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Lawton Oklahoma Personal Injury Law Blog

Study shows technology can cut car crashes

Autonomous technologies have the potential to reduce the number of dangerous car accidents on Oklahoma roads. While fully self-driving cars might be some time away on the horizon, a range of advanced driver assistance systems could reduce the risk of serious car accidents and the associated injuries and fatalities. According to one study released by GM, these safety technologies can be linked to significant decreases in certain types of car accidents. Rear-end collisions in particular were reduced by 46% with the installation of certain types of safety devices.

The study involved examining crash data collected by police in 10 different states. Car accident reports contain VINs, which are individual numbers identifying a particular vehicle. GM provided access to its database of VINs for 3.8 million vehicles produced from 2013 to 2017. By comparing these numbers with the crash data, researchers were able to determine which cars had the safety technologies installed.

Accidents caused by red-light runners on the rise

According to a study of traffic accident data conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the number of crash fatalities due to drivers running red lights has surged in recent years. In the state of Oklahoma, more than 3,000 crashes occurred from drivers ignoring traffic signals. The Traffic Safety Culture Index indicates that 85% of drivers say going through a red light is very dangerous, but almost 33% said they'd done it in the prior 30 days.

According to an Oklahoma police chief, the problem may be related to distracted driving. He estimated that approximately 33% of drivers are using a smartphone at any given time. At least 11 people were killed in Oklahoma in 2018 in crashes where a driver ran a red light. In 98 of these crashes, people were seriously injured. Nationally, 939 people were killed in traffic accidents caused by red-light runners in 2017.

Blood test could improve accuracy of TBI diagnoses

Construction workers, sports players and the victims of car crashes are all liable to suffer from head trauma. What may seem like minor head trauma at first can turn out to be a traumatic brain injury. Oklahoma residents should know that there are currently two primary ways to detect a TBI: MRIs and CT scans.

These two methods come with drawbacks. Many hospitals cannot afford MRI equipment, and MRIs take time. CT scans may be less expensive, quicker and more widely available, but they are liable to miss TBIs. However, there is a new blood test that may detect TBIs with greater accuracy than either of these. It has been the subject of a recent study.

How a person could be harmed by medical malpractice

If people in Oklahoma and elsewhere are harmed because of a medical error, they may be victims of medical malpractice. One of its most common forms is the misdiagnosing a health issue. When someone is misdiagnosed, he or she may not receive proper treatment in a timely manner. In fact, an individual may not receive any treatment at all. This could result in unnecessary pain, medical bills and other negative consequences.

Surgical errors are another common form of medical malpractice. Examples of surgical mistakes include operating on the wrong body part or performing an incorrect procedure. According to the Patient Safety Network, these serious issues could be prevented with better communication and other reforms.

Keeping clear of fatigue on the road

Drivers in Oklahoma are probably when they are drowsy behind the wheel. They will have droopy eyelids, yawn constantly, drift out of their lane and perhaps even forget what the last few miles were like. If they do nothing about this, then they only raise their risk for a crash. A AAA study from 2018 states that 9.5% of all accidents are caused by drowsy drivers.

Avoiding drowsiness begins with getting at least seven hours of sleep. Those who take certain drugs, such as muscle relaxers, antihistamines and antidepressants, may want their doctor to time their doses with their commutes in mind. Next, there is the danger that comes with having obstructive sleep apnea. Symptoms include drowsiness even after adequate sleep, continual snoring and frequent waking up during the night.

Preventing dangerous misdiagnosis in vasculitis cases

Vasculitis can be a major concern for people in Oklahoma and around the country. The inflammation of the blood vessels associated with the disorder can lead to their destruction, so physicians will want to move quickly to treat it. Vasculitis is often a type of auto-immune disorder, in which the body's immune system attacks its own tissue. In some cases, it arises from a serious infection. However, while treatment of vasculitis is critical to achieve positive outcomes, a misdiagnosis of the disorder can lead to even more dangerous situations for patients. Experts warn that there are several other conditions that can be mistaken for vasculitis.

A mistaken diagnosis of vasculitis can lead to sometimes harmful treatments. For example, vasculitis is most frequently treated with a high-dose regimen of corticosteroids. For other types of disorders, these steroids can be dangerous and lead to a worsened health condition. One expert recalled a misdiagnosed patient who had a stroke as a result of a mistaken treatment. This patient suffered lifelong disabilities after treatment was started despite the fact that lab tests had not been fully completed.

SSC one-hour sepsis treatment guideline creates controversy

Hospital emergency departments in Oklahoma and across the U.S. can take advantage of the Surviving Sepsis Campaign care bundle in their effort to more quickly diagnose and treat sepsis. The care bundle comes with a one-hour treatment guideline to be followed once the patient has been triaged.

The one-hour treatment comes with several recommendations. For instance, doctors should measure the patient's lactate level and obtain blood cultures before giving antibiotics. These should be broad-spectrum antibiotics. There are also guidelines on when to administer vasopressors and crystalloid fluids.

Why sitting in a car's back seat can be a bad idea

Rear-seat safety has been neglected since the 1990s, which is why Oklahoma residents may want to think twice about sitting in the back seat of a car. The discrepancy between rear and front seat safety, though, is due to recent improvements in front seat safety rather than any decline in rear-seat safety.

Nonetheless, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is clear: Rear seats are a danger zone for several reasons. They do not come with forward airbags or side curtain airbags to keep occupants from hitting hard surfaces. Their seat belts also lack force limiters, which can prevent the belt from cinching up too tightly against the occupant if a crash occurs.

Trucking industry may benefit from better training

Oklahoma residents should know that an incident has led some trucking industry professionals to re-think certain safety protocols. In April 2019, a long-haul trucker driving on a downhill grade in Lakewood, Colorado, caused a 28-car crash when the brakes on his vehicle failed. It turns out that 30 violations were reported to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration over the course of 19 inspections conducted in the previous two years. Some of those violations were brake related.

In particular, trucking industry experts are wondering if trucker training and vehicle inspections should be handled in a different way. Virtual simulator training, for example, may provide effective training without the risk for injuries or property damage. If this were combined with classroom training and behind-the-wheel training with an experienced driver, it may result in more skilled drivers.

Misdiagnosis the leading cause of serious medical mistakes

One in every three medical malpractice cases that result in permanent disability or death in Oklahoma and elsewhere is caused by misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, according to a new study published in the journal Diagnosis. That means inaccurate diagnosis is a leading cause of serious medical mistakes.

For the study, researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine analyzed over 55,000 malpractice claims listed in the Comparative Benchmarking System database. They found that 74.1% of the most harmful diagnostic errors were linked to just three medical categories. These categories, called "The Big Three" by the study's authors, were cancer, vascular events and infection, which were responsible for 37.8%, 22.8% and 13.5% of all serious diagnostic errors, respectively. The study also found that the top five diseases under each medical category accounted for 63.5% of serious misdiagnosis cases in The Big Three and 47.1% of serious misdiagnosis cases overall. The study further found that just over 71% of all diagnostic mistakes took place in ambulatory settings, such as emergency departments and outpatient clinics.

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