Healthcare Update — 07-06-2012


Hmmmm. Sunburns and skin cancer versus loss of libido and shrunken male genitals. Which to choose? According to this expert, the oxybenzone contained in most sunscreen causes smaller penis size in children, loss of libido in adult males, and fibroids/endometriosis in females.

There may be a scientific basis behind the Crazy Cat Lady Action Figure (hey – I didn’t name it, they did). Study shows that women infected with common cat parasite Toxoplasma gondii are 50% more likely to commit suicide.
Dr. Art Caplan brings the argument a step further (registration required to read link) by recommending that cat owners be taxed for their unhealthy lifestyle choice and for all the asthma attacks that the cat dander causes. Well, at least their insurance rates should go up. Wait. That’s happening already? Ah, nevermind.

Doctor infects himself with hookworms to show how the hookworm saliva can alleviate the symptoms of some intestinal diseases. It worked!

Chronic pain patients are in for a world of hurt … literally. The FDA is now cracking down on unapproved manufacturers of oxycodone. Companies have 45 days to stop manufacturing unapproved oxycodone before the FDA begins suing them and seizing their products.
Look for the price of new “approved” oxycodone pills (with the exact same formulation) to cost somewhere around the $3 per pill price range.
“Safety by overregulation” strikes again.

Now that Medicaid cuts have forced Bamberg Hospital in Georgia to close in bankruptcy, residents are finding that the lack of nearby emergency medical care is problematic. Patients with heart attacks walk in to the local primary care physician’s office and must be sent by ambulance to the nearest emergency department more than 20 miles away. The small town doctor worries that his elderly patients may not make it to a hospital in time when they’re having an emergency.
Safety nets don’t work as well when you cut holes in them.


Teenager … in Florida … shoots himself in head so that he can wake up from a bad trip after ingesting “shrooms” then lives to tell about it.

Another problem with electronic computer records … the data in the records can be changed. Australian hospital executive caught changing data in emergency department records to make wait times and ED stays appear shorter than they really were. 20-30 records PER DAY were changed from late 2010 to present.
Investigators are having a difficult time finding out who made the changes since the system had only eight active logins in 259 workstations across the hospital – CLERK, NURSE, DOCTOR and BEDMAN. The logs were also “unreliable” and not proactively checked.
When governments place a priority on benchmarks, they will get the benchmarks. In this hospital’s case, the benchmark door to doc time was either 30 or 60 minutes and a large number of patients were reported as being seen at either 30 or 60 minutes. The benchmark ED stay number was 240 minutes and an “unusually high” number of patients were discharged from the ED exactly 240 minutes after their arrival.
Another article quotes a doctor who stated that the system is more focused on getting statistical results than qualitative patient care results. Exactly.
Don’t kid yourself. This system is being gamed anywhere that benchmarks are set and if you want to rely upon the benchmarks … well … I’m glad you’re happy with your decision.

Study in England extrapolates that alcohol is involved in nearly 2 million emergency department visits in England and Wales every year — which amounted to 21% of all emergency department patients in the study.

All those alcohol-related emergency department visits would amount to a lot of denied claims for medical treatment if patients had an insurance policy with the Council on International Educational Exchange. Some insurers, like CIEE, are beginning to deny any coverage for injuries sustained while a patient is under the influence of alcohol … and the courts are upholding the decisions. One patient who crashed his bike into a tree and broke his neck allegedly had his coverage denied because a bystander “thought she smelled alcohol” on his breath. A reviewing court allegedly upheld the decision.

Pennsylvania Department of Health hassles Carlisle Regional Medical Center for excessive wait times in the emergency department. One 48 year old man went to the emergency department with a “burning feeling” in his leg and then left after waiting for six hours. On one day, 19 patients left the emergency department without treatment. The Health Department criticized the hospital for having low staffing levels as well.
This ticks me off. The state pays for a sow’s ear and then complains when it doesn’t get a silk purse.
If any of the doctors and nurses in the Department of Health think that they can do a better job, then they need to put down their clipboards and go do it. If I was a hospital administrator at Carlisle, I would put out a press release stating that the hospital invited the state investigators to come and work in the emergency department to show the hospital staff how to provide timely and effective patient care, but none of them would accept the hospital’s offer.
How many of those people at the Department of Health even went to the hospital and offered advice on what to change during the busy times in the emergency department?
Do I even have to ask that question?
Just focus on your statistical results, people. You’ll be just fine.


  1. Is that sunscreen article meaningful?

    It reads like a true-believer scare tract, which isn’t helped by being on a page which features Astrology, Numerology, Feng-Shui, and Natural Beauty. It claimed oxybenzone was estrogen-like and says 97% of americans are “contaminated” with it, but doesn’t give crucial details like any studies of harm by oxybenzone itself or dosage levels. Much of the rest seemed to be guilt-by-association text.

    Given the known harm of sunburn, you have to make tradeoffs, and that article certainly doesn’t provide the information needed for tradeoffs.

    • That website is a little bit “land of fruits and nuts,” to be sure, but I’ve read about the dangers of oxybenzone in more reputable places.

      EWG definitely has their axe to grind, but they do seem a little more science based.

      I buy Badger for my kiddos- Whole Foods frequently has it on sale. If I’m somewhere with limited hippie store access, I can always buy California Baby at Target, but it’s expensive.

  2. Tripwire — software for detecting tampering on a computer system — was invented in 1992. So this problem area and at least a filesystem-level approach to managing it has been known for a long, long time. It is just shocking to me that EMR vendors and system integrators have apparently not learned from this.

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