Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Happiness Can Help Prevent Teen Crimes

A study by the University of California Davis shows that teenagers who report higher levels of happiness are less likely to be involved in criminal activity. Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers are aware that juvenile crimes are often the result of a low sense of emotional well-being.

The study’s findings were presented at the American Sociological Association’s Annual meeting in Las Vegas. According to the researchers, teenagers in grades 7 through 9 have a much lower risk of being involved in criminal activity if they are “happy.”

The researchers focused on the link between juvenile crimes and emotions and depression. The teens self-reported their crimes. The researchers analyzed these crime rates with self-assessments of the teenagers’ sense of emotional well-being.

About 29% of the juveniles had been involved in at least one crime, and 18% had used at least one illegal drug. Researchers found that criminal activity and drug use was less frequent in those juveniles who reported a much higher sense of emotional well-being. Juveniles who reported being frequently down and low were much more likely to report criminal activity as well as drug use.

The researchers monitored these juveniles, and found that when they reported a drop from happiness to depression over a period of one year, the increase in criminal activity was sharp.

Persons accused of juvenile crimes, may be tried in separate courts, under separate criminal laws than those that govern adults. In most juvenile crimes, the focus of the court will be the rehabilitation of the child, and not incarceration. However, minors accused of serious crimes like murder may be charged as adults. Juveniles accused of crimes have the same rights as adults do, including Miranda rights and the right to a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer.

Word Searches Can Help Locate Medical Errors Quicker Than Codes

A new study conducted by researchers at the Department of Veterans Affairs, has found that using simple text searches, like the ones that people use on Google, in electronic medical records systems could help identify medical errors quicker than the use of codes.

The researchers analyzed patient records at six Department of Veterans’ Affairs medical centers. They found that they were able to turn up at least 12 times as many cases of pneumonia and twice as many cases of kidney failure and severe blood infections simply by using single word searches, instead of using billing codes. These billing codes are used for reimbursement, and are also used as ratings for quality of care. Billing codes have been promoted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to evaluate the quality of care at American hospitals.

The researchers were so impressed with the results of the study that they now recommend configuring electronic medical record systems to enable text searches. They believe that this would allow hospitals to keep patients safer more easily than the use of traditional billing codes. Billing codes were devised for administrative purposes, and may not be best suited for patient safety objectives. Searches for English text were found to be more accurate and reliable in identifying medical errors.

Text searching is not available on all electronic medical record systems. However, some manufacturers have introduced semantic search in their systems. These systems allow doctors to search for patient records based on medical keywords.

However, Arizona medical malpractice lawyers would not recommend an immediate overhaul of the current medical record systems to include text searches. Health care professionals need to be trained to use text searches effectively in order to locate medical errors. Medical record systems in many hospitals are still fairly new, and need to stabilize.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

IRS Extends Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative Deadline to September 9

Anticipating delays due to Hurricane Irene, the Internal Revenue Service has extended the deadline for taxpayers to participate in the agency’s offshore voluntary disclosure initiative, to September 9. The earlier deadline was scheduled to expire on August 31.

Taxpayers who have undisclosed foreign bank accounts and have not yet submitted their documents are advised to take the following actions before September 9, 2011:

• Submit verification information to the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Office. This information must include the person’s name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number. The Internal Revenue Service also requires other details that are mentioned in the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure letter.

• Taxpayers who are unable to file this information before the deadline may apply for a 90-day extension of the deadline. Individuals requiring a deadline extension should submit their name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number. Individuals must also include a statement of all items that are missing, as well as the reasons why these are not being included in the statement.

The Internal Revenue Service is warning individuals who have income in undisclosed offshore accounts that the new deadline for disclosing this information is fast approaching. California tax lawyers also advise that taxpayers who voluntarily disclose information will receive a better deal from the IRS than those who wait for the agency to locate the undisclosed account.

The initiative is part of the Internal Revenue Services’ continued efforts to locate American citizens’ assets in banks and institutions. The Internal Revenue Service has already launched efforts against Credit Suisse and HSBC banks. In 2009, a similar initiative by the Internal Revenue Service to encourage individuals to voluntarily disclose information about foreign accounts resulted in approximately 15,000 disclosures of offshore bank accounts.

Motorcycle Helmets Could Increase Hearing Loss Risks

Motorcyclists who wear helmets while riding are definitely much better protected in an accident than those without helmets. A new study however, indicates that helmeted motorcyclists may be at a higher risk of suffering hearing loss.

Researchers used mannequins, and duplicated the kind of sound that a motorcyclist is exposed to when he is wearing a helmet and riding down a highway. They found that the sound of high velocity wind can enter through a point just below the helmet and reach the eardrums. The noise can be very loud, and can reach decibels of 150 or more. This is almost equal to the amount of noise that a worker using a power saw is exposed to without adequate ear protection. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, exposure to these levels of noise should limited to under fifteen minutes a day. This noise can damage the eardrums, and possibly cause hearing loss.

The effect of noise on a motorcyclist’s hearing has been explored before. Unfortunately, there are no noiseless helmets just like there are no noiseless motorcycles. Being exposed to high velocities of sound is a part of the motorcycling experience.

Some experts recommend that motorcyclists protect their hearing by wearing earplugs underneath their motorcycle helmets, as long as the earplugs you chose do not block out too much sound. Earplugs have always been recommended as a way of cutting out unnecessary or excessive noise while still allowing a motorcyclist to hear necessary sounds. For instance, earplugs will help block out the excessive sound of wind entering from underneath the helmet and into your ears. You will still be able to hear audio cues like the sound of other motorcycles or cars nearby.

Los Angeles motorcycle accident lawyers stress that under no circumstances should the results of the study be taken to mean that wearing motorcycle helmets is unsafe or dangerous in any way. There are still far too many benefits to wearing motorcycle helmets, compared to any perceived health hazards from wearing these.


Monday, 29 August 2011

In Spite of Benefits, Veterans with Brain Injury Not Eligible for Therapy Coverage

Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford's brain injury after the shocking shooting in Arizona early this year, and her triumphant return to Congress last month, have underscored the progress made by doctors who used cognitive rehabilitation therapy to treat her injuries. These therapies have been made possible by research that doctors have conducted on veterans with brain injury returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.However, these very same veterans do not enjoy the benefits of cognitive rehabilitation therapy, because it is not a covered treatment.

It is estimated that one out of every five veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffers from some kind of traumatic brain injury.Many of these injuries are concussions sustained as a result of impact from bomb explosions.The doctors studying brain injury treatment have based much of their research on returning service members.One of the therapies that have been found to have great benefits in the treatment of patients with traumatic brain injury is cognitive rehabilitation therapy.

Cognitive rehabilitation therapy includes a range of programs including speech and communication therapy and programs to boost a brain injury victim’s memory and social skills.This therapy is designed to help the patient to learn more than just how to walk and talk. Patients also need to learn how to perform routine tasks like dressing and feeding themselves, and cognitive rehabilitation therapy aims to accomplish the learning of these tasks.

However, cognitive rehabilitation therapy is not covered by health care insurance for veterans.Many veterans are covered under the TriCare Insurance Plan, and the program has refused to cover cognitive rehabilitation therapy on the basis that its benefits have not been conclusively proven.This is in spite of the fact that Department of Veterans Affairs,California veteran benefits lawyers and brain injury experts have found it to be an effective therapy for brain injury victims, and the fact that doctors have used it to great effect in a number of patients, like Gabrielle Gifford.Much of the reluctance to include cognitive rehabilitation therapy in insurance plans is the high cost of these treatments.

Prevent Sexual Abuse at Summer Camp

Every year, thousands of children in California head off to summer camp, filled with anticipation about midnight treats and sing-alongs, and endless days of freedom. For many children, summer camp is also where they are introduced to sexual abuse.

This summer, try to ensure that the camp that your child is attending has a safe environment. It’s not always easy to determine that a camp does not contain fertile conditions for abuse. In recent years, California sexual abuse attorneys have come across instances of abuse occurring at camps run by the Boy Scouts, or by conservative Christian groups. Simply put, there's no way you can be 100% sure that the threat of abuse in your child's life is completely eliminated at camp.

When you are checking out a camp, ask questions to ensure that personnel who are working at the camp have been put through a background verification and screening process. All camp staff members and volunteers must have been put through a complete criminal background check.
That includes a Megan's Law screening. Ask the camp operators whether and how they check a staff member’s references. Staff members at the camp must have been trained to watch out for signs of sexual abuse.

Ask questions about specifics. Ideally, more than one adult counselor should be assigned to sleep in a single cabin. No camp staff member should have the authority to take a child to an isolated place for any reason.

Before your child leaves for summer camp, make sure that he knows all the steps he needs to keep himself safe. If any staff member, older camper or any adult at the facility is trying to get your child alone or is making him uncomfortable or trying to touch him inappropriately, he needs to tell another adult immediately.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Santa Cruz Experiments with Predictive Policing

An experiment in law-enforcement in Santa Cruz, California is being watched closely not just by San Diego criminal defense lawyers, but also law-enforcement agencies across the country. The Santa Cruz Police Department is currently undertaking a “predictive policing” experiment, using a computer system that predicts crimes in certain areas before they occur, thereby leading police officers to the spot.

Such computerized predictive systems are in use in many cities across the country. However, those systems are older and calibrated less frequently. The system currently being used in Santa Cruz is calibrated on a daily basis which offers police officers fresh information about new crimes. The system generates predictions for which areas and times have the highest risk for crimes based on an analysis of past crimes.

Besides, predictive systems in other parts of the country rely more on human behavior than analysis. Additionally, most other systems that are currently used are based on past crime rates, and not any future projections.

According to the Santa Cruz Police Department, this is an innovative enforcement measure that has become necessary during a time of budget cuts. Around California, law enforcement agencies have been straining under increasingly limited resources. At the Santa Cruz Police Department, the numbers of personnel have declined by 20%, while the number of calls for service have increased by as much as 30%. In a situation like this, there was a need for a system that would ensure a more equitable distribution of the available resources.

The program in Santa Cruz began in July, and will be evaluated after a period of six months. According to police officers, there has already been a decline in the number of burglaries in July compared to the same month last year, suggesting that predictive policing has had some affect. However, it's too early to tell.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Court Rules Madoff Trustee Can Go Ahead with Clawbacks

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit district has handed a major victory to Irving H. Picard, the trustee who was given the unenviable task of overseeing the liquidation of Bernie Madoff’s investment firm. The Court has ruled that Picard can go ahead with his original plan of "clawbacks," - requiring "net winners," those who withdrew more than they invested from the scheme, to give up their gains.

Under Picard's plan, investors will be treated differently depending on their gains. Those investors who invested more money than they withdrew from the scheme, would be eligible to file claims for reimbursement. However, those investors who took out more than they invested, will be sued to recover their gains. One of the biggest clawbacks that Picard has attempted is one against the New York Mets. That lawsuit claims approximately $300 million dollars in profit that was recovered from Madoff’s investment firm.

Some San Diego securities lawyers have found that Mr. Picard's plan to deal with different types of investors is more consistent with legal standards than any other methods that have been suggested by investor groups and lawyers. The Court agreed. However, a number of investors targeted by Picard as part of his clawbacks scheme have resisted and have challenged his actions. According to these investors, determining the eligibility of investors must be based on the final account statements that were sent out by Bernie Madoff. However, the Second Circuit has rejected that position, holding that the use of fictitious account statements that showed phantom profits would be absurd.

With this victory, Picard’s plans become stronger and his plans for recovering money from net winners become easier. It doesn't seem likely that the investors who are opposing him would take the case all the way to the Supreme Court, or that the country's highest court would get involved even if they did.


Thursday, 11 August 2011

No Reason Strong Enough to Avoid Wearing Bicycle Helmets

In any accident involving a bicycle and an automobile, it is always a bicyclist who is at risk of being seriously injured. The only protection that a bicyclist has against fatal or serious injuries is a bicycle helmet. A poll by the British Medical Journal points to a number of reasons why bicyclists put off or avoid wearing helmets.

Respondents in the British Medical Journal found a variety of reasons to oppose mandatory bicycle helmets for all adult bicyclists. For one, respondents felt that mandating bicycle helmets for all would discourage more people from taking to bicycling. Everything Los Angeles bicycle accident lawyers have seen disputes this fact. In California, where we have mandatory bicycle helmet laws for bicyclists under 18 years old, the number of bicyclists has actually been increasing over the years.

Another reason that respondents gave for opposing bicycle helmet laws is that helmets have not been conclusively proven to reduce the risk of injuries to a bicyclist in an accident. A bicyclist or helmet doesn't offer 100% protection against traumatic brain injury in the event of an accident. However, it may be the only thing standing between a bicyclist and any kind of brain injury. A helmeted bicyclist is several degrees more protected than a non-helmeted one.

Other respondents believe that motorists are less likely to drive carefully around the helmeted cyclists, because they believe that cyclists are better protected in the event of an accident. There is precious little that a bicyclist can do to control motorist behavior. Wearing helmets doesn't affect the decision of a motorist to drive too close to you or make you turn in front of you.

You may find plenty of reasons why you don't need to wear a bicycle helmet, but Los Angeles brain injury lawyers can give you one why you should - they may be the only thing protecting you from serious or even fatal injuries in an accident. Helmets are an inconvenience. However, it would be foolish to risk your life on California's notoriously non-bicycle friendly streets without a helmet.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

History of Psychiatric Illness Predictive of Post Brain Injury Disorders

A new study indicates to Los Angeles brain injury lawyers that certain factors may be predictive of an increased risk of psychiatric illness after a traumatic brain injury. For one, a person with a history of psychiatric illness could be at an increased risk of suffering psychiatric disorders after a traumatic brain injury.

The findings of the study have been published in a report titled Predictive and Associated Factors of Psychiatric Disorders after Traumatic Brain Injury: a Prospective Study in the Journal of Neurotrauma. It suggests that depression, anxiety or any other psychiatric illness could be an indicator for the risk of developing psychiatric disorders after a TBI.

Researchers based their findings on a study involving 122 adults who had suffered a traumatic brain injury and 88 proxy informants. In all patients, psychiatric illnesses were present before the injury as well as one year after the injury. The results showed that individuals who did not have a psychiatric disorder before an injury were less likely to suffer from psychiatric disorders12 months after the injury.

There are other factors that can predict the later development of psychiatric illnesses, including symptoms of psychiatric illness soon after a brain injury, and a simultaneous limb injury.

Patients who suffered a limb injury along with a brain injury had their risk of developing a psychiatric disorder increase by 6.4 times at one year after the injury, compared to patients who had no limb injury. Additionally, the research found that patients who had suffered a concurrent limb injury were specifically predisposed to depression a year after the TBI.

Besides limb injury and pre-TBI psychiatric illness, there were other factors that also increased a person's risk of developing psychiatric disorders after an injury. Persons who were unemployed, had a poor quality of life, and poor coping skills, were more likely to develop psychiatric illnesses after a TBI.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Stay at Home Fathers More Likely to Divorce

Fathers who choose to stay at home while their spouses go to work, are part of a widespread trend. In fact, the number of such men is expected to increase over the next few years, while the number of stay-at-home mothers declines. However, such fathers may be at a much higher risk of divorce. A recent study that has just been published in the American Journal of Sociology indicates that stay-at-home dads may have a distinct disadvantage as far as matrimonial happiness is concerned.

The study analyzed data from more than 3,600 couples. These couples were analyzed in a National Surveys of Families and Households study. The researchers found that unemployed men, who choose to stay at home to raise the children while their spouses went out to work, were at a much higher risk of divorce, compared to men who were employed full time. In fact, these men were just as likely to be served with divorce papers, as to be the one filing for divorce. The study also confirms that it's not unhappiness that is a predictor of divorce for men, but unemployment.

Among other things, the study indicates that women who are the primary breadwinners of the family, are more likely to feel unhappy in a relationship than stay-at-home mothers. However, the researchers hasten to add that the results of the study don't indicate that women's employment is a major predictive factor in the risk of divorce.

Researchers and Pasadena divorce lawyers are a bit surprised by the results of the study. Going into the study, the researchers believed that unhappy, but employed men are much more likely to leave a marriage. The survey doesn't seem to indicate this at all. On the contrary, it seems to indicate that unemployment and not unhappiness is the deciding factor in whether men decide to file for divorce.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Study Finds Higher Stroke Risk after Brain Injury

Every year, an approximate 1.7 million people in the United States suffer a brain injury, most of these caused by falls and auto accidents. A new study indicates that people who have suffered a brain injury may be at a higher risk of suffering a stroke.

The association between traumatic brain injury and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia has not been unknown to San Fernando Valley car accident lawyers. However, research that has just been published in the Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association which indicates that patients who have suffered a traumatic brain injury also have a much higher risk of stroke within three months after the injury. The stroke risk increases ten times during this period.

The researchers found that after a period of one year, the stroke risk drops to 4.6 times that of patients with no traumatic brain injury. After five years, the stroke risk drops to 2.3 times that of patients without a brain injury.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year, 1.7 million brain injuries are reported in the United States. Out of these, the majority, or slightly more than 35%, occur in fall accidents. Motor vehicle and car accidents are the second biggest factor in traumatic brain injury, accounting for 17.3 % of injuries every year. Other causes of brain injury include sports accidents, and assaults.

Even a moderate brain injury can leave a person with significantly reduced cognitive and mental capabilities, and memory impairment. There may be dramatic behavioral changes like extreme mood swings, agitation, clinical depression and frustration. Long-term side effects may include problems with communication and speaking. Research into brain injury treatment has stagnated over the past decade, with little hope of a cure for sight for persons who have suffered severe brain injury.