42116Many people assume that if they have health insurance, they will be protected from big medical bills if they are ever hurt or injured. Unfortunately, it is not until after a car accident or other incident occurs that these individuals realize they are still faced with huge expenses, some of which may be impossible to pay for victims who did not even cause their own damages.

A recent study out of the University of Michigan has confirmed that the situation is getting even bleaker in the nation as out-of-pocket expenses related to hospital treatment increased 37 percent between 2009 and 2013. By the end of that time period, an average patient paid more than $1,000 for her own medical treatment at a hospital and that number did not include follow up care, physical therapy, medication, or other associated costs.

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123115Illinois takes driving under the influence very seriously. In the state, “driving under the influence” is defined as operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol, other drugs including marijuana, or intoxicating compounds. Put simply, if you drive while you are influenced by an intoxicating substance, you are breaking the law in Chicago or elsewhere in Illinois.

Most people have a basic understanding of the alcohol limit that exists here and what may or may not put them over that limit. Few drivers, though, understand the laws as they apply to other drugs.

The presence of drugs in a motorist’s system is not as easy to analyze as the presence of alcohol. While alcohol breaks down and leaves a driver’s body in a predictable and timely manner, other drugs tend to remain in a motorist’s blood and/or system for much longer. It is possible that a driver has these compounds present in their bodies even if they are no longer feeling the effects.

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2416Car problems and emergencies happen when you drive in and around Chicago. Often, a motorist has little or no warning before a problem arises, forcing her to consider alternative plans without a lot of time to decide on a strategy. Depending on where you are driving, you may have several choices if you need to pull over and bring your vehicle to a stop. Ideally, you would exit the roadway entirely by pulling into a parking lot, alleyway, or other less traveled area so that you do not pose an ongoing safety risk to others. However, in some cases, it may not be possible to leave the roadway and you may be forced to stop on the shoulder of the road.

The shoulder of the road exists for several reasons. First, it provides an extra buffer or area of cushion for drivers between a lane of traffic and a soft ground surrounding the roadway. This is particularly true around interstates, expressways, and tollways in Illinois that have grassy medians and open lands around them. Secondly, shoulders can provide an area for a vehicle to stop temporarily in the case of an emergency. Without a shoulder, cars that could not make it to an exit ramp would be forced to stop within a lane of traffic, significantly increasing the risk that they cause a car accident or other traffic-related incident involving themselves and others.

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There is nothing quite like summer in Chicago. The days are long, the temperatures are warm, and there are activities happening in every neighborhood of the city. Summer here is so great that many claim they survive the winters only because they know summer is on its way.

But with all the great things summer bring unfortunately comes some increased risks for injuries and damages, and among those risks are tire blowout car accidents. While tire blowouts can happen in any month of the year, they are more likely during the summertime when temperatures are warmer and the integrity of a tire more likely to fail.

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42116In the current age of high technology, rapid advancements, and designer drugs, it may seem surprising to some to realize that one of the most important tools when it comes to patient safety in the medical field in Illinois continues to be proper hand washing. Studies show that effectively washing your hands can significantly reduce the numbers of germs and bacteria on them, preventing the spread of these infection-causing agents and improving the health conditions of those around you.

Medical settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, urgent cares, and doctor’s offices, tend to be rife with germs. Sick patients continue to enter these settings and leave their germs behind, enabling others and even those who arrive after sick patients to become ill. Commonly touched surfaces like door handles, drinking fountains, pens, and countertops are some areas where gems are known to linger and to spread from patient to patient, quickly enabling a massive number of individuals to fall ill.

There are two primary types of people who spread germs in medical settings: patients and employees. Patients often have less of an ability to wash their hands and remain germ-free as their access to sinks may be limited and as an ongoing condition may leave them covered in germs regardless. Employees, including physicians, nurses, receptionists, and custodial staff, have more access to sanitary options for hand washing and also have a greater need to wash their hands frequently. Though patients are likely to be confined to one room or one limited area, employees are more apt to move from room-to-room, interacting with a greater number of patients and therefore allowing them to cause a greater germ spread if their hands are dirty.

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6716(3)Making a mistake or an error while driving can easily lead to a car accident regardless of where you are driving. If you fail to heed Illinois traffic laws, you may place your vehicle in the same location as a secondary car, leading to an impact that could cause a range of damages including injuries to those involved.

One of the most dangerous activities a driver can do while behind the wheel is to ignore a red light. Running a red light is a traffic violation in Chicago and is particularly dangerous as it can lead to a blind collision. Unlike accidents where a motorist can see an impact coming, often a red light collision involves cars traveling at right angles to one another colliding. This means that a victim rarely has enough time to anticipate a crash to take evasive action or to brake, leading to a collision with significant force.

But beyond the initial impact comes another very real possibility: the chance for a pileup or a multi-car crash. Unfortunately, the act of running a red light puts a vehicle against the flow of traffic in an intersection and often affects several cars nearby.

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42116Every day of the year, American patients present to a hospital or other medical facility in need of help. Some need urgent, emergency care that was not planned ahead of time. Others are undergoing a scheduled procedure or testing to help identify a problem or issue. No matter why someone needs medical help, though, they should be able to rest assured with the knowledge that the devices used in their care are clean and sterile.

However, recent reports have indicated that sterility is a serious issue with some endoscopes, and in particular duodenoscopes, and that patients are paying a very high cost as a result.

Recent years have seen a rash of outbreaks of superbugs related to the use of duodenoscopes in medical settings, so-called antibiotic resistant infections that can be very serious or even fatal in some cases. A report issued by the Senate Democratic staff investigating such infections since 2010 concluded that up to 350 patients may have been infected at 16 hospitals. The report, released by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, notes that the exact number of infections is difficult to determine due to suspected underreporting but that more than twelve deaths have been tied to superbugs after a scope was used on a patient.

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53116Thousands of Chicago residents are getting into their cars this morning after a long weekend away from the hustle and bustle of the city. They will take their kids to school, head to work, or run errands as part of their normal routine and will feel like their ability to handle their vehicles is well within their control.

Yet in some situations, it may not be up to an individual driver to stay in control and to guarantee the safety of those in her vehicle. This is often the case when road debris is present on an Illinois expressway, interstate, or local road and far too often, this road debris is causing car accidents.

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32516(2)A newly published report in the medical journal Neurology links a popular pain medication with the increased presence of birth defects when that medication is used by pregnant women. The medicine, Lyrica, is primarily used in the treatment of fibromyalgia and other nerve conditions associated with pain but has some use in broader treatment here in the United States.

Lyrica is manufactured by Pfizer and has had a history of issues in the public media since its introduction into the medicinal market domestically. Notably, Pfizer was fined a record $2.3 billion in 2009 for reportedly promoting Lyrica and two other drugs for treatment of conditions that had not been approved by medical regulators after Pfizer pleaded guilty to mislabeling the drug with an intent to defraud or mislead.
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52316According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the use of seat belts in a vehicle is the most effective way to prevent injuries and save lives in the event of a car accident or other traffic crash. Yet despite the prevalence of seat belts in vehicles, state laws making seat belt use mandatory, and a public perception that seat belts are an important safety feature, far too few drivers and adult passengers use seat belts every time they ride.

In 2012 alone, more than 2.2 million Americans needed treatment in an emergency room due to injuries they sustained in a collision and non-fatal injuries are estimated to have cost more than $50 billion in that year in lost work costs and lifetime medical expenses.

In 2014, the national rate of seat belt use was 88.5 percent which was an all-time high yet 49 percent of people killed in traffic collisions in 2014 were not restrained, highlighting the fact that those who fail to use seat belts face a disproportionately high risk of death in a crash.

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