December 2010

Drop-Side Crib Ban and Tougher Crib Safety Rules Will Hopefully Prevent Some North Carolina Child Injuries and Deaths

December 29, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

This month, the Consumer Product Safety Administration voted to ban the manufacture and sale of drop-side cribs. The nation’s safety regulator has also passed tougher crib safety rules that will eliminate some of the hazards infants and young children have had to contend with over the years.

Beginning June 2011, drop-side cribs can no longer be sold or resold. Child-care centers and hotels have until 24 months after the rule is published to replace their drop-side cribs. Also, per the new mandatory crib standards, crib mattress support will have to be stronger, safety testing must be tougher, and crib hardware will have to be made more durable.

Our Charlotte, North Carolina personal injury law firm is pleased to hear that safety regulators are taking decisive action to protect young children from some of the dangers that cribs have posed. Since 2007, the CPSC has had to recall 11 million dangerous cribs. Many of these cribs had drop sides.

That said, drop-side defects are not the only dangers to kids when it comes to cribs. Yesterday, in its Federal Register Notice regarding the final rule regarding “Safety Standards for Full-Size Baby Cribs and Non-Full-Size Baby Cribs,” the CPSC reported 147 deaths in cribs between November 1, 2007 and April 11, 2010. While 107 of the fatalities did not involve crib-related flaws or structural failures, 35 could be attributed to structural safety issues. 18 of the fatalities involved drop-side failures. Entrapment was a factor in 34 of the child deaths. Entrapment can occur when a child gets stuck in an opening within the crib that can cause suffocation or strangulation.

Also, out of 3,520 injuries in cribs, 1,675 of them were crib-related. Fortunately, most of the injuries were not serious enough to warrant hospitalization. However, the injuries that did require hospitalization were involved fall accidents from cribs (causing head injuries, skull fractures, and limb injuries), falls inside the crib, and children getting stuck in gaps in the crib and in between a crib’s slats.

Baby Asleep in a Drop-Side Crib? Soon They’ll Be Banned, Time, December 17, 2010

Safety Standards for Full-Size Baby Cribs and Non-Full-Size Baby Cribs, Federal Register Notice, December 28, 2010 (PDF)

Related Web Resources:
Consumer Product Safety Commision

Crib safety tips, Consumer Reports

North Carolina Nursing Home Negligence Alleged in Wrongful Death Lawsuits of Shooting Victims’ Families

December 21, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

The families of two of the eight people who were shot and killed during a shooting at Pinelake Health and Rehabilitation Center on March 20009 are suing the assisted living facility for North Carolina nursing home negligence. In their North Carolina wrongful death complaints, the relatives of 78-year-old John Goldston and 98-year-old Louise DeKler claim that the Carthage assisted living facility and its owner Peak Resources did not do enough to protect residents despite the fact that the alleged shooter Robert Stewart’s estranged wife had warned the facility’s supervisors that he might come for her that day.

Killed in the North Carolina nursing home shooting were Goldston, De Kler, five other nursing home patients and a nurse. Two other people sustained injuries.

Stewart is accused of storming the assisted living facility and firing at people while searching for his wife, who was hiding in a closet. A police officer entered the nursing home and shot him. Stewart now faces eight counts of first-degree murder. If he is convicted, prosecutors would like to see him get the death penalty.

The families of DeKler and Goldston are contending that the defendants could have set up even the most basic protections, such as a surveillance system and someone to work the front desk and lock the front doors after Stewart’s wife warned that he might go to the facility. The plaintiffs say that Stewart was able to walk fully armed through the Carthage nursing home.

Nursing Home Negligence
Assisted living facilities are supposed to protect their patients from becoming the victims of North Carolina nursing home abuse, neglect, sexual assault, and other violent acts. When failure to act or implement the necessary safety measures allows such crimes to happen, the residents and their families may have grounds for a civil suit seeking damages for North Carolina personal injury or wrongful death.

Families of Victims Sue in North Carolina Nursing Home Shootings, Insurance Journal, December 17, 2010

Families of victims in Carthage nursing home shootings file suit, FayObserver, December 16, 2010

Related Web Resources:
North Carolina Nursing Home Rampage Leaves Seven Patients and One Nurse Dead and A Visitor and Police Officer with Injuries, North Carolina Injury Lawyer BLog, March 31, 2009

NC Division of Aging and Adult Services

Family of Charlotte, North Carolina Teen Who Fell From US Airways Plane Want to Know How He Was Able to Stow Away

December 17, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

The family of teenager Delvonte Tisdale want to know how the 16-year-old was able to sneak onto a US Airways plane last month. Now, Charlotte airport authorities are asking police to investigate how the boy was able to get past security. One theory under exploration is that the teen jumped the 6-foot chain link fence that has barbed wire on top of it. According to the Transportation Security Administration, the Charlotte Douglas International Airport is responsible for the security on its grounds.

The Charlotte, North Caroline teenager died after falling several thousand feet from the air. Investigators say that Tisdale fell out as the plane was lowering its landing gear. However, experts are saying that he was likely dead before then.

Tisdale stowed onto the plane early on November 15, 2010. Officials say the teen appears to have hidden in the commercial plane’s left wheel well.

Tisdale’s body, which was severely damaged from the fall, was found in Massachusetts. However, seeing that at 20,000 feet the air inside a wheel well can go down to more than 20 below zero, there is a good chance that Tisdale lost consciousness because of the severe cold and lack of oxygen. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, out of 86 known stowaway attempts only 18 people have survived.

North Carolina Wrongful Death
If hazards, inadequate security, insufficient safety measures, and other circumstances on a premise contributed to your loved one’s death, you may have grounds for a Charlotte, North Carolina wrongful death case.

Family wants to know how teen snuck onto plane, Associated Press/, December 14, 2010

Authorities Work to Determine Whether N.C. Teen Delvonte Tisdale Fell From a Plane, ABC News, November 23, 2010

Related Web Resources:
Federal Aviation Administration

Charlotte Douglas International Airport

Family Agrees to $5M North Carolina Wrongful Death Settlement with Chewing Tobacco Manufacturer

December 11, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

The family of Bobby Hill have settled their North Carolina wrongful death case against US Smokeless Tobacco Co. for $5 million. Hill, who started chewing tobacco at age 13, died in 2003 from mouth and tongue cancer. He was 42. His wife Kelly sued the maker of Skoal and Copenhagen smokeless tobacco in 2005.

Hill’s family had accused the company of products liability, including the manufacturing and sale of a defective and dangerous product that it knows causes disease, addiction, and death. However, a spokesman for Altria, the company that acquired US Smokeless Tobacco last year, says the company has never made any health claims about its products and is not admitting to liability despite settling.

Since June, smokeless tobacco has to come with labels listing the risks associated with chewing tobacco, including gum disease, cancer, and tooth loss. The warning also has to say that smokeless tobacco is not a safer choice than cigarettes.

Prior to his passing, Hill underwent a number of surgeries to remove his tongue. The family’s case was strengthened by undisclosed letters from the tobacco company to minors offering free samples. The North Carolina wrongful death settlement, which is being called the first of its kind involving smokeless tobacco, could pave the way for more chewing tobacco lawsuit plaintiffs.

Oral Cancer Facts:
• Nearly 37,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer annually.
• In five years, just a little over 50% of these people will still be alive.
• Oral cancer kills 8,000 people a year.
• The death rate for oral cancer is higher than the fatality rates for cervical cancer, testicular cancer, skin cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and laryngeal cancer.

The National Cancer Institute says that smokeless tobacco can causes oral cancer, pancreatic cancer, esophageal cancer, gum disease, heart disease, oral lesions, leukoplakia, and other cancers. Smokeless tobacco contains nicotine and can be addictive.

Canton man’s family gets $5M in tobacco lawsuit, Citizen-Times, December 8, 2010

Chewing tobacco maker agrees to $5M settlement, TMCnet, December 10, 2010

Related Web Resources:
US Smokeless Tobacco Co.

National Cancer Institute

North Carolina Medical Malpractice?: Study of 10 Local Hospitals Reveal Failure to Decrease Hospital Mistakes

December 6, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

According to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, efforts to lower the number of medical errors made in US hospitals have generally failed. The Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers examined the practices conducted at 10 North Carolina hospitals between 2002 and 2007. They chose the hospitals for their aggressive and progressive handling of medical mistakes.

Out of 2,341 medical records that were evaluated, there were 588 incidents reported involving harms caused by hospitals to patients, including:

• Prescription errors
• Infections
• Wrong diagnosis
• Procedure mistakes
• Hospital falls

63% of the medical mistakes were considered preventable. 2.4% played a factor in causing a resident’s death. 8.5% of medical mistakes caused injuries that were life-threatening.

During the time period examined, the rate of medical errors went down at the hospitals by about 1%. Researchers say that the lack of improvement in these hospitals is an indicator that nationally more should be done to prevent medical mistakes. Currently, many US hospitals have reportedly been slow to implement certain lifesaving measures, including:

• A comprehensive electronic medical record system
• Enforcement of hand washing and other simple procedures
• Ensuring that nurses and doctors-in-training are not overworked

Charlotte, North Carolina Medical Malpractice
Medical mistakes can cause serious injuries and health issues for patients. If a hospital error was preventable or caused by the negligence of a doctor, nurse, surgeon, or another medical professional, you may have grounds for a North Carolina medical malpractice case.

Other common medical mistakes:
• Surgical errors
• Failure to check patient’s vitals
• Failure to obtain informed consent
• Anesthesia mistakes
• Nursing negligence
• Delayed diagnosis
• Wrong site surgery
• Birthing errors
• Failure to provide proper postoperative care

Despite Efforts, Study Finds No Decline in Medical Errors, Business Week, November 24, 2010

Medical Injuries Harm 18% of Hospital Patients in N.C., Researchers Find, Bloomberg, November 24, 2010

Related Web Resources:

The New England Journal of Medicine

Medical Malpractice, Nolo

North Carolina Hospitals

Hospital Malpractice?: Medicare Analysis Reports that Too Many People Die Unnecessarily at US Hospitals

December 1, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

According to a U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services analysis, too many people die unnecessarily at US hospitals. Researchers also say that many hospitals seem to serve as revolving doors for patients, with a number of patients ending up back in the hospital within 30 days. The American College of Cardiology’s National Data Registry’s chief science officer calls this situation a “double failure in the health system.”

For example, one out of every four patients suffering from heart failure ends up returning to the hospital within one month. The same goes for slightly under one out of every five pneumonia patients. Also, in 5.9% of US hospitals patients with pneumonia died at rates that were higher than the national average. 3.4% of hospitals reported heart failure-related death rates that were above the national average.

There were, however, over 200 US hospitals with death rates that were better than the average. Hundreds of hospitals garnered better results when it came to readmission rates.

Analysis findings come from the over 1 million readmissions and deaths involving Medicare patients between 2005 and 2008. Solutions under consideration include offering hospitals and doctors rewards not just for the number of procedures they perform but also for good patient outcomes. Creating a more competitive atmosphere between hospitals so that they have to give prospective patients a reason for admission might also lead to better quality care.

North Carolina Hospital Malpractice
In addition to providing better hospital care, it is also important that US hospitals prevent incidents of hospital malpractice from happening. Hospital malpractice can involve any kind of North Carolina medical malpractice committed by a hospital staff member, including a doctor, a hospital lab technician, a nurse, a hospital pharmacist, or another hospital staff member.

Examples of possible grounds for North Carolina hospital malpractice:

• Surgical errors
• Not ordering the correct medical tests
• Improper monitoring of a patient
• Nursing negligence
• Infections
• Wrong diagnosis
• Failure to provide the proper medical care or treatment
• Medication mistakes

Double Failure at US Hospitals, USA Today, July 9, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Medical Malpractice Overview, Justia

North Carolina Hospitals, USA Hospitals

Waxhaw Pit Bull Attack Leaves 5-Year-Old Dead and Her Grandmother with Serious Injuries

December 1, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

5-year-old girl McKayla Woodard has died from injuries she sustained this morning during a Waxhaw, North Carolina dog attack involving two pit bulls. Her grandmother, who tried to rescue her from the dogs, is alive but with serious injuries.

A family member of McKayla’s says that the Union, North Carolina dog mauling happened as the young girl tried to get into the fenced yard next to her home. The two pit bulls belonged to neighbor Michael Gordon. Police have since shot them dead. It is not known at this time why they were running loose in the area.

Media outlets have said that McKayla sustained multiple dog bite wounds around her neck—an area of the body where young children are especially vulnerable to serious dog attack injuries. One reason for this is that the neck is an area on kids that is not difficult for a dog to reach. Children are also vulnerable to dog bite injuries on their lips, cheeks, head, ears, and nose. According to research published in 2009 in the Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, pit bulls were the most likely culprits when it came to inflicting these types of dog bite injuries to kids. Injuries to the head and face can result in permanent disfigurement, severe pain, scarring, and, in some cases, death.

North Carolina’s contributory negligence law can make it challenging for victims and their families to obtain damages from liable parties, which is just one reason why you should consult with an experienced Union County, North Carolina dog bite law firm.

Pit bulls kill 5-year-old girl, attack grandmother in Waxha, Charlotte Observer, January 12, 2011

Pit bulls kill 5-year-old, maul her grandmother, WCNC, January 12, 2011

Analysis of Dog Bites in Children Who Are Younger Than 17 Years, Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics

Dog Bites A Particular Threat To Young Children, Especially As Temperatures Rise, Science Daily, March 2, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Dog Bites, Nolo

C-Sections Have Their Medical Risks, Too

December 1, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for every three babies born nearly one will be delivered by cesarean section. Even though C-sections have lower birth injury rates, the procedure still come with certain risks, such as a higher infection risk, a longer hospital stay, and potential respiratory problems for the newborn.

Yet now more than ever women are having cesarean deliveries. In some cases, this choice is elective rather than necessary. Scheduling the birth date to fit into the busy schedules of the doctor and/or patient, economic incentives, and the fear of medical malpractice lawsuits are non-medical reasons why a baby might be delivered via C-section instead of naturally. For example, Northwestern Memorial Hospital obstetrician gynecologist Dr. Lauren Streicher notes that obstetricians are not financially compensated for the hours they must be available during a woman’s labor. They also usually have to cancel other appointments during this time.

Some medical professionals feel that cesarean delivery disrupts the natural process that helps newborns move into a world where they have to breath air. According to Dr. Lucky Jain, C-section babies are more likely than infants that are born naturally to develop respiratory distress after they are born. They also risk developing asthma.

Jain also notes that C-sections—especially if a woman has multiple cesareans—can lead to medical complications for the mom.

North Carolina Birthing Malpractice
If you believe that your child’s birthing injuries are a result of a medical mistake by your obstetrician or gynecologist, you should contact an experienced birthing malpractice lawyer to discuss your case.

A C-section is a major surgery and should be performed only after determining that this is a good medical option for the mother and baby. In certain cases, failure to perform a cesarean delivery can be grounds for a North Carolina birthing malpractice lawsuit if the baby sustains injuries, such as cerebral palsy or brain damage, as a result.

Are C-Sections Too Common?, ABC News, March 10, 2010

Cesarean Section – Risks and Complications, Web MD

Related Web Resources:
Recent Trends in Cesarean Delivery in the United States, CDC (PDF)

Medical Malpractice Basics, Nolo

Goldsboro Driver Sustains Burn Injuries in Fayetteville, North Carolina Truck Crash

December 1, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

As of yesterday, a Goldsboro tanker-truck driver who sustained burn injuries from a Fayetteville, North Carolina truck accident on Interstate 95 on Monday night remains in critical condition.

Frankie Graves is in Chapel Hill at the N.C. Jaycee Burn Center. The 54-year-old trucker sustained burn injuries on 40% of his body. According to North Carolina state troopers, the fuel tank of Graves’s tanker truck was punctured when the the vehicle struck the guardrail after crashing into a semi-truck that had stopped abruptly to avoid hitting the driver of a pickup truck that had run out of gas.

Graves reportedly jumped out of his cab with his clothes burning. Another man rolled him in the median to put out the fire.

Burn Injuries
Burn injuries can be very painful and they can take a long time to treat and recover from. This can require costly surgeries, skin grafts, physical therapy, and psychological counseling. There may even be internal damage and permanent physical disfigurement. The burn injury victim may no longer be able to work, which makes the need for financial recovery if someone was liable for the injuries even more of a priority.

There is the misconception that passenger vehicle occupants are the only ones that get hurt in North Carolina truck crashes. Truck drivers do get hurt and sometimes it is because of the negligence of another trucker, the driver of a passenger vehicle, a trucking company, a truck manufacturer, or another liable party.

While injured truck drivers are likely entitled to North Carolina workers’ compensation recovery, there also may be third parties that can be held liable.

Burned tanker truck driver still in critical condition, FayObserver, Oct 22, 2009

I-95 tanker accident still causing issues hours later, News 14, October 20, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Traumatic Brain Injury, Medline Plus

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration


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