June 2010 Archives

June 21, 2010

Nurse Allegedly Drugs and Abuses Hospital Patient

A personal injury lawsuit has recently been filed on behalf of a hospital patient that claims she was sexually abused while seeking care and treatment at the hospital. The lawsuit stems from 2009 when the alleged victim was admitted to the hospital from the emergency room after complaints of persistent chest pain. The patient was placed under the care of a registered nurse that proceeded to inject the patient with morphine and transfer her to a secluded room, according to reports. The nurse waited until he was alone with the patient and then allegedly touched her breasts and placed her hand on his penis.

According to reports, the lawsuit alleges that the hospital negligently hired the nurse and failed to properly conduct a background check in accordance with state law. Had that background check been conducted, the lawsuit alleges the hospital would have known that the nurse allegedly engaged in abusive conduct at other jobs. The nurse was suspended by the hospital following his arrest on sexual abuse charges.

Unfortunately, sexual abuse by hospital personnel is not unprecedented. Law Offices Cytryn & Velazquez, P.A. handled a case involving a woman that was sexually abused by a hospital employee while she was interviewing for a medical assistant position. The employee falsely introduced himself as a doctor and toward the end of the interview told our client that he was required to conduct a physical to obtain insurance approval for employment. The employee then proceeded to inappropriately touch the unsuspecting woman.

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June 15, 2010

Unregulated Industry: Miami Parasailing Accident Raises Questions about Parasailing Safety

Millions of people visit Florida each year for its theme parks, beaches and water sports. Parasailing is one of the most popular water sports that families partake in when they visit Florida cities such as Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Although parasailing accidents are a rarity in the news, injuries and deaths resulting from parasailing accidents do happen. The website parasail.org offers consumer information and parasailing accident reports.

On June 7th, 2010, a Chicago father and his 6-year-old daughter were injured in a parasailing accident in Miami. The accident happened when the boat towing the parasail lost power. The boat captain decided to cut the rope so that the father and daughter would avoid a collision with port cranes. After landing in the water, the two were dragged and eventually hit a seawall in the Port of Miami when the wind re-opened the parasail. The father and daughter were taken to the hospital and released the next day.

Luckily, the father and daughter from Chicago survived their parasailing accident. However, fatal parasailing accidents have occurred in Florida. In 2007, a deadly parasailing accident in Pompano Beach claimed the life of a 15-year-old girl and injured her sister when the girls crashed onto the roof of a building. Strong winds caused the parasail to spin until the rope that was attached to the boat snapped, leaving the young women helplessly flying through the air. The National Weather Service had issued a thunderstorm warning shortly before the girls' parasailing trip, but the boat captain proceeded to conduct rides despite such warnings.

Unfortunately, parasailing is currently unregulated by state and federal governments. Parasailing operators are not regulated by either the Coast Guard or the Department of Labor. The National Foundation for Parasail Regulations (NFPR) was started in an effort to establish mandatory operating guidelines. Some of these guidelines include monitoring weather warnings and operating at safe wind speeds. NFPR's goal is to get state and federal authorities to enforce safety guidelines in order to reduce accidents and hopefully avoid deaths resulting from this activity. Furthermore, The Amber May Law, named after the aforementioned young woman who was killed in a Pompano Beach parasailing accident, aims to establish guidelines and standards for the parasailing industry. The proposed law has not yet gone into effect.

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June 9, 2010

Use of Tasers Has Led to Debate, Deaths, and Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Stories involving the use of stun guns and excessive force by police have become increasingly common over the past few years. Some police officers argue that Tasering is safer than restraining a person using batons and physical force. However, given the increasing number of deaths resulting from the use of Taser guns, many people are against employing Tasering as a subdual method. According to the Amnesty International website, over 351 people have died as a result of police Tasers since 2001.

There have been several Tasering incidents in Florida in the past few years. In 2006, a Clearwater man died after being shot multiple times with a Taser gun by police. The struggle involved three officers who managed to handcuff the man before he passed away. Another Florida Tasering incident involved Andrew Meyer, a student at the University of Florida, when he was Tasered by police during a campus conference featuring Senator John Kerry. Meyer was Tasered after refusing to leave the microphone following a heated political question addressed to the Senator. Meyer survived the Tasering, but the 2007 incident ignited a debate regarding excessive force by police.

Many people, including students at UF, did not think the police should have used a Taser gun on the conference attendee. The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida said police should not have resorted to using a Taser on Meyer if there were enough police officers to restrain Meyer without Tasering him. UF police were cleared, however, following an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement which found that the officers had followed procedure.

In a recent news story from Orange County, California, a settlement of $750,000 was paid to Matthew Fleuret, a former inmate, in a personal injury suit alleging excessive police force. Fleuret was shocked 11 times with a Taser gun after being tackled to the ground by police and kneed in the back of the head. Since the incident, which took place in 2006, a new sheriff has been appointed in Orange County and use-of-force training programs have been updated. It is unknown if the amount of use-of-force incidents have declined since then.

A number of wrongful death lawsuits have been filed against Taser International, the manufacturer of 50,000-volt Taser guns, as these guns have been linked to causing heart attacks and other cardiac problems. Back in 2005 in Las Vegas, Nevada, the father of a boy who died after being Tasered sued the Las Vegas Metro Police and Taser International for $20 million. An investigation by the coroner later revealed that Tasers were only partly responsible for the boy's death.

Taser International has issued a training bulleting warning officers to avoid shooting suspects in the chest, and stands by their product as safe. The company is known for winning in court until two years ago, when a San Jose federal jury awarded $6 million to the family of a man who died after being Tasered. The verdict marked the first time the manufacturer was held accountable for death or injury resulting from its products.

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June 1, 2010

Recent Warning & Recalls on Potentially Dangerous Drugs

Xenical & Alli May Cause Severe Liver Damage

The orlistat-based weight loss pills, Xenical and Alli, will now come with warnings of potential liver damage. The revised warnings come after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received and studied 13 cases of severe liver damage, including two deaths and three liver transplants, in patients taking the drugs. Although only one case involved a patient in the United States, the FDA felt the danger was serious enough to require warnings on all future Xenical and Alli packages sold in the U.S. Although a direct causal relationship has not yet been established between severe liver damage and taking orlistat, the FDA is warning the nearly 40 million people taking Xenical or Alli to discontinue use if they notice signs of liver damage. These signs may include yellow eyes and skin, itching, dark urine, light-colored stool, or loss of appetite.

Proton Pump Inhibitors May Increase Fracture Risk

The FDA is also reporting that recent epidemiological studies have shown that use of proton pump inhibitors, such as Nexium and Prilosec, at high doses or for more than one year may increase the risk of bone fractures. Proton pump inhibitors are used to treat acid reflux, GERD, and other conditions by stopping acid secretion. The increased fracture risk is associated with the hip, wrist, and spine. While the potentially dangerous drugs are not being recalled, they will receive a revised warning label which includes this fracture risk.

Adverse Incidents Related to Children's Tylenol Continue to Surface

The FDA continues to investigate nearly 800 reports of adverse medical incidents following the recall of over-the-counter children's medication, according to reports. The recall was prompted by an inspection of Johnson & Johnson's McNeil manufacturing plant which uncovered bacterial contamination of ingredients, dirty equipment, and the potential of drugs being more potent than indicated. Although the FDA has not linked any of the adverse events, including seven reported deaths, directly to the recalled products, the FDA continues to investigate whether the adverse incidents are related to the poor manufacturing conditions. The recalled products include children's Tylenol, Motrin, Zyrtec and Benadryl.

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