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New City Personal Injury Law Blog

Poor information processing is a source of medical errors

New York patients could miss important treatment opportunities when doctors fail to make accurate diagnoses. A medical crisis often starts with a visit to an emergency room, and a study has explored the class of medical mistakes known as cognitive errors. These involve the faulty processing of information by doctors when making diagnostic decisions. The study looked at repeat emergency room visits during an eight-month period at a public teaching hospital.

Of the 52 confirmed cases of errors that caused patients to return to the emergency room within 72 hours of their first visits, 45 percent arose from faulty information processing. Another 31 percent of mistakes happened because doctors did not verify diagnoses correctly. Errors when gathering patient information accounted for 18 percent of cognitive errors, and poor medical knowledge caused 6 percent of problems.

Not just millennials who drive distracted

Drivers in New York, whatever generation they belong to, are as prone to distracted driving as drivers elsewhere. Volvo recently teamed up with the Harris Poll to study distracted driving among all generations of drivers in the U.S. There were 2,000 participants, and they spanned from the Silent Generation and baby boomers to Gen Xers, millennials and Generation Z, which encompasses those born between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s.

Millennials and Gen Xers were the most prone to phone use behind the wheel: 81 percent admitted to it. This was followed by 71 percent of Gen Z, 64 percent of baby boomers and 50 percent among the Silent Generation. Specifically, 60 percent admitted to texting, 35 percent to reading emails, 25 percent to surfing the web and 20 percent to posting on social media.

New tool could eliminate surgical 'never events'

A startup called SafeStart Medical wants to use cloud technology to make sure that New York patients aren't victims of surgical mistakes. The startup's app, which is compliant with HIPPA laws, involves the patient throughout the treatment process. Both patients and physicians review photos, consent forms and other relevant information prior to a surgical procedure taking place. SafeStart Medical's founder says that about 8,000 to 10,000 patients a year are impacted by what are referred to as "never events."

These events include the wrong body part being operated on or receiving the wrong organ. However, with this new tool, the goal is to completely eradicate such events from happening. It is thought that about half of these errors are the result of poor communication. Although the service is not yet available to paying customers, it will be offered as a subscription with the cost based on the size of the health care provider.

OSHA's safety guidelines for tree care workers

In New York, as elsewhere, the tree care industry is one of the most hazardous. According to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, landscape service workers make up 3.5 percent of all workplace fatalities despite composing less than 1 percent of the nation's workforce. Approximately 75 percent of these fatalities are related to tree trimming or removal with the three leading causes of death being falls, struck-by incidents and electrical accidents.

While the Tree Care Industry Association has been petitioning OSHA for a federal tree care standard since 2006, none is forthcoming. However, OSHA's Spring 2018 regulatory agenda does call for a panel on potential tree care rules by April 2019. OSHA has always held the tree care industry to various other federal standards. Its safety recommendations are summarized below.

Important rules for the safe handling of chemicals

New York businesses that work with hazardous chemicals will want to pay close attention to several safety rules. The first rule is for workers to perform all their duties according to established practices. Second of all, workers should be trained to anticipate all potential dangers while working.

Employers will want to have emergency procedures for dealing with fires and spills, evacuating workers, treating injuries and reporting incidents. For the most part, they are also required to give workers the appropriate personal protective equipment, such as gloves and respirators. To prevent contamination from chemicals, employees should be required to wash all work-related surfaces at least once during their shifts.

Important safety guidelines for workers near heavy machinery

Many workplaces in New York include machines of some type. Even small equipment has the potential to injure people, but heavy machinery often presents the greatest dangers of serious injury or death. Employers have a responsibility to evaluate hazards at work, take protective measures and train workers properly.

Most types of equipment include guard devices that prevent workers from touching moving parts or encountering flying debris and sparks. Employees need access to appropriate protective gear, and they need to always wear it when they are near heavy equipment.

How homeowners can improve pool safety

The CDC estimates that there are 7.4 million swimming pools in residential and public use in the U.S. Homeowners in New York will want to consider the following three safety tips if they own a pool. Though more than 3,500 non-boating drowning accidents occur each year in this country, drowning is not the only concern to watch out for.

First, homeowners should secure the pool perimeter with a climb-resistant fence and an alarm. The fence should be at least 4 feet high, and the vertical slats should be spaced no more than 4 inches apart. The gate should be a self-closing gate, and the latch should be above the reach of small children. Homeowners should be aware that they are protecting their pools against trespassing children too, not just their own.

More people dying from asbestos exposure than previously thought

A recent study from the International Commission of Occupational Health, or ICOH, indicates that more people have died from asbestos exposure in New York and around the world than previously reported. The Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health published the study.

ICOH reports that asbestos killed 222,321 people worldwide in 2016. Of those deaths, 39,275 took place in the United States. These numbers are more than twice the estimates issued by multiple government and nongovernment agencies. The study points out that asbestos exposure can lead to a long list of serious health conditions. Mesothelioma is the most well-known asbestos-related disease, but it isn't the most common one. Lung cancer was actually the most common result of asbestos exposure in 2016, causing 34,270 deaths across the U.S. Mesothelioma was the second most common cause, accounting for 3,161 deaths in 2016. Ovarian cancer, asbestosis and laryngeal cancer rounded out the top five, accounting for 787, 613 and 443 deaths respectively.

Transportation accidents and crime top sources of worker deaths

New York workers whose jobs involve transportation face a heightened risk of death and injury while at work. Data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics from the 2016 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries revealed the most dangerous occupations nationwide and the sources of danger. In 2016, transportation-related accidents were the top cause of fatal incidents across industries and accounted for 40 percent of workplace deaths. During that year, 632 truck drivers, 116 farmers and 62 landscapers had deaths attributed to transportation.

Workplace violence emerged as the second leading cause of death, exceeding even slips, trips and falls. A professor of criminology explained that killing sprees by disgruntled employees did not end as many lives as crimes like robberies and assaults by customers.

Distracted driving in summer the subject of Travelers symposium

On June 15, the Travelers Institute, the public policy division of Travelers Insurance, held an Every Second Matters™ symposium on Capitol Hill. Its subject, distracted driving, is one that should be of interest to any New York residents who are thinking about taking a road trip this summer.

One important finding that Travelers has brought to the public's attention is how distracted driving becomes more common in summer. It referred to the conclusion of a recent study made by TrueMotion based on sensor data gathered from its free mobile app, TrueMotion Family.

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