Healthcare Update — 07-02-2010


Also see the satellite edition of this update at

You’ve heard of GEICO Direct? Now there’s MedMal Direct. A 20 minute call could save you 20% or more on your med mal insurance.

One physician with 350 medical malpractice claims and 22 criminal counts against him. He had an international warrant for his arrest and was finally caught in Italy after he disappeared from his vacation in Greece. Now he gets a long term chateau in the Greybar Motel.

When did Jerry Springer get into the emergency medical business? Two dimwits in Ithaca, NY decided that they hadn’t sufficiently stabbed someone they were involved in a fight with. So they followed him to the emergency department and started hitting and kicking the guy, screaming “bleed, bitch, bleed!”. Victim’s girlfriend then retaliates with a mop handle. Now the attackers are charged with felonies.

More evidence for having TASERs in emergency departments. Drunk emergency patient punches one nurse, scratched the forearm of another nurse, and punched a third nurse in the face. Now she’s been charged with three felonies.

Jerry Springer Part III. Georgia dimwit hits emergency nurse in arm leaving red marks and leaving herself with $1430 less money in the bank.

Jerry Springer Part IV. Florida patient spits in the face of the emergency department nurse. Nurse later gets low Press Ganey scores because she forgot to say “thank you ma’am may I have another!”

Don’t mess with the nurses. Minneapolis nurses set for another strike. At the heart of the matter are fixed nurse-patient staffing ratios, benefits, and increased pay. Hospital executives respond by stating that they can’t maintain profits without having one nurse and two medical assistants staff the entire hospital. Madness isn’t looking forward to a strike, either.

Good advice from Penn State (boo hiss) about how to save your fingers this Fourth of July weekend. Please be safe and keep your kids away from explosives.

The ultimate Ponzi scheme. Hey everyone, let us deduct some money from your paychecks all your working lives and … you’ll have INSURANCE!
Growing number of physicians no longer taking Medicare – just as baby boomers hit Medicare age. Thirteen percent of AAFP family practice physicians don’t take Medicare – more than double the number from 2004. Even those physicians who still accept Medicare assignment don’t accept anyone who wants to see them. Almost a third of AMA primary care physicians restrict the number of Medicare patients they take. Thirty four percent of AOA members either don’t participate in Medicare or don’t accept new Medicare patients and expects that number to double if the Medicare cuts go through. 117 North Carolina doctors have opted out of Medicare since January and 1,100 New York doctors have left Medicare.
But don’t worry. Everything is going well as we integrate 32 million new insured patients to the government insurance plans and as baby boomers begin to turn 65.
By the way … has anyone seen their Medicare A and B deductibles rise significantly?
Yeah. Great system.
Medicare patients: Get health care while you can.

47 governors ask for additional Medicaid funding to stave off massive budget cuts and potential double-dip recession. Pending cuts would cost 300,000 teachers their jobs nationwide. The federal government imposed “maintenance of effort” requirements on state Medicaid programs which prohibit cutbacks in Medicaid eligibility. Now states must make up the costs by cutting other services.

Pennsylvania hospital considers closing emergency department

St. Louis psychiatric center definitely closing — due to budget cuts

Decrease in narcotic pain prescriptions equals decrease in patient volume. Dosher Memorial Hospital in North Carolina sees decrease in patient volumes after creating and publicizing policy that it will no longer use or prescribe narcotic prescriptions for chronic pain complaints. Have migraines, back and neck pain, dental pain, fibromyalgia or other chronic pain syndromes? Hope Toradol works because you aren’t getting any codeine, morphine, or oxycodone.


  1. “One physician with 350 medical malpractice claims and 22 criminal counts against him”

    That will cut down on the odds you think you have of being sued 12 times. He just took nearly 30 of you out!

    • DensityDuck on

      On the other hand, it means that geniunely bad physicians are easily identifiable, and the “sue everyone and let God sort ’em out” plan isn’t actually necessary. Sure does work as a jobs program for lawyers, though!

      • Are they so identifiable? I wonder if he’d had his license revoked?

        The vast majority of malpractice never even sees a claim file, much less a courtroom, so if suing them all is the plan, it doesn’t appear to be working out.

  2. midwest woman on

    St. Louis psychiatric center definitely closing…great. Work in the river city. We have a two against four room ( a nurse and tech with four patients) It’s supposed to be for the confused elderly patient ripping off anything they can get their hands on or climbing out of bed constantly. But anything that says mental status changes will qualify you…Dts, methers (this is Missouri, ya know) off schizophrenia medicines etc.
    Thanks for the update..I’ll be looking for them.

  3. Healthcare Reform may make for overcrowding and longer waits in the ED.

    There’s already a shortage of front-line family physicians in some places and experts think that will get worse.
    _People without insurance aren’t the ones filling up the nation’s emergency rooms. Far from it. The uninsured are no more likely to use ERs than people with private insurance, perhaps because they’re wary of huge bills.
    _The biggest users of emergency rooms by far are Medicaid recipients. And the new health insurance law will increase their ranks by about 16 million. Medicaid is the state and federal program for low-income families and the disabled. And many family doctors limit the number of Medicaid patients they take because of low government reimbursements.
    _ERs are already crowded and hospitals are just now finding solutions.
    Rand Corp. researcher Dr. Arthur L. Kellermann predicts this from the new law: “More people will have coverage and will be less afraid to go to the emergency department if they’re sick or hurt and have nowhere else to go…. We just don’t have other places in the system for these folks to go.”

    Hope! Change!

  4. Healthcare Reform may not cover the sick, high risk.

    Critics of the $5 billion high-risk pool program insist it will run out of money before Jan. 1, 2014. That’s when the program sunsets and health plans can no longer discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions.

    Administration officials insist they can make changes to the program to ensure it lasts until 2014, and that it may not have to turn away sick people. Officials said the administration could also consider reducing benefits under the program, or redistributing funds between state pools. But they acknowledged turning some people away was also a possibility.Administration officials insist they can make changes to the program to ensure it lasts until 2014, and that it may not have to turn away sick people. Officials said the administration could also consider reducing benefits under the program, or redistributing funds between state pools. But they acknowledged turning some people away was also a possibility.

    Who knew that Hope and Change were buzzwords for a Penn & Teller show?!

  5. Hearing about all these facilities closing or under threat of closing is disturbing. I feel for the people that live in these areas and for the lost jobs and services.

    Domino effect seems to be picking up speed.

  6. MN resident on

    For the Minneapolis nurses, the union conceded on staffing ratios.

    “In the deal, the nurses gave up their demand for rigid nurse-to-patient ratios, which they said was needed to improve patient safety, but the hospitals called expensive and unnecessary.

    In exchange, the hospitals dropped proposed cuts to pensions and health benefits. The two sides agreed to work on staffing issues through an existing system of committees at the hospitals.”

    I read Madness’s blog and see she isn’t happy, so this isn’t a dig, just the reality.

  7. With the overall number of practitioners not decreasing, how are these people making a living? Are they cutting back and making less money? Being absorbed by larger facilities?

    • When I was in private practice the Medicaid reimbursement did not cover my costs, let alone pay me, so when I saw fewer Medicaid patients I lost less money by doing less work. I always took lots of call, but it became increasingly difficult since the majority of trauma patients at my urban hospital were either uninsured or Medicaid. I was simply not paid for working quite hard. I enjoyed my work but understood my colleagues who stopped taking call and never understood why or how the financial responsibility for care came to rest on my shoulders. Meanwhile, our County hospital was re-built with a smaller capacity. National healthcare will need to include more than an insurance that will not cover the costs of care in order to actually provide care. Replacing the ‘uninsured’ with ‘insured without access to care’ will not be a big improvement.

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