Bicycle Helmets

They cost approximately £30, are filled with hard polystyrene and cause controversy among Bicycle enthusiasts. I am – of course – talking about Bicycle Helmets. It comes as a surprise to many that cycle helmets cause any controversy at all because, surely, some protection is better than no protection right? Maybe. Nevertheless, it’s certainly a more complex issue that you may assume at first.

It is often hard to find impartial information because cycle safety is a topic wrought with emotion and personal experience. The aim of this article is to lay out both sides of the argument in a clear and unbiased way. This article will not, of course, be extensive or conclusive.

How a Bicycle Helmet Works

Bicycle Helmets are designed to protect the head from damage by reducing the acceleration and consequent deceleration of the brain during an impact. Effectively, the helmet acts as a shock absorber for the head; the polystyrene filler in the helmet is designed to compress upon impact, this disperses the energy over a greater surface area, thus lessening the impact to the head.

Bicycle helmets only help while the polystyrene is compacting, once fully compact, energy passes through the helmet directly to the head, skull and brain.

Crashes involving a motor vehicle are beyond the design limits of the majority of helmets. Your average car is over 100 times the weight of a cyclist and bike and is likely to be travelling at least twice the speed. In the case of an accident with a motor vehicle, a standard bicycle helmet is likely to break after absorbing a miniscule amount of the impact; according to cyclehelmets.org, accidents where serious injury is likely involve energy levels that would overwhelm the helmet of a formula 1 driver.

Types of Injury

Cycling head injuries can be split into two categories; direct and rotational.

Direct injuries usually lead to concussions, cuts and lacerations; while they can be painful, they don’t usually lead to long-term effects. Direct injuries usually occur through the linear acceleration of the skull as a result of a collision with another object or surface.

Rotational injuries do not necessarily involve direct contact with the head; the damage is caused due to the brain moving in relation to the skull. Rotational injuries are statistically the most dangerous to cyclists and are most likely to be the category of injury that results in death or disablement; although, their frequency is far less than that of direct injuries. Rotational injuries are caused due to rotational acceleration rather than linear acceleration.

Cycle helmets are designed to combat direct injuries rather than rotational ones; some corners have even gone so far as to say that the likeliness of rotational injuries is increased when wearing a helmet.

It’s important to note that head injuries aren’t the only type of injury that you can sustain on a bicycle; all parts of the body are potentially at risk in the event of an accident although back, spinal and neck injuries are often the most dangerous.

Cycle Helmets & the Law

Making cycle helmets a legal requirement when cycling on the road is a much-discussed topic, the reason for this is the belief that it would increase safety for cyclists. This is a valid idea in theory, but it has been debated by some cycling enthusiasts who have said that it could in fact do the exact opposite. The ‘logic’ behind this is that they believe that by making cyclists feel safer, more comfortable, they are actually being encouraged to take more risks which, in turn, makes cycling all the more dangerous.

There are also fears that enforced helmet laws would result in a drop in cyclists on the road.

Conclusions

Having said all this, there is no doubt that cycle helmets have helped to prevent/lessen injuries to countless cyclists over the years, so there is obviously a benefit to them.

It really is up to individuals to decide whether or not to wear a helmet but children especially should be made to wear them

As Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins said recently

‘Ultimately, if you get knocked off and you don’t have a helmet on, then you can’t argue, you can get killed if you don’t have a helmet on.’

What he may have forgotten to add is ‘…but even with a helmet on you can still be killed’.

This article is for information only and is not to be taken as medical or safety advice.

Category: Medical | Tags: ,

Common Types of Medical Negligence

Medical negligence is where those who have been unreasonably impacted due to unacceptable medical errors are awarded compensation. There are many types of medical negligence with some of the most common ones below.

Birth Injury

There are, unfortunately, times when a child suffers due to medical negligence immediately after their birth. This can be due to errors prior to birth or during the birth. For example, a Mother-to-be could be given medication that has a negative impact on her child or the birth could be dealt with incorrectly by those who are supposed to be caring for the Mother and Child. There can even be instances where the immediate after-birth care is not sufficient or is handled incorrectly.

Hospital Negligence

All sorts of mistakes can happen during a hospital visit. This can be related to the condition you are in hospital with or be something else that occurs due to the visit, for example during treatment. Hospital negligence covers a wide array of areas.

Misdiagnosis

There are times when there is a misdiagnosis due to negligence. This may be diagnosing the wrong condition, or even failing to diagnose anything at all. This can lead to the incorrect treatment meaning further problems can occur. Being treated for something you don’t have can have negative consequences and, obviously, so can not being treated for something you do have.

Unnecessary Surgery

There have been occasions when someone has been operated on unnecessarily, either when a more simple form of treatment could have been carried out instead, or when no treatment at all was required.

Incorrect Medication

Patient’s being given the wrong medication is a fairly common problem. As well as not acting as an effective treatment it can cause other problems too. Many medicines have side effects and giving patient’s these side effects without actually helping them to improve their health is obviously not a pleasant experience.

Anaesthesia Error

Administering the wrong strength of anaesthetic can have dire consequences. An anaesthetic that is too strong has the potential to cause serious medical problems and in some cases can be fatal. If a weaker the necessary dose is administered then it won’t do the job sufficiently and the patient won’t be anaesthetised. During an operation, for example, this can lead to great pain and intense physical suffering.

Medical Products and Devices

A patient may have a negligence case if a device used by medical practitioners to treat them is faulty or doesn’t do the job it is intended to do. This is not usually the fault of the doctor or nurse (unless being misused or not maintained properly) but the fault of the manufacturer. In these cases it is the manufacturer who is responsible and may have to pay out after a negligence claim.

Dental Negligence

Dental health is part of the medical industry and negligence by dentists can mean a potential medical negligence case. This can include misdiagnosis, incorrect treatment being given, any infections contracted during treatment, and a host of other things.

Andrew Marshall ©

An Introduction to Dermatology

Dermatology is the area of medicine related to skin. Put simply, it is the form of medicine that deals with the skin and skin related diseases. As well as the skin, it includes things related to the scalp, hair and nails. Dermatologists are experts in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of skin diseases.

A wide range of medical conditions are related to the skin and dermatology covers all of these, whether it is a skin disorder or skin disease or something loosely related to the skin. Below are some of the areas of dermatology and what they cover:

Cosmetic Dermatology – Anything that is considered to improve a patient’s appearance. Includes liposuction and cosmetic surgery.

Dermatopathology – This cover the pathology of the skin.

Immunodermatology – Looks at skin as an organ of immunity in health and disease.

Pediatric Dermatology – Diagnosing and treating skin problems in children, including those present at birth and those developed during childhood.

The above is just some of the areas covered within dermatology. Therapies that are provided by a dermatologist include hair removal and transplants, laser therapy, phototherapy, radiation therapy and allergy testing. Examples of skin diseases that come under the area of dermatology include skin cancer, acne, eczema, psoriasis, skin infections, nail disorders and anything related to the sweat glands.

There are a number of reasons why someone may wish to see a dermatologist. Any skin complaint is covered and if someone has a skin abnormality of any type consulting with a dermatologist may be a good idea. This includes any cyst or mole that is changing. A dermatologist can advise patients on whether their issue is anything serious and on treatments that should be undertaken. A dermatologist, though, can be consulted for things much less serious as well. If someone is concerned about eczema or acne, for example, a dermatologist will usually be able to help, whether simple advice is all that is required or if treatment can help.

There are many everyday activities that can have a negative impact on skin and therefore cross over to the area of dermatology. Some of these are below.

Too much time in the sun – Spending too much time in the sun without sufficient protection can impact the skin. This is particularly the case for those with light skin as they do not naturally deal well with strong sunlight.

A poor diet – A poor diet can impact health in all sorts of ways, including a person’s skin. A lack of fruit and vegetables, for example, can result in a lack of colour in skin.

Smoking – Smokers expose their skin to chemicals that can increase the aging of skin.

Stress – High stress levels can have a surprisingly negative impact on skin.

Biting finger nails – biting ones finger nails can increase the likelihood of skin infections.

The area of dermatology covers a wide array of conditions and treatments. A dermatologist is a specialist in the area of skin health and there are dermatologists who cover all types of skin condition on all areas of the body.

Andrew Marshall ©

Private Healthcare Doesn’t Have to be Expensive

Private healthcare is expensive. Or is it? Private healthcare is often considered something that is only relevant and affordable to the wealthy, but this doesn’t have to be the case.

There are all sorts of private healthcare options, including insurance plans, private doctors that can be used when patients feel it is necessary, and certain extra services people can opt for. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing – private health or the NHS. You can choose insurance packages that only cover certain medical conditions, for example what is important to you or something you are particularly worried about. You could go the private option for things that are not covered by the NHS or for something you have a chronic problem with, so you have better quality healthcare just for this area without having to pay for everything.

You can, or course, go private on on-off occasions. If you have a medical issue you want fast treatment for or more extensive treatment than what is available on the NHS for this particular issue, then this could be a good option. You can pay for private care for this until the issue is overcome, so you are not paying for expensive healthcare continuously.

You may be happy with NHS care the majority of the time but want to use private healthcare for certain things. One example might be during pregnancy. You may wish to utilise extra services that are not available on the NHS, for example early pregnancy scans or more personal and more thorough pregnancy care.

If going the medical insurance root it is important to get the right insurance for you. Make sure you know what is, and what is not, covered. You don’t want to find out you are not covered when you have a medical condition you thought you were covered for. There are often limitations with medical insurance, but the good thing is that the more limitations there are the lower the cost will be. Medical insurance allows you to tailor you healthcare to your needs, and there are specific plans for people in different circumstances, with varying prices. For example, there are family plans and plans for the elderly. With medical insurance you want to be covered for what is important to you but, at the same time, don’t want to be paying for something you would be just as happy to get on the NHS. You may just want to be covered for certain illnesses or conditions, for example something that you are worried about or have a family history of.

Private healthcare does not have to be as expensive as many believe. There are many different options available. You can opt for medical insurance, either covering you for all eventualities or only certain areas of healthcare, or you can just choose private healthcare when you feel you require it. So, while being covered for everything and exclusively using private healthcare can be expensive, there are many options that make it more affordable.

Andrew Marshall ©

Category: Private Health Care | Tags: ,

Why has the UK seen an increase in medical negligence claims?

Why has the UK seen an increase in medical negligence claims?

The annual number of medical negligence claims notified to the NHSLA has risen 80 per cent since 2008, with almost a 20 percent increase in the last year. One must ask the question; why the sudden increase in medical negligence claims? Is the quality of medical healthcare getting worse? Or are “no win, no-fee” solicitors to blame?

Firstly, what is medical negligence?

Medical negligence results in serious injuries when doctors, nurses, GPs, surgeons or dentists fail to provide quality treatment to their patients. There have been a variety of medical negligence cases in the past, ranging from surgery performed on the wrong patient to leaving a foreign object (such as a sponge or medical instrument) in a patient after surgery.

Now, it could be said this is down to human error, an easy mistake to make, doctors and nurses are seeing an increasing amount of patients, having to rush, resulting in such mistakes being made.  Or is there an underline problem in the quality of healthcare, from the NHS?

Is the quality of medical healthcare getting worse?

To say yes, would be a very bold statement to make, and one that would be unjust to the doctors and nurses providing an unparalleled service up and down the UK. Yet, the statistics surrounding medical negligence do suggest something is amiss. The rise in medical negligence claims coincides with the biggest cost-cutting scheme faced by the NHS since 1948. With the UK economy recovering from a double-dip recession, the government has implemented some tough austerity measures and imposed strict budget guidelines on NHS trusts across the country. 2009 saw health service managers (rightly) predict a £15 billion shortfall of NHS spending in 5 years, resulting in ward closures and staffing shortages. These cuts could be to blame for the increase in medical negligence claims; less staff would result in doctors/nurses having to see more patients, thus, increasing their workload and allowing for mistakes to be made, mistakes that may have been avoided if hospitals were better staffed.

Are “no win, no-fee” solicitors to blame?

Another day, another outrageous compensation claim, the latest in a long line of absurd claims comes from parents suing schools. Children are unsurprisingly falling of slides and swings, concurring minor injuries, leading to court settlements. This example does not fall into the medical negligence category, however it does highlight the fact that people are now being sued for incidents that have been occurring for years, children falling off slides isn’t new!

The spiralling amount of “no win, no fee” solicitors allows the general public to sue as much as they like, for whatever they like, providing the solicitors take the case on, of course. Is society getting greedier? Or are the general public now in a position to take what they are entitled too?

I believe such cases as the one mentioned above derive from personal greed, children do fall off slides and injure themselves, it’s no one’s fault, and if anyone is to blame it would be the parent. When discussing medical negligence claims I don’t believe it is a case of people being greedy, “no win, no fee” solicitors allow people to claim for negligence cases which in the past they may have ignored due to the overwhelming financial costs. Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: “I think the public has become far less tolerant about putting up with appalling failings in care, but most people only pursue legal action when every other avenue has failed”. This suggests where medical negligence is concerned people are only suing the NHS as a last result.

The NHS deals with over 1 million patients every 36 hours, 2012/2013 saw 16,006 claims made against the NHS, when you compare that to the amount of patients seen, it’s clear to see the NHS are continuing to deliver an unparalleled service. The rise in “no-win, no-fee” solicitors allows for the small amount of patients who are victims of medical negligence to gain the compensation they are rightfully entitled too.

The Cost of Medical Negligence to the NHS

Since the Bolam v Friern Hospital Management Committee tort (civil) law case in 1957 set the basic legal precedent for medical negligence cases in the UK the NHS has had to abide by the requirement to provide an appropriate standard of reasonable care. The Bolam test expects standards which must be in accordance with a responsible body of opinion, even if others differ in opinion.

The Bolam test is one part of the process of deciding if there is basis to a medical negligence claim. The first step is that there is a duty of care between the doctor and the patient. This duty of care is now taken for granted in English law. The second test is one that must show that the duty of care has been broken and this is where the Bolam test is used. The third test must show that there is a causal link between the injury and the breach and the forth test must show that the harm was not too remote.

The Bolam judgement stated that if a doctor reaches the standard of a responsible body of medical opinion, he is not negligent. If the doctor has acted in accordance with best practice at the time then they cannot be found to have acted in a negligent way. If an NHS Trust fails to meet these requirements then it leaves itself open to being sued for medical malpractice.

The National Audit office has recently issued a warning that the National Health Service in England is facing a legal bill of up to £4.4 billion for medical and clinical negligence cases. The cost of legal pay outs by the NHS has risen by half a billion pounds in the last year. The NHS Litigation Authority deals on average with about 20,000 claims a year. On average cases are settled within 18 months.

However the figure can be misleading as it purely an estimate based on the outstanding claims against the NHS. Not all of these claims are likely to be successful and very few will pay out at the top level of the claim. Roughly 40% of claims are settled out of court.

The last set of accounts that show the real pay out for the clinical negligence claim against the NHS are from 2007-2008. The total paid out was £550,000,000 or which £384,000,000 was the compensation with the rest made up of defence and claimant legal costs. This total is under 1% of the total NHS budget. Treating patients who have contracted infections once in hospital is almost twice the level of the costs of legal claims against the NHS. The highest level of medical negligence claims in 2010 were for the following areas, surgery 39% of all specialty claims, obstetrics & gynaecology 20% and medicine 17.8%.

Although the totals are a small percentage of the overall budget there is still concern that the figures are far too high and that lessons are not being learnt from previous cases. The government has also removed legal aid for clinical negligence cases and is looking to restrict and reform the fees received by solicitors for no win no fee work. These two reforms could dramatically reduce the number of clinical and medical negligence cases brought against the NHS in the future.

Tony Heywood ©

How to Chose a Private Doctor

Image by Egahen.

Image by Egahen.

Choosing a private doctor is not an easy decision. There are many factors to consider and everyone has different priorities. There are different reasons why someone might wish to use a private doctor. It may be that they require an operation or have a particular medical condition that they need to sort out and wish to do it privately. Or they may want a private GP who they can see on a regular basis whatever their medical needs.

Qualifications

Before choosing a private doctor you need to make sure they have the appropriate qualifications. Obviously, any practitioner needs certain qualifications, but you may wish to compare the specific qualifications of different doctors so you can decide who you think is more qualified. If you are using a doctor for a specific condition or an operation then you need to make sure they have qualifications specifically to deal with this particular issue. You want to be sure they have an expertise in the area you will be paying them to help you with.

The Way they Operate

In the private sector everyone has different ways of doing things and this can have an influence on patients and patient care. Unlike NHS doctors, they do not have such strict rules and procedures that they must follow. You may have certain preferences as to how you would like your doctor to operate. You want to choose a doctor who has a way of doing things that fits in with what you would find comfortable.

Location

Location is of obvious importance, as for most people it is important that they are nearby. You may at times need to be able to get there quickly. If you visit the doctor regularly, this becomes even more important.

Track Record

It is always wise to find out about a doctor’s track record. This will allow you to compare different doctors and consider their relative advantages and disadvantages. When looking at this you need to think about which aspects of their records are most important to you. If you are choosing a private doctor for a particular operation, research their success rate. How many times have they carried out such as operation, and how many of these have resulted in a successful outcome? It would be useful if you are able to find out the opinions of previous patients. Were they happy with the service they received and were there any problems that they experienced?

What about a Healthcare Plan?

Some opt to pay into a medical insurance policy so they are covered for private healthcare. It is important to choose a healthcare plan that suits, as they can vary greatly. An obvious consideration is how much it is going to cost you. You need to check out what is included and if there is anything extra you might need to pay for. If there are any specific medical conditions you suffer from, make sure these are covered.

Whatever type of private medical care you are looking for, make sure you can learn as much as possible. Ask as many questions as you can to build up an overall picture of the care you will receive. We all have different priorities – so make sure yours are met.

For a private doctor in London visit the Medical Chambers Kensington.

Personal Injury Law in the UK Some Landmark Cases

From TV adverts, radio spots, billboards and text messages the idea of the personal injury claims is imbedded in UK culture.  A report by the UK government in 2012 outlined that the vast majority of personal injury claims are related to road traffic accidents, this is followed by accidents in public places such as shops, roads and parks with the final main area being personal injury in the work place.

In this article I aim to outline a number of cases that shaped the personal injury law in the UK.

The Snail in the Bottle

The 1932 case of Donoghue v Stevenson made legal history, the snail in the bottle case is the basis of all personal injury and negligence cases in the UK.

May Donoghue, a shop assistant from Glasgow on a break for the Bank Holiday, met her friend at the Wellmeadow cafe in Paisley on the evening of 26th August

Her friend, who was not named throughout all the court proceedings, ordered and paid for a drink of pear and ice for herself and also Scotsman ice cream float for Donoghue. A Scotsmans ice cream float is a scoop ice cream floating in ginger beer.

All was fine until the second amount ginger beer was poured into her glass. Along with the ginger iit was alleged the decomposing remains of a snail dropped out of the darkened, opaque bottle into the float.

Donoghue complained of sharp stomach pains, and she was later diagnosed by a doctor as suffering from gastroenteritis and shock.

A solicitor named Walter Leechman took my May Donoghue’s case although he had already lost two similar cases involving dead mice in fizzy drinks.

The case went through a number of different appeals and finally all the way to the highest court in the UK the House of Lords.

Lord Atkin of Aberdovey delivered the verdict in May 1932 finding in favour of Donoghue and against Stevenson the maker of the ginger beer.

The rule that you are to love your neighbour becomes in law ‘You must not injure your neighbour’; and the lawyer’s question: ‘Who is my neighbour?’ receives a restricted reply.

“You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour.”

The estate of Stevenson, he had died less than a year after the judgement, settled for £200. The ruling however gave birth to the ideal of reasonable care and gave power to the consumer.

Bolton v Stone – PI Law Hit for Six 

The Bolton v Stone case was one that was very English in nature as it dealt with a cricket match and an injury to a member of the public who was outside the ground.

A cricket ball was struck for a six and left the ground and struck Plaintiff on the head The Plaintiff  lived on the street next to a cricket ground. She was at the gate in front of the house when she was hit by the ball.

The writ was issued against the cricket club for common negligence. The cricket club argued that the ground had been in place before the houses had been built and that the ball that hit the Plaintiff was one of the longest balls that had ever been hit at the ground during the last forty years. A number of different witnesses from the cricket club testified that over a thirty-year period roughly only six to ten balls had been hit onto Plaintiff’s Side Street.

After a number of appeals the case went to the House of Lords were the judges found in favour of the cricket club. The court held that Defendant had taken reasonable care to prevent the accident to Plaintiff. Although the accident to Plaintiff is unfortunate, Defendant is not liable.

The Bolton v Stone cases introduced the ideal of reasonable care to the areas of personal injury and the idea that although an accident may be unfortunate it didn’t follow that compensation should be automatically paid out.

For more information on personal injury visit – http://www.penningtons.co.uk/Services/Private-individuals/Personal-injury.aspx

Tony Heywood © 2013

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