Tattoos are a favorite form of self-expression, with some 45 million Americans sporting ink, including 30 percent of college graduates. But before you decide to get tatted up, as they say, it’s important to know the risks, personal injury attorneys say.
Officials with the US Food and Drug Administration recently issued a warning to tattoo parlors, their customers and those buying at-home tattoo kits that some tattoo ink may be unsafe. Earlier this year, California’s White and Blue Lion, Inc. issued a massive recall of its tattoo inks, needles and kits after testing confirmed pathogenic bacterial contamination in unopened bottles of ink. Company and FDA officials warn that use of recalled tattoo kits may cause bacterial infection and can lead to sepsis, a potentially life-threatening condition. Sepsis carries bacteria through the blood stream and is marked by a range of symptoms including fever, shaking, chills and sweats. It’s particularly dangerous for anyone with a pre-existing heart or circulatory condition. At least one case of sepsis has been linked to the recalled products.
The risk isn’t limited to DIY tattoo artists. Because regulation of professional tattoo artists and parlors varies from state to state, some states can be less vigilant about protecting consumers than others. As a result, tattoo clients can be at risk for developing hepatitis, HIV, staph infections and MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), an infection is caused by a strain of staph bacteria that’s become resistant to the antibiotics commonly used to treat ordinary staph infections, due to dirty needles and unsanitary environments. It wasn’t until 2012 that Florida implemented legislation requiring licensure of tattoo artists and establishing standards of hygiene, training and supervision similar to those required at body-piercing studios and nail salons.
Those temporary tattoos popular with teens, kids and even adults not quite ready to undergo permanent ink, also pose risks. That’s because they often contain ink marketed as “black henna” and typically made with black hair dye containing para-phenylenediamine. Because of the name, consumers often assume that black henna is simply a variation of the natural red henna. Truth is, there’s no such thing as natural black henna and chemicals used in making it can cause painful and potentially dangerous skin infections. Symptoms can include blistering, open sores, loss of pigmentation, permanent scarring and lifelong health issues including persistent sensitivity to sunlight and certain chemicals, as well as allergic reactions. Because of the risks, the FDA has approved henna for use in hair dye only, not in products intended for direct application to the skin.
Before getting a tattoo, be sure to confirm licensure of the artist and check out any complaints that may have been filed with the Florida Department of Health concerning the parlor you’re considering. If you have suffered skin irritations or other health issues that you believe may be associated with your tattoo, get medical attention, then contact a personal injury attorney. Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell can help you secure fair compensation for your related injuries and costs. Reach us at 800-251-1111.
Military veterans who sustained traumatic brain injury while serving our country may be at a heightened risk for developing dementia, new research suggests.
Researchers found that veterans with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) were 60 percent more likely to be diagnosed with dementia years earlier than those who had not suffered an injury – at 78.5 years of age on average, compared to 81 years old, respectively.
The massive research project began a decade ago and evaluated some 190,000 veterans with an average age of 68 and who had not been diagnosed with dementia. Of these participants, 1,229 previously had been diagnosed with a brain injury. Nine years later, researchers revisited those veterans and found that 16 percent of participants with a brain injury had since developed dementia, compared to just 10 percent of study subjects who did not have a brain injury.
“Our results suggest that [brain injury] may increase the risk of developing dementia in older veterans, with an age of onset about two years earlier,” study author Deborah Barnes, an associate professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, told reporters. “So clinicians may want to keep an eye out for signs of cognitive impairment in older veterans with a history of [brain injury].”
It’s believed that each time the brain takes a substantial hit, its ability to bounce back after being damaged is reduced. Plus, brain injuries may lead to a buildup of amyloid or tau, proteins known to contribute to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Researchers also noted that the risk for developing dementia is higher in TBI veterans who also experienced depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or cerebrovascular disease. What’s more, these veterans’ caretakers also are at a heightened risk for depression and related issues, including suicide. That domino effect means potential harm to an even greater population, making the TBI among veterans an increasingly serious health issue.
While it’s important to note that the study results do not prove a definitive cause-and-effect relationship between TBI and dementia among veterans, it undoubtedly reveals an association worth further attention from physicians, caretakers and other researchers. If you’re suffering health consequences of a TBI sustained during your military service and have been denied your veterans disability benefits, Jacksonville-based Harrell and Harrell can help. Call 800-251-1111 to speak with an attorney specializing in veterans disability benefits today.
The number of FDA drug recalls has risen each year, multiplying seven times over from 166 in 2004 to 1,225 last year. With nearly 840 already announced this year, 2014 is on track for an all-time record number of medications removed from the market. In fact, FDA data shows that the last 24 months have seen almost as many recalls (2,061) as the previous nine years combined (2,217). While the sheer numbers are troubling enough, what’s more concerning is that the nation’s health officials are unsure what’s pushing the continual surge.
Pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers often have to recall drugs, devices and food products for an array of reasons, which can range from simple and relatively innocuous labeling mistakes to serious, potentially life-threatening issues. Common recall prompts include including improper labeling, packaging defects, contamination, improper testing or a product’s inherent safety and the potential that its use could cause harm to a patient or user.
Drug recalls are issued in three separate classes:
- Class 1: A product undoubtedly will cause serious ill effect, including possible death, in a user.
- Class II: A product has been known to cause an adverse, but reversible health effect.
- Class III: A product is unlikely to cause adverse health consequences, but is being recalled simply for safety’s sake.
Class II recalls make up about 70 percent of the total drug recalls, followed by Class 1 at 21 percent and Class III at 9 percent.
Experts believe that one factor in the latest surge may be the fungal meningitis outbreak of 2012, which killed more than 60 people. In response, the FDA quickly initiated a crackdown on compounding pharmacies, noting that a large percentage of Class II recalls were related to issue with these pharmacies, including their provision of products that had possible, but unconfirmed microbial contamination.
Another factor may be continual efforts to improve current good manufacturing practices (cGMP). A single manufacturing plant found to be deficient in any one cGMP can lead to dozens, or even hundreds of recalls of its multiple products.
Whatever the reason, a rise in the number of FDA drug recalls is certainly a matter of concern. If you or your loved one has suffered adverse health consequences after using a recalled drug or device, you may be due fair compensation. Talk with a doctor immediately to assure your health issue is treated, then call 800-251-1111 and speak with a product liability or dangerous drugs and medical products attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell.
Our nation’s military personnel deserve the best life has to offer for sacrificing time away from their families and putting their lives on the line on a near-daily basis. Unfortunately, far too many instead suffer chronic pain and crippling addition to narcotic pain killers upon returning home, research shows.
Led by Lt. Cmdr. Robin Toblin, a clinical research psychologist at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Md., a recent study surveyed confidential surveys completed by nearly 2,600 US soldiers serving with the same infantry brigade. The results are striking:
- Some 44 percent of the members of the infantry brigade reported chronic pain for at least three months after returning to the US after serving tours of duty in Afghanistan or Iraq. That figure is nearly double the 26-percent rate among civilians suffering chronic pain.
- Soldiers are nearly four times more likely than civilians to treat their chronic pain with prescription narcotics – 15 percent of the soldiers surveyed within the final month of the study phase, compared to four percent of civilians.
- Combat injuries are a primary cause of chronic pain among returning soldiers, with victims nearly three times more likely to report chronic pain and twice as likely to take narcotic painkillers as their fellow soldiers who had not suffered a combat injury.
- Soldiers who suffer depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are twice as likely as their fellow soldiers to report chronic pain.
- Among the soldiers reporting chronic pain in the study, nearly half (48 percent) said their pain had lasted a year or longer and 55 percent said they suffered daily or constant pain.
“This gives us the first complete snapshot of an entire battalion. It really highlights the extent of the problem the Department of Defense is presented with, in terms of better managing pain,” said Dr. Wayne Jonas, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and president and CEO of Samueli Institute, a non-profit health research organization. He noted that many of these soldiers go untreated or undertreated in part because of rampant peer pressure.
“In the military, pain is seen as a sign of weakness so many people don’t report it,” Jonas told reporters “It’s being undertreated, and it’s being treated too often using medications that aren’t meant to be used on a long-term basis.”
Researchers encourage soldiers to report and get treated for chronic pain, and urge military physicians and other healthcare providers to work to improve diagnosis and pain management procedures. They note that 44 percent of soldiers in the study who reported use of narcotic painkillers said they had little to no pain during the previous month. While this may imply that the medications are working to relieve pain it may also suggest that soldiers are taking these painkillers needlessly, boosting an addiction risk.
Researchers lauded the US Department of Defense for considering alternative pain management solutions including acupuncture, yoga, tai chi and music therapy to complement or even replace treatment with narcotic painkillers when possible and appropriate.
If you are a veteran struggling with chronic pain and/or painkiller addiction and are not receiving the help you need from the Veteran’s Administration, Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell can help. Call 800-251-1111 and talk with a veterans disability benefits lawyer today.
Bean bag chairs are fun favorites among families with children. They’re comfortable, casual and kid-sized. But some have proven dangerous, safety officials and product liability attorneys say.
After recent reports of two child deaths, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission and New Orleans-based Ace Bayou Corp. have issued a recall of nearly 2.2 million bean bag chairs. Company and federal safety officials warn that the zippers on the round and L-shaped bean bag chairs can easily be opened, allowing small children to crawl inside the bags and become trapped. Unable to escape, victims risk choking or suffocation on the chair’s foam beads.
That heartbreaking scenario is exactly what took the lives of a 13-year-old McKinney, TX boy and a 3-year-old Lexington, KY girl. Both were found dead inside Ace Bayou-made bean bags after inhaling and suffocating on the foam beads that fill and shape the bags.
Round-shaped recalled bean bag chairs were sold in three sizes – 30, 32 and 40 inches in diameter. L-shaped units affected measured 18 inches wide by 30 inches deep by 30 inches high. Both were sold in vinyl or fabric materials in a variety of colors including purple, violet, blue, red, pink, yellow, Kelly green, black, port, navy, lime, royal blue, turquoise, tangerine and multi-color. Customers nationwide bought recalled chairs at major retailers like Walmart and via online retailers such as Wayfair.com, Amazon.com and Meijer.com. All were manufactured before July 2013 and sold for between $30 and $100.
Owners of the recalled bean bag chairs can order a free repair kit by contacting Ace Bayou at 855-751-8151 or Acebayou.com. In the meantime, personal injury and product liability attorneys with Harrell and Harrell urge you to keep bean bags away from children until the faulty zippers can be replaced.
Jacksonville-based personal injury law firm Harrell and Harrell is a proud new sponsor of two WJXT TV news show segments designed to boost adoption of shelter pets. WJXT’s Critter Corner, a segment of The Morning Show, features dogs and cats available for adoption at the Jacksonville Humane Society. Similarly, 4′s Pet Project, part of The Morning Show‘s Saturday edition, features adoptable pets awaiting new homes at Jacksonville’s Animal Care & Protective Services.
Shelter statistics show that upward of 2.7 million healthy, adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized each year in the United States simply because shelters are unable to house all of the pets surrendered by their owners, picked up as strays or confiscated from suspected neglect and abuse situations. Meanwhile, purchasing of pets at pet stores may actually support puppy mills, where breeding dogs often live in harsh, unsanitary conditions with little or no shade, exercise, veterinarian care or human interaction.
With each adopted from a shelter, two lives are saved – the adopted pet and the one who will now have a spot at the shelter vacated by your new furry friend. Plus, you’ll reap benefits, too. Studies show that pet ownership offers multiple health boons including:
- An immunity boost: Studies show that exposure to pets at an early age can help boost a child’s immune system, reducing the risk of developing allergies, asthma and eczema.
- Stress relief: In a survey by market research firm Mindlab International, 55 percent of respondents reported feeling more relaxed after spending time with their pets. Plus, 44 percent said they worried less about common issues like finances and job security than did non-pet owners.
- Heart health: A study of some 4,500 adults found that cat ownership correlated to a 40 percent lower risk of suffering a fatal heart attack. Simply petting a cat can help lower blood pressure in minutes.
- Weight loss: Researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia found that people who walk dogs exercise more consistently and enjoy better fitness results than people who walk with a human companion.
- Healing boost: Medical doctors increasingly are recommending that patients who live alone adopt or foster pets. They cite research and anecdotal experience suggesting that pets often help motivate patients to more closely follow physicians’ instructions and to give better effort when dealing with serious medical conditions such as cancer.
Ready to meet your new four-legged family member? Harrell and Harrell urges you to head to the Jacksonville Humane Society or Jacksonville’s Animal Care & Protective Services, where dozens of healthy, hopeful dogs and cats await safe and loving new homes.
Lobbyists for the Rubber Manufacturers of America and officials with the National Transportation Safety Board are locked in an increasingly heated dispute over the safety of aging tires used on vehicles nationwide. And you can bet that personal injury and product liability attorneys are watching and advocating for the safety of America’s automobile owners and their families.
Central to the current debate is pending legislation in Massachusetts that the Rubber Manufacturers of America (RMA) has thus far spent upward of $36,000 to defeat. Proposed by the Massachusetts House of Representatives, An Act to Increase Road Safety (H3016) would require inclusion of tire age as part of regular vehicle inspections, and issuance of a rejection certificate for any vehicle equipped with a light-truck or passenger tire, including a full-service spare, more than six years old.
RMA officials oppose any legislation that includes an age limit on tires, arguing that age alone is not a determining factor in a tire’s safety.
“It’s more important how a tire is used, whether it’s maintained and how it’s stored,” RMA Executive Director Dan Zielinski told reporters.
NTSB officials disagree, as does Sean Kane, founder and president of Safety Research & Strategies and a frequent legal consultant against tire manufacturers.
“Over time, they become less elastic,” Kane recently told ABC News. “And once [a tire is] put into service it represents a significant hazard.”
Meanwhile, NTSB has launched an investigation into the relationship between a tire’s age and tread separation, following a February crash involving a ten-year-old Michelin Cross Terrain tire in Louisiana that killed four people. In that incident, the driver of a 2004 Kia Sorrento lost control of the SUV after the left rear tire’s tread sidewall separated. The SUV crossed a median and collided with a school bus carrying a high school baseball team. Four of the SUV occupants were killed, including the driver, and a fifth was seriously injured. Of the 36 students and chaperones on the school bus, 31 were injured as well.
Tire age also is a factor in a second NTSB investigation involving a Lake City, Florida crash involving a 2002 Ford church van that rolled over, killing two adults and injuring all other occupants, including seven children and a third adult. In this incident, too, the driver lost control after the tread separated from the left rear tire.
Though the agency’s investigation into the link between tire age and tread separation is ongoing, the outcome likely will prove what safety officials and product liability attorneys already suspect – that tire age is a significant safety risk.
“Aging does potentially play a role in the degradation of the internal structure of the tire,” said Don Karol, the NTSB’s lead investigator.
To find out how old your vehicle’s tires are, look for a four-digit numerical code stamped on the sideway of each tire. The first two-digits denote the week that the tire was manufactured, and the last two denote the year. For instance, a code that reads 1512 means that the tire was made in the 15th week (early to mid-April) of 2012. If your tire has only a three-digit code that means that it was made prior to 2000 and most assuredly needs replacing.
Product liability and personal injury attorneys with Harrell and Harrell urge you to check your tires’ age and inspect their tread regularly. If you or your loved one are injured in an automobile accident that you believe was caused by an aged, pre-owned or faulty tire, call us at 800-251-1111.
That antique cedar chest that’s been in your family for generations may be dangerous, say officials with Tupelo, MS-based Lane Furniture and the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. They’ve recently announced a renewed recall on cedar chests made under the Lane and Virginia Made bands manufactured between 1912 and 1987, and product liability attorneys warn parents to take heed.
Lane Furniture issued an initial recall of 12 million cedar chests back in 1996, prompted by reports of six children getting trapped and suffocating in the chests. The most recent recall comes on the heels of another suffocation death and two near fatalities to children who became trapped when the chest lid closed and automatically latched shut.
Locks installed on chests made before 1988 featured a push-button mechanism used to lift the chest lid. The mechanism then instantly clicked back into place to lock the chest when the lid was lowered, with no way to unlock and open the chest from the inside. Plus, these cedar-lined chests were built with a tight seal to help keep out moths and protect cloth items stored inside.
Unfortunately, it’s believed that the chests’ size and shape make them desirable hiding spots for children playing games like hide-and-seek. Plus, many parents consider the chests ideal as toy boxes and storage spaces for clothes, blankets and other children’s items. Thus, children often have access to the chests, but parents may be unaware of the automatic locks and subsequent entrapment and suffocation danger.
Lane Furniture officials estimate that some 6 million chests sold nationwide feature these old style automatic locks, which were replaced with new safety locks on all chests made after 1987. The new locks feature a latching mechanism that remains disengaged unless a button is pressed or a key is used from outside the chest. Until then, the lid will remain open about a half-inch, ensuring that accidental entrapment won’t happen to another child.
If you own or use a chest affected in the recall and no entrapment, suffocation or other injuries have occurred as a result, Lane Furniture will send you a new safety lock free of charge, along with easy replacement directions. Call the company toll-free at 800-327-6944 or order a replacement lock online. However, if your child has suffered an injury, an experienced product liability attorney may be able to help secure you fair compensation for injuries and losses. Contact Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell, serving clients throughout Northeast and Central Florida as well as South Georgia, at 800-251-1111.
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.