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Phoenix Personal Injury Law Blog

Defining a medical coma

A coma is when a person is in such a deep state of unconsciousness that the individual is unable to be awakened. Severe illness and injuries such as concussions and brain trauma are the most frequent causes of comas. It derives from the Greek word koma, meaning 'deep sleep."

A coma is also called a persistent vegetative state. That means that a person who is comatose is not able to respond to the environment; in fact, he or she is not even aware of the surroundings, even though the person could appear normal. Although their eyes may open in response to stimuli and parts of the body could make spontaneous movements, the person does not talk or react to commands.

2 injured after 5-vehicle accident on I-17

On Jan. 15 at around 6 p.m., an accident on Interstate 17 involving five vehicles resulted in two injuries and limited the flow of traffic to just one lane. Units from the Arizona Department of Public Safety were dispatched to the scene, as were units from the Sedona and Montezuma-Rimrock fire departments.

The accident was initially reported as a one-vehicle rollover. As the units were responding to the accident, they were informed that another four vehicles were involved in the wreck.

Are trucks more dangerous than other vehicles?

Truck accidents in Arizona can be extremely dangerous. According to the NHTSA, although commercial trucking companies are legally required to adhere to certain safety standards, these are not necessarily enforced in all circumstances. Moreover, since trucks tend to be much larger than other vehicles, they may potentially be more deadly in the event of an accident.

There are a number of ways for commercial truck accidents to occur. Although the drivers of such vehicles overall tend drive safely, employer pressure can sometimes cause them to behave in unsafe ways. For example, drivers that receive incentives for driving faster and farther than others may be more at risk of being involved in fatigue-related crashes. Drivers might also not be properly trained to understand their own limitations, which can also put them at risk for involvement in dangerous car accidents. These incidents might be mitigated by instituting greater emphasis on safety within an organization.

FDA reports 40 patients given unsterilized saline

Arizona residents may be interested to know that at least 40 patients in seven states mistakenly received unsterilized, practice intravenous fluids while in the hospital instead of the sterile saline solution that is protocol, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Several patients became ill and one person may have died as a result, though doctors are not positive the unsterilized solution was to blame for the death.

The practice saline, which is produced for use at medical and nursing schools, was distributed by San Diego-based manufacturer Wallcur beginning on May 22. The FDA did not provide information on when patients were mistakenly given the solution, but it said the incidents occurred in Colorado, Georgia, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, New York and North Carolina.

The causes and effects of whiplash injuries

A whiplash is a common car accident injury that occurs when the head and neck are moved suddenly in one direction and then another. The name comes from the whip-like motion, and the sudden movement creates both a sprain and a strain in the neck. The injury can be painful for a prolonged of time and has a wide range of severity. Many drivers pass off whiplash as a common and minor injury, but it is important for Arizona residents to understand how serious it can be.

The symptoms of whiplash injury commonly include neck pain and stiffness that can last for several days. Other symptoms include dizziness, blurred vision or ringing in the ears or difficulty swallowing. A person may experience any or all of these symptoms, and they may not develop immediately. The symptoms usually clear within a few days, but they can last weeks or even months, especially if they are ignored or not treated properly. In very serious cases, the discs in the neck can become dislocated or herniated, which may require serious treatment.

Forceps delivery and medical malpractice

Individuals in Arizona may wonder about the safety of delivering babies using forceps. Forceps delivery is used when the doctor perceives that the labor is proceeding too slowly for some reason. This might be because the baby seems stressed, the mother is too tired to push or there is some medical condition that makes the use of forceps necessary.

A baby needs to be in a certain position in the birth canal for the forceps delivery to be possible. The mother will receive pain medication before the instruments are used. The instrument is then placed on the baby's head while the mother pushes. If this is not successful, the next step might be a C-section.

Medical malpractice and outpatient surgical centers

Increasingly, more and more people in Arizona are scheduled for surgeries at outpatient surgery centers, facilities that have become increasingly popular over the last ten years. While most will be able to use such centers without issue, some may be seriously injured or die as a result of complications from surgery, infections and surgical errors occurring.

The recent death of Joan Rivers, who went to an outpatient center for what was thought to be routine surgery, is illustrative. The centers simply do not have the same ability to respond quickly in an emergency situation. Most rely on transport from the center to area hospitals for emergency treatment.

Hospitals can be held liable for surgical mistakes

Arizona patients who have ever heard credible stories, as reported by other authorities, detailing the story arcs of patients who discovered that a surgeon or doctor had left medical debris inside of them during a previous surgery, may be shocked and even frightened by such medical horror stories. However, it may interest them to know that many victims of these terrible medical errors have taken legal action in the form of a medical malpractice suit.

In most cases, attorneys representing medical victims have little issue identifying the parties to be named as defendants. However, if the name of the doctor or surgeon is not known, finding who exactly was responsible for a medical mistake can be difficult. In these cases, patients may be eligible to file the lawsuit against the hospital, citing vicarious liability.

Illegal, legal drugs can impair driving skills

Arizona motorists who drive after taking or using drugs may face the same consequences as if they had driven after drinking. A drug is any substance that alters a person's mind. Most people may think of illicit drugs, such as marijuana or cocaine, when the term 'drugged driving" is used, but it also refers to prescription and over-the-counter drugs that impact how a person functions.

An estimated 9.9 million people drove after taking illicit drugs in 2012, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Another 28.7 million persons reported driving at least once after drinking alcohol in 2012. Both types of substances impair people's abilities to drive cars, which can cause car accidents that may have fatal consequences.

Injuries that could be avoided in Arizona car crashes

In car accidents, there are several types of injuries that could be avoided if proper precautions are taken. For instance, it may be possible to reduce the number of brain injuries that occur by driving or riding in a car with proper front and side airbags. While some believe that airbags may be harmful, their benefits generally outweigh the risks.

Whiplash and other neck and back injuries may be reduced by wearing a proper safety restraint while in a moving vehicle. Injuries such as a slipped disc or a fracture could linger for years and cause chronic pain. Facial injuries may be avoided by simply using the hands to cover and wrap the face. This may be effective in preventing debris such as glass from causing cuts or abrasions.

*Certified Specialist in Injury and Wrongful Death Litigation by the State Bar of Arizona, Board of Legal Specialization