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Archive for July, 2010

Ask Marvin Lundy…About Hospital Safety

July 30, 2010

My doctor once said something that has stuck with me: “Hospitals are a bad place to be when you’re sick.”

What he meant is that hospitals are Petri dishes, filled with germs that want to make themselves at home in you.

These germs can be lethal. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) nearly 100,000 people die from hospital acquired infections. While you can’t always avoid a hospital stay, there are some of things you can do to protect yourself, or those you love. Here are 10 suggestions from RID, the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths:

1. Ask that hospital staff clean their hands before treating you, and ask visitors to clean their hands too. This is the single most important way to protect you in the hospital. If you’re worried about being too aggressive, just remember your life could be at stake. All caregivers should clean their hands before treating you. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are more effective at removing most bacteria than soap and water. Do not hesitate to say: “Excuse me, but there’s an alcohol dispenser right there. Would you mind using that before you touch me, so I can see it?” Don’t be falsely assured by gloves. If caregivers have pulled on gloves without cleaning their hands first, the gloves are already contaminated before they touch you.

2. Before your doctor uses a stethoscope, ask that the diaphragm (the flat surface) be wiped with alcohol. Stethoscopes are often contaminated with Staphylococcus aureus, the bacteria that causes staff infections.

3. If you need a “central line” catheter, ask your doctor about the benefits of one that is antibiotic-impregnated or silver-chlorhexidine coated to reduce infections.

4. If you need surgery, choose a surgeon with a low infection rate. Surgeons know their rate of infection for various procedures. Don’t be afraid to ask for it.

5. Beginning three to five days before surgery, shower or bathe daily with chlorhexidine soap. Various brands can be bought without a prescription. It will help remove any dangerous bacteria you may be carrying on your own skin.

6. Ask your surgeon to have you tested for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) at least one week before you come into the hospital. The test is simple, usually just a nasal swab. If you have it, extra precautions can be taken to protect you from infection.

7. Stop smoking well in advance of your surgery. Patients who smoke are three times as likely to develop a surgical site infection as nonsmokers, and have significantly slower recoveries and longer hospital stays. OK, maybe this is easier said than done, but won’t you be thrilled with the results?

8. Avoid a urinary tract catheter if possible. It is a common cause of infection. The tube allows urine to flow from your bladder out of your body. Catheters are sometimes used when busy hospital staff members are too busy to walk patients to the bathroom. If you have a catheter, ask your caregiver to remove it as soon as possible.

9. If you must have an IV, make sure that it’s inserted and removed under clean conditions and changed every 3 to 4 days. Your skin should be cleaned at the site of insertion, and the person treating you should be wearing clean gloves. Alert hospital staff immediately if any redness appears.

10. On the day of an operation, remind your doctor that you may need an antibiotic one hour before the first incision. For many types of surgery, a pre-surgical antibiotic is the standard of care, but it is often overlooked by busy hospital staff.

Ideally, you should choose a hospital with a low infection rate, although finding out this information can be nearly impossible. While many states collect data on infections that lead to serious injury or death, few publish this data.

Pennsylvania is one state that has begun publishing hospital infection rates. For a breakout of the best and worst infection rates in Pennsylvania, take a look at the Pennsylvania Department of Health 2009 Technical Report Healthcare Associated Infections (HAI) in Pennsylvania Hospitals, starting on page 23.

The Consumers Union provides an annual report card on hospitals in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, although they require a subscription to access the data.

Ultimately, you can have an impact on your safety by demanding that certain steps be taken. Don’t take no for an answer. It’s your health at stake.

If you believe that your hospital infection was caused by unsafe conditions in a hospital, you need to talk with an attorney.  Call the medical malpractice attorneys at Lundy Law. We’ll let you know if you have a case.

Think Motorcycle Safety

July 28, 2010

Women are increasingly riding motorcycles. Here’s a clip on NBC about ways to practice motorcycle safety on the road.

Boy Nearly Strangles Himself With McDonald’s Toy

July 28, 2010

Parents, it’s always a good idea to watch for toys that your child can swallow, or which they can put around their necks. There was a recent incident involving a McDonald’s Happy Meal toy. See below.


The AP (7/26) reported, “Federal consumer safety officials are investigating a complaint that a 4-year-old Connecticut boy nearly strangled himself with a toy from a McDonald’s Happy Meal. Connecticut consumer protection Commissioner Jerry Farrell Jr. said Monday that the boy from the New London area put the ‘Last Airbender Katara’ bracelet-like toy around his neck June 30 and began to lose consciousness,” though “his mother removed it before any serious harm was done.” The CPSC “is investigating.”


Group finds BCBS health insurance plans kept large surpluses while raising premiums

July 27, 2010

In continuing coverage, the Washington Post (7/23, Aizenman) reports, “Nonprofit health insurers may be setting aside unnecessarily large surpluses even as some of them continue to raise premiums, according to an analysis by” Consumers Union, “a consumer rights group,” which “found that seven of 10 Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliates examined had amassed surpluses more than three times the level regulators deemed necessary for them to remain solvent.” The Post explains that “an insurance plan’s surplus is essentially the revenue it raises from premiums and investments minus expenses such as the cost of paying medical claims. Companies must maintain enough surplus to protect them from unexpected expenses and losses,” yet, “how much surplus is too much is a matter of some debate.” The Wall Street Journal (7/23, Gerencher) also covered the story.

Obama Makes it Easier to Appeal Health Claim Denials

July 27, 2010

This should be a ray of hope to anyone who has had their medical claim denied.

USA Today (7/23, Young) reports, “Consumers will get new and expanded rights to appeal denials of health insurance claims under federal regulations released Thursday.” These “rules, part of the nation’s new health care law, will make it easier for consumers to dispute an insurer’s decision within the plan and require coverage to continue during the appeal, said Phyllis Borzi, an assistant secretary in the Department of Labor.” Meanwhile, HHS announced on Thursday “a $30 million grant program for states to create or strengthen programs that help consumers find insurance and challenge claims denials.” Jay Angoff, director of HHS’ Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, “said the rules and grants will help end ‘some of the worst’ insurer abuses: ‘For too long, consumers have been forced to fend for themselves.'”

Hang-up over cell phones in cars

July 20, 2010

Read this article on the State House rejecting the “Jacy Good Law”, the proposed state law banning cell phones use while driving.

Jacy Good sees Pennsylvania as an island of dangerous behaviors like distracted driving.

Most bordering states have laws banning the use of hand-held cell phones while operating a motor vehicle. A similar proposal lies in limbo in Harrisburg.

“We’re the odd man out right now,” said Good, who became a high-profile cell-phone-free driving advocate after a traffic accident killed her parents and left her with severe head, leg and left arm injuries.

The tragedy happened two years ago as Jay and Jean Good were driving their daughter home to Brunnerville after her Muhlenberg College graduation. The crash was caused by an 18-year-old man talking on his cell phone.

Consumers sue J&J, demanding cash refunds for recalled children’s medicines

July 20, 2010

Bloomberg News (7/9, Harris, Tirrell) reported that on July 8 in US District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago), “Johnson & Johnson…was sued by US consumers accusing it of fraud and racketeering, and demanding cash refunds for recalled children’s cold and allergy medicines.” The five lawsuits “seek to proceed on behalf of plaintiffs’ groups for residents of Illinois, Texas, and Florida, as well as consumers in the US and Canada, who have bought the drugs since December 2008.”

Pottery Barn “Drop Side” Crib Recall

July 19, 2010


The AP (7/15) reports 82,000 “drop-side cribs from popular retailer Pottery Barn Kids are being recalled over safety concerns.” According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the “cribs on recall could pose a suffocation or entrapment risk to young children if the drop-side rail on the crib detaches,” citing faulty hardware. “The recall involves all Pottery Barn Kids drop-side cribs regardless of model number.”
Bloomberg News (7/15, Bostick, Langford) reports the CPSC, “citing 153 deaths in the past four years, voted to ban drop-side cribs in the agency’s first across-the-board overhaul of regulations for infant beds in almost three decades.” CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said yesterday “the agency was following a mandate from Congress.”


FDA panel votes to keep Avandia on market with more restrictions

July 19, 2010


ABC World News (7/14, story 5, 0:25, Sawyer) reported, “A surprise decision on Avandia [rosiglitazone]. Advisers to the Food and Drug Administration recommended keeping Avandia on the market,” although most “advisers did recommend stricter warning labels and the FDA will now decide which course to take.”
The New York Times (7/15, A1, Harris) reports on its front page that the 33 panelists “took six votes on a variety of issues” and when asked what the FDA should do, “12 voted that Avandia should be withdrawn; 10 voted that its sales should be restricted and the warnings on its label enhanced; 7 voted only to support enhanced warnings on the drug’s label; and 3 voted that the drug should continue to be sold with its present warnings unchanged. One member abstained, and no one voted for a final option, to weaken the label’s present heart warnings.” Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s drug center, “said that the agency took the panel’s advice seriously and that it would consider its regulatory options.”


Play yard tents recalled following child’s death

July 16, 2010


The &&&AP (7/15) reported, “About 20,000 tents that clip on to the top of play yards are being recalled two years after a child died when his neck became trapped between the frame and the metal rod at the tent’s base.” The CPSC “says a child can remove the clips that hold the portable Tots in Mind tents to the side of a play yard, creating a dangerous gap.” The recalled “Cozy Indoor Outdoor Portable Playard Tents Plus Cabana Kits were sold by Walmart, and other stores specializing in products for babies and children.”