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  • SSD provides assistance to stroke victims

    Old lady (91 yrs.) in the foster homeA stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted or when blood vessels hemorrhage, causing brain cell damage. About 795,000 people suffer a stroke each year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sadly, stroke victims in Illinois may face various lingering physical and mental complications. As any Social Security attorney in Chicago can attest, these complications can be highly debilitating.

    Social Security Disability benefits may be available to some stroke survivors. However, these individuals must meet various medical and general criteria to be considered eligible for benefits. Furthermore, people seeking SSD benefits must provide extensive documentation to prove their conditions meet Social Security’s strict standards.

    SSD eligibility

    Social Security uses a specialized definition of “disabled,” which excludes short-term conditions and conditions that allow gainful employment. Under this definition, a person’s disabling condition must be projected to last longer than one year or result in death. The condition must also prevent the person from performing previously held jobs or adapting to new work.

    People who qualify as disabled must additionally meet financial criteria. In 2015, Social Security does not let people collect SSD benefits if they have monthly income greater than $1,090. The only exception is for blind individuals, who can make up to $1,820. People seeking SSD benefits also must qualify as “insured” based on their earnings. Social Security only considers people insured if they have enough recent and overall earnings. The specific amount needed depends on the person’s age.

    People who fail to meet these criteria cannot collect benefits, no matter how debilitating their conditions are. If an applicant meets these requirements, Social Security still must evaluate the medical merits of the applicant’s claim. Social Security may award benefits if an applicant suffers from a condition listed in the “Blue Book” of impairments. Social Security may also award a medical-vocational allowance after evaluating an applicant’s ability to work despite the stroke.

    Medical criteria

    Stroke is included in the Blue Book, as any Social Security attorney in Chicago can confirm. Victims must document specific side effects to meet the listing requirements. Victims must struggle to form or understand words and, as a result, experience difficulty speaking or writing. Alternately, victims must struggle to control two extremities, resulting in issues with walking, fine motor movements or gross movements. These effects must be evident at least three months after the stroke occurs.

    If a stroke causes other disabling conditions or impairments, a victim may qualify for benefits under another Blue Book listing. For example, a person who experiences visual field loss due to a stroke may seek benefits under that listing. In this case, the individual would focus on documenting the visual loss, rather than the other effects of the stroke.

    People who do not meet any Blue Book listing terms may qualify for medical-vocational allowances. When awarding allowances, Social Security considers what type of work a person is reasonably able to perform. Along with the person’s medical condition, Social Security weighs age, skills, experience and functional limitations. If, together, these factors don’t reasonably allow a person to work gainfully, the person may receive an allowance.

    Functional limitations

    Stroke victims may experience numerous functional restrictions, given the variety of complications associated with stroke. As a Social Security attorney in Chicago knows, these could include the following difficulties:

    • Physical limitations — stroke can cause bodily weakness, stiffness and numbness. This can impede victims in performing many physical tasks, such as walking, standing, lifting and manipulating objects. Additional physical symptoms, such as issues with balance, may further limit a person’s functional capabilities.
    • Cognitive effects — stroke may cause issues with memory, recognition, speech and reasoning. Victims may have trouble reading, communicating and carrying out mentally demanding tasks. These effects may limit victims from performing many sedentary jobs.
    • Emotional changes — stroke can also result in emotional and behavioral changes. Victims may experience anxiety, depression or irritability, along with general behavioral shifts, such a heightened tendency to act carelessly. These changes may affect a person’s ability to function in social environments, including the workplace.

    As a Social Security attorney in Chicago can explain, victims can strengthen their claims by documenting these limitations. Victims can provide firsthand accounts of their symptoms. Personal sources, such as family members, can describe the restrictions a victim faces. A treating physician also can provide statements about a victim’s impairments and remaining capabilities.

    Stroke victims may benefit from directly asking a treating physician to complete a Residual Functional Capacity form. This form allows for specific descriptions of how effectively and persistently a person can perform certain tasks. The form also declares the level of work an applicant can engage in, with options ranging from sedentary to heavy. An accurate RFC analysis can make a significant difference in the outcome of a stroke victim’s claim.

    Timing considerations

    People who seek SSD benefits soon after suffering from a stroke will not receive an immediate claim decision. Social Security defers the decision because the long-term effects of a stroke are not always immediately clear. Some early side effects may resolve in time, while others may prove persistent. Therefore, as any Social Security attorney in Chicago understands, Social Security always evaluates these claims at least three months after the stroke.

    Stroke victims may benefit from delaying their applications to secure current medical records and statements at the three-month mark. However, victims should consider gathering documentation of the stroke and any related complications soon after the stroke occurs. This can help strengthen an eventual claim by establishing the longevity and potential worsening of symptoms and complications.

  • Are leasing companies exempt from negligent truck drivers’ actions?

    Truck on roadThe Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports that truck crashes have increased in the past few years. According to Illinois statistics, there were over 5,500 collisions involving large trucks in 2012. Liability in a collision involving a tractor trailer is seldom as straightforward as those involving two or more passenger vehicles. Truck accident lawyers in Chicago often must explain to victims that a number of parties may be at fault.

    Multiple companies involved

    A carrier company is required to have permits to operate its trucks, but frequently the carrier is not the owner of the truck. Sometimes a driver may independently lease a truck from a truck company and then contract with the carrier to provide transportation services. In other cases, the carrier company may own the truck but lease it to a driver with the option to purchase. The many leasing options available in the trucking industry can make it difficult to determine who is liable when a trucker causes injury to another person.

    According to a news story reported in Overdrive Magazine, a woman in a stationary vehicle was struck and killed by a tractor trailer. Her spouse sued the driver for negligence. He also sued the driver’s employer and the company that leased the truck to the employer. In this case, the leasing company and the driver’s employer were subsidiaries of the same holding company, which was also named in the negligence suit.

    The Graves Amendment

    The leasing company argued in appellate court that the Graves Amendment should protect it from any liability. The Graves Amendment is a federal statute which grants immunity to vehicle rental and leasing companies whose vehicles are involved in accidents by those that lease them. It overrides state laws holding truck owners vicariously liable for their drivers’ behaviors.

    However, federal law states that the truck owner is liable for any tractor trailer displaying its information. The amendment only affects companies who lease vehicles using a simple lease agreement, such as when an individual leases a truck. Because the employer, the leasing company and the holding company had a much more substantial connection to the truck involved in the fatal collision, the appellate court ruled that none of the companies was exempt from the negligence suit. The outcome of the suit, which was filed in a lower court, has yet to be determined.

    Establishing negligence

    Truck accident lawyers in Chicago typically understand that commercial vehicles are equipped with onboard computers and other means of discovering the causes of a crash. If evidence indicates that there were maintenance, repair or inspection issues, the owner of the truck and the lessee could be liable for negligence, even though the operator may also be held responsible for driver error.

    Victims and family members devastated by a collision involving a commercial truck may be able to receive compensation from more than one source. Truck accident lawyers in Chicago may provide legal advice that leads to holding all responsible parties liable for injuries, fatalities and the pain and suffering that accompany these accidents.

  • Do electronic records pose a risk to patient safety?

    Young man in the officeThe Affordable Care Act has changed many facets of health care for Illinois residents. Not all of these changes are necessarily beneficial. In 2009, the new law offered incentives for doctors who began using electronic health records in their practices. Now, providers are facing hefty penalty fees if they do not implement the systems. The goal of the program is to streamline medical recordkeeping and eliminate paper files. Critics say the future of medicine does include electronic health records, but the fines are unfair at this stage, when the flaws in the systems render them impractical and even dangerous.

    In January of 2015, the American Medical Association led 37 medical societies in sending a letter to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department. The letter stated that medical professionals believe the cumbersome electronic programs are not only less efficient, they also compromise patient safety. An Illinois medical malpractice lawyer may express concern about the problems providers and their patients are experiencing due to these systems.

    Program malfunctions

    The potential for medical errors is present in many different parts of the electronic recordkeeping process. These include issues such as self-populating fields that are difficult to check, the ability to accidentally cut and paste between the wrong records, and the potential for data loss through system glitches. While computer errors can cause problems in any profession, an Illinois medical malpractice lawyer is aware that they are potentially fatal in the medical field.

    A recent federal survey that included 10,000 physicians evaluated the success of the health record program. According to a USA Today news report on the results, 15 percent of the participants claimed electronic record systems could have led to serious medical errors. In some cases, the computer programs directed the providers to prescribe wrong medications. There were also problems with systems indicating lab orders were necessary, even though the tests were not appropriate for the patients.

    Higher risks

    Physicians claim they are having to spend too much time putting information into the computer and can no longer spend an adequate amount of time with each patient. When doctors spend less time discussing symptoms and concerns with patients, the risk of making a wrong diagnosis is much higher. Patients are noticing shorter visits and longer wait times, and many complain that doctors pay too much attention to the computers and are distracted during the sessions.

    When doctors are unable to focus on patient safety due to malfunctioning, confusing or distracting computer programs, the potential for medical malpractice is much higher. An Illinois medical malpractice lawyer may be able to help victims of physician or system errors to receive compensation to cover medical expenses, pain and suffering and lost quality of life.

  • Will proposed workers’ comp changes help injured Illinois workers or harm them?

    Last will and testamentWorkers’ compensation is designed to help injured employees recover after a trauma on the job. Gov. Bruce Rauner of Illinois is currently proposing a number of changes to state workers’ compensation law. Proponents argue that these changes are intended to make the process of awarding benefits easier for businesses and injured workers. Other people are wary of the intended reforms, saying that they will hurt hard-working families who need support after injuries.

    Recent workers’ compensation reforms in Illinois

    Workers’ compensation reform has taken place on a large scale during recent years, as every Illinois work injury attorney knows. New laws passed in 2011 were created to help decrease insurance premiums for employers in Illinois. These decreased costs have translated into increased wages for some workers. Other employees have reacted negatively to the reforms, which have brought them no increase in income and a considerable increase in red tape.

    Businesses not satisfied with the status quo

    According to a recent study by the Department of Consumer and Business Services, the cost of workers’ compensation premiums in Illinois currently ranks seventh highest out of 50 states. Some companies find this situation intolerable. The reform package of 2011 did not do enough to combat rising insurance costs, according to some business owners. Proposed changes to Illinois workers’ compensation law may help regulate this situation and make life easier for small and medium-sized businesses.

    Proposed changes during 2015 and beyond

    Gov. Rauner suggests a number of workers’ compensation reforms during 2015 and beyond, including all of the following:

    • Apportioning work-related injuries more carefully to rule out non-eligible cases
    • Revising excessively strict safety and health regulations in workplaces
    • Cutting down on compensation for traveling and commuting employees

    While some business owners embrace these suggested reforms, some employees and labor advocates argue that they will create an unsafe and unfair environment for workers.

    Possible effects on medical coverage

    An Illinois work injury attorney is aware that changes in workers’ compensation law also affect medical coverage for injured employees. Gov. Rauner’s proposed reforms include a crackdown on “doctor shopping,” the practice of visiting multiple doctors after a work-related trauma. Worker advocates say this ban would rob disabled employees of their right to a second opinion about an injury.

    Navigating the labyrinth of changing legislation can be hard for disabled workers. People who have been hurt on the job should consider talking with an Illinois work injury attorney.

  • 3 tips on living with a disability budget

    Businessman drawing up a to do listSocial Security Disability benefits are only available to people who cannot perform gainful work. In 2015, people earning over $1,090 per month cannot receive SSD benefits, as any disability lawyer in Chicago can attest. Due to this requirement, covering regular monthly costs may be a challenge for many SSD beneficiaries. The following measures can help beneficiaries reduce their expenses and create a reasonable disability budget.

    1. Reduce general expenses

    SSD beneficiaries should make monthly budgets that account for all income and necessary expenses. These expenses include housing, utilities, insurance, food, gas and savings. Then, beneficiaries can determine whether they need to reduce any essential costs. Beneficiaries should also identify luxury expenses, such as cable, dining out and travel, and reduce or eliminate them completely.

    SSD beneficiaries additionally should consider ways to lower unavoidable living expenses. As any disability lawyer in Chicago knows, beneficiaries may be eligible for various forms of public assistance. These include food stamps, subsidized housing and state welfare programs. People who have been eligible for SSD benefits for a period of two years also qualify for Medicare coverage.

    1. Control housing costs

    Housing expenses are one of the most significant expenses most individuals face. Financial experts recommend that housing should cost no more than 25 to 30 percent of monthly income. People who have significantly higher mortgage or rent payments should consider relocating or taking other steps to reduce this expense.

    If public assistance isn’t available, SSD beneficiaries may be able to lower living expenses in a few ways. Beneficiaries can live with a roommate or in shared housing. Beneficiaries who can perform limited work may enter living arrangements that offer reduced rent costs. For instance, someone with a physical disability could act as a companion to an elderly person. Renting a house or apartment to travelers for a few days per month can also help offset living costs.

    1. Check benefit amounts

    In addition to limiting expenses, SSD beneficiaries should consider whether they are receiving the full amounts they are entitled to. A person’s initial SSD benefit amount may increase later for a few reasons. First, SSD benefits may be reduced based on the amount of public disability benefits, such as workers’ compensation, that a beneficiary receives. People who previously collected these benefits may be entitled to greater SSD payments after the benefits cease.

    Additionally, people whose earnings increased significantly during the year before the disability began may qualify for larger SSD benefit amounts. When Social Security first determines a person’s benefit amount, complete records of recent earnings may not be available. Therefore, as a disability lawyer in Chicago can explain, a person’s benefit may change once updated earnings records become available.

  • What are the 2 leading causes of medication errors?

    의학과 의약품Every individual reacts to medication differently, as many a medical malpractice lawyer in Illinois knows. Discovering the appropriate drug and dosage for any given health issue is a process that requires careful attention by the physician and the patient, as well as the pharmacist who fills the prescription. Any error during this medication process can cause serious side effects and even fatalities.

    According to the National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention, a medication error is an avoidable event that has the potential for inappropriate medication use or patient harm. This can occur during the prescribing, ordering, or filling of a drug. If a medical mistake causes an overdose or reaction, a provider or pharmacist may be guilty of malpractice.

    Improper dosages

    The FDA is responsible for evaluating reports of medication errors. Between 2000 and 2012, the agency received more than 95,000 medication error reports through MedWatch, the adverse event reporting program. The agency has done many studies based on these fatal medication error reports. In one such study, 41 percent of the reports were fatalities due to improper dosage administration. Nearly 50 percent of the victims were 60 or older. Researchers speculate the number is higher because of the risk involved in taking multiple prescription medications.

    Wrong medication

    Fatal errors are also frequently caused when patients are given the wrong drug. There are a number of different reasons this may happen. For example, when two prescription medications start with a similar sequence of letters, it is easy for pharmacists to grab the wrong one off the shelf during busy work hours. Some drug abbreviations are similar and easy to misread, and sloppy physician handwriting can exacerbate this issue. The FDA conducts reviews of proprietary and generic drug names, labels and packaging to eliminate as much confusion as possible and prevent the administration of the wrong medication.

    Patient protection

    According to the FDA’s public health advisory program, patients can help reduce the risk by asking their providers questions about medications. A medical malpractice lawyer in Illinois cautions that they should note the names and dosages before going to the pharmacy to pick up the prescriptions. The pharmacist should be consulted about the drug administered, the dosage and the potential side effects or reactions that it may have to other drugs currently taken.

    Victims of medication errors can develop serious health issues or permanent disabilities, and the mistakes can even be fatal. A medical malpractice lawyer in Illinois may be able to provide legal expertise to help victims or family members receive compensation to cover costs such as medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.

  • Are lab workers at risk for repetitive motion injury?

    aDoctorToolsCollage_contentLaboratory work can be a fascinating and challenging job. Unfortunately, lab workers also face the danger of repetitive motion injury and other musculoskeletal disorders. By learning about the ergonomic hazards of the job, employees can improve their comfort and cut their risk of repetitive trauma.

    Repetitive trauma risks in the lab

    The repetitive trauma risks faced by lab workers include all of the following:

    • Improper bench position and posture
    • Pipetting hazards
    • Fume hood hazards

    It is vital to learn the necessary ergonomic techniques to stay safe in the lab, as every Illinois work injury lawyer is aware.

    Common injuries among lab workers

    Repetitive stress injuries among lab workers do not develop overnight. They occur when people spend months or years doing detailed work with improper ergonomics. The typical results of these injuries include inflamed tendons, decreased blood flow, pinched nerves and a restricted range of motion. An Illinois work injury lawyer knows that lab injuries can be disabling if they are not caught and treated in time.

    Positive ergonomics for bench work

    Working in a laboratory often involves many hours at the lab bench. Improper posture or position can cause serious injury in the long run. Employees should use chairs with sufficient back support. If they are standing at the bench, they need shoes with proper arch cushioning. Seated workers are healthiest when they sit at benches with cutouts. These cutouts allow them to observe their work in detail while remaining supported against the back of the chair.

    Safety while pipetting

    Repetitive work with a pipette can be strenuous and may lead to joint damage. Workers can avoid the dangers of nerve or tendon trauma by using lightweight pipetters and a relaxed grip. For long-term tasks, an electronic pipette can cut down on wrist strain. After half an hour of pipetting, lab workers should take a brief break of one or two minutes before continuing.

    Dangers under the fume hood

    Working under a fume hood is a vital part of many laboratory tasks. It is important to use proper hood technique to avoid the risk of repetitive injury. Lab employees need to make sure that they are seated at a convenient height and located within six inches of the hood opening.

    According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, more than 500,000 Americans are currently employed in a laboratory environment. Lab work doesn’t have to be a safety hazard. Employees facing repetitive stress on the job should consider speaking with an Illinois work injury lawyer.

  • Can older drivers become impaired faster?

    Two women driving a car while drinkingThere is an increasing amount of focus on the effects of alcohol impairment behind the wheel due to the alarming number of fatalities that occur each year. According to the Illinois DUI Fact Book, alcohol-related crashes killed more than 300 people in 2013. Chicago car accident attorneys know that some of these crashes involve older impaired drivers.

    Awareness and advocacy groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Drivers work to dispel myths about alcohol and promote safer driving behaviors. Many of these awareness campaigns focus on the fact that alcohol has stronger effects on young drivers. However, drivers between the ages of 16 and 24 are not the only ones with an increased risk for alcohol impairment. According to American Family Physician, alcohol use by older adults in the U.S. may be underestimated.

    Alcohol and seniors

    In 2010, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that almost 40 percent of adults over the age of 65 drink alcohol. Any individual can develop a problem with alcohol, but older adults may not be aware that their bodies are no longer able to process their favorite beverages in the same way. Chicago car accident attorneys may well be concerned about the hazards this can create when these seniors get behind the wheel.

    According to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a person over the age of 65 who has never had a drinking problem should not exceed one alcoholic drink per day. A standard drink contains about 1.2 tablespoons of ethanol, which is the chemical name for pure alcohol. This is typically found in 12 ounces of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.

    Metabolizing rates

    There are many biological reasons that alcohol affects seniors more than younger adults. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that, as people age, their bodies lose the ability to effectively break down alcohol, so it remains in the bloodstream much longer.

    A person’s body processes alcohol differently than other foods or drinks in that alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream. Chicago car accident attorneys understand that this occurs at a different rate for each individual, although most charts estimate that it typically takes about an hour. Once in the blood vessels, the alcohol is distributed to cells everywhere in the body. As the liver metabolizes it, the alcohol is removed from the system.

    If an individual’s liver is not functioning at full capacity, the alcohol may not be processed or expelled at a normal rate. Another factor is that there is less water in the older body. One drink for an individual over 65 will create a higher blood alcohol content than for a younger person drinking the same amount.

    Alcohol and medication

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014 statistics indicate that among adults over the age of 65, about 90 percent take at least one prescription medication. More than 65 percent take three or more at any given time. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that people who are taking some prescription or over-the-counter medications should abstain from alcohol completely.

    Many drugs increase the effects of alcohol on the body. Judgment, awareness and reaction time can be more compromised, while side effects such as dizziness or drowsiness become more prominent factors. A drug’s negative interactions with alcohol can occur even when the medication is taken in the morning and the alcohol is drunk several hours later.

    Causes of increased drinking in older adults

    According to the National Institutes of Health, many life events that older adults commonly face are considered risk factors that could lead to a problem with alcohol. These risk factors include the following:

    • Pain
    • Retirement
    • Disability
    • Sleep problems
    • Loss of a spouse

    A traumatic or life-changing event is not the only risk factor for an alcohol problem that seniors face. Some people merely continue the same moderate drinking habits they had when they were younger, and may not notice that their tolerance has gone down.

    Alcohol effects and addiction

    Alcohol can affect many of the body’s systems over time, including the liver and the heart. Heavy drinkers increase their risks of certain cancers, immune system disorders and muscle and bone damage. When an individual already has a health condition such as diabetes, depression or high blood pressure, the alcohol use can exacerbate the issue.

    When older adults are aware of their vulnerability and increased risk, but find it difficult to make the decision to cut back, they may have developed an unhealthy dependence on alcohol. Substance abuse and addiction professionals encourage people to evaluate their drinking habits to determine whether a problem has developed. If an individual consistently goes over self-imposed limits or experiences an internal struggle over the desire to cut back, it may be time to seek help.

    Any alcohol increases crash risks

    Although one drink per day may be a relatively safe amount for physically healthy older adults, no amount of alcohol is ever safe when an individual is planning to drive. Anyone who takes one drink experiences impaired judgment and slower reaction times. More awareness campaigns focusing on the effects of alcohol on different age groups may help reduce the number of accidents each year.

    When older adults know about the increased risks they pose by getting behind the wheel after drinking, the choice to drink and drive is inexcusable. An individual who has suffered as a result of a crash caused by a drunk driver may have recourse to hold that person accountable. Chicago car accident attorneys are available to discuss options and may be able to help victims obtain compensation.

  • Is your depression work-related?

    Colleagues gossiping with sad businessman in foregroundWorking from 8 to 5—or even longer—can be hard on the brain and the emotions. Many people in America suffer from work-related depression. Even the most dynamic and exciting jobs can cause serious emotional stress. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mental health problems are common in a wide variety of workplaces, from major forestry operations to fast-paced professional kitchens.

    What is job-related depression?

    Job-related depression is a complex disorder that is characterized by distorted thinking, changes in mood and changes in behavior. It is precipitated by conditions on the job, but it may also be linked to hereditary or chemical dispositions inside the worker’s brain. A workers’ comp lawyer in Chicago knows that a mentally healthy employee may become severely depressed after facing difficult circumstances on the job such as persistent bullying, serious physical trauma or unsafe working conditions.

    How does job-related depression affect workers?

    Work-related depression can cause a number of destructive effects. Some of the most common issues include the following:

    • Absenteeism or unexplained disappearances from work
    • Decreased productivity
    • Serious problems with home life
    • Functional impairment
    • Permanent loss of experienced workers

    In extreme cases, job-related depression can even lead to suicide or lethally dangerous behaviors.

    Work depression by the numbers

    American workers suffer from higher levels of depression than ever before. These sobering statistics from a recent CDC survey show the scope of the problem. Four out of five people with job-related depression face some level of functional or cognitive impairment because of their condition. The financial cost of depression in the workplace is difficult to estimate, but CDC studies show that it causes a loss of up to 44 billion dollars each year. Depressed workers miss an average of five days of work every year because of their condition and struggle with reduced productivity on an average of 11 other days. These lost workdays add up to more than 200 million every year.

    Some professions are at higher risk

    Not all professions are equally prone to work-related depression. According to statistics compiled by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the highest frequency of major depression occurs in the food preparation industry and the service industry. More than 10 percent of workers in these industries suffer an episode of serious depression each year. In some other industries, such as maintenance, repair, architecture and engineering, the annual occurrence of major depression remains below 5 percent.

    Job demands can cause severe depression

    Rigid or unreasonable demands on the job can cause depression among workers. Once a depressive episode sets in, the employee is often unable to keep up with the requirements of the job, causing a downward spiral into poor mental health. Supervisors and colleagues may add to the problem with a lack of understanding or sympathy. Studies of depression in the workplace have isolated a number of important factors, including lack of empathy and social support, high demands and low levels of real or perceived control over the work situation. When these factors are present, depression is more likely to develop.

    Depression correlates with other job-related illnesses

    According to Mental Health America, job-related depression correlates strongly with a number of other illnesses. Employees who suffer from depression because of work conditions are more likely to suffer from diabetes, obesity, heart disease, stroke, substance abuse and eating disorders. The combined effect of depression and associated physical disorders can cost businesses millions of dollars every year.

    How can workers and employers fight job-related depression?

    There is no easy cure for work-related depression. Some employers have begun pursuing strategies to prevent this problem in the workplace. Free confidential screenings may help cut down on the rate of job-related depression, according to studies published by the CDC. Training workers and supervisors to recognize the telltale signs of depression is also effective in some situations. It is crucial to make sure that workers have full access to mental health benefits through their employer-sponsored health insurance programs.

    Options for workers with depression

    Job-related depression can cause severe disability and enforced absence from work, as a workers’ comp lawyer in Chicago knows. If a person is unable to come to work because of a depressive episode caused by job conditions, Illinois law provides the right to compensation and medical care during the period of recovery. Every worker has this right, regardless of any pre-existing medical or psychiatric conditions that may be present.

    A case study from a Chicago kitchen

    During the summer of 2008, a 34-year-old chef in a fashionable Chicago restaurant became severely depressed after a series of traumatic experiences on the job. He had suffered intense bullying and intimidation from his new supervisor in the kitchen for the previous six months. He also witnessed two severe traumas in the workplace, including one incident in which a colleague was hospitalized with life-threatening third degree burns after a large pot of boiling oil was accidentally spilled over his face, neck, arms and hands.

    Compensation for depression on the job

    The chef was unable to come to work because of severe depressive symptoms. When he had been absent for three weeks, he applied for workers’ compensation and was awarded temporary total disability for the duration of his recovery. After several months off work and intensive psychological treatment, he has recovered and is once again a successful Chicago restaurant professional.

    Depressed workers have rights

    Workers suffering from job-related depression have the same rights as employees who have suffered physical injuries. People struggling with mental health on the job may find it helpful to call a workers’ comp lawyer in Chicago.

  • Genetics-based medical treatment is not without problems

    Attrezzatura del ginecologoMany doctors and politicians are hailing genetics-based medical treatments as the future of medicine. With the personalized attention this medical approach allows, patients are expected to soon receive the best possible care in a manner specifically designed to match their genome.

    However, implementation of genetics-based medicine currently faces many problems. An Illinois medical errors attorney understands that until this method of care takes better hold in the medical community, patients are likely to experience serious problems with its use, including medical malpractice.

    What is genetics-based medical treatment?

    Genetics-based medical treatment, commonly referred to as Personalized Medicine, is the ability to identify and use an individual’s unique molecular characteristics to diagnose disease, select treatments and reduce adverse reactions. It is also preventative; patients learn how susceptible they may be to disease and may then take appropriate steps to reduce or eliminate their chances of being affected by the condition. This is all done through the examination of the genome, or the entirety of an individual’s genetic material, which is made up of DNA.

    Physicians’ lack of knowledge in genetics

    An Illinois medical errors attorney understands that one of the greatest hurdles patients face with genetics-based treatment is a lack of knowledge among current healthcare professionals. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that in 2012, there were 691,400 doctors practicing in the U.S. Physicians Foundation reports that between 70 and 85 percent of these doctors began practicing medicine before the human genome was even completed in 2001.

    Few doctors have a working knowledge of how to properly diagnose genetic conditions or how to relay results to patients. Physicians may not even have the ability to refer patients to geneticists, as there is currently a large shortage of doctors trained for these positions. The lack of knowledge is amplified when doctors turn to genetics testing companies for their information. These companies often speak in absolutes and may fail to disclose the true accuracy of their products.

    Potential for misdiagnosis

    The New Yorker reports that a little girl and her family recently received devastating news when her pediatrician failed to properly diagnose her. He stated that tests indicated she was suffering from DiGeorge syndrome. The symptoms she had fit with the syndrome, which is associated with growth and learning delays, heart defects and an increased risk of schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders.

    After speaking with a geneticist, the family learned that the missing section of DNA that her pediatrician used to diagnose the condition was actually not associated with DiGeorge syndrome. He concluded that the deletion was insignificant. The family would not face years of testing and screening in connection with the incurable syndrome.

    Patients who have been injured by a medical mistake should contact an Illinois medical errors attorney for assistance.

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Our firm handles workers' compensation and personal injury claims in Chicago, Berwyn, Joliet, Cicero, Waukegan, Chicago Heights, Elgin, Aurora, Oak Park, Oak Lawn, Schaumburg, Bolingbrook, Glendale Heights, Aurora, Niles, Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Naperville, Plainfield and all of Cook, DuPage, Lake, Will, McHenry, LaSalle, Kankakee, McLean and Peoria Counties.