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Pittsburgh Personal Injury Law Blog

Fat-shaming by doctors

Many Pennsylvanians who struggle with their weight may face fat-shaming. Unfortunately, this negative behavior often occurs in doctors' offices. This type of biased treatment may have harmful effects on their mental and physical well-being.

Researchers at Connecticut College completed a review that demonstrated the problems that are caused by fat-shaming in doctors' offices. The researchers looked at 46 studies about the attitudes held by doctors about obese patients. The researchers also looked at patient reports of fat-shaming by their doctors and the health outcomes experienced by the patients.

Trucks recalled due to engine fuel pump problems

Some Pennsylvania residents may be affected by a recall that involves commercial truck engines. A fuel pump problem in Cummins ISX15 engines has led to a recall of more than 1,700 Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks. The faulty fuel pumps could cause engine stalling, which in turn could increase the risk of accidents.

All of the Peterbilt trucks in the recall are model year 2017-2018 and include the 367, 389, 567, 579 and 587 trucks manufactured between Dec. 20, 2016 and April 17, 2017. The Kenworth trucks recalled are models, C500, T680, T800, T880 and W900, all of which were manufactured between Jan. 9 and May 5, 2017 and are model year 2018.

New software improves imaging for liver surgery

Liver surgery can be tricky. The organ is soft and wobbly, which means it can shift positions between the time when a liver tumor is imaged via a CT scan and when a doctor is viewing it during surgery. This can be dangerous when a surgeon is attempting to excise a tumor that is close to major blood vessels. However, scientists at Vanderbilt University have created software that could make liver surgery safer for patients in Pennsylvania and around the world.

During cancer surgery, surgeons can move an imaging stylus over the liver to map out its shape. They then use a computer to match the image with a CT scan that was taken before the surgery. This procedure improves surgical accuracy, but the mapping can still be off by a centimeter or more. The Vanderbilt scientists developed software that anticipates the forces that may move a liver during surgery, such as packing gauze, and alters the CT image accordingly.

Doctors could be measuring blood pressure improperly

Pennsylvania patients who regularly have their blood pressure checked with a manual device may be at risk for a high blood pressure misdiagnosis. If patients are prescribed medication after being misdiagnosed, they may suffer from side effects without getting any benefits.

According to a Canadian study, it was estimated that about 20 percent of Canadian patients were being treated for hypertension, or high blood pressure, after their blood pressure was not measured correctly. Researchers said that the problem was due to the use of manual devices, which were still being used by more than 50 percent of family doctors. While manual blood pressure measurements are acceptable if they are taken correctly, few doctors actually use the manual devices properly.

The misdiagnosis of fibromyalgia

Some Pennsylvania patients who are told they have fibromyalgia might be misdiagnosed. A doctor might diagnose fibromyalgia when a patient has nonspecific pain even though the pain might be related to other conditions.

When such a patient visits a doctor, the practitioner should rule out a number of conditions that can also cause pain. These include Lyme disease, rheumatoid arthritis, hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune connective tissue disorders and even cancer. As a result, doctors should look at red and white blood cell counts, standard blood chemistry and thyroid function among other tests. People suffering from disc degeneration or pinched nerves might also suffer from similar symptoms.

More driving not enough to explain fatality rate

Last year, many Pennsylvania motorists drove more thanks to cheaper gasoline prices and job growth. However, the National Safety Council says that the increase in vehicle miles traveled last year cannot fully explain why there were so many car accident deaths. While vehicle miles traveled increased by 3 percent in 2016 over the previous year, car accident fatalities increased by 6 percent.

On Feb. 15, the National Safety Council released statistics showing that there were 40,200 motor vehicle accident deaths in 2016. Last year was the first time since 2007 that annual car accident deaths have exceeded 40,000. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported similar findings in January when it showed that fatal accidents had risen by 8 percent in the first nine months of 2016 over the comparable period in the prior year.

Cancer diagnoses trigger strong emotions in people

Cancer in its many forms touches the lives of many Pennsylvanians either through direct experience or relationships with people who have the disease. The news that U.S. Senator John McCain has brain cancer prompted one writer to reflect upon how the disease altered her perspective on life.

She described the activities that many cancer patients and their families go through, like scouring the internet for health information and buying vitamins. Like her, many people seek out opinions from multiple doctors in search of answers and maybe even a cure. Love motivates these actions because the threat of terminal cancer brings the value of life into sharp relief.

Study shows prostate cancer surgery unnecessary for most men

For Pennsylvania men with early-stage prostate cancer, surgery often offers little benefit if any at all, according to results of a long-term study. In fact, these procedures have often caused major complications and worsened medical conditions with side effects like infection, erectile dysfunction or urinary incontinence.

Most newly diagnosed cases of prostate cancer fall into this early-stage category. For these men, surgical procedures failed to extend their lives, but the damaging side effects may be the most troubling aspect of the operations. Early-stage prostate cancer often expands slowly and is asymptomatic, because these tumors are often non-aggressive.

Biomarkers could be used to diagnose endometriosis

Pennsylvania residents who have been diagnosed with endometriosis may be interested to learn that doctors could potentially identify and use biomarkers to make early diagnoses and potentially even prescribe a treatment for the disease. Two of the possible biomarkers were identified as CA-125 and miRNAs.

Endometriosis is a systemic disease that affects women's reproductive organs, surrounding organs and tissues. The disease is hormone-driven and often has symptoms that include severe menstrual cramps, pelvic pain that can worsen with age and dysmenorrhea. This disease, which affects as many as 10 percent of American women of child-bearing age, can lower a person's quality of life and have a major economic impact.

IIHC rates the safety of full-size sedans including Tesla Model S

Pennsylvania residents may be aware that Tesla CEO Elon Musk has referred to his company's Model S luxury sedan as the safest car ever made, but testers from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety may not agree with him. The IIHS is a nonprofit organization that receives funding from the auto sector to conduct accident reconstructions and safety tests, and they recently rated six full-size sedans. The Toyota Avalon, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Lincoln Continental all received the institute's highest marks for crashworthiness, but the Tesla Model S did not.

Tesla's luxury electric car struggled with what is known as the small overlap front test. This test simulates an accident in which the front driver's side corner of a vehicle strikes an object such as a tree or telephone pole. The Tesla performed poorly in this test because its seat belts were not strong enough to hold the crash test dummy securely in place, according to IIHS testers.