Food and Grill Safety Tips


Summer is here and with it comes the beginning of summer picnics, parties and sporting events.  When grilling, be aware that your children can be very fascinated with not only the food on the grill, but the fire as well.  Never leave your grill unattended and ensure that the gas has been completely turned off once you have finished grilling.

Food poisoning is another danger of the family picnic.  Remember that foods made with mayonnaise are at the biggest risk of food poisoning.  Do not allow these foods to sit out in the hot summer sun.  Keep your cooler well stocked with ice and keep your cold items stocked in the ice in order to avoid harmful bacteria.  Thaw your meat and poultry completely before grilling so it will cook evenly.  When possible, thaw your meat in the refrigerator.  Never reuse marinade that has come into contact with raw meat.

While grilling, take meat and poultry out only immediately before placing it on the grill and check the temperature with a meat thermometer, inserted directly into the center of the meat at the least cooked part.  Food must reach a temperature of 140 degrees before it is safe to eat.   Avoid cross-contamination of meat and vegetables by using separate cutting boards, tongs, knifes and spatulas for the meat and the vegetables.  Always use a clean plate when removing food from the grill.

Enjoy your Summer weekend activities and picnics, but remember these food handling safety tips to keep your family safe and happy.

Pradaxa: Do the risks outweigh the benefits?

pill lawsuitsStroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of long term disability.  Pradaxa was approved in October of 2010 in an effort to provide a safer alternative to oral warfarin, injectable low molecular weight heparin or asprin, which was the least effective treatment.  Warfarin was the leading therapy, however it carried significant bleeding risks.  It also took several weeks to adjust the dose for patients and required monthly blood tests to assure the dosage remained steady.  Warfarin also had a number of drug interactions, making it particularly dangerous.

Pradaxa, however, has far fewer drug interactions, though it does have a similar bleeding risk as Warfarin.  Pradaxa has a lower incidence of cerebral hemorrhage, but a slightly higher risk of gastrointenstinal bleeding.  Pradaxa, however, is significantly more expensive than Warfarin.  On the surface, it may appear that Pradaxa is a safe or safer alternative to Warfarin, however, Pradaxa has significant risks as well.

Pradaxa has now been prescribed to millions of patients with atrial fibrillation in over 70 countries in order to prevent blood clots.  Unfortunately, thousands of these patients have been injured or killed by uncontrollable bleeding while taking Pradaxa.  Although this drug is still being marketed by Boehringer Ingelheim, a federal judge recently ruled that injured patients can file lawsuits against Pradaxa for their injuries.

In December of 2011, the FDA announced a formal investigation into the safety of this drug after receiving 3,781 side effects and 542 deaths in one year, the most of any medication that year.  These cases are consolidated into a special federal Multi-District Litigation court in Illinois under MDL No. 2385, IN RE: Pradaxa Product Liability Litigation, Southern District of Illinois.  The most significant part of this lawsuit is the failure to warn patients that there is no reversal agent to stop bleeding with Pradaxa as there is with Coumadin or Warfarin.  Once Pradaxa causes bleeding, there is little doctors can do to stop it.

In September of 2012, the University of Pecs in Hungary released a study suggesting that the risks of Pradaxa may outweigh the benefits and those taking the drug after an acute heart condition were three times as likely to have a bleeding event.  Pradaxa lawsuits are filed individually and not as part of a class action, which is more advantageous to patients.  The MDL process is complicated, however, so if you have a claim, ensure you are working with an attorney who has experience fighting large drug companies and working with mass torts.


Poisoning in the Home . . . Preventing the Unthinkable

It has happened to every parent.  You are spending time with your toddler.  You look away for a split second and they are gone.  We can be the most conscientious of caregivers and yet, children still find a way to get into things not meant for them.  Sometimes it is candy, sometimes it is paperwork, but what about the times when what they dig into is dangerous, or worse, poison?  We know we cannot watch them every second of every day so prevention becomes the crucial tool most likely to avoid poisoning in the home.  In order to avoid poison, you have to first know what it looks like.  Yes, it may look like drain cleaner to us, but it is the same color as Kool-Aid to them.  It looks like medicine when mom takes it, but it is poison for their little bodies.  What about the poison you cannot see?  Carbon Monoxide poisoning is fatal, but you cannot see it, smell it or feel it.  In fact, many people die from the poison before ever experiencing any symptoms.

Household Chemicals:

Household cleaners should always be stored in their original bottles or containers and be secured in an area small children cannot reach.  You can child-proof you home with safety latches, grips, outlet covers and slide locks.  Remember that babies and toddlers will put almost anything in their mouths, so it is our job to ensure that they are not exposed to chemicals or sharp corners or other dangers.  KidSafe has a child proofing checklist which assists us in making sure we have covered each room and the dangers that exist.  Adults can also poison themselves with cleaners by mixing products together.  Bleach and ammonia can be a toxic combination.   Always wear protective clothing if you spray pesticides or chemicals, including gloves, long sleeves, long pants, socks and shoes.  Ventilate the room when painting or using strong chemicals.


Poisoning does not just affect children, however.  Adults are poisoned by misuse or abuse of prescription drugs, or from simply not watching the expiration dates and consuming toxic medications.  There are several safety precautions you can use to avoid an accidental overdose or taking a medication that has become toxic.  First, never take any medications that are not prescribed to you by a healthcare professional and limit your use to the dosage you are prescribed.  Just because a medication worked for Grandma doesn’t mean it is healthy for you or your toddler.  Make sure you keep vitamins and herbals in a separate place from prescription drugs and keep both in a place that can only be reached by those who dispense the medication or are supposed to be taking it.  Always keep your medication in its original container and turn on a light when you take medication to be sure you know what you are taking.  Dispose of unused, unneeded or expired prescription drugs properly and if you don’t know how you should be disposing of them, contact your pharmacist.  Always monitor the medication use of your children, teenagers and the elderly.  If necessary, keep narcotics in a lockbox for security.  Remember that medications kept in a purse, backpack, coat or on an open counter are a temptation to a small child and easily accessible.

Carbon Monoxide

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), carbon monoxide poisoning kills more than 400 Americans a year unintentionally, sends 20,000 to the emergency room and hospitalizes 4,000.  People and animals are subject to poisoning.  Prevention includes having your heating system, water heater and any other gas appliance serviced by a qualified technician each year, as well as ensuring you have a battery-operated or battery back-up Carbon Monoxide detector in your home.  Batteries should be changed when you update the time on your clocks each spring and fall.  Look for gas equipment that carries the seal of a national testing agency, such as the CSA Group.   Make sure your appliances that are gas are vented and never leave gas stoves or fireplaces running when you will not be home.

What if . . . . ?

No matter how much we try to prevent it, poisoning does happen.  So what do you do?  Remain calm and call 9-1-1 or the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.  Be prepared to tell emergency responders the victim’s age and weight, time of exposure and address where the poisoning occurred.  If possible, have the container or bottle containing the poison available and follow the instructions of emergency personnel or the Poison Control Center in rendering first aid until first responders arrive.

FDA Recommends Strict Changes Affecting Transvaginal Mesh Litigation

Last month a Dallas jury ordered Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay $1.2 million in compensatory damages to a woman injured by a transvaginal mesh (TVM) implant.  As a result of a defective design in the product, the Plaintiff suffered severe injuries when the mesh “bladder sling” eroded inside of her.  This verdict is the first mesh case which deals with a “bladder sling” product, rather than a pelvic organ prolapse product.  Many patients with transvaginal mesh slings have been forced to undergo additional surgeries to correct problems with their implants.  Although there have been many problems with the mechanically cut TVT-O mesh, it is still being used along with other products such as the TVT-Secur and TVT-Abrevo.  The Dallas verdict is expected to set a precedent for future transvaginal mesh cases.

Last week, a WFAA-TV report on transvaginal mesh, a plastic mesh product used to treat stress urinary incontinence and pelvic prolapse, was released disclosing details of the Dallas verdict.  The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has been aware of problems with trans-vaginal mesh products since 2008, when they first released a “Public Health Notification” after receiving “over 1,000” reports of “adverse events” regarding surgical mesh devices.  In 2011, the FDA sent out another warning, alleging “serious complications associated with surgical mesh” “are not rare” and that mesh “may expose patients to greater risk” than traditional procedures.

Since then, women across the country have formed organizations and online support groups trying to get mesh removed from the market.  This week, we heard from the FDA again, when it called for stricter safety rules for transvaginal mesh after receiving literally thousands of reports of serious and sometimes permanent complications from the product.  There are approximately 60,000 transvaginal mesh cases pending against several companies nationwide.  Although some cases include reports of bleeding and infection, other cases include reports of pain and urinary incontinence.  The FDA’s proposed changes include reclassifying transvaginal mesh as a “high-risk” medical device.  Additionally, the FDA wants to require manufacturers to prove the products are safe before releasing them to market.

The FDA released a press release issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this week identifying clear risks of the products and proposing steps to address the risks in order to provide more “safe and effective products”.  According to Dr. William Maisel, deputy director of science and chief scientist at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, if the proposals are finalized, manufacturers will be required to provide premarket clinical data to demonstrate a “reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness for surgical mesh used to treat transvaginal POP repair”.  These changes come after years of work by Joleen Chambers, a patient advocate who started the Failed Implant Device Alliance.  This proposal does not include surgical mesh treatments for hernia repair.

The FDA will allow public comment on the proposal over the next ninety days.  This is a very positive development for women who have suffered injuries as a result of transvaginal mesh complications.  If you or a loved one has been affected by transvaginal mesh or bladder sling complications, please contact an attorney who handles these types of mass tort claims.