Nov 28, 2014

Botox Lawsuit: $6.75 Million Dollar Award

The Burlington Free Press reports on a $6.75 million dollar award for a jury trial in Burlington federal court brought on behalf of a New York couple whose son was treated with Botox for his cerebral palsy symptoms. The award includes compensatory and punitive damages.

The newspaper writes:
"...a Burlington doctor in 2010 recommended the family inject Botox as treatment. In an interview with the Burlington Free Press ... [the parents]... argued that Allergan does not properly warn the public of potential dangers of using the product.

When the first dose of Botox did not work, the doctor administered a second, larger dose a few years later, according to court papers. The boy suffered a severe allergic reaction, which included facial swelling, slurred speech, respiratory difficulties, vomiting and seizures, and he was rushed to the emergency room at Fletcher Allen Health Care."
Botox for pediatric spasticity is not approved by the FDA and is considered an "off-label" use.

An earlier article provides more information on this lawsuit: Family sues over pediatric Botox treatment.

Oct 27, 2014

Vermont Highway Deaths Down - Vermont Highway Safety Alliance

Vermont Public Radio carries this story about a significant decline in highway deaths on Vermont highways for 2014. Nina Keck reports that:
"According to the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance, the number of traffic fatalities is half of what it was a year ago. State transportation officials aren’t sure why, but they say it may be due to better and more widely shared data.
By mid October of last year, 64 people had died in traffic crashes in Vermont. But so far this year, the number of roadway fatalities is 32, a dramatic drop."
Officials say they cannot point to one reason. Some believe recent efforts to raise awareness of distracted driving and pass a new law prohibiting use of hand held devices while driving in Vermont is partially responsible.

Listen to and read the full story here: Vermont Highway Fatalities Plunge In 2014

Also, see statistics and a map of fatalities on Vermont highways at the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance website:

Aug 6, 2014

Vermont's Bernie Sanders Exposes Unacceptable Rate of Death in US Hospitals Due to Medical Errors

Preventable medical errors in hospitals are the third leading cause of death in the United States, a Senate panel was told on July 14. Only heart disease and cancer kill more Americans.

“Medical harm is a major cause of suffering, disability, and death – as well as a huge financial cost to our nation,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said at the outset of the hearing by the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging.

“This is a problem that has not received anywhere near the attention that it deserves and today I hope that we can focus a spotlight on this matter of such grave consequence,” added Sanders, the panel’s chairman.

The Journal of Patient Safety recently published a study which concluded that as many as 440,000 people die each year from preventable medical errors in hospitals. Tens of thousands also die from preventable mistakes outside hospitals, such as deaths from missed diagnoses or because of injuries from medications.

The new research followed up on a landmark study, To Err is Human, conducted by the Institute of Medicine 15 years ago, when researchers reported that as many as 98,000 people die in hospitals each year due to preventable medical errors. Experts now say that figure was too low and hospitals have been too slow to make improvements.

There has been some progress, Dr. Peter Pronovost of Johns Hopkins University testified. Yet thousands of patients still are dying unnecessarily from infections, preventable blood clots, adverse drug events, falls, over exposure to medical radiation and diagnostic errors. “We need to declare right now that preventable harm is unacceptable and work to prevent all types of harm,” Pronovost said.

Compared to the rest of the world, the United States is about average. “While average is OK, given that we spend more on health care than any other country we should be a lot better. Our high spending is not buying us particularly safe care,” said Dr. Ashish Jha of the Harvard School of Public Health.