Articles Posted in Health & Wellness

U.S. MarinesMarine Corps Base Camp Lejeune (Camp Lejeune) is an important military base and training facility for the U.S. Marine Corps. Located on the coast of North Carolina, many Marines and their families have spent extended time at this base. In fact, before law school I was an English instructor at Coastal Carolina Community College, located just a few miles away from Camp Lejeune. I taught hundreds of students who were active-duty Marines or Marine-dependents, and many of them lived or worked on the base.

However, from at least August 1, 1953 to December 31, 1987, many of the base residents were likely exposed to toxic chemicals from the drinking water. And this exposure has potentially led to a variety of serious medical issues, including death.

But for the time being, taking legal action for injuries relating to toxic water exposure at Camp Lejeune has been impossible. But the likely enactment of a new federal law should change that.

CPAP and cancerIf you’ve used a Philips Respironics (Philips) CPAP or BiPAP machine to help with your sleep apnea, then there’s a good chance you’re aware that your Philips machine could be subject to a recall. I’ve written about this recall, as well as the health risks related to it and potential legal options if you’ve been harmed by your defective CPAP or BiPAP machine. In this blog post, I’ll look at one of the reasons why using one of these defective machines is so dangerous. I’ll focus on some of the studies that support the possibility that using one of these Philips machines could put you at greater risk for developing cancer.

How Do the Philips CPAP and BiPAP Machines Potentially Cause Cancer?

CPAP machine for people with sleep apnea.Many Philips CPAP and BiPAP machines (as well as Philips ventilators, but this blog post won’t focus on those) are made with polyester-based polyurethane (PE-PUR) foam. This foam is used to reduce the perceived sound and vibration coming from the CPAP and BiPAP machines. This is because many people who use these machines only use them when trying to sleep. So it’s important to make the machine as quiet as possible.

CPAP machine for people with sleep apnea.Millions of people use the CPAP and BiPAP machines to alleviate symptoms of sleep apnea, so there’s a lot of people that should be interested in this topic. I’m going to move pretty quickly through this information, but I do want to start from the very beginning:

What is a CPAP and a BiPAP machine?

CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. This machine is programmed to produce pressurized air at one steady air pressure level. The way this works is if you want to change the air pressure on any CPAP machine, you have to reset the device’s settings. CPAP machines are extremely common. There are millions of CPAP machines in use and they’re used to treat obstructive sleep apnea.

CPAP Machine Recalls
Philips Respironics (Philips) is a leading manufacturer of CPAP and BiPAP machines to help individuals treat their sleep apnea. Philips also makes ventilators which are often used in the medical setting. Earlier this summer, they announced a recall of many of these devices due to the potential harm they could cause their users. Let’s take a quick look at the nature of this recall and the resulting litigation.

Why Is There a Recall?

A variety of ventilators, CPAP and BiPAP machines produced by Philips use polyester-based polyurethane (PE-PUR) foam. The purpose of this material is to reduce the sound and vibration from these devices. However, this foam may break down and injure the user. It’s suspected that high heat and humidity could make this problem worse.

My friend and former client, a victim of an artificial hip failure, sat down with me for a great conversation last month. You can listen to that podcast episode here. The other day she sent a note to offer a bit more helpful advice to those individuals working to regain strength and physical health after hip replacement surgery and especially after hip revision surgeries:

Rehabbing after hip replacement surgery

The one thing that I forgot to say that I think may be important for someone:  After several years and seemingly reaching a plateau in my strength and recovery, but still faraway from where I needed to be to walk and function more normally, I started to work with a personal trainer in strength and weight-lifting. Doing mainly squats and deadlifts, beginning with just weighted plastic pipes, and it made a drastic change in my recovery.  It would take a very knowledgeable and patient trainer, but the results were significant. Once I achieved a little more strength through a range of motion, I progressed and my gait improved and I could walk without such a limp.  

Thanks Clay!

Paraquat and Parkinson's DiseaseIt sounds like an exotic fruit, or perhaps a cute little pet name, but touching or eating paraquat dichloride (paraquat) can result in nasty consequences. This toxic substance has a significant history, but more recently, has been linked to Parkinson’s disease. As a result, the herbicide has been subject to litigation. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at paraquat and the emerging lawsuits.

What Is Paraquat?

Historically, paraquat has had two main uses. First, and sadly, it’s been an effective way of committing suicide. Ingesting just one sip could result in death. In fact, when South Korea banned the herbicide in 2011, its overall suicide rate fell 10% and its suicide rate by herbicide or fungicide dropped by more than 46%.

Retired Army Ranger Chet Sechrest and I continue our conversation on the potential for hearing damage in the military, the crucial need for proper hearing protection, and 3M Earplugs:

image-300x200Clay: So Chet as a medic you would supervise and train soldiers in the proper use of hearing protection? But you also said the Army beat into your heads the importance of protecting your hearing in whatever you were doing in the field?

Chet: Absolutely. In fact, for a long time, they had the annual hearing exam requirement. And it was like a pre-deployment requirement, you couldn’t deploy unless you had your hearing exam for that year. So the command was interested in tracking, hearing issues, to make sure that you know, not everybody’s going to go deaf. Does that make sense?

3M Earplugs and Hearing LossYou likely know there is massive litigation emerging around 3M Company’s Combat Arms, dual-sided earplugs. These 3M Earplugs were sold to the U.S. government and distributed to members of the military in a huge contract over a period of 12 or 13 years. And many lawsuits have been filed recently that allege that these 3M Earplugs were defective, and they left thousands and thousands of soldiers with permanent hearing loss or tinnitus. It’s called noise-induced hearing damage. So my friend Chet Sechrest will talk about the unique ways that soldiers are exposed to loud noises. And it’s not always what you think; it’s not simply shooting a rifle or getting trained and the use of weapons or rifles, but also it could be serving as a mechanic for heavy engines, or being exposed to loud tanks or other industrial equipment. And as Chet points out, it could also simply be taking rides on very loud helicopters over and over again without the proper hearing protection. But that’s enough of an introduction. Let’s get to my Q&A with Chet Sechrest.

Clay: Chet was an Army Ranger and a member of Special Forces. He pulled three tours of duty in Iraq. So Chet, how long did you serve in the military?

Chet: I served a total of 27 years and nine months in the military.

Firefighter using AFFF foamFirefighters have a host of tools available to them to fight fires. Some of these are simple, like high-pressure water. Others are more state-of-the-art, like forward-looking infrared handheld cameras and aerial drones. One of the special tools in a firefighter’s arsenal is aqueous film-forming foam, or AFFF. This “fire foam” has served as a highly effective fire suppressant for about half a century. Unfortunately, exposure to this substance has been linked to serious health problems, including cancer.

Let’s take a closer look at AFFF, its relationship to cancer and what it means for those who might have been exposed.

What Is AFFF?

Let’s dive back in to my hip replacement surgery conversation with Physical Therapist Amy Dougherty, who discusses what sports to avoid after hip surgery and what it feels like when a person suffer an artificial hip failure:

Safe and Unsafe Activities and Sports

Clay: What are some sports that you would discourage [after hip replacement surgery]? I know there is a huge range of results and people who are dealing with certain physical issues. But are there any sports you’ve seen as a physical therapist that you say “Do not do this after hip replacement surgery?”

Client Reviews
★★★★★
I was involved in a case for the faulty hip replacements. Clay Hodges represented me. I can't say enough about how much he has helped me. Clay was able to win multiple settlements on my behalf with most of them being the maximum amount able to be awarded. Matt J.
★★★★★
Clay, thank you sir for making a disheartening experience at least palatable, you and your staff were honest, caring and understanding through the entire process of my wife’s hip replacements, while monetary settlements never make the pain and suffering end, it sometimes is the only way people can fight back to right a wrong. J. V.
★★★★★
We are absolutely pleased with how Clay Hodges handled my husband’s hip replacement claim. He always kept us informed of the progress. And, his work resulted in a settlement which we are extremely pleased. Thank you, Clay! Carol L. & Norm L.
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