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Follow-Up to Faulty Radiotherapy Equipment, Patient Injury, and Medical and Hospital Malpractice Litigation

I have previously written about medical malpractice and hospital malpractice actions stemming from mistakes made while delivering radiation therapy.  Last week the FDA finally said that they will take steps to reduce radiation overdoses, underdoses, and other errors associated with radiation therapy.  The way they will do this is by strengthening the agency's approval process for new radiotherapy equipment.  Unfortunately, these new regulations do not yet address existing radiotherapy equipment.

To read the news article: click here

Traumatic Brain Injuries in the U.S.--Medical Legal Implications

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) have increased 21% since 2004, whereas the population has grown only 6.3%, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In particular, TBIs are increasing among children as more become active in sports and among the elderly as that demographic grows.

The new report is an update of the CDC's landmark 2004 report on the impact of TBI in the United States. Researchers led by Mark Faul, PhD, a behavioral scientist in the CDC's Injury Center Division of Injury Response, analyzed data from 2002 to 2006 and found that 1.7 million deaths, hospitalizations, and emergency department visits related to traumatic brain injury (TBI) occur in the United States each year.

An interesting finding from this report is that TBI was a contributing factor in 30.5% of all injury-related deaths.

The study showed that there were 52,000 deaths and 275,000 hospitalizations annually during the study period. Almost 1.4 million, or 80%, of the people who sustained a TBI were treated and released from an emergency department.

Children, Adolescents, Elderly Most at Risk

According to the new report, called "Traumatic Brain Injury in the United States: Emergency Department Visits, Hospitalizations, and Death," the groups at highest risk for TBI are children from birth to 4 years of age, adolescents aged 15 to 19 years, and adults 65 years and older. Falls were the leading cause of TBI (35.2%), and rates were highest for children from birth to 4 years and for adults 75 years and older.

The data show a 62% increase in fall-related TBIs seen in emergency departments among children 14 years and younger from 2002 to 2006. However, there was no increase in deaths, and there was a decrease in hospitalizations.

Although it is difficult to determine the exact cause of the increase in TBIs among American children aged 14 and younger, the large increase in emergency department visits for children from birth to age 14 from 2002 through 2006 may explain the increase. In addition, public awareness that TBI is a treatable injury may be an important factor as well. We also think that since more children are participating in organized sports, more sports-related injuries occur in this age group than we have seen before.

The increasing numbers of persons 65 years and older is also driving a portion of the TBI increase. CDC has been monitoring the increase in falls among this population in recent years. The study found that increases in senior falls are probably due to people living longer, increase in sedentary lifestyle that contributes to a lack of agility, and an increase in the use of prescription medication.

Evidence-Based Recommendations

Dr. Faul referred clinicians to the CDC's evidence-based recommendations on the Injury Center Website ( to help older adults and caregivers reduce the potential for falls through exercise, health checks, and home safety evaluation.

Traffic accidents were the second leading cause of TBI among all age groups (17.3%) and caused the largest percentage of TBI-related deaths (31.8%). In every age group, TBI rates are higher for males than for females.

This report not only presents TBI numbers, it helps to show the impact of this injury nationwide. These data can help to impact the lives of millions of Americans as they serve as building blocks that guide TBI prevention strategies. They also help to identify research and education priorities and support the need for services among individuals at risk or living with a TBI.

The current report shows an increase in TBI in the United States. Falls are the leading cause of TBI. Even though hospitalizations for TBI have increased, TBI-related death remains stable. This suggests improved treatment strategies for the treatment of TBI; but specific research is needed to verify this.

To download a free copy of the report, go to

Faul M, Xy L, Wald MM, Coronado VG. Traumatic Brain Injury in the United States: Emergency Department Visits, Hospitalizations and Deaths 2002-2006. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control; 2010.

Concerns About Faulty Hip Implants According to Expert Witness Testimony

Some of the nation’s leading orthopedic surgeons in expert witness testimony have reduced or stopped use of a popular category of artificial hips amid concerns that the devices are causing severe tissue and bone damage in some patients, often requiring replacement surgery within a year or two.

In recent years, such devices, known as “metal on metal” implants, have been used in about one-third of the approximately 250,000 hip replacements performed annually in this country. They are used in conventional hip replacements and in a popular alternative procedure known as resurfacing.


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Emergency Room Overcrowding and the Dangers: From the perspective of an Emergency Medicine Expert

Emergency room overcrowding and the dangers related to it have become a central focus of testifying emergency medicine expert witnesses.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a report entitled Estimates of Emergency Department Capacity: United States, 2007. This report is based on data from the CDC's 2007 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS). Inaugurated in 1992, the NHAMCS is now the longest continuously running national survey of hospital ED use.

The report notes that over the last several decades, the role of the ED has expanded from primarily treating seriously ill and injured patients. The report recognizes that EDs now also provide urgent and unscheduled care to patients unable to access their providers in a timely fashion and provide primary care to Medicaid beneficiaries and uninsured patients. As a result, EDs are frequently overcrowded with the most common contributing factor being the inability to transfer ED patients to an inpatient bed once the decision is made to admit them. "As the ED begins to 'board' patients, the space, the staff, and the resources available to treat new patients are further reduced," the report states. It continues, "A consequence of overcrowded EDs is ambulance diversion, in which EDs close their doors to incoming ambulances. The resulting treatment delay can be catastrophic for the patient."

To read the complete article: Click Here

Fish Oil Supplements Contaminated by PCBs

News for Product Liability Attorneys. Ten tested fish oil supplements were found to contain PCBs. Product liability attorney alerts- Tested fish oil supplements contained PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls) which can cause cancer and birth defects; lawsuit filed today. Ten supplement companies sued, others not yet tested. Read the complete article: Click Here or for a second article: Click Here.

Water Pollution to Increase Under Obama: More Work for Toxicology Expert Witnesses.

Water pollution is increasing and toxicology consultants and toxicology expert witnesses involved in litigation are overwhelmed with new cases.  Thousands of the nation's largest water polluters are outside the Clean Water Act's reach because the Supreme Court has left uncertain which waterways are protected by that law, according to interviews with regulators. As a result, some businesses are declaring that the law no longer applies to them. And pollution rates are rising.

The implications of this are enormous from a health perspective. Water contaminated with toxic materials inevitably will find its way into the potable water supply for humans and domestic animals and will also have a direct impact on wildlife, the environment, and the ecosystem. Moreover, it will reverse the clean water gains made over the past 30 years.

Read the complete article: Click Here.

The Government Gets Aggressive with Diabetes Drug-Avandia

Three years ago, Dr. Steven E. Nissen, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, conducted a landmark study that suggested that the best-selling diabetes drug Avandia raised the risk of heart attacks. The study led to a Congressional inquiry, stringent safety warnings, a sharp drop in the drug's sales and a plunge in the share price of GlaxoSmithKline, Avandia's maker.

A Congressional investigation released Saturday concluded that GlaxoSmithKline had threatened scientists who tried to point out Avandia's risks, and internal memorandums from the Food and Drug Administration show that some government health officials want Avandia withdrawn. The drug is still being taken by hundreds of thousands of patients, and sales last year were $1.19 billion.

So the battle over Avandia has begun anew, and issues raised in the meeting between the four executives and Dr. Nissen are likely to be raised again. For instance, during the meeting, company executives repeatedly promised to begin a crucial analysis of the safety of Avandia "within days." Nearly three years later, such a study has not been published in a medical journal, although the company has posted results on its Web site.

To see the complete article: Click Here.

Medical Tort Reform Tabled in Healthcare Bill

This is news from several weeks ago, but I'd like to note it here on my website.

Democratic lawmakers were prepared to make concessions to Republicans on the subject of the medical malpractice system and the healthcare overhaul. But after hard lobbying by trial lawyers and a series of party-line votes, little is likely to change in the area of medical-legal jurisprudence tort reform.

See the entire article here.

Hospitals Fined for Medical Errors: Hospital Medical Malpractice

Hospital medical malpractice is on the rise.  State officials have fined 13 California hospitals for medical errors that in some cases killed or seriously injured patients, according to a report made public.

California Department of Public Health officials have required hospital officials -- who may appeal the fines -- to submit plans to correct the problems. To see the complete articles: Click Here.

Copyright © 2020 - & Dr. Barry Gustin