Window blinds and shades recalled after 1 child strangled, another nearly killed

By NATASHA T. METZLER, Associated Press Writer
7:04 AM PST, November 20, 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) _ About 677,300 IKEA and Green Mountain Vista window blinds and shades were recalled in the United States on Thursday after a young child choked to death.The Consumer Product Safety Commission said a 1-year-old girl from Greenwich, Conn., died in April when she got caught in the inner cord of a set of IKEA Roman blinds over her playpen.

The agency also received a report of a 2-year-old girl from Bristol, Conn., who nearly died in June on the beaded-chain loop hanging from a set of Green Mountain Vista shades. The girl’s neck was deeply bruised, but she was saved by her older brother.The recall includes about 670,000 IRIS and ALVINE Roman blinds, manufactured in India and distributed by IKEA Home Furnishings. They were sold at IKEA stores nationwide between July 2005 and June 2008. Another 4.8 million blinds were sold outside the country.

The blinds can be returned to any IKEA store for a full refund and its better to ask for help

Also recalled are about 7,300 insulated blackout roller shades and insulated Roman shades manufactured in China by Green Mountain Vista Inc. The shades were sold around the country by Country Curtains, Plow & Hearth, The Linen Source, Sturbridge Yankee Workshop, Ann & Hope, The Sportsman’s Guide,, The Curtain Shop of Maine, and the Solutions catalog. They were available between June 2005 and September 2008.

Green Mountain Vista shade owners should check to see if the tension device is attached. If not, contact the company for a free repair kit and installation instructions.

For more information on the Green Mountain Vista shades, call (800) 639-1728.

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Is Grandma Safe in the Nursing “Home” for the Holidays? Safety violations reported in 94% corporate nursing homes

“More than 90 percent of nursing homes were cited for violations of federal health and safety standards last year, and for-profit homes were more likely to have problems than other types of nursing homes, federal investigators say in a report issued on Monday.” Robert Pear, The New York Times

The Department of Human Health and Services has found nearly 94% of for profit nursing homes, many run by large corporations, have been cited for safety violations.This statistic is appalling, considering the millions dollar profits being made by these nursing homes. For the year 2008, nursing homes charge families $77,380 on average for a room and $36,372 for assisted living rooms.With costs increasingly rising, poor patient care and frequent violations are inexcusable.

If it wasn’t bad enough that these corporate nursing homes drastically overcharge, for the quality of care they provide, they are also supplementing their profits by overcharging taxpayers.Inspector General of the Department of Human Health and Services said he had found some cases in which nursing homes billed Medicare and Medicaid for services that, “were not provided, or were so wholly deficient that they amounted to no care at all.”

The decision to place a member of your family in a nursing home or assisted living is difficult, but often necessary.If you currently have a family member in assisted living or a nursing home, please make sure that someone you trusts checks them regularly to ensure that the home is providing proper care.Never hesitate to ask the staff any question, and always bring up any concern you have.Write down the names of the individuals with whom you speak.Do not let nursing home staffs tell you that you are worrying too much.When it comes to the care of your family, you can never be cautious enough. Finally, remember that neglect and abuse has many signs, some of which can be hard to immediately detect.Every time you visit your family member, be sure to always check the following by talking to the staff, and making your own observations: 1. be sure that there are no signs of bruising on your family member from possible abuse, 2. make sure that they are receiving the proper and necessary medication and nutrition, 3, makes sure that the staff is frequently monitoring that there are no bed or pressure sores developing, and 4. make sure that nursing home staff is capable of responding immediately to an emergency situation.

If you suspect abuse, you can report it to the local regulatory authorities:

In Pennsylvania you can go to the Office of Aging website

In New Jersey, contact the Adult Protective Services

Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer in New Jersey

Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Pennsylvania

Contact a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer in New Jersey

Contact a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer in Pennsylvania

Parents Beware- Toys With Hazardous Chemical to Remain on Market this Holiday Season

So much for the Holiday Spirit. As you shop for your kid’s holiday presents this season, you risk buying a toy that contains an already banned plastic linked to children’s illnesses.That’s because “a new federal ban on the use of the controversial chemical phthalate in teethers, pacifiers and other children’s products won’t apply to goods already in warehouses or on store shelves, federal safety regulators said yesterday.” – Annys Shin, The Washington Post

Unfortunately the Consumer Product and Safety Commision has decided to allow the makers of child toys and products containing a banned plastic to remain on the shelves.This means that, various companies, including manufacturers in China and other third will countries, will be allowed to sell their products containing the controversial chemical as long as they are manufactured before the date the ban takes place (February 10th, 2009).Most of these products are already on shelves for the holidays.

The ban, which was passed in August as part of a landmark product safety law, is supposed to remain in effect until a panel finishes a scientific review of phthalates.Although testing is still taking place, a scientific consensus has already formed that demonstrates this plastic’s hazard.Studies have shown that phthalates, “…have been shown to change hormone levels and cause birth defects.” Phthalates have negative effects on individuals of all age, however, in particular, “Young infants are more vulnerable to the potential adverse effects of phthalates given their increased dosage per unit body surface area, metabolic capabilities, and developing endocrine and reproductive systems.” – Sathyanarayana

The ban is supposed to remain in effect until a panel finishes a scientific review of phthalates.With studies showing the adverse effects of phthalate on the body, it is clear that this decision violates the direct purpose of the law.If consumers will not be able to tell what products were made when, and which products contain phthalates, than the ban will have little to no effect in helping consumers protect themselves.As Rachel Weintraub of the Consumer Federation of America puts it, “How will parents know whether the rubber ducky they’re buying was made today and not in March?'”

Here are some tips to parents prevent your child from exposure to phthalates.First, look for the common names of phthalates on ingredient lists, which is usually an abbreviation with a “P” on the end, such as DEHP, DINP, DBP, DEP, and DIP.Second, when purchasing toys for your child after this holiday season check to see that it is manufactured after the date of February 20th, 2009.This assures that the ban has taken effect, and that the toy is phthalate free.For more information on phthalates and how to recognize which products contain them, please visit the Children’s Health Environmental Coalition profile page on phthalates.

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Medical Malpractice Caps Favor Insurance Companies Instead Of Protecting Injury Victims ran a story this morning about two medical malpractice lawyers in Louisiana. The lawyers are trying to fight the medical malpractice cap adopted by the State of Louisiana, one of twenty-five states to adopt such legislation. At simplest, these caps put a roof on the possible rewards for victims of medical malpractice. In Louisiana, and some other states, the cap is $500,000. In the case in which these two Louisiana lawyers are fighting the cap, a thirteen year-old girl, who had to have her leg amputated because of malpractice, was awarded by a jury of her peers around $3.5 million dollars. She cannot and will not receive this award, because of the cap.

It reminds me of the way in which politicians have tied the hands of judges in mandatory minimum sentencing legislation. Just as a judge, whose been appointed or voted to the bench by us, cannot use his or her expertise to sentence and rule on criminal trials, so too are juries of our peers prevented from making determinations based on their own humanity and understanding of medical malpractice cases, such as this one. So, inevitably, we ask why?

This article from BusinessReport explains quite accurately that the caps exist to prevent medical malpractice insurance providers from raising insurance premiums to the extent that doctors will avoid practicing medicine in states with high premiums. This would lower the quality of health care in certain states. This logic is upsetting in two ways. First, the discussion of whether or not the health care quality has increased in those states seems a bit undercut by way of its context: a thirteen year old girl who’s missing a leg, because of malpractice in a state with a cap. Second, its an example of politicians trying to legislatively control our legal system (to the detriment of the average American) by tying the hands of juries, rather than trying to legislatively control the big-business insurance companies, who are hiking up doctors’ medical malpractice insurance rates. To this day, the purchase and regulation of car insurance has been legislatively mandated by our federal government. Why not control the medical insurance companies rather than risk a fall-out of quality health care and the deprivation of reasonable rewards to children who have suffered from medical malpractice? They have shown no reason why they cannot regulate the insurance premiums, rather than the victim’s rewards.

If you or a loved one has been harmed by medical malpractice, you may have a claim for damages. For more information, please go to the New Jersey Medical Malpractice Attorney page.

John R. Mininno, Esq. is a New Jersey and Pennsylvania trial lawyer representing clients in medical malpractice, defective products and other serious injury claims. He also writes about issues concerning patient safety. His offices are in Collingswood, NJ and Philadelphia, PA.

Surge in Reported Crib Dangers Call for Increased Regulation

Recent surges in federal recalls of defective cribs have renewed the discussion of crib and child product safety standards.

“Less than a month ago, the federal government recalled nearly 1.6 million cribs sold by the Delta Corporation – the world’s largest distributor of baby beds. But parents who asked Delta Enterprise for a kit to fix the cribs’ hazardous drop rails may have a false sense of confidence, according to a Tribune investigation. Government documents reviewed by the newspaper reveal at least 19 instances of an entirely different hazard on the Delta cribs—mattress platforms that drop and create a gap that can entrap and strangle babies.” –Patricia Callahan, The Chicago Tribune

Cari Myhra's daughter, Sabrina, narrowly escaped injury when a corner of her crib mattress fell to the floor during a nap. (Bill Alkofer/For the Tribune / November 3, 2008)

As the causes of reported infant injuries from crib accidents continue to mount, it becomes increasingly clear that regulators are not facing a singular design flaw, but an industry wide safety problem.One recent industrial trend has become evident: Baby beds are now made almost exclusively in overseas factories in and mills where construction standards and labor laws are frequently ignored.The product is packaged overseas in a manner to reduce shipping costs to a minimum and then shipped to huge US retailers.These retailers do not inspect the products for safety.Instead, they put them on shelves to be sold to unsuspecting parents who have little information on whether the crib is safe.Finally, these parents must then assemble multiple parts (big and small) while trying to follow complicated and inadequate assembly instructions.

The latest such defective product was imported by the Delta Corporation.Although Delta Corporation earns millions selling infant cribs, they have ignored the concerns of parents who have purchased their products. Customers of the Delta Crib Corporation have reported a general lack of concern to solve the problem when they have called to report crib accidents.In fact, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has publicly reported and that, “…Delta employees seemed indifferent when they reported the problems.”Other parents have been told by Delta that the company is, “…aware of prior incidents and that assembly instructions were faulty.” (Callahan) Despite having knowledge of this problem and earning millions in profits, the Delta Corporation has yet to take any action to remedy these multiple hazards.

If you are expecting a new child, you can take several steps to keep your baby safe.Please remember to research all cribs you are considering purchasing.Please also research any crib that you are currently using.Check to determine where the crib was actually manufactured and whether it has been inspected by any recognized safety organizations such as The Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association.Check parenting magazines for reviews of cribs.Finally, remember that the simpler the crib, the better.Remember to perform safety checks to ensure that: 1) all screws and bolts are tight, 2) all moving parts and exposed angles are safe, and, 3) the mattress and supports are properly aligned and positioned.

For more information on Crib Safety, including recommendations and safety tips, please visit the American Association of Pediatrics Crib Information site.

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