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Baltimore Motor Vehicle Accidents Law Blog

Testing for mitochondrial disease

As Maryland residents may be aware, a physician's diagnosis of a physical ailment may lead to more prompt and appropriate treatment and a better result when detected early. Some medical problems are caused as a result of a defect in the patient's DNA and may be harder to detect without the use of special testing. One involves the disease, mitochondrial myopathy, which is caused by a mutation in the individual's DNA. The mitochondria is an important part of DNA, since this is where energy is stored by the body.

One common mitochondrial diseases, MELAS, is neurodegenerative and progressive, affecting the musculature and nervous system. It may result in headaches, muscle pain and weakness and intolerance to exercise, among other symptoms. Patients who are severely affected may experience episodes that appear similar to strokes, and these episodes may begin before age 40.

Fetal monitoring in Maryland

Electronic fetal monitoring (EFM) first appeared in hospitals in the 1970s, and by the early '1980s, close to 50 percent of births were managed with the technology. Before its use, physicians and midwives in Maryland and elsewhere depended on the intermittent use of fetoscopes, an adaptation of the more commonly used stethoscope, to check on the status of unborn children during the perinatal period. With only occasional checks, some incidents of fetal distress went unnoticed during stretches of labor, and a few of the infants suffered brain damage and subsequently conditions such as cerebral palsy.

Today, at least 85 percent of laboring women in hospitals are monitored upon admission and intermittently until delivery. Since EFM's widespread use over the last few decades, health professionals have been able to ascertain useful information by comparing fluctuating heart rate patterns as they relate to uterine contractions. Specially trained doctors and nurses are usually able to determine whether heart rate drops are due to placental insufficiency, cord compression or a normal response to head compression.

Accident leaves 2 dead, 1 seriously injured

Police say that a 35-year-old man and a 22-year-old man were killed in an accident that took place on Interstate 70 near Hancock in Maryland. The crash occurred around 2:30 a.m. on Aug. 4 when a tractor-trailer collided with a passenger car. Police say that the trailer was going east when it hit the car, which was traveling westbound in the eastbound lanes.

After colliding with the car, the truck then hit a bridge abutment. The driver of the tractor-trailer was the older male victim, while the younger male victim was a passenger in the car. Authorities say that the 57-year-old female driver of the car was seriously injured. She was the mother of the passenger who died in the crash. She was taken to Shock Trauma in Baltimore for treatment. The eastbound lanes had to be closed for almost 12 hours.

Recording surgeries in Maryland

An innovative device that has been designed to record surgeries has been developed by researchers at a Canadian university. The purpose of the technology is to collect specific data during procedures in an effort to identify errors so that operative teams can observe what actions precipitate mistakes and modify their methods in order to prevent future mishaps. The recordings could also be useful as evidence in medical malpractice cases in courtrooms in Maryland and around the country.

Legislation has been introduced that would give patients an opportunity to choose whether or not they would like to have their surgeries recorded. The option would generally be selected when patients delineate their specific wishes while drawing up their advance directives. Bills in Wisconsin and New York that seek to put recording equipment in surgical suites are currently under consideration in light of two women's deaths that were caused by overdoses of anesthesia during the preoperative period.

U.S. birth-related deaths are on the rise

Death during childbirth is unusually common in the United States compared to the rate in other developed nations, making it a serious concern for expectant Maryland mothers. Once common, the problem declined greatly in the 20th century thanks to advances in modern medicine. In the last 25 years, however, the number has been rising in the United States.

The rate of women who die due to childbirth has risen from less than 8 deaths per 100,000 births in 1987 to nearly 19 in 2013. From 2003 to 2013, the United States was one of only eight nations to see its rate of deaths due to birth-related complications rise. One theory about why this is happening is that the maternal death count is more accurate now than it once was. States have changed their coding systems for death causes over the years, but this does not fully explain why the number of birth-related deaths continue to rise.

Some health conditions prone to misdiagnosis

Patients who are sick expect their doctors to make an accurate diagnosis and provide appropriate treatment without multiple office visits and repetitive tests. However, physicians in Maryland and across the country are not always able to make a quick diagnosis, and if they do, the diagnosis is sometimes incorrect.

Thyroid imbalance is one of the most misdiagnosed of all conditions. Every part of the body is affected by hormones from the thyroid, leading to a thyroid imbalance being misdiagnosed for a number of conditions. Lupus, an autoimmune disease, is often misdiagnosed as seborrheic dermatitis because of the skin rash caused by both conditions. Lyme disease has a variety of symptoms, including a rash, hives and joint pain. The uncertainty of symptoms can lead to misdiagnosis unless a specific blood test is performed.

Lyme disease misdiagnosis is common and costly

Lyme disease cases have shown up in Maryland and everywhere else in the United States. A recent survey found a significant rate of misdiagnosis of patients with Lyme disease because physicians believe that it can only be contracted in certain geographical areas. Also contributing to the high rate of misdiagnosis are lab tests, which were shown to produce a false negative result in half the cases surveyed.

As with many other illnesses, a misdiagnosis of Lyme disease can result in negative health outcomes in at least two ways. First, the individual who is not diagnosed correctly does not receive the proper early treatment. Second, a patient who is erroneously diagnosed with another condition may be prescribed medication incorrectly. Both of these occurrences can lead to disabilities which might otherwise be avoided with a accurate early diagnosis.

Teen drivers cause more fatal car crashes

While individuals under the age of 21 make up approximately 10 percent of all licensed drivers in Maryland and across the United States, they cause a disproportionate number of fatal crashes. These accidents, which often involve drunk driving and distracted driving, are due in large part to teen-specific behaviors. For example, experts believe many young drivers have an invincibility complex that leads them to engage in dangerous activities.

According to national statistics, drivers under the age of 21 are responsible for around 17 percent of all fatal alcohol-related crashes. Unfortunately, while many states have strict drunk driving laws for underage drivers, the laws have done little to curb the problem. Each year, approximately 2,000 underage drinkers are killed in car accidents. About one-third of teen auto accidents involve alcohol.

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.

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