Healthcare Update — 10-15-2010


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You’d be nuts to drink this.” Growing craze drink “Four Loko,” a mix between an energy drink with caffeine and a high-alcohol content liquor, is sending many victims to emergency departments. Problem is that the concoction comes in a can that has the same colors as Hawaiian Punch.

Twelve million dollar settlement for woman who becomes paralyzed after undergoing epidural.

Twenty million dollar verdict in case where Arkansas neurosurgeon operated on wrong side of brain.

Strange legal precedent. Former Miami Dolphins receiver OJ McDuffie won an $11 million medical malpractice verdict against his orthopedic surgeon. The judge presiding over the case then threw out the verdict because he (the judge) accidentally allowed inappropriate evidence to be presented. Now they have to do another trial.
When doctors make mistakes, they are liable for millions of dollars in damages. When judges make mistakes they are liable for … um … nothing. Sounds fair to me.

I meant to do that. Leaving a sponge inside a patient after surgery might not be negligent. Just ask the Arkansas appellate court.

A little more information on why those National Practitioner Data Bank reports are bad news for doctors.

Not exactly the club drug I’d want to use. Amyl nitrate – also known as a “popper” because of the sound the drug makes when the ampule containing it is opened – increases sexual arousal … but it also kills your vision – a dangerous combination when you’re out drinking and hitting on those hotties at the clubs. The study quoted in the article detailed two patients who had significant vision impairment after using poppers and drinking at a party. The researchers tested for contaminants in the vials that the patients used and didn’t find any, so they are assuming that all of the effects came from the amyl nitrate itself.

More loopholes for the health care law. Obama administration encourages health insurers to add new children to their rolls, but just charge the families of the sicker kids more money for premiums – until 2014 when all of the people responsible for health care reform have been kicked out of office.

“It’s like a car crash in slow motion.” After the closure of St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan, other hospitals are becoming overwhelmed. Ambulance transport time has increased for all of downtown Manhattan. Waiting rooms are overcrowded. Residents are being required to do the work of overtaxed doctors and nurses. Violence in the emergency departments has also increased. Bellevue Hospital’s ED visits increased from 8,000 per month to 10,000 a month and its ambulance runs increased from 2,000 per month to 2,685 per month. As a result, wait times for admitted patients to reach the floor increased from six hours in 2009 to eight hours now. Look for the Joint Commission to swoop in and begin issuing citations any time now.
For patients having emergencies, one paramedic summed the whole situation up as “Your life really depends on traffic patterns.”
The thing is that the same financial pressures that forced St. Vincents to close aren’t going to just go away. Now those pressures are just being spread to other hospitals. How long until the same financial pressures build up and force those hospitals to close as well?

Prophetic sign? Or a case of a nurse pushing IV morphine too quickly? Patient laying in hospital bed sees face of Jesus on the ceiling which “pulled [him]up from the hospital bed by [his]eyes, almost pull[ing]them out of the sockets.” That, the patient contends, is enough to qualify him for sainthood. The incident occurred 49 years ago, but it is vivid in the memory of “Saint” Anthony Carpentier. The doc who treated the patient a half century ago actually remembered Anthony in the ER that day (back then it was still called an “ER” so don’t give me flak) but didn’t remember Anthony’s eyeballs being pulled from his head – which would have promptly required a psych consult. Dang. As an aside, the NY Times reporter who wrote the story has a great writing style.


  1. That drink is the kind of thing I alerted a few of you to, a few months back. They are called by different names, but are in colorful cans that sometimes taste like grape soda, punch, ect…They are very popular with the college kids.

  2. I put alcohol poisoning into the natural selection category. If you’re too dumb to realize (mind you this drink is not sold to < 21 y/o) that the "Hawaiian Punch" could kill you, then you deserve what you get.

    The article takes the stance of "we should feel sorry for them". It's crap like this that makes my car have 30 stickers warning about everything on it, and every plastic bag has 4 icons on it about suffocation.

  3. Unnerving article to read considering younger son and friend are up visiting another friend at college in NH this weekend.

    I will show him this article when he gets in tomorrow.

    Why does the alcohol content have to be so high in a beverage like that?

  4. Gee about small world – my son’s college made CBS news because they had incidents because of this drink.

    I also opened a letter from them since in here last and it was referring to alcohol incidents and their ban. When son came home tonight I asked about it and it was about incidents that occurred because of the this drink.

    So ..he was already aware of it.

    Referred to as liquid cocaine? Yikes!

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