Lawmakers in Maryland Propose New Birth Injury Fund

February 12, 2014

Legislators in the state of Maryland are trying to create a brand new fund for children and families with health problems that may have been caused by medical mistakes during child birth and labor. They propose to call this new fund the Birth Injury Fund. If and when this new fund is implemented, it would limit the ability of families to pursue medical malpractice lawsuits against medical providers, institutions, etc., and it would serve as a form of tort reform.

Eligibility for the Maryland Birth Injury program would be restricted to children born in a Maryland hospital, whose injuries fir the definition of a birth-related neurological injury. Each case would be reviewed on an individual basis by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Maryland Board of Physicians. Each of these organizations would review the hospitals and doctors for indications of less than standard care and practices. An administrative law judge would make the final eligibility determination and there would also be an appeals process, if needed. Once the administrative law judge approves eligibility, the child and their parents could seek compensation and care from the program in less than 90 days.

The Birth Injury Fund would give a one-time monetary award of up to $100,000.00, plus lifetime medical care, lost earnings compensation for the years 18 to 65 and no cap on the health care benefits of the injured patient/person.

The purpose of this New Birth Injury fund program is to prevent birth injuries through improved medical care and not to provide negligent doctors and hospital with immunity from the consequences of their poor medical care and practices. The new program would also result in more infants obtaining compensation and the needed lifetime medical care sooner because their parents would not need to wait to win in a medical malpractice lawsuit/trial to get access to the fund. Acceptance in the program is based on the injury and not the outcome of a medical malpractice lawsuit.

The funding for the New Birth Injury Fund would come entirely from hospitals and doctors. John Hopkins Hospital and the University of Maryland Medical System have already shown their support for the bill.

State Highway Safety Laws in 2013

February 3, 2014

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety published a report titled, “2014 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws”, in which the District of Columbia was ranked as the best for having the most basic traffic safety laws in the United States, while South Dakota was ranked the worst.

The 2014 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws is in its eleventh year of publication and it uses the following criteria:

  • Grades all 50 states in the United States and the District of Columbia;
  • Grades based on 15 basic traffic safety laws;
  • Takes into consideration the progress in the last 25 years; and – Considers the risks that put drivers and children at risk.

The purpose of the report is to advance state and federal highway and vehicle safety laws, programs and policies in the United States. It is published by a group of leading consumers, both health and safety organizations and insurance agents and companies whom when gathered together are known as the Advocates.

In the report, it states that the District of Columbia has 12 laws related to basic traffic safety laws. The report gives three different ratings to each state. They range from Green (Good), Yellow (Caution) and Red (Danger). This year was the first year that a safety law was included for enforcing seat belts to rear seating passengers. In order for any state to receive a green rating it had to have included a law enforcing all vehicle passenger safety. Also, a state had to have 11 to 15 laws including both primary enforcement seat belt laws, nine or more laws including both primary enforcement seat belt laws and an all-rider helmet law.

States with a rating of Red have less than seven laws on the books and do not include front and rear seat passenger seat belt laws, therefore; they are deemed dangerous states for drivers and passengers.

There where however six new state laws enacted in 2013. They were the following: – Primary Enforcement of Seat Belts – All-rider motorcycle Helmet Use – Booster Seats – Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) for teen drivers – Impaired Driving – All-Driver Text Messaging Restrictions

Vicodin to be Reclassified as a Schedule II Drug by the FDA, HHS and DEA

October 29, 2013

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has decided to place new limits and regulations on the painkiller Vicodin. Vicodin is generically known as Hydrocodone. The new limits and regulations on the drug will come as a result of it being reclassified as a Schedule II drug. A Schedule II drug is considered to be more powerful and has a higher risk for potential drug abuse and addiction. This reclassification will limit how many Hydrocodone-based pills a doctor or medical provider can prescribe to any one patient and would require stricter storage and handling requirements.

With the reclassification, the goal is to prevent theft and abuse of these pills, which is considered to be the number one way federal regulators are trying to fight against the current painkiller abuse epidemic in the United States. The reclassification of Hydrocodone drugs would require fewer prescriptions be written at any one time and to any one patient and would prohibit patients from receiving more than a three month supply at one time.

Opioid painkillers, such as Hydrocodone, have been responsible for more deaths than cocaine and heroin combined since 2003. It is the misuse and accidental overdoses caused by the use of these drugs that are causing so many deaths in the United States. In 2007 alone, there were about 27,000 unintentional prescription drug overdose deaths reported in the U.S.. As of 2008, the CDC reported that prescription drug overdoses have accounted for more deaths than traffic accidents.

Therefore, the FDA will submit a formal recommendation package to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) by the end of December of 2013. The HHS oversees any and all FDA topics, discussions and established regulations. Once the HHS makes a decision, it will begin the process that will lead to a final decision by the DEA on the appropriate scheduling of Hydrocodone and Vicodin products.