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Pittsburgh Wrongful Death Law Blog

U.S. pregnancies riskier than in many other countries

Expecting Pennsylvania mothers may be at greater risk than in many other parts of the developed world, according to a recent study. Unlike in most other countries, the mortality rate for mothers giving birth in the U.S. is climbing, from a 1987 low of 8 deaths per 100,000 deliveries to a 2013 rate of 18.5 per 100,000.

Several theories have been postulated for why this is so. One possible explanation is better tracking and monitoring of pregnancy-related deaths caused by medical carelessness and physical problems with the mother. However, because reporting requirements vary by state, underreporting of childbirth-related mortality may be a problem. Additionally, the growing popularity of cesarean section deliveries could be a factor, because of the inherent risks in this type of surgical procedure.

Uber settles with family for death of 6-year-old

Pennsylvania residents who rely on Uber, a ride service provider, may be interested to learn that the company reportedly reached a settlement on July 14 with the family of a young girl who was killed in a California car accident. The Uber driver involved in the accident was charged with vehicular manslaughter.

The accident occurred on December 31, 2013. The deceased girl, aged 6, her mother and her younger brother were attempting to cross the street in San Francisco when they were struck by a car. The driver was reportedly attempting to make a right-hand turn when he hit the three individuals. The driver of that vehicle was reportedly logged into the Uber app and was available to take riders when the accident occurred.

Causes of rollover accidents

Cargo tank rollover accidents are only an occasional hazard on the roads of Pennsylvania, but they have the potential to be devastating when they occur. A review of the statistics relating to the causes and results of these types of incidents can be instructive.

The major cause of cargo tank rollovers appears to be driver error. These are rarely isolated errors, but instead tend to occur during a chain of other sequences that the driver may have navigated correctly up until the unfortunate mistake. Experience does not necessarily appear to be a factor, as drivers with more than a decade of driving seem to be involved in rollovers as often as new drivers. Surprisingly, climate conditions are not a factor either, as the vast majority of these rollovers occur on roads that are dry.

Misdiagnosis of Lyme disease common

According to the CDC, Pennsylvania has the second highest number of Lyme disease cases in the country. A study conducted by indicates that misdiagnosis and delays in diagnosis of the disease, which can spread to the brain and heart when left untreated, are common. The results of the study, which involved over 6,000 Lyme disease patients, were published in May 2015.

The study revealed that the disease was diagnosed correctly and within six months of the onset of symptoms in only about one in five cases. Approximately 61 percent of respondents said that they did not receive an accurate diagnosis for over two years. Many Lyme disease sufferers said that their misdiagnosis was the result of doctors believing that the disease was not found in their geographical area

Common mistakes made by medical professionals

When a Pennsylvania resident goes to the doctor, there is an expectation that a worsened condition will not result due to a medical mistake. This, however, does happen quite frequently. Many of these mistakes are made by good doctors. Patients and their families need to be able to recognize medical professional negligence and react accordingly.

Misdiagnosis leads to death and permanent damage to approximately 160,000 hospitalized patients on a yearly basis. Valuable time can be lost to treat an illness or condition if an incorrect diagnosis has been made. Identifying one patient as another can lead the wrong medicines being given or even surgery being performed on the wrong person. Administering the wrong medication can cause a serious injury or death.

Texting while driving is leading cause of death for U.S. teens

A recent report focused on young drivers included a number of statistics that Pennsylvania readers may find alarming. Drivers under 21 years of age are responsible for an estimated 17 percent of all alcohol-related fatal car accients around the country, for example, despite making up only 10 percent of all licensed drivers. They are also far more likely to text while driving, which has surpassed drunk driving to become the number one cause of death for teens in the United States.

Texting while driving now causes more than 3,000 teen fatalities annually, despite efforts by many state legislatures to deter cell phone use behind the wheel. A driver is 23 times more likely to be involved in a car accident if he or she is texting while driving, according to one estimate. Speaking on a cellphone increases the likelihood of a crash by 1.3 times and slows the reaction time of a young driver to the reaction time of a 70-year-old.

Knowing what to ask before filling a prescription can be critical

Pennsylvania patients may treat pharmacy queries lightly when they are asked whether they have any questions about new prescriptions. However, this is one of several areas in which patients should be proactive in combating medication errors. Statistically, approximately 7,000 individuals in the United States perish because of medication errors in hospitals each year. Further, almost 70 percent of individuals require at least one prescription during a year's time. Precautions on the part of those individuals may reduce their potential for facing serious medical consequences because of errors.

Patients may avoid medication errors by asking questions about their risks of drug interactions. Additionally, it is wise to obtain information about potential adverse effects. While some medications can cause mild issues like nausea, others can result in major organ damage. Communicating with one's health care provider and pharmacist can provide added security. It is also important to get clarification on dosing and timing. In some instances, every dose is the same, while in others, dosing may change over time. Uncertainty could lead to mistakes, but clarification can ensure a better understanding of physician instructions.

New truck could help to prevent accidents

While traveling along two-lane roads in Pennsylvania, many passenger car drivers become frustrated when they wind up behind a slow-moving truck. Drivers who are in a hurry might cause an accident by attempting to pass a truck at the wrong time. Samsung has developed a solution to this problem that could prevent these types of accidents.

The 'safety truck" prototype that Samsung developed is equipped with a wireless camera mounted onto its grill and screens mounted onto its back. On four large screens, live video of what the truck driver is seeing gets streamed in real time for the benefit of drivers behind the truck. By paying attention to this video stream, a driver can wait until there are no oncoming vehicles to accelerate and pass the truck.

The alarming statistics of elderly drivers and car accidents

Part of being a safe driver in Pennsylvania is to be on alert for the possibility of an auto accident. While there are many reasons for an accident to happen, such as a drunk, distracted or speeding driver, one issue that can also be of concern is if there is an elderly person on the road.

The statistics show there were nearly 36 million people aged 65 and above with driver's licenses in 2012. With that comes certain risks. Elderly people were injured and killed at a significant rate. There were more than 214,000 seniors who suffered injuries and more than 5,560 who died in an auto accident in that year.

Speeding and alcohol still among leading causes of accidents

Speeding and alcohol pose constant threats to Pennsylvania motorists, according to data published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The statistics show a consistent incidence of speeding related to fatal accidents at and just above 30 percent in each year between 2003 and 2012. Alcohol is also highly correlated with excessive speed in the total number of fatal car collisions. While grim on the surface, the report hints at possibilities for reducing the risk of car accident.

The statistics for 2012 reveal that drivers during certain times of the day are far less likely to suffer a fatal car collision resulting from impaired or speeding drivers than at other times. The incidence of fatal crashes with these negligent or drunk drivers peaked between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m. and was at its lowest between 9 a.m. and noon.