Archive for August, 2013

Progress Being Made in the Treatment of Spinal Cord Injury

Aug 2013

Our Buffalo injury lawyers know that a spinal cord injury is one of the most devastating injuries a person can endure. Unfortunately, as the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reports, around 200,000 people in the United States are currently living with spinal cord injuries, most of which were caused by accidents. In fact, around 46 percent of all spinal cord injuries happen as a result of car accidents and another 22 percent occur in falls.

While a spinal cord injury has life-changing consequences, Health Central indicates that some progress is being made in assisting victims suffering from permanent spinal damage. While the progress is slow, every step taken toward finding new treatment and solutions is a positive step for those throughout the United States who are coping with paralysis due to spinal cord damage.

Spinal Cord Damage Is Permanent, But Progress is Being Made on Treatments

When you sever your spinal cord or do damage to your spinal cord, there is no cure for the spinal cord injury you sustain. You may experience varying degrees of lost functionality and lost feeling depending upon where along the spine the injury occurred and depending upon whether the injury was a complete spinal cord injury (SCI) or a partial injury.

Because of the serious impairments that a spinal cord injury can cause, the CDC estimates that the average annual medical cost associated with SCI is between $15,000 and $30,000. The estimated lifetime cost is between $500,000 and $3 million, depending on the extent of the injury.

These costs are astronomical, and of course the costs go beyond the financial, since those who suffer a spinal cord injury will experience a significant decline in quality of life. A spinal cord injury victim may be unable to care for himself at all and may need ongoing and sometimes round-the-clock medical help.

Unfortunately, many of these injuries occur to very young people, and impact the rest of their lives. As the CDC reports, an estimated 50 to 70 percent of spinal cord injuries happen to people between the ages of 15 and 35. These young victims have decades of living with a spinal cord injury causing impairment.

Health Central, however, suggests that progress is being made and that there may be reason for spinal cord injury victims to hope for a cure in their lifetime. According to Health Central, a team of scientists from the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve Medical School have successfully restored bladder function to rats who had sustained severe injuries to the spinal cord.

Scientists were able to restore bladder function using a new technique to regenerate nerve cells across the site of injury.  When a spinal cord injury happens, the nerve cells in the brainstorm become disconnected from the nerve cells located in the spinal cord, preventing the transmission of messages. The body forms scar tissue at the site of the injury, preventing nerve function from being restored. Scientists, however, were able to take healthy nerves from other parts of the body, graft the healthy nerves to the damaged areas, and add chemicals that disrupted scar formation and promoted cell growth.

Successful re-growth of brain stem cells occurred at the injury site, allowing the rats to regain control of their bladder function. This is the first time ever that an animal has been able to urinate normally after a spinal cord injury.

Hopefully, this new development means that progress is being made and the thousands who suffer spinal cord injuries in car accidents or slip and falls may be able to find treatment in the future to restore functionality lost due to the accident.

If you’ve been injured in Buffalo or the surrounding area, contact the Law Offices of James Morris today for a free consultation. Call 800-477-9044.

Hudson River “Miracle” Pilot Speaks Out Against Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is a serious problem that can happen in the doctor’s office, on the operating table, or even when filling a prescription. Our medical malpractice attorneys in Buffalo have represented victims of negligence and understand how devastating medical errors can be for individuals and their families. Recently, a well-known pilot – and national hero – took up a new mission to raise awareness of the dangers of medical malpractice and negligence.

Saving all 155 lives aboard his airplane after being forced into an emergency landing on the Hudson River, Captain Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger was thrust into the national spotlight in 2009 for his heroic efforts. Citing over 30 years’ experience as a pilot, the retired pilot is calling for urgent changes within the medical industry.

Medical malpractice an “urgent” crisis

In a recent interview with Politico, Sullenberger said that medical malpractice errors are estimated to kill up to 200,000 people a year, or “the equivalent of 20 jetliners crashing per week.”

With these medical errors strikingly common, Sullenberger said that such a margin for error would never be acceptable within the aviation industry, where pilots take hundreds of lives into their hands every flight.

“If tens of thousands of people died in plane crashes, there would be a national ground stop. Fleets would be grounded. Airports would close. There would be a presidential commission. The NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) would investigate. No one would fly until we had solved the problems,” he said.

Why, Sullenberger asks, should medical professionals be held to different standards than the aviation industry?

Citing his experience in the airline industry as a model for which doctors, surgeons, nurses and pharmacists could follow to reduce medical errors, Sullenberger likened the mistakes of medical professionals to those made in airplane accidents – except without strict government regulation and preventative measures to stop such instances.

Proposed changes designed to curb medical mistakes

Sullenberger is calling for a number of changes in the way medical professionals prepare for procedures, including the use of pilot-like checklists by medical professionals. He also has proposed that raising public awareness over the dangers of medical malpractice and releasing data about medical errors could help address the problem.

In addition, Sullenberger is calling for a new method of reviewing medical errors. As opposed to blaming doctors and nurses, Sullenberger said it’s more important to examine the causes that are behind a medical error.

It’s only then, according to Sullenberger, that the situation will improve.

With the industry lacking the urgency to fix these problems, the legal representation of a seasoned medical malpractice attorney in Buffalo might be necessary if you or a loved one is injured due to a medical error. The negligent medical professional or hospital likely will fight any medical malpractice claims. With so much at stake, it’s critical to have an experience attorney on your side.

If you or a loved one is a victim of medical malpractice in the Buffalo, NY area, contact an experienced medical negligence attorney today. Call the Law Offices of James Morris at 1-800-477-9044 for a free case consultation.