December 2009 Archives

December 27, 2009

New Mexico Medical Device Law - Passing The MDSA Is Crucial To Patient Safety

The Medical Device Safety Act of 2009 (the "MDSA") is one of this year's top pieces of consumer rights legislation. This crucial legislation seeks to protect patients from dangerous and defective medical devices by reversing the effect of the Supreme Court's ruling in Riegel v. Medtronic. Riegel provides blanket immunity from liability to some medical device manufacturers if those devices have received pre-market approval by the FDA. Those immune from liability include manufacturers of replacement heart valves, silicon breast implants and pace-makers.

As a direct result of Riegel, many medical device recipients have been denied the opportunity to seek compensation for injuries, lost wages and medical expenses when harmed by defective medical devices or inadequate warnings.

If passed, the MDSA would restore injured patients' rights to seek justice in the courts when medical devices have failed.

As New Mexico medical device safety attorneys, we believe it is critical that Congress act to protect the safety of consumers and support the MDSA. Serious - sometimes fatal - injuries occur as a result of defective medical products. These products may be placed in the stream of commerce, and into our bodies, without sufficient safety studies. Consumer lawsuits are necessary to hold manufacturers accountable for their dangerous products.

Passing the MDSA will put safety and consumers first.

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December 21, 2009

New Mexico Trucking Accidents - Excessive Hours Of Service and Log Book Violations Put Too Much At Risk

Driving a truck can be a dangerous job. In the last few weeks, weather conditions having created hazardous driving conditions all across New Mexico. Drivers need to be alert and focused to handle the perils of the road.

Unfortunately, in an effort to increase profits, some trucking companies push their drivers to exhaustion, violating hours of service requirements and circumventing logbook rules and regulations. Further truckers - under pressure to make tight delivery schedules - may falsify logbook entries in order to conceal driving in excess of the maximum number of hours allowed.

Within the next several months the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will be reviewing and re-writing the current hours of service rule which lengthened the time drivers could spend behind the wheel before resting. This rule allows truckers to drive up to 11 hours following a break.

Earlier this year, a coalition of advocates released a study showing that the current hours of service rule is unsafe for the public and unhealthy for drivers. Rather than focusing on safety, the current guidelines push drivers to stay on the road while tired in order to meet tight deadlines, increasing truckers' and other motorists' risks.

As New Mexico trucking negligence attorneys we urge the FMCSA to seriously consider reducing the number of hours truckers may be forced to drive. Driver fatigue can lead to tragic accidents - putting both the lives of our truckers and others sharing the road at too great a risk.

December 14, 2009

New Mexico Nursing Home Abuse - Check In On Your Loved Ones This Holiday Season

Last month a former nursing home caretaker - Anthony Joseph Garcia was sentenced to 5 ½ years in jail for beating a man in his care. A subsequent investigation performed after the beating revealed that Garcia had a lengthy criminal record including three prior felony and rape charges.

By law, nursing homes are required to perform background checks prior to hiring caretakers. If a caretaker has been convicted of a felony, he or she is prohibited from working at a nursing home.

While it is unclear whether a pre-employment screening was conducted, Mr. Garcia slipped through the cracks. His job gave him access to the residents, where he severely beat and injured an elderly man.

Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. In a recent study, over 80% of nursing homes in New Mexico violated federal health and safety standards. Almost 20% had a violation that caused actual harm to residents or placed them at risk of death or serious injury. The types of violations are widespread - from failing to perform adequate background checks on those hired, to abuse and neglect.

While many nursing homes provide a wonderful community for our elders, others may be taking advantage of or harming those most vulnerable. Signs of abuse and neglect include:

• Sudden changes in behavior
• Unexplained bruises, welts, black eyes or broken bones
• Dehydration and malnutrition
• Bed sores

With the holiday season upon us, many of us will visit loved ones in nursing homes. As New Mexico personal injury attorneys dedicated to assisting nursing home residents and their families, we believe we should use this opportunity to ensure our elders are being well cared for in their twilight years.

December 9, 2009

New Mexico Dangerous Drugs - Yaz and Yasmin Lawsuits Gaining Momentum

Last week an Ohio woman, Mae Walker, filed a lawsuit against the maker of the popular birth-control pill Yaz. She joins hundreds of women across the county claiming that the company - Bayer - failed to warn about the serious, and possibly life-threatening side effects of taking Yaz.

Walker's suit alleges that she developed deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in her left leg after taking Yaz for about a year. DVT is especially dangerous because of the potential for pulmonary embolism - a life-threatening condition where the blood clot breaks off and travels to the lung. Fortunately for Walker, she was hospitalized and given anti-clotting medication to help prevent this serious complication.

Lawsuits concerning Yaz, Yasmin, and Ocella - are gaining momentum all over the United States. At issue - Bayer's duty to warn women about the potential side effects of taking this popular contraception. These consequences include an increased risk of death, blood clots, strokes, kidney failure and even sudden death.

Many perfectly healthy women such as Mae Walker, have developed serious side effects after taking these birth control pills. It is unknown how many women in New Mexico alone have taken Yaz, Yasmin or the generic equivalent, Ocella.

Along with claim of inadequate warnings, many lawsuits also include allegations of improper advertising and marketing by Bayer. Yasmin was aggressively marketed as being better than other oral contraceptives for acne, weight control and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

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December 2, 2009

New Mexico Medical Malpractice - Tort Reforms Hurts Those Most In Need

On Monday, the U.S. Senate began debating the historical health care plan designed to reform the nation's health care system by changing the way insurance companies do business. Senator Henry Reid's (D-Nev) bill will provide much needed reform and assistance to the millions of Americans who pay exorbitant fees for health care coverage, are denied coverage or who receive inadequate health care coverage. But critics - including medical malpractice defense attorneys, insurance companies and hospitals - seek to prevent passage of this historic measure by arguing that health reform must also include "tort reform." These naysayers argue that in order to adequately address health care reform, we must also cap damages in medical malpractice actions (which would limit the amount awarded to the catastrophically injured as a result of physician and hospital negligence.) However, studies have shown that capping medical malpractice awards has little overall effect on the cost of health care. In fact, New Mexico has some of the least restrictive tort reform laws and also ranks as one of the lowest states in health care costs. Limiting the amount those who have been catastrophically injured may recover due to physician malpractice, human error and hospital negligence shifts the financial burden from those who caused the injury to those suffering the consequences. Those individuals become victims twice - first as a result of medical negligence and second as a result of the court system denying their right to adequate compensation. Further, tort reformers' claims that physicians' fear of lawsuits - so called "defensive medicine"- has contributed to the overall cost of health care have been greatly exaggerated. Studies show that the costs of physicians practicing "defensive medicine" have little if any impact on the overall cost of healthcare.

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