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Baltimore Motor Vehicle Accidents Law Blog

Drunk driving might be stopped with a new technology

New technology that was introduced at a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conference could help to put an end to drunk driving. The technology would be available as a safety option in new vehicles. It would measure a driver's blood alcohol concentration using either an infrared light or a breath test. Either method would take less than one second to complete, which wouldn't slow down sober Maryland drivers.

The technologies aren't ready for the production line yet. The method of operation still has to be finalized. The main principle of the technology is that if the driver's BAC is at .08 percent or above, the vehicle won't move. That fact alone is said to be able to save 7,000 lives each year, according to an estimate by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Speeding is major cause of car accidents

At one time or another, many Maryland motorists have driven over the posted speed limit, whether they were traveling on city streets, freeways or rural roads. Before they do so again, however, they should consider the consequences, the least of which is a traffic ticket on their driving record.

Speeding is a leading cause of car accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says speeding carries an economic price tag of $40.4 billion annually. In 2012, speeding was a factor in 30 percent of fatal car accidents, killing 10,219 people, a 2 percent increase from 2010. According to the federal agency, a car accident is considered speed-related if the driver was cited for speeding by exceeding the posted limits, or by driving too fast for road conditions or racing other vehicles.

Poor communication and record-keeping in surgical errors

Maryland residents may be interested in an article in the journal "JAMA Surgery" that examined major surgical errors in American hospitals. Called "never events" because they are never supposed to occur, these incidents happen in rare circumstances. The researchers in this study looked at surgical fires, wrong-site surgery and the incidence of objects such as sponges being left in a patient after surgery.

The review was conducted by researchers at the Evidence-based Practice Center of the RAND Corporation and involved 138 studies from 2004 to 2014. One difficulty researchers encountered was with inconsistent reporting methods. For example, state reporting records and eye doctor claims put the incidence of wrong-site surgery at .5 in 10,000 procedures. However, surveying eye doctors counted 4 out of 10,000. In addition, insufficient data meant that researchers were unable to track surgery fires. Overall, wrong site surgery occurred in about 1 out of 100,000 operations while objects left behind happened in about 1 out of every 10,000.

Patients and human behavior-related surgical errors

Maryland surgical patients may take interest in a Mayo Clinic research study that examined the causes of 'never events," a term that is used to describe surgical mistakes that should never happen. Among 1.5 million invasive procedures performed over a five-year span at the Minnesota clinic, 69 never events were identified. Researchers determined that these never events were caused by 628 distinct human factors and that roughly four to nine human factors contributed to each surgical error.

The 69 never events occurred involved wrong site and wrong body side errors as well as implanting the wrong device and leaving a foreign object inside the patient's body. Nearly two-thirds of the never events observed during the study occurred during minor procedures such as endoscopies and line placements. Even highly-trained medical teams were capable of making serious medical errors.

Improper antibiotic use is far too prevalent

Maryland patients should be aware of a 2015 study's findings that misdiagnosis commonly leads to improper antibiotic treatment. Incorrect antibiotic use can cause harm to patients by reducing the effectiveness of the drugs in future treatment and raising health care costs. Approximately 56 percent of inpatient hospital treatment involves the use of antibiotic therapies, but such treatment is found to be unnecessary in nearly half of those cases, according to the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.

An internist for the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Health Care System was part of a research group that examined 500 patients. They found that 95 percent of patients who received an incorrect or indeterminate diagnosis received inappropriate antibiotic treatment. Even 38 percent of patients who received a correct diagnosis received incorrect antibiotic treatment. The findings of the study suggest that antibiotic oversight programs would benefit from a redesign to help prioritize correct initial diagnoses.

Conductor sues Amtrak after train accident

Most Maryland residents have no doubt heard about the Amtrak crash in Philadelphia that occurred on May 12. The derailment resulted in eight people being killed and more than 200 people suffering injuries. Lawsuits are now starting to be filed by some victims, including one on May 19 by an Amtrak conductor who received severe injuries and who remains in critical condition.

The 33-year-old employee is alleging negligence on Amtrak's part, and he is reportedly asking for unspecified damages. The man was taking a break from his duties in the first car when the accident occurred, and he reported that the train suddenly moved forward before crashing. The conductor suffered two broken shoulders and a broken neck and back and is one of several people still in critical condition after the crash.

Misdiagnosis may lead to death

Maryland residents likely know that when physicians do not provide appropriate care, the patient might suffer consequences. There are reasons this happens, including giving a patient the wrong medication, not providing the proper treatment or not telling the patient risks associated with medication or procedures. More than one-half of malpractice cases involve misdiagnosis, and the most common conditions are heart conditions and cancer. Up to 48 percent of such cases end in death.

A failure to diagnose a cardiac condition may have serious consequences. In addition, signs and symptoms of cardiac problems may be present before a myocardial infarction happens. If they are not recognized, a serious MI may result.

Improving car roof standards may save lives in Maryland

According to the NHTSA, roughly 600 people are killed each year and 900 are injured due to collapsing car roofs after a rollover. However, regulations regarding the stability of car roofs had not been updated since they originally went into effect in 1973. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 216 required a vehicle's roof to be able to withstand a force equal to 1.5 times it weight up to 5,000 pounds without moving more than five inches.

In 2009, crash test rules were updated to include all passenger vehicles up to 10,000 pounds. Vehicles weighing less than 6,000 pounds now have to be able to withstand a force of up to three times its weight without bending far enough to touch an average male passenger's head. Vehicles that weigh between 6,000 and 10,000 pounds only have to withstand a force of up to 1.5 times its weight.

Induced labor prevents large baby birth injuries

A European study looked at inducing labor for babies that pre-birth had been determined to be large. The study, which may interest Maryland readers, looked at the possibility of inducing labor in order to reduce the occurrences of shoulder dystocia. This birthing complication happens when the head of the baby has progressed down the birth canal but one or both of the shoulders get stuck behind the mother's pelvic bone. Shoulder dystocia is a complication in 1 percent of normal-weight births but has a 10 percent occurrence in larger babies.

With shoulder dystocia, the baby could endure fractures, nerve damage or suffocation. Inducing labor also has risks. A baby delivered before 39 weeks gestation may have breathing and other health complications. Researchers believed that the risks of shoulder dystocia were greater to the large babies than the risks brought on by inducing labor prior to 39 weeks. The conclusion from the study was that one occurrence of shoulder dystocia was prevented for every 25 cases where labor was induced.

Car accident statistics

Everyday, car accidents in Maryland and around the country result in deaths, serious injuries and property damage. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Vital Signs report that was released in October 2014, almost 7,000 people go to the emergency room everyday in the United States because of motor vehicle accidents. The majority of car accident victims are people over 80 years old, teens and young adults.

The CDC says that traffic accidents are the leading cause of injury in the U.S., and these accidents are also responsible for causing a lot of fatalities The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that there were over 33,000 deaths in 2012 that were caused by vehicle collisions.

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