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The dangers faced by America's nurses

New York residents may be shocked to learn that more than 12 percent of U.S. emergency room nurses are threatened with physical violence during an average work week, and medical professionals who work in mental health facilities encounter such threats far too frequently as well. While most of the injuries that occur in hospitals and clinics are caused by falls, mishaps or overexertion rather than acts of physical violence, the threats faced by nurses serve as a reminder that health care remains one of America's most hazardous occupations.

Safety advocates are taking the problem seriously because health care is the country's fastest growing industry and employs more than 18 million people around the country. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration put the number of work-related hospital accidents and injuries in 2011 at 253,000, and nurses are injured in workplace accidents at a higher rate than even construction workers.

Routine cosmetic surgery leaves patient with brain damage

New York residents who are thinking about having some sort of cosmetic procedure performed may be wise to conduct thorough research before choosing a plastic surgeon or medical facility. While errors during these elective procedures may be relatively rare, they can cause catastrophic injuries or even death when they do occur. One such case involved an 18-year-old Florida woman who was left with severe brain damage after cosmetic surgeons botched a routine breast augmentation procedure in 2013.

The woman's blood pressure and pulse dropped suddenly as surgeons prepared to go to work, and their efforts to resuscitate their patient were unsuccessful. She soon became unresponsive and slipped into a coma that lasted for two weeks. Her condition has only improved slightly in the three years since the operation, and her mother says that she is still unable to stand for more than a few seconds and speaks only a handful of words.

How to prevent medical errors

New York residents who need medical care may have heard about a study published in a medical journal that posits that medical error is one of the leading causes of death throughout the country. However, a patient can take precautions to help prevent those errors.

People can research their doctors. This can include making sure the doctor is board-certified and has a good academic and professional background. Surgeons should be experienced with the procedure they are doing. People should also not hesitate to discuss the reasons for their treatment plan with a doctor. Doctors should be able to back up their opinions with clinical data.

Insurance data reveals top causes of workplace accidents

Every day in New York, people go to work and place themselves in situations that sometimes lead to accidents and injuries. In the interest of identifying common sources of workplace injuries, the nation's largest workers' compensation provider, Travelers Companies Inc., analyzed workers' compensation claims that had been submitted between 2010 and 2014.

This review of over 1.5 million incidents produced insights about when injuries happen. The handling of materials, usually within the manufacturing and retail sectors, topped the list. Claims by injured workers fell into this category 32 percent of the time. Slips, trips and falls created the second most common injury source at 16 percent of claims. About 10 percent of claims involved a person being struck by an object or colliding with one, which was the third most common source of injury.

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.

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