Healthcare Update — 02-13-2012


See more medical news from around the web over at the Satellite Edition of this week’s update on ER Stories.

The eternal drip. Multi-drug resistant gonorrhea is developing growing resistance to the last antibiotic we have to treat it. What happens when the “love darts” don’t work? Maybe a “ZeePack”?

As we move toward a more socialized medical health care delivery system, here’s a look at how patients fared in the Soviet Union’s socialized medical health care system. Absolutely frightening.

What happened to this year’s flu season? Don’t worry, it’s almost here. Hope you got your flu shot.

Swedish surgeons transplant a synthetic trachea into man with cancerous trachea. The wild part of the story is that the synthetic trachea is made of an undercoating of soda bottle plastic fibers and and outer shell of stem cells.

Florida attorney whines about a patient’s right to enter into arbitration agreements with medical providers. “I would like to see them banned entirely ….
Yet when Florida lawyers force clients to sign away their rights to reasonable attorneys fees under the Florida Constitution, you don’t hear the Florida attorneys complaining.
I can’t imagine why attorneys want to ban some “private contracts freely negotiated between private parties” but couldn’t care less about other “private contracts freely negotiated between private parties.”

Another consequence of emergency department and hospital overcrowding: increased costs for emergency medical services. In one Ontario health care system, the amount of time paramedics spent waiting in emergency departments for beds to become available increased from 2,653 in 2009 to 9,557 in 2011. Those delays translated into an extra $1.6 million in overtime costs for the paramedics alone. In addition, some calls deemed to be non-emergent took up to an hour to be answered.
Looking at the picture in the article, I’m wondering how a fire marshal would view the safety in that emergency department.

Defensive medicine in orthopedics costs money and reduces access to care. Vanderbilt study estimates that each orthopedist in the US spends about $100,000 per year trying to avoid lawsuits for a total of more than $2 billion per year in costs. In addition, 70% reported reducing the number of high-risk patients they treat (such as those in the emergency department and those with diabetes or heart problems) and 84% reduced or eliminated performing high-risk services and procedures.
Suing our way to better health care only ensures that less services are available at a greater cost.

NJ man takes stolen Xanax at a party and overdoses, ending up with permanent nerve damage that affects his ability to walk and talk. Then sues pharmacy from where the medications were stolen, person who stole the medicine, and parents who were away when the party was held at their house. Gets settlement of $4.1 million.
Also see story and comments at

When all you’ve got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Some India surgeons accused of recommending “unnecessary surgery” to increase income. Then again, are the same surgeons held liable for hundreds of millions of Rupees if they miss something because they didn’t recommend a surgery? An  “unnecessary” biopsy is only “unnecessary” until the patient develops metastatic cancer several years later. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen too often.
As a side note, look at the prices for surgery in India. At an exchange rate of 45-50 Rupees to 1 US dollar, a hysterectomy and a cholecystectomy both cost less than $1000 in India. A flight to India plus the surgery is a lot less expensive than the surgery alone in the US.

Jury awards $15 million to patient who went to doctor with breast lump and who was told “everything was OK.” Abnormalities on mammogram were allegedly missed and no sonogram – or biopsy – were ever done. The delay in diagnosis allowed the patient’s breast cancer to metastasize.

Connecticut man arrested for “breach of peace” after putting his jacket over his lap and making “rapid up-and-down motions with his hand” under the jacket while staring at a 14 year old girl in the emergency department waiting room. I don’t even want to know what they used for evidence.

Five year old unresponsive boy brought to emergency department in Kentucky and later dies … from vinegar ingestion.

But marijuana is safe and should be legalized. People who use marijuana within 3 hours of driving are more than twice as likely to cause a crash.

Number of midlevel providers in the United States surges. The number of physicians in the US increased 29% from 737,764 in 1996 to 954,224 in 2008. The number of physician assistants increased 153% from 29,161 to 73,893 and the number of nurse practitioners increased 123% from 70,993 to 158,348 during the same years.

Why do many patients go to emergency departments with routine medical problems? In Virginia, there are so many people trying to get into the free clinics that appointments are more than four months away. Then the clinics close down or stop taking new patients due to volume.


  1. “In Canada, the population is divided into three age groups in terms of their access to healthcare: those below 45, those 45–65, and those over 65. Needless to say, the first group, who could be called the “active taxpayers,” enjoys priority treatment.”

    From the Russian socialised healthcare “article”.

    Absolute poppycock, both in terms of an apparent “grouping” of patients by age in terms of access, and the supposed “priority” treatment the first group gets.

    As an MD (and patient) in the Canuck system : twaddle…

  2. Pingback: Clarifying Florida lawyers’ position

  3. Thought experiment:

    A plaintiff’s attorney in a medical malpractice argues that an arbitration agreement entered into by the plaintiff and a defendent doctor is unenforceable.

    The very same plaintiff’s attorney commits serious legal malpractice and argues that an arbitration agreement entered by the plaintiff and this attorney is fully enforceable.

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