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January 2012 Archives

Hips-a-billion: Big Losses for J&J in Replacement Hip Recall

Johnson & Johnson suffered more than three billion in losses due to a recall of artificial hips, reports The New York Times.

The J&J artificial hip recall came from DePuy Orthopaedics Unit, which made the “metal-on-metal” (not Lollapallooza’s new name) hip that that shed metal fragments.

Beyond the financial losses and the hit the hips took in terms of reputation, was also the matter of the hip replacement lawsuits going through the court system, reports Bloomberg.

Prostate Cancer Screening: PSA Blood Tests Criticized

New data from one of the larger studies of prostate cancer screening are showing that the commonly used PSA blood test may not save lives, reports The New York Times.

The verdict that healthy men shouldn't get the prostate-specific antigen test, or PSA blood test, came down from the United States Preventive Services Task Force. Its conclusions was based on five clinical trials, which showed that while PSA screening did detect more cancers, it didn't save more lives as compared with a group of men that received routine medical care.

Mercury's Dangers: New Federal Standards for Mercury

New federal standards for mercury, the heavy metal with a toxic impact on humans and animals, have been released, reports The New York Times.

Methylmercury, which is the most potently toxic form of mercury, was found to be widespread in the Northeast. This includes lakes, rivers, forests, and marshes.

Mercury is released into the air when coal is burned. It causes neurological disorders in humans, especially children, causing learning disabilities. Mercury's dangers go further: it causes up to 100,000 heart and asthma attacks per year, reports the Environmental Protection Agency.

Dentist Michael Clair's Paper Clip Root Canals

Take the scariest and most painful dental procedure known to man and imagine all the ways a dentist might make it even worse. For some Medicaid patients in Fall River, this was precisely their situation when dentist Michael Clair allegedly used sections of paper clips instead of stainless steel posts to do their root canals, reports the Associated Press.

As a result of this mind-boggling act, the dentist is being charged criminally. He pled guilty to defrauding Medicaid, assault and battery, illegally prescribing prescription drugs, and witness intimidation. It turns out that his attempt to do paper clip root canals was an attempt to save money.

BMW Recall: Mini Cooper Fire Hazard Recall

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is requiring nearly 90,000 Mini Coopers be recalled, reports The New York Times. The problem is that the turbocharged edition, the S, might catch fire when the engine is off (um, ok).

For the gearheads, the real problem is that "auxiliary water pump designed to dissipate heat from the turbocharger was the cause of the hazard." After this, the water pump may fail. In other words, the car catches fire because it gets too hot and there is no water to put out the fire, i.e. a mini-history of human failure.

Victims of Cape Cod Plane Crash Identified

The victims of a Cape Cod plane crash have been identified, reports the Boston Globe.

The men, Oulton Hues, 73, of Norwood, and Robert Walker, 68, of East Falmouth, both died when the single-engine Piper Comanche went down. Both men were certified pilots, reports the Globe.

Oulton Hues had worked for Raytheon and served in the Navy from 1957 to 1961.

Dick Cheney-esque State Trooper John Bergeron Shoots Man

After State Trooper John Bergeron accidentally shot his neighbor, a hunter’s advocacy group is calling for his head, well, at least the head in his picture on his hunting license, reports the Boston Globe.

The Sportsmen’s Alliance sent a letter to various police departments around the state, telling them that the incident had cast a negative light on all hunters. The Sportsmen’s Alliance wants Bergeron charged under a law that says, “”A person shall not use any firearm, bow and arrow or other weapon or article in a careless or negligent manner so as to cause bodily injury or death to another while engaged in hunting or target shooting.”

Ford Recalls Minivans and SUV's

Ford, the Detroit auto-maker, will be recalling nearly half a million vehicles because of mechanical issues, reports the Boston Globe.

The Ford recall is for both Minivans and SUV's, specifically, the 2004 and 2005 Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans, and the 2001 and 2002 Ford Escape SUV's. The Ford recall minivans apparently have a problem with their torque converter output shaft and that can cause a loss of power.

As for the Ford recall SUV's, they have a leaky brake fluid cap which can result in fire if the fluid leaks and damages the electrical connector.

Lead Poisining in Children Threshold: Getting Lower?

One of the committees inside the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has advised the CDC should lower the threshold for lead poisoning in children, reports the New York Times's Motherlode Blog.

Lowering the threshold for lead poisoning would mean a lot more children would meet the standard for lead poisoning. Lead is likely to be present in most homes built before 1978, says The Times, and a high level of lead can lead to developmental delays, organ failures and other physical consequences.

Ski Chairlift Accident: Nipmuc HS's John 'Jack' Street Killed

Nipmuc Regional High School's ski team member, John "Jack" Street was killed when he possibly suffered a seizure and fell 25 feet down from a ski chairlift at the Ski Ward ski area, reports the Boston Globe.

Jack Street's death is under investigation by Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.'s office, though from the reports it sounds like the young man suffered a seizure before falling.

Don't be the Victim of a Loan Modification Scam

In a fairly ingenuous piece of scam-busting, the Mass. Office of Consumer Affairs created an entire front-facing website that mimics and models itself after the usual loan modification scamming websites. It has all the same big-sized fonts, images of distressed people holding their head, and lots of use of the word “foreclosure.” It even has testimonials from made-up people.

The foreclosure fraud website looks so legit that you will actually think that ModExperts is a real company.

However, the moment you click on any of the outbound links, you are taken to a second page which screams: THIS IS A SCAM. You also see a big sign for the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation.