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Concussion incident rates rise in California

A new report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has suggested that increasing numbers of E.R. visits are related to concussions and head trauma. According to the report, E.R. visits for traumatic brain injuries leapt by 29.1 percent between 2006 and 2010.

Scientists from the Harvard Medical School and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine sampled data from more than 950 hospitals. They focused on patients seeking care for unspecified head injuries, lacerations, concussions, skull fractures and contusions.

Over the four-year period of study, researchers observed an 8 percent uptick in skull fracture treatments, a 22 percent leap in concussion treatments, and a 38 percent hike for unspecified head injuries seen in the E.R.  At the same time, the percentage of patients routinely discharged after E.R. care jumped from 75.2 percent in 2006 to 81.3 percent in 2010. Better, more accurate diagnosis? Medical negligence as patients are seen in shorter and shorter amounts of time?

It is possible that Americans are simply growing more conscious of head injury risks. Before, during and after prominent lawsuits, national media channels flood airwaves with information about football, soccer, volleyball and other sports-related head traumas. The number of actual head injuries may also have increased across the nation.

Not sure if your head injury was properly diagnosed and treated? Still struggling to cope on a daily basis? Seek experienced legal counsel and find out if you have a medical negligence case.

Nationwide, nursing home abuse startlingly common

In the latest of a tidal wave of senior abuse reports, federal authorities fined a Kansas nursing home more than $185,000 and imposed a $1,000 per day fine that will be charged until the home is brought back into compliance. 

The State Department for Aging and Disability Services alleged that four staff at the home verbally and physically abused at least two seniors. The individuals in question have been terminated.

The alleged abuse came to light after a state inspector talked to 27 residents. Those discussions revealed that at least two elderly residents suffered repeated abuse. One patient was the preferred target for all four nursing home aides. Another patient at the facility had repeatedly abused a fellow resident.

On release of the report, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid fined the home $8,200 a day from March 26 to April 13, and $1,000 a day for each day after April 13. The fines will cease once the home is compliant with all rules and regulations and has dealt with the issues cited in the report — including the failure to self-report and to look into intra-resident violence.

All facility staff is being retrained, and the home will be subject to random inspection at a later date.

We all need to take action if we suspect that something is wrong at a nursing home or that a relative is being abused. If you feel something is wrong at a nursing home, call a competent lawyer and get help.

Should large retail stores have portable defibrillator units on hand?

While portable defibrillator units do save lives, they can also backfire, causing unnecessary harm. For more than 20 years, the percentage of public locations, including airports and bus stations, with automated external defibrillator units has grown steadily.

But should retail stores carry them as well?

The California Supreme Court, in hearing arguments in a wrongful death lawsuit against Target, appears reluctant to mandate that large retail operations keep such a defibrillator unit in their stores. Lawmakers are concerned that store clerks, even if trained, may not be able to distinguish a heart attack from another condition. Misidentification of symptoms and/or incorrect use of the devices could exacerbate an already dangerous situation. 

And once medical intervention by store clerk is permitted, would stores be required to deal with other medical emergencies?

The lawsuit facing the Supreme Court involves the death of 49-year-old Mary Ann Verdugo at a local Target store. Verdugo’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit, suggesting that she would still be alive had a defibrillator unit and trained worker been available. Verdugo was shopping in Target in 2008 when she suffered a cardiac arrest.

The family’s attorney has argued that the units are easily used by lay people, as they are capable of issuing voice commands and carry special sensors that only supply electricity when necessary.

The Court plans to issue its judgement within 90 days. Should the court rule in favor of the plaintiff family, retailers will need to support their customers in a drastically different way.