Home / Healthcare Updates / Healthcare Update — 03-30-2014

Healthcare Update — 03-30-2014

Didn’t realize how long it’s been. You can see other Updates from the past couple of weeks on my other blog at EP Monthly.com

Supplies of liquid nitroglycerin in hospitals are dwindling – not because of medication shortage, but because of packaging issues. Nitroglycerin must be packaged in glass bottles and apparently the only manufacturer, Baxter, is having difficulty finding enough glass bottles to meet demand. Funny. I never remember Coca Cola having such problems.

Emergency department visits for dental problems on the rise. Article focuses on New Jersey, but the same problem is occurring everywhere. Oh, and dental care for adults isn’t covered under the Unaffordable Insurance Act. As the CNN article notes, get ready for a “State of Decay.”

Study shows that 1 in 25 patients develops a hospital acquired infection. About 721,000 infections were “acquired in hospitals” last year and 75,000 of those patients died, but the study reportedly did not look into whether the infections actually caused the patients’ deaths.
I have problems with these statistics. I wasn’t able to find the NHSN criteria they used to determine whether an infection was present before a patient arrived in a hospital or after a patient left a hospital. And if hospitals are such germ-infested dangerous places, why don’t 1 in 25 hospital employees also have these infections?

Black Death from Yersinia pestis (“the Plague”) caused the deaths of one third of the European population between 1348 and 1353. For a long time, it was believed that Black Death was spread by rat fleas. New research now says the vector for spread was human to human contact and not rat fleas.

Police trying to determine why patient in New York’s Brookdale Hospital beat a nurse unconscious when the nurse tried to remove his catheter. Does it matter what psychiatric diagnosis they come up with?

More problems with the cost of emergency department care. Patient upset because emergency department trip after a head injury from a bike accident costs her more than $6000. She had insurance, but it was a high deductible plan, meaning that she had to pay for all the costs out of her pocket. A head CT cost her $4800, calling a doctor in to place the stitches was $460, and the stitches themselves cost $850.
The article mentions cost-conscious care … which is fine until something is missed. In this patient’s case, she thought an x-ray should have been done for her head injury instead of a CT scan. Xrays don’t show bleeding, though. Would she still have felt that only an x-ray should have been done if she had bleeding inside her brain and the x-ray missed it?
On the other hand, patients can’t be cost conscious about their care if they don’t know the prices. Care and testing performed when a patient has not been advised of the costs in advance should be required to be provided at no cost.

More information about how Beth Israel is using Google Glass to enhance medical care in the emergency department. Will be interesting to see a report on their results.
You can check in any time you like … but you can never leave. Woman purchases insurance through Obamacare exchange, then gets job and tries to unenroll in her initial plan. Not so easy. She ended up paying premiums on both plans until she could run the gauntlet of unenrollment.

Trying to change the message again. Obamacare architect Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel asserts that “you don’t need a doctor for every part of your health care.” If you like your high school sophomore with a 16 hour course in basic first aid, you can keep your high school sophomore with a 16 hour course in basic first aid.
Tooth in Brain
Four month old has multiple fully grown teeth … in his brain. Doctors remove a rare tumor called a adamantinomatous craniopharyngioma from a child’s brain and find several fully developed teeth.

Washing hands in hot water is a waste of natural resources and it needs to stop immediately. Really. This study shows that the wasted energy creates emissions equivalent to the country of Barbados. In fact, a study author noted that “Warmer water can irritate the skin and affect the protective layer on the outside, which can cause it to be less resistant to bacteria.” Although I’m sure some people will say it would be nice to see more doctors wash their hands in any temperature of water, we’ll see how long it takes for the Medical Marijuana Associates to pick up on that medical study.

I’m grimacing just thinking about this article. It’s a year old, but still … A Chinese woman went on trial for allegedly killing a man. She got into an argument with him, then grabbed him by the testicles and squeezed so hard that the man went into shock. He later died in the hospital. Ms. ViseGrip was heard yelling “‘I’ll squeeze it to death, you’ll never have children again!”

Surfing from one article to another showed several interesting stories from Italy. In some ways, not much different from the US.
Italian woman sues doctors after receiving chemotherapy and radiation therapy for breast cancer … on the wrong breast.
Italian teenager dies after being unable to afford dental fees for a tooth infection.
Italian woman waits a month to receive a letter telling her that she has cancer because Italian post office was backed up with mail. Chemotherapy was delayed and now the woman is entitled to press charges against the post office.
Italian families having difficulty affording drug prices. Between 1997 and 2011, 70% of Italian families needed charitable help to purchase prescription medications.


  1. I can almost guarantee that if someone had head x-rays for trauma, the Radiologist would recommend a Head CT anyway.

  2. Perhaps a menu of prices at the waiting room entrance?
    Cardiac Work-up – $1000
    Abdominal Pain- $1000
    Pregnant Abdominal pain- $800
    Stitches/staples- $20 each, 6 for $100
    Back Pain- $200 (with imaging $800-2000)
    Child with fever or sniffles- $100, buy one get one free
    Chronic pain- $4000

    A la carte:
    CT head- $1000
    CT abd/pelvis- $3000
    ECG- $50
    Xray- $200 per body region
    Percocet refill- $500

    “Management and Staff are not responsible for conditions missed or not treated due to customer ordering choices”

    That should make the cost conscious and the “consumer driven” types happy.

    /sarcasm off

  3. for those of you wondering how much of the fees cited in the above article (the woman with the head injury) go to the doctor, look at the “calling a doctor in to place the stitches was $460”. In general when you see a number like this quoted, divide by 10. After everyone takes their cut, I probably see $40. which is taxed at 40%.

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