Home / Healthcare Updates / Healthcare Update – 05-07-2013

Healthcare Update – 05-07-2013

Also see more Healthcare Updates on my other blog at EP Monthly.com

Here’s a headline bound to catch your attention. Psychiatrists spend a million hours a year attempting to get approval from insurance companies to admit suicidal or mentally ill patients. Link to the study in Annals of Emergency Medicine is here.

Study on Medicaid use in Oregon shows that patients who have Medicaid have no better health outcomes than people who don’t, but they do utilize “a lot more health care.” In addition, Medicaid “nearly eliminated catastrophic out-of-pocket medical expenditures.”

Is Obama just dangerously misinformed about ObamaCare? Or is he willfully misleading the country? Article picks apart statements that the president is making about the UnAffordable Care Act.

The rules about the UnAffordable Care Act keep evolving. Wellness programs that require workers to meet certain health standards to get lower insurance premiums cannot be included as part of minimum coverage requirements that employers must meet. Unions lobbied against wellness programs alleging that they would discriminate against unhealthy workers.

South Carolina legislature flips ObamaCare the bird. State House passed a bill that makes it a criminal act to enforce or attempt to enforce the law in South Carolina. Governor Nikki Haley calls the health care exchanges “nothing more than a way to make the state do the federal government’s bidding in spending massive amounts of taxpayer dollars on insurance subsidies that we can’t afford.”

More allegations of “false advertising” relating to advertised emergency department wait times. This case is at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Brighton, Massachusetts. The hospital spokesperson says that the advertised time is a “door to room” time which is a “standard measure” for hospital emergency departments. Not true.
False advertising and consumer fraud claims aren’t subject to the medical malpractice caps that are present in many states. Will be interesting to see where this is headed.

Man’s runny nose that lasted for several years wasn’t an allergy — it was a CSF leak. And don’t go running to the ED asking for MRIs of your brain because your nose is running. This was an exceptional case.

Senator Chuck Schumer wants to increase federal restrictions on hydrocodone prescriptions because they are “gateway drugs” and because “our doctors are prescribing too much of this.”
Hey Chucky … how about we put federal restrictions on how many dumb laws you can try to pass? After all, those laws are a gateway to … oh I don’t know … even dumber laws?

Patients gone wild. Florida patient attacks doctor after being told to stop cursing and to stop calling the staff names. Arrested and faces felony charges.

More patients gone wild. New Jersey man arrested for disorderly conduct and criminal mischief in St. Luke’s Hospital emergency department. No mention of what he did to deserve such charges.

JAMA study shows that children with migraine headaches were six times more likely to have experienced colic as an infant.

Meanwhile, a study published earlier this year in Pediatrics showed that colicky infants often had significantly different intestinal flora than their non-colicky counterparts. Proteobacteria was increased in colicky babies while bifidobacteria and lactobacilli were decreased.

More articles on doctor shopping and drug seeking patients. This Ohio article provides a couple of chilling statistics from a study done Toledo’s St. Lukes Hospital: Ohio overdose deaths totaled more than traffic fatalities by almost a third. And of the 1,544 Ohio citizens who died of drug overdoses in 2010, prescription opioids were listed on 45% of the death certificates.

Defense attorney praises doctor for refusing to settle a medical malpractice case when sued for a patient who died from blood clots in lungs after being treated for a sprained ankle. Jury finds in favor of physician.

Indiana is subject of class action claim after malpractice insurance program hoards premiums and hasn’t returned excess premiums to the policyholders.

From a reader …

Controversy in Florida as hospitals fight in court about whether state should allow a new hospital to be built. Ultimately, a judge decides that the hospital shouldn’t be built because the competition would cost a competing hospital between $3.5 and $4.9 million each year in lost profits. Who cares about patient care when profits are at stake?


  1. Anybody in FL, help me out:
    Where, exactly, does your state’s constitution and code of statutes give a judge the authority and purview to decide whether or not a hospital shall or shall not open, let alone based on whether or not it would be financially inconvenient for a competing facility?

    And if there is no such jurisdiction contained therein, kindly explain the reason said judge isn’t riding a railroad rail, carried by any number of local citizens ofthe town, with said judge suitably accoutred with chicken feathers stuck in a rapidly congealing layer of tar??

    Just wondering.

    • The administrative law judge makes a recommendation. It was the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), the body which grants or withholds state certification for new hospitals to be built, who decided to go with his recommendation. They didn’t have to, but on form they’re more likely to rule in favor o limiting hospital beds.

      “A license issued by the Agency for Health Care Administration is required in order to operate a hospital. It is unlawful for a person to use or advertise to the public, in any way or by any medium whatsoever, any facility as a “hospital” unless such facility has first secured a license under the provisions of Chapter 395, Part I, Florida Statutes and Chapter 408, Part II, Florida Statutes.”


    • This happens quite a bit in Florida. See also this story from earlier this year:


      Battle between two hospital owners to build a new location

      LEE COUNTY, FL–A battle pitting two hospital owners against each other for the right to build a new location in the Estero area and the big potential loser could be Lehigh Acres.

      One of these options means Lehigh Regional Medical Center shuts down and that would leave that area without a hospital.
      The law only allows so many hospital rooms in a certain area, so only one hospital can be built. The owners of Lehigh Regional, HMA, have been looking at the Alico corridor. Lee Memorial, the other hospital system in the county, told the state today that they would like to build in Estero.

      Eugene Close has lived in Bonita Springs for nearly 20 years and he says it would take him about “probably 25 minutes” just to get to a hospital.

      The Lee Memorial Health System wants to cut that time in half for those living in Bonita and Estero.

      “We have had a long plan to put a hospital in south Lee County,” said LMHS chief operating officer Dr. Lawrence Antonucci.

      Today Lee Memorial filed a letter of intent with the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration to build a brand new, 80 bed hospital on 33 acres of land next to the Coconut Point Mall.

      Lee Memorial bought the land in the mid 2000’s behind the Bonita Community Health Center.

      “We wanted to make sure the economy was rebounding and when the need was necessary,” said LMHS president Jim Nathan.

      Now the state will decide which hospital gets built.

      “They try to review each application and make a decision as to what one they think is the most worthy,” said Nathan.

      Other people living in South Lee County say the time for a new hospital near them is now.

      “We need it. It is too far to drive if you need something quick and you need someplace local to go,” said Bonita resident Vicki Pierson.

      Lee Memorial says it would move unused rooms in other hospitals to the new Estero Location, but not close any facilities.

      For HMA to move its allotted rooms, they would close Lehigh Regional, except for the emergency room.

      That would leave another part of the county without a hospital.


      It’s Florida. What can I say?

  2. Well, when the choice is not build a hospital, which could potentially kill people, or rewrite the law, I’m going to go with changing the asinine law. (Assuming the judge in question isn’t spotted conveniently leaning over a railing over a gator-filled lagoon with no one else around, in which case I’d go for the surreptitious nudge).

    I’d also lobby like hell to get idiot lawyers (politically connected enough to get appointed as administrative judges) un-in-charge of issuing recommendations, suggestions, or anything else similar for where and how much hospital bedspace is needed.

    I realize the law is an ass, but somebody out your way has clearly figured out how to breed mules.

    Thanks for the information.

  3. “It’s Florida. What can I say?”

    With the number of times I’ve heard variations on that phrase — as a resigned, verbal shrug — from various Florida-dwelling friends, I’m starting to think it should be your new State motto.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *