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How EHR usability issues can harm pediatric patients

As most Illinois health care workers know, electronic health records do not have the most user-friendly interfaces. These EHR usability issues can actually increase the risk of errors and injury. A new study from Pew Charitable Trusts has focused on the harm that these problems can cause children in particular.

Pediatric patients are susceptible to EHR-related medication errors because the dosage they require will vary based on weight/age and EHRs do not adequately take this into account. The Pew report, which is meant to inform policymaking as ONC drafts EHR voluntary rules, has come up with 12 scenarios in which pediatric patients might be harmed.

Emergency vehicles at risk from distracted drivers

Distracted driving can be a serious threat on Illinois roadways, and most drivers are familiar with public awareness campaigns against texting while driving. While people may expect that the presence of an emergency vehicle would cause drivers to put down their phones and pay more attention, one study indicates that the opposite is true. It indicates that 71% of American drivers take photos and videos with their mobile phones when they see emergency vehicles.

The study, which was released as part of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, indicated that distracted behaviors may be even more dangerous than people realize. A majority of participants said that they make a social media post when they see an emergency vehicle. The respondents affirmed that they did so while behind the wheel. Without an emergency vehicle in sight, 24% said that they took photos and videos behind the wheel.

Illinois lawmakers continue to crack down on distracted driving

Distracted driving continues to be a deadly concern throughout Illinois. The Department of Transportation claims that distracted driving is playing an ever-larger role in the state's traffic deaths.

As a result, the State Police and lawmakers have redoubled their efforts to address the problem. State Police Troopers issued more than 14 thousand tickets for cellphone offenses in 2018, up from 1,729 in 2017, and lawmakers passed new legislation to stamp out troublesome loopholes.

Reasons not to get behind the wheel when tired

Driving down Illinois roads while drowsy is a dangerous thing to do. Many people are willing to risk driving while drowsy because they figure that they will be able to keep themselves awake long enough to make it to their destination. Unfortunately, the fact that one in five automobile accidents is connected to driving while fatigued shows that this problem is a lot more serious than people make it out to be.

On World Sleep Day in 2019, a major car manufacturer took advantage of the opportunity to help young people see just how dangerous driving while tired can be. To assist them, they used a "Sleep Suit." The suit consisted of a vest, ankle and wrist bands, and headgear, which when combined weighed about 40 pounds. This entire suit gives drivers a better understanding of how driving while tired impacts them.

The increasing number of pedestrian deaths

The citizens of Illinois may be surprised to learn that the number of pedestrians who have been killed by vehicles on the road last year has reached a high the nation has not seen since 1990. To be more concrete, around 6,227 individuals passed away due to a fatal accident while they were walking on foot, which is about 250 more fatalities than what 2017 saw. The majority of deaths took place late at night; in fact, about 90 percent of the total increase in the number of dying pedestrians over the past ten years can be attributed to nighttime accidents.

That being said, there are several factors that may be contributing to this trend. To start with, the number of fatal accidents where a pedestrian was hit by a car has increased by about 30 percent over the past six years, whereas the number of fatal accidents where the vehicle was an SUV instead of a car has increased 50 percent. There are two main reasons the number of fatal SUV accidents has been increasing. On the one hand, SUVs have higher front-end profiles than cars, making them more than twice as likely to be fatal if they hit a pedestrian. On the other hand, SUVs have been selling more than cars lately, and they account for 60 percent for all new vehicle sales.

Safety group pushes for crash-prevention tech on big rigs

Large commercial trucks travel throughout Illinois every day, and fatal crashes across the country involving big rigs increased 42 percent between 2009 and 2017. Road Safe America, co-founded by a man who lost a son in a truck accident, has joined other activists to petition senators and representatives to pass legislation that requires commercial trucks to use speed limiters and automatic emergency braking systems.

The co-founder cited a study that concluded that requiring speed limiters and setting top truck speeds at 65 mph could prevent approximately 100 fatalities a month. Truck manufacturers have placed speed limiters in commercial trucks since the 1990s because many countries require them, like the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, and members of the European Union. Because the technology is already inside vehicles, about 70 percent of U.S. operators of the largest classes of trucks already use them as well. Speed limiters save transport companies money by reducing accidents and fuel and maintenance expenses.

GHSA addresses challenges of reducing speeding deaths

Nearly one third of motor vehicle-related fatalities involve speeding, so Illinois residents may be wondering what is being done about this. At the root of the issue seems to be a lack of proper education on the dangers of speeding. Speeding raises the risk for a crash as well as the severity of those that occur, endangering pedestrians and bicyclists in particular. Conversely, a slight decrease in speed makes a positive impact on crash risk and severity.

The Governors Highway Safety Association has released a report entitled "Speeding Away from Zero: Rethinking a Forgotten Traffic Safety Challenge," which shows how the concept and principles of Vision Zero, a project aiming for zero roadway fatalities, are far from being effectively implemented. The GHSA cited lack of education as a reason and seeks to create a speed reduction program that could be carried out through its State Highway Safety Offices.

Misdiagnosing patients can lead to malpractice claims

According to a report by a liability insurer, diagnostic errors were the most common reason for medical malpractice claims from 2013 to 2017. The report discovered that rates of malpractice claims related to such errors have not declined in recent years. This is despite the fact that this has been the case for other causes of medical malpractice claims in Illinois and throughout the country. The study took a look at 10,618 cases over the four-year time period to come to its conclusions.

It also had recommendations for doctors as to how they could reduce errors related to diagnosing a patient. For instance, they could work in teams to maximize the chances of properly analyzing a patient's condition. The report mentioned that this is easier to do in settings where doctors are allowed to express uncertainty and work with others to get a diagnosis right.

AAA study reveals distractions caused by infotainment systems

Car infotainment systems are a major source of distraction for many drivers in Illinois and across the U.S., according to a recent AAA-contracted study that analyzed 30 such systems on new 2017 vehicles. Researchers found all the systems demanded either a moderate level of attention (seven in all), a high level (11 in all) or very high (12). Cars in the last category include the Audi Q7 QPP, Dodge Durango GT, Mazda3 Touring and Tesla Model 7.

Participants in the study were drivers aged 21 to 36 who were asked to call, text, use voice commands, program navigation and engage in other activities while behind the wheel. Researchers say that even listening to the radio and using hands-free devices can be distracting to some extent. The most distracting activities, however, were GPS use and texting, both of which made drivers inattentive for more than 40 seconds.

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