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New Rule Creates Safer Highways by Changing Work Hours for Truckers

Big rigs will make a big move for highway safety now that a new federal rule is in place to revise the amount of time truck drivers can spend on the road.

The new hours-of-service (HOS) rule is aimed at preventing highway accidents by reducing work fatigue among commercial truck drivers. The rule ought to save lives by changing the work environment into one where commercial drivers are more rested and alert, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The HOS final rule cuts the total number of hours that a commercial truck driver is allowed to work in a seven-day period by 12 hours ¨C from 82 to 70 hours. Drivers who maximize this 70-hour workweek must include at least two nights of rest during the 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. period when the body’s internal clock needs sleep the most, according to the release.

Once during a seven-day workweek, a driver may exercise a 34-hour restart provision. That means if a driver takes a 34-hour break, then he or she can restart the clock on the seven-day workweek.

The rule goes on to dictate that all drivers must take at least a half-hour break for every eight hours of driving time. That break can happen at any time during the eight-hour shift. Professional truck drivers are allowed to continue with the existing 11-hour workday limit that has been the industry maximum under the previous rule.

Heavy fines will be imposed on violators. Trucking companies caught allowing drivers to break the 11-hour-per-day driving limit by more than three hours will be fined $11,000 per offense. Drivers that break this rule can face penalties of as much as $2,750 per offense. The new rule goes into effect July 1, 2013. The DOT expects the new rule will cut down on the number of injuries from truck-related accidents especially in the middle of the night.

A recent highway crash on I-57 in Illinois highlights the dangers created when professional drivers work through the night. At 4:06 a.m., a commercial driver hauling a trailer full of produce rolled the truck over, blocking the Interstate and forcing officials to close the road for four hours during clean up. No one was seriously injured in the wreck and icy conditions played a role in the crash, but the DOT showed its concern about commercial drivers working at that hour with the new rule.

Truck accidents like the one on an icy I-57 at 4:06 in the morning often severely injure or kill the commercial driver operating the truck or other drivers on the road. Professional drivers or other victims of highway truck accidents have a right to be compensated for injuries caused by the negligence of another driver.

In addition to medical bills, accident victims have a right to pursue compensation for pain and suffering and lost wages that are a direct result of the accident.

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

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Hospitals Now Must Screen for Heart Disease in Newborns

Because many congenital heart disease cases are overlooked in the prenatal stages or even in early infancy, a government agency has begun recommending screening newborns for critical congenital cyanotic heart disease (CCCHD).

The Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children recently announced that there is cause enough to get CCCHD screenings for newborns, which is a severe type of heart defect that is life-threatening.

The Health and Human Services Department now recommends adding CCCHD to the newborn screening panel, according to a release from the Health Resources & Services Administration. The recommendation is supported by a variety of groups including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Heart Foundation.

The Secretary’s Advisory Committee added the screening recommendation, but also noted that more research needs to take place quickly to ensure the whole process is working correctly. This means the National Institutes of Health will now research the entire screening process. The Health Resources and Services Administration will look closely at standards, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will look at outcomes after completing its study, according to a release from HRSA.

Missed or even delayed diagnosis of CCCHD can result in injury or infant death. The newborn injuries can include morbidity or injury to vital organs that can be permanent.

The existing CCHD detection approach of ultrasounds and physical exams in the nursery have failed to identify enough cases of the heart disease, according to the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ website. Studies have shown that pulse oximetry ¨C a painless, non-invasive technology ¨C is universally available to add to newborn assessments.

The motion-sensitive pulse oximeters come in both disposable and reusable varieties, and both options are acceptable detection devices, according to the Pediatrics website. To reduce the number of false-positive results, Pediatrics recommends that screening occurs more than 24 hours after the birth or as close to the time of discharge from the hospital as possible.

The Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius announced that CCCHD will be added to the recommended uniform screening panel in September. It is up to each state to determine how to incorporate the new screenings into their own programs, according to the Pediatrics website.

The HRSA has pledged to develop training and educational materials for parents and relevant health care professionals. Public health and professional health care organizations will help the development, but it will be funded by the HRSA.

If a medical professional fails to order a critical test that leads to a birth injury or fails to diagnose a heart problem that needs immediate care, the family has the right to seek compensation for additional health care costs and pain and suffering caused from the missed diagnosis.

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/.

Patient Safety Awareness Week Emphasizes Awareness

The National Patient Safety Foundation broadened the theme of the 2012 Patient Safety Awareness Week to include everyone at each step of the health care process. “Be aware for safe care” is the theme of 2012’s campaign to raise awareness of safety issues throughout the health care process. This year’s event is from March 4 to March 10. The NPSF produces educational resources and materials called the Patient Safety Awareness Toolkit for health care providers, patients and even communities that want to take part in the safety awareness campaign.

The toolkit is designed to help engage patients, community and staff at every level in patient safety. The NPSF encourages health care providers to prominently display the program materials and the campaign logo. The group provides educational resources to the staff of the hospital or health center. Health care professionals also can customize a Patient Safety Awareness Toolkit to better meet specific organizational needs.

The National Patient Safety Foundation has led and promoted the safety awareness week activities since 2002. A variety of efforts are being made in the United States and abroad to improve patient safety, including campaigns to prevent wrong side surgeries and other medical errors.

The NPSF also is promoting the Universal Patient Compact, which creates a framework for effective partnerships between patients and providers. The compact encourages providers to include the patients and families on the health care team.

Promoters hope Be Aware for Safe Care resonates with everyone in the health care process from the patients and their families to the staff of the medical center to the health care professionals attending to the patients. The theme for 2011’s Patient Safety Awareness Week was “Commit to Safe Health Care.” That campaign encouraged everyone in the health care industry to stay involved, informed and invested in every patient’s care.

Studies have shown that medical record documentation is the largest contributor to patient risk. There are campaigns under way to standardize medical record keeping to make it easier for caregivers to find patient allergies marked in different places in the records or ensure consistent dosing information.

Patient Safety Awareness Week has become a tradition in many hospitals and medical centers. The annual event is an opportunity for administrators to refocus caregivers, patients and families on the importance of safety and communication in the health care industry.

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/.

Railroad Industry Pushes Back Against Safety Regulations

As recent tragic train accidents fade from memory and passenger rail enjoys an upswing in popularity, some groups are trying to delay regulations that are meant to increase rail travel safety.

Amtrak’s passenger numbers are up, for example, between Chicago and Milwaukee. Across the country, Amtrak carried a record 30.2 million passengers in 2011. Railroad companies are expected to spend billions of dollars in 2012 to expand and upgrade the country’s network of tracks, according to the Association of American Railroads.

However, the implementation of key safety measures, which were passed into law four years ago after a train accident killed 25 in California, could be delayed. Railroads are required to install Positive Train Control by 2015. The track technology forces trains to slow when human error has them on a collision course. Crash investigators believe PTC would have prevented more than 20 train accidents since 2001.

PTC supporters say it saves lives and protects passengers and communities. PTC critics are generally opposed to regulation of a private industry and consider much of this mandate to be legislative overreach. The railroad industry is pushing to scale back the provisions of the 2015 mandate.

Chicago accident attorney Robert Briskman upholds the rights of those who are hurt from train accidents. To learn more, call 877-595-HURT (4878) or visit more of http://www.briskmanandbriskman.com.

Employers Can Help Injured Workers Through Workplace Accommodation Programs

Companies working to bring injured employees back to work have a resource in the Job Accommodation Network. The non-profit group has free, confidential advice about disability employment and workplace accommodation issues.

By helping employers find creative ways to bring injured employees back into the workforce, JAN saves companies money while helping employees get back to full salaries, according to the network’s website.

The group has consultants who help companies comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act among other laws. JAN also offers self-employment and entrepreneurship resources for people with disabilities.

About 80 percent of the requests JAN receives are from companies looking to retain a current employee after that worker’s ability level has changed because of an accident or illness.

In a recent blog post in the JAN quarterly online newsletter, a case study outlined the obstacles that can make re-entry into a workplace a daunting challenge. In the case study, a man tore his knee at work as an equipment mechanic. When his knee healed he came back to work, but quickly re-injured it. Because his job required him to squat frequently and maneuver around equipment, he was never going to be able to perform his job in the same way as prior to his injury. The company told him to go home and wait for them to figure something out for him (at reduced wages).

The man feared he would never make a living again doing his old job, but he got a call a few days later to find that the company had found a $2,667 hydraulic lift that allowed the man (and his coworkers) to work on the equipment at waist level. This meant that he would be able to continue to earn a living at his previous salary and his coworkers would potentially avoid injuries as well.

JAN applauded the company’s team collaboration. The nonprofit specializes in helping both individuals and companies – from industrial manufacturers to professional services.

Employees who are injured on the job have the right to be compensated for their lost wages, health care and rehabilitation, and the permanent disability caused by their injury. Those employees also have a right to expect their company will make every reasonable effort to accommodate their changed ability status when they come back to work.

That accommodation can come in the form of changing a work site to make it more accessible to the employee. It also can be vocational in nature, helping an employee learn a new skill to match their new physical ability level.

An experienced worker’s compensation attorney can help employees who have been injured on the job to get back to work at the same salary level or better than they had when they were originally injured.

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/.

Study Shows that Physicians Often Not Completely Honest About Prognosis or Medical Errors

A new study in the journal Health Affairs shows that some health care providers are not always completely honest about medical errors, the severity of a prognosis or their relationships with drug companies.

The study involved surveying about 1,800 physicians from across the country in a variety of practice areas and specialties. Researchers found that 20 percent of these physicians had not revealed a medical error in the past year because they were concerned about being sued. An even larger group ¨C about 35 percent ¨Creported that they did not “completely agree” if they should disclose medical errors considered serious to their patients, according to the Huffington Post.

More than a third of the surveyed physicians did not “completely agree” that they needed to disclose a financial relationship with a drug company or a medical device company. Alarmingly, more than half of the respondents said they had described a prognosis in a more positive light than was warranted, according to Fox Business online. More than 10 percent of the surveyed physicians admitted they had told a patient an untruth in the past 12 months.

The study aimed to reveal physicians’ attitudes about communications with patients. According to the Charter on Medical Professionalism, communication is among the three principles that guide physicians. The study relies on the charter’s communication claims as a guide for pursuing more data about how physicians communicate with patients and their families. General surgeons were more likely than their physician counterparts to agree that medical errors needed to be revealed to patients. The study also found that about 25 percent of physicians admitted that they had revealed unauthorized information about a patient.

There are many reasons that physicians feel the need to bend the truth, according to the study’s author, Dr. Lisa I. Iezzoni, who is the director of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Morgan Institute for Health Policy.

A bad prognosis can be difficult to give especially if the physician and patient have a history together, Iezzoni said. Some doctors give a rosier prognosis than is warranted because it is less stressful for the patient, but that is not in the best interest of the patient, she said. Hiding medical errors might be more justifiable in terms of reducing patient stress, Iezzoni said. She emphasized that patients with more information will be able to better understand their condition and how to confront it.

The Physician Payment Sunshine Act of 2009 will require companies to disclose payments to physicians of more than $10. This law goes into effect in 2013. The study points out that once this law goes into effect, patients will want to have more conversations about the relationships their physicians have with drug companies and medical device companies, according to Fox Business.

Patients who suffered because they made medical decisions based on bad information from physicians who were trying to “protect” them from the truth have the right to consider seeking a claim. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can advise patients on how best to proceed against a physician who was not honest about a diagnosis.

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/.

Illinois Cracking Down on Unlicensed Spas and Salons

Members of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation spent a lot of time at the spa in 2011. It was not all about pampering, though. The department was investigating the state’s day spas and salons to make sure visitors had a safe experience, according to an IDFPR press release.

Working with local government agencies, the regulatory group visited 446 salons and day spas in 2011 and found more than half of them did not have the proper state and local licenses. Across Illinois, 273 spas and salons were not properly licensed. The surprise inspections prompted more than half of the violators to get their licenses immediately. Associations that represent cosmetologists spoke out in favor of the IDFPR’s raids.

“Cosmetologists wholly support Illinois law requiring that salon and spa services be performed on Illinois’s consumers by appropriately licensed salon and spa professionals at properly registered salon and spa service venues,” said Cosmetologists Chicago CEO Paul Dykstra in the press release.

Some cities and towns in the state have regulations that deny local licensure to day spas and salons that do not already have applicable state
licenses. This partnership with the IDFPR prevents health issues that can arise in unlicensed spas like infections or injuries, according to the release.

Chicago personal injury attorney Paul Greenberg counsels individuals who have sustained serious injuries because of the carelessness or negligence of others. To learn more, call 877-595-HURT (4878) or visit more of http://www.briskmanandbriskman.com.

Safe Driving Campaigns Paying Dividends as Accident Fatality Statistics Drop

Campaigns to warn drivers to be more cautious around commercial vehicles are paying off as 2011 data show traffic fatalities are down in some demographics.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance has been leading campaigns since 2007 to improve driver behavior and increase safety on the roads, according to a CVSA press release.

CVSA statistics have shown that some demographics are far less careful when driving around commercial vehicles. Accordingly, some campaigns to increase highway safety have been targeted to those groups. The Teens & Trucks Program helps educate young drivers about safe driving practices near commercial vehicles. This campaign has had a significant effect on fatality statistics in the 16- to 20-year-old group.

Using statistics gathered from 2006 to 2010, fatalities from highway crashes fell most sharply among young drivers. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows an almost 40 percent drop in the number of fatalities for young drivers and a drop of only about 23 percent in overall fatalities, according to the release.

While some campaigns have focused on teaching better driving habits to teenagers, other campaigns have aimed at educating the general public about the dangers of using technology while driving.

Last year, the CVSA began targeting its Defeating Distracted Drivers campaign to a commercial driver audience. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute did a study of commercial drivers and found that texting is a significant distraction in truck cabs. The study indicated that texting makes truck drivers 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash or a near crash, according to the CVSA’s Operation Safe Driver website.

For four years, the Operation Safe Driver campaign has been collecting data at roadside inspections. In 2011, the roadside inspections led to about 4.7 percent of drivers being placed out of service. This was a decrease of more than a half percent from the year before. Similarly, about 24.6 percent of the inspections led to vehicles being removed from service. That number was down from 27.4 percent the year before.

Removing unsafe drivers and unsafe vehicles is a priority of the CVSA. “Campaigns that target and remove unsafe drivers from the road, like CVSA’s Operation Safe Driver, are yielding positive results,” said the group’s executive director, Stephen A. Keppler. “CVSA will continue to educate the driving public ¨C
and especially teens ¨C about the risks they take when speeding and cutting off vehicles.”

Efforts to reduce the number of crash-related deaths and injuries have grown stronger recently. An experienced attorney can help crash victims seek compensation for health care costs, pain and suffering and even lost wages.

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/.

Family Files Suit Against Illinois Nursing Home Claiming Falls Led to Death

Carl Bonner Sr. went to the Granite Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center in January of 2010 with a brain injury that caused him to lose his balance and fall. When he died eight months later of head injuries he sustained from repeated falls at the nursing home, his family filed a wrongful death suit with the Madison County Circuit Court against his caregivers.

The complaint accuses the Granite City nursing home of failing to properly care for Bonner Sr. by allowing him to fall multiple times. Meredith Bonner is the executor of Bonner Sr.’s estate and she filed the wrongful death lawsuit. She claims the staff was made aware of Bonner Sr.’s falling issues since he sustained brain trauma in a fall. Following his initial injury, Bonner Sr. fell frequently.

In the claim, Meredith Bonner asserts that the staff and management at the nursing home knew Bonner Sr. had a high likelihood of falling again, but did not provide him proper assistance and supervision. As a result, Bonner Sr. fell repeatedly while at the nursing home, according to the complaint. In July of 2010, just six months after arriving at Granite Nursing Home, Bonner Sr. suffered a severe head injury in a fall and was taken to Gateway Regional Medical Center.

Blunt force trauma to Bonner Sr.’s head while in the care of the nursing home led to swelling and bleeding in his brain, according to the complaint. He died in the hospital in early August. Meredith Bonner asserts in the complaint that it was the nursing home’s carelessness and negligence that led to Bonner Sr.’s death.

She claims the nursing home did not keep close enough watch on Bonner Sr. and failed to notice his injuries or treat them in a timely manner. Meredith Bonner expected more from the Granite City Nursing Home. She expected the staff would listen to her family as they explained Bonner Sr.’s abilities and challenges. She expected the staff to do their own analysis of Bonner Sr.’s needs and then meet those needs. She expected the home to care for Bonner Sr. and instead she claims their negligence led to his death.

Medical and legal professionals suggest thoroughly understanding what the nursing home offers and to set expectations in writing. Different elder care companies offer various levels of health care and observation of clients. Families leaving loved ones in the care of a professional elder care home need to understand the nursing home option they have chosen and what it offers.

Families with loved ones who have been injured or neglected have a right to seek compensation for health care costs and lost wages because of time spent addressing the home’s neglect.

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

Consumer Groups Demand Redesign of Dangerous Baby Seat

The Bumbo International Baby Seat is in trouble again.

The makers of the Bumbo had to recall the baby seats in 2007 for new labeling because children were falling in the seats from elevated surfaces. The original product’s packaging showed the seat on a raised surface.

Many of the more than 30 skull fractures and other injuries sustained when children fell out of the Bumbo happened when the product was being used on a table or other raised surface. Now, consumer advocates are insisting the product be completely redesigned since children are still being injured when they fall out of the seat on the floor.

There are no safety standards or product testing with seats like the stationary Bumbo. Many parents may assume that all children’s products undergo the same scrutiny that high chairs, bouncer seats and booster seats need to pass.

Consumer groups are pushing for the Bumbo to be redesigned so that no children are injured in the future. The groups believe a redesign would fix the Bumbo’s problems. Five groups have added their name to the list of concerned consumers: Consumer’s Union, Kids In Danger, Consumer Federation of America, Public Citizen and US PIRG, which is a coalition of state public interest research groups.

Chicago defective products attorney Paul Greenberg has experience in helping parents whose children have been hurt by kids toys and other products. To learn more, call 877-595-HURT (4878) or visit more of 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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