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July 2015 Archives

Popular Blood Thinner - Coumadin - Reported to be Causing Deaths and Injuries in Nursing Homes

It is being reported that Coumadin, the popular prescription blood thinning drug, is a particular problem in nursing homes and requires careful calibration in that too much can cause uncontrolled bleeding and too little threatens the development of life-threatening clots. A story in the Washington Post reported that at least 165 nursing homes residents were hospitalized or died following errors from ingesting Coumadin or its generic version, warfarin, from 2011 to 2014. The reporter, Charles Ornstein, derived his information from ProPublica that analyzes consumer and government data. "Studies suggest there are thousands more injuries every year that are never investigated by the government," Ornstein wrote. He also quoted Ron Baird, president of Geriatric Practice Management, a firm that creates electronic health records for physicians working in long-term care facilities, who said that "'Coumadin is the most dangerous drug in America.'" Ornstein reported, though, that a national initiative helped reduce the use of such drugs by about 20 percent. Still, a 2007 study in the American Journal of Medicine estimated that nursing home residents suffer 34,000 fatal, life-threatening or serious events related to the drug every year, according to the Washington Post story. The drug has been around since the 1940s, and even President Dwight D. Eisenhower was prescribed the medication after suffering a heart attack. The drug has been reported to interact poorly with certain foods and other medications, particularly antibiotics, and requires regular blood tests to ensure that it is working properly. Ornstein reported that 2.4 million seniors and disabled people filled at least one prescription for warfarin, the generic of Coumadin in 2013 under Medicare's prescription program and some 280,000 people were prescribed the brand-name version, Coumadin and Jantoven. He also reported that about 1 in 6 of the nation's 1.3 million nursing home residents are prescribed an anticoagulant, according to federal data from this year, with the majority believed to be on Coumadin or its generic. It should be noted that in a study published last year by Quest Diagnostics, a lab company, that the drug Coumadin or its generic had the desired effect on patients only 54 percent of the time. The story also reported of a 2011 report in the New England Journal of Medicine that the drug accounted for some 33,000 emergency hospitalizations among the elderly from 2007 to 2009, more than twice as many as the next highest drug, insulin for diabetes. To read more about this important development, go to:

Asbestos Found in Some Children's Crayons - Beware When Buying Back-to-School Products

Asbestos is a known carcinogen that reportedly kills up to 15,000 Americans every year. And it's still legal to put it in products. But is was a bit surprising to find asbestos in children's crayons, according to tests commissioned by EWG Action Fund, a 501(c0(4) organization. The EWG (Environmental Working Group) Action Fund's mission is to protect the health of people and the environment by educating the public and lobbying on a wide range of environmental issues. Four brands of crayons and two kids' crime scene fingerprint kits were reported to contain asbestos fibers. It released the information to raise awareness about the asbestos threat in well-known products - from vehicle brakes to building materials and even children's items. The EWG Action Fund reports that a child exposed to asbestos is 3.5 times more likely than a 25-year-old to develop mesothelioma, a lung disease that is only caused by asbestos. With children returning to school, parents need to be careful in buying back-to-school supplies. Some of the brands of crayons that were identified to have asbestos are marketed under the names of Mickey Mouse, Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in boxes of 28 crayons that can be bought online or at national retail chains. All of the products were made in China and were imported to the U.S. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has conducted its own tests on crayons and concluded that the risk of exposure to asbestos was "extremely low" and that it would continue to "monitor children's crayons to ensure they do not present a hazard because asbestos fibers are embedded in the crayon wax and that a children's body temperature is not warm enough to melt ingested wax and free the fibers. CPSC has not banned or regulated asbestos in crayons, toys or other children's products. It is reported that by the age of 10, the typical American child wears down 730 crayons, according to Crayola, the largest crayon manufacturer. One of the crime fingerprint kits that was named as containing possible airborne asbestos fibers was the Edu Science Deluxe Forensics Lab Kit. The EWG Action Fund tests were conducted under the direction of Sean Fitzgerald of the Scientific Analytical Institute in Greensboro, North Carolina. To read more about the tests conducted this year, go to:

How to Choose a Surgeon? Use a Scorecard

Choosing a surgeon can be a daunting task, and ProPublica, a not-for-profit news organization based in new York that produces investigative journalism in the public interest, researched thousands of doctors and how well they performed surgeries over a four-year period. Focusing on surgeons and not hospitals, ProPublica examined 16,827 doctors across the country focusing on eight surgical procedures performed thousands of times a day, scheduled in advance and generally performed on patients in stable health. Patients who were brought in through the emergency room or from facilities like nursing homes were excluded. Guided by top researchers and doctors, ProPublica used Medicare data from 2009-2013 to identify cases where a patient died in the hospital or had to be readmitted within 30 days for a problem related to one of these elective procedures. The organization then calculated complication rates for surgeons, trying to account for differences in patient health, age and hospital quality. ProPublica reports that these rates were calculated using data from Medicare records, which do not include patients with private insurance or in another program like Medicaid. A surgeon's rate spans all hospitals at which he or she operates and is not unique to a given hospital The analysis is based on billing data hospitals submitted to Medicare from 2009-2013. ProPublica analyzed 2.3 million procedures: hip and knee replacements, three types of spinal fusion, gallbladder removals, prostate removals and prostate resections. To examine the database that ProPublica put together, go to: The database is interesting in that it is divided by city, surgeon and particular surgeries. Take a look. It's obvious that selecting a surgeon is important. To learn more about how to do that, read this patient safety report published by ProPublica:

Top Chicago law firm talks product liability

Product Liability: liability of a designer, manufacturer or seller of a product for injuries or damages suffered as a result of defects in the product or its user information. Our top Chicago law firm recognizes that product liability cases require complex litigation. The nature of a product liability claim depends on the jurisdiction, product type, and cause of the defect. Product defects can surface in different facets of the user experience, including defects in the design or manufacture of the product, as well as due to a lack of proper warnings about dangers associated with the product's use.

Protecting the Elderly from Nursing Home Abuse

Question: How can I protect my parents who are in a nursing home from elder abuse? Answer: Elder abuse can take many forms including psychological, sexual or emotional abuse, financial abuse or exploitation, neglect and even self-neglect. Become aware of the signs of these types of abuses. If you suspect that your loved ones are abuse victims, an attorney can help connect you with relevant reporting agencies and can also advise you about any legal remedies that may be available. For more information about Illinois law, visit If you have a legal question, send it to

Responsibility for a Private Swimming Pool or Hot Tub Accident in Illinois

Question: Who can be held responsible for a private swimming pool or hot tub accident? Answer: Among those who may be held responsible are the property owner, a private business, a pool equipment manufacturer, a state or local government entity, and even a pool maintenance person. To reduce the risk of a lawsuit, pool or hot tub owners should use adequate safety equipment, including pool or tub covers. Also, children should never be left to use these facilities unsupervised. For more information about Illinois law, visit If you have a legal question, send it to

Are Fireworks Legal in Illinois?

Question: What kinds of fireworks are legal in Illinois? Answer: The Pyrotechnic Use Act in Illinois bans the sale, possession and use of all "consumer fireworks." However, certain pyrotechnics are not considered consumer fireworks, such as sparklers, snap 'n pops, and snakes. Municipalities can pass ordinances that either ban or allow the sale and usage of fireworks, including consumer fireworks. For more information about Illinois law, visit If you have a legal question, send it to

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