HIV positive patients prescribed a commonly used medication may be at twice the risk for committing suicide, a new study shows. The news is particularly troubling here in Florida, where two cities – Miami and Jacksonville – have two of the highest HIV and AIDS rates in the country, according to figures released in May by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Census Bureau.
Known generically as efavirenz, the anti-HIV medication marketed as Sustiva has been shown to double the risk that patients using it will develop suicidal thoughts or even take their own lives. Researchers followed some 5,300 HIV patients – 3,200 of whom were undergoing treatment that included efavirenz, and 2,100 who took antiretroviral combinations that didn’t include the drug. Each patient’s progress was tracked for about two years and when all information was thoroughly reviewed, evidence pointed to a twice-as-high suicide risk among patients taking efavirenz than among the on-efavirenz group.
The newest research is the first to identify a definitive link between the medication and suicidal thoughts, attempts and completions, and backs up results of a prior study indicating that might heighten a patient’s suicide risk because of a negative impact on the central nervous system. What’s more, researchers say the risk persists as long as patients remain on the drug.
“Efavirenz is a very important and effective antiretroviral medication that is the foundation for much of HIV therapy worldwide,” said study co-author Dr. Joseph Eron of the University of North Carolina Center for AIDS Research at Chapel Hill. He noted that in locations and situation where alternative therapies are unavailable, the benefits of efavirenz-based therapy likely will outweigh the risks of no treatment. However, “Clinicians should be aware of this ongoing risk, and talk to their patients to assess suicidality,” he added.
The powerful anti-HIV drug is widely considered the backbone of the one-pill-a-day treatment that’s highly preferred, particularly among newly diagnosed patients. Yet, “Since it was first approved it’s been known that it provokes all sorts of psychiatric manifestations, particularly nightmares,” Dr. Jeffrey Laurence, senior scientific consultant for programs at the New York AIDS research advocacy organization amfAR, recently told journalists.
Fortunately, anecdotal evidence shows that patients’ depression can be effectively managed throughout efavirenz-based treatment. Plus, effective alternatives to the medication do exist. But the key is a highly involved medical provider who will take a patient’s mental and emotional state as seriously as his or her physical condition.
If you are an HIV or AIDS patient prescribed Sustiva and are experiencing suicidal thoughts, or if you’ve lost a love one who was taking the medication to a suicide, contact an experienced medical malpractice or dangerous drug attorney. Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell can be reached at 800-251-1111.
Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford Motor Co. this week issued six separate recalls of various vehicles and vehicle chassis, citing a range of safety defects. Together, the recalls affect more than 100,600 cars, SUVs and motorhomes with problems ranging from rollover risks to fire hazards. Product liability and auto accident attorneys with Harrell and Harrell want to make sure you’re aware of the potential danger in case you own one of the affected vehicles.
- 92,022 2013-2014 Ford Taurus, Lincoln MKS and Police Interceptor sedans, 2013-2014 Ford Flex and Lincoln MKT crossovers, 2012-2014 Edge crossovers and 2014 Lincoln MKX crossovers: According to Ford officials, the right-hand halfshaft on many of these models is improperly seated and may ultimately, rendering the vehicles inoperable. There’s also a heightened rollover risk when these cars and crossovers are parked without the parking brake on.
- 5,264 2011-2014 F59 commercial stripped chassis: Ford warns that corrosion in the electrical junction block could cause affected vehicles to short circuit. This increases the risk of a fire or the loss of electrical power.
- 2,124 2014 Ford Escape SUVs: In models outfitted with panoramic glass roofs, the roofs may have an improperly cured bond. This means the roofs could leak at best, or even completely separate from the vehicle.
- 635 2014 F53 motor home stripped chassis and F59 commercial stripped chassis: Ford warns that incorrectly manufactured brake calipers may cause a leak and or a brake failure.
- 368 2014 Transit Connect vehicles: Brake reservoir caps in units shipped to Puerto Rico have European labels that fall short of American labeling requirements.
- 197 2014 Ford Fiesta subcompacts: Officials say many of the fuel tanks on these vehicles may be missing an adhesive layer. This can cause them to leak fuel, which can lead to a fire hazard.
Ford officials say issues that prompted the recalls were identified via warranty claims and internal testing. The company has committed to contacting all registered owners of vehicles affected in the six recalls over the next few months, so keep a lookout for notification in your mailbox.
If you drive one of these vehicles and have not been hurt, wait for notification or contact your local Ford dealership about a free-of-charge repair. However, if you or your dependents have been injured in a car fire, accident or other incident that you believe may have been caused by a recall-related issue, get medical attention immediately. Keep the vehicle as-is and contact a product liability attorney. Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell, serving clients throughout Southeast Georgia, Northeast Florida and Central Florida, can be reached at 800-251-1111.
A new report shows that tens of thousands more veterans than previously thought are being forced to wait a full month or more for medical appointments with Veterans Administration hospitals and medical centers. That’s according to a recently updated audit of more than 730 VA medical facilities nationwide. The report shows that a full ten percent of veterans seeking medical care at VA hospitals and clinics regularly have to wait at least 30 days for an appointment. That figure is more than double the four percent of veterans that the government previously said was forced to endure long waits for needed medical care.
The new findings are not just a disgrace, but a potential danger to our nation’s military veterans’ health, say veterans disability benefits attorneys.
Findings of the new report show that new patients at the Atlanta VA hospital waited an average 44 days for an appointment in April, while existing patients waited even longer – an average 66 days – for pending appointments. In Kansas, many veterans say they can’t get medical appointments at US VA facilities at all, and are seeing their previously scheduled checkups canceled as the dates approach. Nationwide, more than 56,000 veterans were waiting more than 90 days for an initial appointment at a VA medical facility.
“In many communities across the country, veterans wait too long for the high quality care they’ve earned and deserve,” acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson said Thursday.
We here at Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell agree. If you are a veteran whose health has suffered because you’ve been unable to secure a timely appointment at a VA medical facility or because your claim for the VA benefits you’re due was denied, we can help. Contact a veterans disability benefits attorney at 800-251-1111. Our team of veterans-turned-attorneys, led by 10-year South Carolina Army National Guard military policeman and Operation Enduring Freedom veteran Jason Odom, can help assure you get the car end benefits you’ve so valiantly earned.
If the care of an elder or other adult you love requires them to sleep in beds outfitted with handles, take note. Blue Springs, Missouri-based Bed Handles, Inc. and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently issued a voluntary recall of about 113,000 adult portable bed handles sold without recommended safety straps. Company officials warn that when attached to an adult’s bed without the use of safety retention straps, the recalled handle can shift out of place. This can create a sizeable gap between the bed handle and the side of the mattress, posing a risk of entrapment, strangulation and even death.
In fact, the company has received reports of multiple deaths caused by the faulty handles, designed to assist adults with getting in and out of bed by giving them a bar to grip. Three women died after becoming trapped between their mattresses and bad handles. Victims include and elderly woman who died in an Edina, Minn. assisted living facility; a 41-year-old disabled woman who died in a Renton, Wash. adult family home; and an 81-year-old woman who died in a Vancouver, Wash. managed care facility.
The recalled portable bed handles were sold between 1994 and 2007 at home health care stores, drug stores and medical equipment stores, as well as in home and healthcare catalogs for about $100. Affected models are:
- Original Bedside Assistant® (BA10W)
- Travel Handles™ (BA11W) sold as a set of two bed handles
- Adjustable Bedside Assistant® (AJ1)
The Original Bedside Assistant and the Travel Handles have a white handle with white poles that go under the mattress. The Adjustable Bedside Assistant is gold in color and has a black cushioned foam handle. Look for the name Bed Handles Inc. and the model number printed on a white label.
If you or an adult you love own a recalled bed handle, stop using it and choose a different product, or request a set of safety retention straps. If no injuries have occurred as a result of the faulty handles, you can request a set of safety straps online or by calling Bed Handles Inc. at 800-725-6903.
However, if an injury has occurred, understand that you may be due compensation for your losses. Get medical attention immediately, keep the recalled product intact and contact an experienced product liability and personal injury attorney. Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell can be reached at 800-251-1111.
Patients being treated for one serious health issue now face another, say officials with the United States Food and Drug Administration. Research shows that people who take the diabetes drug Actos for one year are 40 percent more likely to develop bladder cancer than are those treated with different medications. Now, in one of the largest civil trial verdicts in history, a federal jury has ordered Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly & Co. with a combined $10.475 verdict.
Actos (also called Pioglitazone) has been on the market for well more than a decade, and remains on the market despite proven concerns. Besides the FDA study that showed a 40 percent boost in bladder cancer risk here in the United States, studies in several other countries have conducted studies of their own that produced similar results. A February 2014 study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology reported a “clinically significant” increased occurrence of bladder cancer in patients who took Actos for an extended amount of time, and studies conducted in France and Canada both found a 22-percent increased risk. Researchers involved in the Canadian study alone came to their conclusion after examining medical records of more than2.6 million patients. As a result of these studies, both France and Germany have banned sales of Actos.
Statistics from the National Cancer Institute show that bladder cancer kills more than 15,000 Americans each year, and that the condition is far more prevalent in men than in women. Symptoms can include abdominal pain, painful or frequent urination, blood in the urine, urine leakage, fatigue and significant weight loss.
If you or someone you love has developed bladder cancer or another health issue after being prescribed Actos, you may be eligible for compensation for your losses. But know that these types of cases can be difficult to prove and that pharmaceutical companies, physicians and hospitals have major financial and legal resources at their disposal. Your best bet is to hire an experienced dangerous drugs attorney. Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell can be reached at 800-251-1111.
Summertime is in full swing, which means many Northeast Florida residents have their air conditioners operating in overdrive. If your AC unit is run via a thermostat manufactured by White-Rodgers, listen up. The St. Louis, MO-based company, along with the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission, has recalled more than one million White-Rodgers brand digital Home Heating and Cooling Thermostats sold throughout the US and Canada, citing a fire hazard.
At the time of this writing, the manufacturer has received seven reports of fires involving the thermostats, including two that caused property damage. Turns out the alkaline batteries used in multiple White-Rodgers thermostats can leak onto the circuit board, which can easily cause a blaze. Fortunately, these reports included no injuries. But clearly, any issue that involves a fire hazard holds the potential for serious injury or death.
Recalled units number approximately 740,000 sold throughout the US, and another 403,000 sold in Canada at prices ranging from $30 to $70. They were sold at hardware stores and heating and air conditioning companies from January 2006 to December 2013. They are white in color, feature blue lighted screens and have one of the following names printed on the front:
- Partners Choice
- Water Furnace
If you own one of the thermostats included in the recall, and it has not caused an injury or property damage, you can request a repair or replacement free of charge by calling White-Rodgers toll-free at (888) 624-1901.
However, if you or your family have suffered an injury, or if your home or other structure has been damaged in an incident that you believe may have been caused by a faulty White-Rodgers thermostat, know that you may be due compensation for your losses. In the case of an injury, get medical treatment immediately. If you’ve experienced property damage, get a professional damage assessment. In either case, do not dispose of the thermostat, as it will be needed as evidence in a product liability or personal injury- case. Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell can help assure you get the compensation you deserve. Call us at 800-251-1111.
Intensive media coverage of the crash that killed one and sent comedian Tracy Morgan and three others to the hospital has again placed the spotlight on the ongoing issue of fatigued drivers behind the wheels of commercial trucks on America’s Highways. As Morgan, known for his standup comedy and his role on NBC’s 30 Rock TV series, remained in critical condition, truck driver Kevin Roper pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Wednesday in New Jersey’s Middlesex County Superior Court.
The news came amid allegations that Roper, a truck driver for Bentonville, AR-based WalMart, had not slept for some 24 hours at the time his truck plowed into the bus carrying Morgan and four others on the New Jersey Turnpike, killing comedian James McNair. Unfortunately, it’s not an uncommon scenario. Statistics show driver fatigue accounts for some 35-40 percent of all commercial truck accidents. Long hours, tight deadlines and rigorous schedules, along with the monotony of an hours-long drive all contribute to driver exhaustion.
Because truck driver salaries are not considered particularly high, many try to work as much as possible, often clocking in 18 hours or more in a single day. Though federal laws limit drives to 11 consecutive hours and mandate 10-hour breaks between driving shifts, many less scrupulous companies will offer drivers extra money to pull additional shifts, and cash-strapped drivers accept, often falsifying their log books. This makes for roads full of exhausted drivers behind the wheels of trucks that can hit 100,000 pounds. Reduced physical and mental capacity, and the potential to actually doze off while driving, puts everyone in danger.
Commercial truck accidents can be devastating. The sheer weight and speed of an 18-wheeler traveling at speeds of 70 mph or more mean severe life-long injuries or even death for those in truck-involved crashes. When this happens, multiple parties may be held liable, including the driver, employer and truck owner. If you or someone you love is injured in an accident involving a commercial truck, get medical treatment immediately. Then, contact an experienced truck accident attorney with Jacksonville-based Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111 or via our online contact form.
As federal investigations into General Motor’s failure to inform the public of a decade-long issue with a faulty ignition switch continue, the much-maligned company just suffered another hit. GM has publicly acknowledged that the defective switches are to blame for 13 known deaths. But new research suggests that the death toll is likely far higher.
News of the issue first hit in February when GM recalled 780,000 vehicles. At that time, 22 crashes resulting in six deaths believed to have been caused by the defective switches had been reported. Investigations showed that in each incident, the ignition switch had shifted out of place, causing the vehicle’s engine to stall and shutting down power steering, power brakes and airbag deployment mechanism as a result. GM quickly responded with a statement that deflected blame to vehicle owners’ use of heavy key rings and driving on bumpy roads.
Weeks later, when six more deaths had been attributed to the issue, GM expanded the recall to include additional models. The company also admitted that it had known about the problem for more than a decade, and that fixing the problem before affected vehicles rolled off the assembly line would have cost just 57 cents each.
Now, journalists with Thomson Reuters, the world’s largest international multimedia news agency, say results of their independent investigation suggest that the actual death toll attributable to the issue may be several times higher – as many as 74 fatalities. Their analysis of statistics from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), a national database of crash information, shows that 74 car accident deaths occurring between 2003 and 2010 involved GM cars with the recalled ignition switches, and details of the crashes were typical of those that prompted the recalls. The rate of this type of accident was far higher among GM vehicles than those of other carmakers.
“The news agency compared the incidence of this kind of deadly accident in the Chevrolet Cobalt and the Saturn Ion, the highest-profile cars in GM’s recall of 2.6 million cars with defective switches, against the records of three popular small-car competitors: Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla,” Reuters reported. “The analysis found that the frequency of such accidents in the Ion was nearly six times that of the Corolla and twice that of the Focus.”
Though Reuters’ investigation does not definitively prove that the faulty switches caused these accidents and resulting deaths, the details were consistent with those of fatal crashes that GM had acknowledged.
If you drive one of the recalled vehicles and have not suffered an injury as a result, auto accident attorneys with Harrell and Harrell urge you to take the risk seriously. Take your vehicle to your nearest GM dealer for repair free of charge. However, if you or a loved one have suffered an injury that you believe was caused by a malfunctioning ignition switch, get medical attention and contact an experienced attorney as you may be eligible for compensation for your damages. Call 800-251-1111.
It’s tough to argue with the long-held notion that the dog truly is a man’s best friend. Study after study shows that pet owners are healthier, less stressed, tend to get more exercise and have more active social lives. Statistics show that 68 percent of American households have at least one dog or cat, and pet ownership is expected to grow by 2.2 percent each year through 2018 as the nation’s economy continues to recover.
But dogs who are frightened, stressed, unrestrained or inadequately trained can act out by biting. In fact, dog bites are the third leading reason for visits to emergency rooms by children nationwide. Results can include lacerations to the skin and muscles, broken bones, permanent disfiguration and serious infections including rabies – a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).
To help educate Americans about the risks and preventative measures associated with dog bites, veterinarians, animal and children’s advocates recognize the month of May as National Dog Bite Prevention Month. To that end, dog bite attorneys with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell offer these tips for preventing dog bites:
- Be choosy when seeking a dog for a family pet. Look for one with a calm but playful temperament. Shelter workers typically perform temperament testing of dogs before making them available for adoption, so be sure to ask about results of those tests before committing to a particular pet;
- Stay away from any dogs you don’t know in public whether they’re running loose or accompanied by its owner;
- Never leave young children alone with a dog, especially an unfamiliar one;
- Teach your children to be quiet and calm when meeting a dog for the first time. Children often are bitten because their playful motions and sounds can be distressing to dogs that are unfamiliar with them or unaccustomed to being near children at all;
- Don’t try to play with any dog that is eating or feeding her puppies;
- Whenever you approach a dog, do so slowly, and give the dog the chance to approach you. Cross your arms or hold your hands at your side until the dog has shown its willingness to be petted. Never extend your hand or fingers to an unfamiliar dog;
- Don’t look a dog in the eye for an extended period of time. Dogs consider this a threat and may react accordingly;
- If a dog becomes aggressive, do not run away or scream, as this will only encourage a dog to chase and potentially attack. Stay calm, turn so that your side is facing the dog and move slowly to a safe spot. If you are attacked and brought to the ground, curl your body tightly into a fetal position and thread your fingers tightly together behind your neck.
Most importantly, if you or your children are bitten, get medical attention immediately, even if your wound seems minor. Infections can take hold in even the smallest of- punctures to the skin. Then, contact an experienced dog bite attorney with Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111.
Those planning to spend summer days on the water in Georgia need to know about a new law that goes into effect July 1. Prompted by a heartbreaking 2012 incident, the Kile Glover Boat Education Law is aimed at making sure the state’s boaters make safety a priority when spending time on the state’s lakes, rivers and coastal waterways.
Two years ago, 11-year-old Kile Glover was enjoying the day with family and friends on Lake Lanier, just northeast of Atlanta. He and another child were riding on an inner tube being towed by a pontoon boat when a jet ski collided with the inner tube. Young Glover, stepson of famed entertainer Usher, suffered severe head injuries from which he never regained consciousness. The boy was declared brain dead and died two weeks later after being removed from life support.
Earlier this year, the driver of that jet ski, Jeffrey Hubbard, was found guilty of serious injury by vessel, reckless operation, unlawful operation of personal watercraft and boat traffic violation, and sentenced to four years in prison.
Although state investigators don’t believe that Hubbard was intoxicated at the time of the accident, lawmakers responded to the high-profile case with sweeping legislation aimed at better educating boaters about safety issues, including the potentially devastating risks of drinking while operating a boat, jet ski or other motorized vessel. New law requires boaters born on or after January 1, 1998 to successfully complete a boat education course approved by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources before operating a motorized watercraft. It also lowers the blood-alcohol content limit for boaters from .10 to .08 and increases penalties intoxicated watercraft operators.
Florida has a similar law requiring that anyone born on or after January 1, 1988 complete a boater education course approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators prior to operating a vessel powered by a motor of 10 horsepower or more. Boaters also must have a Boating Safety Education ID card issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in their possession while operating a vessel.
Even if you’re not required by law to take the Florida or Georgia boater education courses, boating accident attorneys with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell urge you to take safety courses offered periodically anyway. This will help keep sharp your skills and knowledge of boating safety issues and may even reduce your boating insurance premiums.
Meanwhile, if you are injured in a boating or jet skiing accident caused by someone else’s neglect or by a defect associated with a motor vessel, get medical attention immediately. Then, contact Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111. We serve clients throughout South Georgia and North and Central Florida.