A Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak in Baltimore: What You Need to Know

On July 10, 2019, motorists passing through the Interstate 895/Baltimore Harbor Tunnel toll plaza likely noticed something unusual. There were no employees working the tolls, and only automated payments were being accepted. What these motorists were witnessing was the city’s reaction to the news that two employees were diagnosed with legionellosis disease, also known as Legionnaires’ disease. The two employees have been treated, and officials say they aren’t certain the Maryland Transportation Authority’s administration building was the source of the illness. Despite the measures taken by the Transportation Authority, it’s understandable that anyone worried about being infected would be concerned by this outbreak. Legionnaires’ disease is a very serious illness, and it is particularly dangerous for certain populations. What is Legionnaires’ Disease? Legionnaires’ disease is a very serious type of pneumonia, or lung infection, caused by exposure to Legionella bacteria. The bacteria are naturally occurring in freshwater environments, such as lakes and streams. The organisms pose a health risk when they multiply and spreads through a building’s water system. Legionella can grow and spread in large plumbing systems, hot water heaters, hot tubs, shower heads and faucets. Though drinking water contaminated with Legionella typically doesn’t lead to Legionnaires’ disease, inhaling[…..]

Of Course Johnson & Johnson Knew About Risks of Asbestos in Baby Powder

Johnson & Johnson has long denied that it had any knowledge about harmful ingredients in its talcum powder products. But a recent article in The New York Times reports that the company has known for years that its popular baby powder was potentially contaminated with asbestos. According to the article, the company was warned about the possibility of asbestos contamination in its baby powder by a company executive as early as 1971. The executive recommended to senior company leaders that Johnson & Johnson improve its quality control of talc, a mineral that is the main ingredient in the powder. Asbestos, which has been on the world radar screen for years as a cause of cancer, is often found near talc mines. Two years later, another executive also warned the company about possible asbestos fibers in its talc. Other warnings followed over the years. Instead of removing the product from the market, changing the main ingredient, or at least adding warning labels, senior company leaders instead sought to hide the findings. The deception and denials from the company have gone on for years, to the life-threatening detriment of consumers who use the product. Recent internal documents and memos that came to[…..]

Indian Head Highway Continues to Be a Problem

As many Marylanders know, Indian Head Highway/Route 210 is notorious as one of the state’s most dangerous roadways.  Over the past 11 years, 65 people have lost their lives in horrific crashes there. An illegal drag race that took advantage of the straight highway ended in horror in 2008 when eight people died. Last year, in 2018, five people were killed on the highway, according to figures from the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration. Among the tragic fatalities were three young children from the same family who died just weeks ago on December 30 when the car they were riding in was rear-ended. The investigation into that accident is ongoing. Increased Law Enforcement There has been a larger police presence on the highway, handing out tickets for speeding and other dangerous driving violations in recent years. But in spite of increased law enforcement, the number of accidents has not changed significantly, the data shows.  In 2016, there were 336 crashes; in 2017 there were 329; and last year there were 354. Nevertheless, local police and lawmakers are vowing to add even more police to the route this year. A speed camera was put in place on the highway[…..]

What Do Airbnb Deaths Say About Safety and Accountability?


Many people book rooms in private homes or entire properties using the Airbnb website, or similar online rental sites, as an often more convenient or affordable option to staying in traditional hotels. But who should be held accountable if a person is injured or killed because of unsafe conditions or even violence at an Airbnb property? Several recent deaths of travelers have put the spotlight on culpability when things go wrong at Airbnb and other such lodgings. USA Today reported the cases of a woman who was murdered in Costa Rica and a couple and family of four who died from suspected carbon monoxide poisoning in rentals in Mexico. While a hotel is typically liable if people are injured on the property because of unsafe conditions, in this relatively new private-home rental environment, liability is not so clear and might be shared among the property owner and Airbnb. Liability becomes even murkier if, for example, someone leases a home and rents out rooms to travelers and a traveler is injured. The actual property owner may say that they were not aware that the person leasing their property was using it as an Airbnb; and perhaps they were not, but they[…..]

Could Better Laws Save Teen Drivers’ Lives?

Teen Drivers

The positive news is that the number of teenagers killed in car crashes has dropped by nearly half in the past decade. However, too many kids are still dying. The statistics show that motor vehicle accidents continue to be the leading cause of death and serious injury among teenagers.  The sad fact is that nationwide thousands of young people die in car crashes each year. In 2016, 2,433 teenagers ages 16–19 were killed and 292,742 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries suffered in vehicle crashes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Maryland, an average of 87 people lose their lives annually in accidents involving teen drivers, data from the Maryland State Highway Administration shows. Inexperience behind the wheel is a leading cause of crashes. But the dilemma is, in order to gain experience, teenagers must drive. Not surprisingly, distracted driving is another major reason for teen crashes. A study by the Teen Safe Driver Program showed that distracted driving among teens, usually involving cell phones, accounted for three-quarters of moderate to severe rear-end accidents.  Alcohol use as a contributor to fatality accidents involving teenagers has dropped over the years, but is still a big[…..]

Johns Hopkins Nurses Complain of Working Conditions—Could Patients Be Impacted?

Medical Malpractice Attorney

A recent article in The Baltimore Sun newspaper highlights nurse complaints about working conditions at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The grievances from nurses imply that the often acclaimed hospital, which was rated first in Maryland and number three in the country in U.S. News & World Report’s 2018-2019 best hospitals rankings, may be putting profits before patient care. A nurse quoted in the newspaper article said that “current working conditions prevent us from providing the best care possible.” Complaints from other nurses echo this sentiment. The criticisms of the hospital come as attempts are being made by some nursing staff to unionize. In a survey of the hospital’s nurses, some common complaints among respondents included the following: There are not enough skilled nurses to properly attend to patients, which leaves patients vulnerable and nurses burned out. The hospital lacks a system for ensuring that nurses receive adequate breaks. There are frequent supply shortages and/or poor-quality supplies provided to nurses. One example the article mentioned was that the gloves nurses wear tear easily, which is especially a problem when dealing with patients with infectious diseases. Additionally, the majority of nurses who responded to the survey said they sometimes feel at risk of[…..]

Maryland Drivers Are Ignoring School Bus Safety

Maryland Drivers Are Ignoring School Bus Safety

A 2018 survey in Maryland shows that the state has a serious problem when it comes to drivers’ ignoring school bus safety rules. A significant number of drivers disregard the law that requires them to stop when a school bus has its red lights flashing and stop-arms out to indicate children are getting on or off. The survey was conducted this past spring with participation from over 80 percent of the state’s bus drivers from 24 school systems. In total, the drivers counted 3,812 violations of red flashing light and stop-arm rules in a single day. Baltimore City had 64 violations, which is down from last year when there were 152. Among counties, the violation leader was Montgomery, with 1,038 recorded. Baltimore County was second. Bus drivers in the county recorded 688 violations. Violations for other nearby counties included 385 in Anne Arundel and 97 for Carroll, which were both lower than last year’s numbers. However, in both Harford and Howard counties violations were higher than last year—they counted 196 and 290 respectively. While the number of violations rose in some areas in 2018, statewide school bus violations were much lower than in 2011, the year the survey was first[…..]

Baltimore Hospitals Ranked in New Survey

Baltimore Hospitals Ranked in New Survey

The rankings are in from the biannual Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades survey. The survey gave letter grades to 2,600 hospitals nationwide, looking at the numbers of errors, infections, injuries and accidents that occurred in these healthcare facilities in the previous six months. Leapfrog Group, which performs the survey, is a non-profit healthcare watchdog organization. Where did Maryland’s hospitals rank overall in safety? As a whole, the state’s hospitals performed poorly, coming in at 38th in the country. While this ranking shows there’s lots of room for improvement, Maryland hospitals did move up nine places since the spring survey this past April. In that one, they were ranked 47th.  So things are at least moving in the right direction. In this most recent survey, 20 percent, or eight, of Maryland’s hospitals were awarded A’s. None of the state’s hospitals got F’s.  Out of the eight hospitals awarded A’s, five are in the Baltimore area. They are: Anne Arundel Medical Center (Annapolis) Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center (Baltimore) Johns Hopkins Hospital (Baltimore) Joseph Medical Center (Towson) Greater Baltimore Medical Center (Baltimore). Four Baltimore-area hospitals earned B grades, and 10 received C’s. Bon Secour and St. Agnes Hospital were given D’s on their[…..]

Too Many Parents Are Using Cell Phones While Driving Children

Too Many Parents Are Using Cell Phones While Driving Children

A recent survey shows that 50 percent of parents and caregivers use cell phones while driving kids. Survey researchers asked 760 parents and regular caregivers of children ages 4-10 from 47 states about their cell phone behaviors with kids in the car during the three months prior to the study, which took place earlier this year. The survey was conducted by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. Approximately 52 percent of people surveyed said they talked on hands-free phones while behind the wheel, and 47 percent used handheld phones. Nearly 34 percent of parents and caregivers said they read texts while driving; almost 27 percent admitted to sending texts, and approximately 14 percent used social media while driving their most precious cargo! Another interesting and rather disturbing thing the survey found was that 14.5 percent of people surveyed didn’t use car seats or other child restraints with their young children. These respondents, as well as people who had a history of driving under the influence, were more likely to use cell phones while driving. Distracted Driving Crash Numbers People who use cell phones while driving children must wise-up and stop placing their children—and[…..]

Is Your Vehicle Ready for Winter? Here’s a Checklist.

Is Your Vehicle Ready for Winter? Here’s a Checklist.

With winter come rain, sleet, ice, snow, slush, and just plain old cold and dangerous driving weather. Seventeen percent of crashes nationwide occur in winter weather conditions, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. While you probably won’t step outside when temperatures begin to drop without first donning appropriate cold-weather clothing, is your car, truck or other vehicle also safely prepared for the upcoming chill? If it isn’t, you still have time to get it done. Winterizing your vehicle will help keep it operating safely throughout the season and keep you from possibly being stranded in plummeting temperatures or, even worse, injured in an accident. In addition to avoiding potential mechanical problems by staying on top of tune-ups and maintenance all year long, here are steps to take to get your vehicle ready for winter: Ensure that tires are inflated to correct psi levels for your vehicle. Your owner’s manual can advise you as to the correct level. As temperatures get colder, tires lose air, and tires that are not adequately inflated can affect maneuverability. Check tire tread for wear. Balding tires lose traction and are dangerous on icy and snow-covered streets. Do the penny test—with Lincoln’s head pointing[…..]