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Healthcare Updates

Links and commentary to healthcare news around the internet

Healthcare Update — 02-27-2013

Knowledgeable and honest. Yeah, that’s me. Study shows that doctors wearing white coats were most likely to be judged by patients as being the “best” physicians. Doctors wearing scrubs were also more likely to be highly rated. Of course my widespread appeal could also come from my stunning good looks or my debonaire personality … Interesting dilemma. A patient in Washington DC called an ambulance at 1:26 AM when he was having trouble breathing. Just so happens that it was New Years Eve and about 25% of the entire DC firefighting force had called off sick that day. An ambulance arrived 30 minutes later and the patient arrived at the hospital exactly one hour after the initial call for help. Unfortunately, the patient’s condition was poor and he later died. There is now a news article about how the family thinks the $780 bill for the ambulance is “appalling and hurtful.” A petition was posted on Change.org to get the DC Fire and EMS Department to drop the bill and 166,000 people have signed it, many stating that the family should sue the Department for damages. Yet the bill went to the patient’s insurance company and a copy of the bill was sent to the patient’s family – clearly stating that insurance was being billed, so the family isn’t paying for the transport. Should we not pay for less than desired outcomes? If so, should the lack of payment extend to all aspects of payments? Job performance? Government benefits? Heads at the Joint Commission are about to explode. Hand sanitizer which increases patient safety by preventing the spread of germs is allegedly to blame for burns to a cancer patient’s body after static electricity supposedly ignited the alcohol in the sanitizer and set the girl’s shirt on fire. Joint Commission news release: “Hand sanitizer is dangerous. No, it’s good. No, it’s dangerous. No it’s good. Well it’s sometimes dangerous and usually good and if any of your patients are injured by it, you’re going to have to come up with an action plan to show us why we shouldn’t decredential you for using it … or not using it. Now buy our new manual on hand sanitizer usage for $149.95 or we’ll do a surprise inspection on you.” One doctor is keeping his office open late to help care for people who would otherwise have to go to the emergency department. Unfortunately, not many patients are utilizing the convenience. But emergency departments in the area are experiencing growing patient volumes. Wonder why the disconnect?

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Healthcare Update 02-18-2013

Some hospital CEOs just don’t like being questioned. When one hospital chief of staff led some other physicians in questioning the manner in which a hospital was being run, hospital CEO Bruce Mogel allegedly had black gloves and a gun planted in the doctor’s car. Then someone called 911 and reported that someone was driving down the street waving a firearm. The doctor was arrested in the hospital parking lot and was strip searched at the jail. The doctor sued. During depositions, a witness alleged that the CEO claimed “People do not know how powerful I am.” Now a jury has found the hospital liable for $5.2 million. It appears that former CEO Bruce Mogel got away scot-free … and is now a “consultant” at the Nelson Financial Group in Arizona. As a follow up to the article about wait times in upstate New York emergency departments, the CEO of one hospital provides a great response … and reiterates that health care insurance doesn’t equal health care access. “With a severe primary care shortage and some practices without after hours and/or weekend care, people are forced to seek care that is available … [j]ust around the corner, millions of Americans are about to have health coverage. Where will they seek care if we have not expanded access to primary care?  In the emergency room.” Government regulations never seem to get less onerous, do they? HIPAA regulations change again. Now doctors can be held liable if their business associates cause patient privacy breaches, penalties increase, and privacy notices have to be modified. For some reason, I seem to read about events like this on a regular basis. Another car crashes into hospital emergency department. This schmoe wasn’t seeking medical care, he was intoxicated and trying to get away from police. What would happen if Press Ganey ratings were superimposed on the Wong-Baker pain scale (i.e. the “smiley faces”)? GruntDoc shows you.

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Healthcare Update — 02-11-2013

Patients gone wild. Also, a perfect example of why doctors shouldn’t play security guard. Iowa man attempts to leave emergency department, doctor doesn’t allow him to do so. Patient then slams doctor against wall and puts doctor into a choke hold before being pulled off and restrained. Who gets paid to study this stuff? “Researchers” find that number of ED visits for pubic hair grooming injuries is on the rise. I had a couple of snarky comments, but I’ll have to leave those to you all. Possible hope in battling drug-resistant superbugs? Scientists discover how to manipulate genes in bacteria to prevent bacteria from effectively eliminating waste. Waste then builds up and makes the bacteria more susceptible to antibiotics. Cook County, IL pays $20 million settlement to family of child who was “overly sedated” at county hospital then suffered heart attack and stopped breathing when left alone in recovery room after outpatient testicle surgery. Can you imagine working for more than 10% of your career with a lawsuit hanging over your head? If not, don’t become a doctor. Study in Health Affairs shows that the average physician spends more than 50 months of his or her career with an open malpractice claim. Neurosurgeons spend 27% of their careers fighting malpractice suits. Emergency physicians spend 12.8% of their careers with a malpractice claim.

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Healthcare Update — 02-04-2013

Chinese man runs out of money to pay for dialysis. Government “insurance” only pays half the costs of treatment (keep that in mind, Affordable Care Act supporters). Then human ingenuity kicks in. The man builds himself a dialysis machine out of used and discarded medical equipment, mixes his own dialysis fluid, and has been dialyzing himself … and it has been keeping him alive for 13 years. Doctors hearing about his unorthodox methods warned him about the risk of serious infection and “long-term complications” because he wasn’t using sterile water to make his dialysis fluid. Something tells me that if the complications were that likely, they probably would have happened in the past 13 years. After getting outed in the media, the Chinese government then offered to provide him with assistance to pay for his treatment. He’s reluctant to take the government up on its offer. I wonder what would happen to this patient if he was in the US. Hat tip to @MedicalQuack Just call them “assault” bacteria when you describe how they kill people – our legislators and the media will jump all over that. We can’t let ourselves become complacent over drug-resistant bacteria. Interesting point … once doctors become employees, does their incentive to fill their schedule with patients decrease? Will they want to stay late in the office to see an urgent patient? Will they go on strikes and leave patients without health care? See how access to care decreases as the paradigm unfolds. With increasing numbers of antibiotic resistant organisms in hospitals, do we need to start asking whether it is safe to go to the hospital? By the way, your ZeePack is becoming less and less effective against all types of infections because bacteria see so much of it prescribed, but for lunch these resistant organisms drink ZeePack cocktails and then have Levaquin hors d’ourves … and then they laugh at the people spending money on ineffective medications.

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Healthcare Update — 01-28-2013

You can keep your doctor and your insurance … if you can afford it. Some insurance brokers expect health insurance premiums to triple in the fall prior to full implementation of Obamacare. Oh, and if you can’t afford that insurance, plan to pay a punitive tax. But don’t worry, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant thinks that everything is fine now. Everyone in America has health care. All they have to do is go to the emergency room. Once no one can afford private insurance due to premium hikes, then government funding cuts can affect essential hospital services – like what is happening in Australia. Should smokers and obese patients be left to their own vices? Is increasing their insurance premiums an additional 50% above regular policy premiums under Obamacare enough? How do you get chemotherapy, heart surgery, mental health treatment, and a wheelchair when you have no insurance, no home, and no money to pay for your health care? Threaten the life of the president and his family. Homeless Florida man makes habit of threatening sitting presidents when he needs a place to stay or he needs medical care … and it works. Sad that federal prisoners receive better medical care than many hardworking law-abiding citizens.

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Comic Relief

Another cartoon courtesy of Mednificent Comics. The answer to the question at the end … “absolutely”

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