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West Des Moines Personal Injury Law Blog

Smartphones may not be the biggest threat to drivers

Iowa residents may believe that their smartphones are the greatest impediment to driving safely. However, letting their minds wander while behind the wheel could actually be the greater danger. Getting lost in thought is believed to be a natural reaction to performing a mundane task. It is also believed that the advent of self-driving cars might not do much at first to decreased the rates of distracted driving.

To determine how dangerous different types of distracted driving can be, Erie Insurance did an analysis of 172,000 traffic deaths over the past five years. It obtained data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System and used it to determine that roughly 10 percent of those deaths were attributed to distracted driving. It then determined that of those deaths, 61 percent were caused by daydreaming drivers.

Professor says self-driving cars should not behave like humans

Iowa motorists who are interested in the autonomous car industry may be aware of a fatality that occurred in March when a self-driving Uber vehicle hit and killed a pedestrian. The police chief of Tempe, Arizona, where the accident occurred, says it would have been difficult for anyone to stop under the circumstances since the pedestrian was not in a crosswalk and the road was dark.

However, a professor at Arizona State University says that people have different expectations for autonomous cars. The stakes are higher than they are for human drivers because a fatality could put an end to the industry. He says that cars should not be programmed to drive like humans and that this was the issue in the accident with the Uber vehicle. The car was proceeding as though there were no obstacles in its path even though it could not confirm this visually. Although this is what a human driver would do, the professor says that self-driving vehicles should only proceed at a speed at which they can stop if an obstacle comes into their visual range.

What you need to know about neonatal whole body cooling

Neonatal whole body cooling sounds like a horrifying treatment, but it's one that can help save a child's life and protect his or her brain. The treatment is used on infants who experience hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy at birth. The goal is to slow the metabolism and reduce the risk of disability and death for the baby.

If the name above doesn't slide off the tongue, you should know that neonatal whole body cooling is also known as therapeutic hypothermia. While most people are warned of the dangers of hypothermia, it actually provides many health benefits in monitored settings.

Drivers report more cellphone use despite dangers

Some Iowa drivers might be engaging in dangerous behaviors such as talking on cellphones and texting while driving but still believe they are safe. According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, almost 58 percent of people said they believed talking on a cellphone while driving was dangerous, but about 50 percent also said they had talked on a handheld phone while behind the wheel. More than three-fourths said they thought it was dangerous to text and drive, but almost 45 percent had read a text or email while driving and 35 percent had sent one.

The number of drivers who said they talked on a cellphone either fairly often or regularly while driving increased almost 50 percent since a similar question was asked in a survey in 2013. Nearly 90 percent of respondents said distracted driving is increasing and carries with it risks similar to behaviors such as drunk driving.

Diagnostic mistakes lead to the most malpractice cases

At some point in everyone's life, they must put their trust into the hands of medical professionals. Living a healthy lifestyle is the best hope for longevity, but getting second opinions for serious conditions can also be important. However, Iowa residents should be aware that medical mistakes are the third leading cause of death in the United States. Within the category of medical negligence, diagnostic errors are the most common cause of malpractice claims.

A recent study examined over 10,000 medical malpractice claims from 2013 through 2017. The analysis showed that 33 percent of all medical malpractice claims were related to some form of diagnosis error. Within the subset of diagnosis mistakes, 36 percent of examined claims resulted in the death of a patient. Diagnostic errors are also the most commonly cited mistake in lawsuits alleging malpractice. The second most common category of claims was procedural and surgical mistakes, which accounted for 24 percent of all cases. At 14 percent of all claims, the third leading category was medical management errors, which commonly includes decisions about medication or overall strategies for combatting illness and injury.

Car accident injuries may not show up immediately

It is an unfortunate fact that people across Iowa are injured in car accidents every day. Whether these injuries are minor or serious, they may not always show up at the accident scene.

Sometimes, it can take several days or even longer for symptoms to manifest themselves. Because car accidents can be traumatic, victims may not be thinking clearly at the accident scene and not notice symptoms unless bleeding or broken bones are involved.

When inadequate monitoring results in infant oxygen deprivation

The labor process is dangerous to both mother and infant. Little issues, like torn tissue, can rapidly progress into major problems, like a hemorrhage. In order to reduce these issues, most births take place at a hospital, where interventions of every kind are readily available. Doctors, nurses and other medical staff attending births will focus on carefully and continually monitoring both mother and unborn baby to prevent unnecessary complications.

Nurses may check the blood pressure and heart rate of the mother at regular intervals during labor. They will also hook up a device to monitor the unborn baby during labor. These electronic fetal monitors are essential to early detection of issues. Sometimes, when medical professionals don't engage properly with monitoring or the machinery fails, the end result is tragic.

The different types of car accident injuries

Iowa motorists should know that car accident injuries can vary depending on factors like speed and the presence of safety features. For example, a vehicle going 15 mph can hit a stationary car and cause the other party to suffer only minor injuries. However, the results will be much different if a car is going 40 mph. Safety belts could save an occupant from going through the windshield, and airbags can prevent trauma to the head.

Also, some cars are just built better than others and can withstand more impact. When injuries do occur, it's important to seek medical attention immediately. Even minor injuries like neck and back pain, facial lacerations and bruising can lead to long-term chronic issues. The effects of whiplash, which occurs when the head is snapped back in a rear-end collision, often take days to manifest.

3 ways to prevent birth injuries from affecting your child

Birth injuries are a significant problem in the United States despite the rate of maternal and birth injuries decreasing. If even one case of a child suffering an injury could be avoided, everyone involved should want to do all they can to make this happen. Still, they do occur, and they're a result of poor testing, poor care and negligence or recklessness.

Many parents don't understand the true value in doing their research before delivering a baby. They may not be clear on the importance of prenatal care or on why so many tests are needed during pregnancy.

Collisions and soft tissue damage

Iowa drivers who get in an accident may wonder about the aches and pains they're experiencing in its aftermath. If these pains are accompanied by inflammation and loss of function in the limbs, they indicate an injury to the soft tissues of the body. These include the muscles, ligaments and tendons, and they can be strained, sprained or torn when stretched by the sudden movements of a car accident.

Soft tissue injuries are often linked with collisions because of the sudden impact that the occupants of a vehicle undergo. Unfortunately, their symptoms arise at irregular times with some people experiencing nothing until days after a crash. This can delay treatment and prevent proper healing. Another issue to be aware of is the fact that X-rays cannot identify soft tissue damage.

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