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West Des Moines Personal Injury Law Blog

Boarding causes ER overcrowding, raises risk for patient injury

Iowa residents may notice the next time they enter an emergency room that it's unusually crowded. Overcrowding in ERs has been an issue for more than a decade. The Institute of Medicine made a report on it back in 2007, saying that overcrowding raises the risk for patient injury through delays in treatment, the delayed administration of drugs and diagnostic errors. Patients may suffer from excessively long hospital stays as a result.

There are many factors that contribute to overcrowding, such as the declining number of hospitals in the U.S. since the 1970s and the growing habit people have of visiting the ER for primary care. One stand-out factor, though, is the practice of boarding: forcing patients with a scheduled treatment to wait in the ER, sometimes for hours, before a bed becomes available.

Medication errors put patient health at risk

When Iowa residents visit a doctor or a hospital due to an illness, they may expect to receive a correct diagnosis and proper treatment. When they go to the pharmacy to fill their prescription, they may expect to receive an appropriate drug to treat their condition. However, in too many cases, medication errors may interfere with people receiving the care they need. In some cases, these mistakes may even lead to more serious health conditions. There are several issues that patients can look out for in an attempt to protect their well-being.

Electronic medical records and computerized systems are meant to add precision to the health care system. In some cases, however, they are linked to medication errors. Doctors or pharmacists may enter only the first few letters of a drug before they are directed to select an option. It can be too easy to choose the wrong drug, and an incorrect prescription could lead to dangerous side effects. Patients may want to stay alert to ensure that the name on their prescription bottle matches the medication they are expecting.

Do red light cameras make the roads safer?

Traffic accidents caused by Iowa drivers running red lights can be deadly. In the United States, around 800 people each year are killed in collisions caused when one driver ran a red light, and many thousands more suffer severe injuries. Over half of the victims in these crashes are pedestrians, cyclists and people in other vehicles. As a result, many cities across the country have looked for solutions to make the roads safer. Red light cameras offer one means of cracking down on drivers running red lights while also increasing revenue for the city. The cameras are mounted atop traffic lights and capture the image of a car's license plate if it goes through a red light. Later, drivers receive a ticket in the mail.

Some red light camera systems have come in for criticism. Drivers say that the cameras don't make the roads safer and tend to catch people who just missed a yellow light rather than those responsible for serious car accidents. Critics also say that the cameras are a revenue-enhancing initiative rather than one that promotes safety.

Why would a doctor want to cool my baby after birth?

If your newborn received cooling therapy, it is likely because he or she was diagnosed with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). This birth injury is a type of brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen and shortage of blood flow to the brain.

Cooling therapy, also called therapeutic hypothermia, is probably the most common treatment for HIE. When an infant undergoes this therapy shortly after experiencing a birth injury, the therapy can minimize the amount of permanent brain damage that occurs.

Drivers may not realize just how much space tractor-trailers need

You have probably driven next to a tractor-trailer hundreds of times. The first couple times you drove next to a tractor-trailer may have been nerve-racking. You may have only had your learner's permit at that time, but now you are a seasoned driver, and you may not give it a second thought when you encounter one of these large trucks on the road.

While there may not be a need for anxiety when sharing the road with tractor-trailers, there is a need for caution. Thousands of people are killed each year in collisions involving tractor-trailers, and most of those fatalities were the occupants of passenger vehicles.

What drivers should do after crashing a rental vehicle

People often love to vacation around the holidays. Here in Iowa, winters can be very frigid, limiting many people from their usual outdoor activities. That's why many of them like to pack their bags and fly south to catch some sun.

When people travel, they often want the same freedom and mobility they typically have at home, prompting some to use a rental vehicle. Unfortunately, vacationers can still face the risk of getting in a crash.

Ignition interlock testing linked to distracted driving crashes

Ignition interlock devices that test drivers' breath for alcohol before allowing their vehicles to start contribute to the enforcement of drunk driving laws in Iowa. These devices have proven that they reduce repeat offenses by people convicted of intoxicated driving, but they also have the potential to distract drivers. Manufacturers of these devices typically require drivers to initiate a retesting of their breath at some point during a trip. The rolling retest function is meant to disrupt attempts to fool the device by having a sober person start the vehicle at the onset of a trip. Unfortunately, blowing into the devices while operating vehicles can distract drivers and sometimes cause accidents.

An investigation by journalists identified multiple accidents associated with the distraction of a rolling retest. Some cases involved lawsuits. To avoid distractions, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration advises drivers to pull over before breathing into the ignition interlock device. Device manufacturers have also built in features that grant drivers time to find a safe spot to stop before they blow into the tube. Despite safety features, the system relies on individual drivers to take precautions to prevent distracted driving.

Driver distraction doubles when car safety systems are engaged

Distracted driving accidents in Iowa and around the country are often blamed on cellphone use, but some of the most advanced automobile safety systems could also be playing a role. Adaptive cruise control and lane departure assist features are designed to monitor road conditions and take action automatically to avoid collisions, but the results of a study from the American Automobile Association suggest that these systems could be causing accidents as well as preventing them.

The AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety came to this conclusion after watching videos of drivers using adaptive cruise control and lane departure assist features. The drivers were behind the wheel of some of the most advanced cars and SUVs available in the United States. The researchers noticed that the number of distracted driving incidents almost doubled when the semiautonomous safety features were engaged. This led them to conclude that motorists put far too much faith in these systems.

3 common, but serious birth injuries

The birth of your child should be a joyful occasion, and the days following the birth should be filled with worry-free bonding as you welcome your little one into this world. However, the birth process doesn’t always go according to plan.

Sometimes the mother and infant experience a difficult birth. A baby may be born prematurely or breech. The baby may be too large for the mother’s pelvis, the labor may be prolonged or other difficulties may arise.

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