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Toms River, New Jersey, Personal Injury Blog

Health care is one of the nation's leading killers

Preventable mistakes made by doctors and hospitals kill as many as 440,000 people each year in New Jersey and around the country, which makes health care the third most common cause of death in the United States. A recent report from the World Health Organization suggests that visiting a doctor or being admitted to a hospital is just as perilous in other countries. WHO researchers assessed the quality of the health care services available in 36 nations, and they concluded that about 40% of the patients treated in hospitals and as outpatients each year suffer harm at the hands of their doctors and nurses.

The WHO Patient Safety Fact File contains a worrying number of sobering statistics. The report suggests that about 50% of medical mistakes are preventable, and about one in three of them results in the patient's death. These figures are backed up by autopsy findings in the United States revealing that about 10% of the patients who die each year were either misdiagnosed or received their diagnosis late.

Neck injuries: Get support if you're suffering from whiplash

When you were driving home, you were suddenly involved in a car crash. You hadn't expected it, because traffic was light, but you ended up going off the road and into a ditch. The first thing you noticed was that your neck was sore, but you felt like things could be worse.

It wasn't until you developed severe headaches the following day that you realized you were hurt. After a medical exam, you were diagnosed with an acute case of whiplash.

WHO formally defines burnout as a diagnosable condition

Burnout is something that many workers in New Jersey suffer from without even knowing it. Now, however, the World Health Organization has formally defined the condition as something diagnosable. Within its occupational context, burnout is a syndrome caused by work-related stress and characterized by exhaustion, an increasing mental distance from one's job and a reduced ability to carry out that job in a professional manner.

Burnt-out workers usually have low morale, feel anxiety, hold negative or cynical thoughts about their job, become irritable and have trouble concentrating on their work. This last symptom may lead to accidents on the job as burnt-out workers are known to drive poorly and misuse heavy machinery. They may also take to using drugs and alcohol. In extreme cases, they may fight with fellow employees.

Reducing distracted driving using artificial intelligence

Drivers in New Jersey are likely interested in learning about efforts that are being made to improve distracted driving. Unfortunately, about nine deaths in the United States are related to individuals being distracted while behind the wheel. Many feel that it is good news to know that Advanced Driver Assistance Systems will have to be included in all new vehicles by the end of 2020 in the United States and Europe, including forward collision warning systems and autonomous emergency braking systems.

Most people know that driving while distracted is dangerous. However, changing the radio station, sending text messages, playing with pets, eating while driving and experiencing other distractions cost society in the United States around $40 million every year. One study from 2016 revealed that about 50% of drivers admitted to reading text messages, sending text messages or using their phone to look at social media while driving.

Alzheimer's misdiagnosis common among dementia patients

Alzheimer's disease has become nearly synonymous with dementia, but memory loss among older adults can arise for different reasons. Multiple forms of dementia exist, and a recent study explored the connection between traumatic brain injuries and memory disruption among the elderly. The researchers noted that the correct identification of the source of memory loss was crucial for providing appropriate care for memory patients in New Jersey and elsewhere. They estimated that roughly 21% of Alzheimer's patients had been misdiagnosed.

The university researchers evaluated MRI scans of 40 older adults who had experienced traumatic brain injuries and later lost memory function. Their study of the scans determined that TBI most often damaged the ventral diencephalon, where the brain manages learning and emotions. In Alzheimer's patients, their hippocampus usually suffers the most damage. That brain region controls memory and emotions.

Risks patients may face outside of hospitals

According to a report published by the ECRI Institute, patients in New Jersey and elsewhere are more likely to seek medical interventions in ambulatory care facilities. However, there may be risks for those who choose to seek care in a doctor's office or outpatient center instead of at a hospital. One of those risks is diagnostic testing errors, which may make it harder for a patient to get treatment in a timely manner.

Medication errors were one of the common reasons for medical malpractice lawsuits, and a study found that 42% of cases involved those who worked at ambulatory care locations. Common errors included giving medication to the wrong patient as well as failing to monitor a patient. Those who work in the health care field may face an elevated risk of workplace violence. In some cases, this means dealing with verbal abuse from patients or those who accompany a patient to an appointment.

How going back to work impacts worker's compensation benefits

New Jersey workers or others who are hurt on the job may be entitled to medical and other benefits. Generally speaking, employees will have to initially seek care from a company doctor. However, they can usually seek the care of their own doctor 30 days after submitting a written request. In some cases, individuals who are seeking treatment for a workplace injury can get reimbursed for the miles driven to and from a medical facility.

Workers could be entitled to take part in a job training program as part of a workers' compensation package. This would enable them to learn new skills that can help them find work despite their injuries. Alternatively, an employer may allow an individual to work on a part-time basis or with other modifications. Depending on how much a person makes after going back to work, it may be possible to receive workers' compensation benefits and a paycheck simultaneously.

Improper medical supervision and the risks of a new medication

In many ways, modern medicine is a study of averages. The physiology and chemistry of each human being are unique, but doctors simply can't establish thorough knowledge of each patient's unique body chemistry and anatomical quirks. Instead, doctors rely on knowledge of standard anatomy and physiology and apply that information to the patients they see.

Unfortunately, both basic anatomy research and modern medical research often focus on certain populations more than others. For example, women are often underrepresented in medical testing and drug trials because of the potential for pregnancy. That could mean that physicians and those who make medications aren't fully aware of the risks that a medication poses to a woman who starts to take it.

Automobile fatalities experienced a two-year drop

New Jersey residents may be pleased to learn that according to a government road safety agency, traffic deaths in the United States fell slightly for the second year in a row. The NHTSA reported a 2.4% drop in fatalities, which has been linked in part to new technology and vehicles designed to prevent crashes.

According to the most recent statistics, 36,560 people died in 2018 in automobile accidents. The first half estimates of 2019 show that fatalities are following a downward trend as they are approximately 3.4% lower than they were at the same time the previous year. This is exciting news. Still, government officials cautioned that there are too many preventable automobile accidents on the road; in their opinion, more work needs to be done in order to make the roads safer for all.

Most new pickups fail to protect passengers in crashes

Thanks to advances in vehicle safety technology, New Jersey pickup truck drivers are less likely to be injured in a crash than ever before. However, a recent study finds that truck passengers aren't as lucky.

Researchers at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety discovered that most 2018 two-row pickup trucks don't perform well during front-right corner collisions, and this puts passengers at risk. According to the study, the Toyota Tundra does the worst job of protecting passengers, earning the vehicle a "poor" rating from the institute. Meanwhile, the Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, GMC Sierra 1500 and Nissan Frontier scored "marginal" ratings for their collision performance, and the Honda Ridgeline and Toyota Tacoma received "acceptable" ratings. Finally, the Ford F-150, Ram 1500 and Nissan Titan received "good" ratings. Almost all the pickups got "good" ratings for protecting drivers in a crash. However, the Tundra and Frontier only received "marginal" scores.

Contact R.C. Shea & Associates, Counsellors At Law

Call our Toms River office at 732-505-1212, our Manchester office at 732-408-WILL (9455), our Brick office at 732-451-0800, or call us toll free at 800-556-SHEA (7432). You can also contact our firm online.

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R.C. Shea & Associates, Counsellors at Law
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