Do you have a road trip planned for Memorial Day Weekend?

Safe Travel TipsYou’re not alone. American Automobile Association (AAA) estimates nearly 40 million Americans will be hitting the road over the three-day weekend.

Unfortunately, the National Safety Council believes this could be the deadliest Memorial Day holiday since 2009. If the NSC’s projections prove to be accurate, more than 400 lives will be lost and 50,500 people will be seriously injured in crashes.

Keep these 5 safe travel tips in mind as you get behind the wheel:

1. Put your phone away.

Despite numerous campaigns and programs designed to raise awareness about the consequences of distracted driving, over 650,000 motorists are using their cell phone or another electronic device while behind the wheel at any given time. Quitting this dangerous habit is one of the simplest ways to reduce the odds of a crash.

2. Turn off your hands-free system.

Many Americans falsely believe using their vehicle’s Bluetooth system or voice-to-text capabilities while driving is safer than using their phone directly. However, multitasking is a myth – the human brain cannot perform two cognitive tasks at once. You could fail to visually register up to 50% of your driving environment while participating in this form of distracted driving.

If you need to place a call or send text, have a passenger do it for you or pull off at the nearest rest stop.

3. Buckle up.

According to National Safety Council estimates, over 100 lives could be saved over the Memorial Day holiday if everyone on the road wears their seat belt. Buckle yourself in, and be sure all of the passengers in your vehicle have done so as well.

4. Calm down.

Traveling in heavy holiday traffic can be incredibly frustrating, but driving aggressively is not the answer. Closely following other vehicles, weaving through traffic and making abrupt lane changes only puts you at greater risk of a crash. If the tables are turned and another driver is tailgating your vehicle, maintain your speed and carefully move over as soon as your path is clear to allow them to pass you. Drive defensively and keep an eye out for other drivers engaging in risky behaviors.

5. Watch your speed.

Although some highways in Ohio allow for speeds up to 70 mph, there is no need to travel much faster than this. Keep in mind that your risk of a deadly crash is doubled every 10 mph you travel over 50 mph. Also, construction zones are beginning to pop up again as the weather gets warmer. Watch for reduced speed limits and changing road patterns.

As always, please remember to designate a sober driver if you plan on drinking during any of your Memorial Day festivities. Click here for more safe travel tips.

Have a fun and safe holiday weekend!

Teaching your teen to drive? Follow these 3 tips

Teaching Your Teen to DriveThe state of Ohio requires teen drivers to garner 50 hours of driving experience after they earn their learner’s permit. However, a parent or guardian must ride in the front seat for those hours, potentially causing anxiety and stress for the parent and the teen. Here are three tips that could help you breathe a little easier and keep the arguments to a minimum while teaching your teen to drive.

Tips for Teaching Your Teen to Drive

1. Begin with easy roads and progress to more difficult conditions.

Many parents would prefer that their teen drive on a quiet road, without any inclement weather conditions. This is often when they allow their teen to practice as well, which could be harmful in the long run. According to KidsHealth, it is best to start with easier routes and sunny days. As your teen gains experience, give them opportunities to practice in the snow and rain, in urban areas, on highways and in other more challenging conditions. Doing so will ultimately prepare your teen for any driving situation.

2. Teach skills, not just how to handle the car.

Teen drivers often have to practice in a parent’s car, increasing concerns about how the car is handled from the parent’s perspective. Battling over how hard your teen is hitting the breaks isn’t nearly as important as teaching your teen how to merge onto highways, spot potential hazards and make left turns while crossing lanes.

Maneuvering skills such as parallel parking are a common point of contention when teaching your teen to drive. However, it is rare for someone to be killed while parallel parking. Developing the skills that could mean the difference between life and death will help ensure that your teen returns home safely after a drive.

3. Be specific when correcting your teen.

If your teen makes a mistake, be very specific when correcting their error. For example, if they are driving too fast, say, “Your speed is over the limit,” rather than “Slow down! I’ve told you that a hundred times!” Your teen won’t get as frustrated or be as tempted to argue while driving, and will learn how to correct their mistakes.

It also helps if you have your teen talk through their thought process while driving. For example, they could say, “I see a large truck slowing down. I’m reducing my speed so I can stop quickly.” This way, it is clear as to why they are making specific decisions, and it creates a conversation between parent and teen driver.

Want more tips? Check out this beginner’s guide to driving.

Grilling Safety Tips: Prevent Fires at Your Summer Cookouts

As the weather warms up in Ohio, many of us are looking forward to firing up the grill for a backyard barbecue. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this fun summer tradition is accompanied by many serious hazards. Read on for grilling safety tips to help protect your family, guests and home.

According to the National Fire Protection Association’s 2016 Home Grill Fires Report, grill-related incidents were the cause of nearly 9,000 home fires per year between 2009 and 2013. On average, these fires resulted in 160 injuries, 10 deaths and over $100 million in property damage annually.

More than 80 percent of the grills involved in the reported fires were fueled by gas, and the leading causes include unattended grills, failure to clean the grill and grills placed too close to flammable structures or objects.

Prevent fires by following these grilling safety tips:

  • Never grill indoors, including inside your garage. When choosing a location for your grill, select a spot at least 10 feet away from your home, deck railings and other structures. Check for overhanging branches and other plants or bushes that may catch fire if exposed to heat.
  • Before using your propane grill for the first time of the year, check the tank hose for gas leaks. The National Fire Protection Association recommends brushing or spraying soapy water on the hose. Turn on the tank and watch for bubbles, which signify a leak. If bubbles appear, turn off the tank and check the connections. If the leak is still present after you’ve resolved any potential connection issues, do not use your grill until it has been given the OK by a professional.

  • Never leave your grill unattended. A fire could occur even if you’ve taken all of the necessary precautions, and wandering children or pets could suffer serious burns and injuries in an instant. Always keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
  • If you begin to smell gas while you’re grilling, turn off the burners and tank. Clear any family members or guests from the area and contact your local fire department immediately if the smell continues after the grill has been turned off. Have your grill looked at by a professional before using it again.

Fire isn’t the only hazard associated with grilling. Follow these tips to keep foodborne illnesses from ruining your summer cookouts.

Pelvic Organ Prolapse: What You Need to Know

What to know if you’ve suffered pelvic organ prolapse

Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when an organ, such as the bladder, Pelvic Organ Prolapsedrops from its normal position and pushes against the wall of other organs and tissue. Though it is an important medical issue to address, the device commonly used to treat this condition poses serious health risks to patients.

Why is transvaginal mesh dangerous?

When someone suffers pelvic organ prolapse, it is often treated using a transvaginal mesh implant. Also known as surgical mesh, this device can hold the bladder in place like a sling.

The mesh is causing major injuries, including infection, erosion of the uterus and perforation of other major organs. A plastic-like substance used in the mesh called polypropylene reportedly cuts through organ walls, causing severe bleeding, pain and infection.

One blogger claimed her physician told her the implanted mesh was covered with mucosa, a membrane naturally created within the body. The membrane on the woman’s device eroded away, leaving the exposed mesh touching the walls of other organs in her pelvis.

What can I do if I’m injured by surgical or transvaginal mesh?

You are not alone. More than 300,000 women underwent transvaginal mesh procedures. Many of the individuals who have pursued a lawsuit against the manufacturers of the mesh have obtained successful outcomes.

Victims of transvaginal mesh injuries could receive compensation to cover all medical bills, time missed from work and any other expenses resulting from their injuries. Let the attorneys at Elk & Elk represent your best interests.

It is important to remember that you will not be taking action against the doctor who implanted the mesh. The manufacturers of the mesh are the responsible parties, and have no relation to your physician in regard to the lawsuit.

For more information about the transvaginal mesh lawsuit, click here, contact us online or call 1-800-ELK-OHIO for a free, no obligation case consultation.

 

Do You Know the Nine Types of Depression?

Though depression is commonly mistaken for sadness, it is much more than a state of mind. According to the National InstituteTypes of Depression of Mental Illness, depression is classified as an illness that interferes with daily life or functioning.

According to the Kim Foundation on Mental Health Resources, 26.2 percent of individuals over the age of 18 suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder. Anyone can be affected, and each person experiences it differently. Though many subsets of the disorder exist, there are nine more general classifications.

9 Types of Depression:

1. Major Depression

Also known as clinical depression, individuals suffering from this form of the disorder endure a depressed mood most of the day. It typically causes a loss of interest in normal activities and can affect sleep, appetite and social routines. These symptoms are often experienced for a couple of months at a time.

2. Persistent Depressive Disorder

Persistent depressive disorder is a sense of hopelessness and despair lasting for a period of at least two years. This form was previously referred to as dysthymia or chronic depression. According to WebMD, the symptoms may be less severe at different points, but last for two years or more.

3. Psychotic Depression

This form can be quite difficult, as it includes some form of psychosis (delusions or hallucinations) along with the typical symptoms. A false sense of reality on top of feeling depressed is a combination of illnesses often treated with medication. The U.S. National Library of medicine explains that the cause of this subset is unknown, but it commonly runs in families.

4. Postpartum Depression

Often written off as “baby blues,” this form of the disorder is a result of hormonal and physical changes to the body after giving birth. Ten to 15 percent of women suffer from postpartum depression, and can experience the symptoms within a year of giving birth. Treatment is available from any of your medical doctors, including your OBGYN.

5. Seasonal Affective Disorder

During winter months, less natural light is produced. The human body reacts accordingly, causing people to feel the need to hibernate. In these circumstances seasonal affective disorder can set in, resulting in oversleeping, daytime fatigue, overeating and loss of interest in daily activities. An interesting form of treatment, light therapy, involves the use of a device that imitates natural light.

6. Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder was formerly referred to as manic depression, but was changed because those suffering from bipolar disorder can experience extreme low moods (depression), as well as high moods (mania). These highs and lows fluctuate, out of the control of the person with bipolar disorder.

7. Atypical Depression

Atypical depression is considered one of the most underdiagnosed and most common forms of the disorder. It can be more easily diagnosed because of its physical side effects on the person suffering, which include a sense of heaviness of the arms and legs. Often, the physician may not link the physical symptoms to depression right away. Other symptoms include oversleeping, overeating and increased relationship problems.

8. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

This form is often mistaken for premenstrual syndrome (PMS), but is much more severe. This occurs during the second half of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Only 5 percent of women experience PMDD, while 85 percent of women experience PMS. Symptoms include severe depressed moods and anxiety.

9. Situational Depression

Situational depression usually stems from a catastrophic event, or a series of unpleasant events strung together. Individuals suffering from this form often feel excessively sad, worried and nervous. These situations can often trigger more serious forms of the disorder if they aren’t addressed promptly.

 

Though many people face a form of this disorder, it is possible to overcome the symptoms and get back to a state of good mental health. Any individual suffering from a mental illness of any kind is encouraged to seek assistance from a physician, counselor or other mental health professional. No matter who you inform, it is important to let someone you trust know your struggle with depression. Each day in treatment is a day closer to becoming healthy, just like the healing process from any illness.

If you or someone you know needs immediate assistance, 1-800-273-TALK is a free, 24-hour call center that is willing to listen.

You can learn more about many of these disorders on the NIMH website.

5 Things You Should Know About The Gathering Place

The Gathering Place - Race for the Place 2015
The Elk & Elk team at Race for the Place 2015 in support of The Gathering Place.

Since opening its doors 16 years ago, The Gathering Place has provided Northeast Ohio with a much-needed support system for those whose lives have been touched by cancer. More than 35,000 people have received emotional, physical, spiritual and social empowerment through the wide variety of programs and services.

Each year, Elk & Elk joins The Gathering Place in celebrating National Cancer Survivors Day at Race For The Place. The annual 5K race and 1 Mile walk is one of the organization’s biggest fundraisers, attracting thousands of participants each year.

Whether you’re a long-time supporter of The Gathering Place or learning about the organization for the first time, here are five things you should know:

1. All resources offered by The Gathering Place are free.

A cancer diagnosis often creates a huge financial burden for individuals and families. To help those affected focus on their battle, The Gathering Place offers all programs and services free of charge. The organization supports these efforts with the help of generous donations from the community, The Cleveland Foundation, local businesses and fundraisers like Race for the Place and Warehouse Sales.

2. It’s not just for those who have been diagnosed with cancer.

The Gathering Place recognizes that children, family members and friends of those battling the disease are also in need of support and empowerment during the difficult journey toward recovery or after the loss of a loved one. Learn about the variety of programs and services offered by The Gathering Place.

3. The Gathering Place is easily accessible for both East and West Siders.

Locations in Beachwood and Westlake make it convenient for anyone in the Cleveland area to take advantage of programs and services:

TGP East

The Arnold & Sydell Miller Family Campus

23300 Commerce Park

Beachwood, OH 44122

TGP West

800 Sharon Drive

Westlake, OH 44145

4. A full-time professional medical librarian is on staff.

Medical librarian Eileen Coan is on hand to explain pathology reports, locate clinical trials, make sense of alternative treatment options and much more. Eileen splits her time between the organization’s two locations, and is available to meet in person or by phone. She can also be reached with questions by email at [email protected] Learn more about the resources available in The Gathering Place libraries.

5. The Gathering Place has its own wig salons.

Hair loss is a difficult aspect of cancer treatment for many women, but medical bills and other expenses take priority over the purchase of a wig when budgets become tight. Any woman experiencing cancer-related hair loss has the opportunity to receive a free synthetic wig at the Regina Brett Wig Salons.

Milestones Autism Resources Offers Tool Kits for Parents & Caregivers

Milestones Autism Resources

As a sponsor of the 14th Annual Milestones Autism Spectrum Disorder Conference, Elk & Elk is excited to help spread the word about the valuable tools and services provided by the organization. Milestones Autism Resources offers more than 900 resources on their website, including a variety of tool kits addressing common challenges faced by parents and caregivers of children with autism.

Learn about some of our favorite Milestones Autism Resources Tool Kits:

• First Diagnosis Tool Kit:

Autism spectrum disorder is the third most common developmental disability in the U.S. A recent government survey suggests autism affects one in 45 children between the ages of 3 and 17. The First Diagnosis Tool Kit walks parents and caregivers through the beginning stages of life with autism, such as recognizing warning signs, scheduling an evaluation and steps to take after receiving a diagnosis.

• Legal Resources Tool Kit:

Milestones assembled the Legal Resources Tool Kit with assistance from special needs attorneys to address questions about situations or issues that may require legal attention. The guide includes information about waivers for financial support, special protections against discipline and bullying and more. While this tool kit is a great starting point, Milestones highly recommends seeking legal advice from an attorney before taking action on a specific issue.

• Homework Tool Kit:

Most kids don’t look forward to homework, but children with autism face additional challenges in this area. Tantrums and attention deficits combined with difficulty organizing and communicating can make the task incredibly frustrating for both students and their parents or caregivers. The Milestones Homework Tool Kit offers advice on developing good study skills, working with your child’s school and teachers, making the decision to hire a tutor and many more tips for success.

• Problem Behaviors Tool Kit:

The Problem Behaviors Tool Kit was developed with help from Rachel Avner Torrance of the Cuyahoga Board of Developmental Disabilities. Problem behaviors are those that threaten the individual with autism or others, or interfere with learning, development and participation in the community. This guide explains common behavioral challenges, analyzes the functions of problematic behavior and identifies strategies for intervention and modification.

• Travel Tips Tool Kit:

Planning a family vacation? Whether you’re traveling by car or plane, your trip will probably involve situations that are stressful for a family member who has autism. The Travel Tips Tool Kit contains ideas for accommodating your loved one and making the journey more enjoyable for everyone.

Interested in learning more about Milestones Autism Resources? Visit the Milestones Resource Center.

New study claims medical error could be third most common cause of death

Medical ErrorAn analysis recently published by The BMJ claims medical errors are one of the most common causes of death in the U.S. The study estimates that medical errors are the cause of over 250,000 deaths per year, or nearly 700 each day. Based on the calculations, medical error ranks among the nation’s top three causes of death with cancer and heart disease.

“The U.S. government and private sector spend a lot of money on heart disease research and prevention. They also spend a lot of money on cancer research and prevention. It is time for the country to invest in medical quality and patient safety proportional to the mortality burden it bears,” advise the study’s authors in a letter to the CDC.

Serious injuries resulting from medical errors are another concern raised by the analysis. In this Washington Post article, Frederick van Pelt of The Chartis Group says the number of injuries could be 40 times greater than the number of deaths.

What is considered a medical error?

Medical errors are commonly the result of:

  • Breakdowns in communication
  • Medication and diagnostic errors
  • Poor judgement
  • Lack of skill

These actions, or combinations of these actions, become medical errors when they result in the harm or death of a patient. They can occur at the individual or system level.

Although prevention of medical errors should be a public health priority, the authors of the study believe reporting limitations keep the issue from gaining the funding, research and attention necessary for change.

What’s wrong with the way medical errors are reported?

Physicians, funeral directors, medical examiners and coroners determine an individual’s cause of death using to the International Classification of Disease (ICD) code. As detailed by the study, human and system factors in medical care are not assigned an ICD code, meaning it’s likely that deaths caused by medical error are severely underreported.

How can you protect yourself from medical errors?

While many of the factors that contribute to medical errors are out of the patient’s control, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of becoming a victim.

Steps to Take:

  • Avoid summer surgeries.

Did you know July is the most dangerous month to undergo surgery? Studies have shown up to 34 percent increases in patient deaths and complications during this month. Elk & Elk attorney Craig McLaughlin explains the “July effect.”

  • Do your research.

Not all hospitals are created equal. Large, busy hospitals may be overwhelming, but inexperience at low-volume surgical centers can be deadly. Check out these tips on choosing a hospital and information about hospital rating systems.

  • Know your risk.

The risk of becoming the victim of a medical error varies by the type of care you are receiving. U.S. News & World Report Health discusses a few of the more common preventable medical errors, and offers advice on taking control of your health.

Were you or a loved one the victim of a medical error? Contact Elk & Elk today to find out if you may have a claim.

 

Sources:

RE: Methodology used for collecting national health statistics” by Sarah Joo, Michael Daniel, Tim Xu, and Martin A. Makary, Signed Letter to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, May 1, 2016.

“Medical error—the third leading cause of death in the US” by Martin A. Makary and Michael Daniel, The BMJ, May 3, 2016.

Researchers: Medical errors now third leading cause of death in United States” by Ariana Eunjung Cha, The Washington Post, May 3, 2016.

None 4 Under 21 & Choices Beyond 2016

The Importance of Making Safe Decisions

None 4 Under 21 & Choices Beyond 2016

On Tuesday, April 19, Elk & Elk joined Portage County Safe Communities in presenting the 14th Annual None 4 Under 21 and Choices Beyond Program. Each year nearly 2,000 students from area high schools travel to Hiram College to attend the event. It is held at the start of prom and graduation season to reinforce the importance of making smart decisions behind the wheelNone 4 Under 21 2016.

A realistic crash scene set the tone of the program as students made their way into Paul Martin Fieldhouse. The speakers were introduced by Elk & Elk Partner Marilena DiSilvio, who was invited to emcee the event.

“Although each speaker had a different experience, they are all identical in that the consequences will last forever,” said DiSilvio. “Each incident did not affect just one person, but so many.”

Marc Streem, the first speaker, shared the emotional story of the crash that killed his 14-year-old son, Ryan, almost fifteen years ago. Next, the students heard from Amanda Buxton, who is currently serving four years in prison after she crashed into a tree while driving intoxicated, killing her passenger. The final speaker, Aaron Cooksey, served time in prison and had his license suspended for life after he killed his best friend while driving under the influence. He reflected on the events that led to his decision to get behind the wheel after drinking and the long-term consequences of his actions.

The program concluded with the “Walk of Remembrance.” Eleven area families stood in line to honor their loved one who was killed in a crash caused by impaired or distracted driving.

Download Elk & Elk’s Parent-Teen Pledge

Prom and graduation season may be a particularly dangerous time for teens, but impaired and distracted drivers put lives at risk every day. Discussing the consequences of these actions with your family can be difficult, but it is a step that must be taken to protect your loved ones and others on the road.

Download Elk & Elk’s Parent-Teen Pledge and start the conversation today.

National Burger Month: Elk & Elk Partners Share Their Favorites

In honor of National Burger Month, we asked Elk & Elk’s Partners to name their favorite Ohio burger spot. From specialty sauces to tasty toppings, each eatery has a unique take on the American staple. Read on for all the beef on their sizzling summer favorites.

Where will you be celebrating National Burger Month?

 

Arthur Elk – Flip Side | Chagrin Falls, OH

Without hesitation, Arthur chose Flip Side, National Burger Month - Flip Side Burgerrecognized by cleveland.com and Cleveland Scene.

“I love the Flip Side Burger with the marinated onions and crispy french fries! You always need to top it off with a thick Chocolate Milkshake. It’s rockin’ good.”

Made with Ohio-raised premium grass-fed beef, this Cleveland favorite can be found not only in Chagrin Falls, but Hudson, the Flats, Rocky River, Liberty and Breckenridge.

Photo: flipsideburger.com

David Elk – Moxie | Beachwood, OHNational Burger Month - Moxie the Restaurant

Though it’s not your typical burger joint, David Elk insists that you try the Moxie Burger from Moxie. Classic in style with a thick patty, lettuce, tomato, onion, aged cheddar and aioli, this burger makes for a satisfying lunch.

Like his brother, David’s sweet tooth recommends a dessert of the baked hot chocolate, another must-try at Moxie.

Photo: Moxie, The Restaurant on Facebook

Jay Kelley – Johnny’s Little Bar | Cleveland, OH

From the outside, this Cleveland hot spot doesn’t look like much, but when you venture downtown, head inside Johnny’s Little Bar for a warm atmosphere with National Burger Month - Johnny's Little Bargood food and good brews.

Recognized by Northern Ohio Live as “among the best cheeseburgers in the city,” Little Bar has a simple but tasty list of burger choices that will make anyone’s mouth water. Each burger comes with fresh fries and a crunchy pickle.

Photo: stu_spivak, tumblr

John O’Neil – Swenson’s | Seven Hills, OHNational Burger Month - Swenson's

In 1934, Wesley T. Swenson gave Northeast Ohio the best gift, Swenson’s. In 1999, Forbes Magazine declared the Galley Boy, Swenson’s most famous burger, “America’s Best Cheeseburger.” True to its historic roots, Swenson’s is a drive-in, giving you a tasty reminder of the good ol’ days.

Not only are these burgers delicious, but also affordable. All Swenson burgers, including the “Triple Cheeseburg” are under the price of five dollars.

Photo: www.swensonsdriveins.com

Phillip Kuri – Whitey’s | Richfield, OH

Whitey’s in Richfield may be a littleNational Burger Month - Whitey's more obscure than others on this list, but the joint has been serving massive, delicious burgers since the 1950s.

According to Elk & Elk Partner Phillip Kuri, “the chili is famous and they will put it on anything.” One burger that features the famous recipe is “The Kiev,” served on Texas toast with chopped onion, cheese, Whitey’s Chili and sour cream. If you aren’t a chili lover, don’t worry! There are plenty of other burgers on their menu.

Photo: www.zomato.com

Marilena DiSilvio – Heck’s Café | Ohio City, OH

Established in 1974, this hidden gem has secured National Burger Month - Heck'sits place on our list with nearly a dozen unique burgers to choose from. You’ll find all of the classic options available for the customizable Heckburger, but can easily zest things up with the Cajun Burger’s spicy aioli, or some sweet pineapple atop the Teriyaki Burger. Check out their full menu here.

Photo: www.heckscafe.com

Where will you be celebrating National Burger Month? Tell us in the comments!