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Miami Personal Injury Law Blog

Anesthesia errors can be serious and even fatal for Floridians

The death of comedy legend Joan Rivers after she went into cardiac arrest during a seemingly-routine medical procedure has prompted a good deal of discussion about the dangers of anesthesia. It has not yet been confirmed what type of anesthesia was used on the 81-year-old comedienne for the endoscopic procedure she was reportedly undergoing. However, as one doctor wrote in a Sept. 5 article on the Fox News website, the greatest risk for older people in endoscopies is the anesthesia rather than the procedure itself.

Anesthesia of some type is necessary for just about all surgical procedures. The administration of the anesthesia as well as the monitoring of the patient while he or she is under anesthesia is crucial to the patient's safety. Anesthesia errors can have severe and even fatal ramifications regardless of the patient's age.

Seau family pursuing wrongful death instead of class-action suit

Most of our readers know the sad story of Junior Seau, the Miami Dolphins linebacker who spent two decades in the National Football League and ended his own life in 2012. As ESPN's website noted on Sept. 3, after the 43-year-old shot himself with a .357 Magnum, his brain was studied by multiple neuroscientists who found signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The CTE diagnosis supported the observations of friends and family who noted significant and troubling changes in the popular player's behavior in his final years.

Now Seau's family says that they are opting out of the NFL's proposed settlement with former professional players. They made the announcement a month before the deadline for the 4,500 plaintiffs to opt out of the class-action suit and potentially pursue individual suits. The Seau family will continue to pursue their wrongful death suit against the league.

Government moves to reclassify some potentially dangerous drugs

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2010 over 16,500 people took fatal overdoses of opioid-based painkillers. These drugs are responsible for more deaths than any other type of drug, whether legal or illegal, according to the CDC. One data provider reports that last year, nearly 128 million prescriptions were written for hydrocodone combination products. This accounted for $1.05 billion in sales.

The abuse of these painkillers has gotten so bad that the Obama administration announced in August that it plans to restrict prescriptions to some of the nation's most commonly-used narcotic painkillers. The Drug Enforcement Administration says that it will reschedule these drugs, which include popular pain medications like Vicodin, so that people will only be able to obtain a 90-day supply without a new prescription. Patients can currently have their prescriptions refilled as many as five times automatically and can get 180-day supplies.

Report: Florida's cities having fewer accidents

Allstate has issued its tenth annual "America's Best Drivers Report," which ranks driving safety of the 200 largest cities in the country. The results are based on claims for collisions with property damage received by the insurance company. As Bloomberg notes in an Aug. 26 article, it includes data from Jan. 2011 to Dec. 2012 gathered by the country's largest publicly-traded auto and home insurance company.

The rankings are based on the average number of years that people in the city go between auto accidents and the relative likelihood that someone in that city will have an collision compared to the national average, which is every ten years.

Floridians can search for vehicle recall history before buying

As we noted here earlier this year, automotive recalls are at their highest number in history. For those Floridians who are the original owners of our cars, it may be inconvenient to take our vehicle in to be fixed, but at least we know we've done it. For people who are looking for or already own a used car, there's often no way to be certain if all of its recall repairs have been made. In fact, only 25 percent of all cars on which recalls have been issued have had all of the repairs done.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has launched a new tool, It allows people to look up a car on the NHTSA website by its vehicle identification number. The tool provides all recalls issued on the car in the past 15 years, and lists any recalls that are still outstanding.

Miami doctor may have license revoked for misdiagnosis cover-up

There has been yet another unusual twist in the case of a Miami doctor who admitted to falsifying patient records to cover up his misdiagnosis. The Florida Department of Health indicates that it plans to appeal a decision by the state Board of Medicine regarding his medical license.

The doctor was charged by the DOH with five counts of professional misconduct last October. He was suspended in June by the state Board of Medicine and was also fined $30,000. The board initially followed the recommendation of an administrative judge and revoked the doctor's license. However, within minutes, the members reversed their decision and reduced the penalty to the suspension and fine.

What Florida parents should know about retinopathy of prematurity

Many Floridians have never heard of retinopathy of prematurity until it impacts their family or someone they know. According to the National Eye Institute, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, most sufferers of ROP are premature infants weighing under three pounds who have not reached what is considered a full-term gestational period of 38 to 42 weeks. The NEI notes that the disorder, which usually affects both eyes, is among the most common reasons for vision impairment and blindness in children. Its effects can last a lifetime.

On our website, we provide information about the disorder. We discuss the causes, stages and treatment as well as active and ongoing research being done on ROP.

Medicare Star Ratings Not Reliable Measure of Nursing Homes

The New York Times has examined the rating sytem of nursing homes and found that most top-ranked nursing homes have been given the seal of approval based on incomplete and self-reported data.

The Medicare ratings are based in large part on self-reported data that the government does not verfiry. Only one of the three criteria used to determine star ratings, health inspections, relies on assessments from outside reviewers. The other measures, staff levels and quality statisitics, do not. 

The ratings also do not factor in fines and other enforcement actions by state authorities, or complaints filed by consumers with state agencies. 

Rosewood, a five-star nursing home in California, was fined $100,000 for causing the death of a woman who was given an overdose of a blood thinner. Rosewood has also been the subject of about a dozen lawsuits in recent years from patients and their families. 

Due to the lack of oversight in the rating system, nursing homes have learned how to game the system. When the program began in 2009, 37 percent of nursing homes received four-or-five-star ratings. In 2013, nearly half did. 

Florida drivers deal with melting dashboards this summer

After all the dangerous and potentially deadly product defects we have seen in various manufacturers' cars over the past few years, a sticky dashboard may seem like a minor problem. However, for those of us here in South Florida, a problem caused by hot, sunny weather can be a significant one.

One woman who has lived in the area for over a quarter-century says, "I've never, never, ever seen a melting car." That's what has happened to her Nissan, however. The problem, according to a service manager for the company, is that as the sun beats down on the car's dashboard, a chemical reaction with the glue under the dashboard causes soft, sticky spots.

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