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Healthcare Updates

Updates 180x100Healthcare Updates is something I created to aggregate healthcare-related news from around the web. I’ll usually throw in some snarky commentary and possibly some tired old cliches to try to make things more interesting.
If you’ve seen an interesting medically-related story, I’d be interested in reading it. E-mail a link to me at whitecoatrants [at] g mail dot com with the words “Healthcare Update Link” in the title. The words “Healthcare Update Link” MUST be in the title of the e-mail because I have set up filters on my e-mail account to help streamline the posting process.

Healthcare Update - 04-08-2014

See more healthcare-related news from around the web on my other blog at EPMonthly.com

EmCare sues former emergency department medical director for “hundreds of thousands of dollars” for “incompetent and substandard” work. As a result of the physician’s actions, which were not described, the hospital reportedly discontinued its contract with EmCare.
What is even more interesting in the article is that EmCare alleged that its losses amounted to “hundreds of thousands of dollars per month” – which is millions of dollars per year just from one hospital system.

Why is there this hand print on my butt after I wake up from surgery?
Oh, it’s the new dominator/dominatrix surgical technique.
Federal investigators accuse a New York orthopedist of insulting anesthetized patients and slapping some patients on the buttocks – sometimes so hard that he left hand prints. Now the hospital faces sanctions for his actions.
Interesting that several comments to the news article say that this is a common way that surgeons use to determine whether a patient is under anesthesia.
I personally wouldn’t slap a patient’s buttocks, but then what noxious stimuli is appropriate for determining whether a patient is conscious or not? It would be just as easy to write a damaging article about doctors giving patients sternal rubs (which I have done) or pinching a patient (which I have also done).
Is this issue dragging us down the rabbit hole of political correctness?

Americans hit with sharpest health insurance premiums in years according to Morgan Stanley survey of insurance brokers. This quarter, the average insurance premium increase is 12%.
Anyone want to guess why that is?
Hint: According to the article, the first word ironically begins with “Affordable”.

Welcome to the world’s 20th most populous nation: The country of Medicaid. 72.7 million Americans are on Medicaid, making the number of people on the government program larger than the populations of France, the United Kingdom, and Italy.
Add in the 49.4 million patients on Medicare and the resulting 122.1 million people become the 11th most populous “nation” – ahead of Mexico and just behind Japan’s 126 million people.
We’re sure to crack the top 10 when the new statistics come out after Obamacare enrollments.

With the Unaffordable Insurance Act, you can still see a primary care physician … if you have the right kind of insurance … or you pay cash.
When researchers made calls to primary care physicians posing as new patients, 85% of patients with private insurance were able to book appointments. Only 58% of patients with Medicaid got appointments. If you agreed to pay full cash at the time of the visit, 79% got appointments while only 15% got appointments if they couldn’t pay more than $75 at the time of visit.
There’s a big difference between “insurance” and “access”.

Kings of Leon concert goes viral … literally. Washington State woman contracts measles but treks all over the Seattle area before she becomes symptomatic – including the Pike Place Market and several department stores. Then heads to a Kings of Leon concert. If you’re not vaccinated and have been exposed to the patient (or any of the other unvaccinated individuals who may have caught the disease), you and your family may be in for an unpleasant surprise.
People should be free not to vaccinate themselves or their children, but they should not be immune from the legal and financial consequences that occur when they require medical treatment for the diseases they catch and when they spread the diseases to other people.

Talk about a downward spiral. Moderate to severe depression increases risk of heart failure by 40% … which will make you more depressed … which will make your heart failure worse …

Eli Lilly and Takeda Pharmaceuticals get hit with a $9 BILLION punitive damage award related to allegations it concealed the tendency for the drug Actos to cause bladder cancer. The company vows to appeal the verdict. I would agree with that decision since it doesn’t have much to lose by doing so. Even a 10% reduction in damages would amount to almost $1 billion.

President Obama pushed the idea of medical malpractice reform to “help the AMA stay on board” with the Affordable Care Act. Like so many things in politics, though, once you get an endorsement and you’re no longer needed, the promises made to you somehow seem to be forgotten.
The article also notes that “Since 2006, the trial lawyers’ lobby, the American Association for Justice, has given 96% of its donations — a total of $14.2 million — to Democrats” and “spent another $37 million lobbying Congress over those years.”

Cuba’s state run health care decides to cut more than 109,000 health care jobs. The system is too bloated and redundant. Besides, how will they pay for all of those new legislative positions?
Say … isn’t the US moving toward a state-run health system?


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.


Healthcare Update -- 02-24-2014

More medical posts from around the web over on my other blog at EPMonthly.com

The Golden Rule shows its face again. Australian government decides to spend $500 million less than it promised to fund public hospitals. As a result, the patients who depend on those medical services have difficulty accessing care. The median wait time (meaning half of patients wait longer, half wait less) was 36 days. More than 18,000 patients waited longer than 12 months for their surgeries.

Doctors find 44 year old fetus inside of woman. Yes, you read that right. 44 years old. Mother got fed up when kid kept kicking her in the kidneys and telling her to drink more coffee.

California is gearing up for a ballot initiative to increase the noneconomic damage limits on medical malpractice cases. The limits are currently at $250,000 and haven’t changed since 1975. In addition, the ballot proposal would also require hospitals to randomly test doctors for drug use and require physicians to check a statewide prescription drug database before prescribing narcotics.
My guess is that those additions are red herrings. The proponents will give in on the drug testing and database check requirements in order to get the damage caps lifted.
Then again, requiring random drug and alcohol testing on every attorney who enters a courthouse … now that’s not such a bad idea. Maybe they could add that to the ballot initiative as well.

More Obamacare Chronicles. Four hospitals in Georgia have closed in the past 2 years due to payment cuts from the Affordable Care Act. Small hospitals in critical access areas, so not a lot of patients affected, but makes one question how much longer the larger hospitals will be able to stay afloat in areas with high uninsured/underinsured populations.

Remember Jahi McMath? The 13 year old girl who went in for tonsil surgery, then had postoperative problems and ended up being declared brain dead? Her mother says that she is “much better physically since she has left Children’s Hospital and I see changes that give me hope.

Intuitive Surgical Inc., the company that makes the da Vinci robot, is doing more advertising to increase the acceptance of a machine that not only doesn’t improve outcomes but that has had significant downsides. Now several surgeons at the University of Illinois are in trouble not only for endorsing a commercial product, which is a violation of the U of I policy, but also for failing to disclose that they were being paid thousands of dollars by the company in consulting fees.

I absolutely love this idea. Illinois Representative Rodney Davis introduced a bill that would require White House meals to follow the same USDA guidelines required for school lunch and breakfast programs. A recent dinner with the French President Francois Hollande topped 2500 calories – which is double the DAILY caloric intake that the First Lady touted in her anti-obesity campaign.
So far the bill has 8 co-sponsors and none of them are Democrats. I can’t understand why.

Also have to love the First Lady’s Twitter photo of the First Dogs sitting at an ornate table wearing diamonds for the dinner with President Hollande.

Want to lose weight? Low fat dairy helps cut calories, but according to multiple studies, people who consume whole milk and butter are less likely to become obese.


Healthcare Update -- 02-13-2014

More medical news from around the web on my other blog at EP Monthly.com

The Supreme Court says that prisoners have a right to medical care. The *quality* of that medical care is another issue.
In California’s Stockton prison, a shortage of towels forced prisoners to dry off with dirty socks, a shortage of soap halted showers for some inmates, and incontinent men were put into diapers and received catheters that did not fit, causing them to soil their clothes and beds.
Federal court ordered the prison to improve its conditions, but not much has changed and Governor Jerry Brown has thumbed his nose at the court.
If the federal judges sit back and shrug their shoulders when their reasonable orders aren’t followed then they deserve any ridicule and shame that they receive.

Offensive? I’d say more brave and poignant. Australian woman posts frontal partially nude picture of herself on facebook to demonstrate how breast cancer has affected her. She was BRCA positive and had bilateral mastectomies and a hysterectomy. After her post, more than 100 Facebook “friends” stopped following her.

Rates of gonorrhea and syphilis are rising in the US. Increase in syphilis is “entirely attributable to men” – especially gay and bisexual men. Chlamydia infections have remained fairly constant. CDC recommends yearly screening for the diseases and HIV in homosexual or bisexual men.

Own a small to medium-sized business and want to avoid having to comply with Obamacare mandates? You’ll have to swear to the IRS under penalty of perjury that the Obamacare regulations were not a motivating factor in any decision to decrease your workforce.

Skeptical Scalpel has a first hand account about the trials and tribulations of enrolling in Obamacare … from his own daughter. Premium they were paying with a $10,000 deductible was $550/month. On the ACA web site, they were quoted a premium of $298.61 per month for an Anthem plan with a deductible of $12,600 per month. When they went to pay for the plan, the premiums jumped to $2,480 per month. “AFFORDABLE” Care Act, indeed.

Do you need treatment for “low T”? Supplements may make you stronger, but they also significantly increase your risk of heart disease.

What effect does a hospital’s acquisition of a physician group have on cost of health care? Two health care journalists’ articles on hospital-based billing show a substantial increase in prices. Now a federal court in Idaho has ruled – over hospital objections – that payments to hospitals must be disclosed. Costs for the SAME tests performed in a physician’s office are paid at a rate about 60% higher when performed in a hospital. One example showed that Medicare pays $450 for an echocardogram performed in a hospital while it pays only $180 if the same echocardiogram is performed in a physician’s office.
Remember how Medicare wants to publish only select bits of information about how much money it pays to physicians? These types of disproportionate hospital payments are what the government wants to hide from everyone.
If it is paid for by public funds, the costs should be available to the public.

Need some IV saline for a hypotensive patient? Good luck finding it. There’s a national shortage of IV saline. Number of annual drug shortages tripled between 2007 and 2012. What changed during that time that may have caused the shortages?

Man in Florida, who has an uncanny resemblance to Santa Claus, gets feisty in the back of an ambulance and threatens to blow up the hospital to which he was being transported. Those elves mean bid-ness, beyotch. Police had to respond with bomb sniffing dogs to clear the hospital.

Woman in Brazil is arrested in a murder plot when she puts poison into her hoo-hah and then tries to coax her husband into performing oral sex on her. Husband obliged, then decided to take wife to the hospital emergency department because of the strange odor down there.
End Up in ER
Have you clicked on the link in the Facebook post about how a “Poor Girl Ended Up in The Emergency Room After This“? If so, you may have just been scammed into identity theft.
Alternatively, you could also just try to return a product you just purchased to Best Buy and subject yourself to the same risks.

Why might an attorney refuse to take your case?

 

 


Healthcare Update -- 02-05-2014

More medical news from around the web over at my other blog at EP Monthly.

Your body belongs to US! UK judge orders doctors to perform caesarean section on mentally ill diabetic woman to “keep [her] alive.” She reportedly was “thought” to have schizophrenia, had stopped eating, and tried to kill herself.
The judge said that the decision to order a C-section on a mentally ill woman “occurs extremely rarely” – which explains why a pregnant woman from Italy was forcibly detained, had a court-ordered C-section, and had her child abducted by British authorities due to her mental illness only about 6 months ago. That patient is now back in Italy fighting to regain custody of her child while the Brits are now trying to find a nice English family to adopt the child.
Next up: Court ordered brain implants and other “X-File-esque” types of government craziness.

It isn’t the lawyers that are greedy … at least according to this medical malpractice lawyer. There are a lot of other good reasons besides greed that they won’t take your little case even if a doctor maims you.

Georgia blazing new ground with malpractice reform. Considers a law called the “Patient Injury Act” that would create medical review panels to determine whether injury occurred from medical treatment and any compensation to be awarded therefrom. Law specifically excludes awards from reports to the National Practitioner Databank which is a huge point in its favor.
And all those patients who are injured would be fairly compensated without a greedy attorney taking a third of the money meant to pay for medical expenses.

If you like your cancer, you can keep your cancer. OK, the quote was from the comment section of an article on the topic, but it’s classic. After signing up for O-bamacare and all, good luck finding a doctor who accepts your “insurance.” Patient with lymphoma suddenly discovers that her oncologist doesn’t participate in Obamacare insurance plan. Insurers are cutting the number of doctors and hospitals under their plans to save money. One patient who couldn’t find a neurosurgeon to treat her called the list of doctors allegedly accepting her “insurance” a “phantom network.” The only thing that seems to be “insured” under these new plans is insurance company profits.

More working people will be eligible for insurance under Obamacare … because they’ll lose their jobs. The Unaffordable Insurance Act is estimated to cause a loss of 2 million jobs in the next 3 years – and these numbers are from the Congressional Budget Office. White House responds by saying “No it won’t. So there.”

And that’s why they call it dope. Patient gets dumped at the entrance to the emergency department with severe burns he suffered in an ATV accident. Emergency department staff later learns that his home meth lab blew up in his face. Hospital emergency department was closed for 6 hours while everyone inside was decontaminated. Patient transferred to another hospital where he later died.

Ohio spine surgeon Atiq Durrani has been named in more than 170 lawsuits and the feds have issued a warrant for his arrest, accusing him of falsely billing Medicare for millions of unnecessary procedures. Dr. Durrani fled to Pakistan and failed to attend the first couple of trials against him. Now his medical malpractice insurer is trying to rescind his policy, which would leave many of the patients that he allegedly injured with little chance of recovering any damages.

Arizona parents fight to get their mentally ill son the medical treatment he needs. He was admitted to the hospital for 11 days and then discharged when they were still unable to find a psychiatric bed to take him. Brought him back to the emergency department after threatening to kill himself four times in 24 hours and were told that it could take up to 10 days to find a psychiatric bed for him.
He was admitted to a short-term treatment center, but there are few long-term facilities available to care for him. If he becomes violent after he has been discharged, his mother worries about the default placement: jail.

What is medical care like as Siargao Emergency Hospital in the Philippines? “Lack of resources, nepotism, and incompetence” according to one patient’s family member – who incidentally works in the Philippine Senate.

In Indonesia, there’s a fine line between malpractice and a jail cell. Doctors are thrown in jail for post-surgical complications resulting in patient deaths. Three doctors each got sentenced to 10 months in prison when a patient died from a post-surgical gas embolism.
Think jail time will make their care better? About as likely as jail time stopping car accidents.


Healthcare Update - 01-30-2014

More medical news from around the web over on my other blog at EP Monthly.

The nice thing about regulations is that they can easily be fixed by more regulations. Timeouts for simple ED procedures. Site verification for abscess drainage. Waste of time in the ED. Stickers on glass doors. Expired clocks. Computers on the floor. These are some of the inane “violations” various Joint Commission surveyors have uncovered. All of the time addressing and documenting these “safety issues” adds up and eventually detracts from emergency department throughput.
To solve that problem, the Joint Commission has created even more standards to address hospital boarding and ED throughput.

Unfortunate complications after tonsil surgery cause cardiac arrest and brain death in 13 year old girl. Now she’s been transferred to a long term care facility and had a tracheostomy and feeding tube inserted. Mother refuses to believe she is dead.
Meanwhile, idiots like Nancy Grace stoke the flames, insinuating that the doctors might not have told the truth about the patient’s brain death and later stating that the patient who really wasn’t brain dead might have a “Lazarus” moment and come back from her [undead?] state. So which is it, Nancy? Either Jahi’s dead and the doctors are right or she’s not dead and your “Lazarus” comment makes no sense. Actually, it makes no sense anyway, but only shows that you’ll apparently say anything for ratings. CNN needs to dump this woman.
Glad she has at least toned down her rhetoric a little bit so this poor girl’s family can grieve in peace.

Nancy Grace Lazarus Jahi McMath

Nancy Grace Doctors Lying Jahi McMath

Anesthesiologist sues former insurer and former employer for emotional distress and former defense attorney for legal malpractice after attorney acts in best interests of employer, but fails to introduce evidence regarding actions of a nurse that allegedly would have exculpated the doctor.
Conflict of interest in malpractice cases is a HUGE problem. If you are named in a lawsuit and have any doubts about whether your attorney is acting in your best interests, then you have the right to request your own personal counsel. Do it … in writing.

Tragic case of a chest pain patient dying after being misdiagnosed. Went to emergency department two days in a row for chest/abdominal pain radiating to jaw and mouth. Had negative cardiac workups done on both visits and was discharged once with heat exhaustion and the second time with “stomach flu.” Collapsed hours after the second discharge and was returned to the hospital where an aortic dissection was diagnosed. He died shortly after surgery to repair the dissection.
This same difficult-to-diagnose disease took the life of John Ritter.

Chinese patient upset over his nose job goes to hospital, stabs three doctors. One doctor dies. Now a court has sentenced patient to death.

When Obamacare imposes extra costs on insurers, insurers fight back by limiting their pool of physicians. United HealthCare drops many doctors from its Medicare Advantage plan, leaving patients with “insurance,” but few doctors to provide the medical care. “Affordable Care“? Perhaps for the insurers.

When Obamacare imposes extra costs on insurers, insurers fight back by limiting their pool of physicians. United HealthCare drops many doctors from its Medicare Advantage plan, leaving patients with “insurance,” but few doctors to provide the medical care.
http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/hundreds-ohio-lose-their-doctor-due-obamacare_775213.html

I may have been wrong about the “Affordable” “Care” Act. Premiums for a healthy non-smoking 30 year old woman in Vermont are only $56 per month – that’s only $672 per year! I pay three times that every month for my family.
Wait. What? The deductible for that coverage is $100,000? One HUNDRED THOUSAND dollars? And there’s a 30% copay after you reach the $100,000 deductible?
Hey at least you’ll have affordable INSURANCE, so stop complaining.
The “Care” – that’s a different story.

All that keeps running through my mind is the word “Tuskeegee.” National Institute of Health seeks to intentionally infect 100 volunteers with influenza in order to study how the body fights an influenza infection. Volunteers are locked in an isolation ward for at least 9 days until they are no longer infectious, but are compensated $3000 for their troubles.
What could go wrong?

It isn’t cool to snort ground up Smarties. They may make you a YouTube sensation, but they’ll make maggots grow in your nasal passages – and who’d want a maggot crawling out of their nose in the school lunchroom? You’d be forever known as “Maggot Face.” At 25 year class reunion, they wouldn’t say “Where’s Sally?” they’d say “Hey! Where’s Maggot Face? Remember her?!?!”
Actually, that whole maggot thing is an urban legend, but you don’t have to tell your kids that.

The ACA: A Train Wreck and a Lie. Dr. Jeffrey Singer exposes yet another misleading statement made by president Obama regarding the Affordable Care Act: noncancelability for medical conditions was law far before the ACA was created.
“It is difficult to decide what is more infuriating: the dishonesty or the incompetence of the designers of the Rube Goldberg scheme known as the Affordable Care Act.”

Now medication shortages aren’t the only thing we need to worry about. Latest on the list is a shortage of … intravenous saline. That’s right. The stuff that you get in the IV bags when your blood pressure is dangerously low and you’re at risk of dying. Prices for bags of saline are now 5-6 times normal.
Back to Lactated Ringers …
Hat tip to @drjessepines

Indiana has been regarded as having a favorable medical malpractice climate, in part because of limits on liability for doctors and hospitals. Indiana has a Patient Compensation Fund that pays any judgments in excess of the statutory limits.
Now all providers are going to face substantial increases in the amount they must pay into the Compensation Fund due to a $55 million settlement the State made with 282 patients treated by one doctor – ENT surgeon Dr. Mark Weinberger.


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