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Instant Messages May Byte Too

An interesting discussion contrasting the technology, data storage characteristics and the discovery process of e-mails with instant messages (IM) appears in an article by attorneys Michael B. de Leeuw and Eric A. Hirsch in the “E-Discovery” special section of the November 5, 2007 New York Law Journal.

IM is quickly becoming the medium of choice for informal communication in the workplace, offering far greater efficiency, speed and immediacy than e-mail.

The article points out that although IM typically are stored locally in individual hard drives rather than in servers, some users of IM have found themselves in trouble because they … Read the rest

Heart Surgery Drug Trasylol Withdrawn from Market

The German pharmaceutical company, Bayer AG, announced that it will withdraw Trasylol, its controversial drug used for heart surgery, from the market. The withdrawal was due in part to a study performed in Canada which suggested that Trasylol increased rates of death.

The New England Journal of Medicine published the results of a study it conducted finding that Trasylol increased the risks of stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and death. The research concluded that stopping the use of Trasylol would result in the prevention of 10,000 to 11,000 cases of kidney failure per year along with the savings of over … Read the rest

Con Edison Hit With Largest Penalty in Its History for 2006 Blackouts

State utilities regulators hit the Consolidated Edison of New York, Inc. with an $18 million penalty yesterday for its service disruptions last year, the largest the state Public Service Commission has imposed against Con Ed. The blackouts included a nine-day blackout in western Queens effecting Astoria and Long Island City that left about 174,000 people without power for as long as nine days in July 2006, and other power failures in Westchester County.

The $18 million penalty is not intended to compensate customers for their losses during power failures. Instead, it will be spread to all customers in the system. … Read the rest

Childrens’ Toy Aqua Dots Recalled for Containing a Chemical That When Eaten Converts Into “Date Rape Drug”

Aqua Dots, a/k/a Aqua Beads, a Chinese-made toy, was recalled Wednesday, November 7, 2007, by the Consumer Product Safety Commission after two children in the United States and three in Australia were hospitalized after swallowing the beads.

Aqua Dots are packets of brightly colored beads that children arrange into mosaic designs. When sprinkled with water, the beads then stick together in as little as 10 minutes to form durable artworks. The toy was pulled from shelves after scientists found they contain a chemical that converts into a dangerous, potentially fatal drug when eaten. The chemical coating on the beads, when … Read the rest

In the Immortal Words of Ralph Kramden: “Whoa, what a surprise!”

We recently wrote about the efforts of the chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commision (CPSC), Nancy Nord, to oppose a Senate bill that would increase the budget and authority of the Commission to regulate consumer products such as children’s toys. It seemed more than a little odd that the government official in charge of protecting consumers would oppose legislation designed to improve product safety. Now a review of internal CPSC documents by The Washington Post reveals that since 2002 Chairman Nord, as well as her predecessor, Hal Stratton, have enjoyed nearly 30 trips totaling nearly $60,000.00 that were … Read the rest

Shift to Daylight Savings Time Nearly Triples Rate of Fatal Pedestrian Accidents

Two scientists have calculated that after clocks are turned back for the shift from daylight savings time to standard time, pedestrians walking during the evening rush hour are nearly three times more likely to be struck and killed by cars than before the time change, the Associated Press reports.

Ending daylight savings time translates into about 37 more U.S. pedestrian deaths around 6 p.m. in November compared to October, the researchers report. It’s not the darkness itself, but the adjustment to earlier nighttime that’s the killer.

Professors Paul Fischbeck and David Gerard, both of Carnegie Mellon Institute in Pittsburgh, conducted … Read the rest

Hospital’s Mistaken Medication Overdose of Dennis Quaid’s 2-Week Old Twins Underscores a Big Problem in Health System

Each year at least 1.5 million Americans are injured – and 15,000 die – after receiving the wrong medication or an incorrect dose, says the federal Institute of Medicine. Such incidents have more than doubled in the past decade. Causes include pharmacists stocking drugs improperly, nurses not double-checking to make sure they are dispensing the proper medication, illegible handwriting by doctors, and similarities between names of different drugs.

In the incident involving Dennis Quaid’s 2-week old twins, they were given 1,000 times the intended dosage of the blood thinner Heparin at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, one of the top hospitals in … Read the rest

Health Insurers’ Physician Ranking Programs Spark Concerns About Consumer Deception: Investigation by New York Attorney General Leads to Agreement

New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo has been conducting an industry-wide investigation of doctor ranking programs, concerned that the insurers use their ranking system to steer their insureds to doctors who cost the insurers less but are not as well qualified to treat the insured as physicians who are more expensive for the insurer to pay. This investigation has led to an agreement, announced earlier this week, with healthcare industry leader, CIGNA Healthcare, regarding its doctor ranking programs.

Investigations performed under the leadership of the Attorney General show that consumers cannot rely on these programs blindly. Previously, in letters … Read the rest

Increase in Abuse by Nursing Homes To Be Investigated by Federal Government

According to the New York Times, nursing home facilities owned by private equity firms receive worse scores than the national average in twelve of the fourteen indicators that regulators use in tracking the ailments of nursing home residents. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid state that residents of nursing homes owned by private investment firms suffer from higher rates of depression, mobility loss, and the loss of the ability to bathe and dress themselves. Facilities of these companies are also restrain residents for long periods of time more often than facilities that are not privately owned.

The report in the … Read the rest

Top U.S. Official for Protecting Consumer Product Safety Wants LESS Money and Clout to Enforce Consumer Protection Laws Than Senate Committee Approves

In an attempt to rectify problems and ensure the safety of our children, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation voted yesterday to approve a bill which would overhaul federal standards on consumer products, and includes vital whistle-blower provisions to protect employees who report consumer safety violations. Yet notwithstanding the widely reported recalls of children’s products and the real risks posed to consumers, the top U.S. official for consumer product safety, Nancy A. Nord, the acting chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), had asked Congress in recent days to reject the legislation.

Thus far this year, Read the rest