Despite recent pressure from the high-powered, tobacco-backed vaping industry, Australia recently ruled to keep nicotine-laden e-cigarettes illegal in its country.

E-Cigarettes with Nicotine Ruled Illegal in Australia

A leader in the fight against smoking, Australia classifies nicotine as a poison and has a ban on e-cigarette products that contain the substance. Vaping fluids that do not contain nicotine are allowed for sale in the country. Continue Reading Australia Classifies E-Cigarettes as Dangerous

Picture yourself sitting down for a meal at your favorite restaurant. You order a drink and begin looking over the menu. A glass is placed in front of you on the table, and you take a drink. In an instant you feel your mouth, tongue, gums, and throat burning. Moments later you are vomiting. You are rushed to a hospital where you remain for days. You learn that your esophagus and stomach have been torn and perforated by a chemical mixed into the drink you were served.

Sounds like a nightmare, right? Unfortunately, this scene plays out more than you know. Every year in the United States an estimated 5,000 to 15,000 people are injured by ingesting caustic chemicals.

This week an Atlantic County jury awarded $750,000 to Richard Washart who suffered severe chemical burns to his esophagus and stomach when he was served a draft beer tainted with a caustic chemical agent used to clean the draft beer lines at the McCormick & Schmick’s restaurant at Harrah’s casino.

Continue Reading Chemical Burns & Caustic Cleaning Agents: Beware What You Are Served in Restaurants

What is the Self-Drive Act?

On September 6, 2017, the House of Representatives passed a bill intended to ease self-driving cars onto the roads, changing federal rules for safety and vehicle testing.

Under the Safely Ensuring Lives Future Deployment and Research In Vehicle Evolution Act, or Self Drive Act, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) would be required to develop a new set of safety rules for autonomous cars. The bill would exempt autonomous cars from certain federal safety rules in favor of new ones promulgated by the DOT. The legislation seeks to ensure the safe, innovative development, testing, and deployment of self-driving cars. The act would also provide more opportunities for research and development.

Under the Act, the Department of Transportation would develop a new safety certification process to set standards governing self-driving car automakers. The DOT would develop and implement a long-term rulemaking plan for self-driving car testing and deployment on roads.

Continue Reading Self-Driving Car Bill Passed by House – Will Federal Law Pre-empt State Law for Self-Driving Cars?

Two years ago, a friend told me a story no parent wants to tell. A pot of water was put on the stove to boil. His daughter was able to reach the pot handle. In an instant, she grabbed the handle and hot water poured down and scalded her.

Since then, my wife and I had our first child. He is now two years old and is fascinated by the stove in our kitchen. He is constantly trying to climb the stove by pulling on the oven door and standing on the handle of the pot drawer at the bottom of the stove. It is a never-ending battle to keep him from trying to climb the stove and to keep his hands away from the stovetop and the hot pots and pans he finds so irresistible.

Children’s fascination with stoves and the tools we use to cook on them is not a new phenomenon, but it is an incredibly dangerous and costly one.

A five-year-old Missouri boy was awarded $35 million in lifetime benefits when a pot of boiling water slid off a stove that tipped when he stood on its open door trying to reach a pot. The stove was not equipped with an anti-tip bracket. When the stove tipped, the boy suffered severe scald burns to his groin and thighs. It was an easily preventable tragedy.

Continue Reading The Kitchen Stove: A Major Cause of Burn and Scald Injuries

Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to a recent study (recent blog post about this topic). The researchers indicated that most medical errors represent systemic problems, including poorly coordinated care, fragmented insurance networks, the absence or underuse of safety nets, and other protocols, in addition to unwarranted variation in physician practice patterns. Patient misidentification can also be a contributing factor. When patients have the same or similar names, mix-ups in their medical care, procedures, and medication have occurred. Such a mix-up could lead to misdiagnosis, mistreatment, and unsafe outcomes.

Patients’ electronic health records are maintained in doctors’ offices, hospitals, and urgent care facilities, and it can be difficult to exchange protected health care information among providers. Creating a reliable patient identification system could improve medical care and prevent patient care mix-ups. To that end, New Jersey plans to implement a statewide database designed to improve patient care, reduce medical errors, and ensure that healthcare records are accessible to all of an individual’s healthcare providers. This effort strives to connect physicians, hospitals, pharmacists, and other healthcare providers with better access to patient data. The system, which will also link to public health databases, will help avoid a situation where two patients with the same name and identifying characteristics are confused by providers.

Continue Reading NJ Is Creating A “Master Person Index” to Counter Medical Errors

In May 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a rule declaring that e-cigarettes should be regulated like other tobacco products. Through this rule, the FDA exercised its discretion to deem e-cigarettes to be “tobacco products” subject to the set of federal laws that govern the promotion and marketing of conventional cigarettes. The so-called “Deeming Rule” has been a major point of contention for vaping companies that argue e-cigarettes are not tobacco products and any regulations on e-cigarettes act like a ban that will destroy the industry.

Recently, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia upheld the FDA’s authority to issue the rule. In Nicopure Labs, LLC v. FDA, consolidated with Right to Be Smoke-Free Coalition v. FDA, the plaintiffs challenged the rule. Nicopure claimed the rule violates its First Amendment rights because the rule’s restriction on modified-risk statements prohibits manufacturers from making truthful and non-misleading statements about their products. Likewise, Nicopure claimed that the ban on the distribution of free samples violates Nicopure’s right to free speech. Nicopure called for “disclaimers” for e-cigarettes rather than the strict tobacco-like regulations.  The court declined that invitation, stating that “Permitting manufacturers to make unsubstantiated statements concerning modified risk tobacco products, whether express or implied, even if accompanied by disclaimers would be detrimental to the public health.”

Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Upholds FDA’s Authority to Regulate E-Cigarettes

For children who have survived burns, there may be no better opportunity for healing, growth, and camaraderie than attending a burn camp. This summer, I was lucky enough to be able to volunteer as a camp counselor at the Camp Susquehanna burn camp in Denver, Pennsylvania.

Camp Susquehanna is dedicated to providing children with burns the opportunities to face social and physical challenges, develop self-esteem, and promote a positive attitude while encouraging healthy independence. Camp Susquehanna is a safe place for healing, a place for children to share feelings about difficult experiences, perhaps for the first time. Life skills workshops combined with many fun activities ensure that the child with burn injuries enjoys special experiences. Camp Susquehanna strives to have every child meet the goals of building self-esteem, learning responsibility, and developing coping strategies to use outside the camp arena. One way this is accomplished is by providing challenge activities that give children the sense of “conquering” and accomplishment.

Continue Reading 2017 Camp Susquehanna Burn Camp

You’re meeting friends for dinner and without a second thought pull up your ridesharing app (such as Uber or Lyft). To save a few dollars, you opt for the company’s shared ride service. The company offers this cost-saving option to allow multiple passengers – who do not know each other – to share rides.

The car pulls up as scheduled and you get in. The other passenger looks at you intently and ignores your attempt at conversation. Then, at a stop light, he pulls out a gun and robs you. When you resist, he pistol whips you repeatedly. Now you’re dazed and bleeding, your cell phone and wallet are gone and you’re left wondering what to do.

Sound farfetched?

Continue Reading Should You Share Your Rideshare?

Your car breaks down. You call a tow truck and a ridesharing service. The car pulls up and you get in. The driver seems a bit disheveled but you brush it off because you are in a hurry to get to a meeting. After you’re on your way, the smell of alcohol is unmistakable and suspecting the driver is drunk, you tell him to pull over. Before he can do so, he rear-ends the car in front of you, opens the door, and takes off running. Now, you’ve got a gash above your eye and you’re stranded. To make matters worse, when you get out of the car to call the police, someone steals your laptop from the backseat.

Continue Reading Do You Know Who Your Uber Driver Is?

Your plane just landed in Newark and you open your ridesharing app to arrange for a ride. A few minutes later, the driver texts you that he has arrived. You have his photo, license plate number, and description of the car and you spot him as soon as you step outside. All is well. You get into the car and suddenly a van rear-ends the ridesharing car. You’re injured. Now what? Who will pay your medical bills?

New Jersey legislators recently addressed that question. Under the newly enacted Transportation Network Company Safety and Regulatory Act, drivers and the ridesharing companies that employ them must meet certain insurance coverage standards.

The new law provides for $1.5 million in coverage under certain conditions as explained below.

Continue Reading What Happens if my Uber or Lyft Driver Has an Accident?