DC Medical Malpractice & Patient Safety Blog

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In an unbelievable fiscal oasis surrounding a spot that a newspaper columnist dubbed Baghdad by the Bay, slick dudes who call themselves VCs (as in venture capitalists) scurry around carrying the equivalent of magic wands and sacks of money in pursuit of elusive unicorns — rare start-up enterprises that Wall Street will value at $1 billion or more. The sky-high stakes in this modern equivalent of an investing casino typically deters more cautious investors. But apparently not an increasing number of hospitals, which, of course, describe themselves, especially for tax purposes, as nonprofits, reports Jordan Rau of the…
The coronavirus keeps ripping through the country with a fourth, Delta-variant fueled surge that also is producing confounding, confused behaviors that only add to the pandemic’s considerable gloom. The pandemic, which already has killed at least 635,000 Americans and infected just under 40 million of us, is slamming hospitals. More than 100,000 coronavirus patients, including rising numbers of children and younger patients, are jamming intensive care and other units in numbers not seen since the pandemic’s start (see New York Times graphic). This is slashing hospitals’ capacity to treat non-coronavirus patients, even many in serious shape. And hard-hit southern facilities…
More than 100,000 people in this country died last year due to diabetes. That’s 17% more than the year before. And in younger age groups, it’s even worse: deaths from diabetes climbed 29% last year  among those ages 25-44, federal data show. The figures should raise huge alarms that diabetes, as exposed by the coronavirus pandemic, is “out of control,” reported Chad Terhune, Robin Respaut, and Deborah J. Nelson for Reuters news service. Their investigation, including an analysis of federal data to draw a depressing depiction of diabetes’ significant damages to the health of millions of Americans, found that the…
If big hospitals really want to keep surgeons happy and provide them with greater comfort during procedures, why not build giant, sanitary glass garages next to operating rooms and let docs park their Bentleys, Lamborghinis, and Bugattis there for ogling and maybe even to take a break under the vehicles’ hoods? Okay, maybe we’re being a bit too snarky.  Yet that hyperbolic scenario just might be cheaper and more medically justifiable than the sustained embrace by specialists and profit-seeking institutions of fancy robotic surgical devices costing more than $1 million annually — and for which patients, ultimately, pay. Here’s what…
The coronavirus has killed almost 630,000 Americans, with the pandemic adding in its fourth surge now under way 1,000 deaths a day or 42 fatalities per hour. The disease has infected almost 38 million of us, with more than 145,000 new cases occurring each day in recent weeks. More than 90,000 coronavirus patients were in hospitals nationwide in the last week, more than in any previous surge except last winter’s, the New York Times reported. Continue reading
Millions of patients with serious, diagnosed sleep disorders now are wrestling with a daytime nightmare: Medical devices designed to help them avoid damage from their conditions have been recalled for major and concerning defects. But consumers complain that they’re getting poor and too little information about their health options until the device maker more fully addresses the products’ problems. The manufacturer under regulatory and consumer fire is Royal Philips NV, which has recalled its “devices known as CPAP and BiPaP machines,” the Wall Street Journal reported, adding that the products “gently push air into the lungs and are…
Patients, regulators, hospitals, and doctors themselves need to open their eyes and ask tougher questions about the eyebrow-raising trend occurring among a specialized set of “sawboneses” — orthopedists and neurosurgeons. Hundreds of them are profiting handsomely, not on their  medical skills  but rather their investments in and relationships with surgical hardware. The specialists also are increasingly reliant, in dubious fashion, on medical device salespeople. Fred Schulte, an investigative reporter with the independent, nonpartisan Kaiser Health News service, has written a pair of detailed news articles raising yet more questions about medical devices, specifically the $3 billion that floods a…
The nation’s largest integrated health system has declined to cover a drug approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration for treatment of early Alzheimer’s disease. The action is not only a rebuke by the Department of Veterans Affairs to the FDA, it also offers support of sorts to a plea by President Biden for a way that he says Congress could help slash at soaring prescription drug prices. The drug that the VA says it will support only in highly select cases — due to safety and effectiveness concerns — for the 9 million patients in its system…
Senate Democrats, including chairs of two powerful committees, have started to tackle the nightmarish problems that experts blame for allowing the coronavirus pandemic to take a terrible toll on vulnerable residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Under a bill introduced by Ron Wyden, an Oregon senator and chair of the Senate Finance Committee (shown above, left), and Bob Casey Jr., a Pennsylvanian and chair of the Aging Committee (above, right), federal officials would both push and assist the facilities to improve health worker staffing, infection control, and regulatory oversight, notably through better inspections, the Associated Press…
As the latest coronavirus surge worsens, public health efforts to quell the pandemic are targeting two groups that might be dubbed the can’t-s and won’t-s. Federal regulators sought to assist the first group by approving coronavirus vaccination booster shots for a select group of patients — those whose compromised immune systems could not generate sufficient protection with standard shot regimens. Experts say that individuals who have undergone organ transplants or who may be undergoing cancer treatments or otherwise have low immune systems may benefit from the booster shots. Continue reading