In 2005, General Motors Co. made a conscious decision – to not change the design of a defective ignition switch eventually linked to 13 deaths. According to a Reuters news report, the automaker saved less than $1 per car by putting off that switch redesign, which could have saved lives and prevented injuries. This information came out through an internal GM document provided to U.S. congressional investigators.
Documents Shed Light on Cost of Fix
Lawmakers have been questioning GM CEO Mary Barra about the company’s failure to recall 2.6 million cars for faulty ignition switches that could cut off engines and disable airbags, power steering and power brakes. GM knew about the problem more than a decade ago.
Colorado Congresswoman Diana DeGette cited a 2005 GM document during the hearings, which she said, showed a cost of 57 cents per fix. Although Reuters could not get a copy of that document, they obtained another one which showed that the change in ignition switch design would have cost an extra 90 cents per vehicle and additional tooling costs of $400,000 overall spread over several years. …Read the rest »
Almost all of the smallest vehicles in the U.S. automotive market failed to get passing grades on a tough new crash test from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS). According to a Detroit News report, the group points out that only one mini-car out of 11 that were tested received an acceptable rating in the small-overlap front crash test.
That makes mini-cars the poorest performing group of any evaluated so far. The Chevrolet Spark was the only vehicle that received an acceptable overall rating in the small-overlap test along with good ratings in the IIHS’s four other crashworthiness evaluations.
What is the Small-Overlap Test?
This test was introduced about two years ago and basically replicates what occurs when the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object such as a pole or tree. In the test, 25 percent of a vehicle’s front end on the driver’s side strikes a stationary object at 40 mph. Safety experts say that when it comes to crashworthiness, lightweight vehicles have an inherent disadvantage, which is why, if you must buy a mini-car, you should choose one that provides maximum occupant protection. The IIHS test rates all mini-cars, including the Chevy Spark, “poor” or “marginal” for structure.
…Read the rest »
For the first time, new government regulations are being introduced to protect young children from injury and death in side-impact crashes. According to an ABC News report, the proposal by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) would upgrade and improve standards for safety seats for children weighing up to 40 pounds to include a new test that simulates a side impact collision. The safety agency estimates that these new standards will help prevent five child deaths and 64 injuries every year.
T-bone or Broadside Crashes
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), most deadly side-angle crashes in the year 2005 were broadside crashes. These types of traffic collisions typically occur at right angles. About 62.5 percent of fatal side-angle crashes are broadsides. Research also shows that many child deaths and injuries in these types of collisions involve a car carrying children that is stopped at an intersection, usually at a light or stop sign. When the vehicle begins to accelerate and go through the intersection, it is struck in the side by another vehicle traveling at a higher rate of speed on the cross street. …Read the rest »
Twenty years after a jury awarded a landmark $2.9 million to a woman who was badly burned by hot McDonald’s coffee in Albuquerque, a Los Angeles woman has filed a personal injury lawsuit against the Golden Arches saying she suffered burn injuries after hot coffee spilled on her at one of the fast food chain’s restaurants.
In the New Mexico case, the award was reduced to $640,000 and the case was later settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. That case also drew national and international attention from critics who called it a “frivolous” lawsuit although the woman suffered third-degree burns and had to undergo skin graft surgery. The case is still cited by advocates for tort reform. …Read the rest »
Robotic surgery in the United States became available to the public more than 20 years ago, in 1992, when a 64-year-old man had his hip successfully replace with the help of a machine called Robodoc.
However, it wasn’t until 2000 that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved use of the da Vinci robotic system for a large group of minimally invasive procedures. This is when robotic surgery really started gaining popularity.
Over the last 10 years, nearly 2,000 surgical robots have been sold in the United States and the number of robotic procedures for everything from head and neck surgery to hysterectomies has soared by 30 percent each year. It seems that this soaring in popularity has been due to aggressive marketing tactics playing up the robot’s “wow” factor rather than a solid track record of safety and effectiveness.
Billboards and television commercials have cracked up these robotic systems to be more high-tech and cutting edge than they really are, safety experts say. However, what we have learned from several sources including the FDA is that these robots may not be living up to their promise. Researchers at Johns Hopkins say that while some people may benefit from robotic surgery, it may actually end up hurting others.
Making the Right Decision
So how do you determine if robotic surgery is right for you? Here are a few tips:
• Do not believe everything you see or hear. Ignore the hype. According to a 2011 Johns Hopkins study, hospital websites often cite studies comparing robotic surgery with open surgery instead of with minimally invasive procedures. Many claims with regard to safety and effectiveness can also be misleading.
• Carefully consider your options. Think twice about going in for robotic surgery for routine procedures such as hernia surgery, appendix removal or gallbladder removal. However, you may want to consider it for complex surgeries such as cancer surgery, head and neck tumors and other procedures where there is no minimally invasive option.
• It is important to ask questions before you go in for surgery. Some patients are not even informed that a robot will be used. If you are scheduled for surgery, ask questions about what procedures will be used.
• Make sure that you select the right doctor if you are going in for robotic surgery. Find out about his or her experience, number of procedures performed using a robot and his or her success rate.
• Talk to others you know who may have had the surgery or visit support groups.
It is important that all patients have the facts they need to make informed choices about their health. It is important for consumers to weigh all the positives and negatives of robotic surgery. There’s been recent talk of medical malpractice cases looming over the robotic surgery tool and it’s still early to determine if there will be legal cases surrounding robotic surgery and it’s level of safety.
Toyota Motor Corp. is recalling more than 780,000 RAV4 and Lexus HS250h vehicles for the second time after a problem with the suspension that was not properly fixed the first time. According to a Reuters news report, the SUVs and luxury sedans were initially recalled in August 2012 for rear tie rods, a suspension component, that could fail and cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles. The Japanese automaker found out that some dealer mechanics did not correctly perform the repairs.
Automaker Finds Fixes Inadequate
Toyota apparently got reports from dealers that some vehicles experienced symptoms of the recalled condition even after being inspected or repaired. After an investigation Toyota determined that some inspections were not sufficient and that portions of the repair procedure may not have been performed correctly. …Read the rest »