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December 2014 Archives

Neck and Back Steroid Injections Can Sometimes Lead to Serious Injury With Little Potential Benefit

A panel of medical experts advised the FDA that steroid injections for neck and back pain should not carry the toughest federal warning, the so-called contraindication label, which signals to doctors that the risks outweigh any possible benefits. However, risks were decided to sometimes outweigh the benefits for certain types of injections were the injection was close to a cluster of small important arteries in the neck. Certain steroids that have a granular texture can also block arteries. These risky procedures account for only a small percentage of injections given.

New Studies Reveal Significant Risk and Need for Close Monitoring for Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is a heart rhythm abnormality where the heart's upper chambers beat chaotically. This occurs commonly after surgery, particularly cardiac surgery, because of the stress of surgery. For years its been thought that this condition is not problematic in a majority of patients. However, such a condition causes one in six ischemic strokes. As many as a third of these patients will suffer an episode. A new study published by JAMA, followed 1.7 million people who developed atrial fibrillation for the first time after surgery and concluded that about 25,000 of these patients went on to have an episode after their operations. Atrial fibrillation after cardiovascular surgery increased the risk of a future stroke by 30%.

Guardrail Manufacturer Secretly Modifies Guardrails Making Them Dangerous Upon Impact

The federal government sued Trinity Industries claiming that it fraudulently and secretly modified its guardrails which posed an added threat to drivers. The jury returned a verdict of $175 million. The rail head is a flat piece of steel at the front of the guardrail that, on impact, is supposed to glide along the rail and push the metal safely out of the way. Years ago, Trinity narrowed the channel behind the head from five to four inches without notifying the Federal Highway Administration. The shortening of the rail head is suspected to make them jam and fall off on impact, causing the rail to pierce a vehicle. People have become impaled by the metal.