Still Hurting After the Accident? It Could Be a Herniated Disc

Herniated Disc Crash

After a car crash, are you still suffering from back pain that is not getting better? You’ve received medical attention and do not have any fractures, but the doctor did say you might have a herniated disc. Further testing was recommended to determine the cause of your pain. All types of back and neck injuries are common after motor vehicle collisions. While an injury might appear to be minor at first, as the hurt grows and other symptoms set in, you realize you need help to stop the numbness, the muscle weakness, and, of course, the pain. A study done by the University of North Carolina School of Medicine indicates that, after a car crash, more than 70 percent of those who sought emergency treatment were still suffering from pain. Not all of the pain reported was from a back injury, but a review of the hospital records for 948 patients determined that, six weeks following a motor vehicle accident, the most common injury for those admitted to the hospital was neck and back pain. What is a Herniated Disc? The sudden, strong forces exerted on your spine during a crash can injure the cushions between the bony vertebrae; these[…..]

Health Insurance Hazards: Do You Know What Your Plan Really Covers?

Health Insurance Plan Coverage

Imagine the following scenario. You have health insurance through your employer. You fall, break your wrist, and need surgery to fix it. When the surgical, anesthesia, and hospital bills come in, insurance doesn’t pay any of them because—surprise!—your insurance provides only “wellness benefits” and preventative care. You have no hospitalization or emergency coverage. This actually happened to a woman in Minnesota, Marlene Allen. Her advice these days is that you never assume anything about your health insurance plan when employers offer you coverage. Thin is Not “In” When It Comes to Health Insurance While you might enjoy seeing a svelte you in the mirror, so-called “skinny” health insurance plans—also called bare-bones and low-cost—can also lighten your pockets and bank account, and we’re not talking about the cost of the premiums. You could be on the hook for the entire cost of an emergency or urgent care situation. So-called “minimum essential coverage” (MEC) plans are employer-sponsored health insurance group plans that, often, mainly provide only wellness benefits and preventative care, not emergency care or hospital expenses coverage. Such plans are legal for employers to offer under the new health insurance rules, and many employers whose employees work in low-paying jobs, such[…..]

Hurricane!

Weather Warning Sign

The Atlantic hurricane season began on June 1, and it won’t end for six months—November 30. Are you ready? Here in Baltimore near the Chesapeake Bay, we have seen our share of dangerous storms over the years, like Agnes in 1972, Isabel in 2003, and more recently, the one-two punch of Irene in 2011 and Sandy in 2012. It’s not too early to think about what you will need to do and have on hand for the next big storm. This Year’s Predictions El Nino is wreaking havoc in some areas of our country, but one of the effects tends to be a slightly quieter-than-usual Atlantic hurricane season, and that is what is predicted for 2015, although the season got off to an early start with Tropical Storm Ana in early May. This year, the National Hurricane Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted the formation of anywhere from 6 to 11 named storms, with 3 to 6 of them becoming hurricanes, and 0 to 2 of them becoming major hurricanes (meaning Category 3, 4, or 5 storms). The averages over the past 65 years are 11 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. Although[…..]

U Drive, U Text, U Pay

Texting While Driving

You may have seen the above slogan recently as part of this year’s Distracted Driving Awareness campaign. National in scope, the U Drive, U Text, U Pay enforcement blitz is aimed at reducing highway deaths caused by drivers who are distracted by any activities that take their attention off the task of driving, particularly texting. Are You Overestimating Your Driving Ability? A study by the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety has found that taking one’s eyes off the road for as little as two seconds can hamper safe driving. This is because even when the view is returned to the road, there is a period of readjustment which results in a lowered ability to react to potential hazards. In the Liberty Mutual study, researchers monitored the eye movements of experienced drivers, using a simulator, who were presented with a potential hazard — such as a pedestrian or a vehicle quickly pulling into traffic — immediately before a two-second interruption. They then observed whether the driver remembered to look for the hazard once their attention returned to the road. Even the brief two-second distraction tended to cause the drivers to forget what they had observed before the interruption, impairing their[…..]

Focusing On Eye Injury

Eye Safety

Prevent Blindness America is an organization whose mission is to save eyesight through education, advocacy and research. During the month of March, we are encouraged to focus on eye safety in the workplace, a well placed emphasis since in 2012 there were 20,300 instances of occupational eye injury that caused employees to have to miss work. These injuries are expensive in terms of lost production time, medical care, and worker’s compensation costs. Of the total number of work-related eye injuries, 10-20 percent will cause temporary or permanent vision loss, and for these victims the costs are enormous. At Highest Risk Males between the ages of 25 and 44 are at highest risk for on-the-job eye injuries. While almost every industry holds some hazards for eye injury, some of the most dangerous occupations are: Welders Cutters Sanders Grinding machine operators Mechanics Carpenters Plumbers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that almost half of the workers who sustain eye injuries are employed in manufacturing, and slightly more than 20 percent are in construction. Common Causes Most workplace eye injuries result from small particles or objects — for example, metal slivers, wood chips, glass and dust — that are ejected by tools[…..]

News From NHTSA

Fastening Seat Belt

It’s time for some good news… In January, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published the results of their research into the effectiveness of the many life-saving technologies that have been introduced in motor vehicles in the 50+ years between 1960 and 2012. In summary, they found that the fatality rate per vehicle mile of travel for occupants of cars, pickup trucks, SUVs, mini-vans and full-size vans dropped by an amazing 81 percent! NHTSA credits improvements in four areas: Seat belts, air bags and other vehicle safety innovations Safer roads, including the development of the Interstate Highway System and design elements such as guardrails and medians Educational programs aimed at improving driver behavior Better emergency transport and trauma medicine, which make crashes more survivable. Technology + Cars = Improved Safety Vehicle safety technologies — such as seat belts, air bags, and electronic stability control — saved an estimated 613,501 lives from 1960 through 2012. Also in this category are instrument panel improvements, head impact protection, side impact protection, roof crush resistance, and disc brakes, as well as things like door locks and reflective markings. The largest gain was the result of seat belt use, particularly in the mid- to[…..]

Hazardous Hygiene

Hot Water Burn in Shower

Maybe when you think of death behind a shower curtain you envision the famous scene from the movie Psycho. But there’s another, less dramatic but more common, danger lurking in the bath. In the United States, burns from hot tap water result in about 1,500 hospital admissions and 100 deaths per year. The first week of February has been designated Burn Awareness Week, and the focus of the campaign this year is to prevent scalding injuries. It Happens Quicker Than You Think Water at 140 degrees can lead to a serious burn within three seconds, while it takes 10 minutes for water at 120 degrees to cause a serious burn. Scalding by hot water or another liquid can result in severe scarring, permanent disability and even death. Of hospitalized burn patients, liquid scald burns account for the second largest number of death. This is particularly true for certain high-risk groups — children, the elderly, and those with special needs. When a person in one of these high-risk groups suffers a scalding burn, it is often due to the negligence of a caregiver. Elderly React Different to Hot Water Older adults typically have certain characteristics which make exposure to extremely hot[…..]

Are We Asking for a Frackastrophe?

Railcar Carrying Explosive Materials

On December 1, a number of Baltimore residents attended an environmental hearing to weigh in on the potential danger of railroads in area neighborhoods being used for the transport of millions of gallons of crude oil. Houston-based Targa Resources has applied to expand its existing export pier in South Baltimore to store, handle, process and ship more crude oil to East Coast refineries. In fact, according to Chesapeake Climate Action Network, under the proposal “9.125 million barrels of oil every year would be exported out of Baltimore — which means some 12,766 rail cars annually. Broken down further, that’s one train of 35 cars every day running right through the city.” Record volumes of Bakken crude oil, produced through a controversial process known as “fracking” (read more about the dangers of fracking) are being transported by rail to refineries along the East Coast. According to the American Association of Railroads, there were 9,500 rail cars carrying crude oil in 2008; by 2013 that had increased to more than 400,000. It appears that Baltimore is poised to be a stop along the Bakken byway. What’s the Problem With That? The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Association (PHMSA), a division of the[…..]

Resolving To Drive Safely In 2015

Safe Driving

As New Year’s Day approaches, many of us look back at the past year and resolve to do things a little differently over the next twelve months. Less red meat, more fish and veggies. Less lounging, more working out. Less angst, more peace. It’s a good time, too, to resolve to give up some behaviors that endanger ourselves and others sharing the highway. Here are a few suggestions from Steve Heisler, The Injury Lawyer: Don’t drink and drive. In 2012, 160 Marylanders lost their lives in drunk driving car crashes. If you plan on drinking – on New Year’s Eve or any other time — make sure you have a designated driver or call a taxi. Don’t use a cell phone while behind the wheel. Not only will this keep you safer, it will keep money in your pocket as using a handheld cell phone is a primary offense in Maryland and could subject you to a fine of up to $160. Don’t break the speed limit. In 2014 Maryland considered, and rejected, the idea of raising the speed limit to 70 mph on some highways – don’t drive as if you thought the measure passed. Wear your seat belt[…..]

To Frack Or Not To Frack: How Will Maryland Proceed?

Fracking

On December 17, 2014, New York’s Governor Cuomo announced a ban on fracking in New York state, based on the conclusion of state officials that science demonstrates it poses a risk to public health. There has been a moratorium on fracking in Maryland while the risks and benefits have been under study here. On November 25, the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Department of Natural Resources released their report recommending the management of fracking risks through stringent regulations. But Governor-elect Larry Hogan has called fracking in western Maryland an “economic gold mine” and may take a position more favorable to industry than to public health. What did New York officials find in reviewing HVHF (high volume hydraulic fracturing) operations in other states that caused them to ban fracking there? With regard to air impacts: Evidence of uncontrolled methane leakage, emissions of other volatile organic chemicals, and particulate matter from well pads and natural-gas infrastructure . . . intermittently high dust and benzene concentrations . . . community odor problems, respiratory health impacts such as asthma . . . Water-quality impacts: Underground migration of methane associated with faulty well construction . . . groundwater contamination . . . potential[…..]