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The Attorneys at the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC provide effective, aggressive representation to individuals injured in the New York area. Our priority is to maximize the recovery of our clients injured due to the neglect of others.

The Department of Buildings (DOB) is suing to revoke the license of a contractor allegedly responsible for the death of a construction worker earlier this year in Turtle Bay. According to The New York Daily News, Nelson Salinas was working on scaffolding halfway up a 14-story residential building when a coping stone was knocked loose by rigging used to support the scaffolding. The stone hit Salinas in the head and he was rushed to New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center where he died from the injuries

After a full investigation, the DOB says the fault lies with Wlodzimierz Tomczak and is now attempting to revoke his special rigger license over the incident. According to the DOB, Tomczak “did not take proper precautions” and could not produce “multiple inspection records… related to the scaffold setup.” 

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A recent study by Carnegie Mellon University found that “driver-assistance” technology provides substantial and widespread benefits. The study, published in Accident Analysis and Prevention, studied the effect of vehicles with three types of safety technology – blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, and forward-collision warning. Vehicles with these safety options are typically equipped with cameras or radars, which can alert drivers to dangerous conditions.

After extrapolating the data on the effect of these advanced safety technologies, the researchers concluded that if every vehicle in the United States came with these safety features installed then the effects would be enormous. There would be 1.6 million fewer crashes each year and 7,200 fewer fatalities caused by car accidents. The boost in safety is not the only benefit, though. Fewer accidents would lead to less money spent on repairing vehicles and healing injuries, saving drivers money. The study estimated that American drivers would save $20 billion each year if every vehicle on the road were equipped with these safety features.

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Every year, hospitals across the United States are graded on their record for patient safety by the federal government and a nonprofit organization, Leapfrog Group. The federal government uses a “star-based” rating system where hospitals receive a grade between one and five stars, with a one-star rating representing a hospital with serious and widespread safety problems. According to LoHud.com, New York had 48 one-star facilities in the state. Six of these unsafe hospitals were in the Hudson Valley.
Leapfrog Group focuses on more “preventable safety issues”, according to the local newspaper. The metrics used in Leapfrog’s calculations focus on the rate of “infections and medical mistakes, like sponges or tools left in bodies” or “complications such as collapsed lungs.” The nonprofit group assigns a letter grade to each major hospital in the country, which range from an “A” to an “F.” The researchers at Leapfrog point to a study by Johns Hopkins University that found 160,000 deaths each year are caused by “hospital-acquired” conditions – such as infections. Of the 30 hospitals receiving a “D” or “F” grade in New York, two are located in the Hudson Valley. According to Leapfrog, only 12 percent of hospitals nationwide receive a letter grade below “C”.

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According to The New York Times, long-term care hospitals continue to provide poor care to elderly Americans. Long-term care hospitals, also called long term acute care hospitals, provide care typically after a person is being discharged from intensive care and is too sick to return to their nursing home. Close to 400 long-term care hospitals exist in the United States, a number that has dipped in the last decade after skyrocketing in the 90s from just 38.

The proliferation of long-term care hospitals during the period is now largely regarded as unnecessary and many elder care advocates say they harmed individuals while enriching their owners. Because patients at these hospitals are so sick, the hospital receives hefty sums performing multiple procedures and diagnostics on their patients. In 2017 alone, Medicare – which pays for two-thirds of all long-term care stays – paid out an eye-wateringly high 4.5 billion to these several hundred hospitals.

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An investigation by The New York Times into Dr. William Hussel, currently accused of killing at least 25 of his patients, reveals glaring missteps by hospital administrators and nurses. According to the criminal complaint against the disgraced doctor, Dr. Hussel routinely administered opioid doses between five and 20 times the recommended amount at the intensive care unit he worked at in Ohio. Given the scope of his alleged crimes, the families who trusted the doctor only to find out that he killed their loved one are outraged and demanding answers. Mount Carmel, the hospital where the doctor is accused of killing his patients, has already paid out more than $13 million in legal settlements. 

The investigation by The New York Times shows a hospital with an ineffective administration, insufficient safeguards to prevent prescribing excessive doses, and a hospital staff either too charmed or too intimidated to second-guess the doctors.  According to the article, the “red flags” surrounding Dr. Hussel were apparent and ignored from the start of his tenure at the hospital. As a medical student, he pleaded guilty to creating a pipe bomb, which he originally planned on putting underneath the vehicle of another student who told the police he was stealing car stereos. The hospital said they had no knowledge of the criminal incident – even though it was reported to the medical board and available in the public record. 

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The number of pedestrians injured by bicyclists in New York City increased 12 this year, according to the NYPD. In a summer with bicycle accidents dominating headlines, public safety advocates are now sounding the alarm bells for pedestrians. In a recent opinion-editorial published by The New York Post, the author argues that the two problems are both related to each other and caused by, among other factors, a bicycle culture that disregards traffic laws and safety.

According to the newspaper, Mayor Bill de Blasio has built more than 100 miles of protected bicycle lanes since coming into office. Studies consistently show that bicycle lanes create safer conditions for travelers of all kinds – pedestrians, bicyclists and car drivers. In addition to the expansion of infrastructure dedicated to bicycles, the city has also retrofitted intersections and lowered speed limits as part of its ‘Vision Zero’ initiative. Given the safety improvements, bicycling should have become safer in the city. In the first few years data show a sharp drop in accidents but this year the NYPD reports 127 pedestrian injuries, up from 113 recorded this time last year. Continue reading

Citi Bike removed its electric bikes from New York City’s streets after a slew of bicyclists reported braking problems. The popular bike sharing service made the announcement after The New York Daily News reported a “stronger than expected braking force on the front wheel” resulted in launching the bicyclists over their handlebars. The tabloid magazine said Lyft, the owner of Citi Bike, confirmed that six people sought medical treatment from injuries caused by faulty electric bicyclists. According to Bicycling.com, at least one rider broke his hip and dozens of other electric bike riders reported “close calls, scrapes, and other minor injuries.”

Electric bicycles provide an extra “boost” when a bicyclist pedals and can reach up to 18 miles-per-hour, according to Citi Bike. Consequently, a faulty braking mechanism possesses the potential to cause serious harm to the bicyclist. Commenting on the removal of electric bicycles in New York (and two other cities where Lyft operates bike-sharing programs), spokesperson Julie Wood said, “After a small number of reports and out of an abundance of caution, we are proactively pausing our electric bikes from service. Safety always comes first.”

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Last month, an Ohio doctor was charged with killing at least 25 of his patients administering lethal levels of the powerful opioid fentanyl. After four years of intentionally drugging his patients, murderous doctor’s killing spree finally ended late last year when a pharmacist finally alert hospital authorities. After an internal inquiry, the hospital deemed the deaths of 35 Dr. William Husel’s patient’s “suspicious.” Now, patients told that their loved ones died of natural causes are furious at the doctor and the hospital for allowing the doctor’s murder spree to continue for so long.

According to The New York Times, Dr. Husel began prescribing lethal amounts of fentanyl to patients at least four years ago. Typically, the doctor would prescribe these deadly doses to patients unlikely to survive anyway. As an acute care doctor who worked the overnight shift, prosecutors say he frequently worked with “new nurses” who may have lacked the experience or bravery to challenge the doctor’s prescribing habits. According to interviews with hospital authorities, the pharmacists also proved complicit in the overdoses by overriding hospital protocols which specifically warned about the likelihood of death caused by a massive fentanyl dose. Amazingly, prosecutors say they will not charge any other hospital staffers in the deaths although some have lost their jobs and nursing licenses.

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The de Blasio administration continued implementing the Mayor’s “Vision Zero” program last week with a slew of initiatives meant to reduce the likelihood of pedestrian accidents in New York City. According to ABC 7 New York, the Mayor’s plan, which aims to reduce the number of pedestrian deaths to zero each year, has been fairly successful. The number of pedestrian accidents in the city is the lowest ever recorded, according to The New York Times. The city has seen its rate of pedestrian accidents decline each year of Vision Zero’s implementation, which initially focused on installing more bike lanes, reducing speed limits, and creating more pedestrian plazas.

Now that those policies have been fully implemented, Mayor de Blasio’s administration is moving forward with a different set of policy initiatives meant to lower the pedestrian accident rate even lower. According to ABC News, these new initiatives will include:

  • Congestion Pricing. New York became the first city in the United States to pass congestion pricing this year. Beginning in 2020, drivers entering Manhattan’s congested areas will be subjected to a hefty fee – which has not been disclosed but is expected to settle between $15 and $20. The Mayor expects congestion pricing to substantially reduce the congestion in the city and, consequently, reduce the number of car accidents. Judging by the success of congestion pricing in other cities across the world, the Mayor’s prediction appears likely to come true.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched a program to study injuries caused by electric scooters. Dockless, electronic scooter companies have invaded cities across the country hoping to further revolutionize the transport in America. According to a report by CNBC, companies such as Lime and Bird now operate in over 100 cities in the country. Despite their rapid expansion, there is little data on the safety of providing electric scooters to anyone over the age of 18. Riders of electronic scooters are known to drive on sidewalks, streets, or any other surface available and many of their scooters can reach speeds up to 15 mph.

Federal agencies appear to have finally woken up to the potential threat to public safety, which one emergency room doctor described as a “disruptive technology” to CNBC. The new study will be limited to the city of Austin and the CDC says it plans to “identify the risk factors for those who get injured, how severe their injuries are and why they’re getting hurt.” While still in the preliminary stages, data provided by Austin-area emergency rooms has already provided some answers. According to the CDC, 98 percent of emergency room visitors with injuries caused by an electronic scooter were not wearing their helmet. Further, a little more than half of the injured were under the influence of alcohol or another drug. The majority of electronic scooter injuries were caused by falls. Perhaps surprisingly, injuries caused by electronic scooters do not increase during the nighttime hours.

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