One Woman’s Surgical Mesh Horror Story

Angel Reyes III Medical Devices

shutterstock_128950211-300x200Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) affects approximately 13 million American women.  This embarrassing condition can literally change a woman’s life, as she never knows when she’ll leak urine while coughing, laughing, sneezing, having intercourse or performing virtually any physical activity.  Suzanne McClain is one of these women.

In 2004, Suzanne’s doctor told her that her SUI was an “easy fix.”  The doctor recommended outpatient surgery to support her weakened muscles and bladder by implanting a surgical mesh “sling.”  He even went on to say that it was better than wearing a diaper for the rest of her life.  He proposed Transvaginal Tension-Free mesh (TVT) which is manufactured by Ethicon, a division of Johnson & Johnson.  This mesh is made of polypropylene, and is a woven knit fabric that is pliable enough to form a sling.

Suzanne’s doctor was right. It was an easy fix for four years…until complications arose.  And the complications were horrendous.  Suzanne developed an infection which came with a terrible odor.  She tried using Monistat and antibiotics, but nothing worked.  Her doctor gave her estrogen cream to deal with the problem, at which point Suzanne made the decision to never return to him.

In July 2008, she went to a urogynecologist, who told her the mesh from the sling had eroded through her vaginal wall, causing her the awful symptoms she was experiencing. A month later, surgery was performed to remove what amounted to about 1/3 of the mesh.  The surgeon tried to extract the rest but it had become enmeshed with her own tissues.  Suzanne was told that if the mesh continued to erode, it would need to be removed through her abdomen, which is a complicated surgery that can be extremely dangerous.

Suzanne was never warned of the risks of surgical mesh slings.  In fact, the surgeons who are trained by the manufacturers of these slings claim an 80 to 95 percent cure rate for SUI.  After her surgery, Suzanne decided to do some Googling and her findings were astounding – hundreds of women were suffering from the same problems she experienced, but were too embarrassed to go public with their issues.  It was at that point that Suzanne decided to join the patient advocacy group, Truth in Medicine, to demand a Congressional hearing for surgical mesh to be removed from the market.

Reyes Browne Reilley Law Firm is currently helping hundreds of transvaginal mesh and bladder sling victims and their families recover damages from their devastating TVM complications. If you or someone you know suffered injuries from this product, please call us for a complementary and confidential consultation. You are under no obligation to use our services. Call us today at 214-526-7900, or submit the short case review form on the right.

Recent Vets Have 75% Higher Vehicular Mortality Rates

Angel Reyes III Auto Accidents, In The News

shutterstock_17890870-300x199As we all know, many veterans must deal with the devastating effects of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). But that’s not the only problem soldiers face. Believe it or not, veterans of both wars have a 75% higher rate of fatal motor vehicle accidents than civilians. In fact, those STILL in the military have a higher risk of crashing their vehicles months after returning home. And the men and women who served in multiple combat zones are at the highest risk of those accidents.

These findings are based on research and observation of service members, veterans and counselors. The explanation given is that soldiers who had to maneuver throughout roads in war zones did so with the intention of saving lives. However, those same driving habits are highly dangerous on America’s roads. Some of these maneuvers include racing through intersections, driving in two lanes, swerving on bridges and not wearing seat belts because they prevent them from what they perceive as a rapid escape.

Another major contributing factor is the obvious – PTSD. Thousands of veterans suffer from this horrible disorder, and unfortunately, a major symptom of PTSD is drunken driving. This evidence is based on both research and testimonies from other veterans.

According to Bruce H. Jones, a physician and epidemiologist who heads the Army’s Injury Prevention Program at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, “Before suicides became the leading cause of non-battle injuries, motor vehicle accidents were.”

Further research is needed but it is anticipated that findings will support the fact that motor vehicle crashes will rival suicide and interpersonal violence as a consequence of fighting overseas. Motor vehicle accidents in the military are nothing new, however. From 1999 – 2012, as many active-duty military personnel died in noncombat vehicle crashes both on and off duty as were killed in the Iraq war (with 4,423 deaths from accidents and 4,409 killed in Iraq). These are astounding statistics!

Men who served in Iraq or Afghanistan have a 76% higher rate of dying in motor vehicle crashes and women have a 43% higher rate than civilians. This same phenomenon happened with Persian Gulf War veterans.

Motorcycle crashes among veterans resulted in increased fatalities during these wars, accounting for 14% of military traffic deaths in 2001 and rising to 38% in 2008. The total rate of motorcycle deaths tripled during this period.

Safety For Workers, And Its Real Cost

Angel Reyes III Workplace Accidents

shutterstock_111007946-300x300One primary reason that industrial and manufacturing companies don’t take better precautions? Why, money of course. Most companies are in the business of making money, period. And the risk to their workers becomes secondary to that goal. West, Texas… anyone?

Below is a great article I found on The Huffington Post:

One Reason Accidents Happen Is Because Safety Costs Money

Original Article By: David Macaray

There’s a reason why so many industrial and manufacturing companies resort to almost any means (some of them not entirely legal) to dissuade employees from joining a labor union. Besides having to offer higher wages and improved benefits (and giving employees a voice in how they’re treated by management), they are required to provide a safe work environment. The union’s on-site safety committee will demand it.

While no company wants to see its employees maimed or killed, it goes without saying that every company is interested in saving money. After all, with the bottom-line being what it’s all about, most companies are hyper-aware that safety programs cost money. Money for structural integrity, money for regular maintenance, money for machine guards, money for ergonomics, money for training.

The collapse of the building in Savar, Bangladesh, a suburb of Dhaka, on April 24, which killed hundreds of textile workers (the exact number is still to be determined), is tragic testimony to that fact. While one’s first impulse is to write off those Bangladeshi mills as Third World hell-holes–low wages, teenage workers (mainly girls), long hours, deplorable conditions–it should be noted that they’re probably no worse than American textile mills of a century ago.

It’s true. American mills of the late 19th and early 20th century were horrendously grim enterprises, cramped, poorly lighted industrial dungeons, something straight out of a Dickens’ novel. Of course, today’s factories (at least the ones that haven’t been shipped overseas) are bright, clean and relatively safe. So what happened? What caused those New England textile mills of a century ago to improve themselves?

Does credit go to our politicians? Was these improvements the result of changes in state and federal laws? Or was it the Church who, having seen enough degradation, finally chose to intervene? Or perhaps it was an outcry from the general public, demanding that workers (even young immigrant women) be treated humanely? Answer: None of the above. It was the rise of the American labor movement that made it possible.

Which takes us back to Bangladesh (and tangentially, to Vietnam, Indonesia, Honduras, Malaysia, the Philippines, et al). Bangladesh’s economy is almost totally dependent upon textiles. When you talk about Bangladesh revenue, you’re talking about one thing: textiles. As alarming an observation as it is, if you took away the garment industry, there would be no Bangladesh.

The New York Times reported (April 29, 2013) that there are a staggering 100,000 garment factories in and around the city of Dhaka, employing 3,000,000 people, but that there are only 18 full-time safety inspectors to monitor the industry. That number is not only miniscule, it’s close to ridiculous. And of course, all of the aforementioned countries, with Bangladesh leading the charge, are vehemently anti-union.

But increasing the number of roving safety field agents isn’t the answer, not in Bangladesh, not in Vietnam, not in the U.S. Just as Wall Street easily outwits government agents assigned to ferret out financial mischief, businesses regularly sidestep federal safety watchdogs. People who say we don’t need labor unions because we have OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), don’t understand OSHA. Even OSHA reps (and I’ve spoken to them personally) will admit they can’t do it all. The agency is under-funded, under-manned, and under-appreciated.

That Bangladesh building collapse was no more a coincidence than was the Massey coal mine explosion in West Virginia, on April 5, 2010, the one that killed 29 miners. Massey was a non-union mine. Companies are nothing if not inveterate cost-cutters, and accordingly, safety programs cost money. Say what you will about labor unions, but they aren’t going to ignore unsafe working conditions, not when their lives depend on it.

Reyes | Browne | Reilley has recovered millions of dollars for victims and their families from industrial and construction site accidents. If you or someone you know suffered injuries this or any other type of accident, please call us for a complementary consultation. You are under no obligation to use our services. Call us today at 214-526-7900, or submit the short case review form on the right.

Link to the original article.

Offshore Workers Death Rate 7x Higher

Angel Reyes III Workplace Accidents

shutterstock_131543975-300x200According to a new study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, offshore oil and gas workers are seven times more likely to die on the job than average US workers. From 2003 to 2010, the CDC revealed that 128 people died in such accidents as 2010’s Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill, which killed eleven people. This accident was mentioned in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Out of the 128 people who died, 65 were related to transportation and 49 of those 65 were due to helicopter accidents caused primarily by poor weather and mechanical failures. In 2009, new safety measures were implemented and as of the end of 2012, there have been no weather-related helicopter crashes.

Based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the death rate for offshore workers is 27.1 per 100,000. Conversely, the average death rate for US workers is 3.8 per 100,000. The facts speak for themselves. What’s worse, these offshore oil and gas workers only made an average of $37,640 a year in 2010. Perhaps the death toll and low pay are the primary reasons CNBC named this profession “one of the worst 10 jobs in America” in early April. Safety conditions for this type of dangerous work must be held to higher standards. Furthermore, the families of the victims of these deaths should be fairly compensated for their losses. Just like Big Pharma, the oil and gas industry is extremely profitable. The corporations behind these travesties of justice must be held accountable.

Reyes | Browne | Reilley has recovered millions of dollars for victims and their families from industrial and construction site accidents. If you or someone you know suffered injuries this or any other type of accident, please call us for a complementary consultation. You are under no obligation to use our services. Call us today at 214-526-7900, or submit the short case review form on the right.

Workplace Accidents Kill More Than Terrorist Attacks

Angel Reyes III Aside, Workplace Accidents

texas-explosion-300x199Given all the initial press surrounding Boston, MA and West, TX, labor advocates are attempting to put the spotlight on an important issue – workplace safety.  Various groups pushing for safety at the workplace or in factories claim that hazardous conditions are mostly ignored by the media and general public.  However in 2011, workplace accidents killed 4,609 Americans, while only 17 Americans died from terrorist attacks.

There were many theories surrounding the explosion, but once they were ruled out, media coverage died down and the primary focus remained on the Boston Marathon.The West, Texas explosion was determined to be an industrial accident which killed 14 people and injured 200.

So why did that make this horrible incident far less important than the Boston Marathon to the media?  Primarily because the Boston bombings comprised the first major attack on our country since September 11, 2001.  Additionally, Grant Duwe, author of “Mass Murder in the United States: A History,” said last week that “History has shown that the public is generally more interested in crime which is unusual and dramatic and something that is violent and occurs infrequently.”

But the fact remains that what happened in West was tragic in terms of lives lost and injuries. There were tons of potentially explosive chemicals at the fertilizer plant.  However, regulators paid no attention to the possibility of danger.  Further, the company’s emergency response plan which was filed with the Environment Protection Agency in 2011, reported that there was no risk of fire or explosion at the plant – a ludicrous claim.   And the last time the Occupational Safety and Health Administration visited this plant was in 1985.  This agency has been grossly understaffed and underfunded for quite sometime.

Will workplace safety ever become a priority in this country?  Only time will tell.  But undoubtedly, more resources and manpower must be devoted to this important issue.

Don’t Text and Drive!

Angel Reyes III Aside, Auto Accidents

stop-texting-300x200According to a recent article in the Texas Tribune, texting and driving may become illegal later this year and rightly so.  Most of us are guilty of looking at texts while behind the wheel. For some reason, we’re unable to resist the temptation.  For some, there’s a misconception that a phone call can wait, but a text requires an immediate response.

And then there are those of us who would never text and drive.  But with voice-to-text technology that transcribes your spoken words into text form, we’re totally safe in doing so, right?  Wrong.  A new study by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute finds that voice-to-text technology is just as dangerous as texting while driving. Coincidentally, this study was released while lawmakers are determining whether to pass House Bill 63, which would be a Texas-wide ban on sending text messages.  Many Texas cities already have their own bands in place.  This bill has already passed the House and the Senate will now vote on it. Two years ago, the bill was passed but Governor Rick Perry vetoed it.  According to Perry, the bill was “a government effort to micromanage the behavior of adults.”  This past March, he was quoted as saying “The key to dissuading drivers from texting while driving is information and education, not government micromanagement.”

The lead author of the study said that new technologies such as speaking into a phone don’t protect drivers from having accidents. The study involved 43 research subjects who drove cars on a closed course.  The first time they drove, they did so with no distractions.  Then they were required to perform several activities, including texting, and voice-to-text technology.  Results indicate that driver reaction times were nearly two times slower than the baseline condition, no matter which texting method was used, according to the study.  Eye gazes to the forward roadway also significantly decreased.  Despite these findings, drivers perceived that they were safer using the voice method of texting.

Prior to approving any statewide ban, lawmakers want to see more data, as well as educational campaigns that will alert the public of the dangers of distracted driving. Earlier in April, the Texas Department of Transportation launched a campaign. On Monday, the House passed HB 437, by state Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie.  This bill would enforce current laws which prohibit all use cellphones on public school grounds, protecting children from distracted driving.

Irving Texas Bus Crash Update

Angel Reyes III Auto Accidents

irvingbuscrashupdate-april2013-300x194On April 11, 2013, a tragic bus collision occurred on the President George Bush Turnpike (State Highway 161) in Irving, Texas.  The bus was carrying many elderly citizens to Choctaw Casino in Oklahoma.  For an unknown reason, the bus driver lost control of the bus and it flipped on its side.

At this time, we don’t have all the facts.  We do know that prior depositions from a civil lawsuit filed against Loyd Rieve, Cardinal Coach Line’s bus driver, show the driver’s previous employer recommended firing him after several collisions, tickets and complaints.  For some unknown and grossly negligent reason, Cardinal Coach Line decided it was worth the risk to put many lives in his hands.  That decision, along with other negligent acts and omissions by Cardinal Coach Line has left two dead and over 40 others injured.

It is devastating that two families lost loved ones in this collision.  One family hired our law firm to uncover all the facts and bring justice for those suffering.  The family wants answers and we will work aggressively and diligently to get the family justice.  We filed suit on Monday afternoon against Cardinal Coach Line, Inc. and Loyd Rieve.  We already have a team of experts that have started their investigation as to what happened and how this deadly collision should have been avoided.

Our firm has recovered millions of dollars for victims and their families from tragedies such as this one.  If you or someone you know suffered injuries in this crash or any other type of accident, please call us for a complementary consultation.  You are under no obligation to use our services.  We will continue to work hard to keep our roads safe for our families.

Drug Research Company Caught Red-Handed. Now What?

Angel Reyes III Dangerous Drugs

drugs-blog-post-april20131-300x199Cetero Research, a Houston-based firm that researched safety and effectiveness for drug companies throughout the world got busted.  On May 3, 2010, agents from the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) visited the firm to investigate a former employee’s claim that the company fraudulently manipulated records and test data. The lead agent, Patrick Stone, explained the severity of the situation to Cetero’s president, Chinna Pamidi, who admitted to Stone that the allegations were correct.  According to Stone, Pamidi literally said, “You got us.”

File boxes containting five years of data from approximately 1,400 drug trials were evaluated. Based on these records and other tell-tale evidence, the FDA announced that the lab’s violations were so blatantly “egragious” and of a “pervasive nature,” the research conducted between April 2005 and August 2009 was most likely worthless.

So what does this mean to consumers?  It means that around 100 drugs, including chemotherapy compounds and addictive prescription painkillers were approved for sale in this country based partly on Cetero’s fraudulent tests.  Most of these drugs were generics of name-brand drugs.  Astoundingly, Cetero scientists had not even run tests on whether the ingredients in the generics were the same as the originals.  These drug tests included ones for seemingly harmless generics such as ibuprofen gelatin capsules, which were sold by one of the country’s largest grocery store chains for months before the FDA was assured they were safe.

Agent Stone expected the FDA to rapidly alert patients and doctors. However, in its usual fashion, the agency was not only slow to act, it didn’t publicly announce anything. Instead, it quietly “handled” the matter. No drugs were pulled off the market.  What’s more amazing is that even now, some of these drugs are still on the market even though the FDA has absolutely no idea of their safety or effectiveness.

But wait, there’s more!  On two separate occasions, the FDA announced it was making drug makers reanalyze, repeat or audit Cetero’s research.  They even gave them deadlines to report their findings back to the agency.  However, both times, the agency allowed some of these manufacturers to extend their deadlines, while other companies simply removed their drugs from the market.

It is now April 2013 – three years after the initial “drug bust,” (so to speak).  The FDA has finished reviewing only 21 of the 53 submissions.  This means that many consumers of over-the-counter drugs or patients prescribed more serious drugs are taking them to this very day.

Believe it or not, the FDA is refusing to disclose the names of the drugs it’s evaluating, claiming that in doing so, it would expose “confidential commercial information.  The agency defended its handling of the situation.  In fact, Janet Woodcock, Director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said “It is non-trivial to have to redo all this, to withdraw drugs, to alarm the public and the providers for a large range of drugs.  “There are consequences. To repeat the studies requires human experimentation, and that is not totally without risk.”  She also said that the potential for harm from drugs tested by Cetera was “quite low” as confirmed by the fact that there were no problems with drugs the agency had reviewed.  (Remember, the number of drugs reviewed was less than half of those submitted.)

Woodcock added that an agency risk assessment found the potential for harm from drugs tested by Cetero to be “quite low,” as “confirmed” by the fact that no problems have been found in the drugs the agency has finished reviewing.

Many experts say the FDA is refusing to meet its public obligations by not disclosing its findings of the 21 completed reviews.  David Kessler, who headed the FDA from 1990 to 1997 and is now a professor at the University of California said,  “If there are problems with the scientific studies, as there have been in this case, then the FDA’s review of those problems needs to be transparent.  FDA may be right here, but if it wants public confidence, they should be transparent. Otherwise it’s just a black box.”

So what does Stone, the former FDA investigator have to say?  “They could have done more.  They should have done more.”  That’s an understatement, to say the least.  He also said that there are thousands of bioequivalence studies done each year, each generating thousands of pages of paper records.  According to Stone, “Do you really think we’re going to look at 100 percent of them? We’re going to look at maybe 5 percent if we’re lucky.  Sometimes 1 percent.”  I admire his candor, but am abhorred by this and so many other blatant mishaps by the FDA.  Is it incompetence or is the FDA in bed with the drug companies?  That’s another story.  All I know is that it’s time for some real changes to how Big Pharma and the FDA conduct their business.

Bus Accident Should Cause Awareness For Better Safety

Angel Reyes III Auto Accidents

buscrash-300x225Around 9 a.m. this morning, there was a bus accident on Bush Turnpike in Irving, Texas.  The bus hit a rubber crash barrier on the east side of the tollway, swerved across two lanes of traffic, crashed into the middle concrete barrier, and finally flipped over onto the grassy area in the middle of the turnpike.  The flipped bus ended up on it’s right side (where the exit doors were located) and many passengers tried to climb out through the emergency hatches on the roof, or through the windows.  The reason for the crash is still under investigation.

There were 45 people on the passenger list at the time of the incident.  Most of them were reported to be elderly.  Two of these people didn’t survive this tragedy and 41 were injured.  When the emergency vehicles arrived, people were rushed to nearby hospitals.  Victims experienced everything from cuts and scrapes to severe internal injuries.  Sixteen of the patients are in critical condition.

Most of the bus passengers were not wearing seatbelts during the time of the crash.  As a result, when this crash occurred, many people ended up crushing each other in a pile.

Sadly, this is just one of many bus accidents reported annually.  A 2010 national report stated that there were 13,000 buses involved in crashes that year, resulting in 226 fatalities and countless injuries.  In Texas alone, there were 2,358 school bus accidents that occurred during the 2011-2012 school year (Texas Eduaction Agency report).

Safety should be taken very seriously.  Although we can’t completely avoid accidents like this because they’re unforeseen and can occur spontaneously, we can help save lives by enforcing safety rules.  Had passenger involved in this accident been wearing their seatbelts there would have been far less injuries.  It is crucial to follow safety rules and guidelines for any type of transportation.  Remember that buckling up can help save both your life and the lives of those around you.  Perhaps stricter laws should be enforced to ensure that all bus safety rules are followed.

Contact Reyes | Browne | Reilley today if you or someone you care about has been injured in a bus accident. We will help you get the compensation you deserve.  Call us at 214-526-7900 or submit the short Case Review form on the right.

18-Wheeler Accidents in Texas

Angel Reyes III Truck Accidents

reyes-blog-040113-300x200Driving next to 18-wheelers can be both scary and dangerous. The large and powerful force of a semi-truck roaring down the road is intimidating to drivers of smaller vehicles, trucks, and motorcycles. 18-wheelers are involved in some of the biggest and deadliest accidents across America. Although 18-wheeler truck drivers are licensed professionals, trucking accidents still occur quite frequently.

Every year in the US there are approximately 400,000 trucking accidents, which comprise about 8% of all motor accidents – 4,500 of which are fatal. Although that may seem like a small number, when you consider that there are far fewer 18-wheelers than any other vehicles on the road, this figure is astounding.

I-35 in Texas is ranked as #5 in top deadliest highways across America. With all the 18-wheelers zooming across the state, there’s good reason for concern. In Texas alone, there were over 16,401 crashes involving semi-trucks in a 2011 report, 299 of which resulted in death.

The common cause for 18-wheeler accidents is driver fatigue. Although there are laws limiting how much time can be spent driving on the road, many drivers exceed that limit. When traveling those long stretches of lonely Texas roads, driving can be especially tiring. Other causes of 18-wheeler accidents include tire blowouts, faulty equipment, and sideswiping other vehicles when changing lanes because of blind spots.

Contact Angel Reyes and Associates today if you or someone you care about has been injured in an 18-wheeler accident. We will help you get the compensation you deserve.