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Pittsburgh Wrongful Death Law Blog

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.

How Pennsylvania patients can help prevent medical mistakes

It has been estimated that the number of preventable hospital-related deaths is greater than 400,000 each year. This statistic can be frightening for Pennsylvania patients who rely upon health care providers to help them get better, not put them at greater risk. The federal government says that hospitals are safer on average than ever before, and medical staffers acknowledge they are the first line of defense for healthy patients.

However, patients can also take a proactive role in their own care and the prevention of medical errors, according to a recent news report that lists some steps patients and their loved ones should follow to help reduce the likelihood of problems before, during and after treatment. They include using patient information websites to learn how a given hospital is rated and what the infection incidence is and knowing who is managing a given patient's care. Having someone present who can speak about medical matters on the patient's behalf if the patient cannot is recommended, as well as asking medical personnel to wash their hands to help reduce cross-infection risks.

Medication error reduction and Pennsylvania patients

The high volume of alerts that physicians receive has created a renewed awareness of so-called "alert fatigue". As the amounts of notifications have risen, many health care professionals and physicians have begun to ignore some alerts, putting patient safety at risk. In some cases, certain drug allergies and reactions, which tend to be presented to physicians and other health care professions via alerts, could be ignored. In those cases, the patient's health could be endangered. First Databank has produced a solution called AlertSpace, a web-based system that could play a major role in repairing some damage done by alert fatigue. AlertSpace gives health care professionals the ability to customize alerts, improve their specificity and cut back on those that are inconsequential.

One Hospital Sisters Health System pharmacist stated that alert fatigue override rates can be as high as 96 percent, meaning only 4 percent of the alerts were addressed. He explained that there is a scorecard for alert fatigue that keeps track of which alerts appeared and which did not make it through pharmacist verification. Using the AlertSpace tool, a minimal amount of interactions had to be changed to see a significantly reduced volume in fatigue override rates.

Truck accident closes busy Pennsylvania highway for 12 hours

Authorities in Pennsylvania have reported that Interstate 78 was closed to traffic for approximately 12 hours after an accident on June 9. Only minor injuries were reported in connection with the crash, which involved a semi-tractor trailer and a box truck. The accident took place in the eastbound lanes of I-78 near Greenwich Township in Berks County at about 5:30 a.m.

According to a police report, a box truck carrying mail developed mechanical problems but was unable to pull over because the stretch of highway had little or no shoulder. An eastbound semi-tractor trailer then struck the rear of the disabled box truck. The force of the collision propelled the box truck through a guardrail and off the highway and caused the tractor-trailer to jackknife across the roadway. The semi came to a rest blocking all of the highway's eastbound lanes.

The use of collision avoidance system technology

Pennsylvania drivers may eventually see changes brought on by the National Transportation Safety Board's recommendation for safety technology to be placed in new vehicles. The NTSB has consistently recommended that certain systems be made standard equipment. Such technologies include forward collision avoidance systems, electronic stability control and systems that would alert drivers who are drifting into the wrong lane.

The NTSB has indicated that making these systems could prevent thousands of injuries and fatalities each year. The agency estimates that the severity of more than 80 percent of rear-end collisions could be mitigated if every vehicle had this technology. Only four passenger vehicle models in 2014 included complete forward collision avoidance systems as standard features.

Human factors that contribute to surgical errors

Pennsylvania residents may be concerned by the results of a study looking into surgical errors conducted by researchers at the Mayo Clinic. The researchers investigated 69 such errors that had taken place over a five-year period at their facility, and they identified 628 human factors that made these mistakes more likely. The results of the study reveal that between four and nine of these human factors contributed to each incident, which are referred to as "never events" because they are never supposed to occur.

The never events investigated by the researchers included surgical errors such as performing the wrong procedure, leaving objects inside a patient and performing surgery on the wrong part of a patient's body. The findings indicate that the majority of never events occur during minor procedures such as endoscopy and line placements. One of the study's senior authors said that mistakes could be prevented more often if members of surgical teams remained vigilant at all times and were more prepared to speak up when they observed colleagues making mistakes.

Report reveals common causes for fatal vehicle wrecks

A recent report reveals the most common causes for driving fatalities between 2009 and 2013 and categorizes them by state. In Pennsylvania, driving on the wrong side of the road was the major cause of fatal motor vehicle accidents. In most states, however, the study found that the number one reason behind fatal car accidents was motorists failing to stay within their lane. Motorists who did not yield to the right-of-way came in second place, affecting seven states.

Regarding weather conditions, in the majority of states the fatality rate among motorists is highest on roadways affected by rain rather than snow. However, snow is more dangerous in the northeastern and midwest states. For motorists who drive along the coastal areas in the southern states, fog is more deadly than snow.

Electronic health records highly regulated, but problems persist

Medical facilities in Pennsylvania and across the country are becoming increasing reliant on electronic health records. Using digital data makes treatment plans and medical histories portable and easily accessible, but EHRs are also easier to alter and manipulate than traditional paper records. These issues along with privacy concerns have led to EHRs being closely scrutinized by legislators, and approximately 2,000 laws and regulations now govern their use.

Some problems with EHRs involve the way that the data is recorded and stored. Information is often entered by individuals with a background in technology rather than medicine, and tools such as templates and auto-fill that are designed to make data entry faster and easier can sometimes contribute to medical errors. The sheer amount of data contained in many EHRs may also lead to doctors missing small but important details.