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?

While proponents continue to say that e-cigs are safe, a new study shows that e-cigs may be just as dangerous as regular cigarette smoking—with the added danger of explosions that can mutilate and disfigure teens and adults using the systems. The newest study measures five chemicals in e-cigarettes known to cause bladder cancer, including “nitrosamines” and formaldehyde. The chemicals are known to be ingredients in e-cigarette liquid. Continue Reading More Bad News About E-Cigarettes: Bladder Cancer

New Jersey workers’ compensation benefits are governed under N.J.S.A. 34:15 et seq. There are three benefits you are entitled to when you get hurt at work in New Jersey: payment of medical bills, payment of temporary disability benefits or wage replacement and payment of an award of permanent disability. I will address each of these in a series of blogs.

This is the third in a series of three blogs. The previous blogs can be found here: Part 1, Part 2.

This blog will focus on the benefit known as permanent partial disability. After medical treatment has been provided and the authorized doctor tells you there is nothing more he can do, you may be entitled to a monetary award even if you have returned to work full duty (see prior blogs). This benefit is payable if the injury has a permanent impact on your life.

Continue Reading New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Benefits Unraveled – Part 3

Recently a lithium battery fire in a passenger’s backpack caused a plane to divert its flight and make an emergency landing, reported the Federal Aviation Administration. Lithium batteries, which are used in e-cigarettes, phones, laptops, and other devices, are known to explode and/or catch fire without warning. The backpack was quickly removed from the plane, preventing injury or further damage.

Although no one was injured on the flight, lithium battery explosions can cause devastating injuries, particularly in cell phone and e-cigarette explosions. Last year, Samsung recalled millions of its Galaxy Note 7 phones because the batteries were catching fire and causing injuries. Panasonic, Toshiba, and Lenovo recalled laptop batteries for fire danger. Continue Reading Lithium Battery Catches Fire on Flight

Summer is almost here! Do you know where your kids will be going? Amusement parks, day camp, swimming pools, lakes, the shore, grandma’s – the list of fun things to do is almost endless.

But if they are getting in a car – don’t forget to check on car restraints. Are there enough age appropriate car restraints in the car for all of the children who are going on the trip? Ask and check. Before your child rides in a car, ask the driver if he or she has the appropriate car restraints. If need be, install your child’s own car seat in the car. Never allow a child under 13 years old to ride in the front seat unless the air bag is deactivated. If they are old enough, talk to your kids about not getting into a car without appropriate child safety restraints.

Why is this so important? Because between 2010 and 2014, 2,885 children died in motor vehicle accidents in the United States – and almost half of them (43 percent) were not wearing seatbelts or were improperly restrained. Another 15 percent were sitting inappropriately in the front seat.

Continue Reading Are Your Kids Taking a Summer Vacation from Car Restraints?