddler’s throat narrows to the diameter of a straw) but also because of the way their eating abilities develop. Front teeth usually come in at 6 or 7 months — so babies can bite off a piece of food — but the first molars, which grind food down, do not arrive until about 15 months, and second molars around 26 months.

“Between the ages of 3 and 4, they’re developing their ability to chew adequately and prepare for swallowing,” said Dr. Nisha Kapadia, a pediatric resident at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.

When young children chew foods like peanuts, raw carrots and popcorn, some is ground down and some is not, and they tend to swallow unchewed bits of food that can block the airway or be inhaled into the bronchial tubes and lungs.

This concern and the tragic deaths associated with this concern have prompted several organizations to propose various options to attempt to prevent these injuries and deaths.  One such organization is the Center for Science in the Public Interest:

Some advocates say the government should put hazardous foods off limits to young children.

“The F.D.A. needs to set a uniform standard for cautionary information on food that should not be consumed by children under 5,” said Bruce Silverglade, legal director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group that lobbied unsuccessfully in 2003 for a bill to require the Food and Drug Administration to develop food labeling regulations.

Where this debate will end up, we don’t know.  However, to think that in 2001 there were 17,500 children 14 years old and younger treated in emergency rooms for choking, with 60% of those events caused by food, there must be a way to create a safer environment for our children when they are eating.  Any suggestions?

Product Safety Alert: Children’s Giraffe Blanket Recalled Due to Choking Hazard

May 21, 2010

Approximately 44,000 giraffe blankets have been recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), due to the balls on the top of the horns detaching, and posing a choking hazard to small children.  The giraffe blankets are sold exclusively at Target Stores.  The full details on the recall can be found by clicking here.  

The recall states that, thankfully, no injuries have been reported, as of this publication.  The product is imported by Rashti and Rashti out of New York, and details on the recall can be found on their website, as well.  As the CPSC recall notice states “Consumers should immediately take the recalled blankets away from children and contact Rashti & Rashti for a full refund.”

Even though no injuries have been reported, let’s keep it that way! Follow the recommendations even if your child may cry for a bit when you take away their ‘security blanket.’ A sad but safe child sure beats the alternative.

Allergic to Dairy? Read Before Eating Those Sunflower Seeds!

May 19, 2010

Ryt-Way Industries, LLC, a food packaging company, is immediately recalling some of the sunflower seed products that they have packaged, as they contain undeclared dairy ingredients.  The recall, which includes products that have been distributed nationwide, is a voluntary recall, and is being done in conjunction with the FDA:

Ryt-way Industries LLC of Lakeville, MN is voluntarily recalling select BIGS ® Original Salted & Roasted Sunflower Seeds because they may contain dairy ingredients that were not declared on the packaging.  The product is packaged in 5.35oz plastic bags with BEST BY Dates of 30MAY2011 and 31MAY2011 with an individual bag UPC code 896887002196.  People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to dairy run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products.

It was discovered that the sunflower seed packages at issue, as manufactured by BiGS, do not disclose the presence of dairy within them.  Ryt-Way goes on in their announcement to instruct consumers that are allergic to dairy how to handle this situation, should they be in possession of these recalled items:

Consumers who are allergic to dairy and who have purchased the recalled products are advised not to consume the product and are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund.  Consumers with questions may contact 1-877-722-7556

So, if you are allergic to dairy and/or have a sensitivity to dairy products, and love those sunflower seeds, please check your home for these recalled products.  As the weather gets warmer and we try to snack on “healthier” items to get that “younger figure back for summer”, don’t let this recall pass you by!

Infant Safety – drop-down crib hazard; CPSC issues recall

May 11, 2010

In February of this year, we reported on the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) commitment to crack-down on the defective crib issues that have resulted in multiple deaths of infants on our blog site.  A report just released by the CPSC, which involves a comprehensive review of crib-related fatalities since January 2000 revealed the tragic statistics:  32 deaths since January 2000 and hundreds of related instances related to drop-side detachments in cribs:

In addition to the 32 deaths the CPSC staff associated with the drop-side detachments, CPSC has received an additional 14 reports of infant fatalities due to entrapment in cribs that could be related to a drop side. The information obtained was insufficient for staff to conclusively determine whether or not the drop side was involved. Of the 32 deaths that were analyzed, some occurred in cribs where the drop side detached without caregivers noticing the detachment, while some other deaths occurred after a consumer tried to repair the detached drop side, but the repair ultimately failed.

As a result, the CSPC is issuing a voluntary recall of ALL drop-side cribs, effective June 1, 2010. There will be new improved mandatory standards for cribs as well.  The CPSC announcement also provides cautions regarding older cribs and reminds parents to not use cribs with broken, missing of loose parts.

Let’s hope these new standards save infants from injuries and death!

McNeil Consumer Healthcare Announces Voluntary Recall of Certain OTC Infants’ and Children’s Products

May 8, 2010

Last week, the FDA and McNeil Consumer Healthcare launched a massive voluntary recall of certain medications for infants and children.  There is a dedicated McNeil website that addresses the recalls.  In addition, the FDA has published a press release that has some of the important information regarding the recall

The following is some basic information concerning the recall, as published by McNeil under the Product Recall Information:

McNeil Consumer Healthcare is initiating this voluntary recall because some of these products may not meet required quality standards. This recall is not being undertaken on the basis of adverse medical events. However, as a precautionary measure, parents and caregivers should not administer these products to their children. Some of the products included in the recall may contain a higher concentration of active ingredient than is specified; others may contain inactive ingredients that may not meet internal testing requirements; and others may contain tiny particles. While the potential for serious medical events is remote, the company advises consumers who have purchased these recalled products to discontinue use.

The investigation into these products, which include, but are not limited to, Infants’ and Children’s Tylenol and Motrin (Please click here for a complete listing) is ongoing.  The Commissioner of Food and Drugs, Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, states:  “While the potential for serious health problems is remote, Americans deserve medications that are safe, effective and of the highest quality. We are investigating the products and facilities associated with this recall and will provide updates as we learn more.”

We will continue to monitor this massive recall.  Please immediately check your homes for the recalled products. We strongly recommend that you read and follow the FDA’s instructions.

Supreme Court closes its front doors to the public

May 8, 2010

Earlier this week, news broke from various media sources around the country, including The Washington Post, that the front doors of the United States Supreme Court would no longer be open to the public.  The Court, citing security concerns, stated that effective immediately, visitors will enter the historic building on the plaza level, which includes security checkpoints.

This decision,  like so many other decisions from the Court, includes dissenting opinions from more than one Justice.  A Washington Post article states:

The changes have been debated for years and came with a dissent from two justices who expressed  concern about altering the symbolic experience of visiting the 75-year-old building, designed by architect Cass Gilbert.

“The significance of the court’s front entrance extends beyond its design and function,” Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote in a statement joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “Writers and artists regularly use the steps to represent the ideal that anyone in this country may obtain meaningful justice through application to this Court. And the steps appear in countless photographs commemorating famous arguments or other moments of historical importance.

“In short, time has proven the success of Gilbert’s vision: To many members of the public, this court’s main entrance and front steps are not only a means to, but also a metaphor for, access to the court itself.”

Justice Breyer noted that he “knows of no other supreme court in the world that has closed its main entrance.”

I leave you with this to ponder….

Is it troubling to you that we are now barred from walking through the majestic doors of the highest court of this great country, where the above inscription reads “Equal Justice Under Law”?