Thursday, 27 January 2011

Why the DePuy Hip Implant Became so Popular

Devices like the DePuy hip implants that were recalled last year quickly became very popular because of the hope of mobility and movement they offered persons who had suffered a fractured hip. A fractured hip can be extremely debilitating, but also has several other health risks. For instance, a new study out of Taiwan shows that people with a fractured hip have an increased risk of suffering a stroke.

Earlier research had confirmed the reverse results - that people who suffered a stroke were at a high risk of breaking their hips. However, the new study conducted by researchers at the National University in Taipei found that patients, who suffered a broken hip, had a 50% higher chance of suffering a stroke within one year, compared to patients who had suffered no hip fracture. Out of 265 patients in the study who had suffered a stroke over one year, approximately 4.1% had suffered a hip fracture previously, compared to 2.7% of people, who had suffered no hip fracture. The researchers found that these findings stayed true even after accounting for other factors that increased the risk of a stroke, like diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

The researchers have little clue about why there is an increased risk of stroke after suffering a fracture. However, they believe there is a possible connection with the lower bone density that develops after a person begins to suffer from cardiac disease. Researchers in the past have confirmed that elderly persons who have suffered a fracture have a higher chance of dying within one year after the fracture.

There are long-term and serious implications if a person suffers a hip fracture. California hip implant recall lawyers know that this is part of the reason why companies like DePuy Orthopedics have found it easy to peddle their hip implants to vulnerable patients. These devices were rushed through the 510(k) fast-track approval process of the Food and Drug Administration. Unfortunately, for the patients who received these devices, the risks of revision surgeries have been disproportionately high. For these persons, the health risks that come with the fracture have simply been compounded by the defective device implanted in their body.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Boston Scientific Unit to Pay $296 Million in Detective Cardiac Device Penalties

Guidant, a subsidiary of Boston Scientific will pay $296 million as part of a criminal sentence for failure to reveal defects in its cardiac defibrillators. Those devices have been linked by prosecutors to at least 13 deaths, including that of a 21-year-old man, whose device failed to restore normal rhythm while he was mountain biking.

California pharmaceutical liability attorneys are not unfamiliar with the Guidant scandal broke out in 2005, when cardiac specialists at the Minneapolis Heart Institute went public with allegations that the company was concealing defective devices. According to the heart specialist, the 21-year-old man died when his heart device failed to function properly. According to prosecutors, Guidant had been aware of these defects at least since 2002, but failed to make it public in spite of calls from cardiologists.

The company has been under investigation since 2005, when it recalled at least three types of the implantable cardiac defibrillators. The devices are designed to emit an electric shock when it notices a slowing cardiac rhythm. However, these devices had a defect that caused the devices to short-circuit, causing malfunctioning of the device.

The devices were sold under the names Ventak Prizm 2 DR, Contak Renewal and Contak Renewal 2. Prosecutors allege that the flaws in these devices caused at least 13 deaths, including one last year. In all these cases, Guidant was aware of the defective devices, but failed to make these public. According to prosecutors, at least 153 defective Renewal cardiac defibrillators were implanted in American patients even after the company found that they were defective. At least 200 more devices were implanted outside of the United States.

The $296 million in penalties that Guidant will now pay include fines of nearly $254 million, as well forfeiture of about $42 million to the government because it sold the Renewal cardiac devices without making the problem public.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

FAA's New Medical Helicopter Safety Proposals

The Federal Aviation Administration has proposed new rules to prevent medical helicopter crashes, and these proposals have been subjected to a period of public comments that will end on January 10th. The rules which, are widely supported by California EMS helicopter crash attorneys, propose more training for pilots, stricter rules governing flights in poor or hazardous weather, as well as the use of advanced aviation safety systems to prevent crashes.

The Federal Aviation Administration’s new proposed rules would require medical helicopter and air ambulance operators to conduct a preflight risk analysis. The proposals also require operators to analyze the risk of a helicopter crash before initiating a flight. The FAA has also focused extra carefully on the importance of safety briefings for medical personnel before a flight. A number of medical helicopter crashes in recent months have been traced to bad decisions to fly in hazardous weather conditions. The FAA proposals focus very strongly on flying and landing in poor weather, as well as landing in remote areas. Under the new proposals, pilots would be required to hold instrument ratings, there would be limits on how long flight crews could work, and require rest breaks.

These proposals won't come cheap. According to the FAA, the proposals would cost the nation's medical helicopter industry approximately $225 million in the next decade. However, there are plenty of indications that these proposals are necessary. After a relatively safe 2009, there was a spike in medical helicopter crashes in 2010. There is no final tally for the number of fatalities in air ambulance and medical helicopter crashes in 2010, but it is expected to be lower than the 24-fatality toll in 2008, which was one of the deadliest years for medical helicopter safety. According to the FAA, 126 people have been killed in medical helicopter crashes between 1992 and 2009.

Monday, 3 January 2011

No Military Insurance Coverage for New Brain Injury Treatment

A move by the U.S. military's health insurer to deny insurance coverage for a promising new brain injury treatment is being criticized by California brain injury lawyers, veterans groups and advocates for military families. Tricare, the U.S. military’s health insurer, is refusing to cover the costs of cognitive rehabilitation, a proven brain injury treatment that has received widespread support from doctors and lawmakers.

A Tricare management study claims the treatment is far too expensive and time-consuming. According to Tricare, the treatment requires intensive one-on-one help for patients who have suffered a brain injury in order to help them relearn basic skills. The cost of a treatment program can be up to $50,000 for a four-month program. According to Tricare, cognitive rehabilitation therapy can be covered when it is included in other treatment programs, but not when it is billed as a separate and distinct treatment program.

In 2008, several legislators sent a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, encouraging Tricare to provide coverage for cognitive rehabilitation therapy. In fact, the therapy has strong support on Capitol Hill, and there is a special congressional Brain Injury Task Force, which has strongly supported the therapy. The treatment has also received widespread support from military doctors, who have also recommended to the Defense Department that the insurer cover cognitive rehabilitation therapy as a separate and distinct treatment method for brain injury patients. However Tricare insists that the treatment is scientifically unproven.

To many doctors and California brain injury lawyers, this seems like an effort by the military insurer to control costs, rather than an accurate statement on the scientific validity of this therapy to improve cognitive abilities and encourage independent functioning. The specific benefits of this treatment includes advanced problem-solving abilities, better attention span, increased memory and better grasp of visual spatial relations. The therapy has proved to be especially useful in teaching vets with a brain injury to relearn basic functions.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Are Divorces Contagious?

At least in Hollywood, 2010 was the year of the divorce. Even in notoriously fickle Tinseltown, there seemed to be more than the usual numbers of megawatt heavyweight divorces. Sandra Bullock and Jesse James kicked off the year, and 2010 ended with Scarlett Johansson and Ryan Reynolds calling off their union. Politicians and sports athletes weren't immune to the divorce bug that went around in 2010 either. That brings us to an interesting question: Are divorces contagious?

Some California divorce lawyers will tell you that certain times in a year seem to see more couples coming in for divorce consultations than others. For instance, the New Year and Christmas holidays tend to see much buried antagonism and resentment exploding through, and the first few weeks of the year can be pretty busy for a California high net worth divorce attorney. However, do divorces in the family or among your friends, or even celebrity divorces, increase the likelihood that you'll be seeing a divorce attorney very soon? It is possible that hearing divorce stories from friends or relatives causes you to reevaluate the state of your marriage.

According to a study by a professor at the University of California, San Diego, there is a theory called social contagion, which holds that the risk of divorce can actually increase and affect those at least 2 degrees of separation from a couple is getting a divorce. The chances of such social contagion affecting your chances of divorce increase when there is a divorce in your circle of friends or in your family. In fact, according to the professor, your chances of getting a divorce increase by 22%, when you have a divorced sibling.

It's still too early to tell whether the rash of celebrity divorces in 2010 will contribute to an increase in overall divorces in the non-celebrity population in California.