Home / Healthcare Updates / Healthcare Update — 05-21-2014

Healthcare Update — 05-21-2014

See more health-related stories from around the web at my other blog at EP Monthly.

Say it isn’t so! A detective hired by the VA system in Florida becomes a whistleblower. When controlled substances ended up missing, he reported that the hospital’s Chief of Staff, Dr. Vincent DeGennaro, told him to stop investigating the incidents. A VA patient who died from a cocaine overdose was known to have previously smuggled cocaine into the hospital, but the hospital failed to address the issue. When the patient died, the staff bagged the body up and cleaned the room.
Now he’s worried about retaliation. “I can’t begin to explain to you how retaliation works within just the Miami VA. They don’t like people who air their dirty laundry.”
All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Apparently revenge isn’t limited to the Miami VA system. The head of the psychiatry department in the St. Louis VA system came forward with stories about how the the system was only treating half of the mental health patients it had the capacity to handle. He was immediately demoted, told not to speak to any of the other psychiatrists in the hospital, and then subjected to harassment from some co-workers.

Fears of doctor shortages under Obamacare may have been overblown. Undisclosed surveys of various undisclosed clinics say so. In addition, one patient, an ordained minister, said that Obamacare has “been a blessing for me.” And a former top top official President Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services Department said that the predictions of delays in getting care were “overblown.” That cinches it for me.
By the way, did I mention that I “may” have a lease on a New York bridge to sell to someone?

This may come as a surprise as well, but Obamacare subsidies are incorrect for more than 15% of all new enrollees. The computers don’t know how to match an enrollee’s stated income with the income on record from the IRS.

Is President Obama “ducking” the whole VA scandal? Well he is “madder than hell” that it is occurring. But so far, the President has seemed to say more about the Trayvon Martin case than he has said about policies that have reportedly cost the lives of dozens of our country’s veterans.

University of Chicago neurologist is suspended after being seen playing whack-a-mole on himself in a hotel window. A couple of kids saw him doing so and he was arrested for public indecency. He had previous episodes of public displays of autoerotic dermabrasion as well, which likely played a factor in his medical license being suspended.
Now this doctor obviously has a problem. But I know lots of doctors who have done worse things and who still have their licenses. Does the punishment of losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical education fit the crime?
And if you answer “yes,” then how do we reconcile this answer with the fact that police officers, teachers, and politicians can commit worse crimes and still keep their pensions?

Speaking about unethical politicians … John Edwards’ first medical malpractice case against a physician ends up with a settlement of $13 million against one defendant and a deadlocked jury on whether the emergency physician should be held liable as well.

Dr. Oz warns not to squeeze zits on your face because you may cause “cavernous thrombosis” (which doesn’t even exist). If you’re worried about causing cavernous sinus thrombosis, take solace. There have only been 88 cases of cavernous sinus thrombosis reported in English medical literature between 1940-1988. A boatload more people than that have squeezed facial zits. But thanks for the Chicken Little act, there, doc.

Latest weapon in the war against narcotic abuse: Trojan Horses. In response to many armed robberies of pharmacies, Purdue Pharma, the company that makes OxyContin, has developed decoy medication bottles that contain a GPS tracker device. When the bottle is removed from the store, it starts emitting a signal.
In one case, a 45 year old New Yorker allegedly robbed a pharmacy. Included with the medications he allegedly stole was one of the decoy bottles containing a GPS device. When police approached him in a traffic stop, he allegedly began waving a gun and was shot to death by several officers.
Of course, putting the bottles into a Faraday bag/metal container or using a GPS detector would defeat the purpose of the decoy bottles, but apparently the bad guys  haven’t figured this out yet.

Surgery via snakebot? Medtronics hoping that abdominal surgeries will soon be performed through a snake-like Flex System that is fed through the throat and then makes a small incision in the stomach wall to get into the abdomen.
I think that this is similar to the daVinci robots – just because you have the ability to do something doesn’t mean that you should do something. I doubt that there will be any benefits between the snakes and traditional laparoscopic surgeries.

We’re not going to use vaccination programs as a cover for spy operations so that we can surreptitiously get DNA samples from innocent people. We promise.
We’re not going to give people fake treatment for their syphilis, either. We promise.


  1. Skeptical Scalpel

    Great post as always.

    Here’s my opinion on transgastric surgery. http://skepticalscalpel.blogspot.com/2013/07/transgastric-appendectomy-would-you.html

  2. “There have only been 88 cases of cavernous sinus thrombosis reported in English medical literature”

    88+ Hillary Clinton = 89?

  3. Sigh. We tried to warn people and no one cared. But….Whoop der it is!!!
    The VA medical system has always been flawed. The difference is that when a flawed system becomes overwhelmed with the traumatic injuries over 11 years, it’s going to break. And by “break” I mean that rationed care becomes the norm and death panels become real.

    In my Army days, I was young and healthy, so the minor inconvenience of waiting 2 hours for a “sick call” was just known as a good kind of shamming and I read books. But to those coming back after several deployments, few injury free, the excess in wait times for appointments and care is nothing short of unacceptable.

    And the thing here is this: As easily as it is to issue an executive order, we could have allowed our troops to be seen at private facilities and the government would have to reimburse. No more, no less. And there would be no backlog. Shinseki should be g-o-n-e, but alas, I am sure he is how this whole mess remained under cover so the ACA could be passed. They didn’t want people to be aware that this is what they were going to be subject to. No. Not happy. Not happy that the Pied Piper has but offered more lip service and no action. No accountability, no resolution, no justice.

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