Posts made in March 2014

Protein bar recall affects Massachusetts consumers

Nearly 40,000 people annually fall ill after eating food contaminated with salmonella.Unsafe food products can cause widespread illness. This makes proper food manufacturing and handling of vital importance.

A protein bar is among the most recent of products given warnings by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The bars were sold in numerous states, including Massachusetts. According to the FDA, ProtiDiet High Protein Chocolate Dream bars may have been contaminated with salmonella, and should not be consumed. The bars have since been recalled by the manufacturer. Fortunately, no illnesses have yet been reported due to the tainted bars. Consumers experiencing symptoms of salmonellosis after ingesting one of the bars are advised to seek medical help.

Salmonellosis is a serious infection that could result in severe illness. Foods commonly containing the salmonella bacteria include raw meats and raw eggs. However, any food can become contaminated with salmonella through improper food handling. Symptoms of salmonellosis develop 12 to 72 hours after consuming the tainted food and include vomiting and diarrhea. A laboratory culture can determine whether these symptoms are caused by Salmonellosis or by a different illness. While Salmonellosis usually goes away on its own after five to seven days, it can cause severe dehydration. In some cases, the bacteria spreads beyond the site of the infection, requiring antibiotics. The most severe cases of Salmonellosis usually occur in infants, the elderly or people with compromised immune systems.

When a person contracts salmonellosis, they may be able to recover for their medical expenses and pain and suffering through a products liability lawsuit. Product liability laws protect consumers by holding sellers and manufacturers of defective products responsible for the harms those products cause. A personal injury attorney may be able to advise a consumer who believes they may have been injured or made ill due to a defective product.

Food safety is of the utmost importance, both for the persons consuming the food as well as those who manufacture or prepare it. Everyone deserves to be protected from food poisoning.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “FDA issues salmonella warning for ProtiDiet protein bars,” Monte Morin, March 18, 2013

FDA analyzes increased trend in recall of faulty medical devices

The Food and Drug Administration is charged with monitoring and managing the recall of any food and drink products, supplements, drugs and medical devices that could potentially cause illness or injury. Nowhere is this more crucial than with life-saving medical equipment that, when faulty, can instead become life-threatening.

The FDA has just released a 10-year trend analysis of recalls of defective medical devices. Recalls have been affected by the ongoing work the FDA does with manufacturers, which in recent years has led to:

  • Improved self-regulation by medical equipment companies.
  • Increased awareness of performance safety.
  • Better classification of types of equipment that are frequently recalled.

The data trends are dramatic but also somewhat reassuring. Total recall events, with single events sometimes affecting multiple products, numbered 604 in 2003 and almost doubled to 1,190 in 2012.

Class 1 is the sub-group of devices that have the potential to cause death, or at least serious injury or illness, when they malfunction. Examples are ventilators and defibrillators. Recalls of Class 1 equipment have increased from a low of seven in 2003 to a high of 57 almost a decade later.

Class 1 recalls increased from about 1 percent of all recall events in 2003 to closer to 5 percent in 2012, and the increase may have to do with the reclassification of many products to be included in the Class 1 category.

A recent example of the scale of some recalls is one that happened in December 2013. Ventilators, manufactured by a firm with its U.S. headquarters in Massachusetts, were found to have errors in the software that put them at risk of ceasing to work at crucial times in the treatment of patients. More than 16,000 units had already been distributed in the U.S. If you include sales to other countries, the total number of units distributed globally was more than 56,000.

The FDA’s increased vigilance over medical device manufacturers can only help medical care to become safer. Still, when machinery does fail, companies are liable to face legal action by affected patients and their families.

Source: Boston Business Journal, “Life-threatening medical device recalls up eightfold since 2003,” Don Seiffert, March 21, 2014

Massachusetts town hall children poisoned by carbon monoxide

Citizens, regardless of age, should expect to feel safe in Massachusetts’ public buildings. Parents especially need to believe that they can safely take their children to public facilities without worrying about their well-being.

To avoid premises liability, managers tasked with building maintenance should be keenly aware of their duty to ensure the safety of everyone in the building. There are many factors outside of the control of staff and visitors but within the control of building management staff. These include the structural soundness of the premises, as well as maintenance of electrical, lighting and heating systems.

In Douglas, the town hall houses an education center attended by more than 70 children of kindergarten age. When emergency workers responded to a call midmorning, they sent numerous people to the hospital with symptoms of nausea and headaches. The complaints were identified as symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. Dangerous levels of the poisonous gas were detected in the town hall building.

Medical responders decided to transport the worst-affected to the hospital for further evaluation. The remainder of the children were moved to a nearby school in order to have their health evaluated.

Officials believe that a faulty oil furnace may have caused the release of the dangerous gas into the air.

Tragedy was averted in this instance. However, although no one was killed by the leak, the children and adults were still poisoned by the gas. Their lives were put at risk, and it cannot be ruled out that there exists the possibility of after-effects and future complications arising.

A person whose health is threatened while on municipal property may be able to claim damage from the municipality. A lawsuit can request compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses, loss of wages and other costs that result from the situation.

Source: The Associated Press, “Several hospitalized after CO leak in Douglas,” March 17, 2014

Massachusetts caregivers stage protests for a livable wage

When we put our aging parents and relatives into care facilities, we like to think that they are being treated with care and respect. Indeed, we need to believe that the caregivers themselves are being treated with kindness and fairness.

Sadly, news coming from a large nursing home chain in Massachusetts says this isn’t happening. The situation at the nursing home chain shows that there exists the potential for nursing home negligence, exploitation and greed where there is a strong focus on the balance-sheet before any other core values.

So what’s happening with the staff at this chain? There is a growing wave of unrest and impatience, and some staff and their supporters have been staging protests at some facilities. Complaints include:

  • Poverty wage. The staff is being paid minimum wage for responsible jobs. Some of them are adults with families to support and are struggling to survive on less than $9 an hour.
  • No health insurance. The insurance plans being sold by the group to the public are not affordable to the staff on their low wages. Staff have reported that a company representative responded that they should be applying for government health benefits.
  • By disrespecting the well-being of the caregivers, decision-makers are disrespecting the thousands of residents whose happiness and health are the staff’s daily responsibility.

Neglect and negligence are very real problems in the nursing homes of Massachusetts – yes, by underpaid, under motivated front-line staff – but also by executive decision-makers behind-the-scenes.

If somebody you know has been affected by maltreatment at a nursing home facility, consider taking legal action against the home or the group to which it belongs. A personal injury attorney will be able to outline all the possible actions a victim of nursing home negligence may take.

Source: boston.com, “Labor unrest grows at largest nursing home chain in Massachusetts,” Jeff Hall, Feb. 26, 2014