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New City Personal Injury Law Blog

STAR robot performs surgery as doctors observe

In March 2016, a research team reported the first successful instance of a robot performing a delicate surgical procedure better than humans could. In the experiment, which researchers claimed was a prelude to potential clinical trials, the robot, known as STAR, or Smart-Tissue Autonomous Robot, was able to suture together a pig's bowel during an open surgery. Although STAR's lead researcher said the technology still has flaws that need ironing out, he envisions a world where robotic surgeons are commonplace in New York and other states.

The procedure involved the manipulation of soft tissues, so the researchers said the test also demonstrated their ability to effectively represent and track malleable flesh. In the past, robots have performed well with hard tissue due to its stability, but STAR's robot arm was able to use modeling data in conjunction with imaging tools and pressure sensors to determine exactly where to stitch.

Self-driving cars and the insurance industry

In the future, people in New York who own self-driving cars may have different auto insurance plans than the ones that exist today. The technology companies that are developing these cars say that they will be much safer than cars driven by humans, but the insurance industry is unlikely to go away. Instead, it may change just as self-driving cars may change other industries.

The auto insurance industry might end up working closely with technology companies to develop standards. Another alternative is that technology companies may offer their own insurance. However, this might lead to car owners having less freedom. Cars could be programmed to avoid neighborhoods the company has deemed dangerous.

Medical errors a leading cause of death

New York residents may be dismayed when they learn that in the United States, medical error is the third-largest cause of deaths, although the number is not counted among the national statistics that determine priorities for funding research. Statistically, third place is held by chronic lower respiratory disease with only cancer and heart disease more likely culprits. The reason is that there is no billing code for medical error. As a result, such errors are attributed to other causes.

A study published in a medical journal found that more than 250,000 people die each year as a result of medical error, although some observers believe that the number is far higher. The study was conducted by researchers at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine who examined studies of death rate data.

How to deal with hydrocarbon spills

Some New York employers as well as their workers may grapple with a solution for containing hydrocarbon spills in a safe and environmentally sustainable way. Outdoor equipment tends to create drips and leaks that can create a slip and fall hazard, and some work sites find that they have no good way of dealing with them. One solution is to use buckets to collect the spillage, but this requires monitoring and disposal. Those same buckets also collect precipitation, and when they spill over, the hydrocarbons that have risen to the top create another fall danger as well as being toxic to the environment.

A better solution is absorbent pads. These can be placed quickly and are safe for workers to walk on, but they can be a problem if precipitation is heavy because they quickly become saturated and need changes. They are also prone to blow away in windy conditions.

Mistakes frequently made in hospitals

Most New Yorkers who are admitted to a hospital assume that they will get better thanks to the treatment they will receive. However, for a large number of patients, a stay in the hospital results in worsening or additional medical problems. Things like surgical errors and being given the wrong medication or an incorrect dosage of the right medication can have a negative impact on someone's health.

Data shows that medical mistakes made in hospitals are the third leading cause of death in the country, trailing only heart disease and cancer. Along with surgical and medication issues, people may also be harmed due to a fall or develop an infection while in the hospital. Individuals may also end up having to return to a hospital if they are discharged too early or if they were not given complete instructions for their care when they were discharged.

New AI technology may detect heart disease early

New York residents may eventually have their heart disease diagnosed long before any dangerous events such as heart attacks take place. Researchers have been using electronic medical records, GPUs and artificial intelligence to predict heart failure up to nine months earlier than doctors are able to do so.

Approximately 6 million Americans have heart failure annually. Earlier detection would mean that doctors could prescribe medicine or suggest lifestyle changes that could delay or prevent the disease.

High rates of TBIs for construction workers

Construction workers in New York and throughout the country continue to suffer from high rates of fatal traumatic brain injuries compared to other occupations, according to a study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The report, which was published in the "American Journal of Industrial Medicine," also found that between 2003 and 2010, 25 percent of construction fatalities were due to traumatic brain injury representing a total of more than 2,200 workers. This was the highest of any other type of U.S. workplace.

More than 50 percent of traumatic injuries happened due to falls during the period studied. Many were falls from heights including scaffolds and ladders. Workers 65 and older were at the greatest risk, and their fatal traumatic brain injury rate was four times higher than that of workers ages 25 to 34. Larger companies appeared to be safer than smaller ones, and companies that had fewer than 20 employees reported more than twice as many fatal brain injuries than those with more than 100 employees.

Workers with sleep apnea more likely to be injured on job

Workers who suffer from sleep apnea could be more prone to being injured on the job, according to a study by researchers in British Columbia. As a result of their findings, they believe workers in high-risk jobs in New York and elsewhere should be tested for the sleep disorder as a safety precaution.

People with sleep apnea wake from sleep repeatedly as they gasp for breath or snore due to a blockage of their airway, often leaving them feeling fatigued during the day. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, around 22 million Americans have the disorder, but the majority are unaware of it.

Failure of electronic record systems linked to doctor error

The government-backed movement toward electronic medical records and the adoption of other advances in information technology in hospitals, doctor's offices and health care facilities in New York and around the country might not be proceeding as smoothly as had been expected. Reports are now surfacing about wrong-site surgery and, in some cases, fatal medical error incidents occurring because of electronic health record systems being down.

A news report about doctors and hospital officials denying responsibility and shying away from offering apologies to patients who were victims of a doctor error or a surgical error has drawn attention to a little-known cause of medical malpractice. According to the report, medical mistakes have been attributed to the inability of doctors to access electronic patient records at critical stages during treatment. It is claimed that a surgical error occurred in the case of one patient when doctors did not have access to electronically stored X-rays when the system went down during a procedure.

Automatic braking system ahead for drivers

By 2022, New York car buyers should be able to purchase one with an automatic braking system installed. This is the result of an agreement entered into by manufacturers of nearly all light vehicles sold in the United States and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to have such technology be standard equipment. One former administrator of the NHTSA says that the agreement is unsatisfactory and there should be legally binding rules in place instead, but the current administrator says that those rules would take eight years or longer to implement.

Automakers including Toyota, Ford and General Motors are part of the agreement that experts agree will save lives and cut down on as many as 1 million accidents each year. With around 5 million accidents annually, this is a reduction of 20 percent.

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