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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52016Any job poses certain risks to the employees who perform them, even if those jobs seem routine or possible mundane. Certain field and types of work are more dangerous than others and those who are employed in construction, healthcare settings, the airline industry, and factory workers are some who face harm on a regular basis. But what happens when risk turns to incident and a worker finds herself injured? If the accident happened in Illinois, the victims are protected by state law which enables them to seek relief for their damages. In a typical claim, damages may include things like the medical treatment needed to get well, any medical treatment reasonable believed to be necessary in the future, lost wages, pain and suffering, and inconvenience to those involved.

While the ability to recover is a substantial right of victims, it is in everyone’s best interests to prevent and eliminate as many work injuries as possible so that these employees never become victims in the first place. To do that, it is helpful to know what types of injuries plague workers with the greatest frequency so steps can be taken to avoid those incidents.

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51816Construction is major business in the Chicago area and all across the state, for that matter. New buildings, roads, infrastructure changes, and open spaces are always being crafted, designed, and put into action, necessitating the help from the men and women who make their livings in construction. The general public understands that there is some amount of risk associated with this profession, but few people truly grasp what may be at risk if you work in the field.

In 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that construction workers had nearly a three times greater risk for dying on the job than did the average employee in the United States. Similarly, during this same time period, 4.3 of every 100 construction workers employed were injured while working and construction laborers were the 7th highest group to miss days away from work due to work injuries.

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51616Recently, a new study out of Johns Hopkins University made waves when it concluded that medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for more than 250,000 deaths every year. Others have been quick to verify the status of medical mistakes as causing so many lives in recent days, including Chicago-based commercial insurer CNA.

CNA states that of all the claims brought against hospitals, those involving death predominate over all others. Based upon the number of claims closed in a 2015 study, death claims accounted for the highest portion at 34.3 percent of all claims.

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51316According to national statistics, more than three million workers suffer from an on-the-job injury or an illness every single year in America. Unfortunately, many of those victims live in or work in Chicago, a densely populated area that houses millions of workers daily. Injuries not only affect these workers but also their family members, loved ones, friends, and employers who find themselves shorthanded while a victim recovers. It is in everyone’s best interests to make workplaces as safe as possible and to reduce or eliminate as many work injuries as practicable.

A branch of the U.S. Department of Labor is charged with establishing basic safety guidelines at work site and with monitoring and, where appropriate, sanctioning conduct among employers if deemed to go against its rules. That branch, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”), also requires many employers to gather information related to the injuries of their workers so that the information can be reviewed, analyzed, and new guidelines can be issued if reasonable to increase safety.

Until recently, data related to individual employers and their safety records was not widely available but thanks to a pending rule change by OSHA, that will change in the coming months.

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51216How safe are your kids? Sure, you have talked with them about being responsible, acting appropriately, and avoiding any unnecessary risks, but have they heeded your advice? Are you confident that they always act in a manner that you would approve of, even if you are not around?

It probably depends on the ages of your children, but odds are that they make mistakes or lapses in judgment on at least an occasional basis. It is part of being young and learning about the world to test boundaries and see what happens if you break a rule or guideline, and while most of the time it may be harmless, some incidents can have tragic results.

Millions of people walk in and around Chicago every single year, and a large number of them are children. All of these pedestrians face some risks but harm seems to befall the young at a disproportionately large rate, leading many parents to wonder what they can do to make pedestrian safety an issue with their family members and keep their kids protected.

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51016Not all car accidents are the same. It is a simple statement but one that needs to be understood for the sake of all those who use the streets, expressways, and interstates in and around Chicago. Fortunately, a number of collisions that happen annually are minor and cause only damage to the vehicles involved, sparing drivers and passengers from any harm. Unfortunately, the remaining incidents can cause a range of injuries that may leave a victim in need of immediate medical help or that may even claim her life.

Car accidents regularly range from the very minor to the extremely critical, but when it comes to a truck accident, there is far less variability. Truck accidents and collisions are less common than those only involving cars in Illinois but they are disproportionately responsible for traffic-related injuries and fatalities here and across the county. The physics behind these incidents are simple: trucks are large, heavy vehicles that take a long time to start and stop. When they are traveling at a moderate or high speed and collide with a vehicle much smaller than them, the forces involved in the incident will cause heavy damage to the smaller vehicles, threatening the safety of those inside the cars.

One of the most troubling types of truck incidents continues to be truck underride accidents, a type of collision where a passenger vehicle goes partially or entirely under a truck or trailer. These crashes lead to damage to the passenger compartment of the vehicle, increasing the odds of an injury or death among those in the vehicle.

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5616People in Chicago may be participating in unofficial celebrations today as the temperature is expected to exceed 80 degrees for just the third time this year. The skies should be sunny, the weekend is almost here, and families may be getting together this weekend to celebrate Mother’s Day.

While today should be a great day in Illinois, things will become more chaotic tomorrow as a cold front will move towards the city, bringing with it a substantial drop in temperatures and some thunderstorms.

If you live in the Midwest, rain and thunderstorms are a normal part of life. You have no choice but to deal with this form of inclement weather even if it affects your commute, your ability to get your kids to school, or your weekend activities. But even though rain and storms are common here, many motorists lack the skill and/or the desire to drive safely in these conditions, leading to an increased risk of car accidents and traffic collisions taking place throughout Chicago.

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5516It’s a reality that many people do not like to talk about: mistakes in healthcare. The fact remains that doctors, nurses, and others in the medical field are human and are prone to errors and mix ups just like anyone else is, but unlike those in different professions, the results can be tragic when a mistake is made in a medical context. It has been difficult to get numbers that accurately reflect the number of medical errors that happen annually, something that prompted a new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, who concluded that medical error is now the third leading cause of death among Americans.

That should seem like a shocking statement. Medical errors, which by definition are mistakes and therefore avoidable, are causing more American deaths than anything other than heart disease and cancer. Medical mistakes are killing more people than accidents, strokes, respiratory diseases, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and all other ailments that befall us as a nation.

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