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Medical Costs Are Outstripping Coverage, Causing Headaches for Patients

September 26, 2011

A practice called "balance billing" has patients with full medical coverage paying exorbitant out-of-pocket costs, according to a report in the Atlanta Journal Constitution. It's a controversial and sometimes illegal practice that occurs when a patient's health plan pays less than what the doctor or institution wants to be paid, and it has healthcare providers going after patients for money they may not even owe.

Say, for example, a young man with full medical coverage is involved in a car accident and has to be airlifted to a hospital five minutes away. He recovers, but his pocket takes a decided hit when he opens his mail to find a $20,000 bill for the helicopter ride, and his insurer only pays $8,000 - a price they find much more reasonable. Georgia State Rep. Rusty Kidd found himself in a similar situation last year when he was being carried in his wheelchair down a flight of steps and one of the steps suddenly broke. A broken neck required he be transported to an Atlanta-area facility by air ambulance.

Although the bill was $27,000, his insurer would only pay a fraction of the cost, leaving Kidd to cover the rest. "Without a set contract, insurers often pay only what they determine is a reasonable price for the service," writes AJC reporter Carrie Teegardin. The real problem often arises when patients who are part of H.M.O.'s, P.P.O.'s and other network health care plans choose to use an out-of-network provider. In emergency situations like Kidd's, the patient may not even have any choice in the matter.

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Lack of Access to Trauma Care Places Georgia Tourists at High Risk of Car Accident Death

August 8, 2011

For most Atlanta residents planning a vacation this summer, access to emergency trauma care in their vacation destination is not really at the top of the priority list. In fact, most people on vacation don't give a second thought to whether their holiday destination has easy and quick access to trauma care in the event of an accident with serious injuries, or other emergency. A new interactive map released by the American Society shows that some of the country's most frequented holiday spots have pitiful access to trauma care.

Last week, the American Trauma Society released a map which allows users to check the availability of trauma care across the country. Splatters of purple cover those areas that have good access to trauma care. Atlanta car accident lawyers were not surprised to find that in Georgia, the only areas that have good access to trauma care are located in the metro Atlanta region. The rest of the state, especially rural areas, have poor access to trauma care facilities.

Across the rest of the country, you'll find that some of the biggest tourist magnets have no access to trauma care. If you're headed to Martha's Vineyard, Yosemite National Park, Yellowstone, or the Key West, be warned - these areas are some of the worst positioned in the country when it comes to emergency critical care,. If you are in these areas, and are involved in a car accident or any other type of emergency that requires emergency trauma care, you could be in serious trouble.

Critical care is important because it is often the only factor deciding whether a person survives a serious accident. If an accident victim can be rushed to a trauma care facility within the first sixty minutes of being involved in a serious accident, his chances of surviving with minimal damage increase substantially. If, on the other hand, he has been unfortunate enough to be injured in an accident on a rural road, with the nearest trauma care facility miles away, then his chances of surviving the accident begin to drop. In Georgia, most fatal accidents occur in rural areas that are located far away from the nearest trauma facility. In south Georgia, there are almost no trauma care hospitals to speak of. That is a horrible situation, and places people in these areas at a high risk of death if they are involved in accidents.

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Hyperthermia Second Leading Cause of Death as Adults Negligently Leave Children Unattended

June 27, 2011

"72 degrees and sunny is no way to die. Never leave your child alone in a car." This was the warning being distributed by Safe Kids USA along with the news that the 500th child has died from heat stroke - a record that is not to be celebrated. According to Safe Kids, an average of 38 heat-related deaths occurs every year. Sometimes parents and caretakers find it convenient to leave small children unattended in vehicles while they run into the store. Other times, leaving a sleeping child behind is purely an accident, and the fault of a distracted, but otherwise caring parent. But it is an oversight that can prove to be fatal during the hot summer months when a car with its windows rolled up becomes a steaming deathtrap and children's tiny bodies overload with heat.

Atlanta area personal injury attorneys recently learned of a tragic death close to home which resulted when a slumbering two year old was inadvertently left behind while daycare workers took other students on a field trip. The prolonged exposure to excessive heat overwhelmed her body and her body temperature climbed uncontrollably. It was two hours before anyone notice she was missing, but by then it was too late. Hers was the second such death in the metro Atlanta area in less than a month. On May 25, a five-month-old baby died after being left in a car outside of a Kennesaw daycare center.
Heatstroke occurs when a person's temperature exceeds 104 degrees F and their thermoregulatory mechanism is overwhelmed, says Safekids' Web site. A child's core body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult's, making them more susceptible to heat stroke - even on a day with mild temperatures.

Here are some ways to guard yourself and your children against the dangers of a heat stroke:

• Thoroughly check all backseats of vehicles for sleeping children before exiting your vehicle and locking doors;

• Never leave small children alone in cars for extended periods of time. If anything, try not to leave them unattended at all;

• According to Safekids, there is no evidence that cracking the windows helps prevent the temperature in vehicle interiors from reaching dangerous levels. In fact, sunlight coming through car windows makes the car work like an oven. So never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, even with the window slightly open;

• If you see a child unattended in a vehicle, immediately call 9-1-1.

Administrator David Strickland, U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration summed it up best. "There is no greater tragedy for a parent or caregiver than to suffer the loss of a child due to hyperthermia," he said. "It's vital that children never be left unattended in a vehicle and keys are kept out of a child's reach. We urge all parents and caregivers to make a habit of looking in the vehicle - front and back - before locking the door and walking away. If a child is missing, check the vehicle, including the trunk."

New Research Reveals Possible Methods for Preventing Brain Damage Following Personal Injury

June 12, 2011

New research, published in The Journal of Physiology, may have provided a definitive answer to the question of whether a key molecule, 'KCC2' facilitates brain cell death after an injury or prevents it. The answer, which apparently indicates prevention, has prompted scientists to explore artificial production of the compound which could provide 'neuroprotection' to those who have suffered a brain injury, thereby preventing further injury to brain cells after an auto accident. All Atlanta personal injury attorneys welcome this development and the efforts of researches that may help hundreds of thousands of accident victims.

According to Dr. Igor Medina of the Université de la Méditerranée, "Neuron damage can result from acute events such as stroke, epilepsy or head injury or by chronic degeneration found in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. When brain tissue is damaged, cells often continue to die after the initial stimulus has stopped. So it is important to find a way of stopping this cascade of cell death."

Furthermore, says Dr. Medina "Neuroprotective agents that may stem from this research would benefit the victims of car crashes, stroke[s], and those suffering with epilepsy, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's - it is a major focus for further studies," said Dr Medina."
Auto accidents can cause severe, debilitating and permanent injuries, including injuries similar to those described above. Atlanta car accident attorney support the research of KCC2, as it provides them with more and better methods to help clients maneuver through the issues that often arise after an accident.

KCC2 is a 'neuronal membrane transporter' that helps to regulate brain cell growth. Research has shown that levels of KCC2 drops dramatically after brain injury, and now it appears that this drop actually can help decrease the damage done to the cells. It was discovered that damaged cells perished when the molecule was removed altogether. Conversely, when levels of KCC2 were artificially increased in the brain, the damaged cells were protected from further damage, and even death.


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