Healthcare 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Also see more updates on my other blog at EP Monthly.com
In Australia, a paramedic who was fed up with waiting for beds in the ED got in trouble for publishing a picture of a crowded emergency department hallway – showing just how crowded it was. Seven elderly patients piled up in the hallway with no place for anyone to move. Fire hazard, health hazard and public relations hazard. Lucky he wasn’t in the US or it would be a HIPAA violation as well.
The biggest thing that the government was worried about was whether or not the photo was staged.
In the “your unborn baby doesn’t belong to you if we say so” department … a court in the United Kingdom ordered a pregnant woman to be forcibly sedated so that the state could remove her unborn child by Cesarean section.
Pregnant Italian woman in England on business trip calls police when she has panic attack. Police talk to woman’s mother on phone who stated that she had “bipolar” condition and hadn’t been taking her medications. Police take patient to “hospital” to “make sure that baby is OK” and instead bring patient to psychiatric hospital where she is restrained and admitted against her will. Five weeks later, she is strapped down, forcibly sedated, and she woke up with a surgical wound on her abdomen … and no baby inside.
She then gets sent back to Italy without her child.
The UK is now preparing to put her child up for adoption.
The government that has the power to provide everything to you has the power to take everything away from you.
What are the 8 germiest items in your home? I guessed three of them before clicking the link.
To tie in one of the dirtiest places in the home to a way to fight allergies, consider this study from the National Academy of Sciences showing that exposure to dog-associated household dust is protective against reaction to multiple airway pathogens.
In addition, exposure to dogs had a significant effect on the microbiome in the GI tracts, increasing one type of Lactobacillus which is protective against RSV.
Illinois hasn’t even legalized marijuana yet and the state is already threatening to revoke a medical marijuana physician’s license for “unprofessional” behavior.
Turns out that the physician charges $99 registration fee to see patients and confirm that those patients really do have a medicinal need for marijuana. In four months, he has had 25,000 requests for appointments.
What unscrupulous researchers can do with “studies.” Researcher puts human antibodies into blood of rabbits treated with an experimental HIV vaccine to make it appear that the vaccine was working. It wasn’t. No one could replicate the results and the researcher eventually fessed up.
The fraudulent results were one reason that the university where the researcher was working received millions of dollars in federal grants.
Now, instead of going to jail for fraud, Dr. Dong-Pyou Han has agreed not to contract with the US Government or to serve in an advisory capacity to the Public Health Service for three years.
A slap on the wrist for tainting research to get millions of extra dollars in government funding, potentially become known all over the world if you aren’t caught, and putting the lives of millions of people at risk when they trust a vaccine that you know doesn’t work … yeah, that’s about right.
Evidence that we have the most expensive urine on the planet. Taking multivitamins is a waste of money.
Or is it? The studies cited in the comments note that vitamins are used to treat macular degeneration, to prevent recurrent UTIs, to delay the progression of Alzheimers Disease, and to prevent neural tube defects in infants.
And in the Obamacare Chronicles …
Some states that paid to have ObamaCare exchange web sites set up still don’t have a working product. Now they’re getting around to saying “Hey … why are we still paying those goons to create our site?”
CGI Group is the contractor responsible for the web site design in several states and is the same web site designer that bungled the federal site.
It amazes me how the owners of this company aren’t in jail.
Oregon is bending the curve on sign ups through its exchange … the cost curve, that is.
Oregon spent more than $300 million on its exchange and as of December 11 had signed up
[drumroll] 44 people
Going from Unaffordable Insurance to Unavailable Care. Obamacare regulations could force many volunteer ambulance services and volunteer firefighting services to curtail services or close completely. IRS rules classify volunteer EMTs and volunteer firefighters as employees. Fines kick in when an employer … or city … or county has too many full time “employees” under Obamacare.
Maybe they can change the law for like the 8th time since it was enacted so that it will exclude volunteers from its requirements.
Be afraid. Be very afraid. 93% of hospital executives agree that Obamacare will improve quality in their own hospital systems, although there wasn’t a specific explanation of how this was purported to occur, only a suggestion that the improvements would “probably” be a result of the government penalizing institutions for things such as hospital readmissions and medication errors.
91% of hospital executives believe that Obamacare will result in significant cost savings by reducing hospital admissions, readmissions, and emergency department visits.
Hospital readmissions are both costly and a sign of low quality care? Emergency department visits are going to decrease under Obamacare?
These people are deciding how health care is implemented in this country?
Oh yeah, and that whole Obamacare “saving costs” line can use a little tweaking. The Massachusetts healthcare model – upon which Obamacare is based – has the highest per capita healthcare spending in the country. The average amount spent per person was $9,278 which was 36% higher than the national average and more than $900 higher than the next highest state.
See more healthcare stories from around the web over at my other blog at EPMonthly.com
Interesting analysis by David Neumann about the effectiveness of Roche’s influenza treatment Tamiflu. Roche had hidden several studies regarding the effectiveness of Tamiflu until last year. Now that those studies have been reviewed, researchers have concluded that Tamiflu essentially amounts to a bunch of overpriced sugar pills. Tamiflu had no impact on patient symptoms or on development of serious illness in several study populations.
We’ll see how long it takes for Roche to be prosecuted for consumer fraud.
Hat tip to Nick Genes.
Meanwhile, a 13 year old with a computer is schooling everyone on how to fight the flu. Eric Chen’s computer model on how to develop influenza medications beat out more than 1500 other competitors to win the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology. He took home a $100,000 grand prize.
Meanwhile, I can’t get my 13 year old to stop playing Modern Warfare.
In many households, there could soon be a battle for the Viagra pills. Researchers found that women who had significant menstrual cramps had good relief from Viagra pills administered intravaginally.
Don’t go there. Just don’t.
Florida surgeon arrested for practicing medicine without a license. Interesting story, though. He would allegedly consult with potential clients in his Florida office, describe a surgical technique he had pioneered, state that he wasn’t licensed in Florida, then tell the potential clients that the surgery would have to be performed in Mexico.
He was charged with practicing medicine or with offering to practice medicine without a license.
Hat tip to Skeptical Scalpel for the story.
USDOJ puts emergency physician in jail for a year for failing to file income tax returns. When faced with the opportunity to choose between employee and independent contractor, it is becoming more advantageous to be an employee. Too many issues can arise with independent contractor status.
Another article on my little fascination with the gut microbiome. Gut bacteria and the gene activity of those bacteria change rapidly with changes in diet. Even a vegetarian who suddenly ate meat had sudden changes in bacteria adapted to digesting meat.
Now that we know that the microbiome can be rapidly changed, we have to determine what bacteria are good and bad for each individual. Excited to see to what extent (if any) that diet can affect disease.
My prediction is that there will be a few subsets of bacteria that are beneficial for most humans, but that there will be a large variance in which other bacteria are most beneficial for each individual.
One step further down the path to complete government control. Doctors who order more tests than the government deems appropriate will be forced to get “prior authorization” from the government (i.e. jump through additional hoops) to order the tests for their patients.
Of course, spending all of that extra time with the patients will increase the level of billing on every single patient in which doctors have to spend that extra time, so I suppose payments will all even out in the end.
Note that since the criteria apply to Medicare claims, the effects will disproportionately affect our nation’s elderly population.
Speaking about Obamacare’s adverse effects on seniors, Effective January 1, 2014, the funding to care for homebound senior citizens will be cut by 3.5% every year for the next 4 years. The feds estimate that 40% of the existing home health companies will go out of business due to the cuts. Other organizations estimate that the loss of home health companies will be more like 75%, which will put nearly half a million home health workers out of work.
Isn’t it great how many more patients will have insurance, though?
It is the 50th anniversary of the measles vaccine. Estimates are that 30 million lives have been saved from measles vaccination during that time. Or, if you’re Jenny McCarthy, we’ve spread death and pestilence everywhere by injecting toxic waste into our childrens’ bodies.
Even now there are clusters of measles outbreaks within the US. 90% of those clusters are in unvaccinated individuals. Wonder how those people choosing not to vaccinate themselves and their families would feel if they and their children were refused medical care for measles and its complications.
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