Not only in my capacity as a Chicago personal injury lawyer, but also as a new father, I stay abreast of consumer product recalls and other defective or dangerous products, especially products relating to child safety. At the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, radiologists at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center reported on a particular safety hazard to children: “stay tabs” of soda cans swallowed by children and teenagers.
Thirty years ago, beverage cans had “pull tabs” — tabs that were physically pulled off and removed from cans before drinking. Apparently, the pull tabs presented a choking hazard to children, in particular. Indeed, a 1975 study by the Journal of the American Medical Association prompted the can manufacturing industry to replace pull tabs with so called “ stay tabs,” or tabs that remain attached to the can after opening.
However, despite the name, “stay” tabs can still be removed — as shown by a recent study by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Doctor Lane F. Donnelly, lead author of the study, looked at data from 1993-2009, and found 19 cases of “inadvertent stay tab ingestion.” The average age of the patients was eight and a half. Only four of the tabs were visible on an X-Ray, and thankfully none of the 19 cases required surgery.
Stay tabs are difficult to see on an X-Ray because they are made of aluminum, which is hard to for X-Ray machines to pick up. Dr. Donnelly stressed that just because the tab is not visible on an X-Ray does not mean the tab was not swallowed.
The findings suggest that tabs on cans still pose a hazard to children. It is unknown whether other studies, incorporating a country-wide data set, will be conducted, or if the findings from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center will lead to another change in tabs on cans. However, the current study suggests parents and hospitals should be on the lookout for such cases.
Swallowing objects such as can tabs, small toy parts and other items can be dangerous, especially for children. They present a choking hazard, and some objects may have sharp edges that can tear the throat and stomach.
Simply because someone is injured by a product, does not necessarily mean the product was unreasonably dangerous or “defective.” However, if you or a family member has been seriously injured or killed by suspected negligence or product defect, contact the experienced Chicago injury lawyers of Passen Law Group today at (312) 527-4500 for a Free Consultation.