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Some blood pressure drugs linked to pancreatic cancer in women

Illinois readers should be aware that certain high blood pressure medications could increase a woman's risk of developing pancreatic cancer after she goes through menopause. Pancreatic cancer is the fourth deadliest form of cancer in the U.S.

Researchers studied the health records of over 145,000 participants in the Women's Health Initiative. The participants were all postmenopausal women between the ages of 50 and 79 when the initiative started, and their prescription drug use was recorded from 1993 until 1998. The research team found that 800 of the participants were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer by 2014. They also found that women who took a short-acting calcium channel blocker, or CCB, to control their high blood pressure were 66 percent more likely to develop the disease. Those who took a CCB for three or more years were 107 percent more likely to get pancreatic cancer.

Daydreaming linked to most distracted driving accidents

The rise in the number of fatal motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted drivers in Illinois and around the country is often blamed on cellphone use or sophisticated automobile navigation and entertainment systems, but a study released to mark the beginning of Distracted Driving Awareness Month indicates that daydreaming may be the most dangerous distraction of all. Researchers from Erie Insurance arrived at this conclusion after studying data gathered over the last five years by the Fatality Analysis Reporting System.

After determining that 10 percent of the 172,000 road users killed over the last five years in the United States died in accidents involving a distracted driver, the research team studied the FARS data to find out what had distracted the motorists involved. Daydreaming or being lost in thought was listed as the factor 61 percent of the time, but only 14 percent of the accident reports indicated that cellphone use had a role.

The human impact on autonomous vehicles

While self-driving cars are designed to help reduce roadway accidents throughout Illinois and the rest of America, some autonomous technology may come with an inherent safety flaw. This is because the programming, which is created by humans, directs the vehicles to drive as humans would.

One notable computer science professor asserts that this attempt to be "human" is the crux of the problem with autonomous vehicles. Because humans can make mistakes, the programming is often copying unsafe driving behaviors.

Radiology software can help prevent misdiagnosis

Patients in Illinois may be concerned about the danger of a mistaken diagnosis or the failure to diagnose a serious disease like cancer, especially if they have an undiagnosed illness or are preparing to enter the hospital. There can be significant consequences to a person's health if they are misdiagnosed; when people receive incorrect treatment or fail to receive treatment at all, especially for a progressive disease, their health condition may worsen dramatically and the results could even be fatal. Reducing diagnostic errors is a key priority for health care facilities that want to protect themselves and provide the highest quality of patient care.

Between 6 and 28 percent of all reports from bone density tests performed with ultrasound or dual-energy X-ray (DEXA) radiology contain at least one data entry error. While these errors are often minor, they could carry more significant impacts if these errors are relied upon by physicians when making a diagnosis that could later prove to be incorrect. A study has shown that the use of data entry software by radiology departments can reduce the number of diagnostic errors and mistakes in ultrasound or DEXA reports. The software can also help hospitals to save money; the study also showed that a health care facility could save $1 million in radiologists' wages over a five-year period.

Construction accidents in trenches pose danger

Construction workers in Illinois are often at a high risk of workplace accidents due to the nature of the job. Dealing with heavy machinery, precarious and unfinished structures and arduous physical labor can lead to serious on-the-job injuries that lead to lifelong disabilities or even fatalities. While the nature of construction work poses its own dangers, these threats are significantly intensified when employers and work sites fail to follow best practices and federal guidelines for safety. One of the most concerning aspects of construction work can be labor in trenches and excavations with the attendant risk of collapses, cave-ins and falls.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has identified the improvement of safety in trenches and excavations, created by the removal of large quantities of earth, stone or other natural fillers from the ground, as a key priority for workplace safety in 2018. While approximately two workers have been killed every month since 2011 in construction accidents linked to trenches and excavations, that number more than doubled in 2016. In response, OSHA has promoted a program of awareness-raising, testing and guideline reviews in order to promote a higher level of workplace safety.

Exploring your legal options after birth injuries in Illinois

Giving birth always carries certain risks for both the mother and the baby. However, in most situations, competent doctors and nurses can anticipate complications and prevent them from becoming serious issues.

Occasionally, birth injuries can result as a consequence of labor. There are many reasons why this could happen, and sometimes they are unavoidable to the point that even the most competent doctor would not have been able to prevent them. However, there are other times when it is possible that the poor organization of the hospital or the negligence of a doctor could be blamed for directly causing the incident. 

FMCSA begins hard enforcement of ELD mandate in April

Commercial truck drivers in Illinois and elsewhere in the U.S. may be struggling to comply with the U.S. Department of Transportation's mandate that their trucks come with electronic logging devices to record their duty status. They should know that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has been providing truckers with a period of soft enforcement ever since the mandate was implemented in December 2017.

This period of soft enforcement ends on April 1, 2018. Up to this point, the FMCSA has been conducting inspections and noting violations of the mandate without lowering the truckers' Compliance, Safety, Accountability scores. So far, only 4 percent of all inspected truckers have been cited for not having an ELD.

Study results on distracted driving

According to a study conducted by Esurance, an insurance company, even though a majority of drivers in Illinois and the rest of the nation agree that distracted driving is dangerous, many drivers still engage in the behavior. The results of the study also indicate that the drivers who state that they hardly drive while distracted do admit to participating in distracting behavior.

Almost 10 percent of roadside fatalities are the result of distracted driving, a statistic that has remained relatively constant since the percentage topped out at 15 percent 10 years ago. During that time, the automotive and technology industries, as well as federal and state governments, have been taking actions to reduce the number. Many jurisdictions have banned texting while driving, and smartphones now have settings, some which are automatic, that prevent them from being distractions while their owners are behind the wheel. Modern vehicles are also equipped with advanced driver aids, such as lane keeping, collision alerts, blind spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control.

FMCSA faces lawsuit over sleep apnea regulations

Truck accidents caused by fatigue are a major public health concern for federal officials and roadway drivers in Illinois and throughout the United States. The danger posed by sleepy drivers at risk of dozing off behind the wheel while operating massive semi trucks is serious; other drivers and passengers can suffer severe injuries and even death as a result of collisions. Sleep apnea, a disorder that prevents sufferers from achieving sufficiently restful nights, can be one cause of truck driver fatigue.

Because of the importance of preventing additional trucking accidents caused by drowsy driving, the federal government has sought to regulate testing for sleep apnea among truck drivers. However, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is embroiled in a lawsuit brought by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which is challenging the federal agency's guidance for doctors performing sleep apnea examinations on truck drivers. OOIDA charges that the FMCSA regulations violate a 2013 law that requires all sleep apnea testing regulations to go through a full process with public notice and comment.

Stay informed about immunotherapy side effects

Residents of Illinois who undergo immunotherapy for cancer, especially mesothelioma, should know about the side effects. Since the goal of immunotherapy is to enhance the immune system so that it can fight off cancer cells on its own, the side effects are not as severe as those of chemotherapy, which kills healthy cells that are also rapidly dividing. Patients generally feel like they are fighting the flu.

The side effects include fever, nausea, loss of appetite, dry mouth, and a rash around the site where the immunotherapy drug was injected. However, these are highly unpredictable and, what's worse, often mistaken as symptoms of another condition. Immunotherapy, especially for mesothelioma, is still in the experimental stage, so doctors have little experience responding to its side effects. They may not recognize that a patient has an allergic reaction to the drug.