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Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Personal Injury Blog

Red light cameras invite controversy in spite of benefits

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety states that in 2016, there were more than 800 deaths resulting from red light-running crashes. Pennsylvania residents should know that there is one good way to reduce the number of such violations and such deaths: the installation of traffic-enforcement cameras. However, it is a move that many communities have decided against or have struggled to gain public support for.

IIHS data shows that red light cameras can reduce red light violations by some 40%, making the benefits clear. The number of red light running crash fatalities is 21% lower in large cities with cameras than in large cities without them. Yet between 2012 and 2018, the number of communities that installed cameras went down from 533 to 421. Incidentally, red light running crash deaths increased 17% in that time.

Distraction a prevalent risk with anti-drunk driving IIDs

Ignition interlock devices, which are in-car Breathalyzers, have been proven to be effective in the fight against drunk driving. Pennsylvania is one of 34 states that require DUI offenders to install one of these devices in their car. How it works is simple: It starts the car for drivers once they pass the breath test, and it requests a rolling sample of alcohol-free breath while drivers are on the road.

There is one risk associated with IIDs, though, and it is distracted driving. The New York Times investigated dozens of accident records where drivers claimed that going through the IID's "rolling retests" caused them to crash.

Did you contract sepsis due to medical malpractice?

Whether you ended up with an infection due to surgery, an injury or an illness, or from some other source, you needed medical attention for it. If not caught in time by your doctors, that infection could become quite serious, but there is yet another danger.

Your infection could lead to a condition called sepsis, which can be life-threatening if not treated quickly and aggressively. Even though you may not be able to predict sepsis, your doctors should watch for it, especially if your infection has progressed to a dangerous point. If that didn't happen, then you may not have received the care to which you deserved.

Car safety features like lane-keeping assist can distract drivers

Drivers in Pennsylvania may own new cars with various safety features, but they should know that these features are liable to make them inattentive behind the wheel. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety published the results of a study in December 2019 that show which features in particular are distracting: adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist.

Adaptive cruise control, as many drivers know, will make the car accelerate or decelerate to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front. Lane-keeping assist will tug at the steering wheel when it senses the car drifting out of its lane. With neither feature is the driver allowed to become inattentive and let go of the steering wheel.

Several factors may make truck crashes more likely

Many people in Pennsylvania worry about getting home safely when they take to the road, especially if they are traveling on highways with large numbers of semi-trucks. While truck drivers are often safer operators than the public as a whole, the size, weight and volume of large trucks mean that crashes involving them can be particularly catastrophic or even deadly. People in other vehicles are far more likely to be seriously injured in a crash involving a tractor-trailer. There are several factors that can make serious trucking accidents more likely on the road.

According to one study, in at least 44% of severe truck collisions leading to injuries or even fatalities, truck drivers were at fault for the accident. One of the most common reasons was excessive speed, noting the longer stopping distance and massive weight and size of semi-trucks. In some cases, truck drivers were violating the speed limit; in other cases, they were traveling too fast in inclement weather like rain, snow or sleet. Wet roads can make already long stopping distances even longer while ice can make it all too easy for a speeding truck to spin out of control.

AASM survey: 45% of American adults drive when drowsy

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine conducted a Sleep Prioritization Survey, which asked 2,003 adults in Pennsylvania and across the U.S. if they have ever struggled to stay awake behind the wheel. Startlingly, 45% said yes. The link between drowsy driving and auto accidents is all too clear: The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that some 6,400 fatal crashes occur every year in the U.S. because of drowsy drivers.

With drowsiness comes impaired judgment and slower reaction times. In extreme cases, drivers may fall asleep, drift out of their lane and crash. Drowsy driving is 100% preventable, though. The AASM has some tips on how to avoid it. Everything starts with getting healthy, regular sleep. Adults need at least seven hours of sleep each night.

Surprisingly common skin disease frequently misdiagnosed

Hidradenitis suppurativa, or HS, is a painful, unpleasant skin condition that affects many people in Pennsylvania and throughout the country who may have a difficult time receiving a proper diagnosis. While HS leads to lumps, boils, pain and growing wounds, up to 64% of patients with the disease needed to visit at least five different doctors before receiving a diagnosis. On average, patients wait 10 years to get a proper diagnosis and adequate treatment. HS tends to appear as small lumps in the armpits, groin and other areas with high levels of skin-to-skin contact. At first glance, HS resembles other types of boils or abscesses, common acute skin symptoms.

However, HS differs because the boils return repeatedly to the same location. They may appear the same as typical boils, developing from a sweat gland or hair follicle. Even after they go away or are lanced by a medical professional, they often return to the same location. When people have HS, boils can grow and develop through "tunnels" beneath the skin. The resulting wounds can seep fluid. While HS is often considered rare and is frequently misdiagnosed, it affects one out of every 100 people.

Medical errors claim too many lives

Pennsylvania residents may be surprised to learn that preventable medical errors potentially cause the deaths of more than 200,000 Americans every year. All hospitals across the United States are more dangerous than they should be, but improvements are being made.

What defines a medical error has become more precise in recent years, and detection methods have also improved. Harm in medical settings usually falls into two categories. The first category involves a doctor or a nurse who had a good intent, and then something went wrong. This would include a preventable infection, a sponge left in the body after surgery or the overdose of medication. The second category is one of intent, which could involve a wrong diagnosis.

What causes diagnostic errors in ER and urgent care?

A trip to the emergency room or an urgent care facility is rarely a good thing. It often means you are suffering from symptoms that are too serious or worrisome to wait until you can get an appointment at your doctor's office. In an ambulatory care center, such as an ER or urgent care, you can expect to explain your symptoms to a nurse, who will pass your chart to a doctor or physician's assistant.

The doctor may examine you and order tests. Based on the results of those tests, you will receive a diagnosis and perhaps a prescription to manage the symptoms. In some cases, you may feel relief. However, you are just as likely to get worse. A recent report shows that almost half of ambulatory care mistakes involve a wrong diagnosis.

How alert systems can reduce distracted driving with AI

Distracted driving is on the rise in Pennsylvania, as elsewhere, and it appears that efforts to educate drivers on the danger are failing. While some cars are equipped with features that alert drivers when they are caught distracted, drivers can easily become used to the alert and treat it as background noise. This is where artificial intelligence may start to play a role.

Automakers are beginning to look into the mechanics of deep learning and the advances that have been made in computer vision technology algorithms. With AI, automakers can improve their sensors and cameras and maybe even develop them to the point where they can predict all human behavior behind the wheel. Visual AI will build use cases, which can help in the identification of more sources of distraction.

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