Healthcare Update — 02-20-2012


Also see the Satellite Edition of this week’s update over at ER Stories.

Woman allegedly comes close to dying because on call doctor won’t perform a necessary abortion. Nurse calls a doctor who is not on call to come in and rescue patient.
Lucky this didn’t happen in Arizona or else another nurse would be subject to psychiatric testing and board investigation for ordering a consult.
This is a perfect example of why Arizona’s Board of Nursing sets nurses up to get burned. If the patient’s nurse didn’t call the consult, then she would be in violation of the Nursing Practice Act for failure to care for her patient’s needs. If the nurse does call the consult, then she’s in violation of the Nursing Practice Act for acting outside the scope of her training. The ANA and the AzNA like to frame this issue as “isolated” and “needing research.” It isn’t isolated. It is a problem that most nurses face every day as they advocate for their patients.

Bad breath? No. That’s lung cancer.

“He had the classic symptoms … It was like he was wearing a sign around his neck that said ‘aortic aneurysm.’ ” New York family wins $3.4 million after patient visits emergency department and later dies from ruptured aortic aneurysm.

This one will make you retch. Child taken to emergency department for evaluation of a fever, nurses pull down diaper to take temperature, out fall some maggots. I warned you.

Half-brained … literally. You have to see this picture for one example of why drugs, driving, and telephones don’t mix. According to his video, he’s available, too, ladies.

Enjoy the Super Bowl? Good. Now lets talk about that rash and your fever. Thirteen cases of measles confirmed in Indiana – several patients had been in Super Bowl Village prior to coming down with symptoms. All cases occurred in unvaccinated individuals or in those with unknown vaccination status.

So THATS why there is a blood shortage. North Carolina hospital shuts down inpatient services due to an infestation of bats. Fortunately, there was a “consultation” with the Joint Commission of Ridding Hospitals of Infestations of Nocturnal Flying Creatures.
Seriously, does the Joint Commission need to be consulted to remove a colony of bats? Do they have exterminators on staff?
One … ONE unnecessary agency involved. Mwuaaaah ah ah ah ah aaaaa.

Only hospital in Carbondale, PA closes amidst financial pressures. Patients wonder where they will go for hospital care.

What? You were beat up by several men in the snow with a baseball bat, are in severe pain, and need strong pain medicines? We’ll get you some medications and we need to call the police to make a report. Wait a minute. If you were in the snow, why aren’t your clothes wet? And why do the bruises on your body look old? Oh, and what’s this? You were in a different emergency department and told them you were in a bar fight before getting morphine and Demerol? You’re busted. And now you’re charged with two crimes. Enjoy your Tylenol. Then again, the patient gets the last laugh by filling out a Press Ganey survey.

New Jersey dentist under investigation after second child dies while undergoing dental procedure. Both kids were restrained in a “papoose” and received local anesthetic.

More discord in Florida. Now legislature is advancing a bill that would allow optometrists to prescribe medications. The Florida Medical Association seems to favor the bill and many FMA members are dropping their membership in protest.

Staff at a new upstate New York emergency department may be out of luck if they need police assistance with an unruly patient. Local police will no longer respond to calls since the hospital is being built outside of their jurisdiction. Next closest police could be 20-30 miles away when an emergency call comes in.

Ambulance hater gets charged with attempted murder. California man rams his pickup truck into ambulance sitting in hospital parking lot, causing major damage to both vehicles. Because act “must have been intentional,” police charge him with attempted murder of the EMT/paramedics sitting inside.

Doctors accept reduced rates for treating Medicare patients, but charge patients with commercial insurance significantly more for the same treatment. Now commercial insurers are beginning to reimburse doctors at the rates Medicare pays if patients go outside the insurer’s network, leaving patients stuck with HUGE bills.
Some insurance companies lowball medical providers with the prices that they will pay for medical care with the threat that the medical providers will lose all of the insurer’s patients as potential customers if the provider doesn’t sign with the insurer. Fewer providers sign up with the insurer. Patients are then left with a choice: Wait for an appointment to open up at one of an insurer’s dwindling number of “in-network” physicians or go out of network and pay a huge bill.
Either way, the insurer wins because it takes in more money in premiums and pays out less money for the “care” of its patients.
This New York Daily News article blames the “cheating doctors” for the problem. There has to be a happy medium between getting $200 from Medicaid for performing stitches on a child for an hour and billing an insured patient $50,000 for the same procedure. Although … if the parents demand that a plastic surgeon come in and do the stitches, then they should be willing to pay for the extra cost of care.
All of that health “insurance” that patients are paying for is becoming less and less valuable.
Remember: Insurance for healthcare will never equal access to healthcare.


  1. I’m surprised that setting out of network reimbursement low is a new practice. For several years now it has seemed like the balance billed after insurance is higher than the full cash price of the visit would have been if I had negotiated with the doctor’s office directly.

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