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West Des Moines Personal Injury Law Blog

Malpractice claims and the challenge of proving causation

Iowa residents are probably aware that filing a medical malpractice claim is not easy. There are requirements to be met, and there is almost always strong opposition from the other side. Before a case even gets to that stage, plaintiffs may find trouble proving causation.

A valid malpractice claim must establish two things to begin with: that the doctor neglected the standard of care and that the injury resulted from this negligence. The second part is the challenge because an injury can often result from factors outside of a doctor's control.

Maternity telemedicine in Iowa raises malpractice questions

As of New Year's Day, Iowa joined many other U.S. states in enacting a parity law for telemedicine. Your private health insurer must now cover telehealth (services delivered via the internet) to the same extent as in-person care.

The change has been widely welcomed as good news for rural Iowans. And the law might be even more important if your family is planning to have children.

How Iowa residents may be able to prove driver negligence

Iowa residents who have been injured as a result of another driver's negligence should consider the legal definition of negligence before deciding whether they want to pursue the incident in court. Negligence has one meaning in casual conversation and an entirely different legal meaning. For example, in conversation, negligence might simply mean that the driver was at fault for the accident. However, in order to prove legal negligence, the court must decide that the accident was the direct cause of a personal injury or loss.

Negligence is also defined as a failure to exercise reasonable care, which can be as straightforward as a driver failing a Breathalyzer test or as complex as determining whether the driver was distracted by something environmental, such as another car accident on the side of the road.

How improving time outs may prevent wrong-site surgery

Every week, there are anywhere between 40 and 60 wrong-site surgeries that are performed in Iowa and the rest of the U.S. The most frequent wrong-site surgeries are orthopedic, dental and spinal surgeries. Overall, the most common type of WSS is a laterality surgery, i.e. surgery on a right or left extremity or organ.

As for the factors in WSS, they can be several: inadequate training, unqualified staff, lack of a safety-minded culture, poor teamwork and communication breakdowns (especially during the scheduling phase). When there are no standardized practices for verifying patients in the preoperative area, problems can arise. Another issue can lie with the "time out" that is performed in preparation of the surgery.

Would you drive a few more miles if it meant saving a life?

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of realizing you’ve forgotten something at your last stop—just as you pass the highway exit that could take you swiftly back. Now you’re looking at another 10 to 20 miles round trip, maybe, to catch the next exit, and you might consider making an illegal U-turn to save some time. But are those 20 minutes worth risking your life?

Three Iowans were killed and five more wounded after U-turns led to two car crashes in late April and early May. In both cases, the drivers were using the interstate crossover lane reserved for emergency vehicles and snowplows.

How to detect jaundice in a newborn

Sixty percent of babies are born with jaundice. An excess of the chemical bilirubin in the liver causes jaundice and can take less than a week for a baby to excrete it. This condition is recognizable by the yellowing of the baby’s skin, gums and whites of the eyes.

An infant treated for jaundice can go on to live a healthy life with early detection. However, significant problems can develop with a missed diagnosis or left untreated.

Study finds crash risk increases with only light rain

Even when only a light rain is falling, Iowa drivers might be at greater risk on the road than they would be in clear weather. The Bulletin of the American Meteorology Society has published a study that reports that the risk of a fatal motor vehicle accident increased by 27 percent in a light rain.

The study's lead author is a meteorologist and data analyst with the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies, and he says his study differs from others because of the precision of the weather data used. Along with his colleagues, he examined more than 125,000 fatal motor vehicle accidents in the continental United States between 2006 and 2011 and found that under one-tenth of an inch of rain hourly still drives up the chance of a deadly crash. Moderate rain increases the threat by 75 percent. When rain is heavy, the risk is more than two times greater.

New car monitoring system could keep impaired drivers off roads

Drunk driving can quickly have a big impact on anyone in Iowa who happens to be sharing the roadway with an impaired driver. This is one of the reasons why an auto manufacturer based in Sweden has announced plans to install in-car cameras and sensors on its vehicles starting in the early 2020s. The system that will be used is designed to spot signs of driver intoxication and impairment as well as act on what's detected.

If the monitoring system detects driver behavior that suggests a drunk driving accident may occur, it will provide an initial warning. If the warning is ignored, the car will intervene. One possible action is to slow the vehicle's speed. The vehicle may also be slowed down and parked in safe location. In early 2019, the same manufacturer announced plans to implement speed limit restrictions on its vehicles beginning in 2020.

Crash with storm chasers leads to lawsuit against Weather Channel

The Weather Channel has a show called "Storm Wranglers," whose two stars were killed in a crash on March 28, 2017, and Iowa residents may want to know that the incident has led to a wrongful death lawsuit. The two were chasing a tornado near the city of Spur, Texas, when they allegedly ran a stop sign and collided into the jeep of a 25-year-old storm spotter employed by the National Weather Service, killing that driver as well.

The mother of the 25-year-old victim is suing the Weather Channel for $125 million, claiming that the network is responsible for the reckless driving that the stars of "Storm Wranglers" engaged in. They reportedly had a long history of such behavior because this would make the chases more exciting for viewers.

Automakers use virtual pedestrians to test autonomous cars

Several automakers are racing to get their autonomous vehicles on roadways in Iowa and around the world by 2020. However, a series of deadly accidents involving self-driving vehicles in recent months has profoundly shaken public confidence in the technology. As a result, manufacturers are stepping up their testing techniques to bring autonomous technology up to speed and ensure public safety.

For instance, Swedish automaker Volvo is using computerized "virtual humans" on a private track to test its autonomous car's ability to detect pedestrians. The test is a direct response to the March 2018 incident in which a self-driving Uber car struck and killed a woman as she crossed an Arizona street. According to experts, the accident shook up the industry and caused engineers to take a closer look at their testing procedures.

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