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Springfield MO Personal Injury Law Blog

Slowing down important for safety in highway work zones

Drivers are often annoyed by the presence of orange barrels placed around highway work zones in Missouri. They know the drill; lower speed limits, narrower lanes, random slow-downs and all of the other frustrations that go along with everyone's favorite season, road construction.

Work zone safety campaigns are often couched in terms of protecting construction site workers, who are often at high-risk, due to their positioning close to moving traffic. However, as risky as their positions are, most fatal work zone truck and car accidents involve motorists. 

Random drug testing: Why not doctors and nurses?

Why do we drug test pilots and railway engineers? Of course, it is because we recognize the potential risk of having a pilot at the controls of an airplane that was impaired because of drug use is unacceptable. The question comes up then, why doctors and other healthcare professionals, who often have direct access to numerous drugs in the performance of their daily duties, are not checked for drug use.

After all, there have been numerous examples of medical personal using drugs to the detriment of the patients whose care in which they are entrusted. No one would willing submit to an operation if it were suspected that the surgeon was addicted to drugs. And who would trust medication received from a nurse or other hospital staff, if they were addicted to some of the very drugs they might be administering to the patient?

What is the quality of the hospital quality measurement?

Missouri's famous son, Mark Twain once remarked that there were "Lies, damned lies and statistics." In our increasingly measured world, there seems to be no shortage of numbers purporting to be statistics that are meaningful.

Recently, the medical profession has begun to develop reporting and tracking methods designed to show hospitals that perform well in treating patients and those that perform less well. For a patient wishing to minimize their potential risk of medical malpractice during a procedure, they offer hope of providing factual grounds for a decision.

Twelve monkeys indeed

Life is a game of probabilities. We calculate the odds of crossing a street, by estimating our chances of making across before an oncoming car arrives at the same point on our path. We balance the risk of surgery with the necessity of having a bad knee fixed or a tumor removed. Most people have heard, that driving is the riskiest activity most individuals partake in who are not drug dealers or BASE jumpers.

However, few people would consider the risk of being killed by a tire that came off a moving vehicle worthy of a passing thought. One would think that the chances of being struck by a meteorite must be higher than the chance of being struck by a random tire separating from a random, passing vehicle.

Slippery roads in Missouri claim another life

A 13-year-old girl died last Saturday during the most recent blast of winter weather, which left roads slick and contributed to the driver of the SUV losing control of his vehicle, which went off the road and rolled over. The girl was taken by emergency personnel to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Three other occupants of the SUV were reported as suffering serious injuries. The Missouri State Highway Patrol did not indicate from the news story if any of the vehicle occupants were wearing seat belts. 

To err is human, especially when driving

While motorists in the U.S. drive more than three trillion miles per year, you would think they would be pretty good at it. Unfortunately, they are not. As a result, last year the National Safety Council (NSC) calculates a preliminary estimate of 35,200 fatalities related to motor vehicle accidents. 35,200 is the population of a good-sized town in Missouri.

Imagine, if on January 1 of a year in that town, that on every day during the year about 96 people would die. At the end of the year, the population would be zero. And the worst element of all these deaths would be if they were caused by indifference, inattention, negligence and recklessness? 

Slow down and give tow truck operators a break

This winter has brought a wide range of hazardous conditions in Springfield and throughout all of southern Missouri and the Ozarks. The wild wintery weather has closed schools and turned roads in slippery nightmares. That has kept many towing companies busy during each winter storm that has moved through. While the weather may be looking decidedly more spring-like, it is important to remember to exercise care when you approach a car accident or crash where a tow truck may be at work.

Tow truck drivers face considerable risks. They are most needed during the worst weather conditions, and when others are advised to stay off the road, they have little choice but to head out for their next tow job. Because of the long hours they spend on the road, and the typically hazardous conditions they are at an elevated risk of being involved in a truck or car accident.

A fine balance

Any time an individual considers surgery, there are always risks inherent to the procedure. Doctors are ethically and legally obligated to disclose those risks to a patient before obtaining their informed consent. In many cases, the patient may have little choice, when the surgery is a matter of life and death, as in the case of transplants for failing organs.

A tragic case from Boston raises the question, however, of whose life or death. Donors are lauded for their sacrifice, but what are the risks they face and just what do they need to know to truly give their informed consent. A transplant case where a donor died because of alleged medical malpractice has raised many questions on this issue.

Beware the exhausted truck driver

No one is surprised when we read of a car or truck accident that occurred because a driver was impaired by alcohol or drugs. We all understand the debilitating effects of alcohol on reaction time and ability to quickly process information. And we all know how important that capability is when we are hurtling down the Interstate 44 at 100 feet per second.

Equally debilitating is the effect of fatigue on a driver. We have all probably driven when we were a little too tired. We've felt our heads drop momentarily, and experienced that disorienting feeling of not being able to remember the last few miles of road. If we are lucky, we quickly arrive home, unscathed and get some sleep. And most of us are not driving an 80,000 pound semi-truck.

When is a coincidence more than a coincidence?

When something happens once, it may be difficult to determine why it occurred. In the field of statistics, the problem involves one of sample size. In a sample size of one, where there may be dozens of factors, it is difficult to determine which one is most significant. In a larger sample, say of 1,000, important elements become more apparent.

Humans like to recognize patterns. Language is a pattern and enables communication. Sometimes, however, we can be fooled, and if we flip a coin, and it lands heads five times in a row, we may be convinced that it "must" be heads on the next flip. Of course, the chance remains 50/50 on every throw, but we tend to latch on to a pattern. This is why gambling is profitable. For the casino. 

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