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Upper Marlboro Personal Injury Law Blog

State passes bills targeting nursing home quality

Maryland residents who must place aging parents or other family members in nursing homes may often do so with some level of trepidation about their safety in these facilities. This trepidation it seems is sadly warranted.

More than 27 percent of the state's nursing homes are said to have earned only two or fewer stars based on the rating system displayed on the federal government's website for Medicare. In addition, 20 care facilities are categories as below average or worse for staffing and another 20 have the same rating for quality. When it comes to how the state has handled reports of problems in nursing homes, things are not any better. Maryland actually ranks as the seventh worst in the U.S. for this. Despite a federal mandate to investigate complaints within 10 days, Maryland has averaged 47 days to start investigations.

What is patient dumping?

Earlier this year, a video taken outside the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore went viral due to the shocking content of a woman being abandoned outside the hospital. A man passing by recorded a young female patient clothed in nothing but a hospital gown and socks being escorted out of the building by what appeared to be security guards. The woman was then left alone at a nearby bus stop in freezing temperatures. Thanks to this viral video, the issue of patient dumping became a national headline.

According to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, which was enacted in 1986, mandates that patients must be given care regardless of the ability to pay for it. Patient dumping is any action that occurs when a hospital does not perform the duty expected of them by law. You cannot be "dumped" based on your financial circumstances, your lack of insurance or for any discriminatory reasons such as race or national origin.

When someone suffers a heart attack while driving

Roads can be dangerous for different reasons, from the intentional and reckless behavior of negligent drivers to weather-related events that create risks on the road (snow, fog, ice, etc.). However, there are far more reasons why motor vehicle crashes take place, such as those caused by health conditions. Among the many health conditions that can lead to a traffic collision, it is very dangerous for everyone on the road when a driver suffers a heart attack while behind the wheel. Heart attacks can cause a driver to lose control of his or her vehicle, crossing over into another lane, colliding with a vehicle in front of them, or driving off of the road altogether.

A person may be even more likely to suffer a heart attack while operating a vehicle for different reasons. Fro example, they may become angry at the behavior of another driver, or they could be extremely stressed out due to heavy traffic, a close call, or confusion over directions. Sadly, many lives have been lost in auto accidents that were caused by a driver who suffered a heart attack on the road, and many victims have also sustained debilitating injuries. Those who have a high risk of suffering a heart attack should be mindful of this condition when it comes to driving, to protect their own life and the lives of others.

Nursing home standards: quality is key

Choosing to place a loved one in a senior living residence can be a difficult decision in itself. It is for this reason that finding an honest, quality facility is crucial. Maryland, like other states, enforces specific laws that protect all residents in a nursing home. When one finds that a resident has not received this quality service, further action may be necessary.

When facing a challenging situation, it can be helpful to expand one's knowledge on nursing home regulations as a whole. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration outlines the nursing home standards held by a number of states, including Maryland. Since 2007, Maryland has enforced a straightforward law requiring all hospitals to supply a safe patient lifting team with enough staff present at all times. OSHA also provides a number of brochures and handbooks for all nursing home employees regarding various hazards and safety risks of the job. The administration updates these handbooks on a regular basis and provides additional training resources for nursing home staff. 

Can I sue my employer over worker's comp?

The state mandates that Pennsylvania businesses carry workers’ compensation insurance, which is designed to help employees injured on the job recover medical expenses and lost wages. The thing to remember is that, because it is a type of insurance, typically you will not be able to file a lawsuit against your company for injuries that are covered by workers’ comp.

According to FindLaw, workers’ comp benefits are considered a trade-off for the right to sue your employer when you are hurt, whether the injury is your fault or the company’s. This is a no-fault system in which your benefits are safe, and businesses are safe from employee lawsuits.

3 teens involved in serious car accident in Bowie

Every time one steps into a vehicle driven by another in Upper Marlboro, he or she is entrusting (either knowingly or inadvertently) his or her safety to that driver. By extension, so is his or her family. Thus, when passengers are killed or injured in car accidents, they and/or their families may be placed in the difficult position of having to make the drivers legally liable for the outcome. This may not be by choice; the need for monetary assistance to cover their accident expenses may require them to do so. 

Two Bowie families may be forced to contemplate such a decision after their sons were involved in a recent accident. While one of the teens survived, the other sadly succumbed to his injuries. The boys were traveling in a car with another teenage girl, who has since been identified as the driver. The car suddenly swiped another vehicle, then subsequently lost control. It veered off of the road and then hit a tree. Both the surviving boy and the girl are reported to have sustained critical injuries.

Workplace fatalities more common for older workers

Age is a factor that many Upper Marlboro area workers might not take into consideration when they think of workplace safety. They might be so concerned with having a steady paycheck that they do not recognize they are more likely to suffer serious and even fatal injuries in accidents that occur on the job as they grow older. 

According to APNORC.org, overall, the number of fatal workplace accidents is decreasing across the country, yet the rate of fatality for older employees continues to go up. Seniors have fragile bodies and are more susceptible to critical injuries and ailments when falls, burns and other trauma occur on the job. They also face longer recoveries and an increased risk of life-threatening complications developing from their injuries. 

The red flags of a bad nursing home

Most Maryland residents are familiar with nursing homes on some level. Despite how difficult it may be, making the decision to place a loved one in someone else's care is sometimes the best option for everyone involved. The most crucial aspect of this decision, however, is that of the medical professionals and nursing home staff themselves. Can they be trusted? Below are some red flags to watch out for when searching for a new place of residence for an elderly person in need.

Care Pathways provides some common warning signs that a nursing home may not be as reliable as it seems:

  • The resident is more confused or drowsy than normal
  • The resident has poor personal hygiene
  • The resident has broken bones or other unexplained injuries
  • The resident is withdrawn and isolated

What are the cell phone driving laws in Maryland?

Maryland has been kicking up its efforts to curb highway auto accidents in recent years with distracted driving becoming a major focus. According to the state's Moving Vehicle Administration, distracted driving is responsible for an average of 27,000 injuries and fatalities annually with cell phone use being a common variable.

It is no surprise that Maryland has begun to crack down on cell phone distraction by prohibiting drivers from using hand-held devices. You can use your hands to operate the phone only to initiate a phone call, to end one or to turn the device on or off. Emergencies provide an exception to this rule as hand-held phones can be used to dial 9-1-1 or make other necessary emergency calls. Any other communication must be made using a hands-free system. Violations can result in a fine and, if the act results in a crash, you can be given points against your license.

Heroin said to be the cause of fatal accident in Annapolis

No one ever anticipated being involved in a car accident in Upper Marlboro given that most are fairly confident in their own driving skills. The assumption, then, is that being a skilled driver automatically equates to being able to avoid collisions. However. no amount of driving skill may make up for the fact that one is always at risk of encountering another on the road that may share his or her commitment to responsible driving. In such a case, even experienced drivers may not to be able avoid the potentially devastating consequences that can accompany one person's allegedly irresponsible behavior. 

Such behavior is being cited by law enforcement officials as the cause of a multi-car crash in Annapolis. The testimony of a passenger in the vehicle that caused the accident (coupled with observations made by investigators at the scene) confirmed to authorities that the young man responsible for the accident had been driving under the influence of heroin. Officials say he was driving at excessive speeds when he crossed into the opposite lanes and stuck to other vehicles. He himself and one of his passengers sustained serious injuries, while two others were also injured. Sadly, the driver of one of the vehicles that was struck died from her injuries shortly after being transported to a local hospital. 

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