Healthcare Update — 05-07-2012


Want to score some narcotics and some inappropriate antibiotics? Go to an emergency department complaining of a toothache. 75% of patients complaining of toothaches are prescribed Vicodin. The article also notes how patient satisfaction ratings contribute to the problem.

Australian hospital threatens a “zero tolerance” policy for violence in the emergency department. Police will be called for “each incident” of aggressive behavior.
Has Press Ganey made it to Australia yet?

Mob of family members descends upon Pakistani hospital, vandalizing equipment and chasing staff after patient dies from ruptured appendix.

Accretive Health being investigated for putting debt collectors inside hospital emergency departments and hospital wards, then “hounding” patients for payments.
Some of their tactics violated federal laws, which is unacceptable. If they operated within the legal requirements, would aggressive collection tactics in the hospital be a bad thing? The article notes that community hospitals in the US provided $39.3 billion in uncompensated care in 2010, up 16 percent from 2007.

Man sues BMW after alleging that the BMW motorcycle caused him to have a 20 month erection. First of all, Mr. Happy would have shriveled up and fallen off by now. Second of all, this is why we need a loser pays law in this country.

California ambulance company stops transporting “superuser” patients unless they have a “real emergency.” Company hoping to curb use of three individuals – two of whom were transported to the hospital by ambulance a total of 710 and 653 times last year.
We’ll see how long this policy lasts.

Why do kids who grow up on farms have fewer allergies than kids who don’t? And why do Amish farm kids have even fewer allergies than their other farm kid cohorts? Drinking raw farm milk thought to play some role in the protective effect. Unfortunately, selling raw milk can be a crime, so don’t look to find any raw milk in the supermarket any time soon.

Plaintiff attorney requesting that judge keep a medical malpractice case from excess publicity because the things that have been published about the case thus far have been favorable to the defendant physicians. The plaintiff is suing an orthopedic group because his wife died of pulmonary emboli a week after spraining her ankle and the plaintiff is alleging that the brace used to treat the ankle sprain caused or contributed to the blood clots. The case is taking place in Madison County, IL which is a “perennial” judicial hellhole.

Illinois Medicaid department has incentive to keep patients going to the emergency department instead of going to a clinic: Medicaid pays hospitals only $40-$100 for an emergency department visit, yet pays clinics $128 for a patient visit.

California obstetrician hit with $74 million verdict for “botching” delivery of child that was later born with cerebral palsy.

Mother and daughter Idaho midwives hit with $5 million verdict when child that they delivered was born with brain damage. Two other children delivered by the duo also died, leading the professional board to suspend their licenses. Midwives now planning to file bankruptcy.

Washington attorney tries to find some way to sue school after patient named Daekwon was taken to the emergency department for seizure, but parents for patient named JayQwan were contacted. Mother’s presence in emergency department was delayed by about 90 minutes. Apparently, the theory is that the patient “could have received the wrong medication before she reached him” and that the delay in notifying her “could have cost my son his life.”

Prescribe Zocor, get sued.

Get me some fishing line and I’ll do this myself. San Francisco man who went to emergency department to get stitches around his eye got tired of waiting and left with a 30ml bottle of “Lydocain” with epinephrine. Hell … with all the drug shortages lately, he’s lucky he found the bottle of medicine.

Another brainiac steals an ambulance from the emergency department ambulance bay. Take your keys with you, ambulance drivers. I’m guessing that not many of the would-be thieves have the mental faculties sufficient to hot wire the vehicles.



  1. Yeah, the ED gives out a TON of antibiotics and pain meds for toothaches. I used to work for an endodontist and we had a few frequent flyers who would visit the ED almost every weekend. I don’t know what kind of history they kept, but it wasn’t very good. I cringe to think about all the secondary infections one of our patients must have from thise helpful docs giving out zeepaks like candy.

    Also, drinking raw milk is like playing russian roulette. Even if raw milk does somehow help with allergies, hay fever is a small price to pay for keeping your young child from dying a horrible death because of drinking contaminated milk. Those udders are hanging out next to some great sources of dangerous bacteria.

  2. We definitely need some tort reform. How about a general “no harm, no foul” bit of legislation – an attorney must have an actual client who suffered actual harm (no “might have been” scenarios allowed) in an actual incident…..

    “loser pays” has some merit, but if client A only has access to a $500 attorney and client B has 7 $5000 attorneys……there’s no way client A can risk going to court, even if he’s been well and truly wronged. Though, if you make the attorneys put some skin in the game, perhaps in the form of fines that they are not permitted to pass along to the client…that could help.

  3. My father had lifelong scrip for valium from his dentist, and last time I had my teeth worked on I had to tell them I didn’t want any more hydrocodone. I submit that dentists are overlooked in the addictive drug scene.

  4. The debt collector thing just terrifies me. I pay my bills, but I’ve been shaken down a couple of times when I was helpless and alone (for example by an airport porter one Xmas travel season when I was temporarily wheelchair bound). It’s not really an experience I need to have when I’m already scared and possibly in pain.

  5. Damages are already a necessary element. And we already have a loser pays system in many states. Loser pays doesn’t work in other countries like its advocates believe but it will probably keep a few poor people out of the courthouse, which is what its backers want.

  6. There is no EMTALA for Dentists so patients who have tooth problems cant show up and be treated without cost at a dentists office. Instead, they go to the ER where they are seen for the infection and pain but the actual problem, the infected tooth that needs treatment is never taken care of.

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