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March 2013 Archives

Chicago Researchers Studying Food Additive To Determine if it Causes Stomach Problems

Carrageenan is being studied by researchers at the University of Illinois in Chicago and University of Chicago to determine if it has ill effects on some people’s gastrointestinal systems, the Chicago Tribune reported in a recent article (“Food Additive Stirs Calls for Scrutiny,” March 18, 2013).UIC physician and professor Joanne Tobacman has been looking at the health effects of this food additive for years and in 2008 she petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to prohibit its use in food, according to the article.  In June, the FDA denied her request, the article reported, but she stands behind decades of peer-reviewed science that demonstrates carrageenan-induced inflammation in animals and cells.She was quoted as saying that Europe bans the ingredient in infant formula; America allows it.  The additive can also be found in some yogurt, ice cream, soy milk, cheeses, diet soft drinks and even some toothpaste.The Cornucopia Institute in Wisconsin sent a letter to the FDA asking it to reconsider its June decision.  The Institute, which questions why the additive can be found even in some organic foods, recently came out with a study entitled, “Carageenan: How a ‘Natural’ Food Additive is Making Us Sick.”  The Institute, which offers information on agriculture and food issues through research and investigations, also offers a food guide in avoiding the substance when going to the store. Click here to see guide.

Seton Hall Lacrosse Team In Tragic Bus Crash

A bus carrying the women’s lacrosse team from Seton Hall University crashed off the Pennsylvania Turnpike Saturday, killing the driver, the team’s pregnant coach and her unborn child.  Many team members were injured when the bus crashed into a tree at the bottom of a grassy slope.The 23 on the bus were headed to a Saturday game at Millersville University, about 50 miles from the crash.  A memorial mass was held Sunday night at Seton Hall, a Catholic university near Pittsburgh, for the 30-year-old coach who started there in 2012.A spokesperson for the bus company, operated by Mlaker Charter & Tours of Davidsville, Pa., told the press that complete safety records were not available Saturday on the particular bus.It also has been reported that another bus carrying college lacrosse players from a Vermont team was hit by a sports car that spun out of control on wet pavement in upstate New York, sending the bus on its side, according to press reports.  One person in the Porsche reportedly died.  The bus was carrying 34 players and three coaches from St. Michael’s College, a small Catholic liberal arts college in Colchester, Vermont, as well as the bus driver to Westchester County just north of New York City.And last month a bus carrying 42 high school students from the Philadelphia area and their chaperones slammed into an overpass in Boston, injuring 35, according to the press. 

More than 220,000 Sign Petition Asking Kraft to Remove Dyes in Macaroni & Cheese

Two North Carolina women who are also food bloggers learned about two additives contained in the popular Kraft Macaroni & Cheese that are banned in various European countries yet still are in the product on U.S. store shelves.  They started a petition to have the additives removed.So far, more than 220,000 people have signed the petition asking Kraft to remove yellow dye 5 and yellow dye 6 from the popular food.  The two women, Lisa Leake and Vani Hari, point out that the same food does not contain these additives when the product is shipped abroad because of stricter food safety rules that the public demanded.The women say that the dyes are only “aesthetic purposes.”  But they point to studies conducted by the Center for Science in the Public Interest that reveal that the two food dyes have been associated with hyperactivity in children, allergies, migraines and possibly even petroleum-based cancer.To read more about the petition or to sign it, visit change.org/kraftyellow.The two moms also have posted a You Tube video tasting the two mac and cheeses – see for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lWQFKbI0dg

Tracy A. Brammeier Writes About Rail and Subway Cameras Not Deterring Criminals in Chicago

Tracy A. Brammeier, clerk at Clifford Law Offices and a second year law student at Loyola University School of Law, wrote an essay that was published by the American Bar Association Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section (TIPS) in 2012.Her essay, which focuses on the lack of rail security in Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C.’s transit systems, won the 2012 TIPS essay competition on the topic of Disasters Caused by Foreign and Domestic Terrorism.To read, Tracy’s essay, “Shifting Focus: Developing Preparedness and Response Strategies for Terrorism Threats to U.S. Commuter Rail and Subway Systems,” please click here.The issue of recently was on the front page of the Chicago Sun-Times that reported an increase in crime by 21 percent on Chicago’s CTA lines despite increased spending of $26 million to install thousands of high resolution cameras at rail stations.

First Verdict Against DePuy in Recalled Hip – $8.3 Million

A jury in California returned a verdict for $8.3 million against Johnson & Johnson, makers of the recalled DePuy hip replacement device.  It is estimated that more than 90,000 of these ASR hip implants were recalled in mid-2010.  At the time, the company said that 12 percent were expected to fail within five years.The verdict, which came in the Los Angeles Superior Court following a six-week trial, is the first of many to follow.  Clifford Law Offices represents a number of people who have had the faulty devices implanted in them, despite the makers of the device not adequately testing them before putting them on the market in 2005.  More than 10,000 lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson connected with this device.  Many people with the recalled device required revision surgeries, only to have surgeons find blackened, necrotic, dying tissue around the hip implant.  The DePuy ASR XL hip implant also shed high levels of cobalt and chromium, which led to many problems of the elevated metal levels in a person’s bloodstream.Lawyers at the California trial explained how the DePuy makers bypassed extensive testing of the metal-on-metal device so that it could put the profitable prosthetic device on the market sooner.  Allegations also surfaced of the company dismissing surgeons’ complaints about problems and failures of the device.The California jury found $8 million for physical pain and emotional suffering and $338,136 in medical expenses on behalf of Loren Kransky.

“What Surgeons Leave Behind”

That’s the headline of a recent front-page story in USA Today (March 8-10, 2013).  The newspaper reports that doctors sew up patients with mistaken objects inside more than a dozen times a day – the most common being sponges, needles and instruments.The story talks about a woman who had to undergo six hours of emergency surgery in Alabama to remove a sponge the size of a washcloth that was left during her C-section.  It had become so infected, she had to spend three weeks in the hospital recovering.  Another example was that of a man in Florida who underwent surgery for a digestive disorder.  A year later, after suffering from severe vomiting, a CT scan revealed sponges had fused to his spine, necessitating several surgeries to remove parts of his intestine and re-route what was left.  He said he still has “wicked pain” but is “happy to be alive.”  Very sad stories.In the medical world, these mistakes are referred to as “never events,” the article by Peter Eisler reports.  But thousands of times every year these events that are never supposed to happen actually occur.  Indiana University Health System reportedly started using sponges embedded with a tiny radio-frequency tag and before patients ware closed up after surgery, they get scanned with a sensor that detects any sponges left in a person’s body.  It costs the three hospitals about $275,000 per year for the tracking technology or an average of about $8 per surgery, Eisler reports, and the hospitals there say they have not lost a sponge in the five years since they have been using it.  Mayo Clinic uses a unique bar code that is scanned before and after the sponges go into a patient and reports it hasn’t lost a sponge in four years since using that technology.Only 15 percent of hospitals use sponges that are equipped with electronic tracking devices, a technology that is said to drastically reduce the risk of them being left in patients, according to USA Today.  The article also found that of the three sponge-tracking systems approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), fewer than 600 hospitals use them of the nearly 4,200 that perform surgeries nationwide.Mistakes, which often lead to infections, can be life-threatening or deadly for some and can be very costly for the hospitals.  With some 32 million invasive surgeries performed every year, the incidence rate of an object being left in a patient is estimated to be between 5,500 to 7,000, with 1-2 percent of those cases being fatal.  Sponges are said to account for up to 70 percent of the lost items in patients.Hospitals need to take every precaution to prevent unnecessary mistakes happening, particularly when technology is available to help in the prevention efforts.  To read the entire USA Today article on this issue, click here.

Verdict in First DePuy Defective Hip Implant Case Expected Soon

A Los Angeles jury is deliberating in the first defective DePuy hip implant case on behalf of a 65-year-old former prison guard in Montana who alleged he suffered metal poisoning and other health problems from the company’s ASR XL hip implant he received in 2007.Johnson & Johnson, makers of the device and the defendant in the action, face thousands of lawsuits as “the world’s largest seller of health-care products failed patients before recalling 93,000 ASR hips in August, 2010,” Bloomberg News reported, quoting one of the plaintiff’s attorneys in the LA case.One of the tenets of this plaintiff, as well as many others who had the hip device implanted, is that Johnson & Johnson knew of the defects in the DePuy ASR XL long before telling patients, allowing many to receive the defective device without any warning of its risks.  Clifford Law Offices has a number of patients who received the defective device and are suffering severe health problems including revision surgeries to remove the device.

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