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Illinois Workers’ Compensation Reform Has Far-Reaching Effects for Employees

The past legislative session in Illinois has been a duel to get workers’ compensation reform. The bill did pass and is touted by some as a major reform, while others claim it falls short. The bill will go into effect September 1 and the biggest changes involve capping payouts for workers who are hurt and need to change to lower paying jobs. Also, individuals who have carpal tunnel injuries will only receive 28 weeks of benefits, down from the previous 40 weeks. The bill also cuts fees that doctors receive for workers’ compensation injuries by 30 percent, and is estimated to save businesses a minimum of $500 million.

“This is major reform, and it’s nonsense to refer to it as anything but,” said Democratic Senator Kwame Raoul, the bill’s chief Senate sponsor.

The Illinois General Assembly also voted to increase the state’s income tax, which undoubtedly affects businesses. As the state works to keep companies in Illinois, the legislature pushed to save businesses money with the workers’ compensation reform. But some say that the workers’ compensation reform did not go far enough. These opponents want workers to have to prove injuries truly did happen at work in order to make a recovery. Monies saved would help employers lessen these costs and help promote job growth, they claim.

As the Chicago Sun-Times reported, opponents said the measure “was merely a step in the right direction toward improving Illinois’ business climate but that it failed to tackle the root complaint of employers.”

For workers, the legislation still provides them a way to obtain much-needed benefits when a workplace injury occurs. But because of the new guidelines, legal experts say that it’s now more important than ever to have an experienced Chicago workers’ compensation attorney represent their concerns. The bill can have a big impact on how workers’ compensation claims affect an individual, their financial award, and medical treatment.

The Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer Robert I. Briskman, Esq. has been representing individuals in their workers’ compensation cases for decades. The law firm of Briskman Briskman & Greenberg is skilled in working with an employer’s insurance company to get the compensation a worker deserves when they are injured on the job. Their senior-level lawyers will vigilantly uphold a client’s rights to compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, vocational rehabilitation, and other costs.

Robert I. Briskman is a Chicago workers compensation attorney and Chicago workers compensation lawyer with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit http://www.briskmanandbriskman.com/.

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Fumbled Handoffs Between Doctors Endanger Hospitalized Patients

Most patients in a hospital are there because they have had a heart attack, stroke, congestive heart failure, pneumonia, or suffered some sort of physical trauma. Hospitalists, or hospital-based physicians, must care for and treat numerous patients, often at the same time, as well as collect and interpret myriad lab results, X-rays, and other diagnostic reports. When a shift ends, they must “hand off” patients (i.e., communicate a comprehensive status report and treatment plan) to the next doctors and nurses. As anyone who has been in a hospital can attest, a handoff can become fumbled if a doctor is distracted – including being paged over the intercom, multitasking, or simply socializing with a colleague.

With so many patients “come many drugs and data to track and more opportunities for a mix up,” says Dr. Vineet Arora, assistant director of the Internal Medicine Program at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine.

Up to 80 percent of adverse hospital-based incidents happen because of bad communication, and many of these incidents can be traced back to what occurred during the handoff between doctors. Analysis of medical malpractice cases from 1991 to 2000 showed that inadequate communication was the primary reason why individuals and their families initiated lawsuits. Medication errors, failure to order tests, failure to follow patient wishes for end-of-life care, and even ignoring treatment orders can lead to serious consequences.

“Fumbled handoffs can lead to redundant tests, prolonged hospitalizations or readmissions after discharge, all of which lower the quality of care for patients and drive up healthcare costs,” said Dr. Rahul Parikh, who specializes in pediatric medicine and also writes about medicine for many newspapers and online magazines. “Handoffs are the glue that holds together a patient’s care in the hospital. Yet traditionally they have been a disorganized – even sloppy – process.”

Gone are the days when a family doctor can frequently attend to their patient in the hospital setting. As hospitals have pushed for less arduous work hours for their staff, more doctors and nurses inevitably will see a patient during the course of a typical hospital stay. The failure to communicate treatment plans, analyze basic patient history, review and interpret laboratory results and diagnostic tests, and scrutinize medication schedules becomes a huge patient safety issue.

Many individuals who are admitted into the hospital are in no condition to speak to or update the next healthcare professional that comes to check on them. It is the duty of the healthcare professional to know a patient’s current medications, or consult “family or someone who came in with them, check pharmacy databases, or even the patient’s insurer,” says Nurse Robin Diamond in Today’s Hospitalist.

Doctors, nurses, and even hospital pharmacies should be vigilant about giving each other clear orders and advising when they think a different course of treatment will benefit the patient. Chicago medical malpractice attorney Robert I. Briskman, Esq., sees a lot of room for improvement for patient care, and he understands the needs of individuals and their loved ones to take legal action when their rights to proper medical care have been violated. At Briskman Briskman & Greenberg, the team of Chicago medical malpractice lawyers know how to litigate your claim and ultimately vindicate your rights when a doctor or healthcare professional fails in their duty to give you the quality of care you deserve.

Robert Briskman is a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer and Chicago medical malpractice attorney with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit http://www.briskmanandbriskman.com/.

Significant Illinois Ruling for Routine Overtime Affects Workers’ Comp Awards

The First District Appellate Court of Illinois has made an important ruling for employees who seek workers’ compensation and regularly work overtime hours. In Tower Automotive v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC), the Court found that Tower employee Robert Nawrot was mandated to work overtime in his job. Employees were subject to discipline if they did not do overtime. Overtime hours did vary per week, the appellate court found.

Nawrot worked as a material handler for Tower Automotive and drove a forklift, delivered parts, and loaded and unloaded trucks. After being injured on the job, he sought treatment through the employer’s medical provider. As the months went by his condition worsened and restrictions on work duties ensued. Between December 2005 and late January 2006, he had two surgeries involving a surgical decompression and fusions at C4-C5. By April of 2007, he was released by his doctor and allowed to return to eight hours worth of work. But he was still fighting to get the past workers’ compensation pay due to him.

The court determined that because his weekly pay routinely reflected mandatory overtime hours, his workers’ compensation award should also reflect his overtime pay. The court held that Nawrot should receive $788.66 a week versus the $521.32 base pay. The court further held that any worker who consistently works overtime or is mandated to do so should be compensated at the higher average rate.

And the appellate court found that Nawrot’s injuries were compensable. According to the Workers’ Compensation Act, a worker’s injury is only due compensation if it arises because of the job. The court determined that the medical testimony and reports established that Nawrot’s job duties “aggravated and accelerated his preexisting cervical stenosis, necessitating surgical intervention.” Based upon that finding, the court concluded that “the claimant’s current condition of ill-being arose out of and in the course of his employment with Tower and is causally related thereto.”

Many Illinois employees work overtime consistently, and some work in environments where if they want to keep their job, they must put in more than eight hours. Workers who are injured on the job have legal rights to pursue the workers’ compensation they deserve by contacting a qualified Chicago workers’ compensation attorney.

Robert I. Briskman, Esq. is an accomplished Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer with decades of experience successfully handling an employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company. The law firm of Briskman Briskman & Greenberg tenaciously goes after a worker’s rights to medical compensation, lost wages, vocational rehabilitation, and other issues related to work injuries.

Robert Briskman is a Chicago workers compensation attorney and Chicago workers compensation lawyer with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit http://www.briskmanandbriskman.com/.

Personal Injury Alert: Popular Proton Pump Inhibitor Medicines Could Cause Serious Injuries

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are widely used by millions of individuals for the treatment of gastric acid-related problems. For patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease, peptic ulcer disease, erosive esophagitis, Barrett’s esophagus, and other gastric acid concerns, PPIs provide much-needed relief to lessen the condition and prevent the onset of other potentially life-threatening medical complications. PPIs are also given to some people to reduce the risk of developing gastritis and peptic ulcer disease caused by using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Many healthcare professionals prescribe PPIs because of their effectiveness. Patients have long heard the names Nexium, Prevacid, and Prilosec in their doctors’ offices and on TV.
But recent studies point to the perils of using PPIs as a long-term solution for certain patient profiles. The Annals of Family Medicine reported in the May/June edition that PPIs caused a “29 percent increased risk of fracture, including a 31 percent increased risk of hip fracture and a 54 percent increased risk of vertebral fracture.” These studies, which combined five case-control studies, three nested case-control studies, and three cohort studies, are the first meta-analysis regarding PPIs and the potential for fractures.

The Federal Drug Administration has also recently released a warning about PPIs. They report that PPIs can cause low serum magnesium levels in some individuals. These low levels can cause seizures, irregular heartbeat, and muscle spasms. The FDA recommends that healthcare professionals monitor a patient’s serum magnesium levels before prescribing PPIs long term.

Both studies state that patients could benefit by taking certain supplements to offset PPI-induced vitamin deficiencies. For those prone to bone loss, calcium and vitamin B12 could be beneficial, and in individuals with low serum magnesium, magnesium supplements can help. Overall, though, both the FDA and Annals of Family Medicine report that healthcare professionals need to be far more cognizant of their patient’s health, medical conditions, and the medicines they are currently taking. They advise physicians to use the lowest effective PPI dose and incorporate a step-down approach as a patient finishes a PPI prescription.

If a patient develops a serious medical complication as a result of a healthcare professional’s failure to provide proper warning about the long-term use of PPIs or fails to monitor magnesium levels or bone density, their rights as a patient may have been neglected. Individuals should get legal counsel to investigate whether the drug caused serious personal injury and, if so, how to get legally compensated for their injury.

The Chicago personal injury lawyer Robert I. Briskman, Esq. has decades of experience representing individuals dealing with serious injuries. The team of Chicago personal injury attorneys at Briskman Briskman & Greenberg will help an individual get fair compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages caused by the negligence of a healthcare professional or dangers of a prescription drug.

Paul Greenberg is a Chicago personal injury lawyer and Chicago personal injury attorney with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit http://www.briskmanandbriskman.com/.

Antidepressants Cause Heart Defects in Chicago and Illinois Newborns

The Illinois Department of Health shows that cardiac health defects are the highest type of birth defects affecting children in Chicago and the state. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) recently published two studies showing that mothers who took the antidepressant drug Paxil were more likely to have a child with a heart defect. FDA classifies the drug as Category D, indicating positive evidence of fetal risk. When expecting mothers take Paxil within the first trimester, their baby is one and a half to two times more likely to have a heart defect. These cardiac defects include ventricular septal defects (VSDs) and atrial septal defects (ASDs).

VSDs are abnormal openings in the wall between the heart’s two lower pumping chambers, known as the ventricles. Sometimes these holes close on their own; otherwise, surgery is required to ensure that serious and sometimes life-threatening heart and lung problems do not occur. ASDs are abnormal openings in the wall between the heart’s two upper chambers, known as the atria. Like VSDs, ASDs sometimes close over time; but for significant defects, surgery is necessary so that heart complications and lung problems do not occur. Research by the Mayo Clinic shows that sometimes these defects are not apparent until adulthood, and then all of sudden a person can experience high blood pressure or even heart failure.

Paxil is not the only antidepressant of concern for expecting mothers. Other antidepressants such as Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, Symbyax, and Zoloft have been linked to cardiac defects too. These selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most commonly prescribed drugs to combat depression, says the FDA. SSRIs also can cause persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN). The FDA found that PPHN is six times more likely to occur in a newborn if the mother took the antidepressant after the 20th week of pregnancy. Babies also had a higher rate of irritability, difficulty feeding, and in some rare cases, difficulty breathing.

The FDA recommends that expecting mothers talk to their doctor about their use of antidepressants to determine if it is medically necessary to continue during pregnancy. Unfortunately, many expecting mothers who are taking SSRIs and antidepressant drugs are not told of the serious side effects posed by these drugs. When a child is born with a cardiac defect, sometimes the only remedy to help your child is to seek legal counsel to explore the available options.

Thousands of children are affected each year in Chicago and Illinois by heart defects. Parents are recommended to call a qualified Chicago birth injury lawyer to represent them and their newborn. Chicago birth injury attorney Robert I. Briskman, Esq. provides unparalleled personal attention and dedication to resolve the challenging situation of your child’s birth injury. At Briskman Briskman & Greenberg, their highly skilled lawyers have decades of trial experience and access to a world-class team of experts to get the compensation your child deserves for his or her past, present, and future medical needs.

Robert Briskman is a Chicago birth injury lawyer and Chicago birth injury attorney with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit http://www.briskmanandbriskman.com/.

Alarming Statistic Triggers Global Initiative to Promote Road Safety

By 2020, 1.9 million people will die each year from auto accidents if world governments take no action. In response to this alarming statistic, the World Health Organization has begun the “Decade of Action for Road Safety”, a global initiative that brings world governments together to promote road safety from 2011 through 2020. The initiative plans to increase the safety of roads and automobiles, improve emergency services, and enforce more legislation for helmets, seatbelts, and child restraints. The Decade, as it has come to be known, also includes programs to prevent drinking and driving as well as speeding.

Famous international landmarks are being used to promote The Decade’s initiative, with a yellow road safety tag being projected on New York City’s Time Square, London’s Trafalgar Square, Geneva’s Jet d’Eau, and Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer statue. The Decade’s goals are to save five million lives and prevent 50 million auto accident injuries during the 10-year span. The U.S. has already donated $125 million to promote road safety in low to middle income countries that lack resources for safety initiatives. The Decade plans to voluntarily encourage the U.S. auto industry to donate $2 for every new vehicle sold to raise $140 million a year to fund even more road safety programs.

“Today countries and communities are taking action vital to saving lives on our streets and highways,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan. “Road traffic crashes are a growing health and development concern affecting all nations, and the Decade offers a framework for an intensified response.”

Shockingly, pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists account for half of the deaths worldwide from auto accidents. The Decade plans on using some of the monies raised to build bicycle, walking, and motorcycle lanes.

“None of us should have to bear the grief and devastation caused by a road traffic crash,” said Dr. Etienne Krug, WHO Director of the Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability. “The steps outlined in the Global Plan for the Decade are immediately doable, and will do much to spare the suffering of so many.”

In Illinois, a handful of new laws are in effect in 2011 to protect bicyclists and pedestrians. Illinois Vehicle Code 625 ILCS 11-703 states that, “A person driving a motor vehicle shall not, in a reckless manner, drive the motor vehicle unnecessarily close to, toward, or near a bicyclist, pedestrian, or a person riding a horse or driving an animal drawn vehicle.” If this statute is violated and the victim incurs bodily harm or permanent disability, the driver will be charged with a Class 3 felony. Last year, the Illinois Vehicle Code was amended to safeguard pedestrians. Vehicle codes 625 ILCS 5/11-1002 and 625 ILCS 5/11-1002.5 mandate that automobiles “… stop and yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk rather than yielding the right-of-way by slowing down or stopping if need be.” This is especially important for many of the school zones that have children walking to and from school every day.

Chicago accident attorney and SuperLawyer Paul A. Greenberg, Esq. knows first-hand the dangers that pedestrians and cyclists encounter on a daily basis. In his law practice at Briskman Briskman & Greenberg, he counsels clients who are dealing with serious injuries and sometimes the death of a loved one because of a driver’s carelessness. Global initiatives in tandem with local efforts will push for more stringent measures to protect the clients he sees every day. Mr. Greenberg’s team of Chicago accident lawyers is known for fighting for their clients’ rights to compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other costs associated with vehicle accidents.

Paul Greenberg is a Chicago car accident lawyer and Chicago car accident attorney with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit http://www.briskmanandbriskman.com/.

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The law firm of Briskman Briskman & Greenberg represents injured people throughout Illinois, including Chicago, the Chicagoland area, Joliet, Waukegan, Cicero, Evanston, Arlington Heights, Wheaton, Bolingbrook, and Naperville, as well as other cities within Cook County, Will County, DuPage County, Lake County and McHenry County. Briskman Briskman & Greenberg also represents injured people throughout Wisconsin, including Kenosha, Milwaukee, and Madison.
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