Birmingham Legal Blog

Deaths of new mothers rising in the U.S.

In the U.S., pregnant women and women who have just given birth are at higher risk for injury and death than women in any developed country. Our country's annual mortality rate for pregnant women is 700 to 900, while an additional 65,000 pregnant women develop near-fatal illnesses and injuries.

What does this mean? While the rate of maternal deaths has fallen in all other wealthy nations, it has increased in the U.S. Clearly, American hospitals and doctors are not doing enough to protect women before, during and after childbirth.

Faster drug approval may lead to missing critical safety concerns

Over the last few years, consumers and pharmaceutical companies urged the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to move faster through their regulatory process. One of the risks of accelerating this process, however, is that dangers of the drugs may be overlooked or missed.

In fact, a recent study of medications that were moved through the accelerated approval process resulted in a slightly higher incidence of drugs that require additional warnings or are withdrawn from use. Other research on this subject shows similar results.

Why does Alabama rank high on the list of fatal police pursuits?

Police are supposed to keep us safe, but in some situations, they can cause accidents and injuries. This occurs fairly frequently during police chases. Unfortunately, Alabama has the highest rate of fatal police chase injuries in the nation.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) shows over 7,000 police chase deaths from 20 years of data on accidents nationwide. This averages out to nearly one death each day throughout the country. 

Will you recognize drowning when you see it?

If you're like most people, you've never heard of the instinctive drowning response. Most of us think that a drowning person will call for help, arms waving and splashing. According to Dr. Francesco A. Pia, these signs show aquatic distress, which occurs before the instinctive drowning response.

People who are drowning typically:

  • Are not able to yell for help because they are trying to breathe
  • Are unable to wave their arms
  • Cannot keep their mouth from sinking below the water's surface

OSHA aims to reduce injury rate for landscape workers in Alabama

The United States Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is calling attention to the many dangers present in landscape work. The federal agency is aiming these efforts specifically at Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi. In these states alone, the agency reports 64 work related deaths between 2012 and 2016.

The issue is so concerning that OSHA is taking steps to "stem the tide." The main step is moving forward with a safety initiative called the Safety Stand-Down.

Tips for dog bite prevention and dog bite cases

In April, National Dog Bite Prevention Week aims to reduce the potential for dog bites by teaching people about dog bite statistics and dog behavior. This is an important effort since 4.5 million people suffer dog bites every year.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) provides sobering statistics about dog bites, including:

  • Of the 4.5 million people who are bitten, 20 percent of them need medical treatment for their wounds
  • 359,223 children ages 14 and under suffered dog bites between 2010 and 2012
  • People who suffer bites most often are postal workers, children and the elderly

Hyundai and Kia recalling vehicles for engine problems

Last week, Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motors Corporation announced that they are recalling millions of vehicles. The problem is with the engines, which were manufactured at an auto parts plant in Alabama.

In the U.S., the two companies are recalling 1.19 million vehicles. The vehicles with the engine defects are:

  • Hyundai: 2013-14 Sonatas and 2013-14 Santa Fe Sport SUVs
  • Kia: 2012-14 Sorentos, 2011-14 Optimas and 2011-13 Sportage SUVs

Is your doctor right about your diagnosis?

Whether you are a patient or the loved one of a sick family member, you put your trust in medical professionals to determine what's wrong - and fix it. Unfortunately, it's far too common for errors to occur during the diagnostic phase of designing a treatment plan. These errors could be caused by faulty equipment, miscommunication or negligence. Sadly, what might seem like a simple error might ultimately prove fatal.

A recent piece in the Washington Post highlights the proliferation of missed and incorrect diagnoses across the United States. In a study published in the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, researchers examined the case files of 286 patients who sought second opinions from the Mayo Clinic's internal medicine department after first receiving a diagnosis from their primary care physician, nurse practitioner or physician's assistant.

Dangerous trend: Alabama ranks high on the list of cellphone use while driving

The dangers of distracted driving, including texting while driving, are well publicized. Unfortunately, too many people refuse to take the warnings seriously. In fact, a National Safety Council survey shows that 47 percent of drivers feel comfortable with their own texting and driving.

To highlight the problem of cellphone/smartphone use and driving, an app called Life360 used their data to determine how often people use their phones in the car. By looking at member data in February and March 2017, they determined that on average, drivers used cellphones 1.78 times each time they drove.

Alabama auto parts plants pose significant danger to workers

The auto parts industry in Alabama puts 26,000 people to work. While this benefits the economy, the cost to some workers has been cruel. Too often, safety violations in these plants result in devastating injuries. Workers have been crushed, burned and entrapped by machines, dismembered by machines and burned by falling into acid.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), in 2010, the Alabama auto parts industry's rate of illness and injury was 50 percent higher than that of the U.S. auto parts industry. The state's rate of injury is no longer this high, but it remains above the national rate. As recently as 2015, an Alabama auto parts worker had double the risk of amputation of a finger or limb than for auto parts workers nationwide.

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Birmingham Office: 205-879-1981
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Fax: 205-879-1986