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Product Liability and Dangerous Products: Accidents Involving Flammable Items

The Consumer Product Safety Commission or CPSC is responsible for keeping a close eye on market goods that fail to meet safety standards. Among the recent recalls issued by the CPSC include mattresses that violate the federal flammability standards for such products. Other recalls were made for clothing with the same flammability issues. According to the Burn Survivor Resource Center, over 4,300 burn injuries caused by flammable clothing and other similar items were reported in the United States starting 1997 to 2006, with most cases affecting children between the ages of 5 and 14 years old.

Flammable items are important to note because burn injuries can be very difficult to treat and manage. Severe burn injuries can lead to mobility issues, debilitating pain, and scarring. These issues can become a long-term concern, causing a victim to deal with lifelong consequences.

Because the potential dangers of flammable items are particularly alarming, the government has a series of stringent regulations to ensure that safety standards are met by manufacturers. The Federal Flammable Fabrics Act is among these regulatory measures, mandating policies that control the type of fabrics to be used in clothes and household textiles. The Children’s Sleepwear Standard Act is another important safety mandate, this time aiming to ensure that materials used particularly for children’s clothing are fire-resistant and have appropriate extinguishing properties.

Any other products that fall through these safety nets are caught by the CPSC. At the same time, it’s equally important for consumers to be reminded to observe basic safety practices in their own home to avoid any accidents that may be caused by a defective or dangerous product. Making sure clothing and textiles are kept away from matches, lighters, candles, and flammable liquids such as paint can be an important first step. If, however, a defective product does come to cause an accident, consumers should know that they have grounds to pursue legal action against those responsible for such tragic incident.

Prozac Side Effects

Prozac (fluoxetine) was marketed as a problem-free wonder drug to physicians for patients with major depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, and bulimia nervosa, among other off-label uses. However, Prozac is associated with numerous problems, not the least of which is increasing the risk of suicide for patients below 25 years of age, which is why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required the manufacturer to place a black box warning on the product stating precisely that.

Aside from thoughts of ending it once and for all, common side effects frequently balance off the euphoric effect of the drug. One of the most frequent of these side effects is sexual dysfunction, a reaction shared by many patients who are on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, a class of drugs to which Prozac belongs. This dysfunction manifests as a lack of sexual interest, difficulty in getting aroused, or inability to achieve an orgasm. This may seem like a strange common denominator for a “feel-good” drug, but the mechanisms of SSRIs in general and Prozac in particular is not really known.

Another major concern for physicians and patients alike is the mounting evidence that pregnant women taking Prozac have an increased risk of having a child with birth problems such as breathing problems, underweight, cleft palates and heart problems. Fetuses unwittingly exposed to Prozac by their mothers are also more likely to have autism.

Other not-so-happy but mostly mild effects of Prozac include increased anxiety, abnormal dreams, sweating, diarrhea, physical weakness (asthenia), rashes, tremors, insomnia, flu syndrome, feelings of nervousness, drowsiness, indigestion (dyspepsia), dry mouth, sinusitis, nausea, and vasodilation.

Slightly more serious side effects include arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), bruxism (grinding of teeth), photosensitivity, memory loss, visual and auditory disturbances, hair loss, chills, breathing difficulties, hyperactivity, mania, hypomania, fever, weight loss and confusion.  Rare but still possible adverse effects include neuroleptic malignant syndrome, serotonin syndrome, prolonged Q-T interval, stomach or intestinal ulcers, and hallucinations.

Medical Dangers are on all Sides

The rather impressive leaps that science and technology have taken in the last 50 years or so have lulled most people into believing blindly in the infallibility of man, machine and modern medicine. This can be deadly assumptions. The fact is, there is still a lot that is not known about the drugs that people take as a matter of course, and health professionals are just as prone to make mistakes as the next guy, sometimes helped along by machines.

History has shown time and time again that the wonder drugs of today can lead to serious, if not fatal, complications tomorrow. This is mostly because their exact mechanisms are not fully understood, and the drug companies choose to downplay any adverse effects. Incretin mimetic drugs such as Byetta (exenatide), for example, seemed like the perfect treatment for type 2 diabetes. As it turns out, Byetta side effects are mostly run-of-the-mill for this type of drug, except for the fact that it increased the risk of patients for developing acute pancreatitis, which in turn can lead to pancreatic cancer. It would be negligent for the prescribing physician not to warn the patient fully about the dangers of such drugs.

It is also common for a doctor or other health professional to make a medical mistake, and some of them may seem impossible but true. Among the most serious of these head-shaking medical errors are wrong site, wrong limb, and wrong patient. Respectively, these are the acts of performing a surgery at the wrong site (such as on the left lung instead of the right one), amputating the wrong limb, and performing a procedure on the wrong person. These errors are so appalling, many hospitals categorize them as things that should never happen. Regardless, sometimes they do, and innocent people are hurt or even killed.

One of the most frequent medical mistake is giving a patient the wrong dosage of a medication, which is also potentially serious, in some cases fatal. Sometimes, errors are due to a malfunctioning or defective machines that are not properly maintained or have inadequately trained operators. Other errors result from disorganized emergency rooms, inattentive pharmacists, doctors misreading charts, the list goes on and on.

Medical dangers are all around, even when one is staying quietly at home. It is understandable why one can become complacent about medical care, but licensed health professionals have a more stringent duty towards the people they serve. A breach of this duty by even an instant can result in serious health consequences, which is why there are so medical malpractice lawsuits filed, although not so many are won. If you or a family member has had first-hand experience of the medical dangers of a negligent health professional, consult with a medical malpractice lawyer and find out your legal options.