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Deadly distracted car crashes leaped 8.8% in 2015

For people who believe that hands-free use of their cellphone while driving is the solution to the distracted driving epidemic in the United States, a new report from the Christian Science Monitor seems to put the lie to that contention. As reported in the Monitor, in 2015 the national car crash rate went up at the fastest rate in nearly 50 years, and hands-free smartphone use may be largely to blame.

A total of 35,092 people were killed in auto wrecks in 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports. The Monitor notes that the biggest increase in cause of wreck came in the distraction category. Those type of deadly crashes jumped 8.8 percent.

New Studies on Medical Errors

A new study indicates that medical errors kill about 250-thousand people a year. The study, by surgeon and Johns Hopkins University professor Martin Makary, reveals that medical error may be the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease and cancer.

The study explains that death certificates don't have a place for hospitals to acknowledge medical error, relying on what's known as "International Classification of Disease Code," so human and system errors cannot be recorded.

Bike Walk Connecticut

Bike Walk Connecticut is working to make the state safer for bicyclists and pedestrians. We are delighted to support their efforts with a significant donation, made in recognition of board members Sean Alexander and Colleen Kelly Alexander - a Clinton, CT couple who are dedicated advocates of bike safety. Connecticut ranks as the 18th deadliest state per capita for cyclists killed in traffic accidents. We have seen far too many devastating - and preventable - accidents involving bicyclists. Bike Walk Connecticut has taken the lead in highlighting the need for enhanced safety for cyclists and pedestrians. Bike Walk Connecticut seeks to change the culture of transportation and make Connecticut a better place to bike and walk. The organization advocates at the state government level for laws, policies, and funding that support active transportation. 

Infection and Death Linked to ERCP Procedure

Contaminated endoscopes are suspected of causing a deadly outbreak of the superbug CRE (carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae) at UCLA hospital in California, where at least 7 patients have been infected and 2 have died.

Several other hospitals around the country have reported incidents of infection following ERCP procedures over the past couple of years.

Doctors Addicted More Often Than You Might Think

Jeff Rossen, in his Today Show segment The Rossen Reports, reported that a recent government study shows that at least 100,000 doctors (or 1 in 10 doctors currently working) are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. And according the non-profit group Consume Watchdog, 18 percent of doctors have an addiction problem at some point during their career. Some of these doctors have managed to perform their duties while upholding their Hippocratic Oath to "do no harm." Unfortunately for some patients and their families, this has not been the case with some of the other doctors.

NFL Concussion Settlement And Athlete Head Injuries

The NFL has reached a $765 million settlement over concussion-related brain injuries among its 18,000 retired players, agreeing to compensate victims and pay for medical monitoring. Although the NFL has admitted no liability, the settlement is a tacit admission that the league handled concussed players improperly for many years, leading to permanent injuries and deaths.

At Koskoff, we know that the important safety issue of concussion-related brain injury goes well beyond the NFL. There are 3.8 million concussions in the United States per year during competitive sports and recreational activities, many of them in children. While concussions occur in all sports, the highest incidence is in football, hockey, rugby, soccer and basketball. The NFL settlement is yet another reminder that sports-related concussions need to be taken seriously by parents, coaches and school officials.

FDA Investigating Deaths Following Injections of Zyprexa

The FDA announced this week that it is investigating the deaths of two patients who died several days after receiving intramuscular injections of the long-acting antipsychotic drug Zyprexa Relprevv (olanzapine pamoate). According to the investigation, both patients received appropriate doses of the drug, and both were found to have "very high olanzapine blood levels after death." High doses of olanzapine can cause delirium, cardiopulmonary arrest, cardiac arrhythmias, and impaired levels of consciousness ranging from sedation to coma. The FDA has not yet determined if the drug is the cause of the fatalities. Zyprexa Relprevv is used for treating patients with schizophrenia.

Is Double-billing a Kind of Patient Harassment?

The source listed at the end of this post provides another example of medical billing abuse by health care providers, medical billing services, and health insurance companies. Under Connecticut law, it is illegal for any "health care provider to request payment" from a person who has health insurance, other than a copayment or deductible, for medical services covered under a managed care plan. (See Connecticut General Statutes Section 20-7f.) Unfortunately, this statute is largely ignored by medical providers and their billing services, to the detriment of patients. This practice is often called "balance billing" in the medical billing industry.

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