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Honolulu Hawaii Sexual Abuse Law Blog

New regulations for abuse investigations are issued by the Pope

Pope Francis has taken it upon himself to issue new regulations for reporting and investigating allegations of sexual abuse by those within the Catholic Church in Hawaii and around the world. The edict came after a February conference on the subject that was attended by numerous bishops and cardinals throughout the world.

The conference was held to remedy a problem that has plagued the church for decades. For years, some people believed the Vatican procedures for investigating sexual abuse were inadequate. The new papal directive requires the dioceses of the church to report allegations of sexual abuse to the Vatican immediately. The Vatican will have 30 to determine if further investigation is warranted. If an investigation is conducted, it must be completed within 90 days.

Study finds most schizophrenia patients only suffer from anxiety

The results of a recent study suggest that more than half of the people in Hawaii and throughout the country who are diagnosed with schizophrenia each year may only suffer from anxiety. A team of researchers from Johns Hopkins University studied the cases of 54 patients who were referred to a Baltimore clinic after being diagnosed with schizophrenia by a general practitioner, and they found that only 26 of them actually suffered from the condition. Most of the patients were eventually diagnosed with either anxiety or some sort of mood disorder.

The Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America provides general practitioners with a list of five symptoms that must be present before schizophrenia can be diagnosed. They include hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech patterns and catatonic behavior. The problem facing doctors is that patients suffering from anxiety often exaggerate their symptoms and may appear schizophrenic to medical practitioners who lack specialized training. Another challenge is that most of the symptoms of schizophrenia are common to a host of other psychological disorders.

How to avoid cosmetic medical malpractice

The number of Americans pursuing cosmetic surgery has only increased in recent years. The total number of cosmetic surgeries in the United States increased by 1% from 2017 to 2018, with the most popular treatments being eyelid surgery, breast augmentation, liposuction and tummy tuck. 

Although cosmetic surgery does not correct life-threatening ailments, it does come with its risks. The surgeon can still make an error, and if that ever happens to you or a loved one, then you need to pursue a medical malpractice claim. However, you always want to try to avoid your risk when possible. You can take some steps prior to the operation to dramatically reduce your chances of a cosmetic surgery mistake. 

Victims recount sexual abuse by nuns.

Much has been made of the sexual abuse scandal of Catholic priests. Stories of abuse going back decades have been published in the national news as well as in Hawaii. Over the past 50 years, there have been over 10,000 accusations of sexually predatory behavior involving several thousand priests.

Allegations against nuns in the Catholic Church are not nearly as prevalent, but they do exist. Credible allegations against more than 100 nuns have been identified to date. But they are treated differently than against priests. The Church has not taken responsibility for misconduct by nuns and has left investigations to their separate orders.

Reports find misdiagnosis behind majority of malpractice claims

Diagnostic errors have long been known to be a leading factor in malpractice among hospitalized patients. However, separate reports from two malpractice insurers have found that such mistakes are behind the majority of all medical malpractice claims. Residents of Hawaii may be interested to know the conclusions of these reports.

Coverys, reviewing 1,800 claims that were closed against physicians between 2013 and 2017, found that 46 percent involved a misdiagnosis. Forty-five percent of the patients in these claims died. Inadequate patient assessments were the top allegation. For example, many primary care providers failed to capture a complete family history or perform a complete physical exam.

Court denies Mansanto's motion for summary judgment

Hawaiians might have heard about the potential dangers of Roundup and its alleged link to cancer. Recently, a California court denied Monsanto's motion for summary judgment against three plaintiffs who are suing based on the company's failure to warn about the dangers of glyphosate.

Monsanto filed its motion for summary judgment, which is a motion that asks the court to dismiss the plaintiffs' lawsuit, on four grounds. The company first argued that the plaintiffs' arguments under state law were expressly preempted by federal law. It then argued that the claims were made under implied preemption. Monsanto also argued that there was insufficient evidence to support the plaintiffs' failure-to-warn claims and that there wasn't enough evidence to support an award for punitive damages.

Tesla crashes raise questions about electric car safety

Car buyers in Hawaii and around the country who are looking for vehicles with green credentials and sophisticated technology often choose electric cars made by Tesla. The California-based manufacturer's cars are powered by large lithium ion batteries and feature semi-autonomous systems including the much heralded Autopilot feature, but a series of deadly crashes involving Teslas has raised concerns about their safety and attracted the attention of federal crash investigators.

Accidents which took place in Florida in May 2018 and on Feb. 24 both involved Tesla Model S sedans equipped with the Autopilot feature that left the roadway at a high rate of speed and killed their occupants. According to media reports, the batteries on both cars caught fire at least three times. It is the danger posed to first responders by electric car battery fires, which can burn for 24 hours and are extremely difficult to extinguish, that has prompted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to investigate.

Did you know that medical errors are a top cause of death?

We hear so much about cancer and heart disease being major causes of death in the United States, but the problem of medical errors ranks third on the list.

Injuries and fatalities caused by medical errors are underreported. Researchers struggle with insufficient data and want to see improved information-gathering procedures.

Church leaders promise change to prevent sexual abuse

Sexual abuse by church leaders has made headlines in Hawaii and in other states. Leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention have vowed to make changes following investigative reports released by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News that revealed decades of sexual abuse by church leaders and volunteers. According to the reports, about 380 Southern Baptist preachers and volunteers have faced allegations of sexual misconduct since 1998. Many of these allegations have led to criminal convictions. Almost 100 of those who have been accused of sex crimes are currently incarcerated.

The reports revealed that over 700 victims, including children and teenagers, had been subjected to molestation or rape, and many of the incidents occurred in church classrooms and offices. Many victims stated that they had been threatened or intimidated by church leaders and had been told to remain silent about the abuse.

Trucks recalled for power steering failures

Trucks manufactured by a major automaker are being recalled due to failures in their power steering. The Italian-American company, which sells models in Hawaii and throughout the world, has already had a major recall already in 2019. The other problem was related to exploding airbags and involved more than one and a half million vehicles. No crashes or injuries have yet to be contributed to the power-steering problem.

About a third of the trucks affected by this recall are still in dealerships. The rest of them are mostly in the United States and Canada. The problem is related to a manufacturing issue where the fasteners for the batteries were not properly secured, meaning they can detach while driving and cause the power steering to fail. Broken power steering makes the truck difficult to navigate which could be a serious hazard on the road.

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