Cell Phone Use While Driving

In a recent discussion, several lawyers thought that a jury would react more harshly to a driver talking on a cell phone while getting into an accident than a drunk driver. It’s a conscious choice to talk on the phone in a traffic situation and I think that most people can relate to that.

Thomas Creech gave an excellent list of articles to research on cell phone use and the increased risk of collisions.

  1. Association Between Cellular Telephone Calls and Motor Vehicle Collision. D.A. Redelmier and R.J. Tibshrani. NEJM February 14, 1997 pp 453-8
  2. Cautions about Car Telephones and Collision. Editorial M. Maclure and M.A. Mittleman NEJM February 14, 1997 pp 506-7
  3. Cellular Telephones and Traffic Accidents Correspondence NEJM July 16, 1997, pp 127-9
  4. Study Analyzes Cell Phone Use in Fatal Collision. Highway and Vehicle/Safety Report August 3, 1998 p. 4
  5. Cellular Telephone Use and Fatal Traffic Collision: A commentary, D.J. Cher, R.J. Mrad and M. Kelsh. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 31(5) 1999, p. 599
  6. Driver Distraction with Wireless Telecommunication and Route Guidance Systems. L Tijerina, NHTSA, July 2000, 94p
  7. In-vehicle cell phones: fatal distraction? D. Curry. Professional Safety, Vol. 47, No.3, March 2002, pp 28-33
  8. Cell Phones and driving: how risky? D Ropeik. Consumers Research Magazine, Vol 86, No.1 January 2003, pp 14-16.

I have switched to a hands-free system and don’t use the phone in heavy traffic. Thanks for the references Tom, those will be great to look up.

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Effectiveness of MRI's on Diagnosing Spinal Problems

We have a guest post from David Ketroser. J.D., M.D. an attorney/doctor from Minnesota gives the following advice on backs and imaging:  

There is extensive literature documenting that spinal imaging is essentially worthless for anything but showing what is causing the radiculopathy after the clinical diagnosis of radiculopathy has been made.

 Of the two causes for 98% of the patients with chronic headaches, neck and/or upper back pain (facet joint or discogenic pain), an MRI, CT or myelogram is incapable of distinguishing asymptomatic patients from those with pain.
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Great Source of Information on the Back

An Orthopedic Group in Colorado Springs has set up a Spine School on the internet. A lot of great information in simple to read and easy to understand format. Their Spine School includes general information on the anatomy of the back, general problems with the back, tests and procedures to fix the back.

It’s a great resource for clients with back problems, or anyone in your firm that is new to injury work. Thanks to Janabeth Fleming Taylor for the heads up.

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Contaminated Bone and Tissue Scandal

Mark Zamora of A Georgia Lawyer points to a Philadelphia Daily News article on the widening bone scandal:

Biomedical sold parts to unknowing tissue banks across the country that used them for tissue transplants for trusting patients, Brooklyn prosecutors said. Some of the parts also were turned into bone paste, skin grafts and dental implants.   …

The D.A.'s office is investigating how many Philly corpses were dissected, how much money was exchanged for the work, and how several funeral homes began a contractual relationship with BTS.

What’s the big deal? Contaminated bones can create a host of problems for the recipient. At the Southern Trial Lawyer’s Convention, Don Keenan gave the analogy “Picture leaving hamburger out on the counter for 16 hours. There is no way you could properly prepare it, that it would be fit to eat.” That’s what they’re doing with the contaminated transplants. Once the tissue and bone is contaminated, there is no way to make it suitable for use. Check out Mark’s blog for more info.

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Most Hospitals Don't do Well on the Basics of Medicine

The New York Times has an article about the Department of Health and Human Services study that was published  in the New England Journal of Medicine last month where hospitals were graded on the basics:

JUST about everyone in medicine agrees that a patient who shows up in the emergency room with a heart attack should be given aspirin. That simple treatment has been proved to cut death rates by nearly a quarter.   …

Over all, Long Island hospitals delivered appropriate treatment to heart attack victims 92 percent of the time, to heart failure patients 84 percent of the time, and to pneumonia patients 75 percent of the time.  …

"We really should be close to 100 percent on all of these measures," said Dr. Ashish Jha, a Boston physician and author of one of the national studies published last month. "There's not much controversy about whether giving antibiotics to someone who has pneumonia is good or not."

And the hospital’s response to this study saying they aren’t consistently doing the basics? Continue Reading Posted inMedical Info, Trial Techniques |Comments (0) |Permalink

Technology helps with prosthetics

Technology and medicine meet with new bionic legs:

The C-Leg prosthetic is helping to blur the line between man and machine. The $40,000 lithium-ion (30 hours of juice) powered C-Leg has a “computer chip” in the knee which reads how fast the person is walking and swings the leg (via hydraulics) for them. The knees read the person’s gait speed, weight distribution over the leg, and the pitch of the surface at a rate of 50 times a second making constant, automatic adjustments to the legs making stairs, curbs, or hills much easier to plod than with previous devices.

They keep making new advances all of the time.

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Using a Nurse to attend DME

Another guest post from Karen Shelton a legal nurse consultant, who works with The Steinberg Law Firm.

When defense counsel schedules a defense medical examination for your client, consider sending a nurse-advocate along. Very often, her presence is just enough to encourage the evaluating physician to be open-minded about the client’s condition, causation, restrictions, future treatment, and impairment ratings. The nurse-advocate can also insure that all pertinent medical records are available to the physician. Plus you get first hand information about what the physician’s position will be. The nurse-advocate also can make sure the physician hears all the details that clients sometimes forget. There is a new specialty developing for nurses: DME Witness.

[Note from Dave: I prefer DME instead of IME. It is a Defense Medical Examination. There is nothing independent about it. We’ve already lost the battle, if we call it or allow it to be called Independent.]   Thanks Karen.

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Cost Projections, How Valuable are They?

Another guest post from Karen Shelton at The Steinberg Law Firm.

  • First a Positive Story:
    Not long ago, an attorney (we’ll call him Lawyer 1) called me to help him with a damages issue involving a personal injury case.  He had already established causation but needed help to capture the policy limits that he thought were around $50,000.  The medical records clearly indicated that the treating orthopedic surgeon was advising future cervical surgery for injuries received in an auto accident.  I prepared a Cost Projection, based solely on the medical recommendation, kept the numbers as conservative as possible, and came up with a projected cost of a little over $200,000.  This amount included costs for the surgery, a brief period of therapy, routine office visits, and lifelong anti-inflammatories.  Lawyer 1 was delighted with his final settlement amount of almost $150,000.
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Learning the Basics of Anatomy and Physiology

To effectively convey the scope of your client’s injuries it’s important to actually know anatomy and physiology. If you haven’t taken courses in anatomy in undergrad, there is a cheaper way than going to night school. The Insurance Defense Blog points out  the Teaching Institute’s course Understanding the Human Body: An Introduction to Anatomy Physiology. The course consists of 32 lectures, each 45 minutes long, on DVD or videotape. It is currently on sale for $129.95. Dave Stratton, the author of Insurance Defense Blog bought the course and enjoyed them.

Also, check out the rest of the Insurance Defense Blog. Dave’s done a good job with his weblog.

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Brain Injuries in Worker's Compensation Cases

We have another treat from Karen Shelton today.

As a Legal Nurse Consultant working with Steinberg Law Firm, in Charleston, South Carolina, I am often asked to review a case for medical merit. I have been surprised at how many cases involve mild, acquired brain injury and cognitive dysfunction. But usually, the diagnosis of brain injury does not just pop out. There are hidden clues and signs that suggest the possibility.

We all recognize those brain injuries involving skull fractures, unconsciousness, bleeding into the brain, etc. But what are some other examples that you would not ordinarily think of?

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How to Develop a So-So Case Into a Really Good One

We have a special treat today. A post from Karen Shelton, RN, CDMS, CNLCP. Karen is a legal nurse consultant that does a lot of work with the Steinberg Law Firm.

Stop: Think about the case. Visualize the accident, visualize the injuries-find out who all the participants in the case are: client, spouse, employer, physicians, therapists, case manager, adjuster, defense attorney. Everyone has an impact, positive or negative. Find out right away who is involved.

Look: What are the circumstances of the injury? What COULD have happened physically? What has been claimed? Have all possible injuries been addressed? What do the medical records suggest? Have you read, and understood, every piece of medical information you have? What information do you NOT have? Get it.

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Great Sources for Info on Traumatic Brain Injuries.

Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association Online has a great list of links for dealing with traumatic brain injuries.

You can also get up to date information on traumatic brain injuries from Bruce Stern's Brain Injury Law Blog. This blogging thing is getting bigger every day.

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