Gennusa, Piacun, & Ruli

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Metairie Louisiana Maritime Law Blog

Medical errors the nation’s third-most-common cause of death

When you visit your Louisiana doctor or hospital, you probably do so with the hope that your physician will recognize what is ailing you and tell you what you need to do to make it better. At Gennusa, Piacun & Ruli, we recognize that doctors, like everyone else, make errors from time to time, but we also recognize that the mistakes doctors make can have gravely serious consequences.

Just how common are medical mistakes? According to CNBC, medical errors are alarmingly common in the United States, and so much so that they are now the third-most-common cause of death among Americans. To put this in perspective, only cancer and heart disease kill more Americans annually than medical errors. It is not, however, entirely clear just how many Americans lose their lives each year because of medical mistakes, though current estimates suggest that this number falls somewhere between about 250,000 and 440,000.

3 tips for sharing the road with larger vehicles

As a resident of Metairie, you are probably used to seeing large commercial trucks transporting heavy loads. In addition, you probably know how devastating a wreck with one of the large vehicles can be. A collision with a semi truck can be fatal, cause a catastrophic brain injury or cause any number of serious injuries. This is why it is vital to practice safe and defensive driving techniques when you are sharing the road with large vehicles.

Whether you are commuting for work, out for an afternoon drive or leaving town for a weekend road trip, the chances are high that you will find yourself in close proximity to a semitruck. Here are a few tips to help you stay safe in such a situation.

The dangers behind electronic medical files

In this day and age of advanced technology, electronic medical records have taken the healthcare field by storm. Not only does this technology save doctors from filing papers and organizing patient charts, but it speeds up certain processes, such as transmitting electronic prescriptions to the pharmacy. Electronic medical records are designed to minimize errors medical professionals may make due to hard-to-read handwriting, disorganization and other clerical issues. Yet, medical record technology may not be as safe as some may believe. 

In fact, glitches and errors in electronic healthcare records have led to injuries and deaths of many across the country. Instances have occurred where lab orders are not transmitted properly to the lab, and certain screening tests are not performed as a result. Lab results may not get back to the physician, and patient notes may be populated under the wrong patient. One faulty software program used in a long-term care facility involved errors with the start and stop dates of medication and patients were getting other residents’ medication as a result of the errors. 

Mild brain injuries can have serious consequences

 

Whether you are involved in a minor fender bender or a catastrophic collision, you run the risk of receiving a traumatic brain injury as a result of the impact. A sudden jolt to the head can cause the soft tissue of the brain to smack into the hard skull bone. This can cause brain bleeding, bruising and swelling that may lead to immediate signs or can sometimes take several days to appear. While many people fully recover from a mild brain injury or concussion, studies show that even mild injuries can result in long-term brain damage that may have permanent consequences. 

You have rights when a drunk boater causes you injury

Drunk driving isn't just an issue that effects large motor vehicles on the land. It can also be an issue for people who want to operate a vehicle on the open ocean. In fact, quite a few people may be under the mistaken impression that it is impossible to commit a crime when you are on a boat on the ocean.

People often hear all kinds of misinformation about how governments enforce laws on the ocean. While individual governments may not be able to take action over crimes that occur in international waters, most people who boat in Louisiana or on the Atlantic off the shore of Louisiana do so in either state or federal waters.

How likely is medical misdiagnosis?

When you go into an outpatient clinic or the emergency room, you rely on medical professionals to determine what is wrong and provide the proper treatment to get you back on your feet. However, there is a chance that you may leave the clinic with the wrong diagnosis or without a proper diagnosis at all. Misdiagnosis occurs at an alarming rate in the United States. 

BMJ Quality & Safety published a study that found an alarming one in 20 patients are misdiagnosed in outpatient clinics and emergency rooms across the country. That equates to approximately 12 million patients every year. In at least half of those cases, patients face significant harm because of the physician’s failure to provide an accurate diagnosis. 

How does the Jones Act help you?

If you work in the shipping industry in Louisiana, the Jones Act covers your medical costs, lost wages and daily living expenses in the event you become ill or injured, even if you are not onboard a vessel when your injury occurs. The Jones Act is a 1920 federal statute that applies the Federal Employer’s Liability Act to you.

SeaHistory.org explains that the Jones Act serves as your version of workers’ compensation, allowing you to file a claim against your employer. But unlike workers’ compensation, you can file a claim even if your injury or illness is unrelated to your job. In addition, your employer must pay your claim even if you were partially or wholly responsible for your own accident.

Were you injured in a ferry boat accident?

Maybe you take a ferry boat to and from work everyday. Or maybe you take a ferry boat ride when you're looking to enjoy a peaceful afternoon in Louisiana.

While there is no denying the fun and convenience of a ferry boat ride, it's critical to keep your safety in mind at all times. There are many common causes of ferry boat accidents, including the following:

  • Operator negligence, such as taking the boat out when weather conditions are too severe
  • Improper safety equipment, such as a lack of life preservers
  • Too many people on the boat
  • Improper storage of cargo
  • Negligent maintenance
  • Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Mechanical failure
  • Reckless driving, such as operating at an excessively high speed

Interview your surgeon to protect yourself against trouble

If you find that you require a surgical procedure to improve your health, you're sure to have a variety of questions and concerns. While it may not be the first thing you think about, it's critical to implement a system for finding the best surgeon.

Once you make the right decision on who will do the surgery, it's easier to proceed with a clear mind and confidence that they'll do everything in the appropriate manner.

When must small boats carry fire extinguishers?

Fire can be very dangerous if it breaks out on a boat on the water. If you are on board, you risk smoke inhalation, fire burns or injury from a fuel explosion, and since you are not on land, it is harder to seek emergency aid from Metairie first responders. This is why state law requires small boats, under certain circumstances, to have a fire extinguisher on hand.

The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries website explains that state law necessitates boats that are less than twenty-six feet in length to carry one B-1 U.S. Coast Guard approved fire extinguisher should one or more of a number of conditions exist. Living spaces are one such issue. If a small boat contains an enclosed living space, a fire extinguisher needs to be available on the vessel.

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