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New City Personal Injury Law Blog

OSHA focuses on trenching and excavation safety

New York construction workers face an array of job hazards. They often work in incomplete structures or deal with heavy machinery. Given the type of work that these employees do, workplace accidents can be serious and even deadly. Trenching and excavation projects are particularly risky. Between 2011 and 2016, 130 workers were killed on the job while working on these types of projects. Even more concerning, a full 49 percent of these deaths happened between 2015 and 2016 alone.

As a result, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has announced a national priority program for inspections, education and enforcement related to workplace safety in trenching and excavation. Private construction firms accounted for 80 percent of the fatalities recorded between 2011 and 2016. Of these, 40 workers lost their lives at industrial sites, 39 at private homes and 21 more on highways and other roads. OSHA enforcement has already levied hefty fines on construction companies over safety violations. Earlier this year, it fined one company over $400,000 for violations linked to trench cave-ins.

Apartment floor collapse at party leads to injuries

Some New York residents might have heard about a floor collapse that happened at a party in South Carolina. The incident occurred in the early morning hours of Oct. 21. Partygoers at a clubhouse were dancing when the floor gave way and they fell into the basement below. Police said ambulances went to the scene after a call was received about the collapse around 12:30 a.m.

The collapse happened at an apartment complex near Clemson University. A group had rented the clubhouse there. According to the property manager, the structures had been built in 2004 and 2005. He was unable to say whether only a limited number of people were supposed to be in the clubhouse. No one suffered life-threatening injuries or was trapped in the accident. However, 30 people went to the hospital.

UFC brawl sparks questions about liability

New York mixed martial arts fans may wonder about the implications of the brawl that broke out after the Ultimate Fighting Championship match 229, which brought together Irish fighter Conor McGregor and Russian fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov. Both MMA fighters as well as their supporters, coaches and trainers were involved in the ruckus that followed the bout, in which Nurmagomedov defeated McGregor. Fans may be most curious about what steps they could take if they were seriously injured while watching live sports.

Someone injured in the UFC brawl could potentially sue those involved for money damages to compensate for their medical bills, lost wages and other costs. They could sue for battery, as they were assaulted without consent, or intentional infliction of emotional distress. While the latter cause of action is less common, the extreme behavior that followed the fight could rise to the level required. In addition to suing the actual perpetrators, however, an injured fan could sue the arena and any businesses involved in the organization and security of the event.

2017 NHTSA figures show fewer fatalities except for trucks

New York drivers may be less likely to have fatal accidents on rural than urban roads, and fatal accidents are down overall across the country compared to 2015 and 2016. However, truck drivers could be at a greater accident risk than drivers of other types of vehicles.

On Oct. 3, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released information from its Fatality Analysis Reporting System. After a climb in fatalities in 2015 and 2016, they dropped in 2017, and appear to be continuing that trend in the first half of 2018. This was true for all vehicle types except SUVs, tractor-trailers and large straight trucks, which all showed increases. This was particularly significant for tractor-trailers, which showed nearly a 6 percent increase, and large straight trucks, which increased more than 18 percent.

How to avoid slip-and-fall injuries

All New Yorkers should know about the various slip-and-fall hazards and how to work around them. That way, they can avoid accidents. Slip and falls occur most frequently from December to February when slippery ice is more prevalent. However, other common causes include liquids or grease on the floor, unsafe use of scaffolding or ladders and poorly lit stairs. Most falls are from the same level.

Even falling from a couple feet can result in major injuries. Slip-and-fall injuries can include sprains and strain, bruises and contusions and broken bones and concussions. By following a few tips, however, people can reduce slip-and-fall risks.

About ovarian cancer

Annually, over 250,000 women in the world receive a diagnosis of ovarian cancer, and 140,000 deaths result from the disease. Women in New York should take care to avoid mistaking the early indications of ovarian cancer for less serious medical issues. Doing so can lower the chances that treatment will be successful.

It is very important that women do not ignore the symptoms of ovarian cancer. If they are experiencing stomach pains, weight gain, shortness of breath, an increase in indigestion, urination, or nausea, bloating and back pain that last for over a week, it is important that they speak with their physician and have their ovaries examined. Women should also be aware that Pap smears are not helpful when it comes to ovarian cancer. While the test can be used to detect cervical cancer, it cannot be used as a diagnostic tool for ovarian cancer.

How AI impacts the duty of care standard

Medical errors are thought to be the third-leading cause of death in the United States. However, advances in medical technology may help patients in New York and elsewhere receive care without inadvertently being put in harm's way. Technologies being studied today have shown the ability to diagnose heart attacks, lung cancer and skin cancer using artificial intelligence. Of course, it is also possible that a machine will make an error when diagnosing a patient.

In such a scenario, it might be difficult to determine whether a person or a program is liable for the error. The reason why parties are held liable for their actions is to discourage them from making mistakes. Machines are considered to be diagnostic tools that assist a human in making a decision as opposed to working on their own to help patients.

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.

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