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April 2013 Archives

Hospital errors come in various forms, including misdiagnosis

The U.S. is a society driven by media. Gruesome often brings in viewers and readers. Medical malpractice stories involving surgery on the wrong body part or leaving behind a tool in a patient are undoubtedly horrifying. Maybe that is why the public tends to think of such cases when presented with the topic of hospital negligence.

Most Pennsylvania employers see worker's comp rates fall

Pennsylvania has just reduced the rate that employers are required to pay for worker's compensation. The rate decreased by 4.01 percent, effective beginning April 1. It is good news for employers in the state. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance, employers will save an estimated $110 million in annual premium costs. For employers here in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, as well as elsewhere in the state, actual savings will depend on several factors, including payroll, workplace injury claims experience as well as the category of risk for that employer. Moreover, because rates do depend on such factors, not all employers will see a decrease. This is the second general rate cut in a row for state employers. One factor that helped to lower premiums was the creation of 10,000 state-certified workplace safety committees across the state, according to the State Labor & Industry Secretary. 

Hospitals paid more for patients who suffer surgical errors

Having to put trust in other individuals - particularly when it relates to your health - can be an unnerving and challenging proposition. Unfortunately, in some cases, especially when serious medical intervention is necessary, there may be no other choice.

Pennsylvania school intersection endangering pedestrians?

If a trend of danger is evident, a community might want to do something to fix that danger, right? The community of and around the University of Pennsylvania is looking at a busy intersection near the school and asking whether safety improvements are needed, maybe even past-due.

Man responsible for killing 2 motorcyclists fights punishment

Motorcyclists are in danger when they take to the roads. It is generally not the fault of their own; rather, it is the fault of the many drivers who are reckless behind the wheel. Even a sober driver often endangers motorcyclists. Add alcohol to the equation, and a motorcyclist is bound to be injured by a drunk driver in a car next to him.

Fracking jobs may increase lung cancer risk

People in Pennsylvania have been hearing about the environmental dangers of fracking for some time, but few realize that the danger for workers is not limited to eco-damage. A dangerous type of workplace injury in fracking operations is the penetration of lung tissue by fine sand particles called silica. This can lead to an incurable disease known as silicosis. It may also lead to lung cancer.The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health or NIOSH recently conducted a study that involves 11 fracking sites in Pennsylvania and other states. At each of the sites, the researchers found elevated levels of silica in the atmosphere, and 79 percent of these levels exceeded established safety standards. At every site, workers wore respirators, but the researchers were concerned that silica levels were so high at one-third of the sites that the types of respirators in use would not provide enough protection for employees.

Aging, surviving population impacts need for disability payments

The public certainly tends to make Social Security and disability benefits a heated political issue. Rather than argue any side of the argument, this blog post is merely meant to provide some information and encourage thought about disability claims in the U.S.

Fracking industry brings silicone exposure to the forefront

One workplace safety expert recently observed fracking in person and saw huge amounts of silica dust swirling in the air around workers. The silica is a result of workers drilling into the rock with a combination of water, chemicals and sand to extract oil and gas. Sand and silica have long been known to cause serious workplace injuries such as lung disease and cancer. In industries such as mining, manufacturing and construction, workers have traditionally suffered from silica exposure, but with the recent rise in fracking, safety experts are realizing the dangers of this new industry. While the safety expert initially planned to assess the impact of chemicals in the fracking field, he quickly saw that he needed to focus on the dangers of the dust instead. As he traveled to 11 sites in five states across the nation, he collected air contaminated by silica dust. He found that the dust levels were 79 percent above the recommended maximum limit set by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The industry has been difficult to monitor because businesses quickly set up the drilling for the wells and then go on to the next location.

Pennsylvania driving laws working to prevent teen deaths

Teens and driving bring to mind a time in most adults lives when they felt like they were invincible, that they were finally growing up. Getting one's license to drive as a teenager really is a step toward adulthood. A license is more than just the ability to drive. It's a safety threat that Pennsylvania lawmakers have attempted to mitigate.

Will 2013 be safer on Pennsylvania roads than 2012?

Traffic safety advocates follow trends on the roads, always with the hope that fewer people were hurt or killed than in years before. Unfortunately, last year was not a major safety improvement for Pennsylvania motorists. More people were lost to fatal crashes than in 2011.

Employer faces charges over disputed Social Security funds

The 53-year-old owner of a business headquartered in Pennsylvania faces allegations of failing to provide worker's compensation insurance for employees after a 57-year-old employee had a finger cut off on the job. When he tried to have worker's compensation pay for his medical expenses, he discovered that the company no longer had coverage. Although the owner admits that he should not have dropped the insurance, he blames a sluggish economy for a need to cut costs. He also says that the employee who blames him for the mistake is disgruntled.

Are shorter hospital shifts safer shifts? Part 2

The previous post began a discussion about how the change in shift durations has impacted patient safety. Though the goal behind requiring medical residents to work shorter shifts was to reduce incidents of hospital errors, research suggests that no such improvement has taken place.

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