Home / Healthcare Updates / Healthcare Update — 11-25-2013

Healthcare Update — 11-25-2013

Also see more healthcare related news from around the web at my other blog over on EPMonthly.com

American College of Emergency Physicians threatens board certification of any physician who provides medical care in a non-emergency setting. If that fake headline left you scratching your head, so should this one: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists threatens board certification of gynecologist who treats men for anal cancer. Even though the diagnosis and treatment of anal cancer in men is similar to the diagnosis and treatment of cervical cancer in women, and even though ACOG’s decision will significantly affect studies on treatment of anal cancer, ACOG sees no “compelling reason” to change its mind. After all, ACOG has been “no Y chromosomes allowed” since 1935.
All specialties should be outraged at ACOG’s decision. Most hospitals require board certification of their physicians, so physicians in many cases are forced to be members of the specialty societies in order to practice within hospitals. The more that physicians simply comply with misguided and arbitrary specialty society requirements, the more that we allow those special interests to control the medical care that we provide to our patients.
ACOG’s decision not only usurps the determinations of state medical licensing boards, but it also smacks of misandry and homophobia.

Did influenza vaccine kill this 19 year old? One day after getting influenza vaccination, the patient developed vomiting, headaches, chills and shaking. A week later he went into a coma and later died from “brain swelling” of undetermined etiology.

Patients gone wild in a Long Island emergency department. The brawl in a parking lot wasn’t enough. When the victims were taken to Eastern Long Island Hospital, they went at it again and injured some of the emergency department staff in the process.

Philip Howard from Common Good discusses in interview with Medscape how “crazy laws” trap physicians in malpractice system and how current system is not system of justice, but is instead a “system of extortion.”

Pensacola Florida Naval Hospital closing its 21,000 visit per year emergency department and turning it into an urgent care center to save money. Will close at night and will no longer accept ambulance runs.
Hospital spokesman justifies the move by stating that the emergency department has a “relatively low patient volume”.

Tough Mudder race involves obstacle course where often wet and sweaty participants are shocked by live wires up to 10,000 volts. A race in the Philadelphia area resulted in 38 participants going to the emergency department – half of those visits were due to electrical shocks. Doctors at one hospital said that an 18 year old patient “essentially had a heart attack, inflammation of the heart” from receiving 13 shocks during the race.
Taking things too far?
ACEP’s @DrHowieMell is also quoted in the article.

It was recently the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination. One of the more captivating accounts of what happened when President Kennedy was brought to the emergency department was written by Jimmy Breslin.

As patient volumes increase by 23%, UK’s St. Helier Hospital is telling patients to stay away from the emergency department unless they have a real emergency. Last year, the hospital treated a record number of patients, so it doesn’t look like the warning is going to work.

$2.4 million verdict against emergency physician when gastric bypass patient complaining of abdominal and back pain is released from the emergency department and dies the following day from a bowel obstruction.

Damages in medical malpractice claims continues to rise. Average payout for medical malpractice cases has increased from $300,000 to $500,000 between 2006 and 2012. Maryland, a state that has passed tort reform, had payouts increase from $423,000 to $750,000 between 2006 and 2012. Obstetricians really have it tough. Of all malpractice claims greater than $5 million, 43% of them are related to obstetrical procedures.

Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center apologizes for deaths of three veterans who did not receive timely medical care. Three patients confirmed dead due to the delays. Actual number of patients dying due to long waits for treatment could be more than 20. Current waiting list at the medical center is 4,500.
Quality care, free care, quick care … pick any two? Or are we down to only one choice now?

Ambulance freeloaders” repeatedly call 911 for minor complaints and know by law that they have to be taken to the emergency department for evaluation. But while the ambulance is transporting such patients for a minor complaint, the ambulance is not available to transport patients having a true emergency. Not only do the calls cost the public between $200 and $2,000 each, but they also may cost someone their life.

New Hampshire legislature debates whether to expand Medicaid under the Unaffordable Insurance Act. One legislator says that if the expansion doesn’t pass, people can just go get charity care at the emergency department. A letter to the editor shows why there is no such thing as a “free lunch.

Minneapolis Medical Board disciplines one physician for inappropriately prescribing “excessive quantities of controlled substances” and another physician for diverting narcotics.


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  1. It’s actually not that surprising that in light of the last round of “reform” that average awards have gone up. When you take out smaller cases that are no longer economically viable then your average will naturally go up.

    It would complete the picture to know if total awards have gone up, and if the total number of claims have as well.

    • Total number of awards – at least according to the National Practitioner Databank – have dropped steadily over the past 10 years. Total number of malpractice payments went from 18,698 in 2002 to 12,152 in 2012.
      The number of smaller payments seems to be diminishing mildly. The percentage of payments less than $50,000 dropped from 31% to 27% while the percentage of payments from $500,000 to $2 million showed trends upwards from approximately 13% to 19%. All the other payment categories remained fairly constant.
      Scariest part of those statistics is that the number of licensure actions nearly doubled in 10 years from 19,365 to 36,590. The threat is changing. We’re three times as likely to have actions taken against our license as we are to pay out on a malpractice claim.

  2. It’s also not surprising that OBs have the highest claims, because the cost to care for the child is so astronomical if they have a severe injury.

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