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Pottstown Pennsylvania Personal Injury Blog

Technologies aim to prevent truck accidents

The size, weight and mass of big rigs can lead to some particularly dangerous collisions on Pennsylvania roads. Truck drivers operate their massive vehicles for long stretches of time, which means distraction and fatigue can be overwhelming.

To help prevent truck collisions, many fleet companies are exploring new technologies that could highlight dangerous levels of fatigue or distraction. By using video and analytics, they may be able to tell if a driver is operating dangerously. Fatigue monitoring systems use smartphone tests, dash camera technologies and wearables to detect drivers who are showing indications of fatigue. Some software uses hours-of-service logs to estimate each driver's sleep levels. In addition, other programs rely on watch-like items worn by drivers to assess body movements, pulse and other indicators of fatigue. Some camera-based systems look for visual signs of exhaustion like drooping eyes or a nodding head.

Distracted driving puts emergency personnel in danger

Emergency responders in Pennsylvania and throughout the country put their safety at risk each time that they step out of their vehicles. This is because there is a chance that they could be struck by a distracted driver. According to a recent survey, 19 percent of respondents said that they have put such personnel at risk because of their own distracted driving habits. Furthermore, 80 percent of respondents said that they actually slow down when they see a person tending to an emergency situation.

That can be dangerous because slowing or stopping at an emergency scene can cause traffic to get backed up. It can also increase the risk of secondary accidents or other safety hazards at the scene of an emergency. Of those who took part in the study, 24 percent said that they were not aware of laws requiring them to move over when they see an emergency vehicle.

Walking your dog safely in the spring

Now that the snow is finally melting in Pennsylvania, many dog owners are becoming more excited to take longer walks around the city. There’s more sunlight and less cold temperatures, so taking your pet out on a leash doesn’t feel so much like a chore anymore.

However, there are some parts you have to get used to no matter how long you’ve had Fido for. Even though it's less hazardous to take walks in the spring, there are still some unique seasonal obstacles you have to prepare for. A recent study by the University of Pennsylvania states that in the last decade, bone fractures associated with walking leashed dogs more than doubled for seniors in the U.S. As you start taking longer walks to keep yourself healthy and your dog happy, here are some hazards to watch out for:

People continue to use their smartphones while driving

Despite changes in the law combined with educational campaigns, many Pennsylvanians continue to use their smartphones while they drive. People use their phones to talk, read and write text messages, search social media and engage in many other activities that are distracting.

Recently, Travelers Companies conducted its 2019 Travelers Risk Index, which was a survey of more than 2,000 people. Of the people who participated in the survey, 44 percent indicated that they type emails or text messages while they drive. Thirty percent of the respondents said that they had nearly been in accidents because they were distracted, and almost 80 percent of people said that they talk on their phones while they drive. Other distracting behaviors that the participants reported engaging in while driving included checking social media at 23 percent, taking pictures or recording videos at 22 percent and shopping on the internet at 15 percent.

Reports find misdiagnosis behind most malpractice claims

Pennsylvania residents may not know that misdiagnoses are the most common reason for medical malpractice claims. This was the conclusion that two malpractice insurance carriers came to separately, and it is backed up by previous studies.

In 2017, University of Michigan researchers analyzed 62,966 malpractice claims filed by hospitalized patients and found that 22 percent were diagnosis-related. The National Academy of Medicine said in 2015 that diagnostic errors may be the third leading cause of death among hospitalized patients.

Congress takes action to mandate front and side underride guards

Accidents in Pennsylvania and around the country involving passenger vehicles that slide underneath tractor-trailers claim about 300 lives each year. Federal regulations require logistics companies to fit rear underride guards to their large trucks, but no such rule exists for side and front underride guards. Bipartisan bills that would mandate the installation of side and front underride guards were recently introduced in both the Senate and the House, and they are supported by a coalition of road safety groups that say their passage could save dozens or even hundreds of lives each year. The bills also bring the rules dealing with rear underride guards up to date.

Underride accidents are often catastrophic because even the latest and most sophisticated automobile safety technology provides drivers and their passengers with little protection in these situations. Underride crashes also often take place at high speeds. Safety organizations that have voiced support for the proposed regulations include Consumer Reports, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, the National Safety Council Road to Zero Coalition, the Truck Safety Coalition, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

AAA reminds drivers about the dangers of fatigue

While the dangers of fatigued driving are well understood, they're often ignored. Virtually all respondents to a recent AAA poll referred to the practice as completely unacceptable. However, almost a third of them also admitted to recently getting behind the wheel while dangerously fatigued. Data like this is especially concerning to road safety when Pennsylvanians move their clocks forward by one hour to mark the beginning of daylight saving time.

While losing one hour of sleep may seem little more than an inconvenience, a study from the American Automobile Association suggests that it could greatly increase crash risks. Researchers from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety say that drivers require at least seven hours of sleep to operate a motor vehicle safely, and they claim that losing just one or two hours of rest can nearly double the chances of being involved in an accident. According to the AAA, motorists who get behind the wheel after sleeping for five hours or less are as dangerous to other road users as drunk drivers.

Common surgical tools left inside of patients

One of the scariest forms of medical malpractice is when the doctors accidentally end up leaving some of the stuff they were working with inside of the patient. Imagine feeling more confident about your body after leaving the hospital without knowing that they have left some of their tools inside you. It could take years before you realize the amount of internal damage this equipment is doing to your body.

One report states that doctors have accidentally left nearly 800 surgical tools inside patients between 2005 to 2013. While it’s heavily varied on what ends up in these victims, having so many accounts does show that certain tools are easier to lose than others. Both doctors and patients should know what items are most likely to be lost in the process in the event of surgical complications.

Surgical skills transcend technical knowledge

When patients in Pennsylvania go into the hospital, they often feel reassured by doctors with a good bedside manner. Those good feelings can be backed up by data, according to experts. Surgery makes use of highly advanced technical skills, but non-technical skills are also an important part of a surgeon's practice. One surgical expert said that in addition to aptitude, ability and ambition, adaptability and humility are important characteristics of a successful surgeon.

Around 45 percent of adverse medical events involve surgery. Of these, 35 to 66 percent take place during the operation itself. Surgical errors can be disastrous, with catastrophic effects for the patient. Therefore, a doctor's ability to recognize a problem or mistake and act to find a solution can be critical to saving a patient's life and health. Cognitive skills are important in surgery because surgeons need to constantly evaluate the current situation in order to determine their next course of action. Training on cognitive skills can help surgeons react to problems and even errors with quick thinking and positive action.

Study finds opioids linked to some fatal 2-car crashes

America's opioid crisis is hitting Pennsylvania's roadways, according to a new study published in JAMA Network Open. The study found that drivers found at fault for causing fatal two-vehicle crashes were almost twice as likely to test positive for prescription painkillers as drivers who did not cause the crash. The study was released in mid-February.

For the study, researchers analyzed car crash data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System to determine the role opioids play in fatal car crashes. They found that 7,535 of 18,321 deadly two-vehicle crashes were caused by drivers who veered from their lane. Of the drivers who were found at fault for the accidents, 918 tested positive for opioids. In contrast, 549 of the drivers who were not found at fault had opioids in their system. The study also found that the percentage of at-fault drivers who tested positive for prescription painkillers jumped from just 2 percent in 1993 to over 7 percent in 2016.

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Pottstown, PA 19464

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