Automobile manufacturers are required by law to engage in what the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration refers to as "early warning reporting" to the federal government when they discover potentially fatal defects in their products. The requirement states that once they uncover such a defect, the company has no more than five business days within which to inform the NHTSA. The NHTSA then makes that information available to the public. But experience shows that both the auto makers and the NHTSA itself are often lax in complying with and enforcing this requirement.
Heart attacks are common occurrences. Modern medical practices have improved the likelihood of a patient surviving what might once have been a deadly event. A possible heart attack afflicting a truck driver while he is behind the wheel of a fast moving vehicle surrounded by other cars and trucks is a recipe for disaster as recently occurred on a Texas highway.
When dealing with products liability litigation, the media covers news about product recalls, dangerous automobile malfunctions and even prescription drugs. In most of these situations, the consumer who is injured by the product is in no position to have any foresight into the dangers. Someone injured by the side effects of a drug are usually not chemists who might have some suspicions about the medicine. And the driver of a defective vehicle is probably not a mechanical engineer who might have recognized the dangers before a malfunction occurred.
There is an old proverb in Japan, which when translated comes out as, “Even monkeys fall from trees.” What it means is that even those we consider to be experts at something are not immune from making unexpected or uncharacteristic mistakes. And in the context of modern life this is nowhere more apparent than when a doctor, nurse, pharmacist or other health care professional makes a mistake that can cause an injury or make an existing injury, illness or condition worse.
"Informed consent" is a process that physicians use to see that patients are properly informed about medical procedures that the physician intends to use. In particular, informed consent refers to the act of the physician engaging in a dialog with the patient, as well as to the consent form that the patient signs indicating that he or she has been fully informed before the procedure is undertaken.