Published on:

The summer months increase the risk of childhood drowning. The weather is at its warmest, and many people in the San Diego area enjoy swimming at the beach and in pools throughout the area. However, it is extremely important to keep a close eye on children when they are near the water to prevent drowning accidents. According to arecent article from San Diego News 6, the last week of August saw six near-fatal child drownings in San Diego County.

According to Oseana Bratton, file2041245784619a nurse at Rady Children’s Hospital, “six cases of young children nearly drowning in a 48-hour period may seem like a lot, but it’s not that uncommon this time of year, and there’s plenty more hot weather ahead.” Are parents and caregivers keeping an appropriately watchful eye?

One-year-old Gabriel Clark, his four-year-old sister, and the children’s nanny were swimming in a neighbor’s pool in Oceanside. According to the article, “it was just another day for his parents, both of them at work, until his mom Karen got a heart-stopping text.” The nanny texted Gabriel’s mother with a “terrifying text” that simply said “please call me.” The nanny had placed Gabriel in a flotation device—“the kind where his feet were in the water.” Karen told San Diego News 6 that the nanny reportedly “turned away for just a few seconds to help four-year-old Mia jump into the pool.”

In the brief moment during which the nanny turned her attention away from young Gabriel, he “had just tried to get out, so he wasn’t totally out, but his head was submerged,” according to the victim’s mother. When the nanny removed Gabriel from the water, “he was blue and not breathing.” The nanny performed CPR on Gabriel. When emergency medical responders arrived, Gabriel was breathing on his own again.

Though Gabriel was okay in the end, secondary drowning can be a serious—and often deadly—result of a near-drowning. As a precaution, Gabriel stayed in the pediatric intensive care unit at Rady Children’s Hospital overnight.

Unintentional Drownings: Keeping Kids Safe

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately ten people suffer fatal drowning injuries each day in the U.S. About 20 percent of those victims are kids under the age of 15. The CDC emphasizes that drowning is the fifth-leading cause of unintentional injury death in our country. Those figures do not include people who die in boating-related accidents.

To prevent unintentional drownings, it is important to know the risk factors:

  • Males are much more likely than females to die from drowning. In fact, about 80 percent of fatal drowning victims are males.
  • Children between the ages of one and four years old are at greatest risk of drowning. About one-third of accident related fatalities of children in that age group are caused by drowning.

According to the CDC, important prevention measures include the following:

  • Learn to swim, or ensure that your children have swimming skills before you go near or into the water;
  • Learn CPR;
  • Wear a lifejacket or other flotation device;
  • Always make sure children are supervised when they are in the water or around water;
  • Teach children to use the buddy system when in the pool or at the beach;
  • Always avoid drinking alcohol before swimming.

If your child died in a drowning accident, it is important to talk to an experienced San Diego wrongful death attorney. Contact the Walton Law Firm to learn how we can assist you.

Photo Credit: taylorschlades via morgueFile

See Related Blog Posts:

Child Drowning Accident in San Diego

Child Pool Drowning Figures Released by Consumer Product Safety Commission

Published on:

Earlier this month, a cyclist suffered catastrophic injuries after being struck by a wrong-way driver on Fiesta Island, according to a recent story from NBC San Diego.  Other riders in San Diego’s cycling community explained that the victimDSCN1797, Juan Carlos Vinolo, 49, sustained serious injuries after pushing another cyclist out of the way of the oncoming vehicle.  The car accident left Vinolo paralyzed with a severe spinal cord injury.

Wrong-Way DUI Driver Seriously Injures Bicyclists

Vinolo was riding with about thirty other cyclists, members of the San Diego Bicycle Club.  Vinolo’s wife, Emma Irarragorri, told NBC San Diego her husband “is always obsessed with safety when he rides his bicycle.”  When her husband saw the oncoming car, he “instinctively pushed the leader out of harm’s way,” saving that cyclist’s life but suffering serious injuries in the bicycle accident.

The auto accident caused serious injuries to other members of the San Diego Bicycle Club as well.  According to the article, the “impact of the crash shattered the car’s windshield and sent at least 10 cyclists to the hospital with injuries ranging from facial cuts to bruised ribs.”  Vinolo, however, was the most seriously injured of anyone on the group.  His injuries included two punctured lungs, broken ribs, a broken left clavicle, dislocated left shoulder, loss of one kidney, spleen laceration, and six broken vertebrae.

According to one of the cycling teammates, Logan Bass, several cyclists saw the car approaching and attempted to get out of the way.  Bass remembers seeing Vinolo on top of the car, and another cyclist on the car’s windshield.  Bass sustained a contusion to his ribs and a cut on his foot.  Although he spent two days in the hospital, he and the other cyclists are most concerned about Vinolo.

Police arrested and charged the vehicle’s driver, Theresa Lynn Owens, 49, with driving under the influence and possession of a controlled substance.

Bicycle-Related Injuries: Facts and Statistics

How often do bicycle accidents occur?  In general, only about 1 percent of all trips taken in our country are on bicycle. Yet cyclists face a much higher risk of crash-related injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Some important facts about bicycle crashes:

  • In 2010, about 800 bicyclists sustained fatal injuries in collisions;
  • About 515,000 emergency room visits take place each year due to bicycle-related injuries;
  • On average, serious and fatal crash-related injuries result in medical costs and productivity losses of about $5 billion annually.

Who is at risk in a serious or fatal bicycle accident?  Risk factors include:

  • Age: Adolescents between the ages of 15-24 and adults aged 45 and older are at the highest risk of a bicycle accident fatality.  The highest rate of nonfatal bicycle-related injuries occurs among children under the age of 15.  In fact, about 60 percent of all bicycle-related injuries involve children under the age of 15.
  • Sex: The CDC reports that males are “much more likely to be killed or injured” in a bicycle-related accident than are female cyclists.
  • Area: Urban areas are much more dangerous for bicyclists, particularly at non-intersection locations.

Even nonfatal bicycle accidents can result in catastrophic injuries, including spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries.  If you or a loved one have sustained injuries in a bicycle accident or traffic collision, it is important to discuss your case with a San Diego accident lawyer.  We can help you to seek compensation for your injuries.

Photo Credit: pippalou via morgueFile

See Related Blog Posts:

Preventing Bicycle Accidents with San Diego Bike Loop

Cyclist Dies in Carlsbad Accident

Published on:

New Study Questions Significance of California’s Cell Phone Ban

Six years ago, the use of hand-held phones while driving was banned in California.  The ban, aimed at preventing serious car accidents, led other states to pass similar laws.  In fact, thirteen states now restrict the use of cell phones to hIMG_2322ands-free-only devices for people behind the wheel.  But has California’s cell phone ban actually reduced the number of traffic collisions?  According to arecent article in UT San Diego, a new study out of the University of Colorado questions the utility of the cell phone ban.

As the article points out, for almost a decade we have heard talk about the statistics surrounding texting and hand-held talking while driving. In particular, doing so results in distracted driving, and distracted driving causes life-threatening and fatal automobile accidents.  However, according to Daniel Kaffine, associate professor of economics at the University of Colorado, Boulder, there is no clear “statistical evidence of a reduction” in accidents associated with California’s cell phone ban.

The cell phone ban first went into effect in July 2008.  Over the six months that followed, “researchers determined there was no evidence crashes were reduced.”  Kaffine explained that, if talking on a handheld phone while driving was really so dangerous, “and if even just a fraction of people stopped using their phones, we would expect to find some decrease in accidents.”  Yet Kaffine’s research team found no such evidence.

Kaffine’s team at the University of Colorado is not the first group of researchers to question the efficacy of handheld cell phone bans.  In fact, a study from 2013 published in American Economic Journal looked closely at data surrounding “nationwide, single-vehicle, single-occupant crash numbers” near the time when a lot of states implemented texting-while-driving bans.  According to the study, “initially, there was a notable drop in collisions.”  However, only three months after the bans were enacted, “crashes had crept back up to levels seen before the texting ban was in place.”

Why Are Handheld Talking and Texting Bans Not Working?

Law enforcement officials say these bans are doing a lot of good, and California officials reject Kaffine’s study.  However, the recent research suggests some compelling reasons why neither ban made much of an impact in California or across the country:

  •      Distracted driving does not just result from handheld phone use.  It is possible many California drivers switched to hands-free devices. A number of researchers suggest this method of talking is “equally distracting;”
  •      Drivers choose to ignore the ban, and continue using handheld devices for talking and texting while driving;
  •      The drivers most likely to use handheld devices are “the type of drivers who engage in other distracting behaviors.”  In short, they replaced one distracting behavior—the handheld cell use—with another;
  •      Talking while driving is not as dangerous as believed.

Law enforcement officials stress that we, as drivers, are less perceptive when talking while driving.  According to one California Highway Patrol Officer, if the ban is not working, it is because people are not following the law. The number of tickets issued could support this point, with nearly 20,000 issued in 2011, more than 15,000 issued in 2012, and nearly 11,000 issued in 2013.  The California Highway Patrol predicts that number will rise in 2014.

Have you sustained serious injuries in a car accident?  Distracted driving can lead to fatal traffic collisions and debilitating injuries.  If you have been hurt, it is important to contact an experienced San Diego car accident lawyer.  You may be eligible for financial compensation.

See Related Blog Posts:

Deadly Hit and Run Accidents in San Diego

Distracted Driving Fines and Accidents

Photo Credit: rickyysanne via morgueFile cc

Published on:

Traumatic Brain Injuries and California Sports

Football Tackle

Brain injuries and American football have, unfortunately, seemed to go hand in hand in recent years.  Despite the popularity of contact sports, commentators have suggested that contact sports may have to be scaled back in the coming years due to the high risk of serious head trauma.  Research suggests that even a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) like a concussion can have life-threatening consequences.  Indeed, a number of professional football players have been diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a dangerous degenerative brain condition caused by multiple concussions, while a number of high school athletes have sustained severe brain injuries on the field.

What’s California doing to prevent serious head injuries?  According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, Governor Jerry Brown recently signed into law a bill that is designed to protect student athletes from serious TBIs.  Specifically, it “prohibits football teams at middle and high schools from holding full-contact practices that exceed 90 minutes a day,” while it also “limits the number of full-contact practices during the season to two per week.”  In addition, it prohibits coaches from holding any contact practices at any point during the off-season.

The restrictions in the new law will take effect on January 1, 2015.  They’re designed, the article reported, “to help reduce concussions and other serious brain injuries.”

History of the Law and Teen Sports Injuries

How did the law come about?  Assemblyman Ken Cooley introduced the bill, AB 2127, emphasizing that its “practice guidelines will reassure parents that their kids can learn football safely through three hours of full-contact practice.”  He explained that the prohibitions weren’t intended to prevent teenage athletes from playing football.  Rather, he made clear, the new law would “maximize conditioning and skill development while minimizing concussion risk.”

The bill received support from the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), an organization in charge of high school sports in California.  In addition to the new law, the CIF also put a new rule into effect that will begin in schools this fall.  The rule prohibits high school coaches in our state from spending more than 18 hours each week on practices.  John Aguirre, the commissioner of the Los Angeles City Section and a former football coach, emphasized that “everybody is going to have to educate themselves and transition within the limitations.”

As you might imagine, a number of high school football coaches aren’t very happy about the new law and the CIF rule.  According to a coach at Los Angeles Roosevelt High School, football teams “need to have full contact” in the off-season.  Without it, he argues, coaches won’t be able to “figure out who can play.”

Are the new prohibitions necessary to prevent head injuries?  Do we really need these restrictions when we’re just talking about high school athletes?  In short, the answer is yes.  Based on data reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 4 million high schoolers sustain brain injuries every year, and many of those serious injuries occur during practices for popular contact sports like football.

If your child sustained a concussion or other severe brain injury while playing high school sports, it’s very important to talk to an experienced San Diego brain injury attorney.  You may be able to seek compensation.  Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you.

Photo Credit: jedIII via Compfight cc

See Related Blog Posts:

Female Athletes, High School Athletes, and Brain Injury Severity

Sports-Related Brain Injuries

Published on:

What should you look for when deciding on a California drug rehabilitation facility?  In many cases, consumers believe the higher the price of the facility, the better the care.  However, many high-end drug rehabilitation facilities in Southern California have victimized patients, and a number of them sustained serious and fatal personal injuries.  Should you look, instead, to see whether a facility has been accredited?  How about facilities that have been licensed and/or certified by the state?

Needles & Therapy

A lot of terms exist to suggest that a facility provides high quality care.  Yet it’s important to remember that neither the price tag associated with a facility, nor its accreditation or certification status, can promise a safe environment for a loved one battling addiction.

Drug Rehab Facility Safety in California

In California, the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) has “sole authority to license facilities providing 24-hour residential nonmedical services to eligible adults who are recovering from problems related to alcohol or other drug misuse or abuse.”  When must a facility be licensed by the state of California?  If the facility provides one of the following services, then it’s required to be licensed by DHCS:

  •      Detoxification;
  •      Group sessions;
  •      Individual sessions;
  •      Educational sessions;
  •      Alcoholism or drug abuse recover; or
  •      Alcoholism or drug abuse treatment planning.

Certification is different from being licensed.  A number of facilities that are licensed are also certified.  But according to the DHCS website, “certification by DHCS identifies those facilities which exceed minimum levels of service quality and are in substantial compliance with State program standards, specifically the Alcohol and/or Other Drug Certification Standards.”

In other words, a facility that’s both licensed and certified is likely to have met higher standards than other facilities.  But those terms alone can’t always promise quality care.  And how do they compare to accredited facilities?

Accreditation Standards for Drug Rehab Facilities

According to a recent article in Psych Central, accreditation isn’t synonymous with quality treatment.  Why not?  First thing’s first: not all accreditation is equal.  In fact, many accredited facilities haven’t been licensed by the state to provide care for people seeking to overcome alcohol or drug addiction.  Instead, many facilities have been accredited by third parties.  And some of these third-party accreditors aren’t as thorough as others.

In most cases, facilities seek accreditation either from CARF (the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) or The Joint Commission.  Generally speaking, “facilities that meet CARF or Joint Commission standards have demonstrated their commitment to being among the best drug rehab facilities in the world.”  And in some states, accreditation by one of these facilities can go toward fulfillment of certain licensing requirements.

Yet we need to remember that simply being licensed or accredited doesn’t ensure excellent care.  Indeed, patients sustain injuries and endure abuse even at high-end facilities that have been licensed in California or accredited by CRF.  According to the article, “several correlations exist between accreditation and quality care, but the association isn’t uniform across all accredited programs.”

Accreditation is one of the “best indicators of quality that we have,” according to Dr. David Sack, who is board certified in psychiatry, addiction psychiatry, and addiction medicine.  However, rather than simply rely on a facility’s price tag, its certification status, or its accreditation status, it’s essential that you “do your homework.”

If you or a loved one sustained injuries due to abuse or neglect in a California drug rehab facility, the Walton Law Firm can help.  Even high-end facilities can be held accountable for abuse, and we can discuss your options with you today.  Contact a San Diego personal injury lawyer to learn more.

Photo Credit: JohnONolan via Compfight cc

See Related Blog Posts:

Abuse, Violence, and Wrongful Death in High-End Rehab Facilities

Medical Malpractice Initiative Will Appear on November Ballot

Published on:

When we hear about high-end drug rehabilitation facilities, many of us assume that paying high prices for treatment means a higher quality of care.  However, even the most expensive, high-end facilities can pose dangers for our loved ones when they’re in need of proper treatment for drug and alcohol addiction.  To be sure, abuse and preventable injuries occur with surprising frequency at high-end drug rehab centers.

Pills

Rehab Facilities with a History of Abuse

Are high-end drug rehabilitation facilities really places where patient safety is a serious issue?  Unfortunately, abuse can occur anywhere, and patient injuries and deaths can result.  In some cases, employees at these kinds of facilities commit sexual abuse and violence against patients.  In other cases, there’s just a poor quality of care, and preventable injuries happen.

For example, the One80 Center in Los Angeles, an “A-list Hollywood rehab,” according to the Los Angeles Times, recently was exposed as a dangerous rehabilitation facility in California.  Over the last few years, two patients died after sustaining fatal injuries in a drowning accident and an Oxycontin overdose.  According to a story about those deaths that appeared in the Hollywood Reporter, the rehabilitation facility is a “luxury addiction treatment provider” that houses some of its services in a “$2.9 million Cape Cod-style house on lower Sunset Plaza Drive.”

The first victim, a 52-year-old woman seeking treatment at the facility, Jean Galletta, threatened to “go upstairs, take a bath, and drown myself.”  The caretakers at the One80 facility didn’t believe her.  Moments later, staff members found the victim in her bathtub.  They “placed a bag valve mask over her face and furiously worked an automatic external defibrillator” in an “unsuccessful attempt to revive her.”  At her time of death, Galletta’s blood alcohol content was listed at 0.24, which is “enough to lose consciousness.”  Following her death, many clients and patient advocates suspected that Galletta’s death had been preventable, as it resulted from improper care at One80.

Less than a year prior, One80 lost another client under questionable circumstances.  In August 2011, a 22-year-old overdosed on Oxycontin.  The victim, Andrew Witkoff, had been the son of a “Manhattan real estate titan.”  He smuggled the drugs into his bedroom, a “sober-living sanctum.”  Similar to Galletta’s death, commentators believe Witkoff’s death was the result of improper care at the rehabilitation facility.

High-End Care Hindering Recovery?

According to the story in the Hollywood Reporter, clients come to high-end rehabilitation facilities when they’re at their most vulnerable—they’re in “perilous physical and mental health.”  And because these facilities often give “special privileges” to the wealthiest of Americans in need of drug or alcohol rehabilitation, those clients often don’t end up getting the level of care they actually need.

For clients like Witkoff and Galletta, facilities such as the One80 can charge about $90,000 per month for treatment.  But that price doesn’t mean that patients are receiving proper care.  For example, staff members at some of these high-end facilities have come forward shedding light on realities at the facilities.  They’ve emphasized that many clients actually need psychiatric treatment at specialized facilities, yet the owners of luxury rehabilitation clinics such as One80 opt to encourage the expensive monthly payments from these clients instead.

“When you have something extreme” in addition to a drug or alcohol addiction, one staff member asserted, such as “eating disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar with psychotic features—clients need true psychiatric care to get better with their addiction.”  Without such care, staff members warn, “you’re setting people up for failure.”

Has your loved one sustained injuries at a high-end drug rehabilitation facility?  It’s important to discuss your case with an experienced San Diego personal injury attorney.  Whether your serious injuries resulted from poor care or an intentional act, we can help you to seek compensation.  Contact us today to learn more.

Photo Credit: Dean812 via Compfight cc
See Related Blog Posts:

California Earns “F” Grade for Emergency Room Capacities

$9 Million UC Davis Medical Malpractice Settlement

Published on:

Consumers May Be ‘Numb’ to Product Recalls, Says Bloomberg

Do product recalls actually affect sales, or have many California residents become “numb” to news about defective products that may cause harm?  According to a recent report from Bloomberg, the recent General Motors (GM) recall hasn’t yet affected sales the way many of us might assume.  Indeed, according to the story, GM’s sales have been completely “unfazed” by the recalls.  So if a recall in and of itself won’t stop consumers from purchasing dangerous products or from patronizing a company that has sold a defective item, how do consumers make decisions to avoid purchases of potentially harmful products?

GM

According to the article, there are five different factors that influence whether a product recall will affect sales.  These factors can make a difference in how consumers view the recall and when it will affect their buying habits:

  •      1) Awareness of the recall;
  •      2) Severity of the risk that’s posed by the product;
  •      3) Proximity of the risk to the product that’s currently being sold;
  •      4) How the manufacturer or distributor handles the recall; and
  •      5) Reputation of the manufacturer or distributor after the recall.

Have you been injured by a defective product?  It’s very important to speak to an experienced San Diego product liability lawyer.  You may be eligible to seek financial compensation for your injuries.

Weighing the Severity of the Risk

Commentators point out that “as many as 74 deaths may be associated with these recalls” from GM, but the “impact has not yet been fully seen.”  Usually, the severity of the risk—factor #2—will have the greatest impact.  For example, consider the recent Toyota or Tylenol recalls in addition to those at GM.  When a product can put a consumer’s life at risk, the company that’s selling the defective product usually will see a drop in sales.  But the GM recall isn’t producing an immediate effect.

As a quick reminder, the GM recall involves a faulty ignition switch that reportedly has resulted in serious and even fatal injuries.  However, consumers continue to buy GM products.  What’s going on?  With the GM recall, researchers predict that factor #3 is at work.  In other words, the recalled vehicles aren’t on the market, and consumers are buying different GM models.

It takes longer than we might think for a recall to affect the reputation of a product manufacturer.  For example, with the Lululemon recall, the company didn’t experience a drop in sales until 6 to 9 months after it recalled.  While that recall didn’t cause bodily harm to consumers, reporters on Bloomberg Television’s “Market Makers” are comparing the rate at which Lululemon’s reputation sustained damage (and thus the decrease in product sales) to GM’s reputation in connection with dangerous automobile defects.

In short, there’s a delayed “reputation impact” on sales.  And even when GM does begin to see a relationship between customer sales and its recall of the dangerous automobile parts, the company likely will be able to offer incentives, discounts, or rebates to keep customers coming.

Contact a San Diego Product Defect Attorney

Have you been injured by a defective product?  Has a loved one sustained fatal injuries from a dangerous automobile part or a bad drug?  You may be able to file a lawsuit. Contact a California personal injury lawyer at the Walton Law Firm today to discuss your case.

Photo Credit: mag3737 via Compfight cc

See Related Blog Posts:

San Diego Investigation Turns Up Old Tires Being Sold As New

Published on:

Are certain athletes at greater risk of a debilitating brain injury than others?  According to an article in Women’s Health, female and younger athletes may “take longer to recover from concussions.”  The article cited a new study conducted by researchers in Michigan State University’s Department of Kinesiology.  How can this information help victims of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)?  In short, the findings suggest that treatment options should be different based on the age and sex of the victim, and physicians should take these factors into account when treating patients with head trauma.

Girl in Hospital Bed

Age and Sex Impact Recovery: Details of the Study

According to Tracey Covassin, the lead researcher on the study, “females performed worse than males on visual memory tests” after sustaining a TBI, and females also “reported more symptoms postconcussion.”  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that concussions are a form of mild traumatic brain injury, and they’re typically characterized by a “bump, blow, or jolt to the head.”  Typically, concussions aren’t life-threatening injuries, but they can have serious and debilitating effects nonetheless.

While women had more difficulty with visual memory tasks and had more pronounced symptoms than males after sustaining concussions, high school athletes involved in the study had even more problems.  In relation to college athletes who sustained mild TBIs, athletes at high school age performed worse on “verbal and visual memory tests.”  In addition, many of those high school athletes reported that they were still “impaired up to two weeks after their injuries.”

Covassin, who is a certified athletic trainer at the university, explained that researchers previously have suggested that female and younger athletes can take longer to recover after they sustain a concussion, but her team’s research makes clear that age and sex also play a role in a TBI victim’s cognitive abilities.

Promoting Awareness About Women and Sports-Related Concussions

While the study presents compelling information about the rate and severity of concussions among high school athletes and female athletes, it also begs for more awareness measures when it comes to sports-related head trauma.  In particular, Covassin argues that “simple education” is largely lacking when it comes to women and sports.  Discussing her study, she emphasized that “we need to raise awareness that . . . female athletes do get concussions.”  For, as she explains, “too often, when we speak with parents and coaches, they overlook the fact that in comparable sports, females are concussed more than males.”

Female athletes in high school may be at particularly high risk of serious post-concussion injury.  If young women aren’t closely assessed for concussions, they may not fully recover after sustaining a TBI.  These women can be at risk of second-impact syndrome, a term that refers to a situation where a second concussion can produce particularly severe symptoms and debilitating brain damage.

Brain injuries are all too common among athletes who participate in contact sports, but it’s important to remember that a serious head trauma can result from many different kinds of accidents.  If you have a loved one who recently suffered a TBI, you should talk to an experienced San Diego brain injury lawyer about your case.  At the Walton Law Firm, we are committed to helping Southern Californians who have sustained serious brain injuries.

Photo Credit: Kris Krug via Compfight cc

See Related Blog Posts:

Sports-Related Brain Injuries

Baseball Coach Sustains Traumatic Brain Injury

Published on:

Most recent news about the NFL and professional football has concerned the prevalence of traumatic brain injury among those who play contact sports.  However, a recent article in the Insurance Journal reported that a San Diego team doctor may be liable for medical malpractice.  What’s the link between medical malpractice and football?  In short, a number of players have come forward with allegations concerning drug abuse.

Pills

Narcotics Prescriptions and Medical Negligence in Football?

Back in May, approximately 500 former NFL players filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in northern California alleging that physicians affiliated with the pro sports league “illegally dispensed powerful narcotics and other drugs to keep players on the field without regard for their long-term health.” The initial complaint was amended shortly after its original filing date to add another 250 players to the lawsuit. Now, 750 plaintiffs are involved in the case against the NFL.

Only a handful of the players are identified by name, however, including Marcellus Wiley, who played for Buffalo, Dallas, Jacksonville, and San Diego during his time in the league. Some of the other named players include Richard Dent and Jim McMahon. McMahon, as many remember, was also involved in the concussion class-action case that was settled for $756 million last year. The players involved in the current claim are seeking class-action certification.

What are the details of the new lawsuit? First, it spans a number of decades, covering the years between 1968 and 2008. During that forty-year period, the former players argue that “team physicians and trainers across the NFL routinely—and often illegally—provided powerful narcotics and other controlled substances on game days to mask the pain.”

Some of the prescribed painkillers include Percodan, Percocet, and Vicodin. But more than just painkillers are involved. The former players also contend that powerful anti-inflammatories like Toradol, and sleep aids like Ambien, were “handed out like candy at Halloween” and “often combined in cocktails,” according to the article in the Insurance Journal. Indeed, the lead attorney in the lawsuit indicated that some of the teams that have been implicated even “filled out prescriptions in players’ names without their knowledge or consent.”

Long-Term Health Damage from San Diego Physician’s Decisions

The alleged effects of narcotic use in the NFL have included long-term health damage, according to the players involved in the lawsuit. They’ve reported a “range of debilitating effects,” which include chronic muscle pain, bone ailments, permanent nerve damage, and organ damage as a result of addiction to some of the drugs named.

And according to Wiley, who suffered partial renal failure earlier this year, the then-San Diego team doctor David Chao regularly supplied him with painkiller injections over an entire season. Chao allegedly gave Wiley the “multiple injections” to help him cope with what he had diagnosed as a “severe groin sprain.” However, an independent physician diagnosed Wiley with “a torn abdominal wall” that actually “required surgery.” The Medical Board of California has since placed Chao on probation, and his license was revoked. And back in 2012, a jury found Chao liable for another patient’s injuries.

The players will need to prove a “cause and effect” relationship between the painkillers and their current injuries. Additionally, they’ll need to show that their health problems are more pronounced than those of other people their age who haven’t been exposed to the same levels of painkiller medications.

Medical malpractice is a serious issue. Indeed, right now many patient advocates in California are working to raise the cap on the damages available to medical malpractice victims in our state. If you have sustained injuries because of medical negligence, you should seek legal counsel. Contact a San Diego medical malpractice attorney at the Walton Law Firm to learn more about how we can help with your case.

Photo Credit: Martin Cathrae via Compfight cc

See Related Blog Posts:

Medical Malpractice Initiative Will Appear on November Ballot

$9 Million UC Davis Medical Malpractice Settlement

Published on:

Summer is here, but how safe are some of the most popular warm-weather activities in Southern California?  According to a recent article in ABC News, a San Diego toddler nearly died during a drowning accident at a pool party.  According to the California Department of Developmental Services, drowning is “a leading cause of injury-related deaths among children under the age of five” in our state, and near-drowning accidents frequently result in permanent disabilities.  How can you keep your children safe when swimming is involved?  It’s important to know about water safety, but it’s also essential to know the signs of secondary drowning.

Swimming Pool

Details of the Recent Drowning Accident

When Lindsay Kujawa took her son Ronin to an outdoor pool party and turned her back “for maybe five seconds,” the toddler fell into the water, according to ABC News and Good Morning America.  Kujawa explained that she immediately pulled Ronin out of the water “after about 20 seconds,” and the young boy “seemed unscathed.”  Kujawa specifically emphasized that her son hadn’t turned blue and didn’t seem to be choking on water.  As a result, she assumed he was just fine and that the tumble into the pool hadn’t caused any injuries.

However, when Ronin fell into the water, some of the fluid got into his lungs, which “prevented the tiny air sacs from moving oxygen into the bloodstream.”  Shortly thereafter, the toddler “was having difficulty breathing.”  Without medical attention, in fact, “his heart could have stopped.”  Ronin suffered from secondary drowning.

While secondary drowning isn’t especially common, according to Dr. Paul Pepe, who is chair of emergency medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, “it does occur.”  Indeed, Pepe emphasized that “even children who are resuscitated and rushed to the emergency room after falling in a pool can develop pulmonary edema in the first three or four hours after taking in water.”  As a result, if your child sustains a fall into a pool and potentially takes in water, you should visit an emergency room, particularly if you notice any breathing problems, coughing, or general lethargy.

Secondary Drowning and Child Injuries

The recent drowning accident in San Diego involved secondary drowning.  What exactly is secondary drowning?  According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), secondary drowning, or “near-drowning,” is a syndrome that occurs after immersion in water.  In medical terms, it’s a “deterioration of pulmonary function” that happens after a child has been immersed in a pool, for example.

Why is it so dangerous?  For one, it happens after most parents assume their kids are in the clear. An article released by the NIH emphasizes that symptoms of secondary drowning are “usually rapid,” but they’re often “characterized by a latent period of one to 48 hours of relative respiratory well-being.” In other words, a child can have no symptoms of secondary drowning immediately after being immersed in water, but life-threatening symptoms can appear up to 48 hours after the incident.

Drowning accidents happen far too often in the San Diego area, and victims often sustain serious and life-threatening injuries. If you or a loved one has been injured in a drowning accident, you may be able to seek compensation for those injuries. An experienced California drowning accident lawyer can examine the details of your case today.

Photo Credit: *MarS via Compfight cc

See Related Blog Posts:

Child Pool Drowning Figures Released by Consumer Product Safety Commission

Diving Fatality at La Jolla Shores