Home / Healthcare Updates / Healthcare Update — 12-01-2014

Healthcare Update — 12-01-2014

More health related news from around the web on my other blog at EP Monthly.


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Arkansas personal injury attorney Michael Smith implies that outpatient clinics should all have “the right kind of life-saving equipment” at hand at all times. He never says what the “right kind of life-saving equipment” should be, but mark his words – if a patient ever suffers a bad outcome in an outpatient clinic, he’ll be sure to find something that the clinic didn’t have that would have prevented the bad outcome.
I hate articles like this. On their face, they are appealing. Sure, everyone should have the “right kind of equipment.” That’s like saying that attorneys should always file the “right kind of motions” and use the “right kind of case precedent” in their briefs. But if you ask personal injury attorney Michael Smith exactly what equipment to purchase in order to be compliant with whatever standards he thinks should apply, he’ll suddenly change the subject. I guarantee it.

Inappropriate opinion by expert witness surgeon Dr. Michael Drew causes $19.5 million judgment against treating surgeon to be overturned by Pennsylvania Superior Court. Court opinion (.pdf file) notes how Dr. Drew’s opinion on how treating physician breached the standard of care “morphed each time he opined on how [the treating physician] breached it” and how Dr. Michael Drew’s opinion created an “untenable” “no-win” situation for the treating physician. Kudos to Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge Jack Panella for the well-reasoned court opinion.

Recent court opinion expands liability for medical providers. A passenger on a Royal Caribbean Cruise fell and hit his head while his ship was docked in Bermuda. The patient was then wheeled back onto the ship where a nurse allegedly didn’t evaluate his head trauma and a doctor didn’t even evaluate him for four hours. After the doctor examined him, he started the patient on a mannitol drip and transferred the patient to a Bermuda hospital for further care. A week later, the patient died from his injuries. Maritime law of the US normally prevents a shipowner from being liable for negligent medical provided by the ship’s crew. However, the US Court of Appeals held that evolution of legal norms, rise of a complex cruise industry, and progression of modern technology have made those prior laws inapplicable (.pdf file). Pertinent quotes from the opinion include “medical negligence triggers the same equitable concerns whether it arises on land or at sea” and “we can discern no sound basis for allowing a special exception for onboard medical negligence.”
I’m guessing that there will be a petition to the Supreme Court on this case.

Nearly $1 billion in medical malpractice payments from VA hospital coming from federal treasury, not the VA budget … and payouts are occurring at a higher rate than in the private sector. The Veteran’s Administration declined a request for an interview in the article. A vet who had his esophagus punctured gave an interview and stated “If I had it to do all over again, I’d never go to the VA.”

New Jersey’s St Lukes Hospital closing its behavioral health unit for cost cutting measures. Police and county prosecutors concerned that closing the unit will increase the burden on law enforcement. After closure, patients requiring inpatient behavioral care will be held in emergency departments until transfer can be arranged to remaining behavioral health centers in New Jersey or Pennsylvania.

Ummmm. Yeah. I’m suffering from acute incarceritis and need an evaluation quickly. Utah’s own William Doutis Jr. leads police on a high speed chase through three cities before pulling up at an emergency department and going inside. Actually, the driver said he was trying to find an emergency department because his passenger was choking. His passenger denied that. Drug testing showed that Mr. Doutis was positive for amphetamines, methamphetamines, and marijuana. Booked on a half dozen charges and now is drying out in Utah County Greybar Motel.

Obamacare regulations that all prepared foods include calorie counts – including mixed drinks – receiving lots of opposition from vending machine owners, convenience stores, pizzerias, and movie theaters who call the rules “a large and costly regulatory burden.”

This fast food franchise owner notes that calorie counts won’t fight obesity, only job productivity.
I can only imagine what kind of fines will be levied by the government if a label’s calorie counts are off … all for patient safety reasons, of course.

Helicobacter pylori infections cause a majority of stomach ulcers. Amid growing concern over microbial resistance, researchers have found another substance that is highly effective in treating H. pylori infections … linolenic acid. You might know it better as vegetable oil. Accompanying article here. Just think, the diets that the government thinks may be bad for your health could help to treat stomach infections.

Anticonvulsant lamotrigine may be one of the new discoveries for combating antimicrobial resistance by actually inhibiting the bacteria’s ability to produce ribosomes.

If lamotrigine doesn’t work, other scientists in Switzerland have created artificial lipid particles called “liposomes” that resemble host cells. The liposomes then attract bacterial toxins, protecting the actual host cells from attack. In one study, mice that were given potentially fatal blood infections recovered solely by using liposomes without using any other antibiotic therapy.

If linoleic acid, lamotrigine and liposomes don’t work, scientists can also put a wireless implant into your body made from magnesium and silk that will treat a bacterial infection and then dissolve. Second article on the wireless infection treatment technology here.

If that doesn’t work, then just have your doctor write another prescription for a ZeePack which will keep you preoccupied until the infection either cures itself or until the infection gets worse to the point that you’ll need surgery to fix it.

Finally from the “What Would Possess a Human to do THIS?” Department: A Chinese weightlifter decided to lift 80kgs in bricks and swing them around for 10 minutes … while tied to his testicles. According to the weightlifter and his teacher, “testicle-lifting” can improve one’s quality of life. Yeah, except when you have to toss them over your shoulder to go jogging.

The video of the week is more science-related than medical-related, but is still quite interesting. Which falls faster: a bowling ball or a feather? Watch what happens inside of this giant vacuum.


One comment

  1. I wouldn’t read too much into making a point using specific instances of bad care (i.e., the VA patient with a punctured esophagus.) That leads to very bad precedents. Imagine a sobbing mother shows up on Oprah saying “My kid went to the ER with a sinus infection and the doctor only did a brief exam and didn’t do any imaging. The next day, he dropped dead with a ruptured cerebral aneurysm. We need to sue that doctor for $20M and make it mandatory that every kid who visits the ER gets a CT Head.” That is the last sort of thing we need.

    I have a relative who had to have a leg amputated after the local private hospital hired an orthopedic surgeon who not only didn’t complete a residency in that specialty, but had also been kicked out of three other residencies in different specialties. The hospital failed to do any sort of investigation as part of his credentialing. He managed to pick up over 200 malpractice suits in only 7 months and put the hospital into bankruptcy.


    My relative decided to move to San Antonio so she could get all of her medical care at the military medical centers and would never have to deal with the civilian health care system again. For every person you find who is fed up with “government” healthcare, I can find one who never wants to be seen at a civilian hospital. Why do you think veterans and retirees go ballistic when the military wants to close a base and they can no longer get military medical care?

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