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Upper Marlboro Personal Injury Law Blog

Central database aims to decrease truck accidents

Truck accidents were responsible for the deaths of 3,744 people in 2014, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Approximately 49 people were killed in Maryland alone. These catastrophic collisions are due in part, to distracted, drowsy, drunk and otherwise negligent truck drivers who fail to adhere to the rules of the road. While truck drivers may be given citations, fail drug tests and commit other illegal acts, there has not been a way to track these truckers and their violations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has proposed the creation of a centralized database that would allow trucking companies access to this very important information.

The Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is designed to track the results of drug and alcohol tests given to truckers, as well as any violations they might have. Before trucking companies are able to hire new truck drivers, they must check the central database to ensure that the driver does not have any outstanding violations or has failed drug or alcohol tests. In addition, employers must perform an annual check on all truck drivers in order for them to maintain employment. When truckers go to renew their CDL, state officials must also check the database.

What factors can lead to a forklift accident?

Forklifts are used in warehouses in Maryland and across the country. While these essential machines are used to move heavy products from place to place, they may pose a critical threat to operators who are not using them correctly. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, nearly 100,000 workers are injured and killed every year as the result of forklift accidents. Employers have a responsibility to ensure their employees receive the proper training on how to use these large machines correctly.

There are several factors that can lead to serious forklift accidents. In addition to poor training, the warehouse may be designed in such a way that makes it difficult to maneuver the forklift down narrow aisles or through heavy traffic. Furthermore, poorly stacked loads or items that are placed haphazardly on the forklift may cause problems for the driver, as well as the people who are in the driver’s way. For example, the load may be stacked too high, making it difficult for the forklift operator to see where he or she is going.

Cognitive distraction II: Technological distractions

The first cognitive distraction study published by AAA focused on determining whether hands-free cellular devices were any less distracting than hand-held cellphones. Surprisingly, the results showed that the hands-free cellphone was only slightly less distracting than the hand-held model. Interestingly enough, the task that measured highest on the distraction scale was the one involving the use of voice-activated technology. Using this information, another study was conducted to find out more about this technology and the cause of distraction to drivers.

Voice-activated technology was developed to remove driver distractions by allowing them to complete tasks using their voice. For instance, drivers could compose an email, dial a phone number and talk, text, perform navigation features and activate the radio all with a simple voice command. Errors in the technology, however, presents a significant danger to drivers in the form of cognitive distraction. The study had participants use different types of in-vehicle voice technology installed in vehicles by manufacturers, as well as voice technology available on cellular devices.

False results: Are medical tests really reliable?

When physicians diagnose patients with a condition, they often order a screening test to help them determine whether or not the condition exists. Doctors rely on these tests to provide accurate information, which will ultimately help them provide the right diagnosis to their patients. According to researchers from the National Institutes of Health, however, false positives and false negatives can occur, which may cause doctors to misdiagnose patients or fail to provide a diagnosis at all.  

False positives indicate that the patient has a condition, when in all actuality, they do not, according to ScienceBasedMedicine.org. For example, a person may receive a false positive on a screening test used to diagnose skin cancer, but they do not actually have the disease. On the other hand, a false negative may report that a patient does not have a condition, when they actually do. This may cause serious patient harm, as the untreated condition could worsen to a point where it may become fatal or severely injure the patient.

Drowsy truckers pose a danger to motorists

A number of tractor trailers traveling throughout Maryland and across the country navigate the roadways on a daily basis. These massive vehicles require well-trained and qualified truckers to operate them safely alongside other motor vehicles on the road. With a shortage of experienced truck drivers and an increase of freight needing to be distributed throughout the country, truck driver fatigue has become an issue. At Wilson & Parlett, we know that when negligent truckers drive drowsy it puts countless motorists at risk of being involved in an accident.

In some cases, trucking companies may encourage truck drivers to spend more time behind the wheel despite regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Hours of Service regulations limit the amount of time truckers can spend driving during any given period. Furthermore, truckers are required to take frequent breaks and rests throughout their driving time.

Heat-related illnesses can occur in the workplace

A number of Americans work in outdoor and indoor environments that are hot and humid on a daily basis. Although some people can become accustomed to working in such harsh conditions, high temperatures can be brutal, especially when people are trying to work. When the body losses an excessive amount of fluid and is unable to regulate its core temperature, it can cause serious symptoms which could cause illness, permanent injuries and even death in some cases.

One of the most dangerous types of heat-related illnesses is heat stroke, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. People sweat in order to control their body temperature. However, when people get too hot or workers become dehydrated, the body may lose its ability to sweat. As a result, the body cannot cool itself and the person may lose consciousness. Before a stroke occurs, people often experience heat exhaustion, which includes signs of nausea, weakness, irritability, headaches and heavy sweating. If a worker begins to feel these symptoms, they may want to take a break and call for medical help if needed.

Cognitive distraction: The safety of hands-free cellphones

Driver distraction leads to a significant number of traffic accidents, injuries and deaths every year. In Maryland and in many other states in the country, using a hand-held device while behind the wheel is prohibited by law. In order to comply with the law and continue engaging in cellphone business, a number of drivers have started using hands-free devices. Although these cellphones are designed to be safer by eliminating visual and manual distractions, they still cause a significant amount of cognitive distraction, which can be just as dangerous.

Researchers attempted to measure just how safe hands-free cellphones are by determining the amount of cognitive distraction they cause. The study, published by AAA, measured participants eye movement, heart rate, response time and brain activity while they operated a car equipped with monitoring devices, as well as a simulator. The participants were asked to do several tasks while behind the wheel, including talk on a hand-held cellphone, maintain a conversation using a hands-free cellphone, talk with a passenger in the vehicle, listen to an audio book, listen to the radio and compose an email using voice-activated technology.

How can prescription errors threaten lives?

When you take your prescription to the local pharmacy or are given a drug while in the hospital, you expect to be given the correct medication that was accurately prescribed by your physician. Unfortunately, just like any other area of medical practice, errors can occur. Not only can community pharmacies be at fault for filling a prescription incorrectly or dispensing the wrong medication, a physician or medical institution may be responsible for prescribing a medication incorrectly. Nurses may also phone in the prescription wrong, which could have catastrophic results in some cases. A mistake can occur anywhere during the prescribing process.

According to the National Library of Medicine, some medication errors may include the following:

  •          Physicians prescribe a drug in error due to lack of clinical knowledge regarding a condition or disease.
  •          Physicians prescribe the wrong dose of medication based upon the patients’ body weight and age.
  •          Pharmacy personnel mistype the prescription or interpret the doctor’s handwriting incorrectly, resulting in dispensing the wrong medication.
  •          Medication may be given to the wrong patient or prescribed for the wrong route of administration.

Identifying types of nursing home medication errors

When you move your elderly loved one into a Maryland nursing care facility, you hope that he or she will be given the proper medical attention. In addition to being fed and bathed regularly, most nursing home residents require a strict medication regimen. At Wilson & Parlett, we know that when nursing home residents do not receive their medication properly, it can cause serious issues that may have life-threatening consequences. Residents could experience malnutrition, organ failure, high blood pressure, blood clots, reduced immune response and other unexpected medical complications from not taking their medication.

Not only must the medication be given to the right person at the right time, but some drugs have certain dosing requirements that must be followed to ensure that the medication is effective. Furthermore, medication that is given one way to younger adults often has different administration techniques for elderly patients. Factors that can cause a problem include the following:

  •          Some prescription medication should not be given with antacids or multivitamins, as these substances can alter the absorption rate of the drug.
  •          Certain medicines should be shaken well or mixed just prior to administering the medication to ensure that the drug is properly distributed throughout the liquid.
  •          A medication is under dosed, over dosed or a dosage is missed altogether.
  •          A medication is given at the wrong time.
  •          Taking medication from one resident to give to another resident.

Tractor trailers part of catastrophic pileup along I-95

There is no question that winter weather can be a serious hazard to drivers on the road. While some motorists are careful when navigating the streets in wind, rain, ice, snow and fog, others fail to slow down and drive carefully in these inclement weather conditions. This reckless driving can result in tragic car accidents, injuries and deaths in Maryland and throughout the country.  

A winter storm involving freezing rain resulted in catastrophic accidents in Baltimore and approximately 377 reported accidents across the state. It was this weather that caused a tanker truck filled with gasoline to catapult over the edge of a bridge and erupt into flames while traveling northbound on I-95. Two people died as a result of the tractor trailer accident, and 13 others were injured. Surprisingly, this accident was not an isolated incident. That same night, another fatality occurred when a man jumped over a highway wall as he was running from an accident scene. Then, a 15-car pileup occurred just 45 minutes later.

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