Monthly Archives: October 2013

2012 was record year for San Francisco pedestrian accidents

When a pedestrian is struck by motor vehicle, it isn’t even a contest. The car will win. A pedestrian has no protection against the force of a powerful car, which is why many of these accidents prove fatal for the person on foot.

San Francisco is working on becoming the nation’s leading “walkable” city, for both residents and vacationers alike. That goal is being hindered by the number of pedestrian accidents that occur each year — a number that has increased over the past several years.

The San Francisco Police Department reported that there were a total of 948 vehicle-pedestrian injuries in 2012. If that number seems shocking, it should. It is the highest that it has been in the city in the past 12 years. Of all of the accidents that occurred this past year, 43 percent of them were caused by a driver’s violation of a pedestrian’s right of way.

Some of the leading causes of right-of-way collisions are speeding, running a red light or a stop sign, failing to yield to individuals in a crosswalk or inattention when making a left-hand turn. The police department had hoped that an educational campaign focused on drivers and launched this past year would help reduce pedestrian accidents. Although it still could, the numbers don’t show that it has.

The Walk San Francisco Executive Director Nicole Schneider believes that drivers often escape liability even when they are the cause of the accident.

It’s true that personal injury lawsuits are based on jury verdicts that award compensation to victims. The other side of a lawsuit such as this one is that it forces drivers to take responsibility for their negligent actions even when police may choose to forgo criminal sanctions.

Source: SF Examiner, “Pedestrian-vehicle injury collisions rising in San Francisco,” Jessica Kwong, Oct. 29, 2013

Hospital nearly donates organs of a patient who was still alive

Healthcare can be complicated. For this reason, some medical mistakes are excusable. Most of us with no medical training are nonetheless able to understand that things can go wrong and mistakes can be made even when doctors and nurses are working as diligently as possible.

Conversely, there are medical malpractice cases displaying so much negligence that it is hard to believe the people involved were indeed medical professionals. As just one example, a hospital in Syracuse, New York, was recently fined for a 2009 incident in which hospital staff almost harvested organs from an overdose victim who was not actually dead. It was only when the woman opened her eyes that the procedure was stopped.

The woman had been admitted to the emergency room after overdosing on Xanax and two over-the-counter medications. She was in a deep coma, but doctors erroneously diagnosed her with “cardiac death.” They received permission to take her off life support and to donate her organs.

When the state Health Department later investigated the incident, it found that hospital staff had failed to perform several tests and procedures before making its determination that the woman was not going to recover. This included an error in which doctors failed to pay attention to a nurse’s note that the woman had responded to a routine reflex test by curling her toes.

Other obvious vital signs were also overlooked. When the woman was being prepped to have her organs harvested, staff somehow failed to notice that she was moving her lips and tongue, that her nostrils were flaring and that she was able to breathe without the help of a respirator.

The staff finally noticed she was alive when she opened her eyes. Thankfully, this happened before her organs were taken.

The hospital has since been fined $22,000 for negligence and improper handling of patients. Compared to the magnitude of the hospital’s error, such a fine seems like a slap on the wrist.

Thankfully, most California hospitals are much more responsible and conscientious than this one. Nonetheless, very preventable mistakes happen every day in hospitals in California and around the country. When patients are harmed or killed by those mistakes, hospitals need to be held legally accountable.

Source: CBS News, “Hospital errors lead to “dead” patient opening eyes during organ harvesting,” Michelle Castillo, July 9, 2013

Facebook’s executive chef killed in California motorcycle crash

Due to its beautiful weather, California has more than its share of year-round motorcyclists. But even though it is common to see motorcyclists out at any time of year, that doesn’t mean that California roads and highways are motorcycle-friendly.

These smaller, two-wheeled vehicles offer less protection to their riders and are less visible to other motorists. As a result, motorcycle accidents tend to be more deadly than car accidents.

Those who work in Silicon Valley are currently in mourning over the recent death of an executive chef who worked for Facebook and had previously worked for Google. He was killed earlier this week when his motorcycle collided with a stopped SUV.

According to news sources, he was riding with his brother on Monday night in bad weather when they approached an intersection that is known to be somewhat hazardous. The SUV was stopped in the road due to a flat tire. The victim’s brother was able to swerve out of the way in time to avoid hitting the stopped vehicle, but the chef was not. He died at the scene due to the impact of the crash.

It is unclear at this point whether the fatal crash was an unavoidable accident or if it could be attributed to some act of negligence such as poor road/intersection design. If it is the latter, the man’s family may wish to pursue legal action to make sure that no one else is forced to suffer a similar fate.

For now, however, the colleagues, friends and family of this this well-known and much-loved chef must grieve the loss of a life that was taken far too soon.

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, “Motorcyclist dies after hitting stopped vehicle on Rt. 23 on South Side,” Allison Manning, July 23, 2013

Mother shares achievements of child after brachial plexus injury

“That was the happiest day of my life.” It is a sentence that is often used to describe some of life’s most important events. As we grow, we may say it when we graduate from college, when we meet the love of our life or when we walk down the aisle and pledge the rest of our lives to that other person.

The words above are the closest most parents can come to describing the day that their child was born. For some, however, the day that should be the “happiest” is filled with indescribable feelings of pain, heartbreak, worry, frustration, fear, anticipation and much more. These emotions come when the doctor begins to explain that something went wrong.

Many people may not know what a brachial plexus injury is, but those words can change a life forever. It is an injury that can be caused during labor, when a child’s arm is pulled with such force that the nerves in the shoulder are stretched or torn. When these nerves tear, it can cause Erb’s palsy or a paralysis of the arm.

The United Brachial Plexus Network has given one mom support that she is incredibly thankful for after her child was born under these circumstances. The mother is grateful that her child’s life was saved during birth, but it will never be the same as her peers. The child has Erb’s palsy and is currently undergoing several medical procedures such as a nerve-graft surgery to repair the damage to her arm.

The mother celebrates her 14-month-old daughter’s achievements, like being able to “pull things down” and “try to climb.” She can even lift some heavier objects. “That’s awesome for a brachial plexus kid,” she shared in her efforts to raise awareness for those with this type of injury.

This family’s story is a great example of the life kids with a birth injury can go on to have, but also the importance of a birth injury lawsuit in California. These medical treatments are not free, but are extremely expensive. The care that these children need also stretches well into the future. Compensation from these lawsuits gives families the funding a child often needs to set them up for the best future possible.

Source: Fox 23, “Owasso mother raising awareness after child’s birth injury,” Michelle Linn, Sept. 23, 2013

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