We all rely on medical providers to carry out their duty to follow accepted standards of professional care to keep us healthy and safe. Unfortunately, when a doctor, nurse, pharmacist or other medical personnel breaches that duty in the prescribing or administration of a drug, a medication error may cause severe injury or death.
A scandal uncovered by one agency has led another to consider cracking down on the auto industry. The Environmental Protection Agency recently discovered that Volkwagen carefully engineered software to skirt U.S. emissions standards. VW diesel vehicles were programmed to run differently when being tested than during normal operation. After an EPA investigation, Volkswagen could be fined billions of dollars for its actions. The head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggested that the actions of VW's executives demonstrate the need for tighter regulation in the realm of safety.
President Obama is expected to name a new permanent chief for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the next two weeks. Three U.S. senators have called for the President to use the opportunity to make substantial changes to the NHTSA and its practices. They want the NHTSA to reform its safety mission and make changes to the way it approaches safety defects.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has come under fire for its actions concerning the recalls of GM vehicles with defective ignition switches and the vehicles containing Takata air bags. Critics have suggested that the NHTSA has moved too slowly or taken limited action in addressing serious auto defects. NHTSA leaders recently responded with a defense of the work done by the agency in furthering traffic safety.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee released a report concerning the ignition switch defects plaguing General Motors, as well as the response of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to the faulty vehicles. The report leveled criticism as GM for failing to take action to protect consumers. It further criticized the NHTSA, claiming that the administration should have known of the danger posed by the defective ignition switches as early as 2007. The report suggested that the lack of a timely response was due to the NHTSA overlooking evidence or not having the expertise to understand it.
Eleven months after headlines broke all over the nation about a fungal meningitis outbreak caused by contaminated injections, the fallout continues for victims and regulators. The illnesses shined a light on compounding pharmacies and the role they play in the health care industry. The pharmacies exist under a different regulatory scheme than other drug manufacturers. With the company responsible for the infections, the New England Compounding Center, having sickened hundreds of people and killed dozens more, people searched for ways to make sure this never happened again.
MOM Brands Co., the makers of Malt-O-Meal cereal products was forced to recall 22,000 cases of cereal across five states. The product, Malt-O-Meal Marshmallow Mateys, used a Vitamin C supplement that MOM had purchased from a supplier in Libertyville, Illinois. The supplement was reportedly made in a plant China and was later discovered to contain ethylene glycol (antifreeze) and other toxic substances. MOM filed a lawsuit against the Illinois company to recoup the money lost in the recall. The two companies settled this week and the case was dismissed.
Medtronic has been accused of violating patients' trust through heavy-handed participation in the content of medical journal articles concerning the product Infuse. A U.S. Senate report was commissioned after the company was alleged to have financial ties to physician authors who ignored dangerous side effects tied to the bone growth product. Medtronic issued a statement after the report denying that it improperly influenced the papers or intended to underreport adverse events associated with the use of Infuse.
After a crash in which the air bags deploy, vehicles that are still roadworthy require maintenance. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued a warning to consumers who have had replacement air bags installed after car crashes over the past three years. The NHTSA has discovered that counterfeit air bags have been installed in some vehicles repaired during that time frame. These air bags may fail to deploy in the event of another accident. In addition, some counterfeit bags have been found to discharge metal shrapnel when they do deploy. The counterfeit air bags have not yet been tied to any injuries or fatalities.
Magnets on toys, clothes and other household items pose a serious risk to children who might swallow them. Products with magnets have been the subject of numerous recalls largely based on the possibility that children will ingest the magnets. The Consumer Products Safety Commission reports roughly 200 such cases since 2008. Once swallowed, the magnets clump together and can tear through intestines and cause significant damage, even death, in the young victims.