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Gair, Gair, Conason, Rubinowitz, Bloom, Hershenhorn, Steigman & Mackauf is a New York Plaintiff's personal injury law firm specializing in automobile accidents, construction accidents, medical malpractice, products liability, police misconduct and all types of New York personal injury litigation.

Articles Tagged with wrongful death

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carbon monoxide danger signEvery year in the US, thousands of people are injured and an average 70 die from exposure to carbon monoxide after using a portable generator. With more and more power shortages caused by climate events, the number of deaths caused by dangerous carbon monoxide emissions from generators is on the rise in America. Last February in Texas, after a major power shortage, 1,400 people were treated in hospitals for carbon monoxide poisoning and 17 died.

One portable generator can emit the same amount of carbon monoxide as 450 cars together

According to a recent investigation by ProPublica,  the portable generator manufacturers are well aware of the danger of their products and over the years they have been resisting multiple attempts by the Consumer Product Safety Commission to require that their devices emit less carbon monoxide.

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Hospital PatientMost medical devices used by hospitals are legacy devices that are still operating on Windows 7 that Microsoft no longer supports.  Manufactured at a time when cybersecurity was not a preoccupation, these devices can now easily be hacked and potentially be dangerous to patients. As a result, on top of safeguarding traditional IT assets, hospitals now have to figure out a way to secure tens of thousands of legacy devices from hundreds of manufacturers connected to their network.  It is a real headache for most hospitals and healthcare organizations as many of them do not even keep an inventory of their medical devices. According to a recent study only 36% of healthcare organizations know where their medical devices are.

While some devices that can cause fatal injuries, such as insuline pumps or pacemakers, are being actively monitored and recalled by the FDA, it is estimated that all other medical devices have an average of more than 6 vulnerabilities per device and that 40% of devices used by hospitals are at the end-of-life stage and do not have security patches or upgrades available.

Not surprisingly, FDA regulations in this field are lagging with the agency only saying both hospitals and manufacturers are responsible for protecting devices from cyber attacks. Hospitals are pointing fingers at manufacturers for not providing the necessary support and want the FDA to mandate lifetime support of medical devices by manufacturers.  So far, the further the FDA went was to publish post-market guidance for medtechs on what they should do to secure their products. This is not enough as hospitals find themselves dealing with thousands of devices that they are supposed not only to track but also patch to prevent cyberattacks. With the ongoing Covid19 crisis, hospitals are unable to handle this task and as a result they become increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks that could injure or kill patients.

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storm drains can be deadlyWhen people died in flooding that occurs after heavy rain there is usually not a lot of information about the cause of the death except for “the person drowned”. However a recent investigation by ProPublica highlights the danger of the actual drainage system in the US. Giant storm drains with no grates have been constantly “swallowing people” during heavy rains and flooding.

A recent case occurred in New Jersey last September. A couple who was driving back from a visit at a North Jersey mall was driving back at night on September 1st when the remains of Hurricane Ida abated in New York and New Jersey. Extremely heavy rain left motor vehicles stranded on the road. The couple, like many other motorists, decided to abandoned their car, thinking it would be safer to walk in the muddy water and find a safe place to stay until a family member could pick them up. As they were walking in the muddy water, they suddenly were sucked under water into what looked like a large black vacuum. The woman, Kavya Mandly was able to grab a bridge railing and did not get sucked in but her fiancée, Dhanush Reddy who was only holding her hand, was not as lucky and disappeared in the drain. Reddy had just been sucked into a 3-foot wide storm drain. As the police arrived they started to look at the exit of the drain. They found another 18 year old man hanging in a tree who also had been pulled in a drain. He was still alive. Reddy was not as lucky and was found dead in a wooded area the following day, blocks away from the entrance of the drain.

Unfortunately Reddy is not the only one that has died after being pulled in a storm drain. Stories like this one are actually quite common but cities and communities are reluctant to put grates in front of these dangerous drains because of the cost of not only installing them but also keeping them clean so they are still functional when a storm occurs.

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Travis-ScottOur partner, New York Personal Injury Attorney Howard Hershenhorn  talked to Rolling Stone Magazine and the New York Times on behalf of our client Kyle Green who was left partially paralyzed after attending a Travis Scott Concert at Terminal 5 in New York in 2017 (see previous blog).

“Our client, Kyle Green, is devastated and heartbroken for the families of those who were killed and for those individuals who were severely injured. He’s even more incensed by the fact that it could have been avoided had Travis learned his lesson in the past and changed his attitude about inciting people to behave in such a reckless manner,” Hershenhorn said.

Kyle Green was attending a Travis Scott concert in Manhattan when he was pushed over a balcony by a surging crowd. He hit the ground and could not move anymore. Instead of being proprely taken care of by paramedics, Green was picked up by security guards who lifted him up  “without a cervical collar, backboard and other safety precautions” and dragged him toward the stage.

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FDA-logoAfter a recent study pointed fingers at the mismanagement of medical device recall by the FDA (see previous blog),  further investigations are confirming an outdated and broken system that leaves patients at risk of serious injury and death as unaware doctors continue to use defective devices on their patients.

A recent example of this outdated process is the recall of a sleep apnea ventilator device manufactured by Philips. It is not clear so far as to when exactly, Philips executives found out that the foam used to dampen the noise of the machine was breaking down and could potentially be inhaled or ingested by patients, exposing them to carcinogenic or toxic effects. However, the company announced publicly, on April 26th, while reporting Q1 earnings that it was creating a provision of 250 million Euros to cover costs related to possible risks to users in some sleep and respiratory care machines. While the company had probably already identified that the defective devices were the ones manufactured between April 2007 and April 2021, it waited almost two other months to initiate a recall and warn consumers of potential carcinogenic and toxic effects.  After the issuance of the recall, the FDA issued a safety communication on June 30. It took until July 22nd for the FDA to classify the recall as class I event and publish a public notification.

Does this mean that all patients have been contacted and had their ventilator changed? Not at all. In the actual process, the customers of the manufacturer, such as the hospitals, the providers, the retailers or the distributors are in charged of contacting the patients and they usually don’t do it.  Instead, doctors wait for the patients to come in with symptoms.

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floodFlooding and cleaning up damages after a flood can be dangerous and cause accidents that can result in severe injury and sometimes death. Here is a summary of  the most common dangers and how to avoid them.

Driving a vehicle during a storm and after a storm can be dangerous especially crossing flooded roads. It is estimated that half of the fatalities caused by flooding are people in a vehicle. Crossing an area flooded by water in a vehicle can be deadly. 12 inches of water can carry off a small vehicle and 18 to 24 inches are enough to move a larger vehicle.   It is much safer to turn around rather than risk your life driving your car through a flooded road. If the water raises around your car, you should be ready to abandon it.

Down and damaged power lines create electrical hazards and only qualified workers should perform repair work after proprely evaluating the dangers and de-energizing lines if possible. Even for qualified workers, repairing power lines damaged by a storm can be dangerous. Most common accidents related to damaged or down power lines are electrocution by contact or burn caused by electrified lines, workers falling from heights during repairs or people being struck by a falling pole or other objects falling with the pole such as tree limbs.

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Ventricular_assist_device (1)Medtronic stopped the sale of the defective HeartWare Ventricular Assist Device, or HVAD last June after more than 3,000 patients died and 20,000 were injured.

Since 2011, multiple problems with the device have been reported to the Food and Drug Administration but the agency never took any decisive action to make sure the manufacturer  fixed the problems. The FDA and its Center for Devices and Radiological Health are in charge of making sure that medical devices are safe and effective for patients however as we highlighted in a previous blog, the agency policy is too accommodating with manufacturers. It has the power to seize products or to issue fines but rarely uses it.

In the case of the HeartWare Ventricular Assist Device, the FDA knew about issues with the product as early as 2011 when the product was developed by the parent company HeartWare and was seeking FDA approval. An inspector mentioned in its report that engineers were not reviewing documents fully before approving them and that the employee assigned to quality control did not have sufficient training. The company told the FDA they would take corrective actions.

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FDA-logoMany defective medical devices might still be used by medical professionals because deaths that occurred when using these devices are being mislabeled as injuries in the FDA Medical Database according to a study published last week in JAMA Network. The study looked at 290,141 reports of defective medical devices that resulted in serious injuries or deaths that were processed by an algorithm. They found that 52% were classified as deaths and 47.9% were classified by the algorithm as malfunction, injury, other or missing. Among these 47.9% that were not classified as death, 23% of these reports were indeed death reports that were not classified proprely by the algorithm. As a result many deadly devices might still be used on patients.  The FDA must review all reports classified as death but does not routinely review all reports that are classified as other or misfunction.

The most dangerous of all medical devices were the ventricular assist bypass devices. These devices represented 13% of all adverse event reports. Coming in second position was the dialysate concentrate for hemodialysis in liquid or in powder with 8.7% of all adverse event reports. The third most reported defective devices were the transcervical contraceptive tubal occlusion devices with 5% of all adverse reports.

The authors of the study also mention that 95% of the adverse event reports were made by manufacturers and not by healthcare facilities or physicians which might constitute a conflict of interest. The authors note that delays in reporting serious injuries or deaths were common. An example of this issue was the Essure permanent birth control device. 32,000 women reported issues with this device between 2002 and 2013 while the FDA only received 1,023 reports.

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Professor Daniel PollackIn a recent commentary in the New York Law Journal, Daniel Pollack, MSW, Esq., a professor at Yeshiva University’s School of Social Work in New York City wrote: “If at some point a lawsuit is brought against the department of human services/CPS in connection with that death, compassionate, yet experienced plaintiff and defense attorneys, familiar with the inner workings of CPS, will definitely be needed.”

The commentary can be found here 

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job-made-boxes-can-lead-to-serious-injury-and-deathIn a recent bulletin, OSHA warns construction workers and other workers using forklifts about potential injuries and deaths caused by “job-made boxes”

What are “job-made boxes”?

Job made boxes are any makeshift attachments created by construction workers or workers in other industries such as boxes, baskets or platforms. They are often made of wood as well as metal and plastic. They look like a little balcony: a platform with 3 walls around it. Workers attach these boxes to forklifts to lift equipment, workers or material to various heights. Workers also use them to step on them when working at elevated levels.