Driver Fatigue a Likely Cause of Truck Accidents

If you have ever been behind the wheel of a car you have been driving for several hours, you may have experienced the sense of lethargy that steals over you without you realizing it until you jerk awake, hopefully not in the hospital. There have been stories of drivers who work the night shift that find themselves in bed when their last conscious action was turning on the ignition to drive home from work.

These are examples of microsleep episodes, short “naps” that the brain takes when an individual has not had enough sleep or is extremely tired. Microsleep typically last for a few seconds but it is possible to experience several episodes in a short period and the person is not even aware that such naps had occurred. The driver’s eyes are open but nobody’s home.

It is a condition that is likely to occur with long-haul truck drivers who are on the road for hours at a stretch and for days on end. While driver fatigue is to be expected because of the type of driving these truckers have to do, it can be significantly aggravated when truckers ignore the federally mandated hours-of-service (HOS) which are implemented precisely to prevent such occurrences. Even the most seasoned truck driver may find how fatally easy it is to fall asleep at the wheel of an 80,000-pound rapidly moving piece of steel and cause horrendous mayhem on life and property.

Truck drivers owe a duty of care to other drivers above and beyond that of a regular driver because of the size and weight of the vehicles they operate. As pointed out in an article on the website of the Sampson Law Firm, the potential for danger with an 18-wheeler is why the government has put regulations in place that are designed to neutralize some of that danger, including HOS. When truck drivers or companies choose to violate these safety regulations, they are guilty of negligence.

If you have been seriously injured from a negligent truck accident, you may have a valid claim against the truck driver and/or company for compensation. Ask a personal injury lawyer in your area for more information.

The Risks in Using Power Morcellators

On April 30, 2014, Ethicon,the unit of Johnson & Johnson responsible in the manufacture, sales and promotion of the pharmaceutical giant’s power morcellators, ceased distribution and sales, and ordered the withdrawal of the said devices from the market.

Ethicon’s move came barely three weeks after the US Food and Drug Administration issued a safety alert (on April 17, 2014) that discouraged doctors and hospitals from the continued use of power morcellators in laparoscopic surgical procedures, specifically in the removal of uterine fibroids or myomas through myomectomy and in the removal of the womb or uterus through hysterectomy.

FDA’s decision is based on medical reports regarding the possible spread of unsuspected cancer tissues, called uterine sarcomas, during morcellation treatment of women with uterine fibroids. Due to the lack of a device that can accurately detect the presence of uterine sarcomas, risk of spreading it beyond the uterus can happen as uterine fibroids are divided (or morcellated) into pieces.

Power morcellators are medical devices designed to cut an overgrown uterus or fibroids into pieces tiny enough to allow them to be extracted through 0.5-1cm incisions. These devices have been approved by the FDA to be used in laparoscopic (minimally invasive) surgeries. Since the early 1990s, many doctors began preferring power morcellator-aided laparoscopic surgeries over open surgeries (such as abdominal hysterectomy, which required incisions between five to seven inches long) due to the former’s many advantages, including tiny incisions that healed faster, shorter hospital stay, lesser blood loss, reduced pain and minimal chances of infection or complications.

Johnson & Johnson introduced three of the best engineered power morcellators in the market in 1998 which, many believe, actually set the standard on the way the device should be designed. These are Gynecare Morcellex, the Morcellex Sigma and the Gynecare X-Tract. Despite the accuracy and efficiency of J&J’s power morcellators, in particular, and the overall benefits provided by all power morcellators, in general, the FDA still find the risk of cancer not worth continuing the use of the devices.

Up to 50,000 morcellation treatments are performed in the US every year, with most of these for the purpose of removing uterine fibroids. Women who have been harmed by a morcellation treatment have to option to file a morcellator lawsuit to seek compensation for the injuries they’ve sustained. Though FDA’s safety alert does not totally stop doctors from using power morcellators, the FDA reminds them of their major duty in informing patients of the risks associated with the procedure.